Monday, October 07, 2013

You Never Can Tell

It's not enough to have finished a couple skeins of yarn during the Tour de Fleece. Now that the yarn's finished, I want to play with it.

When I say "play," I mean play. I don't mean hunt around on Ravelry for a suitable pattern and knit that pattern. I mean wind up the skein...

handspun-wound

...and get excited all over again about the gradual color changes. Then pick needles that look like they might work well enough, cast on some stitches, and see what the hell happens.

I can hear teeth grinding out there. I understand. Setting sail without a destination isn't everybody's idea of a swell time. Some folks prefer to pick a destination, then get to it via the most direct route. That's fine. Knitting's a big tent. There's room for everybody.

Me, I like to play.

I have a vague notion for this yarn: a hat. Worked top down without much detail, since the yarn is the point. I want to watch those colors change. I want to see what my amateur's thick-thin-thinner-THICK-thin-thicker-thick-THIN-thick two-ply looks like in plain stockinette.

Judy's Magic Cast On makes top-down circular hats a treat, so that's how I began. I chose US size two needles, and produced a scrap of fabric so incredibly dense it could have run for Congress on the Tea Party ticket.

I ripped back and tried again with a pair of size four circulars. Much better fabric–firm, but supple. Since I'd begun at the crown, I knew I needed to increase a great deal and quickly to get the proper shape.  I probably ought to have sat down and reviewed the formula for these increases–how much and how often–but I didn't. I was playing.

I was also talking to people.

In a dark sports bar.

With loud music.

At night.

During a bingo game.

You sense where this is going, perhaps.

At the very beginning of a top-down crown it's good to throw in fifty-percent increases every other round. You knit a round, you double the number of stitches, you knit a round, you double the number of stitches.

Then, if you intend to do things in a sensible fashion, you tap the brake and slow down either the frequency or the rate of your increases. I know this. I have known this for years.

 But I was not feeling sensible. I was feeling annoyed, since two of my tablemates had achieved a bingo and I had not. I don't even like bingo, and there's nothing that frosts my cookies like losing at a game I didn't want to play in the first place.

I kept knitting, and increasing, and knitting, and increasing, and didn't notice until the next day that my stitch count per round had grown from

eight

to something in the area of

three hundred.

That is rather more stitches around than you probably want in a hat for a human being.

Not to mention that the work was extremely bunchy on the needles. It looked like a bruised cauliflower.

So I slipped it off to see what I'd got. Here it is.

experimental-hat-ruffled

Not what I have in mind for this hat. Disturbingly reminiscent of the ruffled table mats my grandmother's friends used to churn out. But the color changes–those are pretty. And the ruffling–I don't want to use it now, but I'd be surprised if I won't find a reason to use it some time.

Still don't have a hat, but I'm having fun. And I learned something. Which for me is often the same thing.

66 comments:

Liz said...

It's a very pretty... item, whatever you decide to do with it...

Bingo, eh; you wild thing, you.

Vanessa said...

It looks like an oddly fascinating piece of coral? Or a new species of cabbage? I can't not look at it.

yarndork said...

Frisbee!

Irrelevant said...

"I chose US size two needles, and produced a scrap of fabric so incredibly dense it could have run for Congress on the Tea Party ticket."

*attempts to stifle laughter and fails miserably* That must have been one hell of a dense piece of fabric.

Elizabeth said...

I could imagine working from that, slowing down the rate of increase, but still going outward for a bit, then work even for a bunch of inches, then, decrease enough to make a snug ribbed brim. But it probably wouldn't be your style. Someone's style. But probably not yours.

Leslie said...

This gorgeous piece of knitting is begging to be fondled. Get back to work and take care of that for us.

Tiggywinkleknits said...

Isn't it a sheer delight to knit with your own handspun! And you gain incredible amounts of insight on your spinning when you knit with yarn you made. Ok, maybe not so much in a dark sports bar, but still a lot.

And those colors are fabulous; great job on maintaining the color changes, by the way!

Linda D said...

You made me laugh! It is so nice to see that once in every great while, you manage to knit like an average knitter and not someone on a pinnacle of awesomeness!

Anonymous said...

Love the color changes and look forward to seeing how the eventual hat - or whatever emerges - turns out. Thanks for sharing. - Joe -in Wyoming

Sandy said...

Thank you. I had been having SUCH a Monday until I read this post and laughed out loud.

The yarn is beautiful, the "hat" is delightfully unique.

Doc Anne said...

Love how you write. Your choice of having waaay too much fun at once, maybe not. Enjoyable at any rate.

