Saturday, March 2, 2013

Advent February

Welcome to the diary of my 2012 Advent Scarf!  Ever since I discovered this project in the middle of December 2011 I wanted to join along.  Unfortunately, this December I was travelling AND I had already completed my 12 in 2012 shawls.  I really wanted this stole to count for the new year, so I decided to cast on in the first full month that I was at home, February.  This works out because February is Keith's Birthday month and I made him a fun advent calendar of his own.  Now we both have some daily excitement!  This post will detail my day by day progress of this project.  Scroll to the end to see the finished pictures!

I decided to knit this scarf as a stole with black Gloss Lace yarn from KnitPicks and Toho Round Seed Beads 8/0 #706 'Matte Iris Teal' 8 Gram Tube.  It turns out the beads are only along the spacers, but it will give the stole a subtle hint of color that should still go with any outfit.  The whole project used under 1.5 tubes of beads.  

I don't have size 2 (or 2.5) circular needles in a set that I enjoy using.  I decided to use straight needles for this project.  I also figured that since this project is supposed to be so large, being on a slightly smaller needle won't be a bad thing.  This project required 123 g of yarn (1082 yards).  

The Diary of My Advent Scarf/Stole 

Day 1: The first ball of Gloss weighs 49 g.  Today's pattern is the shape of little leaves travelling up a vine, but you cannot really see this from my picture.  For increasing the 3 extra sts, K3, M1, K43, M1, K until last 3 sts, M1, K3.  I can already see that this is going to be really hard knitting this in black.  I could be fine if it were just K, P, YO and Decrease sts, but there are also P's to keep track of!  The black yarn makes these really hard to see.  After the second  row of Day 1 (not edging) started going much faster.  23 more days.  :) 44 g remain after clue 1 (5 g consumed.)  At 5 g/clue 3 balls of Gloss Lace should be sufficient.  

Day 2:  Today's lace is shorter (16 vs 24 rows), and I'm feeling used to the chart notations.  Much easier than the start of yesterday.  I am not going to weigh the yarn after every single day.  

Day 3:   Yikes!  34 rows.  I am thinking that I almost should just be ignoring the P stitches.  When the stole isn't blocked out super hard, you can see the P stitches and it looks lovely.  I'm just worried that these will no longer stand out when I block the scarf/stole out.  Today's lace is pretty simple and it is really easy to do the WS rows.   

ARGH!  I accidentally slipped the needle out on the second to last row (stabbing myself in the process.)  Thankfully I was able to fix it without too many problems.

Day 4:  Horrah!  A day of lace that has no P stitches on the RS, which means that I can just P across the entire WS without counting.  I know that it has only been 3 days with double sided patterns, but this is a relief.  (Silly me!)  29 g remain if ball 1.    

Day 5:  I like today's lace pattern quite a bit.  The twisted rib stitches really stand out nicely, although not when the scarf is held up because the black makes it hard to see some of the more subtle definition.  

Day 6: Today's pattern is a little different from the rest.  Simple, but still very fun.  I am excited to see how it comes out!   It subtler than I thought, more of a textured pattern than a lacy one.  I hope that there is another like it further down the shawl so this unlacy portion doesn't stand out too much.   

Day 7:  Yikes!  I happen to enjoy patterns knit with dropped stitches, but I usually use the horizontal variety.  I see that day seven has a dropped stitch, but the language is a bit confusing.  "slip 1 stitch off the needle, slip the horizontal strand between the stitches onto your needle and knit it through the back loop" It wasn't immediately clear that we were supposed to let the stitch unravel for a horizontal dropped stitch.  I immediately went to the day 7 thread on the Ravelry Forum to see what others had to say.  This was one of the biggest discussion days back in December.  

The concern that I (and others) have is that the dropped stitches won't block as nicely as the rest of the shawl.  I believe that this kind of stitch can block very well, but when one section of the stole is inherently much wider than the rest, this leaves cause for concern.  The pictures of the lace without dropping the stitches are still very pretty, so I think I may leave it at that.  (Don't get me wrong, the lace is adorable with the dropped stitches, but I'm not sure how well it fits in to the rest of my project.)  I will replace the last row 5 with another row 1 at the top.  16 g remain of ball 1 at the end of day 7.  

