Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Race of the unfinished objects

Unfinished Object #1. I started this sweater for myself while waiting for my husband to select the yarn (and pattern) for the famous Christmas sweater. (See March 16 post) It is out of the now-discontinued Dale of Norway Sisik, a blend of mohair, wool, acrylic and rayon. I liked the loft of the yarn and I wanted a light weight cardigan to wear with everything. Unfortunately I am at THAT TIME OF LIFE when truly warm sweaters are out of the question! I am warm more than I am chilled, shall we say.

And, I loved the quilted look texture of this pattern. It's amazing what simple knit and purl stitches can do!! The question is, am I being selfish by completing this sweater first? My last finished object was for me also--the flower basket shawl. (See March 7 post )
Unfinished Object #2. This sweet hooded toddler sweater was started after the last Knitters' Guild meeting on March 13 when Carol Anderson was the speaker. She is the designer for Cottage Creations, which does not seem to have a website. She designs basic items with minimal finishing due to ingenious construction. You can order her patterns from a number of online sources including ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio.
So, the question is, should this be the first finished object?? It is cute. I can take it with me wherever I go. But, I don't have anyone to give it to. I'm making it just because it is cute!!

Unfinished Ojbect #3. This, of course, is the famous sweater for my husband. Its start was delayed for there weeks due to difficulties selecting the perfect color combination and pattern. I have just started the chest colorwork and, finally, it is getting interesting. Truth be told, I started the toddler hooded sweater because the long stretch of solid blue stockinette, with just a few cables thrown in, was mind numbingly boring!!!
So, the question is, should this be the first finished object?? Or, as some other knitters have suggested, should I take my sweet time, since hubby took so long to make his decisions and nearly caused a divorce in the process???

Hmmmmmm. What do you think? Which object will/should be finished first???

Meanwhile, tomorrow I return to my student teaching for being a school librarian. I completed my 140 hours at a large high school of 2200 students. Tomorrow I will be in an elementary school--sweet joy!! Reading books to young kids, teaching them computer skills, handling children's books. Heaven!!

Now I return to a paper for my Multicultural Children's Literature class on bilingual children's picture books and my Spanish homework of reading a short story by Borges.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Knit In v. Homework In

Oh, if only I could make knitting an income producing preoccupation, like the Yarn Harlot! I'm not good at pattern design and I'm not good or fast enough to make knitted items for sale. If only someone would be winning to fund my knitting excursions, my good and bad garment attempts and my hours spent drooling over patterns and yarns, I would be happy. I wouldn't have to worry about a "day job", I would only spend time doing things like going to my knitting guild's knit in.

The Knit In was this past Saturday, with Jean Moss as the featured speaker. She was great, with lots of wonderful photos of her designs along with the fabric or art that inspired the design. However, the best part was her answers to questions and her digressions about how she started designing knitwear for Lauren. I did not know that she was also a singer. If you go to her website you can find her CD, which I won as a doorprize. She sings songs about knitting, appropriately enough!. I haven't listened to it yet, but I will.

The Knit In had good attendance, about 120 people registered. We also had working instructional sessions, and I signed up for a Cast On Toolkit. I had learned these different cast ons at one time or another, but I needed a refresher. Like, the cast on that results in the look of a tubular cast on without all the muss and fuss of using waste yarn and casting on either half or double the number of needed stitches, etc.

The Knit In was held in an old seminary , still used the the Catholic Diocese for retreats, meetings, etc. In fact, while the Knit In was going on a large group of men were also on a religious retreat. Our paths never crossed--although more than one knitter thought it was appropriate since knitting is sometimes a religious and meditative experience also.

In the announcement for the Knit In, was an invitation for knitters to stay overnight. For only $32 per night one could get a small room with two beds and a small bathroom. There are lounge rooms as well. I thought a lot of people would be staying, so I reserved a room with a friend. Wrong!! We were the ONLY people in this huge facility!! We had it all to ourselves--NO ONE else around. There were no ghosts, however, and we had a great time getting to know each other better and knitting.

Instead of knitting all day and night, I should have been having my own "homework IN" . Today, Sunday, I need to study Spanish ( Progressive verb tenses in the present, imperfect, preterite, future, conditional indicative and present and imperfect subjunctive!!! Did you know that there are 18 verb tenses in Spanish???!!! And a literature "cuento" by Jorge Luis Borges. URGH! I also have a paper due tomorrow on a multicultural children's literature topic that I haven't started. Oh my. I need my knitting sugar daddy now!!!! Who wants to work when one can knit???

Thursday, March 16, 2006

All's well that end's well

For Christmas, I thought I had seized on the perfect present for my husband--an heirloom Dale of Norway sweater. This would show the depth of my love, the length to which I was willing to go for my husband. I examined every pattern I could find, looking for the most meaningful example of Dale's design brilliance, the most meaningful for my husband and the most interesting for me to knit. I found the perfect, perfect example--or so I thought.

It was the millenium pattern, representing the history of Norway. Each figure in the intricate patttern represented some event in the history of Norway or some legend. This, I felt, was the definitive Dale of Norway pattern. My husband, in the 60's (before I met him) spent a year in Norway as a post-doc. He and I and our daughter, about 35 years later, spent a marvelous two weeks in modern Norway. We loved Norway and he commented frequently on the progress Norway had made since the 60's.

