Sunday, March 5, 2017

Some knitting!

First, thank you all so much for reading my last post, and for participating in the survey.  If you haven't responded yet but are interested in participating, it's still live - here is the link again:

Meanwhile, I did promise the occasional post about knitting, and I have, in fact, been knitting. Most of my time until this last week has been spent on one big project, but in the last couple of days, a few things came up and now I have three projects OTN.  It's starting to feel like old times around here.

First, the big project.  A month or so ago, I belatedly treated myself to a subscription to Kate Davies' latest project: Inspired by Islay.  Every week, Kate would send out a new pattern (on Wednesday)(also uploaded to my Rav library), and on Friday, an essay about the inspiration for the pattern, capped off by whiskey tasting suggestions and notes written by her partner.  And now that it's all done, hard copies of the whole collection of patterns and essays are being shipped out.  I love Kate's designs; one of my favorite sweaters (the Northmavine Hoodie) is her design, and I think it exemplifies her incredibly clean lines and well-thought-out design elements beautifully.  It's one of the sweaters that I'm most proud of (and that is most likely to get the amazed "you MADE that?!" - along with my Bohus).  (To my horror, I realize it's not on my Rav page - I really was out of things for a while there, wasn't I?  ETA:  Oh, wait, there it is!)

In any case, the Inspired by Islay collection has a number of patterns I'd like to knit, but the moment I saw the Oa, I absolutely had to have it - I treated myself to the yarn (Kate's own Buchaille) for my birthday.

I want this to be a good sweater so much that I swatched.  It's not that I don't usually swatch, but sometimes, I'll cast on for the sleeve and see how that goes (sleeves and swatches are about the same size, yes?).  Not this time.  This time, I knitted a swatch in the round (in two different needle sizes), cut it, and steam ironed it - exactly as called for in the pattern.  (Can you hear the proud tone in my voice?)
The only thing I did differently was to cast off in blue instead of white so that I could remember which side was done with the size three needle, and which with the size four.  I've been plugging away at the body devotedly since casting on.
That's probably a good seven inches or so of progress.  It's not speedy, but since it's only two colors per row, it's not too terribly slow, either.  I was planning to be monogamously devoted to this project, but, well...

I made the mistake of reading Mason-Dixon, and saw that they are partnering with Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford to create a Year of Techniques, with a new pattern showcasing a new technique coming out each month (and uploaded to my Rav library - I really love that!).  Since I'm trying to create opportunities for myself to feel more inspired, I signed on.  I figured I'd knit the patterns as I have time (read: after I finish Oa), but then I saw the first project, which uses helical stripes, and I kind of had to try it.  Right away.  I hied myself straight to my LYS to get a Zauberball of mine own, but the only ones they had, while lovely, just didn't have quite enough long striping contrast, so I went off-script and got myself a cake of Alexandra's Crafts Sister, and cast on with that.
I have to say, these helical stripes are a giggle.  Once I really got it into my head that I'm knitting two rows at a time, it got much easier to see what's happening here - the upshot of the technique is stripes with no jog at all.
I'll take better pictures once I'm further along, but trust me - no jog.  No carrying yarns up the inside.  Just two balls of yarn, chasing one another around the armwarmer.  The pattern (which comes with a link to a video tutorial) offers a discussion of how to do this on circular needles or on dpns, which is what I'm using.  I have to say that I think this is probably easier on dpns, since I can drop the yarn at the end of one dpn, without having to move stitches around on the needles.  They say that you can do this with two-row stripes (up to four, even), but I can't quite get my head around that.  I kind of what to try it, though...  These are the Hyacinthus Armwarmers, and I'm kind of thinking I'll make more than one pair.  (In fact, maybe I'll order myself a Zauberball right now so it's here when I need it.  Hmmm....)

But not yet!  Because I'm on serious pink yarn duty.  I'm involved with a group of friends and colleagues who are politically active, and at our last meeting, one of them said she'd gladly pay me for yarn if I'd just knit her a pussyhat (she also offered to pay for my time, which is silly); everyone else in the room asked to go on the list, too.  I said yes.  Then I went home, talked to a knitting friend of mine who was there, and dithered.  I want to knit Oa!  And that's a lot of pink hats!  And I knew if I wrote to everyone and said that my love for them had overwhelmed my good sense, they'd all understand.