Day 8: Today is another of those days where the lace isn't as pretty in black or if heavily blocked.  The pattern is pretty cool, but won't photograph really well.  

Day 9:  Looking at today's chart, I am really excited to see what the design ends up looking like.  The chart looks a little spaceship-esque.   6 g remain of ball 1 at the end of day 9.  

Day 10:  3:30 PM and I haven't started working on the chart yet.  I have to finish! The progress went smoothly, even with today's chart being a bit longer than some of the other recent ones.  Today's zig zag pattern is really pretty. I could see myself using this on another project.  (I'm glad that I check the errata page before every day since today is the first day there was an error in the chart.)  With two rows left (1 RS and 1 WS), I finished Ball 1 and started Ball 2 (which weighs 51 g.)  

Day 11:  Cables!  I wasn't expecting cables on this scarf!!  Good think I like cables.  I've never tried lacy cables like this before, so I wonder how it will look in the end when the stole is blocked.   

Today the second clue for my Mystery KAL (while working on this Advent project) came out.  I was also hoping to start on a super secret birthday present for Keith, but I was so exhausted that a nap got in the way of my plans.  Thankfully it is easy to knit something that Keith cannot see so maybe I can work on it while he is home...

Day 12:  Half way there!  Am I going to make it?  I am not loving today's pattern so much, so I am going to stop after row 8 (in the second repeat).  I considered knitting row 9 and then adding a P row, but I decided that this would make the design more off center when I knit the next spacer section (like what happened the day after 6).  The design is pretty cool, but I'm dragging and I know that this scarf won't suffer for being a little shorter.  

Day 13: After looking over the errata, I was super confused about the mistakes in today's chart.  I finally realized that today's pattern has actually been updated to fix many of the corrections.  However, if you are following the written instructions make sure you refer back to errata because there were still some errors.  In any event, I am excited for a "traditional" one sided lace day.   It is going so fast!  What a relief.  I was finished with today's 24 rows by 10:30 in the morning!  35 g remain at the end of the day. 

Day 14:  Valentine's Day!  I am going out of town this weekend with my MIL visiting, so I know that I will have trouble completing Saturday and Sunday's Charts (Days 16 and 17) on the day they are prescribed.  Therefore, I am going to end today by knitting tomorrow's spacer and then do as much of the 16th as I can do on the 15th.  This way, Hopefully on the 18th I can catch up and still be on track.  

Day 15/16:  Another different kind of stitch.  I'm excited!  PLUS I get to purl all the way across the WS which by now you know I love.  For the Day 15, I recommend checking out the forum thread because the instructions are different in German and English.  I made all of the YO's through the row 1 YO on Round 7 as per the German instructions because I thought it looked better.  

Today is also part of Day 16 since I decided to do as much as possible to prepare for my house guest this weekend.  Woo Hoo I'm breaking all the rules!   So the pattern gives symbols for K and P stating that for the (I) symbol you K on RS and P on WS and that for the (-) symbol you P on RS and K on WS.  However, both RS and WS rows are shown here.  I think you are supposed to K all (I) and P all (-), making part of the instruction an error.  I couldn't understand why there was a garter stitch lace pattern with alternating garter stitch border...  

I finished the day by doing the Day 17 border.  This way I can bring the stole on the trip with me but without the beads and crochet hook.  

Day 16: I had some time in the morning so I started working on Day 17 so that way on Day 18 I would be able to get caught up.  Day 17's chart looks ore complex than it is.  The P ridges actually line up perfectly.   I ended up completing the first repeat of rows 1-12 today so I am halfway done with Day 17 a day early.  

Day 17: A Day Off!

Day 18:  So Now I am half a day behind.  I am EXHAUSTED after my weekend (worse than my standard CFS baseline) but I am determined to get back on track by the end of the day.  I may still fall victim to a nap, but I hope to be less than 1.5 days behind tomorrow.  

