With great joy I announce the end of my most recent death-march deadline at work. The one that has eaten up nearly every day since Halloween (including weekends). I spent this past weekend catching up on a belated birthday celebration, exhuming some parts of my house from clutter, and returning at last to knitting.
One half of the birthday was a memorable dinner with The Resident Male at Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellsley, MA. Not being as eloquent on the subject as Chocolate and Zucchini (one of my favorite reads) I won’t bore you with a dissection of the meal beyond saying it was a leisurely evening of fine food and wine. The company wasn’t bad, either.
The other half of my celebration was a day of personal indulgence, including a visit to the local yarn shop to take advantage of their semi-annual clearance sale. I bought some Encore and a pattern (see below), a couple skeins of sock yarn, a kit to make Dovetail Design’s Rainbow Hat and Scarf (with a full spectrum of Frog Tree alpaca) and two full bags of Jaeger Matchmaker DK in an intense charcoal gray heather. The Matchmaker is destined to become the Sarah James Ribbed Leaf pullover.
On the knitting front, I’ve started winding the tie-dyed cotton. I made the mistake of washing and drying it in the machine. While in concept doing so wasn’t particularly wrong, I could have used more ties to secure the yarn. I ended up with quite a tangle which I am slowly deconstructing back into a ball. It’s not difficult or knotted, but it is tedious. I’m very pleased however with the result. Knitting it however will have to wait for another time, as I am wildly behind on other projects and need to finish them first.
On that Encore – I’ve got a pal at work who has two little girls, with a third on the way. Everyone always knits for the new baby, so I decided to do something different. I’m making two "Big Sister" sweaters in the girls’ two favorite colors for the older two. Since there will be ample laundry in that household, I’ve chosen an easy-care acrylic wool blend. The two sweaters will be identical except for color. One is kid’s size 6 in screaming pink, the other is a size 4 in eggplant purple.
As I mentioned before, I’m woefully behind in knitting so I am using the short-cut of a purchased pattern. A quick to knit, ultra-simple purchased pattern. I’m working Cabin Fever’s 1,2,3, Top Down (#609). It’s a unisex simple knitting pullover, worked top down. The pattern covers kids’ sizes 4-8, and is worked in standard worsted. As you can see, having started on Saturday, I’ve gotten about a quarter of the way through the larger size. I’m past the point where the sleeves split off, and am now well into the body tube. The pattern itself is quite simple and easy to follow. I’d recommend this as being a design that a newer knitter would enjoy. So far the skills needed to accomplish it have been casting on, knitting in the round, and yarn overs. A small bit of purling is introduced in the ribbing and (optional) welt at the base of the collar.
As you can see, the first of the two sweaters I’m making for my friend’s kids is more than half-way done. I’ve got only a couple more rows of the body ribbing to go before doing the rolled lower edge, then I get to do the sleeves.
Of course, anything in a kids’ size 6 knitted at 5 stitches per inch goes quickly, especially when it’s just miles of stockinette. There’s just two more skills needed in this pattern – k2tog, and casting off. I’d rate this a solid beginner’s hit.
Now, about those sleeves…
My bugbear of the knit-in-the-round genre has always been making the sleeves even. I am a lazy knitter. I hate counting rows. Being the largest idiot in my universe, I try to idiot-proof my knitting whenever possible. I am not a big fan of two-circ technique for things like socks (I’m much faster on DPNs), but I think for these sleeves, I’ll give that method I try. I’ll use a pair of longish ones, and work both sleeves side by side, each from its own ball of yarn. I’ve discussed both alternate circular needle methods and side-by-side knitting of two items before. More on this tomorrow after I’ve gotten enough done to photograph.
In other blather, I’m annoyed with Knitters Magazine. This isn’t an unusual occurrence, but it does have other root causes. Most recently I’ve been annoyed because of their overall lackluster patterns – the sad, baggy, unflattering things; the unnecessarily tarted up,overembellished items; the ill fitting pieces in flash-in-the-pan novelty yarns that look stupid even on the svelte; and the parade of useless accessories that look more like hand-knitted fungus than anything else. Then there’s magazine format, use of ill considered yarn description standards, and the treasure hunt to determine the basic info needed to actually work the patterns. To be sure, the latest issue has its share of those, but it also has one item that looks to be worth knitting – the first one I’ve been tempted to make from Knitters in about five years. It’s the lace stole on the cover. I’d show you the thing, but as usual the Knitters site is throwing errors.
Why am I annoyed when the rag has finally presented something other than rags?
Because the issue appears to be in yarn shops and book stores, but not in my mailbox. My issue has either gone astray, or is lurking somewhere in the post office. I know several other subscribers here in Massachusetts. Their issues are also late. I suspect the magazine’s excellent standard of professionalism is to blame. The same one that is responsible for the buggy website, poor subscription management/customer service, lousy pattern choices, and severely flawed published instructions.