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March 2006 Archives

March 1, 2006

Winding Roads

llama

We're back from a brief (but longer than we planned) road trip to Mendocino (coastal Northern CA). Here's what I learned:

  1. If you are not sure whether or not your kids are prone to carsickness, assume they are.

  2. If you think it might be a good idea to take the scenic route even though you know it might be longer and curvier, think again.

  3. If you are priding yourself on packing really lightly for an overnight, go back and add in an extra outfit for every member of the family and two for any members under two and under.

  4. If it sounds like fun to take a detour to visit a lighthouse along the way, make sure you read the sign carefully so that you realize the lighthouse is 21 miles down the road and not 2.1 miles away.

  5. Packing a handknit shawl is a good thing. Whether you wear it out as you stroll around or in over your pajamas in the evening, you'll feel "right" in your shawl. (I took my Flower Basket Shawl along, which hasn't gotten much use, and I loved having it with me. It just had the right "feel" for the getaway.)

  6. Take more LEGOs than you think you’ll need/want. If you’re taking pods, take a bunch!

  7. If it can be closed, it probably will be. (Okay, that's just our luck, probably not a rule of life!)

We had a good time, and it was nice to simply "be away" in a beautiful inn replete with their very own llamas, organic gardens, and tea trees in bloom. But, we did have quite the (carsick) trip getting there. And, the area was besieged by rains over the last three days. It poured the whole time we were there. Just poured.

I had debated about what knitting to take - and we were just going for one night. I swatched a yarn my Secret Pal gave me last year to see if I can get gauge for socks from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road. I keep wanting to make socks from that book, but the gauge always seems looser than the kinds of sock yarn I have. So, I did a swatch, but I ended up out of time and didn’t even get it measured and sorted out in the final rushed hours before we left.

I also considered taking a skein of Koigu from my coveted Koigu stash and making myself a Ninja Ropes hat (see free pattern link in list at right). I made the boys’ theirs last year, and it’s a hat I just love. They’ve worn them often, and every time I put one of them on them, I think what a pretty hat. So, while making myself one wasn’t on my original list of things to make for this year, I really do think I might have to have one sooner rather than later. It’s a great-weight basic hat--and I can't resist Koigu colors. In fact, while I have a bunch of Koigu stashed away, I'm guilty of holding onto it waiting for the perfect project, so I haven't used much of what I've bought. I do have a sweater in mind for some of it, and another Charlotte would be obvious, as well as a second set of fingerless mitts (which is on this year's list). So, I considered taking a skein and casting on my own Ninja Ropes hat, but I kept thinking “this is silly. I’m only going to be gone overnight. How much knitting will I really do? Do I need to start something new just because I’m on a trip?”

So, I talked myself out of starting something new.

Instead, I took my Shoalwater Shawl (taking a break from Kiri). It was a good choice, and it was nice to pick it back up and knock out a few rows. It’s a much denser shawl than Kiri, so I’ve actually worked far more rows on this shawl (far more) and still have a bunch to go (somewhere around 80). Given that there are 350+ stitches on the needles now, the rows are slow going, but it’s a rhythmic pattern, and each row flows along nicely. I got in a bunch of knitting (surprisingly) in between stopping the little one from opening and closing all the doors and drawers in the suite and after building a set of LEGO pod creations. I sat by the fire the first night and knitted (and wore my shawl), and it felt so peaceful.

Then we decided to stay and extra night, so there was more time to knit, and I did sort of wish I’d brought that skein of Koigu! I’m such a sentimental sap. I love having associations of “place” with my knitting. The only other time we were in Mendocino (at this same Inn), I made one of my favorite Rowan hats. It’s a bulky pink seed stitch hat from Kim Hargreaves, and I love it. Every time I wear it, I flash back on that first stay at the Inn (it’s a place that holds special significance for our family), and it’s nice. I like my knitting being tied to milestones and moments in my life. So, I sort of wish I’d had yarn with me to work on a Ninja Ropes hat for myself.

But, I didn’t.

green hat

I was glad, however, that I’d thought to take along a hat. We hadn’t planned on the winter storm (rain) and the drop in temperatures, but expecting general coolness and windiness by the coast, I’d tossed the two-tone green hat I made last December into my bag (along with my Koigu fingerless mits). I don’t think I ever showed this hat off. I used leftover yarn from my Ribby Cardi. The hat is a “bit” big (and a tad tall—I wear it folded up a little), so the gauge obviously wasn’t perfect for the pattern, but I think it turned out beautifully.

The pattern is “Make It Mosaic Hats” by Ellyn Wheeler from Creative Knitting Magazine (November 2005). Mom had the magazine when she was here last fall, and I thought it was a cool hat, and I really loved the look of the fair isle-esque diamond patterning. It’s actually a slip stitch pattern, so it’s very easy to work, and it has a wonderful Celtic resonance to it. The picture in the magazine shows up much more distinctly than mine. The two greens I used are so tonally close, I guess, that I got a very subtle effect, but I really like it.

