Monday, 31 August 2009
After I was all done, ends all worked in, finished and sweet looking, I realized that I'd forgotten to do one small thing, and it does cause bit of a fit issue, or surely would on an adult sweater.
So this one is going to be the what not to do sample.
And that has some value too. This is to be for class use only. It was not knit for practical wear, though perhaps it should have been.
If it is to fit an actual baby, something would have to be done about the size of the neck. No human baby would get this over it's head, so before a child could wear it, one shoulder would have to be converted to the Scottish shoulder, a saddle with buttons.
I'm knitting to true gansey gauge on one sample, just so people can see what those long ago women did, but it isn't something you can sit and knit on for a long period at a time. It says a lot about how these women got in their time knitting. They could not have worked this gauge in large chunks in long sittings as many modern knitters do. The tight gauge would suggest that they did it in short spurts between other tasks and between other knitting. Proof of a sort of no idle hands.
Doing this tight gauge sample had another surprise in store. If you had a nice modern yarn with all the lanolin removed, knitting would be much slower and a lot less pleasant. The lanolin just keeps everything moving along and keeps my bamboo double points nice and smooth.
Other knitting is taking place. I'm moving along on the River Valley Shawl, and have only 6 rows to go. Longs ones, but I'm well over the hump and it is fast knitting. I've started another little lace thing, that I expect will take me all winter to work up, and I have been working on the Fair Isle projects, the wee baby sweater, and the vest, not significant work, but its a start. I even picked up some socks for a bit on Saturday.
So many little projects abound, and there are so many I'd like to do (There is talk of longie knitting at the store). It has been hot these last few days, summer hot, but thoughts of sweaters and stying warm come unbidden. Maybe it the shorter days that make it happen no matter the temperature. Fall is coming, it will be sweater weather and if I am not looking for warm things to wear today, I will be soon enough.
Friday, 28 August 2009
A Photo Essay: Summer in the Back 40
Thursday, 27 August 2009
I have to take care of the pictures coming soon part of it. Proper samples are about to be knit up.
I'm thrilled it was accepted, and nervous and tickled...and concerned. They are about to charge people money to watch me knit.
Will people find all the cool things about ganseys as interesting as I do? Will they be interested in the intense and necessary practicality of these garments? Will they be interested in the updated, slightly less tightly knit modern version of this traditional sweater shape?
I hope so, but I worry. Not enough to stop me though and a little worry, a slight tension, a little living on the edge is probably good for me.
I'm knitting samples today. The sample garment has to be reknit from my prototype gansey sample and I want to have samples to show off some of the many choice knitters have for welts, shoulder joins, collars etc. So much knitting, so little time. I also have some classroom notes to write, some references to refer to, some details to research and clarify in my own mind so I can answer questions with confidence.
Oh dear. Paperwork. I thought I was done paperwork. All of sudden the knitting looks a whole lot easier.
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
In summer, we can quite contentedly knit dishcloths and shawls. You think about sweaters, and read a lot about wool, but you don't work with it. You might consider playing with fibres that you might otherwise not knit. Along comes August and everything changes.
There is a briskness to at the yarns people consider, an urgency that has been absent for a while. August is the month when your thoughts turn to warm, where contemplating wool and warmth becomes serious, and you start looking with focus and intent. There is a vigour to the things we choose to knit in August, a weight and a need that isn't there in the desultory, airy knitting of summer.
August is when you start to think about sweaters. Scarves, and mittens are knit as often as dishcloths and light lace while sitting on sandy beaches. Chunky Lopi yarn starts looking like the most interesting thing in the world.
Though August isn't cold, it is surely the end of summer. It sends all the signals that cold isn't very far away, and you had better stock up, sock it away and prepare yourself because cold is mere moments away.
I'm not sure where August went to. I know that it was there and I lived it. Those September sweater plans are urgent and mittens and gloves are about as interesting as a knit can be. Selbuvotter is looking like grand literature right about now, with its intricate details and historical story lines. All the spring sock books are gaining new meaning with the fullness of late summer and thinking about fall.
