Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Knick-Knack Kerouac

Give this dog a bone, cause this old cardigan is rolling home. There’s naught left to knit but the sleeves and button band/collar.

I’ve managed to complete the body of the sweater. Both of the fronts are now done, although I’m not entirely clear that I did it correctly. I was almost done with the right front part of the sweater, when I consulted a cryptic note that I’d made after completing the left front part of the sweater, reminding me where to begin a certain decrease. I was already well past that point, and by now I couldn’t see the logic of the original instructions – it had just been too long since I’d written it down. But I ripped back and followed my notes, and holding everything together, it appears I did the right thing. I’m just not sure how.

IMG_3445For something that looks so simple, I’ve had a dickens of a time trying to parse out the instructions. They’re quite clear, but the manner in which they are written doesn’t mesh well with the way my brain works. I kept forgetting that binding-off and decreasing, while having the same effect of narrowing fabric, are not the same thing at all.

I had to draw little diagrams for each row, keeping track of the binding off and the decreasing and all the various knitterly activities that I was instructed to undertake AT THE SAME TIME. These words are written in all caps to draw the knitter’s attention to them, but the my state of mind conjures up visions of someone leaning over my should and shouting those words at me. I’m not in any way faulting the designer for this – it’s just the state I’m in, I suppose.

But I’ve started the sleeves, and I’m feeling better about the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

A Bird in the Hand

It’s worth two in the bush, but still doesn’t quite measure up to having two in the hand. So to get my money’s worth, and to keep some poor soul’s two hands equally toasty, I better get started on the second.

Overall, I prefer the abstract design of the January mittens over these more figurative designs. I enjoyed watching the picture build as I knit, though that branch hanging over the bird’s head looks kind of like a claw hammer to me. Watch out, bird! And, of course, the brighter colors don’t sit with me as well. The effect reminds me of a sunrise over snow. I don’t have much experience of that, but that’s what I’m going with. These hues remind me of some jumbo-sized day-glo crayons that were available back in the 1970s. I never really liked them. Even then I was more of a traditionalist. Anyone else out there miss Raw Umber? Anyone?

The thumbs on this mitten, if anything, seem even tighter than the thumb on the previous pair. I’m going to try and remedy that in the blocking, but I really think the design could have stood to have 4-5 more stitches of room. Like the first pair, I’m drawn to the geometric design on the palm of the mitten. It’s quite mesmerizing.

I’ve got more wonkiness in my knitting going on with this pair than the previous pair. Maybe it’s just more visible because of the lighter background? But I have several stitches that lean in strange directions and places where the captured floats are quite visible. I keep taking deep breaths and reminding myself to trust in the miracle of blocking.

The second mitten features a jay or a cardinal in outline, and it takes up more of the mitten back. I’ll get it started on it soon.

Tonight was all about getting back to the Kerouac sweater. And messing it up. I did six rows of decreases across the middle of the back, counted, and found out I had one too many stitches. I patiently tinked those rows back, only to find that I’d started with one too many stitches. I’d messed up in the binding off a few weeks ago. I used a crochet hook to bind one more off at the edge. The gauge is small enough that I don’t think it will matter.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

A Person Very Rarely Sees…

…a poem as lovely as 99 trees -- all covered in yarn.

Yesterday, our men’s knitting group (Ravelry Link) set up our contribution to Magda Sayeg’s art installation in the Blanton Art Museum’s courtyard entitled A Knitted Wonderland.

Now, I have to admit, right up front, that although I cringed and whined about the color spectrum that we were asked to use, I have to say that the effect is really quite stunning. If the color palette had been any less vibrant, I don’t think the effect would have been nearly as dramatic. It was amazing seeing all of these trees all gussied up in snuggly warm yarn. The range of techniques and ways of combining color were really quite amazing. Several groups included pockets, appliqued snake-like things and all manner of knitting and crochet stitch patterns. So I stand corrected – this really does look quite cool.

99TreesDoug and I got there around 4:30 and got to seaming our group’s contribution to Tree #65. I think that Guys in Austin with Yarn should be pleased with the job we all did. Ours was the penultimate tree at the northern end of the installation, really closer to both UT’s Jester Dorm and the Perry-CastaƱeda Library than the museum. The diagram to the left shows the area of the 99 trees, and the little yellow star shows where our tree is. In this position, we were uniquely positioned as unofficial spokesmodels for the installation, fielding questions from all the curious passersby. Several people commented on how the whole thing had a Dr. Seuss vibe. I have to agree. Magda came by at one point and told us how pleased she was that we had participated and what a great job we had done.

Doug was prepared, of course, armed with all the tools we needed for seaming our creation, plus a step-ladder. We came up with a plan for attaching the whole thing together and got cracking. It was a snug a fit in a few places, which was our plan. It only took a little over an hour of using crochet hooks to pull all the loose ends up through the selvedge edges and knotting strands together at the color changes to make sure that it all stayed put. I’m quite pleased with how it all turned out. All five of the guys who worked on this (plus Doug’s mom!) should be proud.

When we left, there were still a few trees that had yet to be bedecked. I’m going to try and get down there in the next few weeks to take some more pictures with something besides my phone. The pictures I’ve taken of this can all be found in my Knitted Wonderland Flickr set. It’s up until March 18th, so if you have a chance to check it out, do so.