Sad Facts

It’s a sad fact of life that sometimes the better team loses. My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the hated (and deservedly so) Philadelphia F%^ers in 6 games. There’s little doubt that the Pens overall have the superior hockey team, but in 4 of those games in this series, the F%^ers totally out-played the Pens and they deserved to win the series. But my boys had some stellar moments in the series, so in spite of being disappointed to be out so soon, I’m thrilled with the great season the Pens had. We’ll get ’em next year.

Three other teams are out of the running, the Detroit Red Wings, who lost to the Nashville Predators, the San Jose Sharks, who lost  to the St. Louis Blues, and the Vancouver Canucks, who lost to the Los Angeles Kings. And the Eastern Division Champs, the New York Rangers, are on the brink of elimination at the hands of the lowly Ottawa Senators, the #8 seed in the East.

I cannot help but feel a little sorry for Canucks fans, even though I dislike the Canucks almost as much as I dislike the F^&ers. Canucks fans were stunned last year when their team lost in the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins, and after winning the President’s Trophy this year as the highest point getter in the regular season and being the #1 overall seed in the playoffs, they watched their team get their asses handed to them in the first round by a #8 seed. I might not like the Canucks, but I sure can empathize with their fans. I know the pain and disappointment of seeing the team you love lose in the Stanley Cup final as well as getting knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. But true hockey fans love their team no matter what. And I’m sure that most Canucks fans will recover quickly from their disappointment and heartbreak and start looking forward to next year. Their team is loaded with hockey talent, and they should be one of the best teams in the league again next year.

Fortunately for me and my knitting, there’s still a lot of good hockey to be played, watched, and knitted to. I still have several teams left in the playoffs to cheer for, the Bruins, the Blackhawks, and the Blues. What is it about the letter B? At this point, I’m hoping for the Blues to win it all because it would almost be a worst-to-first story. The Blues didn’t even make the playoffs last year, and this year they were contending for the President’s Trophy. They have a lot of exciting young players on their team, and they play a physical game with a lot of finesse and some truly outstanding goaltending from two fine goalies. I hope they do as well in the second round as they did in the first, although it might be a little difficult for me to cheer for them if they face the Blackhawks. But the Hawks won The Cup in 2010, so I think I’ll be able to pull for the Blues if the two teams face each other.

Losing is a sad fact in the life of a sports fan, and the life of a knitter is no different. It’s a sad fact of knitting life that even the best of knitters sometimes start a project only to have it end in disaster. This has happened to yours truly, Pinko Knitter. I know it’s difficult to accept that any of my projects could turn out as anything less than spectacular, but it happens. After all, I’m only human.

My attempt at knitting EZ’s Adult Surprise Jacket was an abject failure. The alleged sweater currently sits in a shopping bag in a corner of my bedroom.

ASJ

One of these days I will either unravel the damned thing or throw it away. It is nothing less than an unmitigated disaster, and I have learned the hard lesson that as much as I have learned from EZ, her knitting designs are, for the most part, nothing short of god-awful. She was definitely into utilitarian knitting, and looks be damned. But she did “unvent” some great knitting techniques, although some of her “unventions,” and here I am thinking of the Stonington Shawl, are at best pointless. My Stonington is sitting still unfinished, and I have to say that this technique of knitting a Shetland-type shawl has absolutely no advantages that I can see. Not a single one.

Unfortunately, the ASJ is not my most recent knitting disaster. But this time I have only myself to blame. As you know from my last couple of posts, I’ve been working on some scarves as charity knitting during the Stanley Cup playoffs. One scarf has been completed, but the other, the Dropped Stitch Scarf, is nothing short of a disaster. My fault alone–not the yarn, not the pattern, not the designer. Just mine. I had made a gauge swatch to help me decide how many stitches to cast on to get a scarf that would be around 60 inches in length. My swatch had a gauge of 4 stitches per inch, so I cast on 250 stitches. As I was knitting the last row before casting off, I looked at all the stitches bunched up on my circular needle and got that sinking feeling. I measured my gauge and found that I had 3 stitches per inch, which means that the scarf would be 80+ inches long. The scarf is now in my knitting bag awaiting time at the frog pond. Yes, I’m going to have to rip-it!

Dropped Stitch Scarf

But we knitters are an optimistic lot, at least when it comes to knitting. I wasn’t discouraged by my failure. Instead, I got out a hibernating scarf knitted in purple sock cotton that I knew I would never finish, ripped it out, and cast on for a new scarf of my own on-the-fly design. It’s a combination of dropped stitches and beaded rows worked in garter stitch so it will be reversible.

