Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

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Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Wintergarden 1

I cast on for Wintergarden ( http://www.kidsknits.com/wintergarden.html )on Wednesday November 1. The pattern called for 254 stitches so I used the cable cast on to slowly knit them up. I even remembered to put a stitch marker after every 25th stitch so I wouldn't get lost in the high-end numbers. Of course I knit the first round back without joining; that always makes it much easier NOT to twist the fabric and inadvertently start knitting a mobius strip.

I finished that first round while watching the new South Park on Wednesday night. I knew better than to attempt the join when I was that tired and the room was that dark so instead I attempted the join Thursday on a home-for-lunch hour. I ever-so-carefully inspected the thin bit of knitting on the needle while tugging at all the stitch markers to make sure they lined up. Checked for twists, found none, so tentatively joined. Knit four stitches to hold things in place, put point guards on the needle tips and carefully inspected.

Mobius strip. Damn.

Not much of a "damn" though since I was smart enough to not get very far into the round before looking. Tinked out the four stitches and tried again, this time with even more care but also more frustration because 254 stitches piled onto a 36 inch needle fold back on themselves and ruffle up in a most annoying way. Very carefully checked and re-checked then joined again. Knit the same four stitches and then inspected...this time things looked good.

Till I got about two-thirds of the way around. Another mobius strip. Damn! Not only was I pissed but I didn't have time to tink out and had to throw the whole thing back in the basket till I got home.

In the intervening time I decided to definitely purl back across the next row too, still without joining so I could make a slightly bigger edge that would have less inclination to roll around the plastic cord of the needle.

Didn't help the twisting problem one damned bit.

I needed to somehow weigh down the bottom edge of the knitted fabric so it
wouldn't spin. I started by attaching my heavy threadcutter medallion to the lower right-hand corner of the work....

...and then wished desperately for fishing weights, of which I had none. My idea was to pin them along the bottom edge of the knitting to make it heavy enough not to roll but I didn't have anything else to use either. Sat there frustrated and playing around with various combinations of safety pins, all of which were useless.

Then the inspiration came: clothespins! Although I never had much use for most of higher mathematics, one of the branches I did like was topography, and that was what I applied to my problem. Assuming that the weighted end never moved, if I stretched out one of the units of 25 stitches and made sure IT wasn't twisted then applied two clothespins to the edge, I could stretch out another unit of 25 stitches, move the first clothespin along the knitting and rest assured that as long as the end didn't move, the smoothed-out untwisted stitches would stay untwisted no matter how bunched-up they became. Only problem was finding the clothespins but ransacking HBF's great-grandmother's sewing basket yielded two.

So that's what I did. Used my feet to help keep that weighted end from moving and eventually ended up with two clothespins at the far end of the knitting and some very bunched-up stitches behind. With an incredible trust in the fact that mathematics really does describe the Universe, I went ahead and joined without even checking.

It worked! I was so freaking happy I dummied up an example picture just to share with all of
you:






I shouldn't have bothered. Several knitting hours later I observed the following:




Just in case it wasn't obvious, here's a closeup of the half-twist:



Another fucking mobius strip!!

This time there was enough knitting involved to make me completely furious. Nothing to be done but accept the unpleasant truth though, so I went for a walk to calm down. While walking I realized two things: first the the type of cast on wasn't helping my problem and second that the clothespin idea wasn't all bad.

I had used the cable cast on which makes a very nice firm edge at the bottom of one's work but also has an inherently strong tendency to twist due to how the stitches are made: each is somewhat "in front of" the one preceding it. Thus the whole thing wants to skew. An analogy is the half-square knot in macrame which forms such a pretty spiral when one makes a whole rope of them one after another. So fine, first decision was to make sure to use the two-tail cast-on when I tried again.

Then I contemplated my clothespin idea and realized that it had merit. The reason why it had merit was because the clothespins added both instant weight and instant length, which are useful in preventing a twisting problem. The reason why it hadn't kept working was because there were too few clothespins and too much potential for sliding around--the supposedly-weighted "fixed" end and/or the close-to-my-hands "free" end had twisted or else I had somehow missed a pre-existing twist in my last attempt.

Solution? More clothespins!! (Monty Python fans please superimpose "MORE witches!")

After buying an entire package of clothespins I used the two-tail cast-on, purled back and then knit across while strategically placing clothespins along the way:


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Tune in next time to see how THAT attempt worked out.

2 Comments:

Blogger JoVE said...

I am also a fan of the cable cast-on and use that knitting back a row before joining all the time to prevent twisting. How frustrating that it didn't work in this case. Glad you seem to have found a solution.

And the environmentalist in me notes that you now have clothespins and could thus use solar power to dry your clothes next summer :-)

November 05, 2006 6:07 PM  
Blogger SamD said...

Only 48 pins worth of clothing which for this house would be a mere drop in the proverbial bucket.

I admire, respect and take notes about living pre-grid...but am gonna go back to living that way ONLY when all other options have expired.

Sadly I think that may be sooner rather than later.

November 05, 2006 10:25 PM  

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