Friday, January 23, 2009

First (finished) Project of the New Year

The official name of this shawl is Belinda (from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines), but I ended up calling it my nemesis (no relation to my dear friend of the same name).

I beg you to focus on the shawl, and not the reluctant model.

I used Knit Picks Shimmer hand-dyed lace yarn in Sherry for the dark color, and Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud lace yarn in Peppermint Heather for the lighter color. Not as costly as the Kid Mohair, and I think it's every bit as pretty.

I started out with some cool wooden needles I inherited, and felt really hip and awesome to be using them, but it turned out they weren't very pointed, and made the lace work very tedious--more tedious than it needed to be. Halfway through color #1 I switched to Addi Turbos, which don't look and feel as warm as wood, but make the lace making so much easier. They may literally have saved my life.

It was worth the work, mostly because I knew it would be the perfect gift for Sue, and I'm glad I did it. Also, the pattern wasn't difficult at all. But it was about the most boring thing I've ever done. The same two rows over and over and over, ad nauseum. I wanted to kill myself. I'd literally be knitting along and falling asleep.

I estimate this took about 35 hours to make, over about four months. Even my love for Sue couldn't motivate me to pick this project up, some days.

Tip: I definitely recommend doing a yarn marker every 25 rows or so--just take a piece of waste yarn and thread it through all your stitches, then leave it there and continue on. If you make a mistake, you can rip out the rows back to your marker, and thread your needle back on without dropping any stitches. If this doesn't make sense, let me know. I can try harder to find the source where I read that tip.

If I had to do it again, I would make the 6ft long version, even though I cringe to think of knitting one more row, let alone 35. After blocking it wasn't as long as I would have liked. But overall, a success. Sue is happy, I'm happy it's done, and in retrospect it seems like a lovely way to have started the year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Sweater

I've been looking forward to Inauguration Day for a long time--not just because I'm excited for our new president to get started, but because I've been planning to cast on a new sweater, and decorate it in honor of this historic event.

Here's the sweater: Margaret, from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines

This one belongs to someone else. I've got some curled up pieces--a front, the back, and part of another front, which I worked on as I listened this morning. Mine's in about the same color--I guess we all loved it so much in the book no one could imagine it in a different color. It's a fairly easy pattern, and knits up quick. If you haven't seen the one in the book, it's got words all over the bodice in between the lines. The original had some cool, socially-aware quotes on it. I thought, looking forward to this day, that I'd choose some cool, socially-aware quotes from this speech.

I knew President Obama would say something awesome, because he's an orator, and he didn't disappoint--the speech was amazing in it's content--except that he didn't say too many things that were quote-worthy in twenty words or less. I guess I should have made my needs clear to him before the speech writers got going. Since there weren't any clear-cut choices, I haven't yet decided what text to use, but it will probably be something along the lines of:
There is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
That sounds pretty good, and reading it on the back of a hand-knit sweater just might give it a double meaning.

Let's hope the next four years are full of awesome knitting and social change!