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An Afternoon with Tony

Sunday I set aside for friendship. I was to have breakfast with Altu and then lunch and afternoon knitting with Tony. It turned out Altu had to reschedule for later this week, but I had a wonderful time with Tony (and got to sleep in, which I thoroughly enjoyed after two short nights).

Tony popped by in the early afternoon. He’s doing swatches to see if he can make a garter-stitch hemp sweater based on the baby sweater in Weekend Knitting. We surfed a little to see what kinds of yarn/twine he might use if he dives in. I am not much on plant fibers so I had never knit with hemp. He showed me two swatches, one before and one after submerging in water. It is sort of amazing how much that stuff puffs up. I guess it gets really soft but maintains its strength, after several washings. OK, so it’s brown (I know it comes in colors but that wasn’t what Tony had) and it’s not fuzzy soft like wool, mohair or alpaca. I just can’t love it, but I can see the attraction. I don’t like blue jeans, either. What can I do? I’m just who I am…

I showed Tony a bit about the USM (Ultimate Sweater Machine) knitting machine that I have on loan from the JoAnns where I teach. I did a little mini-demo and then set him loose on the thing with some acrylic worsted weight yarn. Neither of us really likes acrylic but hey, if you use up half a skein practicing on something you will never use, there is no heartbreak losing the yarn as there is with stash yarns.

While he was learning all the possible “hiccups” there might be with a knitting machine, I made us pumpkin soup. We took a break for lunch and ate the soup plus some Irish soda bread he made for us in his bread machine. He likes to experiment with lots of types of bread. It was a bit of a challenge for him to change his soda bread recipe to not have buttermilk (which I can’t have) and a few other things, so the bread was very dense but it was quite satisfying. (Link above is to my mother’s soda bread recipe.) Toast, tea, and soup, with a friend. How ideal is that?

After lunch we went back to the machine. I started a new beret with some very dark purple woolpak yarn from New Zeeland (I got it at Yarn for Ewe over a year ago). It is about a DK or light worsted weight, and I think it will shrink up perfectly.

I would have done better with a lighter color of yarn, so we could see the stitches better as I was explaining. However, I wanted that to be my next hat and figured I would “kill two birds with one stone” that way. So I showed Tony how to follow a machine knitting pattern with short rows, using the hat pattern.

After he left I finished knitting the hat and kitchener stitched the two long ends together so it looked hatlike. I added a small I-cord at the top of the hat. Now I just have to sew a small hem for the hat band and put some cotton yarn in that hem so that I can snug it up to the exact size of my head before fulling/shrinking it. Therefore, I have two more things to make it right: sew hem, shrink. Should be possible by tomorrow night. It is so dark (almost black) it may not photograph well at all, we will see.

Saturday I played with knitting a new yarn, making a small item as a sort of swatch. It is a sort of secret (I’m already preparing for holidays and my family and friends read this blog) but I liked the yarn and didn’t like what I made out of it. I think a few adjustments will make it good, though. A good yarn goes a long way in making a project succeed. I need to just tweak a small detail and I think this will be lovely. Maybe that will be tomorrow’s project.

Picture today is the Mt. Hope Cemetery at Aurelius. I pass this cemetery on the way home from Foster Center sometimes. It is bicycling distance from our house, perhaps 2 miles. It’s an old fashioned, lovely cemetery with a few hills in our mostly-flat city. I thought the colors were quite nice. I Hope you like it.

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