I have been going through one of those long phases in my knitting where I seem to rip back more than I actually knit. I make great progress on something, only to find that there’s a small but problematic error way back at the beginning, and the whole thing comes out again.

In keeping with this trend, I finished the first sleeve on the Briar Rose sweater last week, and immediately picked up stitches for the second. I knit about 4 inches down from the shoulder, was just about to cast on for the rest of the sleeve, and realized that I had somehow picked up about 30 extra stitches and not noticed. So, I ripped back.

Normally a little setback like that doesn’t affect my knitting much at all, but it’s been hard keeping up the momentum lately with so little time outside of work. After some thought, I decided that I needed a fast, instant-gratification type project, and went digging through the stash looking for bulky yarn.

I discovered that I don’t have any.

Truthfully, this is a very good thing and reflects healthy stash enhancement practices, since I never, ever knit with bulky yarn. But in that moment, I really wished I’d given in and bought something bulky and fluffy and soft once upon a time.

As I dug through the stash, I came across this scarf, which is one of my very rare UFOs.

It was last seen on the blog in June 2008, if you can believe it. This is the #1 reason that I don’t keep UFOs around. Once they’ve been abandoned, they’re very seldom resurrected.

I love the color and pattern of this scarf, and the yarn is some wonderfully soft baby alpaca that was local to the Seattle area (I bought the yarn at Weaving Works in Seattle). It’s a heathered yarn, dyed in the wool, in the true sense of the word. If you look closely, not a single fiber in there is purple at all. In fact, they’re garishly bright, primary colors:

It’s a little hard to see here, but the yarn is made up of electric blue, fire engine red, and even a little bit of daffodil yellow, though you’d never guess it from far away.

Really, the only flaw with this project was the usual one for scarves on my needles: terminal boredom. There is just something about knitting a flat, narrow strip of fabric that makes me crazy, and I abandon scarves more often than any other project (I’d say they make up more than 50% of my UFO collection, and a much larger percentage of discarded projects). Unfortunately, scarves are currently high on my wardrobe “gap” list, and are highly versatile items, so there are likely to be more of them in my future.

This one was already more than 4 feet in, and really just needed a foot or two to finish it off. It’s knit at a loose, drapey gauge on size 8 (!) needles, which feel like telephone poles after all the knitting I’ve been doing on size 0’s and 00’s. It took me a few attempts to figure out what size the needles should be; this project had been neglected for so long that I’d put it on holder needles and not even bothered to record the initial needle size. A repeat or two of experimentation worked that out, though, and I set merrily along my way on Sunday afternoon.

By Sunday night, the boredom was beginning to kick in again already, but I had added almost an entire ball (just a few inches short of the necessary foot) to the scarf, and it was looking like a quick win.

…and then I realized that I’d made and propagated a pretty obvious mistake through that entire foot of knitting. I ripped back, and am working my way forward again, bit by bit on the train. Tonight I knit 6 rows, pulled back 4, and then knit another 8. Sigh. Someday, something will get finished, and at least the needles are big enough that this one is moving pretty quickly. In the meantime, I’m getting great knitting time value for my yarn!

In other news, I have unspun and respun three skeins of MacGyver yarn in preparation for the updates to Mike’s sweater.

I don’t know what exactly I learned about unspinning yarn from my first adventures with it over the summer, but this process was about a thousand times less painful than I remembered from last time. That might have something to do with the fact that it isn’t currently 90+ degrees outside, but in any case it went quickly and was relatively painless, even with the fuzzy, felty Shetland. One of the remaining skeins had a lighter gauge to begin with, so I think I’ll probably leave that one as it is. This means that I’m ready to do some surgery, just as soon as the sweater makes its way here for me to repair (probably this weekend).

I also put the latest tea towels on the loom last weekend, and am weaving along on the second one. I didn’t get any weaving time in this weekend, but hopefully I’ll get to squeeze some in one night this week.