Friday, December 29, 2006

Holifo III: Star Wars Smackdown

Dum dum, da da da duuuum duuuum, da da da duuuumm duuum, da da da DUUUUM....

You know how I seem to make my first pass at a new skill a freaking labyrinth of migraines? Just call me Britney 'cause, yup, I did it again. This time it was intarsia. And it almost killed me.

Let me digress for a mo and tell you that Hubster is a geek. Less so than when he was younger (medieval camp, that's all I'm gonna say), but he's always been a huge fan of the Star Wars series. I think we even have the Trivial Pursuit Star Wars edition lurking somewhere about the house. So when I saw the R2D2 Beanie first in the knitty gallery (my apologies, I can't remember who posted it and I'm to lazy right now to go search) and then on craftster, well, I simply had to knit one for Hubster. Had to.

I wanted this to be a complete surprise, so I had to pull a 007 undercover knit mission. Not an easy thing to do when you're generally home at the same time. The days ticked by and next thing I knew, it was December 22nd. After a mild panic attack, I managed to get the pre-intarsia rows in after he went to bed that night. The next day, I copped a squat at the coffeehouse and blazed into the intarsia while he - true to boy form - was at the mall buying Christmas presents.

Because caffeine helps, and nobody knows me there
If you've ever done instarsia before, you know of which I'm about to speak - it's a mess. A big, fat, strand-tangling, yarn-everywhere mess with many expletives in between. Especially if you don't use bobbins and your yarn butterflies suck. Even more so when your chart calls for about 30 color changes. And multiplied by a factor of a thousand when you've never done it before, have yarn fanning out like a peacock around you at the coffeehouse, and biker dudes are staring at you like you're a psychopath.

The article in IK said each color change is a separate strand and you never carry over. Excuse my language, but fuck that! Some of those color changes are only over 2 or 3 stitches. And it's Karabella, which is sproingy. So I carried. Sue me.

Due to the many color changes, with a stop, drop, knit, twist, triple lutz backflip at each one, I was averaging probably about 20 minutes a row. Then of course there was the stop, curse, detangle, turn jacknife after every row, which tacked on an additional 5-10 minutes. So yeah, 30 minutes a row. You never realize how slowly you're making progress on something until you leave the coffeehouse three hours later and have only knitted 6 rows of a HAT.

I did manage to squeeze in another two rows before Hubster came home. Would have been more, but at one point I thought I heard him walk in the front door, threw the hat in the modular desk cabinet we have, ran out to the living room, discovered he in fact was not home, then slunk back into the office and spent a solid 25 minutes trying to separate the strands.

Hubster went to bed that night around 11:30pm, so I snuck back into the office (he tends to get up at random points in the night for a snack foray and has been known to sleepwalk, so even after he goes to bed, you gotta be sly) to work on it some more. I fell into a rhythm, hummed along through the rest of the first chart and was partway through the second when I got up to stretch and check the time, thinking it was probably around 2 am. Ummm, yeah, it was 3:45 am. I'm nocturnal, but that was a bit of a shocker. I immediately put it away and went to bed.

Never-ending. Literally.
The next morning (er, technically, a few hours later), I managed to sneak in the rest of the knitting before Hubster rolled out of bed. Later that afternoon, I headed back to the coffeehouse with hat in hand. Why? Because I had about a BILLION ends to weave in. And yes, this would be on Christmas Eve.

Two days at the coffeehouse with an intarsia hat that has a bottomless pit of color changes = bottomless pit of ends to weave in (two for each color change) = monster, blinding, shooting, painful, screaming knot in your neck and shoulder blades. It took about three days worth of heat pads and Advil-popping before it subsided. I wouldn't recommend it.

Post-weave but pre-trim, this is just a glimpse of the bagazillion ends I was dealing with. There are others that don't show in the pic. I think they were multiplying like grey hairs just to torment me - every time I wove one in, two more popped up in its place.

I took a pic at the coffeehouse pre-weave with my camera phone so you could see the white trash ziploc manner in which I managed the yarn butterflies for the last portion of the knitting, but I can't figure out how to download it off said phone.

