Wednesday, January 23, 2008

knitting update

Since I finished Magic Baby's Little Star Sweater on Christmas Eve, I have felt guilty that I haven't made a sweater for Big Sister yet. (She wants me to make her the Pirate Sweater by Zoe Mellor.) And because of the nagging guilt (which was present the entire time I worked on my Toe-Up Hederas... although I knit those anyway), I have been reluctant to cast on anything else. Like that Swingy Tank I'm going to make out of the yummy CashSilk I bought at Webs. (That one's for me.) And the Central Park Hoodie I'm going to knit out of the Nature Wool I bought at Webs. (That one is also for me.) Yeah, those projects were far too guilt-inducing to even be contemplated in the past month, and all because I needed to get my arse to a lys and buy some nice red merino. Now, usually, my arse would have had no problem getting to a lys, but I promised to go on a yarn diet at the beginning of the year and had already broken that resolution. With a trip to Webs. (The second in two weeks, during which I purchased an entire sweaters-worth of yarn. For, um, me.) Needless to say, I was a bit hesitant about entering another yarn store where I would probably be overcome by fumes yet again and lose complete track of my spending. And then my husband did something amazing. He volunteered to take me to a yarn store. You know, just to look. (Clearly, the man has never been yarn shopping.) And so we went this weekend to Fresh Purls in Providence (which is, coincidentally right down the street from my favorite vegetarian restaurant, Garden Grille) and I got some red merino. When I got home (and during a certain football game), I started on the back of the sweater.

At first, I wasn't sure about the red. I was trying to find a bright red and the only thing Fresh Purls had in the right weight was more of a wine-red, but now that I've seen it with the black, I like it a lot. Unfortunately, the back of the sweater is just plain stockinette stitch. 120 rows of plain stockinette stitch. And I was getting bored (after the game, of course). So, I took a break and checked out Ravelry, where I stumbled upon a group called The Testing Pool. The way this group works is, people who have designed their own patterns post messages on the group, asking if anyone wants to try out a new pattern they've made, and any Raveler can agree to try it. While you knit the pattern, you make notes on any discrepancies or errors you find and you let the designer know. (You also take lots of pictures, but as this has become a natural step in the knitting progress for those of us with blogs, it's not really a big deal to me. ) Out of sheer desperation at knitting 9600 stitches in stockinette, I joined the group and volunteered to try out two projects. One is this really cute baby sweater (called Liam) which I haven't started yet but plan to in the next few days. The other is this

It's a teeny-tiny Mushroom from the Mario video games and it is super cute. It's also really small, which you might be able to tell from the picture. (Especially if I tell you I don't have ginormous hands. Which is true, even though the picture seems to show otherwise.) It's knit on size 0 needles with fingering-ish weight yarn (I don't know what kind of yarn it is. The pattern designer sent it to me.) and I'm having a lot of fun knitting it. I've decided I like the Testing Pool group for a few reasons. First, I think it's cool to try out patterns for other people. They're trying to market the patterns somehow, and they need someone to make sure the pattern actually works and I feel somehow useful being that person. Second, I get to pick which patterns I want to knit, so I can just choose to knit ones I like and would probably knit up anyway (like the Liam sweater) or ones that are quick (like the Mario Mushroom). That way, I get to knit what I want while at the same time helping someone else. It's a win-win situation! The only problem I've encountered is what to do with a pattern I like and agree to knit but have no one to give it to (like the Liam sweater which won't be big enough for Magic Baby). I could hold on to it and wait until someone I know has a use for it, or I could donate it. I haven't decided, but I guess that's okay since I haven't started yet, either! Oh and there's also the guilt issue again. I would feel terrible if I finished a sweater for a nonexistent baby before I made one for my own daughter. I'm hoping that once I finish the back part of the Pirate Sweater, I'll be less bored by the project, because the skull chart should be fun (right?). And if I'm not bored, I'm more inclined to work on it so I should have it finished in no time. Plus the Liam sweater is row upon row of garter stitch, which is even more boring than stockinette, so the Pirate sweater will be positively thrilling by comparison! At least, that's what I'm hoping. (I'm also hoping that a fabulous pattern, like oh maybe the Central Park Hoodie doesn't try to lure me away from the Knitting That Needs To Be Done with its promise of cables and other knitting joys.) I'll let you know how my delusions (and self-restraint) hold out.