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My friend and fellow blogger Spud was visiting me over the weekend, and we went to several NYC yarn stores and knit, and talked endlessly about knitting (among other things!). It was so much fun! She bought quite a lot of different things, but after agonizing over various Koigu colours, I bought a couple of skeins of a lovely, luminous gray. It’s greyish purple, actually.
I immediately cast on for a pair of socks, using Wendy Johnson’s Generic Toe Up pattern. You can see the blue waste yarn for the chain cast on. This is my first attempt at toe-up socks, but I really like the concept of knitting the cuff until the skein is over. No waste of yarn (yes I know, little leftovers can be used for other things, but those never really happen in my case). And this short-row toe concept is quite interesting. I am already in love with Koigu (yes, I haven’t used it before!).
The black shawl is also coming along, after a minor hiccup. All is well.
Am in the last stages of revisions as I approach my deadline this week. I cannot *wait* to turn the damn ms. in and settle down to a weekend of wild celebrations (yeah right…)
Now you don’t. First, here’s a progress picture of the Faux Russian Stole from Gathering of Lace.
As you can tell, I’ve altered the pattern quite a bit, nearly doubling it in width. It looks quite nice, actually, when pinned out. I decided to pin it out for a blog photo, and was relieved to find no major mistakes.
Now here’s another progress picture:
All those YOs, all those K2togs, wrapped around the cone. That fat little bulge you see around the middle is my poor stole, frogged! Why?????
Well, for a number of reasons, with my impulsive decision-making being merely one of them. It’s been annoying me for a while now. The size 5 needles were making the garter stitch too loose, and I’d been ignoring it. My alterations were making it nearly 30 inches wide when blocked and I realised it was going to be a loose, drapey blanket rather than a nice shawl. It needs to be on size 4s and not that wide, which is what it will be in its next avatar. Also, I went and observed a history class in an inner-city middle school yesterday and it left me more depressed than I have been in a while. While frogging this leaves none of those questions about school education in the US unanswered, it did make me feel a little better.
But, I decided that I’m going to do lace now. Reading Eunny’s Lace Series is also just confirming my notion that lace is incomparable. I love the rhythm, the weightlessnes and the delicacy of knitting lace. My next shawl will be the black shawl my MIL has been asking for for ages. If I can get my ass going, it should be ready by the time I leave for home in July. We have a long road trip planned in June, hmmmmm.
I’m knitting this one on size 3s, in Jaggerspun Superfine Merino, which is a 100% wool version of Jaggerspun Zephyr. So far, the pattern is going well. I also like the yarn, which doesn’t slip so much. I started on bamboo straights, but am now using one bamboo, one metal, because one of the bamboos splintered and was snagging the yarn. I hope I can hone it back to usable condition.
Not much actual knitting happening, but plenty of fantasising about what to make. I am moving – yet again – at the end of May and the summer will be spent at home in India, where I will definitely not be knitting with wool, plus it’s not such a good idea to buy kits and stash them while moving, I guess.
But in the last few days I came across this sweater called Celtic Dreams, designed by Beth Brown-Reisel. And I cannot get it out of my mind… the link is to Mary Beth Irwin’s blog, and her arans are just stunning.
Also, funny how you haven’t heard of something, then you do, and then it pops up everywhere making you wonder how you hadn’t heard of it all this time. So with Blackwater Abbey yarns. Someone mentioned them to me the other day on Knitter’s Review, and since then all I can see everywhere is things knit with this yarn. The colours are gorgeous, and the gauge just right for the Celtic Dreams pattern. It’s not that expensive either, but I think I will first order a sample to test for scratchiness. Anyone reading this used the yarn? Would appreciate feedback. I also want to get some Peruvian Highland Chunky wool for the ribbed cardigan, but the only colour they have right now is something called Harvest Heather.
I knit loosely, so I think I need to look for a slightly chunkier yarn for aran projects. In search of the perfect 4 stitches to the inch wool yarn…
I charted one of the Rangoli patterns and started knitting one of them over the weekend, while watching Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Nizhalkkuthu (Shadow Kill) a fine Malayalam film by one of Kerala’s (and India’s) finest filmmakers. The film was good, excellent performances and an interesting look at (the lack of) choices available to people in traditional settings. The most interesting, and yet disappointing character was not the hangman protagonist with hang-ups (sorry) about his occupation (a wonderfully drawn character), but his Gandhian son who tries (somewhat unsuccessfully) to escape tradition by embracing Satyagraha. The film did well to show how nationalism creates these possibilities but often doesn’t deliver on them, but the son’s character was not complex enough to carry the theme through.
Anyway, I knitted up a small swatch of one rangoli pattern in Knitpicks’ Wool of the Andes, in the colour Asparagus. The pattern is only a quarter done, and the swatch will eventually be rectangular an long in shape. I’m happy with the way the yarn shows up the cables, but I need to work on my closed-cable increase/decrease method. So far I know two: one is Elsebeth Lavold’s method over four rows (used on the botton oval) and another improvised one on the other two, over two rows.
The rangolis, drawn by hand, are rarely perfectly symmetrical and I would ideally like my cabled ones also to have different shapes: some oval, some round and so on. I also need an increase/decrease method that will work for even-numbered increases. I used This increase method described by Jenna Wilson for her Rogue pullover, but that one was over an odd numbered cable of 5 stitches. Does anyone know of any other increase methods that will allow me to increase 4 stitches in the middle of the fabric, but without the stretched look that Lavold’s method gives? It’s really neat and tidy, but not as rounded as I’d like it to be.