We got back home a day later than planned, and I dutifully picked up Kiri again last night. I will finish the 10th repeat tonight. I’m not sure how to “tell” how big it really is unless I string it onto a string and lay it out. I hate to have to do that because I find it really painstaking to get a shawl back on the needles off of a string. But, I might do it just to see if it really will be big enough this way or not. I’d go for the 11th repeat, but I’d really be kicking myself later if I ended up without enough yarn left for the edging!

March 6, 2006

Ninja Ropes Posted

ropesropesropesropesropes

I mentioned Ninja Ropes in my post-Mendocino-road-trip post last week because I really had seriously considered pulling yarn to start my own – feeling, I guess, the lure of knitting on something small and accessory-like as a break from the growing shawl rows. When Jenn of KnitWit Momma wrote me telling me that she liked the “Ropes” pattern, I realized I’d never really introduced it on the site.

I did talk about it a bit when I was working on it last year. My oldest son picked out the initial colorway and the cable pattern (which he calls “ropes”). The Koigu color he picked was a great mix of acid greens, yellows, browns, and great hints of pink. The cable and rib combo sucked up yarn, however, and the first hat didn’t fit him. (It fit his younger brother, at the time. Today, it’s really too small for even the youngest, though he’s still wearing it some.) So, we moved on to another colorway for the oldest. Actually, if I remember correctly, I ordered additional skeins of the same colorway number, but it ended up being much, much different from the original (not surprisingly).

Enjoy! And if you make the pattern, please let me know. I'd love to see.

ropes

Movie Star Dunce

I'm hopeless when it comes to knowing actors' names/roles. I never (or rarely) remember who is who. I was watching Ladies in Lavender last night. It was just okay despite the Maggie Smith/Judi Dench combination. M. came in towards the end, and I said: "What was Maggie Smith in recently? I know you said she's been in tons of things, but she looks so familiar to me." With a "you are hopeless" look at me, she said, simply, "Harry Potter." Oh, yeah, McGonagal. I thought she looked familiar!

March 20, 2006

A Classic Returns

cardigan sleeves
That picture can only mean one thing, right? Yep. The "Must Have" has been picked back up. It's a good thing. It's at the top of my list for 2006 because I can't deal with the guilt of starting another sweater without finishing it first. So, a week ago, I dug it out (well, not really, I actually, miracle of miracles, knew where it was hanging in a Vera bag of its own*), and got to work. It was one of those moments when I gave an inward cheer that I'd taken time to keep careful notes and set up a schema for keeping the disparate charts (which don't all have the same number or rows per repeat) straight. It was easy to pick up the sleeves, which I'm working together, and get started. I'd even already charted out all the rows through the sleeve increase section, so I really was "ready to go" right out of the bag. When I started, I was on row 43 of the sleeves and could tell from my notes that I'd have to work through at least row 96. Somehow deluding myself into believing that once I checked off all those rows, I'd be close to "done," I got busy and cranked out those 50+ rows last week only to find, at the end, that I'm 2 inches short of the requisite 19 inches necessary before the decreases start. So, I've got some more work to do before I start shaping the sleeves. Still, it's going to happen.

March 24, 2006

Never Going to Drive

A before-bed-changing-into-jammies conversation with a five year old:

“I want to get dressed all by myself like a big kid.”

Okay. That’s great.

“Like [my cousin]!”

He pulls on his pajama pants.

“Mama. Do you remember that [my cousin] wants to sit in the other seat in the car?”

I scramble to figure out what he means.

“You mean he wants to drive?”

“Yeah! I never want to do that.”

“Why not?”

We have had conversation similar to this one often, and it always puzzles me why he, who loves drawing trucks and vehicles and has a huge collection of books about vehicles, is very clear that he never wants to drive.

“Because I might bump into buildings.”

Oh. I try and reassure him.

He thinks.

“Where would you and Mamadu sit?”

“If you drove?”

“Yes.”

“Well, if you’re driving, I’m staying home!” I tease.

“Me too!” He squeals.

And then we realize that while we’ve been talking, I, out of force of habit, pulled his pajama shirt on over his head, and he wiggled his arms into it. I’d forgotten that he wanted to do it all himself. He’d forgotten, too, but once he remembered, he was really upset. The moment of independence had been lost, and taking the shirt off and doing it again wasn’t going to recapture it.

I felt bad, but I couldn’t help but smile at the wonder of him worrying, at five, about “driving” because he’s afraid he’ll “bump into buildings.”

Power of Play

I heard this quote the other day on a podcast, and I just remembered to Google it to see you said it only to find it's from Plato:

    "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

March 27, 2006

Something New?

(...from last week...)

