I was kinda scared to get started on this because it required so much concentration, but I was determined and I plowed ahead. While it wasn't due until late November, I took it on a trip with me in late August to get an early start on it.
I was making it for one of my best friends, Agatha. It was for her 30th birthday so I wanted to make it special. She's been having a difficult few months, so I thought this was a great way to show her how much I cared about her with something I made with a lot of time and love put into it. The tricky part was knowing what to make. We don't have similar taste when it comes to fashion, but since she actually likes aliens, when I thought of the alien illusion scarf I thought it was perfect.
As I said, I started knitting it in late August. It's a little scary when you first start because you can't see anything appearing, and you feel like you are wasting your time, but once the first repeat is done, you can see the alien plain as day. After a while, despite all the different stitches in each row, you really get a feel for the pattern and it's easier to knit without meticulously checking the pattern on every row.
I got a lot of it done in August and September. Everyone I showed was really blown away by it. I worked at a trade show in Vegas and on one of the quieter days, Miho and I whipped out our knitting. Miho made everyone look at the unfolding scarf and everyone was wowed by it. It helped ease my mind when I worried that Ag might not like it.
I think I didn't touch it at all in October, and thinking I only had one repeat to go, thought it would be no big deal. Then rather than having until the end of November, Ag was coming to visit in early November so I had to hurry up and finish it before she got here! I went nuts just days before she arrived and got it done. I came so close to a disaster with just over a foot of the green left when I was done with the main part. Sadly, there was not enough of even the black for the fringe, so I went into a total panic about getting more. I had bought the yarn in San Francisco in
May and couldn't find the tags anywhere. I was going to describe to Emily where in the store it was and what it was like, but then I remembered Blue Sky had a colour called Lemongrass that was very much like the one I had used. I headed over to the yarn store with the scarf and was delighted to find an almost perfect match. No problem at all for making a fringe, that's for sure!
Ag was arriving on Sunday and we went out on Saturday night. I was offered a second beer and passed because I needed to finish the scarf. It was tedious, but at 1am, 10 hours before she was due to arrive, the scarf was finished!
As for the mystery of the yarn, I have the Stitch N' Bitch calendar on my desk at work. I don't bother to rip the page every day and such was the case for the week following the presentation of the finished scarf. On Friday of that week, I peeled back all the pages, and wouldn't you know that on MONDAY, the day after I gave the scarf away, the "Fave Fiber" was Malabrigo kettle dyed, pure merino wool. Yay! I couldn't believe it was on the calendar two days after I was frantically trying to figure out what it was! I went to their website and found the details. The colours I used were Black (195) and Apple Green (11). When looking at the ball, the colour changes looked a little worrisome, but when knitted up, you can see any difference. The black is really as black as it gets and I discovered when I bought the Blue Sky Cotton in black which just isn't as black! It was a very nice yarn to work with, and should keep the wearer (if they wear it) very warm. Malabrigo has an amazing array of colours as you can see on their site.
Gregg and Miho says I shouldn't talk about "the mistake" but I can't get over it, plus I may as well impart what I did to overcome it (aside from professional counselling which I kinda need for it). On ONE row, I purled some knits and vice versa. I didn't notice it until I was almost a whole repeat away. I wanted to go back and fix it, but that was pretty crazy since it was barely noticeable. I thought about undoing the knitting at that point and going down to the errors, but I could see that getting very messy on this tight piece. What I did instead was, when I was done, go to that area and create bumps where there needed to be, and flatten the bumps that shouldn't be there with tight stitched. It's not perfect, but it corrects the misplaced bumps and lack thereof that was irking me. I didn't tell the recipient, though I wanted to because I like to divulge all the details and confess to such things.
In total, the scarf took me 30-35 hours. I'm approximating about 5 hours per repeat. It wouldn't have taken as long, but with going back and fixing mistakes and the speed lost after putting the piece down for a while and losing momentum and familiarity with the pattern, that's about how long it took.
As for what Ag had to say when she received it...not much. :( I might as well have picked it up at Target. More on that, like Shirley's shawl, to be the subject of another blog.