Monday, October 16, 2006

Visiting the Frog Pond *

When you're a designer, you often take a visit to the frog pond. Usually, I can avoid too long a visit by just having a small bit to undo; but this weekend was a major exception!

I had recently acquired a batch of hand-spun and -dyed blue wool yarn. The problem with handspun is I have no idea how much I I pulled out the needles, made a gauge swatch and proceeded to create a top down poncho.

This particular pattern I'm designing has a lace panel down the front (with a matching plain knit panel down the back). All of the increases then occur on the sides (or shoulder area since it's top down).

Well, I had gotten the WHOLE thing finished. I had placed a stripe of lighter blue in the center and then finished with the darker blue at the bottom. I had placed eyelets along the hem to make it easier to add fringe -- planning to use the light blue for the fringe so that all would coordinate. I finished the bind-off on Saturday evening (after having watched the silly and very family-friendly, Support Your Local Sheriff).

On Sunday, I tried the poncho on. It looked ok, but wasn't as loose as I would like. So....a trip to the frog pond. Now there are a couple of ways to "rip back" about two-thirds of what you've already done. (Well, there's a third option, but that means tossing the whole thing and starting a new project ...)

1. go to the wrong side and snip the upper loop of the same row every second or third stitch. This works best when you have a different color where you can start the "ripping". Also, with wool, the yarn sticks to itself and won't pull out till you're ready to pick up the stitches; be careful going too far ahead with the cut stitches if your yarn is slippery or really loosely knit. Using a circular needle (you can use one that is a couple of sizes smaller to ease in the pick-up of the live stitches), you pick up the stitches as the bad part is cut from the part you want to save.

2. undo the bind-off and pull the thread until you're at the point you want. Doing it this way, you'll want to rewind (loosely) the yarn every so often, else you'll have a big pile of wriggly yarn that is REALLY hard to roll into a ball -- don't ask how I know this! When you're to the point where you want to start knitting again, pick up the stitches using a circular needle the size you've been using (or one that's a few sizes smaller to ensure ease in picking up the stitches).

I did both on my pond visit for the poncho. I cut where the light blue strip attached to the upper third -- you can see the undone piece (maybe I'll felt it and make a scarf out of the already knitted piece. Then I unraveled back to the last increase rows and started knitting again. I also unraveled the dark blue bottom portion as I might need that yarn for the poncho.

Some people don't like to use knitted yarn that's been unraveled -- it's pretty bumpy. However, I tend to knit very loosely and reusing the yarn really isn't a problem because the wool hasn't been overly stretched. If you knit tightly, or the yarn is REALLY kinked, then (using a yarn swift or the back of a chair) wind the yarn into a large circle, wrap waste yarn around in about 3 or 4 places, handwash the yarn and then let dry (place a weight on the bottom of the loop to ensure the yarn dries un-kinked. When dry, wind into a loose ball.

The reason you'd want to wash the yarn if it's really kinked is that the fibers have been stretched -- this is more critical with natural fibers than man-made fibers -- and your final knitted product just won't be the same.

I'll post pictures when I'm done with this poncho -- I think it's going to look great; I've decided not to add the light blue (I have PLENTY of the dark blue wool) and I'll knit in the fringe ... I'll keep you posted

* frog pond -- because you "rip it" "rip it"

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