Monday, October 30, 2017

Do-over

It is always well to know when it's time to pull the plug on a project.  I had the Bulb pullover/tunic/dress thing a little more than one sleeve from finished, then I spread it out to measure it and had a good look:
I am really inspired by all the Find Your Fades and So Fadeds and whatever other fade-type things are happening out there, and I think they're really good, a great way to make use of these very tempting multi-colored yarns that look so pretty in the skein, but maybe a little too much most everywhere else.  They are so beautiful, and so complex, and so evocative.  Their colorway names completely slay me.  They just jump into my shopping basket.  I feel powerless over them.  So I have fair stash of speckly, handpainted, arty-looking yarn, but honestly, a whole big sweater/dress/tunic made of that just isn't something I am going to wear.  I was blinded by beautiful yarn.  So I put Tom Petty on Spotify and pulled out the needle, and then I just unraveled the whole entire thing, and it felt great.  There's always a little bit of awful, when the realization hits that a total unravel is the only route to happiness; that's a sinking feeling I don't enjoy.  But there's nothing else for it, guys, and once the ripping is underway, it stops hurting. There's no reason to keep knitting this (and the knitting of it was so much fun, you can see how much, because I got all this way, almost to the end of a dress in fingering weight yarn, before I realized it wasn't working) when the fate of it is to end up in the pile for Goodwill.  And it does feel good later, when you've got a fresh pile of yarn, waiting to become something new.  
Pretty yarn!  I like this.  For me, the only real way to wear multis or speckles or handpainted things is in accessories.  My feet, my hands, my neck.  So, a big wrap, another of the stunning and statement-y designs by Beata Jezek, went onto my needles:  this one is Shockwaves.  
My dad used to tell me, "Know when to say when."  It took longer than usual, but I did finally know when, and now this yarn can be what it really wants to be, and I can make a different Bulb (oh, just look at this gorgeous one!) in the right yarn.  [Editor's note:  all this is well and good, so what's up with that Granito, still sitting there halfway done, in the wrongitty-wrongest yarn ever?  Hmmm?]. Okay, something in me is still hoping that one can work.  [It won't].  There will be a Granito someday, in some yarn or another.  Stay tuned.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rhinebeck

All this talk about Rhinebeck.  What a good day.  What a lovely, wonderful day I had there.  It was eighty degrees, and there were very few sweaters to see, which disappointed me a little, because I was hoping to use the sweaters as a way to start conversations with people, and there wasn't much of that in the end anyway, because as it turns out, I really didn't even notice people until they talked to me first.  I was focused like a laser beam on all the beautiful things and apparently I hardly looked up at all.  I did not see a single Famous Knitter--not a single one.  And I know they were there, I've seen a million pictures!  Well.  Anyway, if you were there and I missed seeing you because I was facedown in the Cormo, I am so sorry.  And if you weren't there, and you wish you could've been, I'm so sorry about that, too.  I think too much talk about Rhinebeck amongst the yarny people can get to be a little irritating for those who can't go, or who don't care to go.  I did have a terrific day, full of friends and doughnuts and beautiful things.  That is my haul, up there.  
Doc, my true love and constant companion, got up with me at 4:00 am, drove us, through the fog, across the state to the fairgrounds, and once there carried the water and snacks on his back, stood patiently while I felt up all the fleeces, carried the first load of yarn back to the car and then came back for more, waited in the long lines for apple cider doughnuts and falafel so I wouldn't have to, bought me an iced coffee, posed for selfies with me.  He never once raised an eyebrow about any of it.  And he wore a kilt:
I know!  He always gets so many wonderful comments and questions, and is so happy to talk to people about it.  Men always want to know why he wears the kilt; what kind of kilt it is, where the sporran came from [he made it himself, yowza!] and women always tell him how handsome he looks, and to tell me how lucky I am.  [I do feel lucky!]. Everyone wants to know what's on underneath it [answer: tradition and etiquette requires that to be a mystery] and to tell him about their recent trips to Scotland, which we love to hear about.  Guys, wear a kilt.  It's the very best.  
 
 
There is so much to see there.  The beautiful wool, in all its forms, is abundant.  The lambs are smiling.  The people all around are kindred souls.  A couple of our tribe spotted me and said hello:
I really loved meeting them in person.  See you again next year!  
Our hotel for the night was beautiful and spooky.  We had the third floor attic (still undergoing renovations)--with four mostly-empty rooms, including a bedroom, two sitting rooms and a workspace, a brick and iron furnace, black-specked gilt mirrors and transoms and wood-paneled everything, and oil paintings and glossy Victorian furniture and an actual suit of armor and creaky closet doors and other doors marked DO NOT OPEN!--all to ourselves.  It was delicious.  I slept with one eye open.  And that view, the next morning, from the one of the windows in the second of our four turrets.  I can hardly wait until next year.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Woollen

