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Archive for February 8th, 2006

Grumpy (and a hopeful poem)

Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

hatNo, the title isn’t about a dwarf in a Disney animated film. It’s the mood I’m fighting today.

I don’t like to bring my moods to this blog, so I’ll just humor you with a photo of the hat I knit for Brian. It’s really thick, and really soft, and really warm. Better than the first hat I knit for him this year, by a long shot. And it only took a few days to knit, at the same time I finished the Guitar Herringbone Hat for Heritage.

I think the yarn is called Blizzard, but I can’t find the ball band right now. I used all but about 9 inches of the ball. It is a very fat single-ply 70% alpaca/30% acrylic yarn. Charcoal gray/pewter. Really pretty, really soft.

The yarn did split a bit. I think that was because it was barely spun, almost like pencil roving and I was knitting it on much smaller needles than the ball band specified (size 15 was specified, I think, and I knit the top/crown on size 7 US needles and the sides on size 10 US). I loved the feel of this yarn through my fingers, though I would have enjoyed the knitting more if I had owned DPNs (Double-Pointed Needles) in size 10. Instead I used my Denise circular needle set, which I like a lot but not as much as I like double points.

Brian liked the hat. It was pretty cold today with a lot of wind, and he said it did a decent job for him while he walked to/from lunch. Yay! Of course, it could be even warmer if it were lined, but he said it worked fine.

Oh, other good news (always try to focus on the good stuff when in a bad mood, you know)… my coworker Emily gave birth to her first child this week. When the world gets overwhelming, I remember that people believe in the future enough to have children. And I look at some of the kids I work with and see how optimistic they are about life. One girl loves to hug me (in front of her mom, everyone’s OK about this) because she is SO happy to be in my knitting class. How good is that? Raw energy, enthusiasm, is still here in the world even if I don’t feel it inside me every moment.

Optimistic Poem
The other day, there was a “silent poetry reading” among bloggers. I was very busy with hands-on work that kept me from my computer and didn’t realize it had happened until it was too late to join the official one. I’ve posted poetry here before, though… so I’ll just now go look for a hopeful/optimistic poem and put it right here.

… OK, I’m back.

I used to go to poetry readings at Hobie’s restaurant in East Lansing when I was newly divorced in the early-mid-1990’s. One of the poets there shared this poem of his with me, and gave me permission to put it on the web, originally on my now-old (for a web page) LDTH Poetry Collection.

The poem reminds me of my own transformation, and I think it did the same for the poet… therefore he felt inspired to share it with me.

A Woman Alive Again

© by Don Hargraves
–for Sharon

You’ve seen the woman around —
Forty-five years old chronologically
but the face has the glow of a seventeen year old
looking forward to taking on the world

You watch her smile and you wonder
whether the grey hairs on her head are real
or painted that way to frighten off those
who only chase after alabaster skinned nubiles…

No longer does she wear the dayglo sweaters
which you couldn’t miss a few months ago;
now she wears tops loose-fitting enough
to show a hint of the swells of her breasts…

She takes her place on the dance floor
ready to dance with whomever she chooses
and there are men on the side, waiting
for their three minutes to bask in her warmth…

A year ago, I had seen her living her life
in a binary whirl of text, hiding from a world
she was unable to take joy from; not even
from those activities she had loved…

But now, having worked her way
out of the shadows and into the living night,
her body is now animated and enthusiastic
taking again what she once let go…

and I’m amazed…


Wednesday, February 8th, 2006

I did it. I sent in my registration to Knitting Olympics with just a few hours left before they closed the list. Whew!

I still don’t know what I’ll knit. I considered the Sally Melville Not Your Mother’s Coat, but it’s not portable and I’m traveling during part of the Olympics. I considered the shadow knit shawl but though the yarn is light, it’s tiny yarn in little stitches and in garter stitch. Way more stitches than I think I can complete, even if the pattern is easy.

EthiopiaI would love to have chosen to just finish my Lucy Neatby Equilateral Vest. However, the olympic rules stress a new project. I do have yarn purchased for a good number of projects, patterns and yarn ready to go, so why not try to find the right one and follow the rules?

Right now it looks like I’ll do the Cross-over top (short top/vest) from Sally Melville Purl Stitch, page 81. There are two versions of this one, the first is in wool and fulled/shrunk, worn as a vest. The other is a summer top in Cotton Twist. Of course, mine is hot pinkish cherry, same yarn but brighter. The one in the book is sort of a 1920s blue-gray with a bit of green in it… bluer than sage, sort of the color of a blue spruce tree. Pretty, but it would not flatter me.

The yarn is some I got at Yarn for Ewe with a gift certificate maybe 2 years ago, specifically to knit this top. I took the yarn to Africa with me, and I did swatch when I was there, but then I lost my measuring tape and realized that knitting socks allowed me to knit without referring to a heavy book. So much for that project!

