Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Winter Knitting Story

I am knitting a sweater from the pattern September Morn. I chose the pattern for its clean look including the ribbed texture in the shoulder and upper arm. Last October, I cast on with Chickadee, a sport weight yarn by Quince and Co. Ever the optimist, I thought I'd be wearing the sweater by the end of January. I knit a swatch to the correct stitches per inch. Owing to several of my mistakes, the body was too big and I was going to be short of yarn. I ripped and reknit nine inches of the body, changing the shaping to fit. I also ordered several skeins of the same Quince yarn, in a contrasting light gray. See a previous blogpost for more details.

After the holidays, I picked up stitches for the first sleeve. I knit the pattern as written and ended up with a large pouf just below the ribbed section. Then I re-knit the sleeve in the ribbed pattern to eliminate the pouf. When I tried on the sweater, the sleeve felt like body armor. I knit the upper sleeve two more times, adding more decreases to achieve a smooth transition between textures. Eventually I'll add notes to my Ravelry project page about the sleeve construction. Next time I'll be more thoughtful when I see knitted textures used in an unusual way. In this design, the ribbing is placed above stockinette on the upper arm rather than at the wrist to snug up the sleeve. Still I like the look of the sweater. Certainly, this responsibly grown and processed wool yarn holds up very well to repeated knitting.

Last week, this project began to feel like a very long winter saga. To take a break from the ripping and endless stockinette slog, I looked up the definition of a saga. The term comes from stories told in Iceland ( a land of ice, snow, and glaciers) in the 12th and 13th centuries. A saga told around a fire was good entertainment during the dark cold winters of the far north. This sweater has definitely warmed my lap and helped me while away many winter evenings. This morning I went by my knitting bag and noticed the Quince yarn tags in the outside pocket. When  I pulled them out for a photo, I noticed the color way names, Glacier and Iceland. The workings of the subconscious mind are a mystery and a wonder. Thank goodness mine is still working now and then.

Meanwhile, I ripped out the gray/blue mitten I wrote about in the previous post. Individually the yarns are lovely but I didn't like the fabric of the two strands knit together. The gray will keep for knitting on a brighter day. I cast on the Blue Glacier Cowl in the blue variegated lace weight yarn. I think this pattern is a better use of the yarn. The mesh lace is a nice change from stockinette sleeves. I am following the pattern as written, hoping for an early spring sonnet rather than another winter saga.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Old Favorites

Sharing picture books with my grandchildren is a joy. Thanks to their parents, a generous aunt, grandparents, and others, they have a wonderful library of their own. When I gave books to my children, I often wrote a short  inscription with the date, occasion, and signed my name. I do the same for my grandchildren. When I read to the boys, I call their attention to the title, author, illustrator, and text. Throughout the book, we talk about the artwork and how it might have been created. I encourage them to point to pictures and discover small details.

Reading and talking about the inscription is also part of our ritual. When they pull out old picture books, they want to hear the story behind the inscriptions to their mother or uncle. Even the two year old points to handwriting and asks,"What does this say?" Print awareness begins at a young age and it is marvelous to watch it develop. Now the newborn in this family is hearing the rhythm of language.

Books for children and adults are scattered around our home. This year I going to try and knit a few projects from knitting books in my library. In January, I knit the Strie Socks from "Sock Architecture" because I wanted to better understand toe-up sock construction. I also thought the mental gymnastics of reverse knitting the heel section would be good for my brain cells. I may not have created new neural pathways but after knitting the heel and gusset four times, I can safely say I understand the construction. I hope I remember the learning because I want to modify the Tintern Abbey sock pattern  to better fit my foot.

Right now, I need mittens with extra long cuffs in heavy yarn to wear when I walk. I cast on cable backed mittens from a pattern I've knit twice before. Although I can't find a publication date for the"Two-Needle Mittens" booklet, the price on the cover is $3.75. I made the first pair when my children were quite small so the booklet with fourteen patterns, most in several sizes, is almost thirty years old. Since I don't have any bulky weight yarn, I am combining a worsted with a lace weight yarn. Of course, it took two attempts to find a yarn to go with the gray worsted. I'm not sure yet whether I like the resulting fabric. I find it hard to knit with gray yarn during the last month of winter. Time will tell.

Even though the day is cold, the sidewalks are clear and the wind is quiet. I'm going out to walk through my neighborhood and look for the chickadees. Then I'll meander over to the bookstore. Valentine's Day is this weekend and I'm looking for books for my four favorite little/big boys. Happy Valentine's Day!