At the moment, there is this.  It is so pretty I can't stop looking at it.  I was just about to say that this yarn is nothing like me, what is this speckle stuff?  Purple???  but I had four skeins of it in the stash, so apparently this yarn is exactly like me.  I fell for it like I always do, just picking up a beautiful skein here and there, with no solid plan in mind, maybe with vague, long-range notions of making a Find Your Fade (all the finished projects, you guys.  I am under the spell.). But I guess I just couldn't wait any longer to see what it would do when I knit with it, and now I see, and hoo!  It is good.  The pattern I'm working with is Bulb by Veera Valimaki.  I love that loose, comfy, tunic shape with the floppy neck.  I couldn't even get close to gauge, no matter what needle or which size I chose, so Doc reworked all the math for me (oh, the blessings of having a Doc around the house! There's really nothing he isn't good at) and have been using Andrea's fade strategy to blend the different skeins where they meet each other.  I don't know what I'm going to end up with, but working on this has been so lovely already, it is almost beside the point.  Right now it is just a lap full of happy rainbows.  
Here's something more familiar:  this is Shadow by Olga Buraya Kefelian, in the very soft and natural "Fleece" by West Yorkshire Spinners.  Neutral.  Whew.  This is one I really want to wear; wooly, heathery goodness.  Those smooshy cables.  I've said this many times before, but there really is room for both color and gray in my knitting life, and possibly in my wardrobe as well.  As I age and my hair turns more and more white, I am more and more inclined to wear only black every day forever, and honestly, the only thing that holds me back is how boring that would be for my knitting.  Well, my hair isn't all the way white yet.  
I am still carding the Super Pale Grey Border Leicester/Finn fleece from September's fiber festival.  There is only one small handful left to do, and then I will start spinning it.  Oh my goodness, I can hardly wait.  I am still such a total amateur at all of this, and these little mini batts/rolags/fauxlags I'm making on two old dog brushes are pretty full of imperfections; stray pieces of hay and uncombed blobs that will sneak past me and make their way intact into the yarn, and it will surely be far less than perfect, but I am not concerning myself with that right now.  If I want perfect yarn, I can go buy it.  This process--the sorting, the washing, the carding, the general handling and sniffing and cuddling of all this fleece; it has been so lovely.  I am intimately acquainted with it now.  We know each other.  It is soft and clean and light as air.  I am so looking forward to the next part of this project, and the next, and the next.  
Some parts of it are perfect little crinkly locks, some parts of it are longer and fluffier, like a Santa Claus beard.  Some of it is pure white, and some is caramel, and some is dove gray, and some is warm and buttery yellow.  I can't wait to see what kind of yarn it becomes.  
On Sunday, Doc and I will be at Rhinebeck, and part of what I think will be fun about this festival is seeing all the other makers in their most beautiful handmades, and meeting other like-minded souls.  I can't wait to see your sweater/shawl/cowl/mittens/hat and I want to hear all about them.  I will be wearing this cardigan.  There has been much talk out there about how warm it will be over the weekend, but believe me when I tell you that at 72 degrees F, I will still be able to wear a sweater.  I am almost never, ever, EVER too warm.  Doc, however, does not share my reptilian blood and has decided to forego his sweater this year, and I don't blame him a bit. [Also, whew!  It will give me a chance to properly fix that mess.] He will wear a kilt, and his Toirneach hose, though, and will be looking fierece, as always.  If you are there on Sunday and you spot us, please come over and say hello?  Look for a mustached warrior in a kilt and a girl with glasses and Wensleydale hair who probably has kettle corn stuck to her face.  I'd really, really like to meet you.  

Friday, October 13, 2017

Beauty

This project is miles and miles of plain stockinette stitch, round and round forever, and I keep working on it in the dark, or while reading or while watching a four-hour documentary about George Harrison on Netflix, and forgetting to look down at it, which is a complete shame, because this yarn (Primrose, Adelaide) is really awfully amazingly beautiful.  I can't imagine what it will be like when it's finished, and I do hope it will be something I can wear (am encouraged by the surprise success of this) but I am kind of obsessed and compelled by this gorgeous yarn.  Every stitch is a new color.  Love.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

All the colors cowl

I might never understand the weather this year.  It's like this where you are, too, probably.  Weirdly hot, raining in sheets one minute, and the sun banging down the next.  Then I have to shut all the windows because it is 40 degrees.  I don't know what's happening.  Well, I'm still preparing for the cold, no matter when it finally happens, and guys, it will.  I live in a cold climate, and winter has never failed to happen up here, so, a cowl.  Double-long, and double thick, too, and stranded as well, so this is going to be pretty impervious to weather, and eventually, it will be just what I need around here.  
To make this, I delved into my (never-ending) worsted weight scraps (I think they are probably mostly Cascade 220 and Ella Rae Classic Worsted, with the usual soupcon of Paton's Lemongrass, because, obviously) and just drew a simple little chart, and then I worked on it forever.  Like maybe a year?  I don't even know when I started it.  This is worked on 72 stitches, and I used a US 7 16" circular needle.  I cast on provisionally, knit it in the round until it felt long enough, then grafted the two ends together for a seamless finish.  I like it wrapped double like this, because it will keep my weird giraffe neck safely tucked away from the elements, which is one of my great quests in this life.  How to keep the wind off of me.  This cowl is whopping and flashy and All The Colors, and it was so much fun to make.  You sit down with your basket of scraps, and make one mini decision--which two colors feel awesome to me right now?--and you only need the barest scraps of each to make one color band--and you buckle down for five rounds of two-handed knitting with an easy peasy repeat.  Then there are two plain rounds per band, for when you are tired of concentrating.  Make another mini decision, and off you go again.  Perfect little nibbles of challenge.  
You can do this, too; just pick a stitch pattern (or invent one, or reverse-engineer mine from the photographs if you want) and get out your scraps!  It'll keep you busy for awhile, but I thought it was great fun.  That might be my Rhinebeck outfit, right there, a t-shirt and this cowl.  Because it's hot and cold at the same time right now, and I don't even know what to wear.  