Dropped Stitch Beaded Scarf

The beads are 6/0 Miyuki amethyst lined crystal round seed beads, and the garter stitch section that goes around the neck will not be beaded for reasons I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone. 🙂

To be honest, I think the knitting gods knew what they were doing when they caused me to screw up the other dropped-stitch scarf because the new one, being in a lightweight cotton yarn rather than a bulky fuzzy acrylic, is far more appropriate for springtime.

When I was a teacher, I used to tell my students not to be embarrassed about making mistakes because that is how one learns. I believe that, and I believe that one is never too old to learn. I look at my knitting disasters not as unfortunate events or as wastes of time and yarn, but as learning experiences that add to my knitting expertise and make me a better knitter and possibly a better person. I plan to make more mistakes before my knitting days are over.

Festivus For The Rest Of Us

The holiday season is upon us. From Thanksgiving through Epiphany, the period from late November through early January is filled with all sorts of holiday festivities. Christmas, Human Light, Kwaanza, Channukuh, Winter Solstice, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Twelfth Night, and best of all, college football bowl games—yes, the holidays are in full swing.

All of my holiday shopping is done, and I don’t do any holiday baking anymore. If I bake it, I eat it. And, trust me, I don’t need to be eating cookies and candy. My holiday knitting is also all done. I didn’t do much holiday knitting this year, but I did make two pairs of socks. The Froot Loop Socks I made are resting under cousin Vickie’s ginormous Christmas tree in Ohio. Unlike me, she can wait till Christmas to open packages. Me? I get a package in the mail, I open it. LOL

The other pair of socks, Christmas Lights Socks, were made especially for The Boy’s sock-worthy GF. They arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday. (Thank you, USPS.) The Christmas Lights Socks came into being because of the Steelers beaded squares I wrote about yesterday. While searching for just the perfect beads for the Steelers squares, I found myself totally unable to resist buying lots of beads in different colors and finishes.

“So, what am I going to do with all these beads?” I thought to myself. “Well, I could knit socks with beaded cuffs.”

For inspiration, I turned to Ravelry, the knitting world’s great enabler, and searched for patterns for socks with beads added to the cuffs. (Trust me. You don’t want to add beads to the instep.) There was one sock pattern that really jumped out at me. It is called Winter Frost Socks and the lovely pastel beads on a white sock make a very pleasing combination.

Winter Frost Socks

Winter Frost Socks

But the minute I looked at the picture, I saw bright red socks with green, gold, and silver beads that just screamed Christmas. And, lucky me, I just happened to have some bright red Socka sock yarn in my yarn stash; and in my bead stash I had silver-lined green beads, silver-lined yellow beads, and silver-lined crystal beads. Silver-lined beads really catch the light and sparkle, and I just knew this combination would make festive Christmas socks.

Christmas Lights

I made only a couple of changes to the pattern. First of all, I made the 2 x 2 ribbed cuff a little longer. I like a 2-inch cuff, so I knit 20 rounds of ribbing.

Second, I added a repeat to increase the number of stitches from 64 to 72, which means that I had to recalculate the number of beads I needed. Even for someone who is mathematically challenged, as I am, this wasn’t difficult. Each pattern repeat uses 3 beads, and I was doing 9 repeats: 9 x 3 = 27

And because of my wonky row gauge, I knew that I would need to knit the complete pattern 6 times in order to have a cuff that is long enough: 6 x 27 = 162.

So I strung 162 6/0 Miyuki seed beads, 81 of each color, in this order: 9 silver, 9 green, 9 gold. Repeat 5 more times.

The 6/0 beads are a little on the large size for fingering-weight wool, so they really stand out. If you want a look that is a little more subtle, size 8/0 beads would be the way to go.

Third, on the beaded section, I purled the stitch after adding the bead on round 7 instead of knitting it through the back loop. I found that when I knitted the stitch, the bead buried itself and disappeared from the front of the fabric. I realize that when the socks are worn, the cuff will stretch and that third bead will pop to the front, but I decided to purl the stitch and keep the bead to the fore even when the socks are not being worn.

Christmas Lights cuff

The Winter Frost Socks pattern, which is available as a free download on Ravelry, is very well written and easily adaptable. It can be knitted with or without beads. The lace stitch is a simple one, and both written and charted instructions are included. The sock is an easy knit, although the beads make it a little fiddly, especially if you want the colors to be in a specific order because then you have to be very careful when you string them. But it doesn’t require any special techniques–you just slide the bead into place and work the next stitch as usual.

I want to thank Brenda Lindsay of Owlsrook Designs for sharing this lovely sock design. I never cease to be amazed at how generous my fellow knitters are in making their designs available at low or no cost. Winter Frost Sock is a pattern worth paying for; the directions are detailed and cover 4.25 printed pages. But Brenda has made it available for free. Thank you, Brenda.