Friday, May 27, 2016

Seven Months Till Christmas!

How about some knitting content for a change?  The overuse injury to my wrist in mid-March took much longer than I thought it would to fully resolve.  The discomfort with using it disappeared fairly quickly, but I was still finding that if I knit for the evening, the next day my wrist felt irritated.  It's feeling much better now, though there is still a lump, so I just try to vary what I'm doing.

I've been working on this stocking for awhile.  It started off well enough.  A bit of time with Google and Ravelry lead me to the pattern at Mary Maxim.  Yay!  I wouldn't have to chart it all out!  I waited for one of their weekly sales, and bought their four pack of stocking pattern books for $20Cdn.  This gives me a little over 50 Christmas stocking patterns!!  I had already gone yarn shopping and found great matches--especially the green.  The red is a bit off, but luckily, because they're done in "reverse", it's not a big issue.  I got started, knitting happily away with the chart.

Once I got to the kitty's eyes, I wanted to check something, so I looked at the original stocking.  Wait a minute!  It didn't match what I was knitting!  I looked at the chart and what I knitted--they matched.  I looked at the tiny picture on the back cover of the book, and it matched the original stocking, but not the chart!  WTF?!  There was a chunk of white missing on the right side of the hat!!

I emailed Mary Maxim and explained the issue.  My thinking was that the chart had been re-done when they entered the digital age but the pictures hadn't been updated.  But why would they use a different chart?  The answer came back--she didn't see any difference between the chart and the picture, and perhaps I was doing the knit rows from left to right instead of right to left.

I exhaled.  This customer service rep doesn't know me from Adam.  That is the number one issue new knitters make with charts.  However, that wouldn't result in a totally different picture, it would just be a mirror image.

I wrote back explaining that I had over 20 years experience knitting from charts, and also charting my own designs.  This was not a mirror image problem, but a totally different chart.  She wrote back saying she still didn't see a problem.

Ummm.  Okay.  I took a iPad photo of the chart, and used a colouring app to colour it in the correct colours.  Then I took a picture of the picture of the stocking on the back of the book, and I put the two in an email for customer service.  I heard back from someone different, who did confirm that the chart was changed after the first printing and I must have the newer printing.  Well, fat lot of good that does me, paying $20+ for something that isn't as advertised.  How many other charts don't match the pictures?  There was never any mention of say, a gift certificate or a refund for my troubles.  Not even a free box of mystery sock yarn.  I would have gladly taken a free box of mystery sock yarn, though that would through my "Yarn In" totals quite high.

See that white band above the right ear?  Missing from the chart!
I had to rip it back to the bottom of the off-white band, and knit from the original stocking.  It wasn't the greatest knitting, with twisted stitches and some wonky tension making it hard to count rows and stitches were the intarsia was.  I got past what I thought was the issue area and moved back to the charts.  Once done, I did see a couple of wayward stitches that I duplicate stitched over.

At some point in all of this, I took a break and mended all my handknit socks, and ended up with the wrist injury and had to stop knitting for a bit, then gradually work my way back up to long stretches.  I wanted to make sure this injury healed properly, not like my toes after I dropped the weight on them and then ignored the pain and swelling for several weeks.
Can you spot the couple stitches (on the right kitty) that I duplicate stitched over?

I finally got the stocking finished, and had to hunt for a pom pom.   I couldn't find any the right size so I went bigger, and replaced the original too, trimming them both down quite a bit.  I gave it some steam to smooth it out, arranged a pick up time for the next evening, and brought the two together to take a look.

And whoa. The new one was quite a bit shorter!!  I had had some tensions issues and had been alternating needle sizes to try to match, and sometimes it's hard to tell the final size before seaming, washing and blocking, but there was no denying.  They did not match.  Panic.  Exhale.  I am Tracy, and this is just the way these things are.  It's the True Tracy Way.  I would have to do surgery, as I didn't think I had time to reknit the lower leg, ankle, and entire foot.

I did not take any photos.  I know many knitters find images of cut apart knitting to be too graphic.  I undid the back seam above the ankle, snipped a stitch at the edge, and proceeded to try to pick out a row.  Apparently, I had been knitting from two ends since after finishing the picture, I wanted to use up the small amounts of the red that I had been already using for the background.  It was kind of messy, trying to get it ripped back to one row, and get the ankle side cleaned up to one row to be ready to be grafted back.

I had already put the needles away, thought I had the right size, knit for a while when my daughter was doing her skating tests, ripped it all out, picked out bigger needles, knit for a bit, then knit a few more rows, then grafted it to the original piece.  The new section was obviously bigger and looser, along the seamed edge.  I ended up tightening up stitches one by one, getting some slack, bringing it to the back, and knotting it tight.

I also cut open the toe, ripped back the toe and added some more rows.  It took me several tries to get the toe decreases right and the grafting.  I was grafting starting in the middle of the row like with real socks, but it was wrong, I needed to graft from the end....hard to explain, it's only been a week but I don't really remember exactly.

In the end, it was much improved.  I got a few photos, the customer came and was thrilled.  She doesn't need to know about all the issues.  She did give me a nice tip though, which was much appreciated since the original quote was on the lower end even if there hadn't been any issues.

This is something that is nice about doing custom work.  Every project has a story.  Not just who ordered it, and why, but rarely do the orders go entirely smoothly.  Usually I'm trying to copy something, or "wing it" or working with limited supplies or questionable measurements.  It keeps it interesting.  I don't know that I could crochet 20 owl hats for a craft show.  It might be less stress, but then what if they don't sell.  What if someone wanted blue eyes instead of pink?  What if...

Yarn In: 1586gr
Yarn Out:  3850gr + 107gr = 3957gr
Balance:  2371gr more USED than bought
Costs:   $74.87/102days = $0.73/day

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