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Things

 
Last night Doc and I dragged ourselves off the couch and went for a walk with the catdog after dinner, and it was dark and windy and warm, and nobody else was around.  Walking with Catdog means we stop every two steps to sniff individual blades of grass and single leaves, and to investigate pinecones, which look very suspicious to her in the dark.  I talk to her constantly, and make little smooching noises, trying to get her moving again.  She'd like to just stand there and sniff for the rest of all our lives.  We just sauntered, and admired people's porches and the good kitchen smells coming from their open windows, and the air felt so, so good.  I wore my new hat (the Thinking Cap by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, in Shibui Cima, "pollen"--knit on a US 0, in case you love knitting or punishment) to keep the wind from lashing my hair into my mouth.  We came home and the kitchen was lit up and cozy, and Catdog settled down on her fuzzy rug beside the fire, and four seconds later, the sky cracked open and it poured rain for an hour.  We kept looking at each other and laughing.  Getting caught in that would have put a swift end to the sauntering.  Another thing:  last weekend we went to a fundraiser dinner, and we won most of the raffle prizes.  I once won a whole bunch of baked goods in a boy scout bake sale event when I was little, and this felt like that, like so lucky.  These prizes were pretty good, too.  Among the things I won were handmade beeswax candles, a Harry Potter-themed knitting notions pouch, and jars of honey that won a blue ribbon at the New York State Fair--ribbon included.  Best, though, is that simple but life-changing book holder.  Guys.  How did I not know there was such a thing out there to be had?  I don't have to choose an old book with a floppy spine that will stay open by itself?  I don't have to prop it up with pillows?  I have so many plain-stockinette sweater projects lined up and ready to go, and this little wire thingy means I will get some reading done this winter, while I do that.  Seriously, life-changing.  Speaking of plain stockinette sweater projects, I have been knitting like a maniac on my Pumpkin Spice/Autumn Leaves/Butternut Squash-colored project using my Mohonk from Jill Draper Makes Stuff.  This yarn is so luxe.  Baby pajamas soft, seriously.  Velvety soft.  In other, less successful yarn news, I had a moment of wild inspiration a few days ago, and thought to use turmeric to overdye some gray and oatmeal stash yarn leftovers and ends, hoping for muted gold.  Turmeric is very yellow, and it was right there in the cupboard, so why not?  My findings are these:  a) YES!  That's the color I want!  Hooray!  And b) turmeric is fugitive.  I hung the beautiful antiquey brass and mustardy and polleny skeins to dry on the porch, and within an hour, the side toward the sun had faded.  That was kind of disappointing, because the results had been just what I was looking for.  Alas.  When I get a moment, I'm going to try yellow food coloring, and see what that looks like.  Might as well try, why not?  Maybe it'll be perfect?  Another thing:  last week was freaky warm, so we sat on the beach and I hand-sewed another Alabama Chanin skirt, this time using two men's XL t-shirts and lined with cashmere sweaters from the thrift store.  I am in constant search of more comfort, and this is it, totally.  Cashmere.  From the thrift store.  How does so much cashmere end up in the thrift store?  Do people think they have to dry-clean it?  I have a whole drawer full of thrifted cashmere sweaters that are in my wardrobe rotation, and another whole bin of them for projects.  The stenciling on this skirt was kind of a disaster, but the finished result is great, which proves the theory that Alabama Chanin will look good no matter what happens.  I am so sold.  What else.  I made a linen dress, which despite my choosing the correct size, was enormous.  I wore it around the house a few times, but it bummed me out, so I decided to learn something from it and got out the scissors.  I slashed it down the front and back, taking out, I'm not kidding, fifteen inches of fabric at the hem, and then sewed it all back together again.  I think I could have lived with taking out thirteen inches, but it is now wearable, and I love it.  I will slash the pattern now, and the next dress I make should be perfect.  Life is for learning, no?  You can find out more about pattern slashing and alterations here.  This has been a goal of mine for a long time, and I'm finally getting around to figuring it out.  What a week.  Love one another, be brave, help if you can, and listen to some Tom Petty.  That's what I've been doing.  You'll cry, but it'll be a good cry.