Friday, July 14, 2006

So What's Stopping Me?

That's the Katia Razor Shell pattern from Tara Jon Manning's Mindful Knitting and I don't know why I'm so afraid to cast on properly and actually knit it.

I grabbed some Debbie Bliss I had lying around, cast on, and swatched a few inches of the pattern just to see what it looked like, how it felt. I loved it. Actually I loved everything about it.

So would you tell me why I haven't done anything with it? I have some gorgeous creamy white Alpaca that would work beautifully in this pattern and I don't know anything about it. For some reason I'm intimidated by this pattern and I can't seem to push past it.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Other Blue Sweater

See that blue sweater? The photograph is less than a year old. The sweater itself is 36.

I know. I can't believe it either. I was married a little over a year when I made it. The Air Force had sent my husband off to Southeast Asia for eighteen months and I was back home in my parents' apartment in Queens.

What else could I do but turn to needlework?

Actually needlework has always been my comfort and refuge. I don't know how people who don't embrace the needle arts get through life with their sanity intact.

The sweater was made during the summer of 1970 from a pattern I found in the late and deeply lamented McCall's Needlework Arts and Crafts, a huge oversized magazine (the way magazines were in thsoe days) filled with dreams. The pattern was for a man's crocheted tennis sweater in crisp white yarn with navy trim. The model was an impossibly preppy looking fellow who clearly didn't have a worry in his whole college-bound, draft-exempt world. I hated him on sight.

But I loved the sweater and decided it was just the thing for my sergeant husband to wear in 100 degree/100% humidity summer days on The Rock.

Clearly I was crazy at the time but I went to Ackerman's on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, bought the only yarn I could afford, then sat down and crocheted myself a sweater to keep him safe.

I guess it worked. I still have the man and he still has the sweater. Can't ask for more than that.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Everything But Time

Right now I have everything I need but time. I'm determined to finish the fourth "snuggles" blanket for Rebekah's drive before the day is over. The plan is to mail them out tomorrow with some Lorna's Laces to use as a prize. That way even if I don't manage to do the two more I'd originally planned, everything else will be on the way before the deadline.

It's not perfect but it's something.

I also have the KnitPicks Options needles sitting here staring up at me, begging to be used. And a HiyaHiya circ demanding attention. And the second Fixation Bulky sock which has been ignored for days. And the 873 balls of sock yarn looking to be transformed into something wearable. And the Lopi in the basement . . . and the Denim Silk upstairs in my office . . . and the Schachenmayer Only Stretch all over the place . . . and the Noro Implessions that nobody but me seems to have ever heard of . . . and that's just for starters.

Are you wondering about that Blue Blob up in the lefthand corner of this page? That's the Notorious Phentex Sweater which I believe might be New Jersey's oldest (and yes I've had it carbon-dated) UFO. I began it in North Babylon on Long Island in April 1986 and it is now July 2006 here in central New Jersey and it is still unfinished.

I mean, can you blame me? Do you see that monstrosity? What was I thinking? Okay, so I couldn't afford anything terrific when it came to yarn but did I really believe my husband would ever wear that color? And why, since I'm asking unanswerable questions, did I choose that color when sixteen years earlier he showed great reluctance about wearing another sweater (that one crocheted) in the same mind-blowing shade of blue. Really, there are times when I think I must have a Knitter's Death Wish.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Withdrawal Symptoms

I exhibited amazing restraint yesterday and refrained from casting on a new pair of socks. I didn't even pick up the Bulky Fixation rope socks (I swear you could use it to tie down the Queen Mary.) The only thing needleworthy that I accomplished was a few inches on a pet blanket for Rebekah's very worthy shelter dog/cat endeavor.

The good thing is that I'm getting some writing done. The bad thing is it's cutting into my knitting time!

See that white sock? That was my second foray into the World of Fixation. #1US Addi Turbos, plain pattern, unbelievably durable. We've been tossing them into the washing machine and then the dryer (yes, the dryer) and except for some shrinkage, they've survived their first year. I've decided to eliminate the dryer from the equation and purchased some sock blockers from Elann (yes, Elann) and right now they're hanging in the doorway to the dining room like bizarre fiber wind chimes.

The Queen of Decorating, I'm not.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Elann: an occasion of sin

If I had any will power at all, I would eliminate all links to Elann from my computer and then have my own personal memory bank erased.

A box of goodies arrived a few minutes ago and I'm practically dizzy with delight. They had Fortissima Colori on sale last week and I did major damage to my bank account. What is it with sock yarn anyway? Why is it so irresistible? I ordered Step (the lanolin-infused sock yarn) from the Patternworks catalogue and would basically like to roll around on it for a few years before I get around to knitting with it. It is pure sensory delight. I can only imagine how wonderful the socks will be. (Again, no credit due to yours truly. Once again the sock yarn provides its own magic.)

Spiral socks are probably among the most basic of socks out there, but I found doing the After Bertha spiral sock from Socks Socks Socks to be absolutely fascinating. The fact that I lucked into exactly the right yarn for it didn't hurt matters either: Regia 4 Fadig in Cacao, a beautiful blend of medium cocoa and that pure slightly earthy blue that works so surprisingly well with cocoas and pure browns.

Stats: 66 stitches; Addi Turbos #1US; worked 3K3P pattern that takes a step over every fourth row. Couldn't be simpler. I did a round toe (embarrassingly simple but very pleasing aesthetically), wove in the ends, and I was done. They were a birthday present for Sandra and once again I'm reminded of how deep the connection is whenever I make something for someone I love. I'm probably the least Zen-like woman you'll ever meet but there is a mindfulness to the process when you're knitting something for someone you love, a focus of concentration that eludes me far too often in real (read: non-knitting) life.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Five and You're Out

Five blog posts and I vanished. That must be a new record for Bad Blogging. I'll spare you my work woes, computer fiascoes, and the generally chaotic nature of my life these last twelve months and focus on the one thing that's kept me sane: fishing.

Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Knitting. Of course, I meant knitting.

Currently on the needles: Fixation Bulky socks (black; how dull) for my husband Goldisox, he of the "they're too tight" refrain. I have templates of his feet. I have measurements. (I'm tempted to take a plaster cast of his feet a la 1970s era rock groupies and other appendages.) I follow his instructions to the letter, even when my needles threaten to stage a mutiny. He wants 'em an inch longer than they should be, I give 'em to him. They're still not long enough. Let me tell you there is nothing worse than knitting plain black socks and then finding out (post-grafting) that despite fittings and measurings and revamping they're still TOO TIGHT.

I may be forced to knit him something daring (like black and grey Regia) and put him in his place.

Last year Sandra sent me a truly world-class birthday gift: Fortissima Colori sock yarn. I was still in my Fear of Socking phase and circled that gorgeous yarn for months, afraid I would be able to do it justice.

Well, practice really does make improved (if not perfect) and in the upper lefthand corner (for your viewing pleasure) you'll find my gorgeous socks. I claim no credit for their gorgeousness. The yarn did all the work. I just went along for the ride.

Quick stats: Magic Loop. 40" Addi Turbos US #1. 56 stitches. K2P2 ribbing.