Or maybe it has nothing to do with shorter days, and cool evenings even on the hottest day. Maybe it isn't August making me think these things. Maybe it is the pile of unworked and ignored socks I came across as I dug through the WIPs yesterday. Maybe its just because I took a pair of socks to knitting and quite contentedly knit an couple of inches through the afternoon. Maybe it is because for the last week, my feet have been very cold and I remembered socks for the essential item of clothing they are.
No matter. I cannot stop August and its fast approaching end. I can only knit those things which will keep me warm, harboured from winters chill. The most important things to knit over the next few weeks, are vests, a tiny baby sweater, and an endless pile of the toasty warm goodness of socks.
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
I spun. I worked with some blue and white roving I've had forever. It was purchased with the first spindle and it was a great practise yarn. I have to say how much I love this wheel. I have control like I only dreamed of on the Babe. I got there on the Babe, but not without a lot more effort. It is so easy to treadle the Julia and I have a way better feeling for how much spin is going into my yarn. Overspun, be gone.
I knit a lot too. I picked up the Fair Isle baby sweater, and then put it down without knitting a stitch. I dug out the fair Isle vest and put it out in the world where I could see it. I thought better of working on the fair Isles, and decided I ought to finish a thing first.
So I picked up and knit about halfway through Clue 6 on the River Valley Shawl. I'm well into the edging now. The rows are incredibly long. There was a row which increased the number of stitches by 15 at least a thousand times across the width of the shawl and I don't want to know how many stitches there are, but having seen the finished shawl, I know its going to be well worth it. When I just could not think that much anymore, I knit on something much less traumatic.
I have started the Easy Drop stitch scarf before. It is a pattern I really liked from my very first days on Ravelry. The yarn did not feel right for the pattern, and eventually, it was frogged. Along comes a new shipment of Noro sock yarn from the store, and there was a fantastic new to me colourway, S301. Purples and greens and fuchsia, turquoise and gold and just a little in between. Outstanding. The long Noro colour changes mean that there is a pleasing flow to this scarf, there is a symmetry and rhythm that is much more pleasing to me.
Plus a little fuchsia and hot pink against my winter coat on the long dark winter days is not a bad thing.
Monday, 24 August 2009
My boss called the store and I asked. But the store is still pretty darn tidy, stocked and put together. (I think. It's hard to judge)
I spun on Friday night. I spun on Saturday morning. I plied on Sunday morning. I spun everything I had ready. I took a bobbin of yarn spun on the Babe, and plied it with everything I had spun up the previous couple of mornings. It looks a little like yarn. Its resting now, and ought to be ready to knit in a day or so. That will be the real test.
I have today off, and intend to spin my way through Maggie Casey's video, Start Spinning, just as if I am taking a spinning class, and I think I'll continue that all through the week. I am reading my way through the Alden Ames book of spinning, and tomorrow, I'm going to check out the library and see what they have on spinning.
I may have to go fleece shopping. Maybe.
When it was time to put away, I did. I knit and contemplated spinning. It was productive knitting though. I'd been working on a little scarf made from a rich blue green Bamboo Silk from Patons. Exactly the right length for someone sweet to tuck into her jacket and keep the chill away, not too long, not too short, nice little lace pattern and warm to boot.
I still had quiet a bit of yarn left, so I knit it up too. I started with a plain ribbing, and then idly wondered what would happen if I changed the ribs around. Where there was a purl rib, I put a knit, and where there was a knit, I put a purl. Interestingly enough, when you do this, you get bamboo. Or what looks a lot like a bamboo stalk. Little ridge bumps on the growth rings and smooth in between. Quite appropriate for the yarn.
It was a little shorter than I would have liked, but when the yarn runs out you have to quit knitting. It makes a nice wee neckwarmer.
