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Brewer Burns

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Swear This is My Last Backyard Leaves Post; Also the Wrap-Up on Miss Dashwood

Pattern: Backyard Leaves Scarf from Scarf Style by Annie Modesitt
Yarn: Baby Twist, 100% baby alpaca, by Alpaca with a Twist, four skeins with plenty left over
Needles: Size 6 straights
Mods: I changed needle sizes because I didn’t have any size 7 straights (although I have several pairs of size 7 circulars), I also substituted a yarn.

The pattern is well written and easy to follow. It took me a good long while before I saw the pattern in the chart because it’s 19 rows long and changes frequently, but it really makes a nice scarf. The lace leaves that are created really pop out in relief. It’s just a really clever pattern. My only gripe about it is that the join in the middle is wonky. When I made this scarf I joined the two scarf halves using the “fake grafting” technique from the first SNB book, and just did the best I could to make it even and look right. It’s not perfect, but it’s passable. If I were going to make another scarf, though, I think I would provisionally cast on the first ten stitches (pulling up loops through the back loops of a crochet chain.) Then when I got to row three or five where the pattern instructs you to cast on five stitches at the end of the row, I would pull up those five stitches as loops from the back loops of the crochet chain as well. Then I would kitchener stitch the two halves together. Alternatively, you could also pick up stitches along each cast on edge, then graft those together. Either way I think would look a little better than what I did.

Okay, the yarn. I love this yarn. It is soft like butter, with just a hint of a halo. And it’s reasonably priced. Each 110 yard skein was $6.00 at my LYS. That means that I got 440 yards for roughly $24.00 (plus tax.) I think that’s an imminently reasonable price for natural fibers, and enough of them to make a rather long scarf. Oh, right. I haven’t actually measured the length of the scarf but trust me, it’s long enough for any person under six feet tall.

Pattern: Miss Dashwood, by Heather Ramsey, from Knitty.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Merino Aran, two skeins
Needles: Size 6, 16" circular, and dpn’s
Mods: inadvertent yarn substitution and I subbed in I-cord ties for the seed stitch ties in the pattern.

This pattern nearly killed me. Now, I don’t mean to smear the designer or Knitty, because the pattern itself was exceedingly well written and totally understandable. HOWEVER. This pattern includes two things which made me want to gnaw my own fingers off: picot cast on and bobbles. Let’s start with the picot cast on, shall we? The picot cast on requires that you: cast on five stitches, then cast off two stitches. That leaves you three stitches, right? So, in order to cast on the 169 stitches for the size I was making (the 1-2 year size) I actually had to cast on 281 stitches (or so.) A pain in my ass. Especially since casting on is actually the part of a project that I kind-of-sort-of-hate most of the time. I mean, I like starting new things (who doesn’t?) but I want to get the actual casting on of new stitches over as quickly as possible. Especially since I have a hard time, when I’m working with circular needles, not twisting the stitches as I join. This was all compounded by the fact that I didn’t have a 16" circular needle when I started the project so I decided to cast on using my set of dpn’s instead. Yeah. That nearly put me over the edge since there was barely enough room on the dpn’s for the number of stitches.

So, why so many stitches, you might ask? Well, because you’re actually forming a ruffle. A very cute ruffle. But a ruffle nonetheless. Said ruffle takes a lot of stitches and a lot of yarn. When I had used up one whole skein and I had not yet finished the bobble row, I was worried I was going to run out of yarn before the end. But that’s the thing about picot cast ons, ruffles, and bobbles: they take a fuck load of yarn to create. The rest of the hat, including the ear flaps, took a half to three-quarters of a skein of yarn. The bobbles were also a true pain in the ass. But I knew they would be and prepared myself for them mentally. Oh, and I substituted I-cord ties for the seed stitch ties that are in the pattern. I just thought that the I-cord would be faster.

Now for the good parts. I love this hat. It is incredibly cute. It has the ruffles and the bobbles and the earflaps. It has earflaps! Not only is it incredibly cute, it is also practical, because if it’s actually cold enough to put your baby in a wool hat, it’s definitely cold enough to pull down the earflaps and tie that hat on. Totally cute. Totally well-thought-out. Of course, the woman who designed it is a mother, so of course she thought these things through when she designed it.

Lastly, the yarn. I thought the pattern called for Merino Aran yarn, so that’s what I bought. Not so. It actually calls for Cashmerino Aran. If you are making this hat, go for the Cashmerino Aran. I had never used the Merino Aran before and I was disappointed in its softness. It felt a lot like crunchy acrylic yarn. Not so much like Red Heart or something like that, but just not very nice, and if you’re going to spend a lot of money on yarn you might as well get something that feels really nice.

That’s all for now. I’m still trying to figure out how to post pictures to blogger using my new camera, and the new “bike gear” that Stephen purchased. I’m going to work on that tonight.

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