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I know what you’re thinking – new yarn swift! Skeins being wound up on the double! New patterns being sketched, the fingers flexed, the needles eager to stab the yarn… Alas. The swift is indeed fantastic, and I wish I could just keep winding yarn on it, but the picture just sums up the whirl that is my life right now, with a million things to attend to, and finish, other than knitting.
In the last few weeks, this is all I’ve managed:
It’s a good dishcloth too, made with Elann Esprit (the one with cotton-elastic) on size 4s, using a Barbara Walker stitch pattern from Book# 1. I got bored with the stretchy yarn and made it rectangular rather than square, but the garter ridges motif is ideal for the dishcloth. I should try the pattern with another, more conventional kitchen cotton yarn.
Things are going to be like this for a bit – I hope to be back soon. In the meantime, enjoy the summer/monsoon, everyone, hopefully with lots of mangoes (or other stonefruit) aplenty wherever you are!
Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the encouragement for my sewing experiment, the tips about machines, books and classes, and the sewing stories and memories. I think I will resist the temptation of buying a machine and an entire fabric store just yet, and tinker around some classes and machines a bit before finalizing one. Watch this space!
Over the last couple of days, instead of sullenly packing and repacking my bags and bitching about having to go back, I completed this lighting-fast project. It has gone a long way in taking the edge of my irritation and despair, because its recipient, a newly-minted niece of mine, is going to show up at the airport to claim it and I cannot *wait* to set eyes on her:
It’s the Little Sister’s Dress, a delightful, clever and quick pattern (and free!). I made the three-month version, but with slightly thicker yarn, so it would run a little large. I love the way it takes the basic top-down seamless pattern and creatively fashions sleeves out of it even as it does away with them. All you do is cast off, and presto: sleeves. My mum knit the last couple of inches at the bottom, adding a small pattern and a slightly ruffled edge. So it’s not as A-lined a frock as it could have been, but it looks just like what we call a zhabla in Marathi.
Yarn: Vardhman Little Angel, Shade 123, just over 4 skeins of 50 grams each (anyone know how many yards a skein of this is?)
Needles: size 4 DPNs
Gauge: Did not bother to check
My mum also knit her favourite booties pattern with the frock, and I knit a little helmet with an antenna. My allergy to baby projects is definitely weakening.
The hat was improvised – I cast on 70 stitches, knit 3 rounds and purled 3 rounds for a couple of inches, and then decreased every other round starting with k5, k2tog all around, then k4, k2tog, etc. When there were only 5 sts remaining, I took them all on one needle and made an I-cord antenna.
This shade of red is very difficult to photograph – worse than black, really, cause it bleeds so much, even in natural light. I realized as I was tinkering with the saturation that I haven’t knit anything non-red or non-crimson in nearly a year. My sampler shawl is also this color, and the BPT cardigan was a similar shade too. I think I need to look at some blues and greens now. Or even redecorate the blog a bit, if I can figure out how to change the header image without my title disappearing. Maybe a visit to Stash or Article Pract will cheer me up when I return, what?
Four teenaged nieces + one boisterous nephew + lazy family get-together + two needles + yarn:
Look at them, rapt. None of them had ever knit before. They all took turns, and produced a recognizable garter stitch wristband in two days that was actually wearable. Apart from the number of stitches varying wildly throughout, no major problems. My nephew did approach the process rather like one does arm wrestling, using all his force and determination for each stitch that threatened to get away from him, but that’s where the cotton yarn helped. It survived his enthusiasm, and didn’t snap.
One of my nieces got it real bad, and knit through meals, car rides and conversations the entire trip. She has already called once to confirm the address of knittinghelp.com. The craft has a new devotee:
We open the new year’s blogging with a hearty “Good effing riddance!” to 2008, and a polite request to 2009 to please pass uneventfully without any major upheavals. Travels may be included, even arduous ones, especially to see new places and old friends, but please, can we not have any emotional rollercoasters, dramatic events, or surprises, good or bad? If I could wish for one thing this year, it would be that it pass like this:
Quietly, bathed in just the right amount of sunlight, feet up on a couch with an interesting book, wearing comfortable handknits, and a cup of hot ginger tea (just outside the frame). Really, is that too much to ask for?
