Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mystery Knits as Test Knits

My love of mystery knits is no surprise. I have a very hard time passing them up (just finished one, in the middle of one, and three to come in the next month and a half...). However, the more I do the more I learn and sometimes it's not the fun kind of learning.

It is becoming obvious that some designers use a KAL or MKAL as a test knit. While I don't have a problem with that, I wish they would be a bit more straight forward about it. It can be extremely frustrating to receive a clue for your mystery knit only to be held up because there's an error in the first row. I've had a couple of MKALs that went extremely smoothly or had one or two minor things. Usually there was a mistake from the charted to written instructions which doesn't impact me too much as I use the charts. I've had one that had a few major math issued at the very beginning of clues that cause a lot of frustration. It really sucks to excitedly open a clue in the morning and instead of going at it, having to do some math and not getting the number the pattern says you should.

Another thing that has popped up a couple of times is consistency across clues. If there are three stitches of garter on both edges of your shawl and it is shown on the charts for the first two clues and then dropped without any mention in the third clue my poor tired brain can't figure that out at seven in the morning. I think some of this has to do with some designers not having the entire pattern written, tested and edited before the start of the project. It's hard to keep to a format when you're doing it piecemeal and not looking at something as a whole.

I've lucked out so far. There have been no major issues in things that I've paid to be a part of. I would be significantly more irritated if that had been the case. I have three coming up that I've actually paid to do so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for smooth sailing.

Every KAL or MKAL that I've done, however, has had a fantastic forum group that is extremely helpful in confirming my problems or helping to explain where I've mucked it up. Especially groups run by the designers themselves. They have all been very prompt and helpful. And that is where my love for these types of things comes in. No matter what problem I run into there is a group of fabulous people that are doing the same thing and can pretty quickly help figure it out.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

No Place is Safe

Do you ever see a post on the Ravelry forums and just know that it's going to get locked down by the end of the day? It's like a train wreck. I can't help but watch it spiral into petty and off topic arguments.

I remember thinking once that a forum on a yarn crafting social website can't possible get crazy. Oh how wrong I was...

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pattern Design, or How I Accidentally Knit a Watermelon

Sometimes you set out to make one thing and end up with something rather unexpected.  I won a skein of Candy Hearts yarn from Brediculous Yarns in February. I searched and searched for a pattern to use it with, but I had a hard time finding something I liked. I finally decided that I would have to come up with something on my own. I spent a few days getting sucked into the deep hole of lace stitches online and finally settled on one that I liked and knit up a swatch.

I was super please with how it looked and started planning out a shawl to make the most of the single skein of yarn. I got myself a graph paper notebook and started charting. The site I found the lace on only had written out instructions so I took some time to chart that out and then started playing with different shawl shapes to see what I wanted to do. I personally am not a huge fan of triangle shawls. I like to wear mine as scarfs so triangles tend to be a bit bulky around the neck.  After sketching out shawl designs I really liked the asymmetrical shawl. Unfortunately that one is going to take a LOT more planning and math to figure out how to fit the design I want into it.

I settled on a crescent shawl because it's a shape that is very wearable to me and fitting the pattern design into it was going to take significantly less time and math. After some swatching and charting, and recharting, and simplifying that chart to make it easier I grabbed a skein of Knit Picks Palette in a color I am frankly not likely to ever use for anything else and cast on for a proof of concept shawl. I don't think I've ever really heard anything in knitting referred to as proof of concept, but I'm rolling with it.

I was absolutely only going to do a little swatch of the design to see if it worked the way I wanted it to. And then I kept knitting... and knitting... and knitting... Eventually I gave in and decided to use up as much of the skein as I could. It was a 50g skein with 231yds. I am absolutely floored by how much I got out of it. Of course I ended up a few rows short. So I grabbed whatever Palette I had laying around left over from other projects. And then I ran out of that yarn so I grabbed one more and accidentally knit a watermelon.

I blocked out the Accidental Watermelon and it's the perfect size for the Bug and works pretty well as a kerchief scarf on me.

As things tend to go I finished the test shawl and then got distracted by something shiny so I haven't done the real version with the Candy Hearts yet. I might have to pick that up soon and give it a whirl. I would love to get this pattern written up for real and post it on Ravelry.

Monday, June 5, 2017

So Many MKALs, So Little Time

I don't think it's a secret that knit-a-longs and mystery knit-a-longs are absolutely my jam. They are what really got me back into knitting on a more consistent basis.  It seemed like such a novel concept when I first heard of it last year. A whole group of people knitting the same item, but only getting a portion of the pattern at a time with no idea what the final product would look like! I had never heard of anything like this before. I was completely sucked in.

The first one I did was the West Knits October MKAL. I had complimented a friends shawl and she told me all about the idea of MKALs (hers was Exploration Station which I totally want to do at some point). I was so intrigued that I went home and searched Ravelry for more information. Discovered that the October West Knits MKAL was starting in a week and jumped on that bandwagon.

Picking colors is hard enough when you know what you're making. When it's a complete mystery it's even more stressful. Sometimes it's successful and sometimes not so much... I was pretty happy with my colors for the West Knits MKAL when I picked them and then quickly grew to hate them a few sections into the shawl. However, it has started to grow on me...

Then I did the Aroha Knits Makariri Shawl KAL and it was like the flood gates opened. There are entire groups on Ravelry that keep track of KALs and MKALs that are happening. Guys, there are SO MANY. I want to do a lot of them, but I simply don't have the time for all of them. I just finished one for the month of May, started another for the month of June, and now I've got two I signed up for starting in July and one in August..

Here's the one I'm working on now. A lace weight shawl on US size 2. The yarn I picked is definitely more like cobweb yarn... It takes great lighting, sharp enough to injure yourself needles, and serious concentration.