ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS
Some of each to report.
First, goodbye, this year’s crop of giant grass:
I cut it down with our hand-sickle. Younger Daughter is stripping leaves from the longest stalks. Elder Daughter and she bagged the remains for yard waste recycling, setting aside the best canes for use in next year’s bean trellis. Resident Male took a heavy maul and split the clumps, which after two years unsupervised, were threatening a massive campaign of lawn-conquest. So goodbye grass! Hello, next year’s beans!
Second, Swirly is finished!
I like the way the mitering worked, even on the very narrow green strips. I also used a sawtooth with a ten-row repeat, so I was able to easily fit it around corners, letting the natural splits between the teeth accommodate the direction change. Swirly now goes to Elder Daughter, to replace the last blanket I knit for her, back when she was born.
Third, I can’t just sit. Especially when I am thinking or listening. I have to have something going. So, as a think piece, to keep my fingers occupied, and because I haven’t knit a pair of socks for me in so long my own sock drawer is looking more like a darn-me convention, I finished a quick pair for me.
This was done in Plymouth Happy Choices – a yarn that comes pre-knitted into a long scarf strip, then dyed. The idea is to unravel the thing and re-knit it. Depending on what you make the resulting pattern will be different, and always a surprise. These are standard 72-stitch toe-ups on US #00 needles, with figure-8 toes and short-rowed heels. I started at the same place in the color cycle repeat for both, but you can see that slight variations in dyeing produce fraternal instead of identical twins. I happen to love it, but others may be more fastidious. And yes – there’s a simple double YO diamond detail on the ankles, just for fun.
And another beginning – this time a stitching project.
I begin my Trifles sampler. This is a promised/bespoken piece. I made a sampler for Elder Daughter for her to take with her to her university dorm room. It bore a motto, as a subtle bit of parental nagging, embedded in a loving-hands-from-home wrapper:
Younger daughter is now in 11th grade, and wants one, too.
Hers will have a different motto, chosen just for her: “Pay attention even to trifles,” – one of Musashi’s nine precepts. She’s also asked that it bear at least one Dalek.
Here is the materials set – the remainder of the 30-count linen I used for her sister’s, plus a pile of autumn colors chosen from the stash of silk floss I bought in India:
In addition to Amy Schilling’s Dalek (chart at link above), I am using several alphabets from Ramzi’s collection of vintage Sajou and Alexandre leaflets, available at his Free Easy Cross and Pattern Maker website – a fantastic resource that should be better known. You’ll note that for once I’ve actually laid out the motto ahead of time, rather than trust to luck and eyeballing. This is because Younger Daughter is a creature of logic and symmetry. I accommodate her preferences with a bit more precision than I usually use.
More on this project as it develops. This time I’ll try to document what goes into my rather ad-hoc pattern selection decisions, and any tech tips I can.
Fall is after all, a time of endings and beginnings, and my favorite time of year.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH?
It’s not uncommon to find knitting yarns that are twins – products of the same factory, but bought and sold through different distributors. Today’s case in point: Marks & Kattens Fame Trend, and Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock.
Label info for the two varies slightly:
- Poems Sock – 75% wool, 25% nylon, 100g, 420m. Made in Turkey. 28st/36rows = 4in or 10cm on 2-2.75mm needles.
- Fame Trend – 75% wool, 25% polyamide, 100g, 420m. Made in Turkey. 26 st/37rows=4in or 10cm on 3mm needles.
Polyamide and nylon are the same thing, so the only real difference in labeling is the minor difference in gauge, with Poems being marketed at the slightly tighter sock gauge.
It’s clear that there is some difference in the color ranges carried under each label, but in this case I can say that Fame Trend color #666 is exactly the same as Poems Sock color #955. So if you are short one yarn or another, you can try looking for its long-lost twin. You may luck out and find the extra you need.
Now, why was this momentous discovery made? It’s because of Swirly, which has grown to sofa size:
So far I’ve used 1.75 skeins of the green Zauberball, and four of Poems Sock. I had one more skein of Poems, purchased via mail order from Webs. As is common in long repeat variegateds, not every skein is equally bright. My one remaining ball is a bit muddy compared to the others, and I was hoping I would not have to use it. However, you can see that I ran out midway up the second side of my very simple sawtooth edging. I clearly am going to need more…
But not to despair! Albuquerque Nancys to the rescue!