Post trim, and done! Victory is mine! Sort of.

Now, this being my first pass at colorwork/intarsia/whatever you want to call it, it's not too bad. I was happy it actually did resemble R2D2! That being said, it's not without some glaring errors - to me anyway. So hey, why don't I just point them out to you:

Thumbs waaay down on my seaming. It blows, I know. Especially at the bottom where the blue meets the silver. I brought the wrong article with me to the coffeehouse, couldn't remember how to mattress seam, and I just wanted to be done with this damn hat, so there you go. Hubster doesn't give a rat's ass about those kind of things anyway.

Some of my color changes are wonky, as you can clearly see in the blue block above the red dot. A little too much twist there I think, which made it rather bulky.

Just in case you didn't see my sucky seaming well enough above, let's just zoom in on that, shall we?

Overall, this hat was pretty high on the pita meter, what with the stop, drop and roll at every color change (even with the carrying in some places). And the bazillion ends to weave in. And my colorwork definitely needs some practice. And I need to have the right references in front of me next time I seam. But once I got into a rhythm, it was actually a perverse sort of fun. I always love learning a new skill, it certainly wasn't mindless or boring (to say the least!), and seeing the chart spring to life as R2D2 beneath my hands was quite the thrill! Plus, there's the gift-giving excitement, thinking (or at least hoping) how much the recipient is going to enjoy it.

So yes, I will do intarsia again. After I invest in some bobbins.

I love Karabella. So soft and sproingy. But I do want to note that the blue did start to bleed a little in the Euculan bath. It might bleed a lot, but I immediately pulled it from the water the second it tinged blue so as not to ruin the hat before it was gifted.

The wee bit of red there is KnitPicks Swish. Given how little I knitted with it, can't really say much about it. It did feel a tad rough next to the Karaballa, but then again, many yarns would.

Knitworthy for life
I washed and wrapped this baby up around 1 am on Monday - Christmas morning - and snuck it under the tree before sinking into bed with a great big fat sigh of relief. I was a little bit nervous as to how he'd react. Even though he totally digs the Ribby Hubster Hat, you just never know, you know? Given how much work went into this, if he didn't respond favorably, there may have been a CSI-like incident afterwards.

We spent the morning with the ILs, then came home and opened our presents to each other. (Apologies in advance for the gifted luggage obscuring the background.)

He LOOOOOOVED IT! The moment we finished opening the rest of our presents, he snapped a pic of the hat with his cell and messaged it to his sister with the text, "Best beanie EVER!". He went on about it even more when he talked to her a short while later. *sigh* I do so love that knitworthy man of mine. It made every damn second I spent on that hat worthwhile, and then some.

Hubster Super Secret Christmas Surprise
Pattern: R2D2 Beanie Hat from the craftster forums
Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 in Silver Grey, Cobalt Blue, and Black plus a wee bit of KP Swish in Red Pepper
Needles: H&S ebony, size 7, 16"
Size: Er, boy noggin
Lesson learned: Buy bobbins. Memorize mattress. Check and make sure it's actually him before you throw a hat you're secretly knitting with a bazillion color changes into your desk.


Blogger Bezzie said...

Wow. You must really love him. No way I'd knit my husband intarsia. ;-)

It looks fab! Glad he liked it (and you finished it!)

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That hat is great, and it looks like the hubster appreciates it. Now you have your own little droid! If you're careful and don't remove the restraining bolt, you can get him to rub your feet, do the dishes, cook for you... : )

Sounds like that'll make it a Happy New Year!

5:47 AM  
Blogger Zonda said...

I love that post!! I felt like I was there watching you do this! It is awesome and his face tells it! Hey, who says the first intarsia is the best anyways. At least mine will be felted...well if I ever get around to it! Awesome hat there!

Happy New Year! :)

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is FANTABULOUS!!!!!!!!111

6:02 PM  
Blogger Penny Karma said...

That is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

11:00 AM  

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