Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lily's Branching Out Scarf and Other Projects

Originally uploaded by lilybug1
So I've been on Ravelry for several days and it's motivated me to get a few projects done. One of my projects is the Branching Our Scarf from Knitty.com. I've actually been working on this scarf since before Christmas.

It started when I joined the December Gift Exchange (DGE) on my parenting board. Basically, each person who signed up was given a random person to buy for. The person who bought for you was not the person that you were buying for, so it was like a Secret Santa program in that respect. Anyway...my DGE pal Renee sent me some beautiful moss green yarn along with the other presents in my package. I hadn't worked on a knitting project in a while, so I hunted around and found the Branching Out pattern. It was billed as a relatively easy lace project that would work with pretty much any yarn.

I took the project to California with me and started working on it. At first, I couldn't get past the first three rows of the lace pattern. No matter how carefully I worked, I always ended up short of stitches. It didn't help that the yarn was so fluffy that it obscured the pattern. I ended up throwing in the towel after working two or three repeats of the pattern and ripping them back about eight times.

Fast forward to January. I'm back home from our Christmas trip and I figure my problem with the scarf pattern was that the yarn was not ideal for lace work. I pick up a skein of inexpensive yarn with a little less fluff at Michaels and start the scarf over. Surprise! I end up having the same problem following the pattern.

I'm nothing if not tenacious, so I recast the moss yarn and give it another go. Nope. Still can't seem to follow that pattern. I tried it with some worsted weight wool. Nope, still can't do it. I tried some multicolored chenille yarn. Nope. I tried solid chenille yarn. Nope, still can't get through an entire repeat without ripping back.

I put the project away for a while and then bought some cheap ecru cotton yarn from WalMart. On the way home, I checked out a new yarn store and bought some gorgeous alpaca lace weight yarn. I figure one of these yarns is going to do the trick.

Sadly, my gorgeous alpaca yarn required much smaller needles and I quickly saw that working in a smaller stitch was just exacerbating my problems with the pattern. I put the alpaca aside for another project and pulled out the cheap cotton yarn.

I wish I could tell you that I was magically able to follow the pattern, but I still had problems. The cotton was much easier to work with in that I could see the pattern clearly and it was easy to rip back a few rounds to correct whatever problem was going on. I started with the cotton on Sunday and finished it up today. That being said, I still had to rip back at least three rows every repeat of the pattern! I decided that the finished project was going to Lily, because it was a perfect excuse to make a much shorter scarf than originally planned. Lily loves the lacy look and was pleased to have the scarf.

Because I'm a masochist, I decided to go ahead and cast on my next project, which is a lace patterned cardigan for Lily. I'm working this project in a much nicer quality mercerized cotton and on much smaller needles. The pattern is another that I got form Knitty. Unlike the scarf pattern, however, which had both written instructions and a chart for the lace pattern, the sweater pattern only has the charts. I'd avoided using the chart for the scarf because it looked too complicated to me and I'd never worked from a chart before. In fact, I may have even said "I'm not using that newfangled looking thing." I might have even said that out loud.

Unfortunately, I'd already shown Lily the cardigan pattern and the yarn, so I couldn't turn back from that project. I bit the bullet and sat down to figure out the chart. Guess what? Knitting from the chart is a breeze and I haven't had any problems with dropped stitches of pattern mistakes so far! It's so much easier to work from the chart. That'll teach me to fear trying something new when it comes to knitting.

Lily loves her new scarf and posed for a picture so that I could post it here and on Ravelry. After a few months go by, I might try knitting another of these scarves from the chart. It really is a quick project...or would be without all the frogging.

So there you have it.

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