The Wool of the Andes, incidentally, is supple and stretchy, great for cables. A tad rough on the hands, though.
Oh, and I knit about 20 more rows of the Russian stole. Pictures to follow soon!
So here it is, completed. On the recipient, who was pleased with its feel and fit, and therefore, so am I. Am still sick, but I had to log on and put all the specs down before I forget:
Pattern: My own, adapted from Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns. I used the one for set-in sleeves and adapted it to a vest pattern.
Yarn: Filatura Lanarota 100% cashmere, 140 m. per 50 g skein.
Gauge: 5.5 stitches to the inch on size 5 needles. I used my old Susan Bates grey metal circulars. These are the best, really, my favourites over all bamboo, wood and Addi whatsits.
Yarn Review: I’ve said it already, this yarn is less than perfect. It is soft, no doubt, and also cheap, and if you’re really looking for cashmere and get it at a bargain, go ahead. But it is very, I mean very, loosely plied and splits like nothing else I’ve seen. Also, it has very poor stitch definition and you can barely count stitches or rows, even in stockinette. It doesn’t shed as much (a tad more after washing, but not that much, really). The skeins were oddly made up into very small circles; it was a pain to wind them into balls, and although I didn’t really tug hard, it doesn’t seem that strong to me. But all said and done, it’s very soft and looks warm and inviting. I also have four skeins left and have to figure out how to use them up!
Haven’t done much else since this was finished… except for a few
rows of the faux Russian stole. More on that next week, hopefully.
So it’s almost done. All I need to do is seam the sides. I’m not terribly happy with the finishing, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now. I did the neckband last night while watching Vanaprastham, a Malayalam film by Shaji Karun, starring Mohanlal and Suhasini. The film was interesting, very well made and acted, with some interesting insights into the Kathakali form, but the subtitles were a little weird and left me with a lot of questions.
There seemed to be a lot of stark contrasts, especially with the freedom of choices available to various female characters. If anyone reading this sees the film, do watch out for the conversation Suhasini and Mohanlal have in "mudra" (hand gestures) near the stairs. That was inspired. Also, why they roped in Zakir Hussain to do a "Sounds of the Mystic East" kind of soundtrack with the santoor and whatnot for this film based in the south, with Kathakali as one of its languages, I have no idea. It was most annoying.
In other news, if only I didn’t feel like something the cat dragged in. My throat feels like sandpaper, my mouth like sawdust and the rest of me just, basically, like crap. So why am I here actually typing this complaint? Because I am trying to write the final pages, but they look and feel even worse than I do. If I see "the central aim of this work has been to" one more time, I will weep. So this is a diversion. Unfortunately, not for too long. Must return to "this book has argued that…"
Will post a picture of the vest on the intended recipient, and give full project specs a little later. But, anticipating my argument in the next post (sheesh!), this yarn sucks.
So I am procrastinating some more, and ruminating on the kind of knitter I am, what do I find, but a quiz that helps me find out just that!
What kind of yarn are you?
You are Shetland Wool. You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a little on the harsh side. Though you look delicate you are tough as nails and prone to intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you are widely respected and even revered.
Take this quiz!
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The choices were Acrylic (Plasticky Countenance); Mohair (Warm and Fuzzy type); Dishcloth Cotton (Hard working and practical – there was no hope in hell for this one); Mercerized Cotton (Neat and Crisp, this one too was a goner); Novelty Eyelash (hip and happening); Merino Wool (easygoing and sweet) and Cashmere (chic and sophisticated). Am not surprised it wasn’t Eyelash or Merino, but must confess am a little bummed I’m not Cashmere. But what the heck, I’ll take reverence and respect over the rest.
I love the internet.
Gave my undergrad class a mid-term today and the reason I’m mentioning it here is that it was also a spot of uninterrupted knitting I managed to get done after a long time. Close to finishing the vest. I cannot believe this is turning out to be so mind-numbingly slow. But I was thinking: knitting works very well during exam supervision (or as they say back home: invigilation!) and I cannot believe I have not done it before. You cannot really read anything because you have to keep glancing up and looking around. After some serious cheating in my classes last semester I cannot afford to just hope they’ll all be good. So I took some knitting in today and it was perfect; it was mindless stockinette so I didn’t have to look at it either. I had my eagle eye on them all the time and I finished the front. Now only the bands and finishing remains.
What I find remarkable is the shocked look students will give you when they realise you have a life outside the class or some skill outside the lecturing, grading and occasional yelling.
Anyway, hopefully just a couple more weeks and then I’ll be posting pics of FOs like crazy. I had a strong temptation to go into my LYS yesterday on my way back to check on winter yarn sales, but I resisted. But I am looking for some Cascade 220 or some Elann Highland Peruvian for the Ribbed Cardigan pattern, which I bought sometime ago. On a side note, I still find these fancy names for patterns a little odd. The blog revolution seems to have brought it on since it makes it easier to identify patterns, but I still can’t bring myself to say, "I’m making a Ribby Cardi." Or, "that’s Ana, my alpaca sweater." Taking christening garments a bit far, eh? But then I sniffed at the whole blogging thing too, so let me not say any more.