30 March 2014

Bad Juju

I do not know what was going on in February, but whatever it was, it was bad juju. Pretty much everything I touched went wrong in some way. A sample:
  1. Asked the shop to order lace blocking tools before I left town for 10 days. Order didn't go through initially, thus taking more than a month.
  2. Sent broken Tupperware to South Carolina before I left town for 10 days. Replacement Tupperware arrived 5 weeks later.
  3. Ordered ribbons for Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance show and made an extra trip over to the trophy shop to double-check on the order. Ribbons came back late and with an error.
  4. Received lovely bouquet of flowers as thank-you gift for teaching a guild workshop. Feline criminal mastermind knocked crystal vase over, breaking vase and scratching a tile in the kitchen after a different previously broken tile in the kitchen had been replaced. (At least Replacements.com had the vase in stock.)
  5. Handyman installed new task lighting in kitchen and removed broken task lighting but broke a wine glass which for some reason Replacements.com doesn't have. (How is it I have a pattern they don't have in stock?)
  6. Visited Cuddly Hubby at Maryland Man Cave for three-day St. Valentine's Day weekend. Computer files went horribly bad and he spent the week working lots of overtime to correct the problem. During my eight-day visit he had one day off and worked 12 hours most of the other days.
  7. Handyman repaired my great-grandmother's broken piano stool. When I went to use it, I then discovered another issue with the stool and needed to order the appropriate part. (The handyman is fixing it now.)
  8. Worked up a reversible cables blanket using 1x1 ribbles. Then discovered that 2x2 ribbles would probably ladder less.
  9. Totally messed up the thumbs on my Bohus gloves.
Sigh. The Bohus gloves had been in the "in-progress" pile for far too long. I decided this winter was the winter to finish them. I took out my notes from Brenda Dayne's glove class and brushed up on my glove-making knowledge. I set my self to the task. I finished the cuffs and I picked up the stitches and I knit in the round. And then I needed to shape the thumb gusset.

There are several ways to deal with the thumb in a glove or mitten. The simple way is to do a waste-yarn or afterthought thumb. You simply insert a few stitches of waste yarn while knitting or even just snip a thread later, open up a hole, pick up stitches and make a thumb. Of course, I was going for a true gusset. Often these are accomplished by increasing on both sides of a central area every-other round. But I decided to experiment and make the gusset by increasing along one line every round. This is the same shaping I did a few months ago when I made the twined fingerless mitts from Beth Brown-Reinsel's class.

It worked on the mitts. It did not work on the gloves.

I am not sure why. It could be that stockinette stitch and twined knitting do not have the same row gauge. It could be something odd happens at a fine gauge of 8 or 9 stitches to the inch. It could be that my hands are too long and thin and not close enough to the mean standard shape of human hands.

I know now what I did wrong. I kept increasing until the height of my glove-to-be was tall enough to clear the webbing of my thumb. Then I put all the increased stitches on a holder for later and began to work the upper part of the hand in the round.

And for some reason, I didn't look at those parked thumb stitches and do a little math. I just trusted that gusset increases are always worked until you've cleared the base of the thumb. And I then worked along merrily, on size 2 mm/US 0 needles, and completed both hands and all eight fingers. After all, I was working two at a time so I didn't need to count rows. Both gloves would be done simultaneously and would match! Glee!

All I needed to do was the thumbs. It was late February, and I was thinking I would watch a little curling, finish the thumbs, and invite spring to arrive. (As we all know, nothing insures a change of season like finishing a knitting project appropriate to the current season.) And it was when I went to pick up the two thumbs that I realized I had way too many stitches. I tried knitting a little and decreasing, but it just looked silly. Even TECHknitter concurred with the assessment. The gloves needed some knitting plastic surgery -- a gusset reduction! There was no other way to do it. I needed to snip, unpick a row, rip back eight rows, knit up plain without the increases, and graft the gloves back together. Since I worked two at a time, both had the same error. I would need to do this procedure twice.

If you are at all squeamish, do not scroll further! Avert your eyes from the carnage of this knitting surgery!

The beginning of round is marked with a coil-less safety pin. The over-sized thumb gusset is parked on two double-pointed needles. As the round is unpicked, stitches from the top (fingers) are parked on a white thread while stitches from the lower part are parked on needles.
Here is it mid-surgery.

And at the end, the glove has been decapitated. Horrors, indeed! Aiiee!
The beginning of round is just a little odd in this technique because of the parked thumb stitches. When grafting back together, the first stitch begins with a half-stitch rather than a whole stitch, because the cut thread from the other side forms the other half of the stitch. I know that last sentence makes no sense. Just trust me that if you have to do this, take a long, long look at the stitches at the beginning and end as you unpick them. There is a strange surprise lurking in the gusset.

I was able to knit back up eight rounds plain. So if I had done this correctly from the start, the method would have been to calculate how many stitches I needed to fit around my thumb, increase to that number, then work in the round without increases until the glove is tall enough to clear the base of the thumb. At that point it is time to park the thumb stitches and work the upper part of the hand in the round. Or if I really wanted to be elegant, I could have calculated how many rows for the needed height, how many increases for the needed width around the thumb, and then evenly-spaced the increase rounds. I would have ended up working about three increase rounds to every one plain round.

After I performed the surgery on both gloves -- and truth be told, I did the left glove all the way through grafting it back together before operating on the right -- I was then able to join in new yarn and knit up two thumbs at a time.
And here are the gloves and matching hat at the end. And I have to doubt the next cold day worthy of gloves in Atlanta will be in November.

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