Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Slip, sliding away...

The time before Christmas is slip sliding away, faster than a speeding bullet! Although it seems that I have been knitting 24 hours a day, I don't seem to have made much progress. I enviously follow other knitting bloggers who seem to rack up finished sweaters, lace shawls, pairs of socks and afghans while I have struggled to finish a few hats. What do they do that I don't??
Actually, I've made three more hats of which I don't have photos. You see, I got this great idea for Christmas. I would make everyone patterned tams. I found a great pattern by a local knitter, Amy Anderson. I purchased lots of Cascade 220 and limited quantities of Noro, Mountain Colors, etc. and I cast on. My enthusiasm waned when both daughters proclaimed that they would never wear tams and those hats better not be for them. Don't you know, mom, that tams are not stylish! And, who ever looked good in a tam anyway.

At this point I changed course. I decided to knit hats, mittens and scarves that I WANTED TO KNIT. I have no specific recipients in mind. Rather, I will put all intems into one large wrapped box and people can select an item. Or not. They can reject all the items. I don't care. I will donate the remainders to Dulaan or the local homeless shelter. I will photograph all of hats for my scrapbook. If some of my family members end up with no Christmas present from me, tough for them! I'll give them a gift certificate to Wal-Mart!!! Ha! Ha! That will teach them!!!

Here's a hat I experimented with. It is a take off on a watch hat from Charlene Schurch's book Hat's On! I removed the ribbed "cuff" and substituted applied I-cord (in honor of the Elizabeth Zimmerman collection I had just seen!) While knitting the color pattern I thought, "What if I switched the foreground and background colors?" So, I did. Can you see? the effect wasn't quite as exciting as I thought it might be, but it's interesting--I guess.

I also decided to make my dad some mittens. The colors in this photo aren't true to life--in reality the colors are black, loden green, and a loden green/black twist--all Cascade 220. This is a pattern from Mostly Mittens, also by Charlene Schurch. My dad has wide hands, so I used worsted weight yarn rather than sport weight. Turns out, the mittens are 15" tall!!!! I think I'll felt them so that my dad's hands stay really, really warm! He is diabetic and has poor circulation. He also cut off the tips of two fingers 20 years ago while using his table saw. Felting the mittens for extra warmth will be just the thing!
My hat/mitten/scarf projects were interrupted by the birth of a baby in my husband's department. The mother is the only female professor in his (science) department, so I thought I'd make the baby a little sweater--the Elizabeth Zimmerman baby surprise sweater. I used Baby Ull and some decorative thread with little balls of fluff. the thread is not elastic at all and it was difficult to knit with--had to work at each stitch when holding the thread with the Baby Ull. !! I used applied I-cord for the edge. After washing and blocking it, I realized the neck opening is too tight. So, I will need to remove the I-cord from the neck and figure out something quick to enlarge the neck. Under all those folds of fat around baby necks, aren't the necks scrawny??

My Christmas knitting was also delayed by family crises, necessitating knitting. As you may recall, my 45 year old brother suffered a debilitating stroke in mid September. I finished his Aran sweater in time for his departure from the hospital but, his wife told me, he has not even tried it on. Don't know what's going on there. I've been walking his dog every day and transporting him to various appointments and work. He's not said anything. Oh well. He did comment that he is cold all the time. So, I knit him a warm grey wool scarf. It's very unexciting---although I used the brioche stitch for the first time. Maybe he will like the scarf. I'm sure that life is so overwhelming for him right now that the last thing he needs is to think about is trying on the aran sweater.

One of my sisters had neck surgery two weeks ago. She lives in colorado. She had some of the vertabrae fused and will be wearing a stiff brace for a while. So I knit her a multidirectional scarf using a space dyed LaGran mohair and a solid color of alpaca. I alternated the strands every other row in alternating triangles of the scarf to stretch the mohair. It turned out beautifully, I assure you, but somehow it got shipped to Denver before a photo was taken. I love this scarf pattern and have made it several times, always, it seems, with yarn that I need to stretch! Alternating rows of solid and multicolored mohair works beautifully.

