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December 27, 2005

Rundown

I hope everyone is having a nice holiday season, with a minimum of stress and a maximum of pastry seasonal cheer.

Me, I'm just glad it's winding down. Despite my efforts to keep things simple, everything combined always ends up being too...too, what with the booze and the sodium and the electronics and the paper and the lights and the crowds and the general atomoshpere of frenzy. I spend the last week of every year slightly dazed, as though I've just emerged from out of a particularly garish pinball machine.

Last night, that sweater coat became

a lot of very fine, somewhat fragile yarn. I was wrong when I guessed that it would be a fingering weight made of several plies - turns out it's two strands of laceweight-ish knit together. It needs to dry, and be wound, and then we'll see what we see.

To rip the coat, I used this

!!!!!!

Courtesy of my boyfriend, who apparantly braved the uncharted and highly treacherous territory that is the knitting store in order to pick this up. It's perfect, since I don't need a ballwinder - I'm getting pretty handy with the nostepinne method - but the whole outstretched-knees-as-skein-holder thing wasn't really cutting it.

He gave me this, too:

I've been wanting this collection for a long time; there are some unbelievably beautiful patterns and motifs in here (Frost Flowers, anyone?). It's worth having for the charts alone, but the prose is charming and some real effort went into making this a coherent collection. Huzzah for wonderfully thoughtful, much-needed and much-appreciated presents!

Yesterday, I got my first (long-delayed) closeup look at the winter Interweave. This design was the only thing that caught my eye in the magazine -

but, oh, what a winner it is! I'm not crazy about the colors, but I love the concept, the shaping, the sense of geometry together with those sinuous cables that interlace and join the panels of the garment as though they grew that way. This is the sort of stuff I want to come up with - there's so little that's truly innovative when it comes to a craft as old as knitting, but man, is this a clever take on things.

Project Rundown:

--I decided Friday afternoon that I wouldn't try to finish my dad's sweater or the houndstooth clogs - a copout, maybe, but there were shrimp to be fried and temaki to be rolled in preparation for a big party. I really should learn not to bite off more than I can chew or choke down or chug.

--Some time ago, I took stalled-out projects off of the progress list. Brief obituaries follow:

  • Circular shrug: I hated the way the motifs were looking, hated the length of my rib section, was running out of yarn, and probably would not have found a shrug all that flattering (I think I was induced to cast on by the same flight of wild fancy that makes me think every May that yeah! This is the summer I can pull off one of those cute string triangle bikini tops. Yeah, no). I've been thinking lately of making a tightly shaped felt cloche, the mohair brushed up and shaved to resemble rabbit skin. Some wilting felted flowers and a droopy ribbon, and Ann Darrow'd have nothing on me.
  • Fair Isle Vest and the Fair Isle Sweater Jacket: The Fair Isle Exercise lives on, as the Fair Isle Armwarmers. The sweater jacket was poorly planned (suprise!), while the vest never really got off the ground. Until I develop an eye for color and pattern, I'll experiment with small projects.
  • Martha: Sigh. I have no excuses here, except that I got tired of knitting it. I came to dislike the Dale Stork (weird-feeling, like knitting with a full strand of embroidery floss), and dreaded the thought of stringing more beads. Maybe I'll get back to it when spring rolls around, or maybe it'll become a little baby jean-ish jacket.

Phew! Now, I just have to decide what knitting to take on vacation with me. The Austrian stockings? The baby sweater I've got to make? Those damn convertible mittens?

October 12, 2005

Profligacy

A Play In Two Acts

Cast of Characters

The Baby Fair Isle------A shower gift.
The Circular Shrug-----An experiment.
Dad's Gansey----------The martyr.
The Lace Scarf---------The lucky one.
Martha---------------The good girl.
The Rib and Cable Sock-A filler.
The Striped Sock-------A second filler.
The Sweater Jacket-----The vixen.
Eunny----------------------The narrator.

Act The First

(Lights come up)

Eunny: There are things I ought to be knitting. There's the shower gift for January, the one that started fine but looked all wonky and had to be restarted.