I have a long time pal also named Kim who lives out that way. She’s a knit buddy and life-friend. We’ve even worked side by side for more than a couple employers. When she heard that her two local friends were planning a trip out to Boston, she suggested that they (both named Nancy) and I get together. The Nancys were in the middle of a Great Stash Trim, refocusing their collections on the yarns they wanted to use most. So I ended up being the beneficiary of a bag of onesies and twosies, all sock weight and lace weight – all most beautiful and prime quality. Luck was clearly on my side because not only did I get a treasure that someone had to haul halfway across the country; buried in that treasure were two **perfect** skeins of the Marks & Kattens.
So I can put away my muddy skein of Poems, saving it for future socks. I can finish my sawtooth edging with vibrant color Fame Trend and finally complete Swirly. And best of all, I got to meet the Nancys!
People who know me know that I sit still badly. I have to have something in hand to do when waiting, watching TV (or listening to music), or while on planes or trains. Or on vacation. Nothing says vacation to me like sitting somewhere beautiful and taking in the scenery, abetted by needlework.
The past several weeks have been quite a rush, tumbling together major triage on our Pune apartment, pre-packing, relocating back to the US from India (sans The Resident Male, who follows next week); then having only a couple of days home to set things to partial rights, before heading out with the kids and a kid-friend for our annual week on Cape Cod. Now it’s pulling up the reins on our primary residence and getting it back under saddle, fixing two years of little annoyances, putting the cars back into full health and legal compliance, and the mother of all spring cleanings to dispatch the carnivorous dust bunnies now lurking in every corner.
So who has time for knitting? Well… I do. It’s mindless knitting, but it’s a comfort none the less.
I present Swirly – my own off-kilter take on the standard 10-stitch modular concept. Except that instead of one color, endlessly spiraling around itself in 10-stitch wide strips laid out in a base square, I’ve made some changes.
First, I’m using two yarns, one multicolor (Poems Sock), plus one variegated green (Zauberball), using a US #5 needle to make a light and airy garter stitch throw – a perfect “small something” to have on one’s lap while reading. For the record, both are machine washable/dry flat wool/nylon blend yarns, so laundering will be easy.
I started with the multi, working a 10-stitch wide strip, eyeballed for length. Then, leaving my active multicolor stitches on a holder, I worked a four-stitch wide strip of green around three sides of the multi. Then I put the green on the holder and switched back to the multicolor, working a short-rowed mitered corner, then two rows of plain garter, and another short-rowed mitered corner to establish one end of my center area. Then it was marching down the length of the green-outlined strip to the other end, working across the end (with mitered corners where appropriate). When I caught up to myself, I resumed the green, also mitering its mini-corners where needed. And I’ve kept going ever since.
What you see here is almost two balls of the Poems Sock, plus almost one Zauberball – all I had left in India, the last of the sock yarn stash I brought with me. When we got back to the US I managed to order more of each (lucky me – three more balls of multi, one more of the green!), so the blanket will continue to grow. As is, at this point, the thing is plenty big enough to be a baby blanket, so if anyone is looking for an unusual shower gift for parents who are not enamored of traditional pastels or sex-assigned color sets, 200 grams of multicolor sock yarn plus 100 grams of solid color are sufficient, provided no edging or supplemental finish is desired.
I’m not sure how big it will become. It will be done when I think it’s big enough. And I’m not sure how I will finish it off. The slip stitch selvedge edge stitches are a bit flabby to leave all on their own. I’ll either do I-cord all the way around, or invent (or find) a nice, simple edging to give it a more polished final appearance.
So far I’ve enjoyed this mindless bit of knitting immensely. I worked on it in the evenings while I was packing. I knit more on our flights back home. It was already large enough to cover my lap when we were stranded in Heathrow and spent the night perched on chairs in the main International ticketing hall. I kept going with it on the Cape, watching the tide march in and out, measuring the time intervals by garter stitch production. And I’m still working on it, relaxing with it on my favorite chair each night. (I missed that chair while we were away).
There’s no moral to the story here, other than suggesting that in uncertain and confused times, an anchor – even a soft fuzzy one – can keep one from drifting.