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Archive for May, 2008

The good news is that last night I cast off and delivered Adorable’s Nereid mitts (a fingerless glove adaptation of Cookie A.’s Pomatomus socks) and she seems to love them. The bad news, for me at least, is that I’m now facing the whole Memorial Day long weekend with no knitting project at all.

Here is the finished product, modeled by Adorable herself:

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I really enjoyed making the mitts, first and foremost because I got a chance to play with the Koigu KPPPM that I picked up at String in New York. I’ve worked with self-striping and variegated yarns before, but never with a fiber that just feels so super-saturated with color, even in the muted brown and pink colorway. The yarn itself is beautiful to touch as well as to look at, and the finished knit had a spongy, rich feel that is frankly luxurious. I can already tell I’m going to be a sucker for this yarn! I worked the mitts on Clover Bamboo needles — a bit sticky, but so soft that I actually broke off the tip of one — and I’m still undecided about whether I’ll reach for the bamboo or the aluminum next time.

At first I wanted to work both mitts at the same time, but I just wasn’t happy with the feel of the fabric on the size 2 or even size 1 needles I have (see my this-is-not-a-sock-it’s-a fishing-net dilemma from my last Cookie A. sock attempt). On size zero, the fabric was just right. Confession: one of my key motivations for liking two-at-once socks is not second sock syndrome, it’s that I just can’t seem to count properly. Invariably one sock or the other ends up being longer or shorter which is sweet and, yes, confirms that the finished pair is truly homemade, but just doesn’t give me that happy feeling of successful completion that I’m looking for in a knitting project. What should have been obvious to me is that working a sock in pattern means that socks become error-proof. It’s far easier to keep track of 10 rows of ribbing for a cuff than for 150 rows in the entire length of a sock. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me — perhaps because Jaywalkers seem like “patterned” socks and I managed to mess up their length — but I suddenly feel free to try more complicated patterns on DPNs. I guess I am having a somewhat backward sock experience, but hey, that seems typical for me.

One issue I had (really the only one) was that the scallops on both mitts faced the same way instead of going in opposite directions. I guess the way to reverse this phenomenon would be to work the chart backwards. Or maybe upside down and backwards? I’ll have to look into it for the next time I knit something that is directional. I must admit that as I worked the mitts (and I added an additional chart repeat to make the mitts arm-warmers instead of simply wrist-warmers) I admired the way the tubular lace pattern looked and thought that it might make a very pretty knitted sleeve, especially given the subtlety of the varigated yarn against the subtlety of the pattern itself. I’m filing that idea away for the day in the far far far future when I attempt another adult sweater again.

My favorite thing about this project: I pulled out my trusty Knitter’s Handbook and taught myself the Tubular Bind-Off (aka Kitchner Bind-Off or Grafted Bind-Off) for K1 P1 ribbing. I’d create a tutorial but there is a fantastic one here if you are interested. It’s actually quite simple, if a bit tedious, and creates an edge that looks something like the edge that’s formed by folding a square of stockinette fabric in half. I’m curious if there is a similar bind-off for garter or stockinette fabric, but from now on I’ll be using the Tubular Bind-off for ribbing on most everything.

After writing all this I’m thinking that maybe taking a stab at a toe-up patterned sock is the way to go for this weekend. Nothing like a new project to get the heart racing! Or maybe I should return to the dreaded Monkey socks . . .

Some final photos that make me happy . . . the awesome color/pattern combo in close-up:

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Adorable rocking her mitts Wonder-Woman style:

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I always find it interesting to know what others are reading and I believe that finding a great book is one of the most authentic pleasures I’ve experienced in life. So I was thrilled this morning to see that Mick posted the following list of “unread” books, and I’m going to treat it like a meme . . .

I’ve bolded the ones I’ve read, underlined the ones read for school, italicized the ones I’ve started but not finished. For “future” I’ve highlighted in red the books that are on my to-do list. Of course, since it’s me I’ve also added my own two cents . . . where I’ve thought of it I’ve added ** spoiler alerts ** but since I’m known in my family for giving away the endings of things halfway through (“did she sleep with her brother yet?”) I want to make sure everyone has FAIR WARNING about the content below.

