Sunday, August 9, 2009

Red Purl KAL Afghan: August

I spent another lovely afternoon knitting with everyone at Red Purl. Amy designed this month's block with a series of "cross over" cables. It's a cable I've never done before. (!) The basic idea is to cross the outside two stitches while leaving the centre three stitches alone in the centre.

Only one in six rows has any cabling or anything complicated in it; the rest are just knit and purl in a 3x5 rib. (A very awkward pattern for me. I had to watch my knitting more than I'm used to.) But the main point is that five out of six rows are pretty easy and the square just buzzed right along.

Wendy somehow got her block started early and was over half done by the time I showed up this afternoon. She was giving me a hard time all afternoon for not catching up. She then taunted me about finishing this evening. Well, Wendy, I got mine finished too...and I didn't give myself a head start! (Btw, I hope you had a fun time with Elvis. I would have went along if it weren't soooo hot!)

For those of you who are not done your blocks, I have a slightly different method of doing the cross over that you may find a little easier. The method given in the pattern involves holding one stitch on a cable needle at some point, and I find this very very awkward. The stitch wants to fall off the needle (part of that is because I just use a dpn, not a true cable needle) and/or the needle doesn't behave and flips all over the place, getting in my way.

So, if you want, you could try the following steps. The results of both methods are identical.

1. Ready to start. We're going to do the cross over cable on the five upcoming stitches:

2. Slip the next four stitches onto a cable needle and hold to the back of your work:

3. Knit one stitch from the left needle:

Here you are with the one stitch knit and the cable needle still being held in back. (The stitch you just knit is stretched in front of the four stitches you slipped to the cable needle.)

Here's where we start differing from the pattern as written.

4. Insert the tip of the left needle into the right-most stitch on the cable needle, and slip it off of the cable needle (off the right side) onto the left needle:

You now have the knit stitch on the right needle, the stitch you just slipped on the left needle, and three stitches being held on the cable needle in the back:

5. Now knit the three stitches from the cable needle:

So now you have four stitches knit onto the right needle, and the stitch that had been slipped to the left needle:

6. Knit the stitch off of the left needle:

7. Purl three stitches and you're ready to go again:
I won't lie to you: this method is probably not a huge improvement. Either way you do it, all those needles and crossed stitches are going to feel at least a little awkward. This is when I'm very happy to work on long straight needles where I can prop the end of one needle against my hip to hold it steady. It's almost as good as a third hand.

One final detail: did you notice the string tied on my block in the first picture? I was knitting along when I noticed the yarn in the previous row was compromised. One of the two plies was cut and the yarn was very thin for one stitch. Maybe I should have tinked back right then, but I didn't. I did, however, mark the spot so I could think about whether I needed to fix it later.

It might be fine. It's only one little stitch. Or it might give out and produce a growing hole. Chances are the wool will felt together nicely and keep it from becoming an issue. Or not. For now I have decided to duplicate stitch that part of the row to reinforce it. That should be enough to keep it from becoming a bigger problem.

I noticed another weak spot like that a few rows later but was able to catch it in time and just fold the wool over itself and felt it together (like a wet splice). Too bad I didn't notice the first one in time.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been racing with Wendy...

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