(enter The Baby Fair Isle)

There's sweet, lovely Martha, who I loved briefly and then chucked without a tear or a kind word.

(enter Martha, the Good Girl)

And there's Dad's gansey - the long-suffering sweater for my sainted father, the WIP who's patiently borne my indiscretions and my straying ways, the one I'll come back to, the only one that means anything to me.

(enter The Martyr)

Act The Second

(Lights come up, this time in lurid red)

Eunny: Then there are the temptations, the things I want to knit, the things I covet and dream about and creep out doors at midnight to rendezvous with in seedy bars and nightclubs. The ones for whom I duck into yarn stores, the ones for whom I buy presents of materials, the ones I lavish time and attention on - the bright moths that captivate and then disappear, having flown too close to the flame.

I'm going to rip out that shrug and start again. It gives me no grief, no pause - after all, it's just an experiment, right?

(enter The Shrug)

And the socks - who cares? I'll knit them when I feel like it. They're just socks, a dime a dozen, they don't mean anything.

(enter The Socks)

That lace scarf? I'm done with her. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am. Already forgotten; she was beautiful, but she was shallow and cold.

(The Lace Scarf enters, but remains at far stage right)

I've moved on.

(enter the Sweater Jacket)

I give up. I've tried and tried to reign myself in, but I just can't seem to control my appetites. I embrace my profligacy; I welcome licentiousness. Monogamy is for suckers.

October 05, 2005

Todos Sobre Mi Madre

Bless her. I went to pick her up from the airport yesterday, and managed to go from this:

to this:

while waiting for the ice caps to melt, for the sun to go out, and for her to clear customs.

I guess I attracted a lot of attention, doing the knitting-while-standing thing with my eyes fixed on a book propped on the rail in front of me, needles pointing in every direction and the yarn ball looped over my wrist. A lot of people came over to strike up conversations (I'm making a sweater for my pet boa); one broad just started fondling the fabric and flipping through the pattern magazine without a word (Gahh! Are your hands clean?); and one woman looked at the porcupine in my hands, decided I looked clumsy and not to be trusted, and hustled her kids away (I should have worn safety goggles).

Bless my mama, too, for the lovely suprise she brought me:

100% virgin merino from Korea, in a deep chocolate and a greyish beige. She bought eight skeins of each, still wrapped in their factory bags. Unfortunately, the labels say only that they're 100 gram skeins of "D4" weight new wool and give washing instructions - no yardage or US weight. Undaunted, I played with them a bit this morning, and found that they knit up beautifully on a 3.5mm (US4) needle to 5.5 stitches and 8 rows per inch:

and that both colors felt marvelously.

The question is, what should I make with them? Gloves? Mittens?

I do have an idea I've been mulling over, for which the chocolate merino would be perfect -

A structured sweater jacket, with an inverted back pleat to give it shape, a self-belt, big covered buttons, a wide shawl collar, slightly belled sleeves, and same-shade lace peeping out at cuff, hem, and neckline. I was thinking of this in a tweedy brown wool, but this new stuff would be mighty tasty, too. The grey wool might be nice for showing off cables.

Unfortunately, I have infinitely more ideas than I have time to execute them, and way too many WIPs as it is. I guess I'll finish the USMP, and then decide what to do.

Here's the motif of the circular shrug:

And a shot of the other little giftie my mom sweetly brought me:

Post Script - Using the highly scientific and technically infallible method of "First Come First Served," I'm going to send the Trinity sweater to Eastern White, whose blog is compulsively readable indeed. Email me!

Post Post Script - a lot of people find this blog by Googling my name; it's a little creepy, I guess, especially when the IP gives me an idea of who they are and wonder why on earth they would look me up, but no biggie. More and more people are finding this blog by Googling knitting terms and the names of projects I've done, which is really cool. But who is the person finding this blog by Googling "tall women clips", and how did it bring them here?

