Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

First Photos – a WIP Report

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:54 pm on Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It’s Craft Circle night, so as usual I don’t have a lot of time for a blog post today. So I’m going to finally share pictures of a couple of WIPs that are currently on the needles.


This is intended as the replacement for my Ugly Crochet Poncho. The pattern is in the Interweave Press book Folk Shawls, which I’ve had for some time, but I was finally inspired to choose this to knit after seeing Franklin‘s commentary about the one he knit for his sister. His favorable review was the final impetus I needed.

Ruana WIP
WIP – Ruana, about 1/3 done

I chose to use this as a stash-busting project, so I dove into the piles and selected 8 different yarns in the same color family. Some were worsted weight, and some were bulky. I’m making up for that by using the worsted weight double, and they’re all knitting up about the same. The textures vary as well – some are simple smooth worsteds, some are fuzzy. There’s a little Lion Brand Homespun yarn, a pink yarn I’ve had over 20 years that’s a single plied with a satin ribbon (sorry, the label is long gone. Probably lost before I even moved to New Hampshire 13 years ago), and a “Thick ‘N Thin” yarn from Jo-Ann’s that has huge slubs in it.

I’m using my gaming dice to help decide which yarn comes next, how many rows I use it for, etc. But I’m not giving random chance complete control. Each time I roll up a color, I check to see to see how recently it was used, etc.

The Thick ‘N Thin yarn and the bright pink/ribbon yarn I’m using as accents that only get knit one row at a time. On every row I knit, if it’s been at least two rows since the last accent row, I roll a 20-sided dice. If a 1 comes up, then I roll again – an odd number means to use the Thick ‘N Thin, an even number the pink.

The integration of the dice into the decision process is probably more complex than I can even try to describe. And maybe it’s not completely necessary – I’m sure some of you are shaking your heads and wondering why I don’t just pick whatever color speaks to me next. But I enjoy what the dice rolls add to the process – it becomes a little bit of a game with fate for me.

Ruana Try-On
Showing the length

This probably isn’t a fair depiction of how this will sit on me. For one thing, I’ve not completed the first half of the ruana yet, so it will actually come further down the arm than that. And when I wear it I won’t be walking around with my shoulder hunched up and my arm straight out the way I put it in this photo. Sheesh – I must have been in a hurry to take the picture, huh?

Franklin’s ruana was knit much, much longer than this, but then it was intended as a significant outerwear garment for his sister to wear in Maine weather. Mine is meant as a replacement for a short poncho that I wear to protect myself from drafts indoors, while I sit in my chair knitting. The extra bulk of material in a full-length ruana would be inappropriate here, so instead I’m working to approximately hip-length or a little shorter.

I’m liking the fabric that I’m getting, though. It is developing the look and feel of a heavy-woven wool textile, such as you might find in South America. I think I’m going to really enjoy this when it’s done. I may even have to make plans to knit a full-length version to actually wear outdoors…


I know, I know – this was over last year, but then, I only just started reading blogs when Knitty.com‘s Clapotis made the rounds.

I have been wanting to knit Clapotis for a few weeks now, and have been shopping for a nice yarn. I really wanted something multi-colored, and unfortunately, I was having trouble finding something I could actually afford that had colors that spoke to me.

Yarn snobs might want to look away now. You won’t like what’s in this picture.

Clapotis WIP
WIP Clapotis

Yes, that’s Red Heart yarn. Red Heart Kid’s yarn, no less. For some reason, Red Heart has decided that a mix of crayon-bright colors could only appeal to children. (Personally, I think that age- or gender-based color biases are insane. Who’s to tell me I can’t like Bright Pink just because I’m over 12?)

Why Red Heart? I was getting discouraged trying to find a multi-color yarn that appealed to me and would also be appropriate for Clapotis as well as affordable on my tight budget. Besides, there’s every chance that as this gets worn around here during mud season, it might, well, land in mud if it falls off. I need to be able to toss this in the washer and dryer without any worries.

And I don’t mind acrylic yarn for simple knit garments. Yes, it’d be nice if this were a super-soft merino or something. But as I mentioned, I couldn’t find colors I wanted. So Red Heart it is.

I’ll be continuing to search for yarns suitable for Clapotis that come with in my budget and suit my color sense. They also have to be scratch-free – I have so little tolerance for itchy fibers, and this would be worn right around the neck, after all. When the time is right, I’ll find my next Clapotis yarn.

Meanwhile, I’m loving the color play in this one.

Oldest Functional Finished Object

Speaking of Red Heart, the afghan that Clapotis is posing on here is likely my Oldest Finished Object that I still use. It’s a Fisherman Knit afghan from a Leisure Arts book published sometime in the 70’s. This particular pattern – Kilkenny, if I remember right – is knit all in one piece, which appealed to me greatly. At the time, I couldn’t stand the notion of knitting what amounted to a bunch of scarves and seaming them together.

Since afghans are so large, and since at the time specialty yarn shops were so hard to come by, my yarn of choice for my Kilkenny afghans became Red Heart Super-Saver. It came in a variety of good colors, it was washable, and I could afford it. And I could actually find it for sale at shops available to me in Syracuse in the 80’s.

I have knit this particular pattern at least 15 times or more, sometimes for friends and family, sometimes for charity raffles. The only time I did it in the traditional off-white color was the first time, and that’s the afghan you can see in the picture. This piece is going on 25 years old now. There’s some pilling that I should probably shave off, and there’s a mysterious stain on the back that I can’t figure out where it came from. But it’s still warm, still cozy, and still covers my lap nicely on a brisk winter’s day.

I refered to this as my “Oldest Functional Finished Object”. That’s because I actually have an older FO, a knitted stuffed snake, that I’m fairly certain dates before the afghan. But since the snake was created in a coiled, curved shape, it isn’t useful even as a draft dodger (a tubular piece you place at the bottom edge of a door to block drafts). Thus, the distinction between Functional and not.

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