But (and here's my dark secret), I want to be the kind of person who knits for other people.  And I am not.  I mean, it's not that I never knit for other people - I spent all last fall knitting sweaters for the girls and my niece; I spent a year knitting a blanket for Older Daughter to take to college.  But you know what I mean - the kind of open-hearted person willing to say, yes!  I'll knit nine pussyhats!

Of course, because life is complex and I am of two minds about nearly everything, I also aspire to be a person who knows when to say no.  Because knitting for people notwithstanding, I definitely find it hard sometimes to say no.  So I decided this was an opportunity to sit with myself and figure out what I want, in this instance, at this time.  I thought carefully about the whole thing and realized that, honestly, by the time I finish Oa, it'll probably be too warm to wear it anyway (alternatively, we'll have a nice bout of May Gray and June Gloom, and I'll have it done for that).  And once Oa's done, I'll be harrassing my daughters to tell me what I can knit for them.  So, really, why not knit nine hats?  But I also knew in my heart that I really didn't want to spend hours knitting with, say, cheap acrylic yarn (shudder).  The upshot is that I realized I honestly was willing to put off Oa, and to knit nine hats (if that's what it turns out to be), if and only if I was doing it with yarn that I really, REALLY enjoy.  Read: it's not gonna be cheap.

So I wrote to everyone with the honest statement that I'd rather buy nice yarn from my LYS, and saying that I completely understood if people didn't want expensive pink pussyhats.  So far, most of them do, and I have cast on for the first one.
The yarn is Fibre Co Tundra (alpaca, wool, silk).  It's soft and puffy like baby ducks, the pink is a nice rich raspberry, and I'm knitting this up on a size nine needle - a bit smaller than called for, but I think the fabric is turning out well.  And I'm enjoying it.  I'm glad I spent some time teasing out what I wanted to do and what it would look like, and being honest about it.  I do worry that I'm committing people to spending money on hats that may not in the end, be what they visualized (too bulky, too hot, I don't know - just not what they thought they were getting), but I'm trying to let that go and enjoy the process of knitting them, now that I've gone through the process of figuring out what I want knitting them to be about.

All right.  I'll stop there.  I have a few fun stories to tell about my last couple of weeks, but I'll save those for next time.  What do you have OTN these days?


Rachel said...

I am knitting The Oa too (fell for it the second that email opened on my screen) and although I bought the Year of Techniques book I managed not to start the hand warmers (just to understand how it works you know....) But (you knew there is going to be a but, right?) I fell right into the trap of the rainbow blanket, I just had to try a square or 2 or 3.... oy me!

I think the decision to knit all those hats only with yarn you love is the right one!

Carol said...

I love that you love Kate Davies and will knit from the Islay book. How do you like her yarn?
GTW: great looking swatch. I was so tempted to join the Year of Techniques...might still do it - but I don't think I've got the time to knit those projects. (Romi Hill is contributing tp it...she'll be at our April Guild mtg - guests welcome). I love how your mitts are turning out and delighted that the instructions WORK.
Commitment for 9 hats - wow! And Tundra for the hats...yes! Smart to use yarn you like.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I was so tempted to sign up for the subscription. In the end, the only thing I really love is her wedding cardigan - and I just can't justify the price. Don't get me wrong, the total package is worth it, but for just one pattern... sadly not.

EGunn said...

Love the swatch; Kate Davies' designs are beautiful. I'm with you on the not-knitting-for-others front. I don't like assignments or deadlines in my knitting, and am horribly selfish about it. I'm glad you figured out an option that would work for you in this case, though. Nine is a lot of hats, even if they go quickly!

Mary Lou said...

I am in the same quandary about hats for others. I decided I would see what I had in my stash that wanted swatching, and found some Jill Draper yarn in a variety of pinks. I've decided they are giant gauge swatches that I am giving away. I had the offer to pay for my time as well - I told them they couldn't pay me enough, but make a donation to Planned Parenthood instead.

That Oa is lovely. I didn't succumb to that subscription, but did for the Year of Techniques.