Monday, March 05, 2007

The slippery slope of knitting

I'm usually a one-project-at-a-time kinda knitter. I feel better finishing one thing before I start the next. In the past I've found myself with multiple projects scattered all over the place, and I've even – gasp! – forgotten about unfinished items, as well.

You knitters in the audience will understand.

So choosing the yarn and pattern for one project, casting on, knitting contentedly until it's finished and then moving on is my most comfortable knitting personality.

So why did I start something new when I have three pairs of socks, a sweater and a bag all in various stages of incompletion?

Well, it's a deadline project. My son-in-law's birthday is the end of this month and he needs a ski hat to replace one that got into a fight with something sharp in the washing machine. Apparently this was his favorite hat, one that gets lots of compliments whenever he wears it, and even though he won't need it until next winter, well, hey. He needs a gift, and I can provide one.

It is a pretty cool hat. It's doubled in thickness and has a deep lower edge that folds up, forming a fourfold thickness over the ears. Warm and toasty for ski trips or snow-shoveling.

Begin with a provisional cast on [click the link and scroll down that page for a tutorial] at the lower edge of the hat on a 16-inch circular needle. I'm using a true aran-weight machine-washable wool, which knits to a gauge of 18 stitches per four inches, so I cast on 90 stitches to make a hat with a 20-inch circumference.

Commence knitting in the round until you have four inches of the main color. Then switch to a different color for a few rows, go back to the main color, choose a different color, etc., until you have about seven inches of stripes. Go back to the main color and begin decreasing for the crown of the hat.

When you've finished, you go back and pull out the provisional cast-on stitch by stitch, putting those live stitches on the circular needle. Again do four inches of the main color, but on this side do some simple two-color stranded knitting in Fair Isle-like motifs. Little snowflakes, X-O patterns, zigzags … anything goes.

Since my knitting really is scattered all over the place – two places, actually, the house and the garage – I had to scrounge around to find a tool to mark the beginning of the round. All my row markers were in the garage, but I do have a drawer in the house that has odd little knitting supplies. I found an old, old row counter that slips over the needle. The photo illustrates the newer version on the left, called a barrel counter, and the one I'm using for the hat, on the right.

It's important to count the rounds on this project because when you finally cast off that last stitch, you'll punch one half inside the other, and it needs to fit perfectly. Which it will, if you've counted carefully.

On the fitness front, yesterday was a total rest day. I lounged around knitting most of the afternoon, went to sleep very early – before 7:30 p.m. – and woke up at 6 this morning. I'm not following the YOAD plan of walking 30 minutes every single day, but Grumpy does, in addition to a more vigorous workout. That thought never even occurred to me! More thinking needed on this idea.

Today I'm supposed to run five miles at a leisurely [hah!] 13:53 pace. The idea of tacking on an additional 30-minute walk Just. Doesn't. Appeal. And I definitely want to get the run out of the way first, lest I not have the energy to complete it if I use up all my glycogen stores on a little stroll. Heh. The other solution would be to do the walk later in the day, but I have a million excuses for not doing that, as well.

Is this the slippery slope of race training?

Fifty-four days until race day.

1 comment:

Mary Christine said...

I always have more than one project going. I knit because I like to knit, not so much for the product I knit. So, if I don't finish something (which rarely happens) it really doesn't matter!