non-UFO/WIP finishing continued this week. All the leftover cotton from Jewel's baby gift was really bugging me, so when I saw the fish and starfish in Toys to Knit, I couldn't resist. I thought the sea creatures fit with the tropical colors of the yarn, so BFF's baby is getting a couple of additional gifts. I ran out of the blue yarn, just shy of finishing the last ray of the star fish, so I used the green instead (waste not, want not). Once the whole thing was sewn together, the back side of the star looked so much like a little elfman, I just had to add the facial features. I think it turned out just adorable, proving once again that running out of yarn can yield design opportunities that make a project one-of-a-kind.
I don't normally do book or pattern reviews but this book had a couple of problems that made it harder than usual to create these items. The design of the toys themselves are utterly charming and I have plans to make many more of the projects from this book. But the editing of those patterns was not what I would expect from a book that lists for US$19.95.
For instance, the following instructions for the fish pattern did not make any sense. Of course, I checked for corrections, which there were a few for other patterns, but not the fish. I was scratching my head over this one for awhile.
Next row: Increase 1 st at each end of this, and every following alt row, until there are 26 stitches.
Next row: P
Next row: Increase 1 st at each end of this and following 4 alternate rows until there are 30 stitches.
Now, if you do the math, if you increase 1 st at "each end", that is 2 stitches per increase row. We ended on 26 sts in the first instruction but there are only 4 stitches needed to arrive at 30 stitches. Ergo, there would only be 2 alternate rows necessary to arrive at the prescribed 30 stitches. Where does "4 alternate rows" come in? Did they intend for you to increase 1 st on one side per increase row over the course of 4 alternate rows or was the "4" a simple math error missed during editing/pattern testing? The rest of the pattern continued to work out based on the 30 stitches at the end of this instruction, so I have to assume the 30 stitch figure is correct and the error is elsewhere. I decided to ignore the "4" and just increase until I was at 30 stitches and move on. The other alternative would have been to follow the directions to do 4 alternate rows and re-calculate the rest of the pattern stitch counts accordingly, which would have resulted in an all around bigger fish. Both acceptable but my solution eliminated extra math - always a good thing.
Another issue I had was the vagueness of the instructions. The patterns asked you to "increase" but didn't specify what type of increase. It is obvious to me that a yo increase would not be appropriate for stuffed toys but there are bar increases, knit in front and back of stitch increase, as well as a few more obscure ones I'm aware of. There is no tutorial included, so you are left to your own devices to decide which increase might be most effective in a given situation.
Yet another issue was the lack of mirrored decreases in the starfish pattern. The pattern only utilizes k2tog but I changed it to k2tog on one side and ssk on the other, to make a more symmetrical looking ray, which also made it much simpler to mattress stitch the pieces together. It you check the center radiating seams of the elfman photo, I think you can see how nicely the seams came together with two wales radiating from the center. Non-mirrored increases would have resulted in a single wale radiating from the center, with a decrease pattern on only one side of it. IMHO, that would have looked imbalanced.
Frankly, being an experienced knitter and pattern designer, I was able to easily adapt and modify these patterns to suit my standards. But less experienced knitters might find some patterns in this book frustrating. Not impossible to use, but it would require a bit of research and careful interpretation (or experienced help!). 'Nuff said?
Now, I have to admit that I haven't abandoned all my WIP's this week. I was able to make a little progress on the shawl. I am loving the subtle plaid pattern that is emerging. It is a plaid that is visual but also textural, because of the variety of novelty yarns I've included with the finer, smoother yarns. Unfortunately, this is the result of 4 hours of concentrated labor, so I'm going to have to really hustle to get this done by 7/17. It should be stunning, whenever it is completed.
Well, this hiker chick is exhausted. Time to eradicate the grime and sunscreen film from this weary woman and hit the sack. Ta ta.