I did a thing! A thing that I did that was sort of a big deal and sort of weird and I kept meaning to take pictures and tell you about it but kept forgetting and then it was over. It involved this monster:
This is a knitting machine. My mother’s knitting machine. It is called a “Big Phil” which is truly in no way flattering, but that is what they call it. When we were home for reading week, at the same time that I got to meet the Yarn Harlot and was on that ridiculous Doctor Who binge, I spent an afternoon wrestling with this guy.
Here’s why: A lovely friend commissioned me to make a very large object that was mostly just stockinette. I knew that even though I had two and a half months until Christmas, it was highly unlikely I could fit it in… unless I did most of it on the knitting machine. So I took a thwack. I had one visit home before Christmas, I could use Mum’s machine then.
Acquisition of the yarn was the first problem. We were heading home on a Tuesday night, after a meeting downtown, and I was going to snag the yarn from the store on the way out. I got the okay from my boss to do so even though the store was closed. So we were packed up and ready to go… and I couldn’t find my keys. Without my keys, I couldn’t get into the store after closing to get the yarn (and I couldn’t quite bring myself to call my boss to ask her to open the store for me just so I could buy emergency yarn. I have limits). We ransacked the house and I couldn’t find my keys anywhere. It was time to go – being late for this meeting was not an option – so I couldn’t get the yarn.
We ended up getting up early the next morning to go to the local yarn shop in Maryland, where I knew they carried the line of yarn. They had three skeins of it; I needed 5, but maybe 3 would be enough for the center of the object, and I could just knit a big border by hand. Sure.
As far as the object itself, I didn’t actually know what it was. My client called it a “shawl,” but according to the schematics she described, it was mostly an enormous rectangle. Not like a stole, but like something else, as it had a “keyhole” that went halfway up its length. I used every single needle on the machine, set the gauge pretty large, and cranked out half the rectangle. When my yarn was about halfway gone, I split the rectangle in half. Then when I was nearly out of yarn, I spent about an hour trying to close the hole – because “keyhole” to me sounds like a hole that closes.
I’m glad I checked on that last point, because in this case “keyhole” meant “slit.” I still really had no idea what I was making, but at least I knew what it was supposed to be shaped like.
When we got back home, I picked up two more skeins of the yarn, and picked up all around this massive split rectangle. I did all the math so the Feather and Fan/Old Shale lace pattern would go evenly along the edges, and started knitting. I had to rip back most of a couple rounds at the beginning when I realized I hadn’t done the establishing row of lace quite right, which is not a small task, since a “round” of this thing was something like 800 stitches. The knitting was enjoyable (Old Shale is so nice since 3 out of 4 rounds are just plain), and when I got to the end I only had to rip the bind-off out once because I had of course underestimated the yarn I would have to leave for it.
The thing was finished just in time for Thanksgiving. While we were gone, it blocked on most of our queen-sized bed.
Then when we unpinned it…
Roommate A, my compliant model, almost didn’t take it off. I have been told this kind of garment is called a “Ruana,” and it is nearly as good as a cape as an excuse for an adult to wear a blanket out of doors. You can wear it a bunch of different ways, and it looks good on many different types. I am quite pleased with it, and would have been very unhappy to give it away if it were not for the fact that I was being well-paid.
Now that I actually know what I’m doing, I kinda want to make another one. Though sometimes it’s fun when you aren’t quite sure what you’re making ’till it’s done.