Tuesday, January 19, 2016

January Days

As I write, light powdery snow sifts down on a bitterly cold morning. Last week my daughter safely delivered a healthy baby boy. He arrived to the open arms of his family and extended family. This beautiful little guy is a lucky one. His older brothers, aged 5 and 2, stayed with my husband and I for a few mostly delightful days. The two year old wore the same superman shirt, with a few peanut butter smears, for three days. In life with a two year, this is not a problem. We played, read lots of books, and took turns visiting the new babe and his Mom in the hospital. My husband and I are fortunate to be able to share this time with our daughter and son-in-law. They are all home now, trying to learn a new routine.

After picking up the house and restocking peanut butter and Cheerios, I am back to walking, writing, and reconsidering my knitting projects. Prior to the baby's arrival, I sorted through my yarn and knitting bags. I had knitting tools and notions tucked everywhere so I divided them into three small zippered bags and put them in a basket with patterns I might use soon. I sorted and stored the yarn by weight and made a few notes about what I might knit with the yarns.

Then I put three works in progress in separate bags, each with pattern, needles and yarns. When I actually looked at the projects I discovered a Goldilocks tale. The Oliveta Shawl was just right. The sock was too small and the sweater was too big. I ripped out the almost finished So Simple Silk Garden sock #1 (smallest size) because it wasn't going to stretch to fit. The cable running down the side of the leg was almost on top of the leg. I kept pulling it over to the side thinking, I can make this sock fit. Why, I wonder, does it take so long, to listen to the knitting voice that says, "stop, this isn't working." I cast on a different pattern, toe-up, to learn something new. That is a tale for another blog post. Sometimes knitting just goes haywire. 
I am also working on my version of a September Morn pullover. Evenings, I tried it on over flannel pajamas. When I finally put it on over a long sleeved T-shirt, I knew it was too big. The sweater body took more yarn than I had planned. Since knitting faster doesn't mean I won't run out of yarn, I ordered more. I enjoy the Quince and Co. Chickadee yarn but this shade is definitely a solid color with no tonal variations. Alternating skeins of different dye lots will produce a sweater with striped sleeves. I ripped out seven inches of the sweater body and am putting in more waist decreases. I'll gain a little yardage from the original dye lot but I don't know if it will be enough. I want this sweater to be warm and comfy with long sleeves. I may order a light gray in the same yarn base and go with a color block contrast.

My plan is to knit the body down to the ribbing and put the stitches on waste yarn. Before I start knitting sleeves with the remaining yarn, I'm going to weigh it and divide it so I can knit the same amount of light blue yarn in the sleeves before switching to the contrasting color. I plan to knit the neck ribbing in the contrasting color also. Wish me luck.

In the meantime, I'm going to bundle up in well fitting socks and sweater (I have a few of those) and take a walk in the snow. I plan to savor the peace of this January day while I dream about snuggling a newborn grandson. All is well.

Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Year

Light hoarfrost covers the trees and bushes this morning. I made coffee while watching juncos huddle in the linden. Later as I filled the feeder, the slightest powder of snow sifted down on my hands. After autumn, winter is my favorite season. The landscape, inside and out, is less cluttered. The garden harvest, dried herbs, and Christmas decorations are mostly put away. The open spaces are more accessible for dusting but I'd rather write about knitting projects and the season.

Before Christmas, I knit my two youngest grandsons mittens. Since reindeer were a big topic of conversation, I chose the Antler Mittens pattern. One evening I showed the five year old his mitten in progress. He asked how he could ever wear mittens with pointy antlers. My daughter explained the wooden antlers were the tools I used to make the mittens. He is a guy who likes tools so calling a knitting needle a tool made sense to him. I explained the cable as a design in one of his school art projects and assured him the finished mittens wouldn't have real pointy wooden antlers. Together we convinced him he could safely wear the mittens.

On New Year's Day I chose a skein of a soft gray wool/alpaca blend and some leftovers and decided to have another try at the Align Mitts. I like the clean look of half stockinette with half ribbing. The first time I knit these mitts, I ripped them out to get a left and right mitt. The second time, still not understanding my mistake, I left them as a mismatched pair. In the light of day, I sat down to think about the pattern. Since this pattern is free, I'm not giving away "for purchase information" when I explain my lightbulb moment. I am a loose knitter with smaller hands so I often decrease the number of stitches to get a mitt that fits snugly. The instructions call for casting on 50 stitches that are divided between 25 ribbed and 25 stockinette stitches. The thumb gusset begins in the center (stitch 13) of the ribbed section. When I knit the mitts with 48 stitches, the division was 24 stitches. The way the pattern is written, the thumb gusset can't be centered on an even number of stitches. The total number of stitches needs to be divisible by two AND AT THE SAME time be an odd number. Eureka, I think I figured it out. Maybe it is time to dust off a few more Math skills. I am a seasoned knitter so understanding the construction of patterns is a reasonable goal.

Since then, I decided to make "understanding" my word/theme for this year. Truly understanding, whether it is the perspective of a child, a knitting pattern, someone's point of view, or the winter season is a good start to the New Year.

Speaking of understanding, we are still waiting for our new grandchild. Babies have a sense of timing all of their own. After posting, I will tidy up my desk. Then I'll pack up the last odds and ends of Christmas: cards, wrapping paper, and mugs and whatever else turns up. I may dust and I may not. First I plan to go for a walk under the falling frost and enjoy the grays and whites of winter.

Happy New Year!