Monday, January 12, 2009

The Anti-Funk

This, my friends, is the Anti-Funk. What?, you're saying, it looks like a garter rectangle. And that's what it is- well, actually, it's a garter loop. It's called the Anti-Funk for two reasons. One is that, other than the yarn, there is absolutely nothing special or interesting or funky about this project at all. The second is that it was knit in an attempt to get me out of a knitting funk I'm in. Prior to this, I hadn't knit anything since I finished Ephelant a week or so ago. I kept looking at my list of projects to swatch for, but nothing seemed to work. My design ideas were either stupid or impossible to execute. I didn't have any good yarn/pattern matches for other things I wanted to knit. My fingers were itching to knit, but I didn't even feel up to swatching. So, enter the Anti-Funk cowl.

The Anti-Funk
Yarn: 80% Alpaca/20% silk sock yarn, hand-dyed by Jenny Cook, from the Wool & Willow shop in Hay-on-Wye, 70-80g
Needles: 3.0mm Addi Turbo lace
Pattern: uh, it's a garter stitch rectangle?

I'd been wanting a close-fitting, warm cowl ever since my unsatisfactory experience with the Flared Lace Smokering. I was spurred on by the fact that it's been freezing over here. I looked through all the great cowl patterns on Ravelry, but, honestly, I didn't want to swatch- I just wanted to get knitting. (Haven't had that experience for a while!) Partially for this reason, I didn't knit this in the round- my brain wasn't even going to stretch to calculating how many stitches to cast on, plus I had no clue what circumference I wanted it to be. The other reason I didn't knit this in the round was that I fancied the garter ridges going vertically when the object is worn. I don't know why.

So, using the crochet provisional cast-on, I cast on until it looked as "tall" as I wanted, and just started knitting. As I knit, I reflected on garter stitch. I'd chosen it because I didn't want to have to count rows; even the two-row repeat of seed stitch was too taxing. And I remembered a while ago thinking that some variegated yarns look really good in plain garter. Lucky for me, this was one of them.

Like many new knitters, I started off knitting garter swatches. Also like many other new knitters, I was eager to go on to stockinette, and didn't like the bumpiness of the garter rows. I didn't like reverse stockinette for the same reason. As I knit more and more, though, I'm starting to appreciate them- I love the way these simple stitches perk up plain stockinette when used together, and I love the way they so easily add textural interest. I even like the edges: flat, even, beautifully finished.

As I knit my garter rectangle, I also realized how difficult it is to knit a good-looking, even garter fabric.

You think stockinette shows up flaws like uneven tension? Next time you notice rowing out or loose or uneven stitches in your stockinette fabric, flip it over and see how much more these flaws shop up in the reverse stockinette purl bumps! I really had to keep my attention on the knitting- it certainly didn't turn out to be as mindless a knit as I'd thought. Part of this ball of yarn had been used to swatch something before, and I'd unravelled it and wound it back up. As a consequence, the beginning of my garter rectange, with the previously-used yarn, was terribly unattractive. The kinks in the yarn meant the garter rows were sometimes interrupted by loose or tight stitches, every one of which showed up to mock me. In the end, I had to cut off the length knit with the previously-used yarn.

When I knit the rectangle to as long as I wanted the circumference of my cowl to be (45cm, apparently), I made sure the beginning and ending rows on the "right side" were purl rows, then grafted the two ends together. (Normal grafting makes a knit row on the "public" side of the knitting, so for a garter object, you'd want to make this knit row between two purl rows.) I grafted a bit too tightly, actually, but it's not noticeable enough to annoy me.

All in all, I think it may have done its job. I have a warm cowl, and I can face my stitch dictionaries once again to think about swatching for some designs.

Some words about this yarn: Yum. Summer sorbet colours in cloud soft alpaca/silk. I have another skein of this, and will have to think of something worth its specialness.


Kate said...

Lovely! Sometimes plain knitting can look just as attractive as all the fussy lace and cables and clever stuff. Hope it helped with your funk as well. :-)

Lien said...

Oh wow, I just knitted a cowl as well - sort of. I made the bainbridge scarf so it was just a bit more than just a garter rectangle. It had a couple of ties as well. Love the colour.

Anonymous said...

I love it! The colour looks very pretty on you, and it looks like a good use of the yarn. Hope that it has broken the funk.

Woolly Stuff said...

I hope this has gotten you at of your funk! It looks lovely and it's a pretty anti-winter blues colour, which is a great bonus.

I have 3 projects on the needle, yet I haven't had any desire to knit in two weeks now. It's the weirdest feeling!

Dawn said...

Nice how simple that is, yet it is so nice looking! I made so many hats while I was home, I'm a bit tired of it. I need to get back at it though....this yarn isn't going to use up itself!

WorstedKnitt said...

Happy you got out of the funk - and the cowl is very pretty in all its simplicity. Well done!