In the foreground is a pair of Regia Silk socks my sister has been demanding for ages now. Pune used to have a decent winter in November and December, but now you can bear to wear warm clothes only for about a week around the new year. So over a couple of lovely, lazy days at home spent gossiping with her and watching old films, I made these anklet socks. Quick, easy pair, 60 stitches, 2×2 rib, cuff down stockinette on size 0 needles. Good thing her feet are tiny and these are tight for me, cause I really don’t feel like taking them off.
I also got a delightful gift for the new year from my lovely knitter niece Gargi. A couple of years ago I had helped her make a hairband for herself, and she made one for me this year, complete with sewed elastic at the bottom. The most hilarious part was helping her through this one, joining a new piece of yarn, picking up dropped stitches, etc. while she weaved an elaborate tale about how this was actually for her best friend in school. Now, it turns out, the best friend is really asking for one after seeing mine!
May 2009 bring you what you ask for, dear readers.
This year I have made or planned more baby things than I usually do – my mother wants to use up a lot of small bits of yarn she has, and I decided to bend my why-knit-for-babies-when-there-are-socks approach to small and quick projects. Two ideas frame this approach – 1)adult feet, unlike babies, do not generally outgrow their socks within a few months, and 2) when you knit for one friend’s baby, there’s no end to it, because at my age friends everywhere are popping babies like there’s no tomorrow. My fear, totally irrational, of course, was that I’d never see an adult pattern again if I got sucked into one of those seed-stitch-and-stockinette-oh-how-cute! Debbie Bliss patterns.
But there are babies and then there are babies. I made a small cotton A-line dress for a special five-month-old with a very piercing eye and stern disposition. She was not happy with it at first, but looked quite pleased with it later on.
This is the third iteration. I first made it too big (160 st), then ripped it out and made it too small (100 st), and then finally settled on the right fit (120 st). I still have the smaller iteration, and am now eyeing another infant in the offing to give it to.
I made up the pattern as I went along. I decided to try out a picot edge. Then I basically knit two rows of each colour, decreasing 4 stitches 4 times evenly through the body to get an a-line shape. Single garter ridge finish for the sleeves (pick up and knit the first row, immediately cast off the next) and double for the buttonholes and neck (knit one extra row between pick up and cast off). I pulled at each and every picot edge during the blocking, saying “this little piggy…” to myself the whole time.
Pattern: Random A-Line frock, my own
Yarn: Classic Elite Provence (100%) cotton; Laura Macagno Shang’s100% DK cotton, both in shades of purplish blue and bluish purple. I have no idea how much I used, but it was not very much.
Needles: size 6 throughout.
Gauge: I didn’t check it before beginning, and forgot to measure before gifting it. Are you at all surprised it took me three tries to get the fit right?
All in all, it was a fun and quick knit. Laura’s cotton is great, but the Provence is extremely splitty. Both softened up a lot after the block, though. The baby this is for lives in a very warm climate, so the cotton should be plenty for her.
Happy holidays to all my readers, and see you all in the new year!
Last week, one of my wear-at-home slippers gave way, and I realised I needed a new pair. Not a big deal, except I have had this pair for nineteen years. I bought them in 1988, the summer before I went away to junior college in Pune, amidst much excitement about life on my own in a hostel. These slippers have been with me through college, grad school, relationships, jobs, cities and countries. It was only after one of them tore that I realised how long it had been – do you blame me for mourning their passing?
I will have the torn slipper resewed (you can see it in the picture above), but in the meantime I needed a new pair. Rather than the boring option of buying a pair from the store, I first tried to get one by writing soulful poetry (come on, bad limericks can be soulful, you just need the right attitude!) for a contest on Ruth’s blog. Alas, she preferred a more prosaic (and, alright, deserving) entry, so there ended that.
So, I made a pair of the quick and ever-popular Felted Clogs (by Bev Galeskas/Fiber Trends) myself. Inspired by Ruth, I used the opportunity to mop up some loose skeins in my stash. Amazingly enough, the multicoloured clogs did not result in an ugly, mismatched pair (as I’d almost hoped!).
*The tannish body is 3 skeins of Indiecita Alpaca in shades of beige, brown and browner (Boy is this alpaca hairy after felting!).
