Friday, December 26, 2014

In the Winter, When It Drizzles

Greetings, from the City of Light! Germany and France have been beautiful, and thankfully, the only wet weather we're likely to have is tonight. We had a soggy walk back and forth to dinner this evening, but it was well worth it. Things will be a bit drier, if colder, for the rest of our stay here in Paris.

My mad dash of Christmas knitting was well worth it and seemed to have paid off. I've been enjoying the blue seamless hybrid sweater that I finished just before we left and have gotten to wear it a few times. I'm still cold much of the time, though. I'm amazed that in a sweater I can only wear comfortably for a few days each year in Texas, I'm shivering in Germany in France. I should have brought some long underwear, I think. Still, it has helped some, and I hate to think what shape I'd be in without it.

The day before we left I cast on for a gift for my sister-in-law, an active duty colonel in the US Army who works so hard when we come to visit. She deserves something nice, if anyone does. I saw the Cosi Cosa cowl in the latest edition of Knitty and thought it would be perfect for her. I even had some heathered dark green yarn that was just right for it. I just worked on it during the evenings like it was no big deal, and I think she was really surprised when it turned out to be for her! I had a bit of a challenge blocking it in a damp German winter, and it might have been a tad moist when I gave it to her, but I think it looks great and once it's dry, should keep her neck nice and warm. And it's quite modest, size-wise, compared to some of the king-sized neckwear popular amongst European women.

On Christmas Eve, the kids got to open their ManU hats. I think thy liked them. Gracie had been worried about how she would "represent " at the big game, so she was very excited. Hers was a bit big, but she'll grow into it. Michael didn't take his off the whole evening! This afternoon, my brother sent me this photo of his family watching Manchester United playing Chelsea in their Boxing Day match. I'm eager to hear if they got any comments from any of the local fans.

It's been a great trip, and we still have a few days to go. If you want to hit me up to see some more photos from the trip, I'm sevenlefts on Instagram. Send me a request and I'll add you. I haven't stumbled into a yarn shop yet, but hope to find the time soon. I hope all of you are enjoying this holiday season and that we all have a fabulous new year.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Der Blaue Pullover

I did it! Twenty-one days from start to finish. Looks like I'll be cozy while in Germany after all.

Evenings this past week were mostly consumed with working out the shirt yoke and collar details, grafting the underarms, weaving in ends and blocking. I decided to go with the 34 stitches across the yoke. I was totally overthinking the whole thing -- 32, 33, 34 -- it really didn't matter. It all came together the way it was supposed to.

I found that the grafted line on the back of the left shoulder is more visible in this one than on the one I made for Jeff several years ago. But I still ended up with that expected little leftover half stitch at the end of the grafting that Elizabeth Zimmerman calls the Schönheitsfehler, or "little mistake of beauty." I like that I was able to fudge it away, but I also kind of like knowing that it's there.

And I also like how the hems and cuffs calmed down and flattened a bit with blocking. Now the lighter Marine color just barely peaks through. I've always liked a photo that Caro posted showing the contrast color when she made a version years ago. In fact, her sweater inspired my first attempt, and thus this one. You can see a bit of the contrast peeking out at the cuff. The colors go so well together. I'm not always confident on my ability to match or contrast colors effectively, but I think I made some good choices this time around. Speaking of cuffs, you might think that the sleeves are a bit long and I wouldn't argue. But I did that on purpose as I have rather long arms and just hate having to pull sleeves down all the time. Not as long as those as of Charlotte Greenwood who played Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!, but still, I have to be careful.

So the sweater is ready to go. And so are the ManU hats that I made for my niece and nephew to wear at the Boxing Day game in Manchester. Here they are side by side so that you can see most of the motif that goes around the circumference. I pointed them out to my brother a few days ago, and he said they would be perfect. In fact, my niece had been worrying about how to "represent" at the game, so she'll be pleased to have something like this. I hope to get some pictures of them at the game.

Glad to have this finished in time. I was skeptical at first. It was one of those "It's so crazy, it just might work" moments. Luckily, it did. Hah -- maybe I should have patched together one of those 80s movie montages with some sort of power ballad playing in the background.

All I need to do now is get some packing done before we go. And some house cleaning. And maybe a bit of yard work. And a bit more shopping. And get some gifts over to my sister's house. And one more chorus performance. Oh, and I need to get something on the needles to work on while I'm "over there." I sort of have something in mind...



Saturday, December 06, 2014

The Pits

Just a quick post to log my progress this week. I didn't think I would get a lot done, but I did manage to finish the second sleeve and attach both sleeves to the body of the sweater. Now I am working on the raglan decreases that draw in the sleeves and the body as I work toward the yoke and the neck. You can see little creases down the sleeves. Those are where I jumped across from one side to the other using the magic loop method rather than a very small needle (which tends to hurt my hands) or double-pointed needles. I think they'll go away with a little steaming. I hope so anyway. The little gold threads are where the armpits will be grafted. Except Elizabeth Zimmerman refers to that part of the human anatomy as underarms. I don't think she would never write the word armpits.

Rotating from the pits to the shoulders, I've had bit of a counting and/or math issue. The sleeves end up with an even number of stitches before attaching them. And the decreases eat up two sleeve stitches each time. Yet Elizabeth Zimmerman's instructions say I should have 33 stitches when I begin the yoke. How can that be? I've pored over the text like a Talmudic scholar seeking clues or looking for overlooked hints, but I've come up with nothing. Should I only do one of the pair of decreases on the last round? Or should I settle for either 32 or 34 final stitches and just deal with it, keeping in mind that all subsequent instructions will need to be followed by "plus 1""or "minus 1"? I still have a few rounds to worry about it. Rest assured, I will.

The end is in sight, though, and it looks like I'm on track to get this finished before we leave in just 11 short days.