Christine65 said...

Pretty colours, even if it would have been a rather ruffly hat if you'd kept going.

Jared Flood's Turn A Square deconstructed and worked from the crown down perhaps?

Roxie said...

Playing with yarn is reason enough in-and-of itself. If you want to just hold it in your hands and coo at it, that's good, too. Ruffles are fun. Learning is fun. This is a win, win, win situation as far as I can tell. And the yarn is delicious! Play on!!

FoFo said...

I like the colors, it's very pretty. Can't wait to see the hat you make out of it. Rather reminds me of curly purple kale.

Love This Space said...

Best. Joke. Ever. The density joke. The hat is funny too but I've made too many knit shower caps to point fingers at anyone else.

Lexy said...

I have no idea what you could use it for, but it's gorgeous. Simply stunning. Sort-of like a cross between a cabbage and a jellyfish, and I know that sounds like something that has no right being beautiful, but... It is. It's beautiful.

Elaine said...

Beautiful colors, though. It looks like the sea urchins/coral/whatevers a bunch of us in Chicago crocheted/knitted for the Great Coral Reel Extravaganza a few years back. We all met at Jane Addams Hull House, got our instructions and went to town. I think a book may have been written about it.

Angela Medina said...

I love the colorway! It's beautiful. You're a multitalented man, Franklin.

Michelle said...

You just made me laugh out loud in a public space; rather awkward, that....

Daniel said...

Mmmmm, frosted cookies!

knittynurse said...

Oh hell, throw a brim on it and call it a beret! The yarn is gorgeous.

Pretty Knitty said...

Can't wait to see what the final hat looks like. I'd wear the one in the picture...with a couple more rows and a brim, of course! lol! Or maybe just hairpinned in place...LoveLoveLove the yarn!!!

Alicia said...

Playing with handspun is the best part. I hear a lot of spinners say they hate plying, they think it just interrupts their spinning, but for my plying means that soon I get to knit with it!

Jayne said...

I see a spectator for Ascot! The colours are beautiful!!

Pearly Queen said...

I suggest you slip a pretty twig in each 'ruffle' and sew together at the back. You can then add beads or bells (or both) and you will have a very pretty (and totally original) wall hanging!

Penny
x

Benita said...

What you just created reminds me of a talk on TED. http://blog.ted.com/2009/04/20/crocheting_in_h/ What she did was in crochet, but it looks mighty like what you just did in knitting. You are a mathematician and didn't know it!

CeltChick said...

The color changes are terrific, certainly reason enough for playing with that yarn. I vote for a slouchy beret! You'd still have a hat.

KarenJ said...

Actually, it looks like one of those beautiful cabbages that are snow resistant and often get put in as borders in front of corporate buildings!

kath1996 said...

When my youngest daughter was learning to knit she made something that looked like this....she told us (with a very serious look on her face) that this was EXACTLY what she intended to make. She even had a name for it (which escapes me now...so much for mother's remembering every charming word that comes out of their offspring's adorable mouthes). Of course she was only ten at the time.

When I show her your picture she will be mad that you copied her masterpiece.

Bonnie said...

"I chose US size two needles, and produced a scrap of fabric so incredibly dense it could have run for Congress on the Tea Party ticket." I love you.

Kristi said...

You are well on your way to a hyperbolic plane... if you continue to double the number of stitches at a fairly regular rate, it will be awfully cool when its done. More sculpture than hat, but then it's okay to leave it on the sofa for people to admire.

RubyC said...

Love the colors. And playing with yarn is the best thing to do. And your dense joke. Really, that one made me laugh out loud.

BTW, ditch the bingo.

The Laziest Knitter said...

Flowering kale. Perfect for this time of year.

Anonymous said...

I like your thinking, Franklin.
-- stashdragon

Judy11 said...

I'm loving (coveting perhaps) your yarn. It is gorgeous and will be beautiful in whatever you create. Just think of this piece as getting to spend more time with your yarn before it finally tells you what it wants to have happen ;)

Savannagal said...

Your handspun is lovely. I can't wait to see your hat.

Anonymous said...

Dense enough to be a Tea Partier - hahahaha! Your ruffle is very pretty.

wendy said...

It's like a delicious bohemian lichen...

Suzanne said...

I'm not the first person who thinks it looks like ornamental kale, and that it's beautiful. You could consider it unintentional amigurumi...

Claudia said...

Your yarn is beautiful! Love the color changes. And, thanks to your wicked humor, I had to wipe up the pop that I spit out when I read the line about the Tea Party. That's the first laugh I've had about those idiots, so thanks for that!

