Saturday, October 10, 2009


So, I don't know how many Monty Python fans there are out there, but there's a wonderful little sketch in The Life of Brian that seems to sum up this past week beautifully. In this scene, there's an old man who's about to be stoned to death, because he said that a lovely piece of fish was fit for Jehovah. As he's waiting for the stoning to begin, he says Jehovah again, and the man who's in charge of the proceedings tells him not to make it any worse for himself. "Worse?" the old man says, "How could it be any worse?" We've been quoting that sketch quite a lot around the house this week.

I've been putting off posting this week, because until last night, all I had to talk about was the workplace horror that was Wednesday; since then, I've discovered that standing up in a meeting to propose something difficult only to find that all of your supporters but one are either not in attendance or have been struck mute isn't nearly as difficult as having everyone, friends and colleagues alike, completely ignore you afterward. It's been a lonely couple of days. In fact, the stress has been bad enough that (get this) I haven't been knitting. I knew that the way my hands kept shaking and my stomach kept twisting, if I tried to knit anything I'd just mess it up and have to redo it, and that would add to the persecution complex that's developing nicely these days.

That said, I did, finally, finish the Urban Aran. In plenty of time for that end-of-the-month trip to Cincinnati. Yay! I need to get a better zipper for it; the "best" one I could find at my local fabric store was not very good (hence the quotes around "best"); at one point Mary Lou kindly recommended an online zipper store to me, but I appear, in the kerfuffle of the last several weeks, to have lost that recommendation -- maybe someone knows of somewhere? I want to get a 24-inch two-way separating zipper. The color might be a bit hard to match -- we'll see. So, there's my caveat: the zipper installation isn't the best, because I know I'm just going to have to take it out, so I didn't fiddle too much with it. Otherwise? I'm happy as a clam with this one.
See? I'm happy. (Ignore those circles under the eyes.)(Ignore also the double chins; Rick appears to think that he must take sweater-modelling pictures of me while looking up from below -- there's no way to avoid double chins when being shot from such an angle.)

Actually, I am. This sweater has been a solace knit all the way along. Look at that yarn. Is it not one of the most beautiful things you've ever seen? The colorway is amazingly subtle; I kept noticing new things about it in different lights as I knit the sweater. This yarn came from Chris, who watched me drooling over her sample Urban Aran for the better part of a week whilst at Sock Summit (I am, apparently, not at all subtle) and told me that she was dyeing me some yarn and I'd better tell her what colorway I wanted. I, being the difficult human being that I am, told her that I wanted the California hills in the fall, all golds and browns, and with that lovely haze of green that comes from the live oaks. (It is a testament to Chris' everlasting patience and grace that she did not fling my email to the ground and stomp on it before throwing it back at me. I don't deserve friends like that.) And dang if that's not exactly, 100%, what she gave me.
Knitting this sweater has been like having a friend sit with me quietly as I worked. I could see Chris' artistic ability in every color change, and knowing that she'd dyed it with me in mind was like a little hand-holding, a small hug, just when I needed it most.

You can see there that the zipper is, indeed, too short. Once I have the longer one, that collar will stand up (it really wants to already). I knit the size XS, and then wet-blocked it. I probably oughtn't to have done that latter; I was afraid that it would be too small (have we not heard this before?). To give myself credit, usually when I'm afraid something'll be too small, I knit it in a size that's too big. I didn't do that here. I measured me, and I swatched, and I trusted my swatch and my measurements of myself enough that I knit the size that matched my measurements. I think this one has worked out better, in terms of fit, than almost any other sweater I've knitted. I just wish I hadn't blocked it quite so aggressively -- anyone know how to convince a sweater to shrink itself back up a titch?
So, to recap. This is the Urban Aran Cardigan (Rav link), which is a redo by Jared Flood of the original Patton's design. I didn't end up steeking the fronts, I just knit them separately. I decided that with everything else in my life, the last thing I needed to do was to hack into my knitting. It's knitted from Briar Rose Fibers Charity (which doesn't seem to be up on the site?), using size nine and ten needles (the nines were Addis, the tens were my Harmonys from Knitpicks). I fiddled quite a bit with the seams until I got a good rhythm going, but now I'm very happy with them, and with myself for figuring them out. I find that as I knit more, my finishing techniques are getting better and better; I can weave in ends now well enough that I can't always find them again. As I get better at doing things like seaming and weaving in ends, I find that I don't mind doing them so much (I know, this is not the revelation of the year, but here you have it). So while the finishing on this one took quite a bit of time (I'd say six or seven hours, all told, maybe a bit more), it was actually rather fun to see all the bits go where they belonged.

The cables on this were very fun and intuitive (barring that one little glitch that I blogged about a while back); it was always easy to tell where I was in the pattern, which I appreciated.

I also really like the way the sleeves came out. They fit well, without being bulky, and the cable makes me happy.
So, there it is. Evidence that this really is a knitting blog, rather than a freaky life blog.



Ahh, at least we have our knitting. Absolutely fabulous sweater.

