Friday, December 09, 2005

Alpaca as metaphor OR When in doubt, level up

My Inca Alpaca hat was not going well. It was in danger of making me cry. Perhaps finals week was not the time to attempt this.

While stamping down hard on my hat emotion, I was wondering if it might not be better to do a hat that explicitly matches my scarf (which, by the way, I am loving). I have a bit of that Misti Alpaca in camel leftover (yes, THAT Misti Alpaca, which I recently vowed in this august forum never to touch again) and a full skein of the Big Baby Twisty Alpaca. The two colors look swell together, the heavier weight is easier for my clumsy hands to handle, and that stupid Inca Alpaca hate it so much right now. All of that's well and good. I fully support rejecting the skinny bitch in favor of her zaftig sister.

But then I decided that what I really wanted was to REALLY make a matchy hat. So, my inner lunatic reasoned, why not do a basketweave band in the camel and do the crown of the hat in the twisty? Yes, inept Big Wheel rider that I am, I decided that it was a good idea to head directly into driving the triple trailer big rig filled with C4 and caffeinated puppies through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Here's the funny part (well, not ha ha funny, unless you're Fate, in which case it's a laugh riot): It was going fucking splendidly. The math on the pattern is easy to do (it's a series of 6 stitches), and it was looking great. But something not-quite-right was niggling at my brain. My first instinct was to worry that it was going to be either way too big or way too small. I wanted to check, so I capped off the circulars and tried to let the whole thing hang down off the needles so I could wear it like a nubbly crown.

And the horrible truth became clear: I had knit a moebius band.

I am enough of a nerd that my first reaction was really: Cool! My second, however, was the more predictable: MOTHERFUCKER! My third was the inevitable: Dude, WTF? How could this have happened? I had watched my stitch butts with lascivious attention. They were ALWAYS hanging down. Knitting moebius didn't turn up much other than a scarf pattern.

A search on Knitting Round Stitch Twist turned up a hit that had my stomach sinking. I'd hit on "Combined Purling" complete with a warning that this creates a twisted stitch in the round, so one has to knit into the back round a row up. Who knew?

Well, anyone who knits solely in Combined/Composite style, I guess. I don't. I knit Continental and purl Composite. This is a feature (bug, apparently) of the fact that the Evil One only taught me knit. I taught myself purling way back when, and Stitch N Bitch's Continental purling instructions seemed so bizarre that I just dinked around until I hit on a purl that made sense to me.

Knitting on straight needles, this has never been a problem, for whatever reason. I do have a tendency to add stitched in at the beginning unless I'm really careful to pull my work all the way around at the beginning of a row, but that seems to be the only problem encountered so far.

In trying to tackle the hat, however, I find myself saying "Fuck that shit!" about knitting into the back of stitches and whatnot. So I'm purling in the accepted Continental manner and now learning why purling strikes fear into many a knitter's heart. But as the Flying Spaghetti Monster is my witness, I WILL have a toasty fucking hat.


Blogger Angeltiger said...

C-C-C-Crap! I knew you were a combined purler. I just had no idea it would do such terrible things to your in-the-round knitting, or I would have warned you... Sorry bout that.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Matilda said...

Fear not, mon cher. You were my holographic guide anyway. I'd have had no idea what to even search on if you hadn't realized that I was combined purling. It's all good. My head will be warm anon. Even if I have to set it on fire.

12:58 AM  

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