Tuesday, September 4, 2012

End of summer ruminations and reviews of sorts

It's technically the end of summer here in Pennsylvania, but schools have started, and I'm glad to welcome September and the cooler weather that should arrive soon.  So happy fall from my corner of the world!

Due to my new schedule at the nursing home, I had to stop working at Loop.  I'm okay though, because while I miss such a great yarn shop, I've been enjoying the chance to catch up with knitting buddies again on Saturdays.  During my final scramble to utilize my employee's discount, I became strangely drawn to a reddish colorway in Spud and Chloe Sweater.  Right away, I could envision a cardigan in the stuff, and this past week I've been plotting and scheming to make that vision a reality. I cast on during the holiday weekend, and already I'm nearly at the finish of the first ball of yarn, with shoulder strips and the beginning of the back to show for it.

First Ball

Some knits are all about the colors or the feel of the yarn, while others about the finished product; in this case the thing that is keeping me engaged is the process of the pattern.  I'm working my way through another of Barbara Walker's top-down sweater recipes, and I'm loving watching it happen between my fingers.  I do wish her book was available in ebook format, as it requires a fair bit of cross-referencing, but there's something wonderful about the way she both holds my hand through each step and simultaneously gives me opportunities to let my imagination fly. (I also used to spend a lot of time reading those "Choose Your Own Adventure" paperbacks, back before hyperlinks existed; maybe my mind is enjoying retracing some old ruts created by the labyrinthine reading patterns.)  

The very process by which a seamless sweater is created feels like magic (excepting the darned tails that love to get tangled up in the working yarn).  In this case of a seamless saddle shoulder sweater, there is no seemingly daunting cast-on as in the top-down vest. (I say "seemingly" because, like so many other parts of knitting, it is really not bad at all if you take the time to follow Barbara's tutorial. Why do I psych myself out when a piece of foreign yarn is introduced into the cast-on?) Her book is really a great addition to my library, and I highly recommend it as a valuable guide for the knitter who wants more than to be spoon-fed from specific patterns.  When she is not giving direct instruction on the construction of the sweater in discussion or its myriad possibilities, she spends a bit of time singing the praises of its mysterious and beautiful construction.  When itching to cast on, these bits seemed to be "in the way." Now as I work on my sweater, I have to admit, her sentiments resonate with me as if we were of like minds.

First Ball
I actually got to start by knitting two little strips of pretty cable braids that will flow naturally down the sleeves like it's nobody's business.  From there, I got to pick up stitches; I love the way picking up stitches from the edge of a fabric tames a wild line into the most elegant row. (I can't wait to come back and pick up the collar stitches!)  Actually, this pattern has a fair amount of picking up, as the knitting changes directions a couple times; I guess I ought to have quite a lovely time, then!  

I've finished a few little items since my last post.  One of them is the adorable "One" baby sweater designed by one of the fabulous folks at Loop, Erika Flory.  It lived up to its promise to be a fun, quick, and easy knit, and it's designed for the same yarn as my red cardigan: Sweater!  Now I just need to find a baby girl somewhere.

yarma

While sifting through my possessions in the wake of my move, I unearthed my very first sock.  When I knit it, I had no knowledge of a local yarn shop, YouTube, Ravelry, or sock yarn.  I pulled up a sock pattern on the internet (back when it still bore the title "World Wide Web") and got my supplies at the nearest A.C. Moore.

First Sock

I have long felt that this sock is not worthy of receiving a mate; my solution to  the 'laddering' that occurred where the double pointed needles changed was to work a haphazard whipstitch of sorts, which proved more effective in making the sock ugly than improving its function or appearance. The slippery needles and less-than-optimal yarn also proved a bad combination, and I drew some level of comfort from telling myself that all knitting should really be performed at a bulky gauge on needles roughly as thick as my pinky fingers. Still, it must have served some good, for it seems that it gave me a chance to work out a lot of the 'yucky' karma at once; years later I discovered the local yarn shop (Loop, in fact!) and took a class.  When I knit my first pair of socks after that class, it turned out beautifully. Now, rather than feeling disdain for my first sock, I feel that it is a sort of memorial of my early knitting, and I'm rather fond of it.  What have you done with your early -- and perhaps less-than-useable -- knits?

Here's to a wonderful autumn in the Northern Hemisphere; to all you folks south of the equator, enjoy those knits while you can!

3 comments:

  1. so intrigued with the sweater!!! will be following your progress :)
    Melissa

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  2. First, I absolutely love where your sweater is headed (that color and yarn combo are so perfect!) and your baby sweater came out flawless. I love them both! Second, embrace the first sock. Mine are heinous but they're mine. Whenever my non-knitter friends talk about how they want to learn to knit or how they think it's sooo difficult, I pull them out to show them, no one gets everything on the first try. Love you darling, have a wonderful week!

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  3. I always love it when you blog. I just picked up my first Spud and Chloe when I was in DC last weekend. I had never seen it in person before! I'm gonna make my little niece a sweater for her 6 month birthday.

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