Friday, May 29, 2009

Not Another Swatch

You know that scene in Hudsucker Proxy? The one where Tim Robbins takes the piece of paper with a circle drawn on it out of his shoe and shows it to Paul Newman and says it's, "You know. For kids," and no one has any idea what it's supposed to be? By the same logic,

It's a sweater.

I don't expect to be invited to take over a multi-million dollar company, or manufacture Hula-hoops for that matter, but I am quite sure I'm making the right sweater. It took a few tries to convince Marc he really needed to look at this thing. The closer examination paid off. He likes the color (Cascade 220 in Mallard). He likes K1P1 ribbing better than K2P2. When he says he wants two cables running up the front, he doesn't mean a pair of two stitch twisted ribs (the top of the cable sampler part). The open cable (at the bottom) got the nod, rather than the twisted rope (more or less in the middle). He wants the two cables on the plain reverse stockinette, no ribbing or anything separating. He had "no idea it was this complex."

He wants it knit on US 7/4.5 mm needles, which blocks out at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch, not US 8/5mm needles that blocks at 4.5. All right, I might have persuaded him to that. I think the cables look more cleanly defined. That would be the pair to the left of the safety pin.

Of course, I don't have a clue where to place the cables, although I'm fairly sure I don't want to place them dead center. Maybe the center after I've decreased for the armscye? Still, I can knit the back and both the sleeves before I have to actually address that little difficulty. That, or I'll be knitting another Really Big Swatch.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Does It Count?

Way back when, I fell in love with the Barn Raising Quilt from Knitalong. Finally, I thought, an excuse to buy all that cool yarn that sock knitters so selfishly hogged for themselves. I let myself run wild. Then came the realization that I do not have Larissa Brown's eye for color. Looking at the yarn I had collected, I could only envision something that would look like a 2 year old gone wild with the 64 color crayon box. Or the color equivalent of what the other 199 type-writing monkeys would turn out while the 200th wrote Hamlet.

Still, I started in. Knitted a square and loved it. Knitted another and loved it, too. Added a few more skeins of sock yarn. Knitted another square or so. Then started lining them up. That's when I realized they would only fight. Adding squares seemed to simply increase the violence of what was turning into a free-for-all. When the squares began mud-wrestling, I stopped knitting.

Thank heaven last month Larissa posted about making Barn-raising quilts for the Sock Summit to benefit Doctors Without Borders. It made me dig out my squares and rethink my own quilt. It dawned on me that I could let some other creative mind do the color work for me. All I had to do was choose my favorite skein and match the rest of the squares to it.

My quilt will now be based on Claudia Handpaints' Walk in the Woods. I've sorted out the squares and skeins. I have 5 colors that co-ordinate with it: Shibui Knits Sock in Dragonfly (the teal) and Pagoda (the copper), Claudia Handpaints in Moss, Indigo and Taupe.

I'm giving up Shibui Knits Midnight (the blue, too bright), Claudia Handpaints Odd Duck (the pale blue-green, too much blue-green with the Dragonfly) and Cherry Tree Hill Spring Frost (the multi-colored, too washed-out looking next to Walk in the Woods). Once I finish up with Odd Duck and block it, those squares will join the Knitalong in Portland.

They're due by June 9. Having paid express shipping to the West Coast (ouch) once this year for afghans for Afghans (I had to get that in because Cathy had asked and I never answered), I want to make sure I get these off in a more timely manner.

Who knew limits (okay, and a little do-gooding) could be so liberating. Not to mention what separating the combatants has done for my knitting

Friday, May 22, 2009


Such excitement. We have another college graduate in the family. If I told you there was knitting here, it would be a lie. I'm going to argue precedent, though. If the quintessential knitting blogger, the Yarn Harlot herself, takes the occasional moment to write about being a parent at pivotal moments in the lives of her kids, so can I. Right now, for this post, you'll just have to let me reflect and reminisce a bit.

It's a scary thing to have a College Graduate back. The pitfalls I imagine are myriad and deep. What if I don't know how to be mom to a fully adult offspring? This escalates to, what if I'm so happy she's here I make her feel she can't leave? It's a short and slippery slide from there to the assumption that I truly am one of those psycho-Moms who hedge and trap their children into living a life not their own ("She just goes a little mad sometimes."*).

I may have an overactive imagination.

While wallowing in all this, I found myself remembering when she was 10 months old. She did that pre-walking thing, where they drag you hither and yon, bent double behind them, while they clutch your thumbs. I was so sure she could walk that I tricked persuaded her into holding the fingers of a mitten in each hand while I held the cuffs. After a few steps I let go. Sure enough, she took off down the hallway, as sure on her feet as if she had been walking for months. I thought I was so smart. Then she looked back. Ten months old and she had already mastered That Look. She, of course, never practiced with me again without checking that she actually had hold of me. She wasn't the only one who learned something that day. I never tried to repeat that bit of sleight of hand.

