July 3, 2016

23 No, Seriously -- I've Knit Yet Another Afghan!

Back in 2006 I named the following Ravelry project this: Aghan (And I Will Never Make Another Afghan!). I knit it to procrastinate writing my Ph.D. thesis -- and by the end I hated it so much that I finished my thesis first!

Well, I have been absolutely ignoring this credo lately. You know how people join clubs to make 52 pairs of socks a year, or 356 washcloths? I need to join an afghan a year club, it's gotten that bad.

Here's my proof:

My latest opus is the 2nd Martin Storey KAL from Rowan -- and somehow it came out so beautifully that it might be the best one of all. It's a free pattern you can get here.

Naturally, I changed it a lot!

The first thing to go was the color scheme. First off, I didn't like any of the Rowan color choices, and second, I wanted something more muted. All of the Rowan afghan KALs use the yarn Pure Wool Worsted and the colors I used (Mustard and Moonstone) were actually the ones I wanted for the first KAL, but they were backordered!

So back then, I went monotone instead:

Second, as you can see from the picture above, the first afghan was too short. Since the square format and gauge were identical in the 2nd KAL, I knew I need to add a couple of rows for length. I decided to go 10x5 instead of 8x6.

I also devised a way to keep my sanity when trying to block all these wonkily different sized squares to the same shape! THANK YOU, DUCT TAPE.

The third thing I changed was the order of squares. As you'll notice, there is a mix of solid and colored squares, and I really didn't like how they piled up in the Rowan scheme. I went rogue.
It's not quite symmetrical by length, but you can't even tell in the real blanket. The middle makes me OHM, that's all that matters!

OHMing in Torrey Pines State Park, CA

Let's see... oh yeah, there is always another change lurking somewhere in my projects! Because I had to guess how much yarn I needed, it turned out I had too much Mustard and too little Moonstone by the time the border came around. I improvised by using 4 rows of yellow to every 2 rows of grey, instead of 2 and 2 like in the pattern.

Naturally, the border was a pain in the ass! I was so impressed that the last Rowan KAL had a knitted on border, they regressed back to their old ways by requiring a sew-on one again. I was too lazy to figure out a mitered corner, so I slaved through the strips and contemplated using them as nooses more than once.

Trying to be zen about it...

It was pretty painful, but in less ways than expected. If you remember my last post, I've been battling elbow tendinitis, and found that I could knit with the yarn in my left hand (continental-style) and still make this whole afghan. I can't believe I did it, actually!

So what do you think? Which afghan wins the Dayana-Will-Never-Do-Another-Afghan-Again-Prize? (mobile users, click for higher res photos!)

My Martin Storey KAL #1

My Scheepjes CAL

My Kaffe Fassett KAL

My Daisy Stitch Afghan

My Martin Storey KAL #2

See my Martin Storey KAL #2 on Ravelry

Leave a comment here!

May 30, 2016

8 What To Do When You Can't Knit

Months ago I suffered a blow to my high-temp knitting fever -- elbow tendinitis. Since then I've gone through abstinence, physiotherapy, cortisone shots, exercises and general abandonment. The good news is that the acute pain is gone, the other news is that I'm dealing with a long-term problem to be managed. No, this isn't a post about how sad that is, THERE ARE NO TEARS IN THIS HOUSE! This is a post about all the things I've started doing instead... and you'll never believe the last thing in this list. Oh the irony!

Listed in order of trying:

1. Jigsaw puzzles

I like the busy ones with lots of silly and weird things happening.

Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect example of something I love to do that never gets done because everything needs to be JUST RIGHT. There has to be a large table available for days (who the hell has that?), an eon of rainy or nasty weather, and a short-term string of time to work on it before chaos hides your pieces in the jigsaw black hole.

Jigsaw puzzles SAVED me during the abstinence phase. You can actually do everything with only one hand... you can watch cheesy shows like Forensic Files. YOU CAN DRINK TOO!!

I did so many puzzles I found a duplicate piece in one. Bizarre!

