Monday, 10 March 2014

COM: Cast On Month

How's this for a radical idea? Cast on a new object everyday for a month! (OK, Lets make it a little less overwhelming and make it February where there is only 28 days). Could I do this? Would I take up the dare? I had cyber knitting friends egging me on and I figured I could only try it and see...

I tried (and ultimately failed when life got in the way) and here is the story of my efforts and the lessons I learned along to way to make it easier next time.

Day 1: I cast on a cowl. The Ravelry group instigating the COM is also having a Cowl Along using a pattern designed by one of the group members: IrMom's Cowl. I wasn’t sure about how much I liked the pattern from the original pattern photos (which are in black and hard to see the full glory of the lace) but a few of the projects made from it finally sold me. I liberated the 3 balls of yarn I have from my Mum’s stash a while ago when sourcing yarn for the Granny Wants a Latte Macchiato granny rug. The colour looks pale ice blue is some lights, grey in other but is clearly intended to be grey as the yarn colour is Silver Streak. One pattern repeat completed on the first day.
Day 2: OK. I figured out a way I can cast on a new thing every day but not end up with an enormous number of new WIPs at the end of the month (WIP = Work in Progress). I should make small things that I can cast on and finish in one day. Luckily I had just the project needing love and attention: The Granny wants a Latte Macchiato Granny rug. It takes me about an hour to complete a square for this. Perfect evening TV knitting. So a square in colour combination number 1.
Day 3: I'm also making a strip afghan this year; one new strip per month. Essentially I am knitting all my favourite cable and cable and lace scarves that have caught my eyes recently and sewing them up into a lap blanket for me. (A girl can have too many scarves but I need a rug). This is the beginning of the third strip: the Pretzel Scarf from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013 using recycled yarn from my local op shop. Again this is one pattern repeat.
Days 4, 5, 6 and 7: Four more squares for the Granny wants a Latte Macchiato granny rug. Colour combinations 2 through 5. I may even get this rug finished sometime soon. (And I'd done a whole week of cast ons! And I finished the cowl I cast on on Day 1 on Day 4 too).
Days 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12: A new project constructed in 6 pieces. I just loved these when I first saw the pattern Artichaut in The Knitter. (Artichaut means artichoke in French). These are my first ever Ravellenics project for Team Tardis. I can see Victorian Clara wearing these. The yarn is a core of wool covered in a silvery acrylic mesh. Despite the glitter, it is smooth and not scratchy. It also knits up incredibly smooth and doesn’t catch or pull.
Day 13 and 14: No new cast ons and in fact no knitting at all. I went to Sydney for a maths conference and flew out really early one morning and arrived home late the next day. In Australia you can't take knitting needles or crochet hooks in hand luggage. They are dangerous prohibited items aparently. We were traveling without checked luggage so no knitting for two days. (I did get to talk knitting to other mathematicians though).

Days 15 and 16: Back home but the cast on mojo was gone. I did pick up my knitting needles with a sigh of relief and knit away on the current work in progress - a strip for my Anyone Got Cable! scarf-ghan.  This is a mock cable and lace pattern - Falling Water.
Day 17: A new cast on courtesy of a long car trip to Geelong to do the first part of the mighty move for the youngest boy to residences at university. The head of the household was a sweetie and did the bulk of the driving. This is my next planned Ravellenics project - the Oyster Shell fingerless mitts using Spatterdash Wristwarmers pattern from Knitty. I got the palm section completed and picked up stitches to do the flap section in feather and fan lace. But I got lost trying to follow the pattern for the first row which includes short row shaping late at night. (And it's really fine needles and yarn. My eyes were protesting).
Days 18 to 28: OK, the wheels have fallen off this cast on mania effort. Oh, I certainly knitted for the rest of February but there were no new cast ons. I mainly worked on my strips for my strip afghan and finished one strip and got a long way through the Pretzel Scarf strip I cast on at the beginning of February.

Why no more cast ons?
  1. Work intervened. The end of February was  the start of teaching for 2014 at University and I was doing a lot of new things in University preparation programs and 'O' week classes. So a lot more time and energy eaten away in planning and material production.
  2. I hadn't really planned much past the second mitten cast on for Ravellenics So I didn't know what to cast on next.
  3. I ran across a knitting needle availability issue. I knew for example, a couple of more patterns I wanted to incorporate into my strip afghan but everything is DK weight on 4mm needles and I was running out as they were all in use.

Things I learned for next time?
  1. Mix the crochet and knitting - this really helps with needle availability. (Plus you can easily steal the hooks from crochet projects!)
  2. Consider small modular pieces that you can cast on and finish in a day. I was on a winner here with the granny squares.
  3. Plan a long list of interesting things to cast on. Vary the yarn and needle size needed (and probably sensibly match these to the needles I actually have).
  4. Pack up little starter packs consisting of the pattern, yarn and needles for projects so it's easy to just pick and start new things.

Would I do it again?
Hell, yes!  With better pre-planning (See notes above).

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