I've some more prepared wool in the study, and I think its time to go spin for a while. If I do it every day at least a little, I ought to improve quickly. Perfect spinning isn't my goal. Its about learning the technique, and understanding what generations of people felt like when they spun. It is about getting to the heart of their work. And its about spinning yarn for a shawl of my very own.
But not today. Today I can be very patient. Today is about baby steps, and blue fibre and maybe a single thread at the end.
Friday, 21 August 2009
Thursday, 20 August 2009
I can't bring it home though. The boss is away and she has to put it in the computer and price it. There was idle speculation about what would happen if I took the wheel and everything else inside the box, filled said box with some rocks and left the box at the store but I wasn't the one saying that. I did think hard about it. Really hard. I checked for right sized stones around the yard.
But no, my job is to put wool away, fill shelves, sell much wool as is humanly possible, so that when they come back there is nothing left to do, but figure out the price of the wheel and let me at it. The store is going to be in the best shape of its life. No one is more highly motivated than me this week with that spinning wheel sitting there.
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
I was determined to get a good start on it myself. I sat down to knit up clue 6.
Nothing was working. Not the stitch count, not the way the pattern really ought to flow. It was flowing in the middle of nowhere for crying out loud.
So I read over the instructions for clue 6. I knit and reknit, in case I made errors along the way. Nope that part looked good, but the pattern didn't fit. I hemmed and I hawed, I struggled and knit again. Just as I was ready to give up for the afternoon, I recalled that chilly feeling, and how different the other shawl looked. I went back to read clue 5 again. Found it. Two small words.
I thought I'd be ready and waiting. I really wanted to be all caught up after starting so late in the game. I wasn't. There is a comfort in that in a way. I have maintained a perfect record of being behind for each and every clue.
But I have you now. Clue #5s two repeats are complete and I really am ready for #6. River Valley Shawl, you are not going to escape me just yet.
Do take a look at the pictures in both the proto type and the final version of the River Valley Shawl. It is such a lovely thing. Its delicate, light and airy and has been absolute pleasure to knit. It was a marvelous mystery experience, knitting the shawl and walking through our lovely river valley, just following along without knowing what was around the next bend.
ThatLoganChick is going to have The River Valley shawl up for sale on Ravelry soon.
That really isn't any way to feel at the beginning of the day. Heck it isn't any way to feel in any part of the day, so I am resetting myself and I will start cheerful.
I'm going to go make a good cup of coffee, with some fresh ground Ethiopian coffee beans and I will sip that while I contemplate happy things, look through some books I have borrowed (including some of those really nifty Japanese stitch dictionaries borrowed from a co-worker) and just putter this morning away. Then I will go to town and have a superior coffee with some knitting buddies, get groceries and run errands, then home where I might just make myself another cup of coffee.
I'm going to need all this caffeine so I' be properly awake at 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 o'clock, when the watch wakes me with its miserable hourly alarm, so I can take it from the bedside table, go outside, and throw it as far as I can.
Like I said. Think cheerful thoughts. Its a way better way to start the day.
Monday, 17 August 2009
It was a weekend for knowing that yes, the Maine morning mittens were going to be needed soon, and the planned for neck warmer would be put to use in very short order. I wore this for quite a while while on Sunday. But that was all the WIP pile knitting I did.
I picked up a stitch treasury and some yarn and just played. I tried a few patterns and nothing struck my fancy till I came to the little cloverleaf rib pattern. Wee lozenges between columns of ribs. Just right for a nice scarf.
The yarn is Patons Bamboo Silk in a really deep teal. All the smooth softness but none of the frailty of pure bamboo. This is boosted by 30%silk and it knits like it too. I like this yarn. A lot. So much so that I'll be looking for more and if there is a nice strong red out there, or a deep green or any number of jewel tones, they have my name on it. But not cheap. Its going remain a yarn for smaller projects, and sweet little things.
