Neverending Bind-Off... [cue music] ahh ahh ahh

My plan to finish the Hemlock Ring last week and post pictures of the finished object over the weekend were thwarted by an anxiety-ridden job interview with all its related madness, a 17-hour post-interview sleep marathon, and a neverending bind-off. In my heart and soul, my priorities are straight. They really are. But in reality, I must finish the dissertation and secure gainful employment for any hope of repaying the horrifying mountain of student loans I've amassed since starting my PhD.

In lieu of a finished Hemlock, here's my WIP update. I've learned some things while binding off that someone might find useful.

I had grand visions of making mine a 7-footer like others I've seen who've posted off-the-charts extensions. I worked my way through Jared's chart but ended up stopping without going to the Extreme Hemlock chart. (A good chart is on Ravelry here: 3rd discussion post by MissPrint.) I knew I wouldn't be able to hold many more stitches on the needles, and I didn't want to crack into the third skein of wool if I wasn't going to use a goodly portion of it.

For the last 5 sections of the pattern chart, I made a minor modification, completing 5 rows of straight knitting between the pattern rows rather than 4. By the time I neared the end, it took me 30-40 minutes for a single row.

I finished my last round and started binding off around 10pm last night and expected to have the blanket off the needles around midnight. I expected the bind-off process to take about 2 hours. Boy was I mistaken! Since there are 17 (+bind offs) stitches to make for every 4 stitches on the needles, it's taking considerably more than that. By the time 1am rolled around, I had only managed to work my way around 5 of the 8 major fan segments — a little more than half way!

Understatement: I've still got quite a bit to do.

One trick I found really useful in the bind-off was removing the right-hand needle tip from my 40" circular and putting on the cable cap. (I'm using KnitPicks Options interchangeable needles. If you're not familiar with them, see my previous post here. The end cap is that purplish-colored thing in the picture.) This way I didn't have to turn the entire weight of the blanket back and forth as I was making the edge loops. Took a lot of pressure off my hands as well as the needles -- and I had been worried about the weight snapping the connection between the needles and cables. And I really appreciated the fact that it opened up the bound-off edge more for me to admire while I worked.

This is the first I've been able to get a real sense of what the blanket will look like.

See that glimmer in the lower-right area? That's the needle. I've already bound off the visible portion of the throw in this image, but the back half is still on the needle.

Not sure yet where I'm going to block it. I'd use the bed, but something tells me it'll need more than a day.

Until now, it's been an ever-growing amorphous blob that looked, alternately, like a giant Rastafarian hat and a wad o' pizza dough ready for tossing. Glad to be past that stage!

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