Well, he was less than enthusiastic when I presented him with the pattern for Christmas. The truth finally came out two weeks later--it was too "flowery." He tried his best to get me to agree that the "flowery" nature of the sweater simply would not look good on him. Well, it looked stunning on all those stud-ly Norwegians models in the Dale booklet. I couldn't agree that the sweater was at all flowery, but hey, I wasn't going to knit a sweater that wouldn't be worn.

So, I went on another search for patterns, presented him with about six purchased at my favorite yarn shop. AsI recall, it took another two weeks to determine which sweater was least "flowery" and would look good on him.

Here's the sweater he picked out. Not one "flower" in the thing. Not that the previous pattern had any flowers at all...... it had a boat, a king's crown, a fir tree, etc., but not a single flower, or anything that could reasonably be interpreted as a flower. Not even an inoffensive little edelweiss!!

I then suggested he pick out the colors. Well, it took two trips to the shop, about 10 arguments and five hours for him to select the colors--to the vast amusement of all the knitters assembled in the coffee shop part of the yarn shop.

One would think that yarn selection would be a straightforward task, compared to the difficulty with the pattern selection. No. He had to look through every pattern book and sample sweater to "get the big picture." I kept telling him that the range of Dale colors was his palette from which to choose --he could do anything he wanted!! I would even knit with the (god awful) neon colors if he so desired. Just look at all those yarn balls over there, I urged. Mix and match. Toss a few around. No, that was "details", he had to get the "big picture" first. Hmmmm

He analyzed every single photo, every single display sweater, multiple times and ad nauseum. He tried to get me to agree that details or colos that he didn't like were, in fact, a fatal flaw in the design and knitting world. When I simply said that well, I kind of liked the color choice of the photo but that he could choose what he wanted, he accused me of not wanting to analyze the situation with him (he was correct on that score!) and I retreated to the coffee room.

Finally, the no-nonsense shop owner took control. In 15 minutes she told him what I had been trying to say all along, presented him with four colors that she said looked good and the deal was done!! Thank god. I thought this perfect present would be the end of our marriage.

Here is the beginning--a funny circle with a hole in the middle!

The colors, navy blue, light grey, dark grey and dark red seem pretty ordinary and easy to select--wouldn't you think? Not a great deal of imagination there, I say. But, it took morethan 5 hours (!!!!!) to pick it out! Sigh. I'm only the knitter, after all. The machine that turns yarn into interlocked loops....

To give myself a treat, I'm also making myself a pair of cotton socks since spring is almost here and wool is getting too warm. Although the colors are not represented well here, it took me about 15 seconds to select the yarn.....

Long live the Flower Basket!

I finished the Flower Basket Shawl, weaving in the ends, at my favorite local yarn/coffee shop last weekend. Alas, I left the shawl there to serve as a sample for those who want to take my four session on making the shawl, starting April 1. I think the shawl is beautiful and would be a good first lace project for the un-intimidated! I can't wait for the class to be over so that I can wear it!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Finishing the Flower Basket Shawl--Step 2

After pinning out the points of the shawl, (see previous post) I went back to see whether the points were in line with the row of flower baskets. You will see what I mean in the following photos. In the above photo, you can see that the line of the single stitch ubove the yellow pin head is crooked.
Here you can see that I straightened it out by removing the pin and moving the point so that it is in line with the single stitch.
I think I have all straight lines now!

Well, you can see that the flower basket shall will be a thing of beauty once it is done. I failed to take a photo of the last step in blocking at my house. I covered the shawl with the second half of the sheet! My cat likes to sit on the item being blocked and removes the pins!! That could be disastrous for a lace shawl! It will take a bit longer for the shawl to dry, but it's easier to cover the shawl than to keep the cat out of the living room!

Next post will be the dry, completed shawl!!

Finishing the Flower Basket Shawl--Step 1

Knitting lace is a great leap of faith. Who would ever guess that this egg carton looking mess would turn into something beautiful??
Especially when the bumpy mess doesn't look any better on the front, than it did on the back??

Soaking themass in water wouldn't seem to help, but it does!! Water, the source of life for lace, as it is for nature. I typically soak items for at least 30 minutes, just to make sure that every fiber gets good and wet. Do not wring dry--wrap the item in a towel, then step on it gently, or jump up and down madly. It doesn't matter. Whatever mood you are in, it can accept.

Fortunately, I have a checked bed sheet I can use for blocking. The squares are regular and I use for rough measurements. First, I pinned the top of the shawl to the sheet and rug underneath, using only a few pins. I made sure that the shawl was stretched evenly from the mid line. I didn't stretch too very much, however. I brushed and smoothed it with my hands to gently ease it into position.
Then I began to pin out the scalloped edging, using the check lines as a guide. I started from the bottom point. I know that some people invest in blocking wires. I've never done that, finding that my method has worked well for what I've made thus far. Perhaps in the future, I'll invest.

Proof positive

Here is proof positive that I completed my Knitting Olympics entry before the closing ceremonies. Can you see the end of the x-c ski races on the television in the background??

And, here is a closeup of the cute star button closure on the shoulder.

I couldn't post a photo before because I was in Colorado, visiting my sisters and my mother, who was recovering from two emergency heart catheterization procedures.
Mom remained very weak while I was there and she continued to have strong pain in her back. However, she improved during the week so that she could walk around the house. Since I left, she started some physical therapy and we hope that will make the back pain go away.

I also finished the Flower Basket Shawl while in Colorado, but haven't had time to block it yet.