Monday, February 2, 2009

Wine dark sea

It's finished. And I've worn it in public, and received no funny looks in the doing.

I should perhaps apologize for all of the durm und strang chez Knitting Linguist, with regard to this sweater, but I figure the blog occasionally needs a shot of dramatic tension, so you can all share in my angst-ridden dithering over the details of sweater-knitting. Right?

It was almost dry in time yesterday to wear to the circus (which was wonderful), so I quickly wove in ends like a madwoman, leaving only the two in each sleeve that would allow me later to unpick the kitchenering and rip the sleeves back an inch or so, which I thought they might need, due to the growth issue that the sweater had developed during blocking. I then threw it into the dryer, on gentle, for about eight minutes to finish drying. When I took it out, it fit perfectly. Mirabile! So this morning, I wove in the last ends.

I think I've mentioned that when I first contemplated knitting this sweater, the goal was to provide myself with a slightly classier version of my boxy, comfy, charcoal gray wool sweater (the one I love so much that I wish I'd bought two all those years ago when I grabbed it at a sale at Eddie Bauer for $20). As I thought more about it, my vision coalesced into a desire for a sweater that made me think of the ocean; particularly the ocean in winter, with all of its dark, shifting, cold colors and textures. Pebbly beaches, and pebbly skin, and the happiness of a warm sweater to take the goosebumps away. And when I wrote to Chris and asked her whether she might have a colorway like that in her Grandma's Blessing yarn (a merino/tencel blend that is so shimmery and gorgeous that it was the only possible yarn for this sweater), she, prescient woman that she is, not only knew exactly what I was talking about (and didn't laugh at me for asking for a yarn color that way), but had it in stock already. Serendipity? Why, yes, indeed.

So, when I finally chose the two motifs for cuffs and hem from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge, it was with beaches in mind. And as I knit it, I was thinking of those cold northern beaches that call my name. So, now that it's done, I think it deserves a better name than The Sweater, and I've decided to call it Wine Dark Sea.* Better, no?
It's almost impossible to get this colorway right on camera; and I've noticed that the camera lens does funny things with the shimmer in the yarn, but you get the idea. Here's the cuff and hem. Doesn't that hem look like sand, sweeping out to sea as a wave washes away? (Well, it does to me, so just nod and smile, if you please.) And the twists in the cuff make perfect waves.

I decided to leave a little break in the cuff, just for fun.
And I think that this picture is probably as close as I've come yet to showing how dark and depthful the colors in the yarn are.
Fuzzy, I know, but a little closer to true. What I love about Chris' yarns is that they have a marvelous interplay of color, without striping or pooling. There are even little bits of purple and glass green in here that just make it that much more oceanic to me. The colors make me happy. I may just wear this sweater to every single faculty meeting for the rest of my career. And the best bit is that I have quite a lot left over (maybe 700 yards?), so I should have plenty to someday knit myself something lacy, and I can enjoy working with this yarn all over again.

So there it is. The last of the big projects that I wanted to finish before starting work again: two sweaters, three socks, and another biggish project that I can't tell you about yet. Tomorrow is the big day (I've given myself today off for my birthday), and I'm actually looking forward to digging in, which means that I did the right thing by giving myself this break before starting. I also feel like, by knitting all of these things I've had on my mind for a while, I'm freeing myself up to start thinking of new things. I have a couple of small but fun projects in mind, including some plans for the lovely Bunny and the Beast fiber that Fuzzarelly sent me ages ago, and that I haven't been spinning up as fast as I'd like (mostly because I'm dying to knit with it). I'm excited to get back to spinning in general. And I'm back to working on a pair of socks for Rick (with a couple of pairs for me in the queue once I'm done with those; I'll show you the yarn next time). I also ordered something special to knit for my mom for her birthday next month; I'll show you that when it comes.

Meanwhile, I'm off to be taken out to lunch by some friends, and then to make a quiet dinner to share with my family. Happy Imbolc, everyone!

*I love that phrase. I have always loved that phrase, but never more than when I started to study cognitive linguistics and learned about linguistic systems for naming colors in languages around the world. It turns out that it is possible, if one knows how many basic color terms there are in a language (and believe it or not, there is a good cognitive definition for "basic color term" that I will not go into here), one can predict with fair certainly what colors those terms will cover. If there are only two, they will divide the color spectrum up into dark and light colors (dark includes black, blue, and green; light includes white, red, and yellow). If a color system has three terms, the third will divide the light colors into white, and then red/yellow. If four, then it will either divide up red and yellow, or divide the dark spectrum into black and a term for blue/green (often called, sadly enough, "grue" in the literature). There are a few more steps, but you get the idea. The point here is that Ancient Greek had one of those "grue" terms (in fact, I think, but can't find the citation right now, that it was a two color term system, so it had one basic color term for all of the dark colors, and one for the light colors)(this does not mean, btw, that a language can't use derived terms to be more specific about colors -- lots of languages with two basic color terms also have words like "parrot-colored" for green, in the same way that we use "orange" as a color term derived from the name of the fruit). So since, in Ancient Greek, all of the dark colors got one name, what could be more poetic (not to mention mnemonic) than to refer to a winter-dark sea by comparing it to that most prototypical of all dark liquids: a rich, dark wine.