You'd think one new project was enough when I'm trying to finish things up. Not at all. The store has Cascade 220 superwash in, and I needed to try it. Its easier to recommend a yarn if you know how it performs. For a dollar more than the regular very good price of Cascade 220, you get the benefit of superwash. The yarn is the same solid performing good basic yarn that Cascade 220 is. End result, a new hat, suited to the time of year and where I was knitting.
I knit the hat while we sat outside on Saturday evening, hoping to catch the last good weather of the year. We listened to the squirrels tossing pine cones out of the trees. Sometimes you're sure that they fling them diva like, so great is the noise as they fall. Listening to the squirrels is almost as interesting as watching cranes fly over in spring, but it is a harbinger of something very different.
We are firmly in the waning of August now, and no matter how much we don't want to talk about it, its happening anyway. The shade was damp and cool. The deck heater was on. It's the time of year where after 4:00 the sun is settling low in orbit, and it sits, old ladylike, comfortably low, below the trees to the west.
The urge to finish things isn't gone, evidence to the contrary. It was more a matter of just needing something mindless and deep indecision. I dug through the basket several times and nothing struck my fancy. Its probably going to be the baby sweater, but there is a nice scarf ongoing in there too. And socks. Always socks.
Friday, 14 August 2009
I wish there would have been just a little more dark green along the bottom edge to anchor it visually, but having put myself into the hands of Mr. Noro, and with metres running short for the edging, I knew it was not to be.
When that was finished, I picked up the mystery shawl. I am right where I planned to be, waiting for a clue, the final clue. It is the very first clue I'm waiting for and it is good to feel ahead of the game for a change.
The lovely Shoalwater Shawl is waiting to be blocked. It is the blocking queue as it were, and that will be on the boards as soon as the green shawl is dry.
In the mean time, I'm going to get at the baby sweater again, and hope to get that moved along and close to finished before Monday rears it head. Or maybe the vest for Mr. Needles. Or maybe a pair of socks. And somewhere I have a pair of Maine Morning mittens that I'll be needing soon enough. The WIP project basket is deep and I'm still feeling the strong urge to settle in for winter and finish things up. Best take advantage of that while I can.
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Only it is taking an inordinate amount of knitting time to get there. The knitting will finish when this piece of knitting wants to be finished. Or something like that. But it will happen today. I told it so. One way or another.
Threatening the knitting. A new low.
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
Mr. Needles and I are thrilled to show you our bounty.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
The long early morning light is gone. No more dawn creeping in at the edges of 4 o'clock. No more coffee in the sun at 6:00 a.m. in the dining room. At 5:30 a.m., there is just the barest breaking of night. Too soon the long days are done, and it even if it does not feel like autumn, in your heart you know it.
Unrelenting heat is for July to love, not August. No matter how hot the days get now, the longer dark means that each night the house cools. You search for sun to sit in while you cook supper on the grill and you even contemplate turning the deck heater on, but you don't. It is only August after all.
August sends signs that no matter what, Canada is a country of sweater weather. Its hard to get through a twenty-four hour period without wishing you had a cap, or if its is handy, flipping up your hood. It might be just for a moment but the impulse is there and as often as not, the impulse is followed by action, even if you don't really need it. No sense getting chilled.
Knitters everywhere are shifting to warm and cozy knitting. Mittens are on knitters minds and gloves, scarves, and winter hats aren't too far behind. Socks are no longer wanted, they are needed. Vests call out, 'make me now, don't hesitate'. It's the time for serious knitting, staying warm knitting, heavy thick wool knitting.
The instinct is tied to the season, an ancient need to prepare for the long cold that is coming. It is a need as old as humanity itself. The urge to finish, the rush to pack away, to stock up is in the air.
Finish, finish, move , rush, not enough hours.
