9.11.2009

Men's Alpaca Scarf FO


Aka "The Sad Tale of a Knitter Learning Simple Lessons the Hard(est) Way"

Pattern: End to End 2 Row Reverse Stocking Stitch Rib Scarf (My Own)
Start: February, 2007 Finish, September 9, 2009
Colour: Maroon Mix

Rather than get into the miserable story behind this FO lets instead start with the happy ending of this tale - a warm, soft, fingering weight alpaca scarf in simple 2 row reverse stocking stitch ribbing. Each long rib is finished with a 2" knotted fringe.

The scarf is 7"wide by 82" long (exluding fringe). The soft springy squishiness of the finished piece is too fabulous for words.

My Beloved, for whom I knit this scarf is very happy and so am I.

The End.


Seriously though, how can such a simple story with such a happy ending take soooo long to complete? Because while the end of the story may be simple, the bulk of the tale is simply awful.

This scarf started out as "Henry" , the yarn optimistically cast on twice with a circular I didn't bother to relax before using to cast on hundreds of stitches so I worked away on my Italian Tubular Cast On while fighting with the corkscrew shaped cord before trying it another time with a the circular relaxed in warm water before finally switching to a straight needle.

I discovered though that this was a bad cast on to choose whatever the needle because it really didn't work with my sticky, fine, yarn. To allow the long strand of yarn to be retracted from its tube after the cast on was complete, the thing had to be so loose it didn't look "tubey" it just looked sloppy.

On I went, ignoring the sloppy edge, convinced a good blocking would even things out but after a few very long rows I recognized that the alpaca fuzz rendered the herringbone stitch of the original pattern for this scarf completely invisible. So I decided that since the herringbone was impossible to make out I could just switch to a new pattern and leave the edge as is. It was many 450 stitch rows later that I recognized the stiff, unyielding herringbone couldn't remain beside the springy rev st st rib I chose without creating a magnificently evident puckering all along its length. (shot below illustrates ribbing released from the puckering influence)

By the time I realized this I had quite a few more hours invested in the new and improved section so I ran a life line of dental floss through the bottom row of rev st st and started ripping out from the tubular cast on edge upwards...did you just gasp? I know, how stupid could I be? After a couple of dozen hours at that (over quite a few months) I had a clean row of loops. I knit two ribs or four rows then cast off.

While I blissfully knit the last half of the scarf, practicing my continental technique along the way I committed these hard learned lessons to memory...
  • The more important the stitch definition, the more important the yarn chosen should be capable of revealing that definition. Yarn choice is critical to successful execution of a knit pattern.
  • If my needle looks like a Slinky toy, it is NOT ready to be used.
  • Use straights for casting on large numbers of stitches
  • Think carefully about all aspects of a particular yarn and design before choosing a method of Casting On
  • Ripping out from the cast on edge upwards is perhaps the most hideous exercise one can undertake with yarn and needles.
So really it didn't take 31 months to finish the scarf - it took 31 months to learn all these lessons.

The painful process of saving the yarn from my ignorant blunderings gave me many hours to resolve never to commit these mistakes again. (It never ceases to amaze me that "knowing" something is nowhere near sufficient to ensure I'll incorporate it into my actions - too often I need to have experienced the downside of failing to do things correctly in order to see how important doing it the right way really is.)

Well, with that knit and post off my chest and looking very much forward to seeing that scarf hanging on My Beloved's chest this winter, its onwards and upwards! I haven't decided what to take to the cottage with me to work on this weekend - I'm off for a long overdue haircut right now - thinking about the weekend's knitting will give me something to contemplate in the Subway.

I hope you have a good weekend knitting away on something you love. If you're at the Kitchener Knitter's Fair as so many local knitters will no doubt be - Enjoy!

Thanks for dropping by!

3 comments:

Aline la Bergère said...

Thanks, that was insightful! I have Henry in my queue but haven't worked up the courage yet. Sorry you had such a time...but the result is fabulous. Happy knitting on the next project! A.xx

Brenda said...

Hee Hee. Sorry for your troubles. But the scarf looks great. Wouldn't a physcho therapist have fun with the psyche of a knitter?

Acorn to Oak said...

All the trouble you had made the finished scarf quite an accomplishment. Congratulations! It looks great!