Tag Archives: hazel the humpback whale

Accomplishments

The nupp count on my lace scarf is up to 100.

My apartment is clean enough that I think my parents will have enough room when they arrive tomorrow.

Hazel is still moving very slow because I can’t bring her to the
studio to work on (that would ruin the surprise) but I have her color fully charted.

Now I’m off to a photoshoot where I get to wear a pretty, hooped platter tutu, then teaching, then knitting club at the studio.

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Modern Technology Has Ruined My Life

Right now, I don’t have internet at my apartment, my laptop keyboard is broken, and my phone isn’t playing nice with WordPress. I’m typing this on a USB keyboard hooked up to my laptop, and I’ll post it later this afternoon when I’m at the studio. I’m hoping that it’s just the keyboard, because that’s a relatively cheap fix, but it could very well be something more expensive. In other news, I’m tired of Hazel already, to the point of giving up on my fuzzy pants, and thinking that my pointe covers are silly and pointless.

Hazel is awkward with the double knitting and all of the stockinette, simple ribbing, and increases. It just doesn’t have an interesting, predictable pattern to it. Figuring out the progression of the stitches and being able to predict what comes next is one of the better parts of knitting for me. I’ll go so far as to alter patterns so that they have a more logical progression, but I can’t do that with Hazel. The pattern is pretty well put together (there are a couple of unusual typos/errors in the pattern that haven’t been resolved in the errata yet) and I don’t want to mess with it. She’s a very good facsimile of a living creature, and any changes to make her more logical or interesting to me would change that.

I’ve set Hazel aside for a little while now, so that I can come back to it with a fresh perspective in a couple of weeks. As for the fuzzy pants, I tried picking them up again, but I’m so used to my new style of knitting that going back to my old throwing technique seems way too slow. I’m afraid that switching to my new method will change my gauge, so I’m just putting it off. The pointe covers are just making me grumpy for unknown reasons. It might have to do with the repetitive mock-cable pattern, or the fact that I’m scared of turning a sock heel, but whatever it is, I’m giving them a rest until we head into full cast run-throughs of Coppelia. Full-cast means that there will be many small children running around, and I don’t have a huge amount of actual stage time. The corps dancers have to stand onstage for pretty much the entire production, but I have a solid chunk of dancing and then I get to hang out in the wings or backstage waiting for my next entrance. During the run-throughs where everyone is getting used to the show order and talking through the blocking (i.e. herding small children), I’ll have some time to knit.

In the meantime, I cast on for Courtney Kelley’s Bramble Beret from “Vintage Modern Knits.” It’s the perfect cure for my Hazel-and-the-pointe-covers-are-boring ailment, since the cables, moss stitch, and bobbles all come together in a very nice, logical, and mildly complicated way. Also, it means that I’m finally knitting my beret.

As far as apartment organization goes, I now have a bookcase ready for assembly and bookends with which to organize my books on my new bookcase. The problem is that I need floorspace to assemble the bookcase, and I need the bookcase to clear the floor of books. I’ll probably resort to stacking the books precariously on my desk chair, but you have to admit that this is a funny little catch-22. I do have some over-the-door organizers that are currently holding dance tights and various pairs of dance shoes and shoe accessories. I also found several pairs of nasty old ballet shoes and toe pads that I ended up throwing out, and the total effect is that my bins of dance stuff are much easier to deal with now. On top of this, by organizing my tights, I spend much less time finding the right pair, and I was finally able to spread my leotards out enough that I can see them all in the drawer. It’s a miracle!

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A Double Knitting Tutorial for People Who Are Super Awesome at Counting or Why I Shouldn’t Knit Late at Night

When converting a pattern to double knitting with two strands of yarn, as I am doing for Hazel, it is important to remember that for every stitch in the pattern, there will be two stitches on the needles. For example, when the pattern says “K1,” you knit one stitch with the front yarn and one stitch with the back yarn. The easiest way that I’ve found to count this is to simply multiply the number of stitches given in the pattern by two and count every stitch.