Deb F. said...

I'm failing to find a single phrase in this post unamusing.

marjorie said...

Your ruffly thing is very pretty. It looks like ornamental cabbage. I lived for a few years in Saskatchewan, and the older ladies there were fond of crocheting those ruffled table mats. They actually starched them by dipping them in sugar water to make them stiff. And then they displayed them proudly on the dining room table with nicknacks on them.

Ladona said...

Very pretty colors. Maybe a ruffled coaster.

Or, you could rip out, start from scratch.

You get to play with the yarn twice.

Pamela D said...

Yea for having fun. :)

Anonymous said...

http://image.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/60149/60149,1206497593,10/stock-photo-purple-cabbage-as-winter-decor-in-garden-10758310.jpg

Is this your inspiration? :-) whatever it will be, that yarn is delicious!

Syd said...

Yarn is gorgeous knitted up! Will evolve into hat...Dense comment...one of your BEST EVER! Snorted my coffee yet again and cat thinks I am strange laughing at computer.

Karen M said...

Kale. Purple Kale.

Susanne said...

<<>>>
I laughed right out loud and spewed coffee all over the screen!! Best line ever...in light of the current political situation in my dear neighbours to the south!

Gwyn said...

I made something similar, ages ago, when trying to make a felted hat. It looked exactly like that, and I thought, in my naivete, that it would felt down. It did. The cats adore sleeping in their lovely felted lily pad.

HarpTonya said...

I shared your spectacular last line on FB: "I'm having fun. And I learned something. Which for me is often the same thing." That. Is. Absolutely. Me. Too.

My brilliantly funny PhD friend who loves words (you two have much in common, including a wicked sense of humor and no need for shampoo) posted this reply - a huge compliment to you, I hope you receive it as such:

"In a hole in the ground there lived a Habit. Not a nasty, damp, smelly Habit, but a Franklin Habit, and that means quotability."

Thanks for making my day.

Linda said...

LOL, I've seen that ruffly type of knitted item! When I asked the LYS teacher why knitting was so hard, she asked to see my pattern, then asked me to count the stitches I had. Ratio of stitches on needles to stitches pattern required: 250 to 1, or thereabouts. Pesky yos!

KnitWit said...

I love the yarn. And I love the "dense" comment... :)

MissJay said...

Dude, you made ART!

nosenabook said...

Franklin! Any way I look at it, the color change is way beyond pretty. And you made it yourself!

Ahem. Ya know, if you went in for a ruffled doily of any sort, I'd be interested to know what sort of starch you might use.

Anonymous said...

I would have said, " . . . produced a scrap of fabric so dense it coukd have been mistaken for a Chicago politician."

Melissa McKee said...

But the colors. That is some good yarn. Have fun playing. I do love to play with handspun.

LM said...

I thought I'd be the first--but I see that a half dozen others have beat me to it; It is ornamental kale. :-D

B E A U T I F U L yarn! Congrats on it. You'll find just the thing for it. It's absolutely lovely yarn.

I do actually like the kale look! How about a whole knitted garden of yarn vegetables? Then you can say, "I meant to do that." Well, if you do that, you might want to delete your post since it is evidence to the contrary. :-)

Anonymous said...

Some of us would say "dense enough to pass a massive piece of legislation without a fucking clue as to what it said." Your conservative bashing just earned you a lost reader who is disappointed that you could not resist the urge to put politics in knitting.

It also means the bookstore will be getting three copies of your book, purchased as Christmas presents, back to stock. Congrats for kicking yourself in the arse.

Franklin said...

We have differing definitions of "conservative." I come from a proud family of old-style conservatives who have no desire to be associated with the lunatic fringe.

I shall endeavor to carry on without the 75 cents in royalties your purchase would have brought me.

Cheerio.

Evelyn said...

"produced a scrap of fabric so incredibly dense it could have run for Congress on the Tea Party ticket." Cracked me right up.

Anonymous said...

Monet @ Giverny

Ken McCamish said...

Now you knit a nice tight green skull cap and sew the purple monstrosity to the top of it. VoilĂ !

Lisa Watkins said...

I want to pin that cabbage-like item to the shoulder of a plain and simple dress or shirt and let the world admire its beauty!

Soosan said...

Everyone should have some spontanious knitting!

Sandy Miller said...

I've made this exact same item, thing, basket, umm! Thanks for making me laugh so hard I cried.

Anonymous said...

Sew it to a head band & give it to a friend who could carry it off. Love the colors.