So I am finally working on the Noro my sister bought for her scarf, but then gave up because three rows after she cast on she was so tight she couldn’t even push a needle through to make a stitch. Like most people, I think the Noro is beautiful and I totally want a Noro striped scarf, but when it comes down to buying the actual yarn, I get overwhelmed by the color selections. And possibilities. And wondering, what if these colors don’t exactly work with those colors? Clearly, I need to man up. And so I thought we had come to the perfect solution: by working on my sister’s scarf, I get to play with her Noro before I buy and she gets a scarf that’s longer than three rows long.

So you’d think.
Actually, the colors aren’t bothering me in the slightest. It is cool to watch these stripes slowly turn to other colors as I continue to knit. However, I think the operative word in that last sentence is “continue” because really, that hasn’t been the overall feel here. More like struggle. Muddle. Frog. I’m just short of calling it the undo scarf, as the more I knit, the more I undo, but I think I might have finally gotten the rhythm of this scarf, and so we are at a detente, the scarf and I, and slowly the rows continue to build.

The irony here is that this scarf is supposed to be my easy off-project project. You know, the one you go to when you get overwhelmed b the intricacies of the difficult pattern you’re working on and long for some simple knit purl? Yeah, that one. And as this is a simple 1×1 ribbing, it should be relatively mindless, save for the one slight hiccup: the edges. Aye, there’s the rub. Because the edges are really the only drawback to this scarf, and perhaps not so much a drawback, but more like I don’t think I understood just how important those edges are, nor just how close I was to being pushed over them. Metaphorically speaking.

Okay, so why am I so whiny about the edges?

Mostly because the edges are the only tricky part of this scarf. It’s the first time I’ve used two colors at the same time, so you have to bring the non-worked yarn up along the edge as you’re knitting the other one. And that sounds easy unless you’ve ever done that before, and in practice, it befuddled me. Also, they suggest using a slipped stitch selvedge. Again, in theory I understood what was going on. In reality, I had no freaking clue. Slip sti– waaaait, what? Why the second row and not the first? On both sides, or not? Clearly, I was not going to be able to sort it out until I rolled up my sleeves and got on with it.

It was, in a word, painful.

I think I’ve ripped this simple scarf out 9 or 10 times. Never getting more than eight stripes through; sometimes less than two. Sadly, the reality is you need to get going for a while to see where your mistakes are, and how you’re doing it wrong, before you can correct it. And I am probably more likely to rip something out if I’m still relatively close to the beginning, as much as it pains me to do so. Or perhaps that was just me. Thank God for YouTube and @iAudrey, because they were the only things that could show me a) how to try to do it, and b) how to fix it.

So now I’m on the right track. So far. We’ll see just how long this takes me — or if I even want to do another one for me. I hope I’m not sick of it by the end; I still want to do one for myself in Noro’s Silk Garden.

That is, if I haven’t been pushed over the edge by then.

(PS. Photos of scarf in progress to come. Waiting for, you know, light.)

>So it’s New Year’s, and I’ve been steadily knitting for just under a year. In fact, I’m only just now starting to feel confident that I might know what’s going on. Like, I’ve finally realized I can’t buy sock yarn unless I’m really going to make–and wear–socks. It’s not like I don’t like socks, but those small needles intimidate me. I mean, I’m sure I can get through one sock, but then I actually have to start over and make a second one. And get them to match. This repetitive nonsense does not compel me to start the first sock in the first place. So obviously that’s an area of growth for me. But in other areas, I am progressing. I am slowly figuring out weights, gauge, and patterns. I’m gradually adding new stitches to my repertoire (and when I can’t mentally retrieve that repertoire, there’s always YouTube, thankfully). I’m not terribly good at self control when it comes to yarnporn; I’ve gone to two festivals this last year (Maryland, Rhinebeck) and came home with bags full of nom. It has slowly taken over my spare baskets and is spilling over onto the floor. Over the past several weeks I’ve finally gotten my stash somewhat in order, with pictures taken and uploaded, and information entered, so that when I get to choosing a new project–like now–I will be prepared. Errr, sorta.

