Friday, October 05, 2012

Completed work

One of the things I like to do is look through second-hand or thrift shops for something that I might need. Often times, it’s not so much that I need it, as that I could make use of it. That is how I gathered together my sets of knitting needles. I say “sets” because I have more than one complete set: I have bamboo, plastic, metal, wooden in straight, circular, double-point. Most are packed away somewhere for we all just use our favourites most of the time.

On one visit, I located a rather large bag of yarn. Usually, all I can find are the oddments – something left from a project. Not quite enough to do anything substantial with it, and yet quite nice yarn. I then have to find something else that I could mix in with that to complete a project. But this time, it was a big bag with three huge balls of yarn. It was an afghan kit complete with instructions, and even needles. In fact, there was about 15 cm (6 inches) of work started. Perhaps it was someone that got ill and could not finish it, or someone that got really bored with it. The knitting was very well done – it was not some beginner here – so I was envisioning all sorts of scenarios of why it was being given up.

I felt that this project needed to be completed. Something that was started, and then interrupted for some reason, really needed to be finished, and I felt it was being presented to me to do the job. I imagined some elderly woman starting this for a new great-grandchild, became very ill or perhaps even passed away, and the work was not finished. It was up to me to carry on and get it done.

It was in three strong bright autumn colours: brown, orange and darker tan. And acrylic! But there was a set of circular needles, I think about 4 mm, and I’ve always wanted to do one of these. The price was right, so why not.

That was sometime early in the spring, I think. Since then, I’ve been working on it when the mood struck me, and then I really just wanted to get it done. It was a simple chevron design, quite boring to do, so it was perfect for those mindless movie-watching times. It was not very wide, perhaps a single person width. I didn’t know how long it should be, but just kept on working. I measured against myself, thinking it should be large enough to cover yourself from toes to nose. And there appeared to be enough yarn to make it so.

There were two stitches on each edge in garter stitch, but I didn’t like the way that looked, nor how it lay. The rest was in stocking stitch, which is okay for the front of the afghan, but since the other side would also be visible, I felt it needed to look good as well. I carried the yarns along the side, which was a bit cumbersome. I also felt that all three yarns should not be on the same side so I changed one to the other side… which meant that two of the colour changes began on one side and the other on the opposite side. It also meant that the pattern row had to be done for that one colour on the purl side… so that required some technical skill. Well, it was a boring job, so I had to add some interest to it!

I did consider lining this, partly to hide the ugly purl side, and to give it a bit more heft. But what do I use? Certainly, it had to have some stretch to match the knitted material, and soft and warm. I did consider knitted jersey, in some brushed finish, but decided against all that in the end. It will just have to be as it is.
As I was nearing the full length, and watching the amount of yarn I still had left, I began musing about putting a border around it all, which would finish the side edges nicely, and add some width to it as well. The trouble was the ends – because of the chevron design, how do you do a hem on that?

But I worked it out, thinking that I would like a folded hem. That is easy enough to do: knit to the width of the hem, do a purl round, and then knit the other side, grafting it on the final round. I had to be sure I had enough yarn left for the hem though!

All was working well, except for the ends. Remember this had that chevron pattern, so I was just able to continue the pattern for the front hem. I was able to pick up stitches easily on the caston edge. But the back side of the hem had to be done IN REVERSE design so that it would all lay flat neatly. I never thought of that until I actually started doing it.

So in the end, when I changed colours, I then just picked up stitches all around the sides and the other edge and continued the colour stripe. I then switched to the dark brown for the purl round, thinking a darker colour along the edge would set it off nicely, and then the colour sequence on the back side. By then, I was running dangerously close to running out of yarn, and when a colour ended, I just continued on with the next colour. If anyone examines it closely on the back side, he will see that the stripes aren’t exactly even all around!

In the end, I kind of like it. It is acrylic so won’t hold up well for long, so it was a waste of time to spend so much time on it for little use. It is on my bed already, so I am trying to get as much out of it as I can. I have collected a lot of the old Gunsmoke TV episodes (began in 1955) and watched them while knitting this afghan. Those early episodes are over 50 years old! And in black&white – does anyone remember those? I never watched these when they originally ran, but I do remember some of the later ones, in colour, when the series finally ended in 1975. This afghan took many, many episodes to complete!

Here are some pics. It’s really difficult to show you the true colour, but I think I got close to it. I’m showing you the overall appearance, and a close-up of the hem, both sides.

So while this is not the type of thing I would ever want to do for myself (not in acrylic!), I felt a sense of accomplishment that I finished something that was started (even if it wasn’t my own project at first) and that I will use it for a time instead of the intended recipient. Maybe there will be a feeling of completeness in the world now. I can only hope.