Day 18 is another cabled day.  The cables are a cool kind of criss cross that are a little slow to make.  I'm worried that this will block a little tight AND that you won't be able to see them well because I'm knitting with black!  I'm not really enjoying these cables, so I decided to do 3 repeats instead of 4.  There was a section that was only 16 rounds near the beginning of the scarf, but nothing that short since then.  I think an 18 row section should help balance things out.  (plus now I can go get some rest.)  

Day 19 - This is another day where both sides are charted, so the WS and RS instructions are a bit confusing.  Only the P has shown up in eratta.  It doesn't mention where you are supposed to P2tog on RS and K on WS... but all P2tog symbols happen on the WS rows!  I am going to treat each symbol as the RS.  

There is also something about todays chart that is very reminiscent of Day 3.  Some of the K/P sections are different, but the overall shape looks similar.  I wonder how it will look once knit up!  (Turns out, quite dissimilar to day three.  However, if you knit this yourself you will understand why at first the chart seems familiar!)  4 g remain at the end of the day.  

Day 20 - This is another pattern that is more based on the K and P stitches than the lace eyelets.  I hope that it shows up okay once blocked!  (Are you sick of hearing me say this yet?) 

Today I started the second tube of beads AND finished the second ball of yarn, starting the third (50 g.)  

Day 21 - The home stretch sure is sweet!  It is so great to not worry about running out of yarn or beads.  Phew, this day was easier than I thought.  It is slightly longer at 28 rows, but the pattern was pretty rhythmic.  This also has the confusing mistake of saying that symbols are different on RS and WS rows when since all rows are charted you are not supposed to follow those instructions.      

Since the end is very much in site, I decided to go ahead and weave in all my loose ends tonight.  This way when I finish on Sunday I will only have the very last end to weave in before I start blocking.  

Day 22 - Wahoo!  Another day with P across the WS rows!  This is like a breath of fresh air, but mostly because the pattern is so easy to memorize.  There are only two different types of charted rows in the 12 row repeat.  

Day 23 - I cannot believe that we are almost done and that tomorrow I bind off!  Of course, this knowledge did not prevent me from putting off today's pattern for a long time.  Once again, I am struck with Deja Vu.  The chart evokes the feelings that I had on day 19 about the similarities to day 3.... but this time the chart is ACTUALLY very similar to Day 3...  I am feeling a little disappointed by this.  Oh well.  

I put this off so long that it was 7:30 PM when I started.  Thank goodness for an Indiana Jones marathon... I was able to finish it in time.  (Before midnight ;))

Day 24 - The last day!  And I have another reason to celebrate... that's right, P all the WS stitches!  Since I've been a little nitpicky about this project, it is a bit of a bummer that the end section has an 5 st border rather than 3... but who am I to complain about symmetry now?  

It would be nice if this end were scalloped like section 1, then I could block it that way with pretty edges.  Crossing my fingers....  I hoped wrong.  Oh well, I can block the ends flat.  I just have to hope that I have enough pins to take care of all of this!

So I don't understand when this is listed as an 8 row repeat rather than a 4 row repeat.  (rows 1-4 look identical to rows 5-8...)   27 g remain of ball 3 after I bound off.  

Finishing - Unblocked dimensions10" x  81".  I soaked the scarf in water for 30 min before pinning it out.  I wanted to block it more width-wise than lengthwise.   Blocked to 17.5" x 93.5".  

The Unblocked Stole


Well I did it!  I knit this Advent Scarf in 24 days with only a few minor alterations.  Oh the freedom to pursue other non-mystery projects!  Don't get me wrong, I love mystery projects... but I think that the Susanna IC ones are more up my alley than this advent calendar.  I'd rather be wanting more than wanting a break from a project.  

I did not look closely at the scarves from the 2010 and 2011 years, and maybe that was a mistake.  I am pretty disappointed by the lack of balance to the scarf.  The patterns seem to be clustered in groups of similar items rather than being more spread out.  There was only one day with no eyelets, and this pattern sticks out like a sore thumb (Day 6).  At the end of the scarf, 3/6 days had eyelets on WS and RS rows, and although it looks cool this effect did not take place on any  other day (at least that I remembered.)  

Over all, I am really proud to have completed this project, but I cannot see myself working on one of this designer's advent scarves again.  I am tempted, however, to try to design my own advent scarf taking into consideration some of my complaints from this project...