As a simple example, my latest row started with “K14.” Using the method above, multiply 14 by 2 and know that you must count 28 stitches. When you’re done with these 28 stitches, note that your last stitch is actually a “front” stitch and that this is not correct. Make sure to go back and count the number of stitches in the front color. You will end up with 17. This is not correct. Swear. Check the clock. Is it past midnight? Yes? Then PUT DOWN THE KNITTING! For the love of wool, go to bed. It’s too late to deal with this.

Ignore the previous three sentences.

Count your stitches again. Reassure yourself that your front color is still in front, and that you’re just silly and can’t count. Knit back so that you only have 26 stitches (13 in the front color) on the needles. Swear again. PUT DOWN THE KNITTING! For the love of Addi Turbos, go to bed. It’s the middle of the night.

Ignore the previous three sentences.

Knit the two stitches necessary to make it to the end of that darn “K14.” Continue in pattern until you reach the end of the needle. Decide to write a pointless blog post about your experiences counting things late at night. Then go to bed. Really, it’s much too late for this nonsense.

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Getting Things Done

Today I did dishes, paid rent, met with my boss/artistic director (and brought Hazel along, which made him laugh, because his girlfriend is a knitter, too), got a load of laundry in the washer, measured my space to plan my apartment organization, read a chapter in the book that’s due at the library next week, and took a picture of Hazel with her color pattern started.

For my next trick, I’ll take out the garbage and get some more choreography done before teaching beginning pointe.

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Hazel 1.1

It lives!  I’m actually farther along than I was on Hazel 1.0 when I lost her to a dropped stitch and tight gauge.  I’m two rows away from leaving behind the horrors of multiple increases at least every other row.  I even dropped a stitch on this one, but it only ran back three rows, it didn’t run into any of the increases, and I was able to use my smallest crochet hook to pick it up.

One of the advantages of having to put my hair up in a bun or twist every day is that I’m surrounded by hair pins.  They’re the perfect cable needles or stitch holders, so when I dropped that stitch I was able to just reach into my hair, pull out a pin, and pop it through the stitch.  Of course, that moment when you actually drop the stitch is still torture, where you freeze, feel sick to your stomach, and think about having to start the whole thing over again all in the half second that it takes to register what the little dangling loop means, but it helps not having to open your tin full of notions or search for a cable needle or crochet hook before securing the run.

After picking up the stitch and finishing the row, there are 35 stitches of each color on the needles.  This thing is very compact, but the very slightly looser gauge makes Hazel 1.1 much softer than Hazel 1.0.  Please pardon my ugly, pink, provisional cast on.  It looks somehow vulgar to me, but you can rest assured that it’s only there to make the nose close up neatly.  Now I just have to decide when to do Hazel’s nose job.  I don’t want to do it too soon, because I want a good amount of surface area available to weave in the ends, and hopefully even make the little embroidered nose bumps with the yarn tail.

For now, I’m pleased with the progress.  I plan to place a lifeline when I get through the increases, despite the fact that I can’t remember ever using a lifeline in a project that wasn’t lace or insane cables.  It feels silly to do this when it’s still mostly stockinette up to this point, but I just can’t knit this nose one more time.

In other news, the apartment is still messy, my fuzzy pants and pointe covers haven’t progressed any further, and my coat fabric is still unwashed and unsteamed.  I did, however, substitute in five classes this week on top of my normal load of six classes and a couple of private lessons, and I got caught up on some laundry, so I’ll cut myself some slack there.

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Hazel the Horrendous

Remember how excited I was that Hazel was progressing so well? Well, she’s not any longer.

I took her to the dance studio Sunday morning when I met up with R to help her get some audition photos taken. I’m the one with a key to the building, so I got there when she did and then sat and knit while she warmed up. Things were going fine. I’d cast on with the Dove Gray the night before, and made it through most of the initial increases before L (our lovely photographer) got there, and put it aside while we picked out poses and took pictures.

