Take a bit of advice from the experts

Last August, while on holiday in Vancouver, I wrote a post about the lovely yarn and buttons I had just scored to make the Enchanted Rock cardigan, designed by Jennette Cross.  Here is a photo of the cardigan:

7785209580_ea4e1b6750_b_medium2Although I was excited about the pattern and pleased to have been able to purchase the identical yarn (The Fibre Company Acadia in Strawberry and Amber), something else always managed to catch my knitting fancy and I never started the project.  A few days ago, while my brain was still on holiday (read my last post), I decided, rather foolishly, to cast this on.  I was met immediately with a simple road block.  The cardigan is knit from the top down, utilizing a provisional cast-on with the pink yarn.  I have of course used a provisional cast-on before, but not very often and truth be told, I couldn’t remember how to do it.  Well, as we all know, this is exactly why search engines were invented.

So, I searched for provisional cast-on and found tons of sites, all with detailed instructions for the many different techniques for making a provisional cast-on.  But, please recall dear reader, that my brain was gone; I looked at many different sets of instructions and they were beyond the capacity of my severely diminished reasoning.  And then, I found myself looking at this post by TECHknitting.  If you don’t know TECHknitting, you should.  This site is a veritable encyclopedia of knitting know-how.  The post starts with a description of what a provisional cast-on is (I love this! – she calls it “a casting-on designed to be taken out” – a totally brilliant and succinct description.)  The page ends with very detailed instructions.  In between, however, is the part that caught my eye.  I will quote it here in all it’s brilliance:

Q: Provisional cast on seems like a lot of trouble–is there another way? Yup, I think so. I myself hardly ever use a provisional cast-on. Instead, using waste yarn, I make a regular cast-on and knit a couple of extra rows. Next, I switch to the “real” yarn. When done, I snip one stitch of waste yarn, ravel it out, and there are loops of real yarn waiting to be picked up. These loops are nice to work with because they’re tensioned perfectly to the fabric. In other words, because the real yarn loops come from a couple of rows into the fabric, they aren’t distorted by the casting-on.

Even without a brain, I could see the advantage of this.  I just find some extra yarn (this being a not difficult task in my household) and cast on like I always do.  I don’t need to know how to do a provisional cast-on, or learn anything new.  So I did:

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The blue yarn is the little bit of scrap yarn I picked up around the house.  It will be cut off later, and the stitches will be slipped back on the needle so that I can knit the trim with the amber coloured yarn.  Fantastic!  Believe me: You will make your life so much easier if you take a bit of advice from the experts!

(I must, however, admit to you that I knit the first 8 rows of this cardigan 4 times, ripping out each time, growing more and more frustrated, before I figured out the pattern and got it right.  So it seems as if a brain is still a useful part of one’s knitting arsenal.)

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Serendipity

I wrote a post recently showing the great pile of knitting that I was taking with me on my holiday to Vancouver.  I noted that Vancouver and surrounds has a large number of yarn stores, but I was fairly determined not to visit any of them.  A reader, kiwiyarns, commented that I was bound to yarn shop.  Shortly after we arrived here, I was perusing patterns on Ravelry and came across this cute little cardigan:

It is designed by Jennette Cross for Hill Country Weavers.  I have been following this group with interest for a while, because I like their patterns and their southwestern sensibility and colour schemes.  This one caught my eye because it is pretty and feminine and lacey, but mostly because of the unusual combination of colours.  It is made with The Fibre Company Acadia, which is a merino, silk and alpaca blend.  I have never used this yarn before, but was taken enough with the pattern to notice that it was knit with the colours strawberry and amber.

Earlier this week, Leah and I were having a celebratory lunch at Granville Island in Vancouver (celebrating Leah’s AS grades).  After lunch, we wandered around all of the little shops and galleries and just happened across a great shop for artists called Maiwa, which has supplies for dying, and beautiful fabrics, textile books, and dare I say, yarn.  As it is a shop which carries many different things, they do not have a great quantity of yarn (but what they have is fab).  The yarn is kept in baskets on a table, and the first basket I saw when I walked in the door was filled with The Fibre Company Acadia.  So, of course, I was obligated to root through it, and lo and behold, they had both strawberry and amber in stock.

Well, dear reader, this was serendipity.   I was not out on a yarn aquisition expedition, but this sort of fell into my lap.  I asked the lovely shopkeeper if I could access the internet to look up Ravelry, to determine how many skeins I would need.  They were very helpful.  And then I couldn’t help but notice that the pattern called for buttons, and that Maiwa had a large chest of drawers filled with hand carved wooden buttons.  So Leah and I spent a fun twenty minutes running our fingers through mountainous piles of buttons and searching out the perfect set.

So, despite the best intentions, I ended up buying yarn on this holiday.  It  was serendipity.