Friday, February 14, 2014

It's All about Endurance

Last night, as the clock pushed midnight, I cast off the last row of my second sleeve on my Idlewood sweater. My fingers were cramped from the hours of knitting yesterday, but oh what a feeling!

I cast on this project last Thursday in time with the Winter Olympics (all I did that night was cast on; no actual knitting).

Yarn is Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool in "brown heather" and, aside from being a wee bit splitty at times, it was a great fiber to work with.

Modifications: I knit on slightly smaller needles for gauge (9 and 8 for the body, 7 for the sleeves). Instead of doing garter rows for the edging on the bottom and sleeves, I opted for ribbing instead--4x4 on the body and 2x2 on the sleeves.

I had originally intended to go with a three-quarter sleeve, but to be perfectly honest, I really hate knitting sleeves that are attached to the sweater (it's a pain to shift the bulk of the sweater constantly for tiny rounds) and I decided I'd just be done. I WILL, however, knit this again -- probably with some color work! -- so in the meantime, I will explore options for doing the sleeves on their own and attaching them when I do the body. Thoughts?

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Work Pays Off

So I've been knitting away, making myself crazy with row after row of stockinette... The cowl is done, as are the raglan increases and the sleeve breaks. Upside down, it looks like a baby dress:

Right now, I'm totally on track to finish in record time. That is, if this doesn't get in the way:

It's hard to tell, but that's a teeny cut on my right pointer finger... probably my first knitting injury ever. When you work with pointy needles, well... one needs to pay attention to how you work. I always put my finger on the needle as I slip the stitch... and after a while, you get a hotspot and then after a while, blammo!


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Friday, February 07, 2014

Olympic Spirit

So I'm sitting here, watching the opening ceremony recast and I'm making grand progress on my Olympic feat: a new cowled sweater. All this stockinette is going to get really boring really soon... I'm about seven inches in on the cowl.

I've been thinking a lot over the past few days about the "boycott the Olympics" pleas from all over--whether it's because of politics, of poor facilities (honey, anyone?), or because Pussy Riot says to. Now I can't necessarily dispute these concerns, but at the heart of it all, aren't the Olympics about the athletes? The whole point is to cast aside differences and play together...nicely.

And so I watch. Because it isn't about Putin, or Obama, or dogs, or hotels. It's about the athletes who work their tails off to get to this point. It's about celebrating achievements together--even amid conflict. It's a lesson more playgrounds should heed.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Remember

We all have moments that are burned into our minds. Moments that we remember as though they happened yesterday. Some are happy moments, like weddings and births; others are dark, like 9/11. One of my earliest such moments was January 28, 1986.

I still recall how a shuttle launch caused national excitement. How teachers would build up to these moments with hopeful voices, stopping our lessons in time to roll in TV carts so we could watch live. Launches were a big deal--and no one wanted to miss them.

But that day, I wasn't at school. I was home with the flu, recovering under my Granny's watchful nurse's eye. I remember it was cold and gray outside. Colorless. And I remember Gran coming in the living room and switching the channel over to a major network that was broadcasting live from Florida, where the Challenger was preparing to launch with its crew of seven. I remember the astronauts: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe, the woman who would teach children all over the country as she floated among the stars.

I remember the talk of the chill in the air, of the promised hope of a teacher in space. Waiting for the astronauts to board the shuttle, watching them wave and smile. The countdown. The liftoff. I remember thinking that the giant plume of smoke didn't look it had before. It looked menacing, not victorious.

I remember my 11-year old gut telling me that something was horribly wrong, watching Gran glued to the TV. And I remember the newscasters confirming what my gut already knew. I remember feeling sucker-punched.

The State of the Union was that evening, and Reagan instead gave a moving address. We watched, and something new was burned to memories everywhere:

"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and "slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."

I remember that the President addressed the kids who had been watching.

Over the coming weeks, I would collect news articles, magazines and whatever else I could find, devouring all the information I could. I even rigged up a scrapbook of sorts, out of construction paper tied with yarn, to memorialize the event, to mourn astronauts I didn't know.

I don't recall ever watching another live launch in school again.

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I take it all back.

For all of the times I've bragged about temperate climates, I apologize. Maryland feels like the Arctic tundra. So. Cold.

I give you a picture of my cowl/shawl in yesterday's brief sunshine.

Word is there may be more white stuff tonight.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Zuzu's Petals

2014 (so far) has been a good year for knitting. Five pairs of socks and counting, and yesterday I decided to whip up what will go on my books as being one of the fastest lace knits ever. Like I said, I started it yesterday, and already it is blocking in the sunshine:

The pattern is Zuzu's Petals, and it's a cross between a cowl and a shawl. It's lovely.

It was a real nail biter, though. As I neared the end, I had visions if running out of my one skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport...but I made it in under the wire with very little to spare:

The yarn itself was a skein I bought ages ago. It has been marinating in my stash because 1) I didn't have a pattern designated for it; 2) I wasn't sure I could wrangle a pair of socks from the yardage; and 3) well, I haven't had my knitting mojo for the past few years.

Some things are just fated, I suppose. I can't wait to wear this tomorrow!

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Sunday, December 02, 2012

Felted Sweater Mittens

Years ago, my father-in-law gave me a pair of wool sweaters. I wore them to death, but the stored them away. Not well enough, I'm afraid, because a moth found them.

I couldn't bring myself to throw them away, opting to wear them as an underlayer. Or when no one would see me. I found the blue one the other day and, since I've been felting lately, had a brainstorm.

First, I felted it in the washer.

Yep. Put that puppy in a pillowcase, secured the top and washed it on the hot cycle. Worked like a charm.

Wool fibers have these lovely little barbs that catch on each other and make them stick. The process is irreversible. That's why you don't wash your woolens in the machine.

Anyway, the little guy has been asking for mittens. So...not only did I wash the sweater, I (gasp!) cut it up.

Each cut of the pattern gave me two sides.

Then I got out my needle and thread. This would have been even easier if my sewing machine was functional (that's a whole 'nother story). I hand sewed them together...

Viola! Mittens. Bonus: I still have tons of felt to use (not to mention all the wool that was floating loose in the pillowcase after the cycle.

Bring on winter. The dude is ready.

Wondering what to do with your old wool sweater? Easy peasy!

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