October 03, 2005

Block me, Amadeus

Frenzy of housecleaning yesterday. Floors waxed, boxes unpacked, dark spaces between furniture and walls investigated, stored clothes aired and refolded. That is, all those things would have gotten done if I weren't a mere evolutionary step removed from a raccoon distracted by tinfoil and gotten all sidetracked by any and everything that seemed marginally more interesting than changing the filter in the range hood.

I think this was my first finished object ever. I've been knitting for at least fifteen or twenty years, since I was a wee small kid - I have vivid memories of trying to figure out how to fix a dropped stitch in the blanket I was making for a baby doll I had - but I had this bad habit of never finishing anything. At fourteen, I'd blow my allowance on Wool-Ease and overdue fees from the library; at sixteen I'd blow my Starbucks paycheck on Rowan magazines and that beautiful 4-ply botany wool they used to produce; at eighteen I discovered Noro. I've probably started hundreds of projects, knitting and ripping and rewinding until the poor yarns waved white flags of destroyed elasticity and fiber fatigue. Thus it was that a lot of self-manufactured fanfare went along with my finishing this sweater, on a trip to California, four or five years ago.

Too bad I don't care for it at all. It's from a Jaeger pattern book, in that peculiar papery silk/cotton/polyamide Trinity yarn (my first - and last - impulse to spend big money on manmade fiber). Nothing about it is right for me - it's too short; the cable panel down the middle and the high neck aren't flattering; the knitting isn't smooth or even; the fabric is fairly delicate. But, I knit this before I believed in blocking (forgive me, O blocking sprites!), so I'm hoping a soak and aggressive pinning will even things out and give it a bit of fluidity in addition to correcting the size issues.

I found my Flower Basket Shawl, too, crumpled in a heap on top of one of my bookcases. It was in a bad way:

I didn't block it enough before, and the spring in the yarn (100% wool, if I recall) had drawn it in to become a lumpy little mess. Another sacrifice at the altar of T-pins and Woolite:

Much better.

I know I've pimped this before, but the Yarn Harlot's lace blocking method is genius. Fewer pins, straighter edges, less making of the crazy.

I've gotten a lot done on the Union Square pullover, too - the body is blocking, and I've started the sleeves.

Speaking of which, do you think the bell is a little too big? They're beautiful and graceful and all, but I fear it won't be quite so elegant when the cuffs fall in the spaghetti sauce or knock over a glass of wine or simply give a general effect of a little girl trying on her mom's fur coat. I'm thinking of taking the suggestions from some of the good ladies at the Union Square Knit Along and modifying it for a cuff caston of 72 stitches rather than 92. I was looking forward to knitting a pattern exactly as written - and this is a well-written, interesting pattern, indeed - but I guess it's not to be.

I'm working on my Craftster shrug, too:

I'll block the bejeebus out of this to even the cables and give the thing drape. No chunky knits, ever!

September 29, 2005

Can't help myself...

I love you and nobody else.

When I said I was obsessed, I must have been understating it. I've never made so much progress so quickly before - I think it's a combination of it being really mindless knitting (stockinette in the round, anyone? Huzzah!) and my being completely, totally enamored of the dreaminess of the yarn and the beautiful resulting fabric. I hate putting it down, it's so pleasant to work on. I'm almost done with the back and should be reattaching yarn to the front in the next couple days.

I've been following a thread on Craftster about knitting a circular shrug - it has been really interesting to watch it go from a starting model, to technical discussions on construction and technique, to works in progress, to actual finished objects with documentation. The organic progression of the discussion is amazing...and has made me desperate to make a shrug. Using the basic method outlined in the thread, I'm going to do one with a cabled rib collar and Celtic knots in the body. It means I finally get to use the knot design I charted weeks ago - whee!

Picture a block of four of these, the two on the right half mirror-images of the swatch, and the four intertwined, as a panel on the back . I bought the Cascade 220 for another purpose, but this seems just about right at the moment.

And last, the ubiquitous "shawl in the window" shot to show off the stitch pattern:



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