Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Shape of Things to Come

When I can during these past few busy weeks, I've been knitting sporadically on the purple Miss Grace shawl. But like center-out lace patterns, all the quick business happens on the front end. As the piece gets bigger, each new row takes longer and longer to complete, with more and more interruptions for all the short-row shaping. On the upside, though, there are more interesting pattern features emerging now that I'm working my way up. Starting with two stitches, I'm now up to 148. I should end up with 220, give or take a few, so I have some long days of garter stitch ahead.

Still not sure there that there is enough contrast between the base color which is a darker, slightly more solid purple (left ball of yarn in photo) and Color 2, the more neon-like deep purple (bottom ball). The more pinky-purple Color 1 sticks out just fine, and I find myself looking forward to the rows where I get to work with this stand-out and oh-so-not-me hue.

I may not have mentioned that I signed up for Kate Davies' Seven Skeins Club, which includes seven skeins (duh) of her new Buachaille yarn line in each of the beautiful colors, which arrived a few weeks ago. Then, each week for six weeks we are sent links to two patterns to choose from. Choosing one each week will go through the yarn sent. If I'd cleared my knitting dance card beforehand, I might have tried, but I gave myself permission not to panic and try to do these on any kind of schedule. I'm enjoying seeing them come in and am making plans based on what I've seen so far. Closer to the holidays, I'll receive a book with all the patterns in it. I love her stranded knitting designs and am looking forward to what will be revealed over the next few weeks.

Hope all you knitters are enjoying some fall (or spring?) knitting. And I hope all my central Texas friends are enjoying all of this wonderful rain!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Teaching and Learning

One of my neighbors whom we see often on our dog walks, asked if I would teach him to knit when I saw him yesterday. He knows I'm a knitter since I'd made a blanket and some toys for his little sister. He has just learned to finger crochet at school, so I cut him a deal. I would teach him to knit if he would teach me to finger crochet. He thought that sounded fair, and with his parents' permission made an appointment for today at 2:30 -- an oddly specific time for a 7-year-old.

Right on time he pulled up on his bike. I've never really taught anyone to knit from scratch, but I figured we should start with a cast-on. I wasn't sure if he could handle a long-tail, but after a few tries he dug right in. In just half an hour he had cast on and done two rows of knitting! Then it was my turn to learn finger crochet using some bright chenille yarn he bright to our lesson. It was fun and he was an excellent teacher -- I learned a thing or two about patience from him, that's for sure. Then I got a bonus lesson in paper airplane making! After an hour or so of flying planes across the driveway, it was time to head home. I sent him off with some needles and yarn and an invitation to let me know if he needs more help. His mom reports via text that he had a great time. I sure hope so. He's a great kid.

In other knitting news, while knitting with friends yesterday morning, my friend (and quasi-cousin) Abbe presented me with a reprint edition of Dave Fougner's 1972 work, The Manly Art of Knitting. The cover photo alone makes this perfect. It's only 63 pages long. It covers a bit of history, the basic skills, some stitch pattern instruction, and a few simple but quite varied patterns. Along with the usual hat, there are patterns for a dog bed, a hammock, and a horse blanket! Best of all, there is a 4-item bibliography, including one item that I just found using my college's JSTOR subscription (Grass, Milton N. "The origins of the art of knitting." Archaeology (1955): 184-190.) There's a special tingle one gets when the boundaries between knitting and librarianship blur. Well, for this librarian/knitter at least. Thanks for thinking of me, Abbe. I love it!

And finally, I got started on the Miss Grace shawl I mentioned last post. I'm making it in three shades of purple variegated yarn in a 4-skein packet that Skeino calls Barb. So far, Barb and I are getting along. I'm not sure that two of the colors are different enough to show enough contrast, but that could change after I get more of the fabric made.

It's such a cool concept -- striped garter stitch with short row leaf-shaped "forms" that still manage to keep the whole thing in a triangle shape. I've had a hard time interpreting some of the instructions, which in most cases can be chalked up to me not really reading the instructions carefully. I've found that Staci's tutorial has been invaluable for when I get stuck. I kind of wish I'd watched it all the way through from the get-go.

So a bit of teaching and a lot of learning this week, bearing witness to a certain truism. The more I learn, the more I know how much I don't know.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Gray Areas

Since my last post, I've just been knitting stockinette stitch on my Shadows & Light v-neck sweater. There were some rocky moments, but I persevered and finished it up while here at a conference in Arkansas.

I fell out of love with this project about the time I started the sleeves. I got tired of all the stockinette for sure, but I also began to think that the variegation was starting to look a bit too much like camouflage -- which is a look, but not for me. And, I worried that it might be too snug. But I kept going, and by the time I was ready to head to a library conference late last week, I had all the pieces done. So I packed them, thinking I might have some time to start piecing it together.

Turns out, I had quite a bit of time on my hands the first few days here, so I got to work. And as I did, I started liking it more and more. Although many knitters don't, I really do like seaming up garments. That neat and tidy mattress stitch on the sides, especially. This sweater has set-in sleeves, which might seem scary, but really aren't. You just have to pay attention to where you need to shift from a mattress-like seam near the armpits to a more selvedge-to-cast-off sea near the shoulders -- and then trying to be consistent on both arms. I messed up one of the arms, but it was no problem to pick out the seam and redo it. Better to do that now than let it gnaw on me every time I wear it. One shoulder does still look a bit tortured lying flat, but it's fine when I'm wearing it. Not so sure I'm totally in love with the 1x1 ribbed collar, but I'll live with it a while and think about it. I have plenty of yarn for modifications. I bought four hanks of this stuff and only used two! Exactly two, with nothing left over. I've been wearing it today during my meetings. Even though it will be nearly 80 outside, it's much, much colder in the meeting rooms.

While here in Little Rock, I took some time to visit a yarn shop in the Pulaski Heights neighborhood called The Yarn Mart. Much more interesting than that other retailer from Arkansas with "mart" in its name! Very friendly staff with a fun attitude (see sign) and a very uncluttered space, unlike some shops. There was a lively rug hooking class going on while I shopped around. I ended up buying some Madeline Tosh fingering merino yarn in a mottled golden-brown in a color way called Twig. Not sure if it would make good socks. Right now I'm thinking hat.

Up next, I'm thinking of tackling a shawl for which I already have the yarn, Miss Grace. Love that name! Staci tells me it's the most fun you can have with garter stitch. Can't wait to get home and get started.