There's able, and then there's ready, and the two aren't always the same. More importantly, I'm not the one who knows. She was so happy, laughing out loud, practicing walking while she held on. When she was ready, she let go. When she was ready, I didn't insist she hold on. If I was that smart then, why would I think I'm less smart now?

It's a transcendent feeling, to superimpose that child over the one striding across the stage in full academic regalia to shake the Dean's hand.

It's a shame I forgot my camera. Now if I can only figure out how to get pictures off of my cell phone.

*Norman Bates on his mom.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Begone Dull Knitting

Those of you who have read the occasional rail I've made against sock knitting may be surprised to hear this. I thought I was going to like knitting socks. I really did. Deep in my secret heart of hearts, I was waiting to be persuaded. Expecting to slide gleefully down the slippery slope. Sure I was merely looking for an excuse a cause to remove the barriers in my heart and to devolve into an avid, nay rabid, knitter of socks. Like Benedict, who when he said he would die a bachelor did not think he would live until he were married, I thought once I found a reason to knit socks that would let me save face, it would be all over for me. I thought I had found it in the most recent afghans for Afghans campaign.

Then I knit a sock. It wasn't pleasant. I knit another one anyway. Nope, nothing. Then I knit a third in different yarn. Still not good. I have now, finally knit the fourth sock and you know what? I can unequivocally state that I hate knitting socks. I would rather knit cables from written instructions.

This was unexpected. I was so sure I would join the ranks of sock knitters that I went playing on the Net and found cute and clever sock kits for babies with baby-size sock blockers from Lavender Sheep. At least I bought the ones that were on sale. The kit on the left is 100% merino wool in Cranberry. The one on the right is a wool/tencel blend in Chocolate Cherry. I could have sworn there was a third kit, but it seems well and truly buried. I should mention that the yarn looks darker than it is, at least on my screen.

I will never use these. You want them? Leave a comment or send me an email. In the event that more than two of you respond, I'll pull names out of a knitting bag. If the possibly mythical third kit shows up, I'll pull a third name. Just get these out of here, will ya?

Monday, May 11, 2009


As in more than one.

A flock, a gaggle, a skulk, an exaltation.

A muster, a drove, a brood, a covey.

A pod, a pride, a murder, a school.

A skein a shrewdness, a sloth, a sord.

Multiple finished objects. How astonishing. I won't actually get them out the door today. They're still damp. But with the help of UPS Next Day Air I should make the May 15 deadline.

For the linguistically oriented types, the collective nouns listed above apply, in order, to birds, geese, foxes (or vermin or thieves and which I will, from this moment forward, use to refer to hand-knit socks), larks; peacocks, cattle on the move, young birds, quail (or grouse or partridges); whales, lions, crows, fish; geese again, apes, bears, mallards. (Then there's a sounder of boar, a wisp of snipe, a kindle of kittens, a cete of badger, a nide of partridge. I love English.)

Friday, May 08, 2009


Oh, no fair. Look what UPS up and left outside my door on no provocation whatsoever. Okay, maybe I saw them in the Spring/Summer Knit Simple. And maybe I found my way over to Bagsmith. And I suppose I may have gotten a bit carried away and I might have added a few things to my shopping cart. But that's all. Other than that it was a complete blindside. I had nothing to do with it.

Meet Etienne, Sabine, Rose and Luc.

These are designed like the old-fashioned climbing toys, pull the strings alternately and the little person moves up, let the strings go and s/he slides to the bottom. I had one with two little wooden climbers that came with me to college and was the focus of a surprising amount of attention - no one could come into my room and resist them. I think they finally succumbed to my children.

I admit, I have other plans for these guys. Remember the ornaments I got for Christmas? The ones nattily decked out in knitwear? Wouldn't these be cool companions (eventually)? With a crown instead of a cap I could have Cinderella or Prince Charming. Add a couple of broken toothpicks and seed beads and I could make a knitter. (Note all those hypotheticals. I do love living in the hypothetical moment; so fraught with possibility.)

All I can say is, good thing I finished the blanket. That, and the yellow sock is lucky I don't have any US 1/2.25 mm needles in the house.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Knitting a la Lewis Carroll

I'm not backsliding. Really. I'm knitting, rather frantically in point of fact. I have had cause, in the course of my knitting career, to bemoan my acquaintance with the Red Queen, she who informs Alice that it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place and that "if you want to get somewhere else you must run at least twice as fast as that."

Twelve rows and then I can knit the border of the Field of Green afghan. I've cast-on for the second yellow sock (devoutly hoping I stumbled across the same YouYube video for the twisted German cast-on I used last time). They're due at A4A by May 15. I want them out of here Monday. I can do this if I apply the Red Queen's logic. Then and only then I can knit anything else at all.

See you when I'm back on this side of the looking glass.