Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Knit slowly, knit fast

At a time when the daylight hours are waning, my perception of my current knitting project reflects my perception of the turning of the seasons. Each day, our sun is slowly dwindling away. The unfortunate clouds aggravate this process, emphasizing that sunlight is at a premium. The change is subtle, but persistent. Eventually, over the course of what seems a long time, the days shorten and the clouds clump up. The rare bright spot of sun is the only reminder that things have changed.

**Quick, the sun is out, get the camera and take a photo of the knitting!**

A few nights ago, I finished the first set of braids on this hat after days of purling in the round, a movement that seems so wrong, deliberately twisting two yarns around and around, then reversing the twist on the next round. Once I finished the first set of braids, I worked the little band of stockinette, knitting six rounds. I knit and watched a movie for what seemed a few minutes. When I looked at my counter to click it for the next round, I was startled to see that it read "6". Eep. I knit 6 rounds without noticing. What a shock, especially since I had looked forward to this knitting as I struggled through the six rounds of braids during the past three days. (OK, 9 rounds, counting the k1, p1 rounds that begin each braid.)

Because I have lived it before, I know that the lengthening of the days will repeat this time shortening experience. Once the sun begins to return, I will not notice it. The days lengthen steadily, but the process, taken for granted, is accelerated for me. In a month or so, I will look up in the late afternoon and think, "Hmph, the sun is still up. When did that happen?" It's like knitting stockinette in the round. I do it, but I'm oblivious to the process.

What would life be like if I lived it as though I were braiding? It would seem longer, but punishingly cruel. I'd struggle through each moment and yearn for the time when I'd be free of the tasks I'd undertaken. It is preferable, I think, to suddenly be struck by a change that happened gradually. At least my awakening is a sign that I was enjoying the time as it passed so quickly and that I found the going easy.

I enjoy the seasons as they pass, but don't want them linger too long. I'm happy that the Solstice is almost here.

The hat I'm knitting is from a relatively obscure pattern. Here's the link to the pattern on Ravelry for those who want a preview of the FO. I'll probably blog it again once I finish it, since I consider it a small milestone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cast off, year's end

I've cast off a couple of important knits. First, a sweater-

This sweater, the Equinox Yoke pullover from the Fall 2006 issue of Interweave Knits, is important to me not only because it represents the culmination of years spent admiring the design and yet more years spent accumulating the appropriate colors of Misti Alpaca worsted (aka baby alpaca), but also because it is a milestone for me in pattern modification. Having finished it, I feel like the poor woman on the soup commercial, vainly exclaming "It fits!" to an unconcerned listener. Alas, it doesn't have the impact of the original, which plainly didn't fit the model. That sweater was slouchy, slumpy and oh-so boho. It had style and impact. No wonder it was the cover shot. Unfortunately, it was also, as verified by many of the projects on Ravelry, unwearable, at least if you wanted to lift your arms.

Thanks to the collective wisdom of the more than one hundred Ravelry projects for this sweater, I re-engineered the fit and the form, largely relying on Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage system for yoke sweaters. The result is a shorter yoke that brings the armscyes up where they belong, as evidenced below.

Again, I exclaim: It fits! Yet one more benefit of this knit is that I found another old gem of a pattern right next to it in the magazine and am now happily knitting Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl, in Carmen, a wonderful cashmere from Saffron Dyeworks. I had begun another project in this yarn months ago, only to rip it out once I realized that a mere 400 yards is not nearly enough for a shawl. Now, I see that this pattern relys on just about that amount. Maybe I will have enough. If not, I have the leftover alpaca from my second Mathematix to fill in. Either way, I hope to have it finished for Christmas, along with a Christmas-themed dishtowel.

Another Christmas knit has been delivered and approved.

I won't really brag on these, except to say that I'm enormously happy that they are done. Knitting the inner sock that lines them, then struggling through the intarsia circles, adding heels, then sewing the sock top onto the soles altogether wore out my enthusiasm for this project. I have another pair of soles to make myself some slippers, but I can't face them (not a referral to the construction).

Instead, I'm back to working on those holiday-inspired projects. I hope I finish them before Santa arrives. I hear the bells jingling--I'd better get to knitting!

Related Links:

My Equinox on Ravelry

For the skeptics, the Ravelry page for those slippers. Mine really is the only project!