2. Drop spindle spinning

Photo from Z Twist Art

This is a shout out to all the people who gave me suggestions of what to do instead. After I told my knitting group I had to stop knitting for awhile, my friend J. came by with a homemade CD drop spindle. So nice! The awesome thing was that I learned how to drop spindle, but the not-so-awesome thing was that it used all the same tendons as knitting. Oh well -- I still chalk this up as a win!

3. Cleaning


It'll take more than some pesky tendinitis, lol!

4. Crochet


So, when I knit I hold the yarn in my right hand and throw English style. This is now a problem. When I crochet the yarn is in my left, so I asked, could I just crochet instead? Well, sort of. The right hand still moves a lot, but I found I could go at it for quite a bit. This was savior #2! Especially with a project as fun as Sophie's Universe. It's free (unbelievable!) and if you crochet you should make this. The original has tons of color, my Ravelry project page for a monochrome one is here.

5. Exercise

Believe it or not, this actually worked for awhile! I was running on the treadmill, with the lovely view of Acadia National Park from the gym windows at work. Of course what happened within weeks of overdoing it, I got a hip pain I couldn't run with. Geez, can a girl get a chance?! I now have reduced to step aerobics a couple times a week out of laziness, but I have to thank tendinitis for opening up my mind to using the gym -- something I had never done in my LIFE!

6. Sewing


I have always been a seamstress. The most fun job I ever had was working for my Wesleyan University theater costume shop back in college. Corsets, period wear, drag, you name it >>> I made it. Of course, it never had to look perfect up close, so now I work at improving my details.

I made this entire jacket for my husband after learning about the tendinitis! It's made out of an elastic denim that I kind of hated by the end of it, but it looks pretty sweet.

I've also been having fun using up my decade old fabric stash with projects from Merchant and Mill's sewing books.

This is the Fisherman's Top and the Orton Bag (free!). Don't think for a second it isn't cool to match your bag to your top. I only wish I had made a pair of pants, too!!

7. Organizing stuff you never organize



All that stuff you want to do and you never actually do goes here. Re-decorate? Frame those photos? Organize your computer files? Yeah, get tendinitis and let it do the job for you! Weeeeell, the truth is that computer work hurts the most, I have no idea how to frame and re-decoration would actually take some decision-making I simply don't possess. 

So instead, I'll pat my back for organizing my matchbook collection. I found a display rack at a thrift shop and then fished out my most prized collection of matchbooks from my Ph.D. days back in Manhattan. This was when everyone could still smoke in bars, when we lived in bars because everyone's apartments were too small. Oh, the memories!

8. Nails

You know all those pictures of Instagram people holding the polish that they just used? I'll spare you. But I did make a new hobby out of nothing. My goal is now to always have a polish on hand that will match my crafting projects, haha. And it's actually a great fashion statement -- I never realized!

9. Beadweaving

And here I finally found it, an actual new obsession! I knew the danger was there, I was actually relieved when the drop spindle didn't work out. Well I'm hooked on beadweaving and have already started a stash (oh, dear). I started with a pair of feather earrings:

And just finished this most excellent bracelet this weekend (pattern is Big Sky Bracelet):

Did I tell you I LOVE BEADWEAVING?? Now to integrate it into my knitting, very excited about that prospect.

10. Knitting. Wait, knitting??

I CONFESS, I HAVE BEEN KNITTING (almost) THIS WHOLE TIME!! Bad Dayana, BAD. A part of me is saying "thank goodness your only addiction is knitting" because I clearly don't have what it takes to stop. The logic was similar to crochet -- what if I just knitted Continental, holding the yarn in the left hand and avoiding the throwing motion on the right? It turns out it's not a bad compromise, not at all. My tension is totally different of course, if I want to go back to languishing English projects I'll have to re-swatch.

I find the trick is simply not to knit too much. I take a lot of whole days off -- unheard of before. The difference is that NOW I actually have other things I want to do! You really do get to a point in an obsession where you do nothing else, so I have this injury to thank for opening things up again.

So yes, somehow I managed to knit an entire 50 square afghan during this whole time. Blush. The pattern is free from Rowan, called the 2nd Martin Storey KAL. See my Ravelry project and link to the pattern here. It's just wrapping up now and that will be my next post, all about KNITTING... thank goodness!

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