EthiopiaRight now I’m trying to figure out something, though. In the Purl Stitch book on page 81, they show the summer version. I fell in LOVE with this, and one of the things I liked about it was the line of increases where the fold line of a lapel might be if the front flap opened up. This created two different “grains” so to speak, and the light reflects off the fabric so well that way.

I sat down tonight and read the pattern to see if this might be a good project for me. The increases are right at the edge, not in the lapel area. So one of my favorite features of what I thought I’d be knitting, is not in the pattern.

They should have knit a second sample before the photo shoot, in my opinion, because it really changes the look of the garment. I know they have deadlines but they also have a nice budget for samples and the photo looks really different than the instructions.

It looks much flatter without the grain/increase interest (compare to page 79, which is in wool but you can see the grain in the photo). I figure someone out there reading this will know how I can move my increases to the right place and have it look great. Right??? If not I move to the Annie Modesitt corset, or I just go back to the Equilateral Vest finishing idea.

Why is a smallish vest my challenge? This project is a challenge in two areas. I do not like purling more than about 4 stitches in a row. I learned to purl a full 20 years after I learned to knit, and although I’m more comfy with it lately (I just finished a K1P1 hat for Brian, and this summer I made a K2P2 tank top happily) I would rather rib than make stockinette fabric flat.

EthiopiaI’m thinking I may practice my “combination knitting” for this project. This is how Annie Modesitt knits… wrap purls clockwise and knit counter-clockwise but in “the back loop.” She says that this often creates a closer tension between purl rows and knit rows. My purls are usually looser than my knits, so it may be worth doing here. Combination knitting doesn’t work very well with knitting in the round, and since I do socks and hats and wristwarmers so much, there’s little opportunity for me to use this method, but I like the idea.

The other reason it’s a challenge? I almost never use someone else’s patterns. I make things up as I go. Then I use the garment I knit as a chart/sample and I figure out what I did (counting stitches and rows most of the time), write it down, work out other sizes, have it tested and voila! New Pattern! Sounds easy but it takes a long time.

I don’t do well writing things down as I knit, it takes all the joy out of the knitting. The only pattern I remember doing that for is the Fast Florida Footies, because I knew they would be a gift the next day and I wouldn’t have the footies to use as a chart later. I do often place markers at key places so I will be able to count rows/stitches more easily when the item is finished. That’s as “plan ahead” as my creating gets.

I don’t find following patterns difficult. What I find hard is being tied to a book. I do so much of my knitting out of the house… waiting in line, for dinner at a restaurant, at the allergist, post office, pharmacy… carrying a book around and having to open it, look up the next row, etc., well, that does not work for how I knit. I try to not fall in love with other folks’ patterns. Clearly this does not work, given the list of choices I had for the Olympics. The only one I didn’t have all the yarn for, purchased already, was the not-mom suit coat.

If anyone knows how to translate the increases on this top to match the photo on page 81, I’d love some input. I’m not sure I’d like the top, the way the pattern is written. Too bland. Maybe the fabric would save it, but I’d hate to do all that purling and find out I don’t like how it looks!!!

For the record, I just bound off Brian’s bulky alpaca-blend hat. It looks really good on him, and it promises to be warm enough for him to wear on his long walks at lunch during this cold weather. I’ll get pictures once it’s dry from blocking.

No knit photos today so you get Ethiopia. Early in December 2004, we drove to a crater lake in the Rift Valley, driving distance from Addis Ababa. We had lunch at a restaurant up at the top of the mountain where we could look down into the crater at the lake. Beautiful. On the way there and back I took photos while Altu and her friend were speaking in a language I did not understand.

1) Teff fields (teff is a grain that is high in protein, used for their staple bread). It’s harvest season right now, again. Note two different shapes for stacking the grain. Note the beautiful, clear blue sky.

2) Garden at the lovely restaurant at the crater. It’s in a resort area where folks in the city who can afford to do it, will go for a rest or weekend away. Even at this nice resort, the day we were there the water was not operating… when I went to wash my hands a person rushed over with a pitcher to pour it when I needed some. The utility infrastructure (water, electric, phone service) is just not dependable there.

3) A street scene. Small booths are stores of different sorts. The building with murals on it must be a restaurant, as three of the four paintings show people eating. Lady at right front is wearing a Netela, the traditional white handwoven gauzy cotton wrap which is very practical and very much still used even over western/modern clothing. I have one and wear it often in the summertime here in Michigan. (If you follow that link to netela/Ethiopian clothing at Wikipedia, the three photos on that page were taken by me!)

Note how colorful everything is. There seems to be no fear of color in Africa, at least nowhere in the places we visited!