*The blue inner soles are Cascade 220.
*The reddish cuffs and one of the outer soles are Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran and Elann Highland Chunky.
*All on size 11 needles.
Am delighted to say that nearly all of these skeins (roughly 100 yards each, give or take), were used up. I can use the remaining bits as lifelines, stitch holders, markers, etc.
I never stop wondering at the magic of felting. All yarns, surprisingly, felted relatively equally too. The slippers took me two rounds of a hot wash in the top loader at the laundromat, with periodic dunking in some cold water. Now, trimmed and dry, they are snug on my feet. They’re not really a replacement for my old slippers, but I think they will do nicely. I do need to get some bottoms for them, though, because they are a little, well, slippery on the wood floor.
I haven’t posted any Fiberlicious Friday pictures so far, because I couldn’t bring myself to photograph yarns with cutlery and food. But as I sliced a delicious, juicy pluot this morning, I couldn’t help but remember the Highland Silk yarn that came from Elann a couple of days ago for my Ogee Tunic:
Funny, they called the yarn shade "Raspberry," but the delicate pinks and the silk sheen remind me of the veins and lustre of the flesh of the pluot.
Incidentally, I thought this pluot was a fancy French fruit with a fancy French name. Turns out it’s a cross between a plum and an apricot, say what! I have been devouring it in the past month.
I cannot wait to cast on for the Ogee Tunic again! (by the way, do click on the Fiberlicious link above, there are some gorgeous photos)
Enjoy your weekend!
One of the fun things all last month in Pune was being part of a knitting circle – entirely of family members. Not all of them beaming aunts with their fingers flying and tongues wagging either. Here’s my mum with my niece Gargi, a very poised, ladylike and adorable eleven-year-old. The little sofa by the window was their regular afternoon knitting corner:
All the women of my mother’s generation, and indeed, any knitters that I know in India, have never followed patterns. There are set weights of wool, set needles that go with them, there are kids’, adults’ and babies’ sizes and you either eyeball it by looking at the person’s torso, or go with a generic. There are of course horror stories of how the sweater fit the younger nephew instead, but none more dramatic than the gauge disasters we read of on blogs. How many stitches to increase? Row gauge? What kind of decrease? Negative ease? She doesn’t know and doesn’t care. Over the years, she has regarded my reliance on specific instructions with the same bemusement that I have her hunting-knife-and-wit approach.
This time, though, my mother wanted me to teach her how to do socks on DPNs with specific instructions for sizes, etc. She had only ever made booties on straights for babies; nobody really makes handmade socks for adults here, I don’t think, and anyway, in the hot climate it’s neither cost-effective nor a necessity. But she was curious about it after seeing me catch the bug.
She made a pair of toe-up short-row socks (which I *forgot* to photograph), and the whole experience taught me a lot about knitting vocabulary and styles. Teaching someone to knit might be easy, but teaching advanced techniques is difficult! (History is a breeze by comparison.) That too, teaching someone in a language (Marathi) that I don’t normally use for knitting, and what’s more, someone who has never really "read" a pattern while knitting. The sock was nearly abandoned many times, but finally, I think, my mum got the hang of short-rows. Should I have picked an easier method? I figured this was simpler than heel-down. After several hilarious attempts to translate "wrap and turn, purl to one stitch before end, wrap and turn, knit to two stitches before end…" I made notes with the grand intention of maybe writing up some patterns in Marathi someday.
Gargi liked some Knitpicks elastic sock yarn I’d taken with me, and my mum started her on a garter stitch hairband. It’s amazing what variegation in colour can do to the boredom of garter stitch, especially when the shades are pink and the knitter is a tween. She switched to single rib at both ends to draw it in behind the ears, and was most delighted when it was actually done.
The third knitter was my nephew Tushar, the son of another cousin, who excitedly learnt how to knit from my mum last summer, and ambitiously declared that he wanted to knit his own sweater. Alas, somewhere along the line he decided that knitting is for girls, and now wants nothing to do with it. I’m a cricketer, he told me firmly and solemnly. I had to struggle to get the blushing fellow to even pose for me with his creation!
Who knows, he might discover the joys of k2, p2 again later in life? Another cousin, Sudha, is also an avid knitter, but we hardly got any time together to chat and gossip this time, let alone knit. Next time!
