Friday, August 03, 2007

Learning new things

The summer of Rachel has been going swimmingly for the last month or so, but I think I'm starting to get a little antsy. Knitting is so slooooow. It doesn't help when you have a jillion things on the needles, a deadline of a few months after which you will be extraordinarily busy, and the view of making Christmas presents for everyone you know in these few months - yes, OK, almost everything that is currently on my needles is intended for myself. Shut up. I'm not very logical in my casting-on choices. Anyway, it seemed like high time for some instant gratification:


I made some jewelry! Talk about instant gratification, these guys only took me a few hours total, and most of that time was because I was really trying to cram things into places they were too small to go, or using the wrong tools. The shells I found in Costa Rica. These will all be various holiday presents, I'm not saying for who just in case they are reading this so there will be some modicum of surprise.

Then it was time for some semi-instant gratification:

first babette squares

I taught myself crochet! Well, Debbie Stoller and interweave crochet taught me. I had absolutely no interest in crossing over to the other side of fiber arts until I saw this. The Babette Blanket. And it was like the clouds had parted and angel voices were singing from the heavens. I had to have it. (If you're still not convinced, check out these bad boys.) I brazenly strode into my LYS and bought the spring 06 issue of Interweave Crochet and the called-for hook (when I got home, it turned out that the one crochet hook I own for weaving in ends was the same size too, now I own 2 size E hooks and nothing else. Oops.)

Incidentally, while I was there, I heard this other girl setting up a crochet lesson with the clerk. She was saying that she wanted to make the babette blanket but had only crocheted a few things before. I interrupted their conversation to inform them that I had never crocheted a thing in my life, but I was going to make babette too and I didn't need no stinkin lesson! I think I sounded a little crazy. (And I probably could have benefited from a lesson too, I had an hour or two of cursing and chaining things that looked like the cat spit them out before I finally got the hang of it.) Anyway it turned out the girl was Nicole whose blog I read occasionally, I saw her picture later on Ravelry and wrote her a sort of psycho-sounding message. It's a small knitty world!

Anyway, back to my babette. I was initially drawn to it because of its chaotic, colorful, haphazard kind of look. But it turns out it is all carefully planned and choreographed chaos. There are color codes, and charts, and more charts, all just to assign colors to their correct places. Phooey on that, I said. Also phooey on buying $300 worth of Koigu for a single project. So initially I thought it would be a good leftover yarn project. But there were still some decisions to be made. Should I use solely machine washable sock yarn leftovers? It seems like a good idea, but in practice I would have to wait eons before I accumulated enough. Ditto all fingering leftovers:
sock yarn scraps for babette?
Kind of pitiful.

Should I use all my yarn leftovers, gauge be damned? It's a blanket, after all, that would be OK. Or, another thought, I could use all my non-machine washable sock yarn. I wasn't sure I wanted any more hand-wash only socks anyway.

possible babette colors

These four are particularly nice together (I have a ton more of that peach stuff too).

possible babette colors

A final option could be to put out a plea on knittyboard for everyone's sock yarn scraps. By the way, don't you wish that designers of colorwork patterns would tell you how much of each skein you really need? At least approximately? I think babette calls for 23 different colors of Koigu, most of those in single skein amounts. But say you wanted to make it in 10 colors, would you still need all 20-something skeins or what? Maybe I can ask someone with a finished babette to weigh theirs.

Mind you, I didn't start thinking about all this until after I had already made those first squares. So, I don't know. I'm starting to see how spending $300 on koigu could make the nicest, most color-coordinated blanket (imagine one that was all different shades of green and blue! ooooohh!). But that is not feasible right now (yarn diet, yarn diet, yarn diet!), and even if it were, come on. That's ridiculous. If I did happen to have that much koigu, I don't think I'd want to blow it all on one blanket. I'm thinking mine is going to end up being pretty haphazard, because I can't really see a good way to make a conscious decision about which yarns to use.

ETA: There is a little interview with Kathy Merrick, the designer of Babette, over here, where she admits she made up not only the color sequence as she went along, but the square/size sequence too. Aha! Hege, you were right. Well, I don't trust myself to make up the whole thing from scratch, I think I will still follow the recommended number of squares, but will just wing it with the colors.


Batty said...

I think I'd knit all those fingering leftovers into one comfy, mismatched pair of socks.

hege said...

I think the blanket is gorgeous, but I bet they made in the playful, haphazard way you say. And then afterwards they drew out the diagram. I would just use everything, all the colors you like of any gauge you have. 300 for a Koigu blanket, I can see why Purl would promote this (how cynical I am ;)
Great jewelry! That looks like so much fun!

no-blog-rachel said...

I can't believe I'm saying this but now I want to crochet that blanket! I haven't crocheted in about 30 years - and I was never very good at it but I can handle granny squares.

$300 of Koigu sounds lovely but it ain't happening in my house; I think I'd have to go with leftovers that are all about the same weight.

LOVE your jewelry - you do nice work!

LadyLungDoc said...

Damn. Now I want one. I wonder how worsted weight yarn would work...

Bridget said...

Beautiful jewelry, what a great idea! I think you are very brave to attempt a blanket, though the completed ones are really cool!

BTW, I hope you'll join us in the KAL - the more the merrier, and I for one love "meeting" new people ... :-)

Amanda said...

I'm going to be making Babette too, late next month. I've decided to use Cascade 220. I'll be eager to see how yours turns out!

Amanda said...

I am drooling over that blanket as well! I think if you are going to use different weights of yarn you might want to use different sized hooks so your squares end up in the right proportions.

Thanks for the support regarding my pattern in Magknits!

Kathy said...

Well, now that I've been to Stashology class I'd go for making the blanket out of the stash. Just what you have.

Love that you taught yourself to crochet! Atta girl