Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Somewhat Fetching Peace Fleece

Too many of my knitting projects evolve erratically from repeated failures rather than develop serenely from swatches and careful planning. If the Yarn Harlot's friend, Lene, made me a Christmas Knitting Schedule, there is no way I could possibly keep up with it. It would be doomed from the beginning.

Example #1.
While sipping coffee in my favorite LYS/Coffee Shop I found some lovely grey/blue/white speckled Peace Fleece. Who could resist Peace Fleece at this time of year?? Let me quote from their website:

Peter Hagerty and his wife Marty Tracy started buying wool from the Soviet Union back in 1985 in hopes that through trade they could help diffuse the threat of nuclear war. Since then they have worked with shepherds in Russia, Kyrgyzia, Israel and the West Bank, as well as in Montana, Ohio, Texas and Maine. By working with people who tend livestock every day, they hope to find a common ground that slowly leads to mutual understanding and economic interdependence. After twenty-one years, their goals remain the same.

Definitely the world needs peace in 2007 as much, if not more, than it did in 1985. So, I bought the Peace Fleece, determined to give a friend or family member some hope for peace as well as a warm hat. So, I made a hat.
Cute, I thought. I avoided the pitfalls that caused previous hats to be rejected by my youthful and fashion minded daughters. First, the hat shall not cover the ears. Who would want warm ears in Wisconsin winter?? Second, no dorky ribbing at the bottom of the hat. Instead, I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's I-cord cast off to give a finished edge. the pattern was from Lion Brand yarns from which I removed the dorky ribbing.

OK, I had yarn left over. How about some fingerless gloves to match?? I thought I would have enough yarn for fingerless gloves. The Fetching gloves from Knitty looked pretty good. Of course, Peace Fleece was heavier than the yarn called for, and I used size 8 needles for the hat, so I reduced the number of glove stitches to 30. And, I ALWAYS make thumb gussets--I hate it when mittens and gloves stretch uncomfortably then I move my thumb. So, I added thumb gussets. Good enough.

So far, so good. Now we enter the knitting zone called "WHAT WAS I POSSIBLY THINKING???"

I finished the hand part of the gloves and was about to start the short thumb when I decided that I had enough yarn for a full thumb! So, I made two full thumbs on fingerless gloves.!! I saved you the horrible vision of these deformed Fingerless-but-not-thumbless-gloves by not taking a photo. Rather than simply rip out the thumbs, I realized that I had enough yarn to make mittens!!! Let's look carefully at the lovely Fetching fingerless gloves and think about what problem we could avoid when turning them into mittens, shall we?

Do you see any problem?? No? Well, neither did I. so, I blissfully removed the cast off edge, and continued the cute cable pattern to the tip of the new mitten. Now do you see the problem?
No? Maybe the photo is too dark. I didn't see a problem either. I was floundering in the knitting River of De Nile (denial!).
What was I possibly thinking??? Skinny narrow cabled mitten tops?? Cables eat up width. Fingers do not like to feel constricted. Fingers like to splay out at times, wiggle, breathe. They do not like to be folded up upon themselves. I determined to remove the cables. But, thankfully, I had not cabled the palms.
It seems that in knitting once completely submerged in the River of De Nile I tend to stay there. I can't quite get out of it. Rather than frog the entire tops of the mittens, down to the thumb, I decided to SAVE TIME by dropping down the cabled stitches and knitting them back up. Dear reader, does this sound like a good idea to you? Did you say, "no"? If so, you are much smarter than I. You, dear reader, are not dog paddling in the River of De Nile with me.

OK, here is what the mitten looks like when you drop the first of the four stitch cables. Did I think this was a problem?
Nooooo,.......... Here I am with my faithful cable hook picking up the first of the four cable stitches to form stockinette ribs of 4 x 1.
Here is the mitten-in-progress with the first of the cables removed and replaced with stockinette. Is there a visible problem at this point, dear reader? No. I think not. Let's continue.