Caro said...

I'm sorry you're going through such a ghastly time.

Take a little comfort in the fact that you look amazing in your Urban Aran though!

Jane said...

The pattern is fantastic, I love the back.
Sorry work has got to this stage, I hope it improves very soon

EGunn said...

Any time that someone feels compelled to compare their life to a Monty Python sketch, you know that it's a Bad Thing. Ugh.

On the other hand, your sweater is beautiful. I really must, must try Briar Rose some day soon.

Why is it that tall husbands insist upon taking pictures from below? Think they really just want to see what our view (of them) is like?

Alwen said...

It does look beautiful, and you look so happy with it! Chris did a great job.

Anonymous said...

So sorry. Stupid work stuff sucks.

The sweater is gorgeous, however.

Hang in and take care.

Bea said...

Sorry about Wednesday. That sucks. I love the sweater. That color and the sweater look really good on you!

Wool Enough said...

Gorgeous sweater. Absolutely beautiful from all angles -- front, side, back, whatever. Perhaps this can be your "courage" sweater to get you through the tough times.

And to quote Bruce Springsteen -- "someday we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny." I have found this to be true.

Helen said...

Oh God, that's horrible, work I mean. I once fought what I thought was a test case only to have the people I thought I'd been fighting for lodge a formal complaint about my winning. A basket of scorpions, indeed. I don't know what to say except that they don't deserve you.

I'm glad the cardi has been such a consolation.

Lynne said...

Oh, I do hope the equilibrium of your normally happy life is restored soon.

I'm glad the sweater made you happy.

=Tamar said...

Siss on the cowards who failed to support you.

The sweater is gorgeous. To adjust it back down a little, just dampen and reblock it. Use a little steam if you must, and push it into shape. Wool is malleable! I once ironed a flat piece of woven wool and wound up with a ruffled corner; with careful re-ironing (think blocking) it flattened down into a 90-degree corner again.

Nana Sadie said...

If you haven't already, I've heard about the zipper store, will go off and find the link and email it...
You know how I feel about this week. And I'll just ditto Helen and agree they don't deserve you.

Urban Aran is stunning (they take those shots so you can have a fleeting moment of what it's like to have a "tall" experience, I think, and they don't understand how we feel about double chins!)

But I can't advise on the shrinking aspect.
What gorgeous yarn - Chris is a good friend, and a gifted dyer.

Kassia said...

Beautiful work! And it looks great on you!!

I hear you about work being awful- I don't know what's in the air but it has been horrendous at my job too (I'm a labor & delivery nurse). Hopefully things will improve soon, for both of us! :)

twinsetellen said...

The sweater is really great, and just feeling and seeing that yarn from a friend running through your fingers must have been a great comfort. I am sorry your supporters appear to have disappeared, but maybe like skittish cats they will slowly creep out from under the furniture and stand with you in the future. I hope so.

Willow said...

Uggh, it's like jr hi school all over again. But played out by adults. I'm sorry.

BUT, knitting does make everything all better. This sweater is inspired!

gwen said...

Ow Ow Ow Hate twisty stomach. (HUGS)

Twisty knitting, on the other hand, is a marvelous thing! Beautiful sweater, and it fits you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You look great in the Urban Aran and the yarn is fab.

So sorry to hear that work is a nightmare. Hope it gets better soon.

Gwen said...

And I forgot the most important thing: You did a very courageous thing, work-wise. Be proud, even if it sucks at the same time.

Carrie K said...

Life is always freaky. It sounds especially bad for you tho lately - what happened?

The Urban Aran sweater looks fabulous and Chris completely captured the California hills in that colorway. Magical.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

The sweater... and you... look fabulous.

I've stopped asking Dave to take pictures of me... he has absolutely no clue on how to take a flattering picture. And, since at the moment, I'm about 23-30 lbs heavier than I'd like to be, unflattering pictures are a serious knock to the self-esteem and send me right for the icecream.

RobinH said...

Simply gorgeous! It looks wonderful, and suits you very well.

AlisonH said...

The sweater is beautiful. And so is the feeling, from here, that at least one person out there is standing up for the right thing to be done. As the mother of college students, thank you for that.

Rachael said...

the urban aran is lovely!

Sorry to hear about your meeting/policy experience. Academia is so darn political and people get so WEIRD about things when those forces come into play. We are all still your friends. :-) Knitters, I've found, are surprisingly immune to these sorts of pressures. (and I have faith that we would continue to be even if we knew what the fuss was about)

PammieJR said...

I am sorry to hear things have been so bad for you at work. I am so glad you came to KA tonight. You looked fab in your sweater!

Anonymous said...

Hi there, I just discovered your blog today, October 25, 2011. I am not a Monty Python fan but I did find that scene funny too, where the man keeps on repeating Jehovah's name multiple times. (I am one of Jehovah's Witnesses and also a beginner/intermediate knitter/crocheter.) Are you a linguist? Is that your paying profession? Joomi Lee