As I've been working on my Must Have Cardigan, I've been toying with what I want to start "next" in terms of a sweater. For some reason, a sweater called Sheldon from an old Rowan magazine has been in my head lately. Finally, unable to shake the memory of the sweater, I scouted around until I found the magazine, and I again fell in love with the pattern. It's a two-color fair isle design with a large-scale set of mythical creatures (sort of like unicorns, but not) on the front, back, and even sleeves. I love the design, and I spent a good bit of time this week pulling out various yarns from stash to see if I have something that makes sense to use and that will get gauge. I've got a couple of options – some Woolpak I think is perfect for the lighter color. It's the darker color that has me a bit stumped, though I have a navy Montera, an olive Cascade, and maybe a mulberry (if I rip out my Rowan Fir sweater that never got finished but is too big now) that could potentially work. The mulberry is Rowan DK Tweed (which is a worsted), and the pattern calls for Rowan Magpie Tweed, which is, I think, a slightly heavier weight. Still, I may swatch it and see in the fair isle how it works up.

Somewhere during the week, as I kept mulling over the colors, the enchantment of Sheldon waned a little, and the buzz in my brain quieted down. I started to worry, specifically, about the sweater being bulky and oversized. I think partly it's my reaction to it being a pullover because I've been very "cardigan-only" in terms of my knitting because I want to knit pieces that will get a lot of use. Sheldon is not a drop-shoulder, but it is still a bulky-looking sweater. Do I really want that? I'm not sure. I'm not a big, oversized sweater wearer anymore. I once was, but not now. Do I really want a sweater like that? Not really. But I do really want that fair isle pattern. So, I'm torn. Maybe it will go on the back burner of my brain again. (How long can projects stay in our brains on the back burner, I wonder? Some, like Sheldon and Wattletop and Anjuli have been on my mental to do list for years now.)

As my mind pulled back a bit from Sheldon, I returned (like clockwork or some bad labyrinth) to the idea of working on my Jo Sharp Anjuli and got momentarily excited about it. I'd love to finish that, I thought. But when I pulled it all out, I found myself not 100% sure that I love the colors.More importantly, I had to shift my thinking away from the idea of "finishing" Anjuli to realize that I'd be starting Anjuli, which makes the project take on a whole new cast. While I actually have finished one of the fronts and over half of the sleeves, to work on Anjuli means taking all that out and starting over. My Anjuli is too big for me at this point. I'd have to begin again in a smaller size if I want to make it. I stuffed it all back in its basket and pushed it back on the shelf where it's sat for several years now. To the back burner, I think.

Then, yesterday, really feeling overwhelmed given that my initial ideas, which seemed so clear, weren't panning out, I shifted gears and starting toying with the idea, again, of a Koigu "Bliss" cardigan I've been wanting to make (for a year or so) in several shades of Koigu (subtly transitioning them, a la Charlotte's Web). I found the Rowan pattern and then pulled out bags and bags of Koigu, but, frustratingly, I never put my hands on the right bag of Koigu. I didn't find the bag of "pinks" I'd put aside in preparation for this sweater. I searched. I rummaged. I pushed and pulled and prodded and shuffled and hunted. I found other Koigu, but I didn't find "the" Koigu I was looking for. Bummer. In my head, that sweater is still a real possibility – but I have to find the yarn first before I can tackle really laying out how the colors would work and how they would transition. (It's hard to believe, but the sweater only calls for 8 50gm balls. That's the same as 4 pair of socks. Seems crazy, doesn't it?)

In the absence of the Koigu, I spent time pondering my Philosopher's Wool. Like the Anjuli, the Philosopher's Wool is one I have to "take out." I was making a 55" when I started it. I've almost finished a sleeve, and I've got maybe 10 inches done on the body (worked in the round). I need something smaller, so I have to take the whole thing out. It's a daunting thought. I do love the colors still though. Of everything I pulled out this weekend, the colors in it still speak to me – strongly. It's a sweater I want – someday. I'm just not sure it's what I want to work on right now.

No big decisions made. Things have been busy, and the house has felt a bit like a sick ward with M and the boys all down with different things and me wandering exhaustedly through the days, chugging down vitamins whenever I'd think about them in passing through the kitchen as I try to ignore the niggling scratching and growing cough in the back of my throat and the burning behind my eyes. I think when things get crazy, my mind kicks into "start something new" gear. It's a totally irrational response, I know. I need, instead, to hunker into "finish it" mode and clear things out of my head. To some degree, I'm trying to do that. I'm working on the Must Have while I let my mind play with the possibilities of what's next. As I put it to M, what I realize is that I might only make one sweater this year. What do I really want it to be?

The other thing I've been doing as I deal with the craziness is gnoshing on Cheezit brand Party Mix. The kids love it, and though I generally am really disciplined about not eating their snacks, I took one bite of the party mix a while back, and it's been all downhill since then. Seriously, addictive. Seriously, not fun to look at the scale and know Party Mix has been my downfall.

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