fuck you, bobbles

Finally finished the arm warmers from Joan McGowan-Michael’s lovely book Knitting Lingerie Style. I had started them at some point last fall, but got sidetracked. While not the most utilitarian of accessories, they were a perfect project to get back into the swing of knitting.  Also, they’re made of this gorgeous silk/wool yarn that glows rosily and manages to be both downy and sleek.  This yarn is all the more special b/c it’s the first luxury fiber purchase I ever made (More were to follow.  But I’m sure every crack addict remembers that first high.  Worse, it turns out that silk is only a gateway fiber.  Now I crave vicuna and qiviut…mmmn….).
I originally chose this project in order to teach myself cabling.  The arm warmers are also studded w/ bobbles.  That’s sweet, I thought, looking at them.  A little frou-frou, but harmless.

I.  Hate.  Bobbles.

I feel like I cannot emphasize this point enough.  Sure, they look innocuous, even cute, but let’s examine them more closely:

First of all, we must name them for what they are, and not tolerate the disarming euphemism of “bobbles,” which, coincidentally, is also the name of one of the Teletubbies, or something equally heinous.  They are knots at best, nubbins at worst.  They look like you got your yarn hopelessly tangled and soldiered on in spite of it, hoping that people wouldn’t notice that you incorporated the snarl into the pattern—or if they do that they think c’était fait expres.  They look like abnormally large balls of lint.  People will probably shriek and point and exclaim, “AHHH, mutant lint!  Zombie* lint!  Run for your lives!”  Even if they don’t panic, they will probably ruin w/e you’ve knitted by trying to tear off the “giant lint.”  And everyone knows that nubbins aren’t good.  Aberrant growths usually aren’t.  Nubbins are the sort of things that worry doctors and gross everyone else out.  You could get a good job in a circus based on nubbins.

Clearly bobbles belong in a test tube, a maximum security facility, or else in hell.  They are NOT suitable for knitwear, esp. as they are intrinsically evil.  EEEEVVVILLLLLL.  The devil’s mother makes her son bobbled sweaters for Samhain.  J/k…I bet the devil doesn’t even wear sweaters ‘cause it’s so hot where he lives.
But seriously, bobbles are a pain in the ass.  They are time-consuming, unrewarding and never turn out right (hmn…actually, bobbles are starting to sound like a great deal like babies.  The words are even similar…bobbles, babies, babbles…EVIL).  Also, it was while making an accursed yarn nubbin that I broke one of my beautiful, expensive rosewood Lantern Moon needles (which yarnmarket was too cheap to send me a replacement for.  It wasn’t my fault, it was the bobble!).
I made over three dozen of the pesky things, and never quite picked up the knack.  My ordeals DID earn me some knowledge, though, which I gladly pass on to you.  First of all, add on the new stitches in a K1, p1, k1, &c. order.  Also, no matter how many stitches your bobble needs, don’t have more than 3 or 4 on the needle at a time; otherwise it gets too crowded, yarn tension goes up, and slipped stitches become more likely.  So bring them over the first stitch a few at a time, and add more as needed.  Also, make sure that the last stitch left on the needle (the stitch on which the bobble will “float”) matches the rest of the row.  So, if you are knitting, it should be a knitted stitch; the same goes for purling.  Otherwise, it will cause your bobble to reverse sides.  Probably my weakest point is the way I add stitches, which tends to be improvised and sloppy.  I find that an orderly chain tends to create too much of a hole in the fabric (although bobbles made of fewer stitches might not have this problem), so I only create 2-3 new ones, then dig around in the already-knitted yarn to find more.  These are only guidelines, though.  Follow these, and know that on occasion your bobbles will still melt inexplicably into the yarn.  The best thing to do is eliminate the nubbins altogether.  They are nasty and horrid…although, from the right angle, they do look like rosettes.  Bit pretty, really.  AWWW, WOOK AT THE CUTE WIDDEL BOBBLE!  I can never stay mad at you for long!  *cooing noises*

I had fun making the arm warmers (except for the bobbles, of course).  They knitted up quickly, there was only minimal finishing work and—best of all—no blocking necessary!  Next up: blocking and assembling the sweater vest (also from KLS) whose pieces I have had forever, and taking a crack at this project from Knitty.  I have knitted in the round before (making socks and gloves), but only with double-pointed needles.  I prefer DPN’s, but this project calls for circular needles, which will get me out of my comfort zone.  Ultimately, that is the goal of each project, to try something new and to improve as a knitter.  It’s sort of inspiring to watch something grow from the first lonely cast-on stitch into a thing of complex beauty.  Less inspiring is the meager beginnings of a sweater I started based on a Vogue Knitting pattern.  I have this lovely, variegated mohair yarn, but it is incredibly frustrating to work w/.  The stray threads look like extra stitches, which makes it hard to keep count or stick to a pattern.  It’s tacky, so strands stick together and it’s almost impossible to unravel.  Meanwhile, in my hands it’s the opposite: slippery.  On top of all this, I think the pattern must have specified the incorrect needle size, b/c the sweater I started knitting was not the one the showed in the picture.  The yarn is super-fine, but they call for size 7 needles!  The resulting stitches are huge and loopy.  I have decided to take a break from it, and will start fresh at a later date.  It was to be my first sweater, but I think I may try and complete something a bit simpler, first.  Should browse the new VK issue for ideas…

*They’re coming.  You know it’s true.


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