Anonymous said...

Perfectly poetic. Thanks for the info! I love stuff like that.

The Wine Dark Sea hem looks exactly like sand sweeping out to sea on a wave.

I appreciate the angst greatly since that's basically how I approach practically all my projects.

Nana Sadie said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I hope you have the bestest day!

And oh, Wine Dark Sea is a lovely thing. I'm so glad your pleased with it (but a headless photo? Please!)...

I don't mind the angst ridden posts (I do a few of those, myself) and oh how I love hearing you go on about linguistics. So happy I stumbled upon you (when you were test-knitting something for Anne, as I recall) b/c I've been happier visiting here than many other blogs - you challenge me, and feed me all sorts of fascinating tidbits that make me want to go back to grad school again (and I won't go

Jane said...

It certainly looks great on. Thought yesterday in the photo it was a lovely colour and the description fits it perfectly


First, Happy Birthday! May you have many, many more.

Second, the sweater is wonderful, beautiful, and well-executed. The edge finishes really make it.

And you should see the fiber I am cranking out lately! Nom nom nom. Get spinning.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that's good!

I think I know a beach or two just like the ones you're thinking of. Maybe more brown. Definitely sparks of green and purple. Someday, I'll just have to grab a handful and ask someone to make yarn for me.

the boogeyman's wife said...

the sweater looks great! the shaping loks really good, just enough. i like how you flared the sleeves ever so slightly, but not so much that they'd dip into your tea.

the color talk is fascinating. in old norse blue and black were the same word, although i think they had more than 3 color words. i'll have to look up my old norse books when i get home and double check. the only reason the blue/black sticks in my head is thanks to the danish king harald. known as blue or black tooth. i always thought it was funny there was no distinction, although if your teeth (tooth?) were that dark i suppose the distinction would be rather pointless. gross is gross whether it's blue or black :)

and happy birthday!

Bea said...

Happy Birthday! I love the sweater. It turned out just gorgeous and it totally reminds me of the ocean of my childhood. Exactly the way you describe.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to YOU Jocelyn!! I bet you had a great day!

EGunn said...

Happy birthday! The sweater looks wonderful; the edges came out beautifully, and the fit is perfect. Yay for new favorites!

Helen said...

You put it in the drier??? I'll have to go and lie down.

Happy Birthday too :)

adrienne said...

the sweater looks like a perfect fit and very comfy! absolutely gorgeous! love the "hems'!

and happy birthday!

Rachael said...

Happy Birthday! The sweater is just lovely, congrats on a job well done!!

Mary Lou said...

Happy Birthday - and gorgeous sweater. That's the kind of color I love. I may have to check out Briarrose. (no, bad girl, stop) And I ,too, love "Wine Dark Sea" thanks for the linguistics lesson.

Anne said...

Happy Birthday! Thinking of you today even though my comment's just getting in under the birthday wire here on the East Coast ... the sweater is gorgeous, gorgeous. Love the name, love the cuffs, the whole deal. Yay!

(my verification word is ingly, which must have something to do with how you feel when you solve a tricky knitting issue)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful sweater. I'm quite impressed by your progress with it, and the subtle striping is gorgeous - particularly in the sleeves. So glad to hear it turned out well.

Anonymous said...

A belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Sounds like you had a good one before buckling back into work today.

I love the opening you left on the sleeves, and the neckline, and the beach hem. All things that make it truly yours. :-)

Stell said...

Happy birthday - and i can't think of a better treat than your new perfect sweater. I love all the details - and the detail about colour and culture and linquistics ...
enjoy wearing and celebrating

Alwen said...

There's nothing quite so nice as a handknit that you love. I have a pair of socks like that.

Alisha said...

Happy belated and your sweater is beautiful! I love the color!

Anonymous said...

Happy (belated) Birthday!

The Sweater looks amazing. I love the hems. So pretty.

Language is just so darn awesome.

Bullwinkle said...

Wonderful sweater. Gorgeous yarn. and Happy Birthday (albeit, a bit late).

I finally had a chance to read the entire post -and loved the bit about color linguistics.