Thanks folks, for the positive feedback on the weird little eyeshade, which is working out quite well. I have to wash it to see how much it snaps back into shape, but it hasn’t stretched all that much in the first place, which is good news. For those of you visiting this blog after a long time or for the first time, this cotton eyeshade (eyemask?) is what I’m talking about. Here is the pattern (links to .pdf file). It’s also available on the sidebar on the left under "Free Patterns." As always, do let me know if any of you make it! ET, if you’re reading this, the original blue I made is yours! I’ll bring it for you next weekend when we meet.
Classes are over!! I cannot believe it has been two semesters, a full academic year already in my new job. I must say this year has been exceptional in terms of student quality, and my barring a couple, most of them have been a joy to teach and work with. And no, this happy assessment is not entirely to do with the fact that I have a grader this term! May this warm and fuzzy feeling persist in the years to come (grading help, too..)
So E, a close friend and former colleague, visited this week and I went shopping and dining and fooling around with her. Napa was part of our plans, as was an outlet mall, and Stash, my local yarn store. I saw her after almost a year, and we had a blast. I gave her my red Rangoli hat, which looked gorgeous on her. We sported cool eyeshades as we walked around in the sun and felt very chic overall, I must say. Spudsayshi, we missed you very very much, and have decided that the next get-together is going to be in Toronto. We will descend on your fair city with money and determination, and paint it red with you. How about it? (you can see the rangoli hat and my north sea shawl in the picture below):
The only thing missing from this picture (which totally sums up my simple yet decadent week) is my knitting. I had temporarily set it aside for a lunch of Moroccan olives, gouda and local chevre, fresh wholewheat bagels and pear jam and fresh apples from the farmer’s market. And a superb Spanish white rioja.
Now that I read so many blogs regularly, I’ve become familiar with my blog-friends’ colour preferences. I find that when I go to the yarn store and browse through the different colours I’m thinking, hmm, Pamela or Megan would like this green, or Spud would have loved that grey and so on. When I picked up a purple Claudia yarn the other day, I thought of Alison of Alianneknits. She would totally have picked this colour, right, A?
This has got to be the most unusual thing I have knit to date. (The nose-warmer I mentioned a few posts ago was a crochet attempt.) Any guesses about what it might be? It’s made from Cascade Fixation and took me a couple of hours. A welcome distraction from reading undergraduate research papers this weekend. It’s intended as a cover for a body part, of which we usually have two.
No, it’s not what you think. It’s an attempt to make a cotton eyeshade, to keep the light out when I sleep. They usually give these out in long haul flights. Well, at least the airlines that haven’t decided to avoid bankruptcy by saving big bucks on these extravagances, along with peanuts. I carefully save them, because while I can fall asleep anytime, anyday, anyplace, I need these shades to get it dark enough. But I keep losing the ones I have, and invariably after overhauling the bed linen I find one caked in dust bunnies under the bed and then can’t use it. The elastic for the last one I had snapped last night so I thought I’d try making one out of cotton-elastic yarn. The chevron stitch is to help the patch undulate naturally and lie flat. As you can tell, it still needs some coaxing with blocking.
Did you ever think taking a picture of yourself with a digital camera was annoying? Try it blindfolded. If I didn’t have some dignity, I’d have posted the strange angles of my room and face that my camera captured as I flapped my arms wildly with this thing over my eyes.
I cast on 50 stitches, and knit in the chevron pattern (repeated twice over 25 stitches each) for 22 rows, with 3 row garter bands at the bottom and top. Then I picked up 13 stitches along one edge on the RS, and knit till it went around, slightly stretched, across the back of my head. Then I bound off in rib and sewed it to the other RS edge. Done! Oh, yarn was Cascade Fixation.
Should *anyone* want to make this, let me know, I’ll write up the pattern, gauge and all! I’m off to take a nap. If it works, I am going to try another one, this time knit entirely sideways.
Also, thank you, thank you so much to all my readers for the wonderful feedback on the North Sea Shawl! I loved making it and sharing the pictures with everyone, and my hands are already itching to start a new lace project. I was looking at this Faroese beauty, for instance. But it’s going to have to wait, sigh.
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