Monday, 10 August 2009
We visited the homestead museum and studio of Berthold Imhoff, a painter of some note whose paintings still hang in churches, museums and homes the the mid Atlantic states and western Canada. Saskatchewan might be a place with no mountains, with no general magnificence. It might be a rather ordinary place but as ever Saskatchewan's principle secrets are the talents of its people. Contrary to the CBC interview from 1991, the studio has been restored, and is open to the public every summer, as well as a couple of original rooms from the house which is still the family home. A very interesting place. Well worth the stop off the beaten path, and lauds to Berthold Imhoff, an extremely talented painter, and his family for keeping the legacy and holding it dear.
I took along very simple knitting I already had on the needles. I pulled out three projects that would not need a pattern, so I could just sit and knit and chat and visit while knitting. In the end, I only worked on one project, the long neglected Simple yet Effective Shawl number two. This one is going to be larger, made with 2 balls of Noro Kureyon sock yarn instead of the usual one ball. Wonderful forest floor sort of colours. It suited the atmosphere of camping, and it suited the stand of trees we camped in. I've got both balls knit down to thin reminder of what they start as, and now that I am close to finishing this one, I think I'm going to carry this along with me for a while and get it done.
Friday, 7 August 2009
And I did. Complete something, that is. I completed the little green scarf. And I can tell you that there will be more mohair in my future.
I love this wee workshop pattern for its delicate band of sparkle as it hangs so gently round my neck. And I am thrilled to say, Holli has the pattern available for sale (though it isn't up on her website yet. If you are interested, send her an email or contact her on Ravelry) The ends are just a little decorative flash to whatever very staid and conservative outfit you might wear. My kind of knitting. I'm really pleased and I can see all kind of possiblilities for different bands of beads, and different colours of yarn. It would look marvelous in a laceweight anything, including the very very fine Skacel merino lace.
The rest of the day was spent working on the Edmonton Knitters KAL Mystery shawl. It's looking marvelous in its cherry red-black goodness. I'm on to clue 5. I am current. This is good. Clue 5 is only 2 repeats, and is going to go quickly. I can feel it. Clue 6 arrives next weekend IIRC, so I have plenty of time to be completely ready for the final clue when it comes.
The proposal is submitted, and I'm ready to knit class sample 2 of which there will be at least 1 more, and maybe two, just to get the kinks out of the classroom samples, and to see if I can knit what I expect others to knit. I am in really good shape when it comes to knitting that must be done.
With the weekend coming, it being a not working weekend, I'll have plenty of time to knit, and not knit, and play and oh so many things. I'm really honestly truly in the mood for finishing. There is the little fair isle baby sweater to finish, and socks of all kinds and then its is back to the long resting projects. And I am looking forward to those.
Soon it will be time to say goodbye to the summer of shawls. Its time to get back to Mr. Needles colourwork vest so it can be finished before the cool weather sets in. (I know, its only mid summer and here I am thinking about fall). In the vests time of rest, so many good things have happened. Under the influence of Meg Swansens marvelous book, I might change some of the colourwork, but I can move ahead with a lot more ease and clarity. With the class proposal under my belt, I know how I am going to finish the shoulders, and I am confident in my approach.
My fingers are ready and waiting, and I can't wait to be working with that solid and sound wool again.
Thursday, 6 August 2009
To procrastinate long enough, you really have to be creative with your excuses. You have to want to avoid something bad to find reasons that are perfectly logical. You have to get others to agree that they are perfectly logical reasons too.
Knitters have a built in procrastination response. Thankfully. When it is particularly bad, there is no end to the projects we start in order to ease our unrest. Need to clean through the closet? Start a scarf. Need to get down and clean out the deep freeze? Start a sweater. Whatever task is at hand, we have a ready counter knitting project with which to avoid.
I like to look at my stash when I'm trying to avoid things. I just tidied my stash, so I feel pretty comfortable showing it to you. No this isn't all of it. Nor is this. There are a couple bins of it, cottons, and a nice tidy box of Baby Ull for those emergency baby things that pop up, tucked behind my chair. Oh, and goodness I was forgetting the lace. I have a couple or three small storage boxes on shelf, pretty boxes filled with my laces. I was too lazy to move the chair or I would have showed you that too.