Mick’s List:
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment – I read in two days for a Russian Lit class taken over the winter “one month long” term in college
Catch-22
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi: a novel – Long story but I’ve skimmed through much of Pi for a work-related project
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice – I almost feel like adding italics too . . . P&P is one of those books that I’ve read so many times that I now just pick up and put down whenever I’m in between things.
Jane Eyre – More than my own reading, I remember hearing from Adorable and my stepmom about their experience reading Jane Eyre and their hysterical frustration with the book’s conclusion . . . ** spoiler alert ** “Reader, I married him . . .”
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
Emma
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner – I found the incidents of ** spoiler alert ** sexual violence against children too overwhelming and I had to set this one aside.
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius – I loved this memoir, but I wish it had been broken into two parts — I’ve always felt that the beginning, when ** spoiler alert ** the parents are ailing and finally pass away, was so incredibly strong and somehow not as firmly connected to the second, longer section of the piece.
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha – I found this book totally forgettable and in the category of “beach reading”
Middlesex
Quicksilver
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera – I hesitated to even include this one as “read” since I read it in the 6th grade and didn’t really get the whole book. I picked it up because all the grown-ups around me were reading it, and I remember the love story but not much else.
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
Middlemarch
Frankenstein – Gothic Lit was one of the only courses for my major that I just plain hated . . .
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dracula
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King – As a kid this was one of my ALL TIME favorite books. I absolutely loved it and read everything else I could get my hands on about King Arthur.
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel – I read this over two months I spent working in London and I really connected with the isolation and foreign-ness many of the characters experienced. Beautifully written!
1984 – This is one of those books where I know what it’s about, and I think it’s more about the ideas than about the language, so since I’ve got the idea already I don’t need to read it.
Angels & Demons – Ick. I’m not a fan of Dan Brown. DaVinci Code was ok but I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about.
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Miserables
The Corrections – The best thing I’ve read in the past several years. Masterful language and a prose style that hangs together like poetry at times. A contender for “the Great American Novel.”
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Up until I read THE CORRECTIONS, I would have said this was my most favorite recent book. Epic and sprawling and just, well, beautiful. Another contender for “the Great American Novel.”
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes: a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
Cryptonomicon
Neverwhere
A Confederacy of Dunces – Ok, so I have a problem with postmodernism. I really really love it (ie, THE CRYING OF LOT 49) or I really really don’t. I couldn’t hack it and had to set this book aside.
A Short History of Nearly Everything
Dubliners
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Beloved
Slaughterhouse-five
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon – Part of my King Arthur obsession
Oryx and Crake : a novel – Just listened to this book and it was really cool.
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Lolita
Persuasion
Northanger Abbey – This book is the only way I survived the above-mentioned Gothic Lit class . . .
The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

If you’ve read down this far, consider yourself tagged and tell the world what you’ve read!

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When I was in high school I fell in love with the idea of the chunky wool sweater. I loved the weight of a wool sweater, the slightly scratchy, slightly soft feel of the fabric, the sweet but acrid smell of a wool sweater on a damp morning. I loved wool sweaters so much that I wore one practically every day even though I lived in Southern California. I ended up in school in New England in part, I think now, so that I could have a good excuse to keep wearing those sweaters.

My very favorite was a hunter-green roll-neck sweater from J. Crew. Those that knew me way back then will, I have no doubt, remember the sweater in question:

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Although I loved that sweater at the time, when I came across it a few weekends ago at the back of a closet in my parents’ house, I had a what-was-I-thinking moment. The yarn is a beautiful color and although the sweater is a bit pilled, it’s held up well for being a decade old. When I tried it on it was hopelessly boxy and made me feel really unattractive. I tossed it into the giveaway pile sadly until I remembered hearing somewhere about reclaimed yarn. Since I’d already consigned several sweaters to the pile for the people, I didn’t feel too guilty about snatching back the old roll-neck and tossing it into my knitting bag.

After a careful examination of the sweater construction, I decided to start with the neck. By the end of the evening I’d turned my rollneck into a boatneck and gathered myself an extremely kinked bundle of yarn.  The right sleeve was the next to go.  Here’s what the sweater looks like now:

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Pretty amazing, right? So I’m starting to ponder and browse around on Ravelry for just the right pattern for this very special yarn, but there is still lots of work ahead of me! Unraveling is fun but it’s a pretty active process, what with all the ripping out of rows and wrapping of yarn around a chair back. I still have a sleeve and the front and back of the body to go, but I feel well-guided by the great tutorial by a fellow knit-blogger that I found (thank you, Google!) here.

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. . . my camera’s battery charger (or for that matter, the spare battery for my camera!) I would post the photos of my finished Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  Although I didn’t end up sewing any ribbon into the ball-band, I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out.

Even though I’ve already done several lace pieces, and even though I really love sweaters, I was so intimidated to try and knit one.  Lace is basically a gauge-free zone (I find it’s much more about the texture and appearance of the blocked lace than about size) and I was very nervous about sizing.  But it all seemed to work out in the end.  It’s such a pleasure to finish something, and to be able to hold and touch and see the final product.

I made a sweater!

Now as soon as I find my batteries I’ll show it off.

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