Immediately after R was done, I taught my usual Sunday private lesson, and then went out to teach a ballet master class to a local dance team coached by my private lesson student’s mother. Hazel rode along in my tote bag, and all was well until I grabbed my keys to head back into my apartment  at the end of the day, and dropped them into my Midnight Heather yarn skein. They got tangled. I got them untangled with no damage to the yarn, but the skein was a mess with strands pulled out every which way. I still had the Dove Heather on the needles, and I did a bit more on that Sunday evening.

And then I dropped a stitch. One measly little stitch, which ran back down and got terribly confused with all of the different increases going on. I didn’t have a small enough crochet hook. Bouclé was closed.  I looked at my progress, and decided that my tension was way too tight, the dropped stitch was beyond hope, and that I was sick of that stupid whale.  I named the Dove Heather nose a gauge swatch, and I cut the yarn.  I don’t think I could have handled frogging it.  That left me with a fresh start on one skein, and another terribly tangled skein sitting in shame at the very bottom of my darkest bag.

I didn’t knit at all yesterday.  It was the first day this year that I haven’t knit anything.  I didn’t feel like picking up either my fuzzy pants or my pointe covers, Hazel was hidden away, and I’m still stalled choosing/making up a beret pattern.  Today, I cut my Midnight Heather yarn as well, writing that off as another too-tight gauge swatch, and I untangled the skein while winding it into a center-pull ball.  It was better than expected, with only the outer couple of layers being tangled, and they really were just tangled and not knotted.

So tonight I’m off to our Tuesday knitting club at the studio.  R, L, and I have been talking about this for a while, because L and I are both relatively long-time knitters and crocheters, R just learned over winter break, and we have several other knitters and crocheters of varying levels at the studio.  It should be fun.  I’m going to cast on again for Hazel, and we’ll see how this incarnation goes.  I think I’m going to try the double knitting right from the beginning this time and see if that goes any better.  Wish me luck!

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Hazel the Horrible

Until a trip to my LYS, that is.  You see, I bought my first pair of Addi Turbo US 0 needles during my magic loop phase.  They had a 47″ cable.  Then, when I was thinking of doing my fuzzy pants on them, the excess cable just kept on getting in the way.  After the second or third time that I managed to wrap the needle cable around my mug of tea and nearly tip it into my lap, I went to Bouclé Yarn Studio and picked up a 24″ US 0.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned Bouclé before, but they deserve a lot of credit.  I’m not a yarn shop aficionado, but in my experience, they have a great selection of needles and hooks, yarns, books, spinning supplies, and everything in between.  The shop is beautifully decorated with shelves of yarn creating a meandering path to the back of the shop, and large tables and chairs where you inevitably find people sitting and knitting.  The staff are always helpful and nice.  I wish I had the money to buy more yarn there, but they do tend toward the more expensive brands.  I can say that, of the last 15 pairs of needles that I’ve bought, 13 of them have come from Bouclé.

So, I had a 47″ and a 24″ US 0 Addi Turbo.  I used my favorite provisional cast on (crochet a loose chain, pick up stitches from the bumps on the back of the chain), divided the stitches onto my two needles, and joined in the round.  And it was horrible.  Things were all over the place.  I’m not even working in double knitting right now, choosing instead to get through the initial increases separately in my two colors before I put everything together.

I got through one horrible, messy row, and set it aside.  I went back to Bouclé today, picked up another 24″ US 0 Addi Turbo, and all of a sudden everything lined up.  I didn’t get very far, because Saturdays are one of my busiest teaching days, and we had our annual winter showcase at the studio this evening, but I did knit a couple more rows, and they were lovely without all of that extra needle getting tangled up in my yarn.  I’m actually looking forward to knitting the rest of this whale now.

The moral of this story is that the right tools really make a difference, so when in doubt, go to your local yarn shop and buy more stuff.  It will make your life better.

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