Which brings me to now. Choosing a new project. I’ve decided I want to put a dent in my stash, and use up some of these big bags of nonsense so that I can find my floor again. I’ve gone through my patterns, matched up yarns, and this is my tentative game plan for the better part of 2010–or at least until Maryland’s Sheep and Wool Festival.
  • Araucania Magallanes: This green-grey yarn is hand dyed, and is going to be made into the long line waistcoat shown in Design Eighteen by Jenny Watson, in Araucania Collection, Book 3. It’s close to the same weight and gauge, and I think it will be beautiful. Fingers crossed.
  • Classic Elite Princess Yarns: A red-orange yarn that caught my eye in the closeout closet of The Yarn Basket, I actually matched it up with a pattern intended for this actual yarn that was marked in my faves–the waterlily shrug. I’m a bit worried that it’s only showing in medium; it’s a purchase pattern, so I need to either buy the book or find some knitpistol with it.
  • Rowan Cashsoft Aran: Mmmm, this is a nice feeling merino/cashmere/microfiber in a taupe I can actually wear without draining me of color. I have 1800 yds of this stuff, so I’d like to make a nice floppy sweater. It’s not chunky; it’s aran, so it will take me a bit to knit it all, but I would really like this one either in the Stitch ‘n Bitch’s big sack sweater or, if I can’t swing it, this bazic ribbed panel pullover.
  • Sirdar Denim Ultra: One of the few purchases I’ve made with a specific pattern in mind; mostly because I purchased this one-button jacket with long or 3/4 sleeves pattern at the same time. Thanks, Yarn Basket.
  • Blue Nommy Stuff: Apparently it hasn’t been put into my stash yet, but I want to make the high line shawl from it… again because I’ve been unduly influenced by Audrey’s prior projects. It’s beautiful!
  • Ella Rae Kamelsoft: One of the first big purchases I ever purchased, this one after a yarn tasting at Stitch Your Art Out. I bought the ella rae book thirteen collection for several ideas, but I think I’ve settled on Olive, in charcoal.It’s basic, but I think the beauty of the yarn will come through.
Yarns that I remember how much I like and want to use:
  • Malibrigo: This olive green nom is beautiful. I’ve bought plenty for a jacket; I’m just afraid to commit.
  • Lana Grossa Bingo: I’d really like to make a pullover with this purple sweater. It’s really soft, but at 1320 yds, there’s really not enough for a bulky sweater. Still undecided. Perhaps a vest or wrap.
  • Three different reds: Beautiful variations on a theme; I simply haven’t matched a project to the nomcolor.
Patterns I want to make sooner rather than later:
  • The every way wrap: I desperately want to make this 1235 yds of wrap and, while I don’t have a pumpkin (drat!), the cables are delicious.
Yarns I’m noticing aren’t yet catalogued in my stash:
  • Plum colored skeins, large, two; silky look and feel. Might be fabulous as the shadow cable jacket or the trinity stitch jacket, but I haven’t checked the gauge or suggested yarns. I just know this yarn has a bit of a sheen to it, and would be beautiful if I could figure it out. It must be said I really do love the rolled hems on these jackets.
  • One each of green, blue, and green-blue-purple variegated nomminess. No clues, and only one of each. Will have to be hats, or cowls, or gloves, or scarves… some sorts of one skein wonders.
  • Red/cream/grey/black skeins of baby alpaca in a scarf kit. Packaged together.
  • Cake of cream yarn, one skein, thin, packaged in a scarf kit. More springish.
  • Two skeins of navy blue tweed. Lovely, but only enough for a hat, or a pair of gloves or something of the sort. Not a lot here.
  • Black Cascade Pastaza, three skeins. Not sure if any are from same dye lot
  • Navy blue something, similar to Pastaza, one skein. Might have purchased it at the time to make gloves to coordinate with the navy blue tweed.
When all has been said and done, I’m a lot more familiar with my stash, and I think that’s a really good thing. I know I’ve done all the newbie knitter mistakes and bought everything I saw without the foresight to consider what I’d be using it for, and now I’m working through that. I really like having the ideas in place for what I want to do with many of the yarns I have in my stash; it also makes me aware that there are some outliers of yarns that I love, but don’t have enough to do anything significant with them. Those might well go up to “trade or sell” status at some point. Likewise, the other housecleaning step I’m about to take is jettison all the odd balls of hand-me-down yarn and discards that others didn’t want, but gave me to start on for practice. Gratefully appreciated, but if I’m not going to use it, I’d rather just lose it.
Wow. A very real queue, a stash with reliable data, and a better understanding of gauge, stitches, and resources. It feels really good to have a game plan.