My stash is at my own personal level of comfort. (Those who know me know, know of my little legume problem of 2001, which we are still eating up - pea soup anyone?) I am proud of my stash. There is almost no knitting emergency I can't cover, and almost no knitting I wish to do that I don't already have a yarn waiting for it. I am knee deep in yarn, and I like it.
So why am I going on about procrastination and showing off my stash? It is a rather strange thing to be talking about. To procrastinate, of course.
I write to procrastinate too. I really ought to be editing and getting my final proposal off for the class I hope to teach in the fall. I ran rough outline past my boss yesterday and she seemed to feel I was going in the right direction. Today, I'll tidy it up and send it in formally. I'm just a little nervous. I know I have a long way to go, and a lot of knitting to do should the proposal be accepted, but I am just tickled pink to be doing this. What a thrill to get the chance.
I'll stop worrying about what else I have to do, stop trying to avoid the finality of getting there, stop worrying about am I ready enough, and will just click that little submit button.
Sometimes you just have to hold your breath, pinch your nose and just dive in. Here is hoping there is water at the bottom. Or yarn.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
I'm working on the green scarf, and samples. And am busy trying to figure out how one day I can do a new cast on well enough and the next, I am all thumbs and every time I try, it looks bad.
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
It means I have to knit up some perfectly delightful samples, samples that could be looked at by students and touched and felt from the inside out. They must be practically perfectly proper knitting, no short cuts, no oops, no well that isn't going to show.
Which is where the real problem comes in. I don't know if my knitting is up to it. There are things that I would accept on the inside of my knitting, where no one else will look, that other people will laugh at or find exceedingly odd. I don't worry a lot if my socks are perfectly matched. If an increase along the heel is missing, I take care of it on the next row. Its a sock and no one will see.
My knitting has a distinct style. I'm a loosely goosey knitter. There are some things I won't put up with and that will always be corrected.
There are places for perfection, don't get me wrong. There just isn't a lot of room to hide things in lace when the shape of the negative space is so important a feature. I wouldn't tolerate a bad error in a colourwork project, unless I could correct it later with a little duplicate stitch embroidery, but on the whole, some things can be fudged. I have a theory, going back far into my past and finely tuned in my embroideries, that it isn't so much doing it perfectly that counts, it is doing it and knowing which mistakes can be hidden, and which ones can't that makes the difference.
Unless people are going to see it from the wrong side. Then magically, I'd better be prepared to have some seriously fine knitters out there look at it and decide me and my attempt at taking their knitting in a new direction, are worth their time. A person ought to be able to look at the sample and see only the thing I am trying to show in the sample.
So I'm trying to be a good knitter and I am trying to colour inside the lines today, no fudging, no excuses, no handy platitudes. Its an exercise in patience. Its an exercise in seeing the mistakes rather than glossing over. Its an exercise in finding fault and seeing fault as way to learn about doing better. Its an exercise in seeing error as a friend and a teacher.
Writing through it this morning has changed my mind. I'm not looking at the day of samples with trepidation, I'm looking forward to it. If I look at it as a lesson in taking a negative and turning it into a positive, it becomes an adventure not just about knitting but life.
Monday, 3 August 2009
Because this one was so delicate, the jelly coloured Kid Silk Haze with its gold, copper and graphite beads, it stayed on the top of the pile in a wee little box, needles peeking out, and a delicate froth of green foaming up and over the sides.
The sweet little scarf asked nicely to be knit every single day. Then it sat quietly, very lady like and waited. This morning when it said knit me please, I did.
There is something very special about knitting with something so dainty as Kid Silk Haze. When you pick up needles and work with it, you can't help but see visions of fine china and softly coloured chintz and tea in the afternoons surrounded by lilacs and apple blossoms.
I really ought to be sitting here knitting in something a lot dressier than my bathrobe.