Sunday, April 6, 2014

Baobab baby pullover #2 - Procrastination pays off

Before I tell you how procrastination paid off for me today, I have sad news.  You know those ads in the sidebar that I said finally reached the threshold for payment?  Those ads I asked you to click but only if you saw something interesting?  Those ads that were going to help me continue to blog and would have paid for the challenge prize if there had been one?

Well, my account has been disapproved.  I was stunned, because I have been very careful to not click my own ads and to only ask folks to click things they were interested in.  I guess when I signed up I didn't read the rules carefully enough, or maybe it's been so long since I signed up that I forgot them.  My act of asking for clicks invalidated my account.  I just looked it up - I put my first ad on my blog in July, shortly after we got Frisco, our bush kitten.  I requested clicks then, and I have a few times since.  I guess they didn't really pay attention until it was time to pay out, over 8 months later.  Maybe it was the sudden jump over the last month that did it, or maybe it was my saying that the funds would help support the blog and the challenge prize.

In any case, I essentially had free advertising for God-knows-what crap products and websites on my blog, and I'm out $100.  I'm a bit mad at myself for not catching that policy, especially since I remember reading everything to make sure I didn't screw it up.  It's not a new policy because there's a thread in a forum from 2007 discussing it.  Based on what I've just read, they're so particular about everything to do with the ads - no buttons or menus or content heavily requiring the mouse can be near it so people can't accidentally click the ad.  It's almost as if they don't want the ads to be clicked.  I guess that makes sense.  If the ads are clicked, they have to pay.  I can understand them not wanting to pay out thousands of dollars a month per account due to automated or accidental clicking, but it took me over eight months to earn $100.  People like me are not a threat.

But policies are policies.  There's no way to appeal it or reopen my account, so you'll no longer be bothered by ads or my requesting a measly click every now and again.  So much for me making money from this blog.  If anyone has any ideas, please e-mail me at

Sorry for the rant - back to our regularly scheduled blog post...

I was all set to cast on for the Baobab baby pullover (See my first post if you missed it.  Yes, I know the link spells "Baobab" incorrectly.  That's a hard word to type, even if you're looking right at the correct spelling.) but spent a fair amount of time going over the pattern - looking for things I didn't understand to ask the designer about (since I'm a test knitter), circling the numbers for the size I'm knitting, getting the feel for the basic construction, and stuff like that.

Part of that time was also dithering over the size of circular needle to use - the short one seemed too short for comfortable knitting, and the next longest size seemed too long for the size of sweater I would (eventually) be knitting.

This morning I threw the gauge swatch down the laundry chute so I could see how the yarn holds up in the wash.  While I was still going over the pattern, Steve walked up and said, "Don't decrease the needle size," and handed me the machine-washed-and-dried swatch.

Here's how it compares with the hand-washed, dried-flat swatch:



I just looked at the care instructions on the Knit Picks website, and it says machine washing is okay, but it should be dried flat.  My guess is that the recipients of this pullover will not dry it flat.  I wouldn't for a baby pullover.  I decided to use the original size needles.

When I cast on, I always have a problem keeping track of the number of stitches I've put on.  I'm watching TV, listening to music, talking to Steve, or thinking about random things, and I lose track.  I count and count and count the stitches over and over again while I'm casting on, then I count another few times when I'm done.

I read somewhere a tip about putting stitch markers every so often to make counting easier, so I did that.  I am confident in my ability to count to ten (most days :D ), so that's the number I chose.  I still recounted stitches, but it was only to ten, then I counted the stitch markers.

That made it so much easier, and I didn't feel like I was losing my mind.  I'm going to do that every time I have a large number of stitches to cast on.

The stitch markers came from Knit Picks, and I like them very much.  Each package comes with two sizes and two colors of purple (not the reason I bought them, but it was nice bonus).  They're thin, lightweight, and as unobtrusive as stitch markers can be.  The best part is that that there are 30 markers total with a nice storage pouch for only $1.99.  If you're buying yarn from Knit Picks anyway, you might want to pick up a pack.

You know who should be paying me for advertising - Knit Picks.  :)

After casting on, I had to make the "circular needle" decision.  There's a technique called Magic Loop, where a very long (40" or longer) circular needle is used and things are curved around to do the actual knitting.  I don't know how to do that.  I could learn, but I don't have a very long circular needle I could use.  I'm trying really hard to not buy new needles for every project.  I have that interchangeable knitting needle set I've talked about before, so I shouldn't need to buy any more needles.  However, like I said above, the shortest one is too short to knit comfortably - I feel like I'm wrestling two cats into the same carrier at the same time with every stitch.  The next longest one is so much longer that it won't work for this sweater.

I really wanted to use a circular needle, so I agonized and calculated and rearranged and agonized some more.  Here's how both of the circular needles look next to each other (the short one has size 5 needles on it so I could tell the full length):

The stitches are stretched just about as far as they can go.  I decided that even the short, cat-wrestling circular needle is probably a touch too long, so without buying a new, very long circular needle, I was left with one option:

AAHH!  The medieval torture device (otherwise known as double pointed needles - DPNs)!  At this point I'd like to thank my mother and stepfather again for the DPN set they gave me for Christmas, which allowed me to start knitting today instead of going to the store tomorrow.

As I started working on the ribbing to start the sweater, I made a startling discovery:  I no longer have problems working with DPNs and, in fact, am comfortable using them.  GASP!  I still don't like that I have to "see through" the points of unused needles from time to time to get to the stitches at the end of the needle I'm working from, but it's practically effortless now.  That's good, because now that I'm done with the ribbing:

all of my concentration will be needed for the cables that make up the beautiful Baobab tree.

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