Here are the finished mittens.
They look pretty good, don't they?? Cables on the cuffs. None on the hands. None on the fingers. Good. But no, now some type of weird perfectionism crept in and I continued to tread water in the River of De Nile. In examining the mitten I remembered that cabling four stitches takes more yarn than knitting those same four stitches in stockinette. This meant that the last stitch that I crocheted up after dropping each set of four stitches was looser than the other stitches. This, I felt, would let in too much cold winter air. This, I felt, would not go away after blocking.
Again, WHAT WAS I THINKING?? I frogged the entire top of the mittens , down to the thumb, and re-knit the mittens from thumb to tip.
Tell me, dear reader, had I saved any time??? No, I had not saved any time. By this time, I had gobbled up approximately three times the amount of time needed to knit the entire mitten!!! Fortunately, I realized this after re-knitting the first mitten. I left the second mitten as is. I think it is fine, just fine. I have finally crawled up the bank and and onto the sandy shore of the River of De Nile!!
And, voila, here they are! The beanie hat without dorky ribbing and the Somewhat Fetching thumb gusset mittens!

Ok, let's take a break from knitting. As I write this it is snowing heavily outside. Here's the view out of my front door.
Look closely in the lower corner!
A melange of Christmas and Halloween decorations! We never managed to remove the pumpkin from the bench, although we got Santa up. The Snowman wind sock is draped over the bench, awaiting being hung from the tree. Oh well, with the cone of snow on top, it kind of looks like a Halloween elf helper for santa!
At least this Christmas decoration is completely up. The antique wagon belonged to my husband's mother, who played with it as a child. My husband also played with it when he visited his grandparents in rural Iowa. Now, we keep it at our front door. My mother in law passed away a number of years ago, but we honor her every year by filling it with wrapped (but empty) boxes, ready to deliver. We like to think that Helen is watching from heaven and smiling.
In 1971 I sent out my first batch of Christmas cards as a young adult. This was the time of the Vietnam war, which we opposed. I found a card with a lion and lamb on it, and with the message "Peace" inside. Each year since I have sent Lion and Lamb Christmas cards, but they have been harder and harder to find--just as world peace each year has been harder and harder to find. At Christmas time I scatter little lions and lambs around the house, in the hope that I will do all that I can in the coming year to work towards peace and understanding. May 2008 be filled with peace, understanding and acceptance for you and for the world!


debolsillo said...

Nice Story! Peace for the World!

Vicki Knitorious said...

I love how your Peace Fleece projects turned out! I think I have a cardi in that same color (it's in time out because it turned out too small). I really love how you scatter the lions and lambs... what a wonderful thought.

Maddie said...

oh, mom. I did not realize that you went to this much trouble with those mittens... thats pretty funny :D
And, every year for as long as I can remember, I always look for lion and lamb cards (if I'm not with you at a store). But none this year!!!

Garngamen said...

I think the mittens turned out great. What a great knitter you are! And I noticed you also carried the hat and gown... a PhD yourself maybe? Congratulations to you! Browsing all your great photos, I must say I think that Peace Fleece is fab. What a great project. Take care my friend! (and I would NEVER let anyone else do my schedule either ;-)

Cindy G said...

You had me rolling on the floor with the mitten story. Just the kind of wishful thinking knitting I can be prone to, only I'm not always as good about making it right. Hat and mittens turned out beautifully.

I love the Lion and Lamb theme.

Cindy G said...

What a nice offer on a get together! I'll take you up on it (sometime in January?)

Lorette said...

The mittens and hat are lovely, despite the trouble they caused! And I love your lion and lamb.

Keturah Y. said...

You had me laughing at your De Nile story! I know about frogging (or ripping). Rermember the snowflake fair isle mitten I started at camp? I frogged that thing 4 times to get it perfect, and still ended up with an inconspicious dropped stitch (which I promptly snagged when I was weaving in the ends).
De Nile? Yes, I'm a member of the paddle-boat division.

Beautiful hats and mittens :) Thanks for sharing.

Prunila said...

This post is so cute!!! Ajaaaa, you ae Betty's friend, isn't? Hi from Barcelona!!!

Julie said...

Those turned out so beautiful. I love Peace Fleece. It was my first wool yarn after many years of synthetics. I thought wool was too hard to maintain. Now I am a wool fanatic. Peace Fleece colors got me and dragged me in! I love their needles too.

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