Meanwhile, while not knitting, I have been slowly working on end of the semester assignments for my graduate courses. Which reminds me, I better get back to Digital Libraries!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all, a bit belatedly, and happy knitting!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Elizabeth Zimmerman-ia

It's been two weeks but the event is fresh in my mind. On October 29 the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin inaugurated an exhibition about Elizabeth Zimmmerman and the Schoolhouse Press!! In attendance were Meg Swansen, Cheryl Oberle (www.cheryloberle.com), Amy Detjen, Lizbeth Upitis, Joyce Williams, Wendy Easton and about 300 knitters who basked in their brilliance. (I am using an Apple computer and, for some reason, cannot make links!! But, you can go to Amazon and look up books by these wonderful knitters and designers.) We also basked in the glory of the original items knit by the hands of EZ herself, notes and letters she wrote, items from her famous early Knitting Camps, and on and on. You can find the virutal exhibition at www.newschoolknittingexhibition.org.

It was fabulous to have EZ's knitting receive a very formal museum-like display. Although she is a guru of the knitting world and her knitting camps (now operated by Meg Swansen, Amy Detjen and Joyce Williams) annually "baptize" more of her followers, there has never been an exhibition with all these wonderful items in one spot.

Meg Swansen was her graceful and lovely self, reading from her mother's writings about purchasing their second (now famous) old one-room schoolhouse. I was able to sit next to Lizbeth Upitis herself and talk to her about her Latvian mittens and "my" knitting group in Barcelona.
On November 16, if you are close enough to Madison, you can come to knit in the gallery, surrounded by EZ's originals are hanging!!! I plan to be there working on an EZ pattern.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I'm late, I'm late, I'm late

OK, I finished my Socktoberfest socks within October, but didn't post them before November. Hope that doesn't disqualify me from whatever fame and glory I would have received with a timely post. I made these socks with Melenweit sock yarn using Lucy Neatby's Mermaid Sock pattern. I love how the diagonal pattern makes the socks look like mini entrelac.
I'm also late to post a Halloween photo of Daughter #2 carving her bat theme pumpkin. She decided she was too old (15) to trick or treat, but she loved carving the pumpkin and handing out candy!!
This next photo is crappy, I know. The photos with flash were just as bad as the photos without flash. It is ANOTHER FINISHED OBJECT!!!! It a completed cardigan for ME, the one I started about one year ago, using the now discontinued Sisik yarn. I am posting the lousy photo so that I can check another project off of my unfinished object list!!!! I've been wearing the cardigan for several weeks now and it is warm and comfy.

Yes, I'm making progress working through my seemingly unsurmountable pile of unfinished projects. Now, my mind and the house feel less cluttered. I can take a big knitterly sigh of fresh air, free from the pollution of moldy old projects!! I'm not completely done with my list...... the shaped shawl from Meg Swansen's lace book and the dale or norway for my husband. But, since I've made such good progress, I've started Christmas presents. Whoopee!!! More new projectys on the needles.

But, the most important completed project is in the last photo.
The completed Aran cardigan for my brother. He gets out of the hospital tomorrow!! Sweater was completed 10 days ago. The weather is warm, so he won't need to wear a coat over the sweater for his ride home. In case you haven't been following, my brother had a stroke a month ago. I pulled this unfinished cardigan from my unfinished object stash and got down to business. I started it for him as a Christmas present, FOUR years ago!! I couldn't believe it!! I hoped to knit him into good health by finishing the sweater. At least I've knit him out of the hospital. He still hasn't learned to walk without a walker and without great effort. But, he can move his legs into a lurching walk, with all muscles clenched tightly. He still can't see well, but he has clear sight for very short periods; thus, he hopes that his double vision will resolve at some point. He has very limited energy, but he is very, very excited to be going home. Welcome home, younger brother!!!