my excuse to talk about knitting, cats and life in general

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Long Distance, Please

I've finally managed to order the Bohus kits this morning. Since someone managed to get our credit card number last year, we're even more paranoid than usual, and that's saying something. As a result, I made my first international telephone call. I don't know why I was so nervous, maybe remembering when any long distance call was *really* expensive. I wasn't positive that there would be someone who spoke English, either. But everything was fine; the woman who answered the phone spoke English but she gave me to a British woman working there. So I've given them the card number and soon my two Bohus kits will be coming my way. Yahoo!!!

But ... it won't get here in time for the Knitting Olympics. So plan B is now plan A. I received my kit for Rainbow Mittens from Lucy Neatby at Tradewind Knitwear Designs in Nova Scotia. It's really neat. The cuffs are rings of reverse stockinette in all the colors of the rainbow. The body of the mittens alternate a checkerboard of the base color (navy) with the same rainbow colors, changing the rainbow colors to get stripes. I've knit socks, but not in fairisle, so fairisle mittens should be a decent challenge. My friend Peg reminded me that the Knitting Olympics were supposed to challenge me, not drive me crazy. But as my ex-brother-in-law Marty used to say, "That's not a drive, that's a putt." My discretion is rarely the better part of valor, but fate has saved me from myself and I'm doing Rainbow Mittens.

Since swatching is "training", I naturally wanted to start training right away. Problem. The yarn, from Shelridge Farms in Ontario, comes in hanks. I do own a swift and a ball winder, from back in my machine knitting days, but they, like the rest of the knitting machines and accoutrements, are still in storage. Peg has a swift and a ball winder. Great! ... no, not so great. It's 6:15am and I really don't think they'd appreciate an early morning knock on the door, even though it's a work day. Rats. That means I'll have to WAIT. Noooooo... Aha! Turn the pages back and hand wind the yarn! So that's what I was doing in front of the SAD light this morning. The skein was draped over my knees and I wound off the cherry red by hand. The ball is really round, not like the cylinders the ball winder makes, and it's even looser. I learned that you *never* make a tight ball when winding yarn; it takes a lot of the life and spring out of the wool. Very bad.

I cast on 20 stitches and started a circular swatch on the no. 3 needles they called for. Hmmm... this doesn't look like the right gauge. They want 21 sts to 4 inches. That's just over 5 st per inch. No, 7.5 sts per inch sure isn't right. So I rip it back and it's time to go out to my physical therapy appointment. I've got biceps tendonitis, but I can't remember what I did to cause it. Nonetheless, I'm going to work hard to get it gone, so I don't have to play injured. I'm just stupid, no, stubborn, no, stupid AND stubborn enough to do that.

Now that I'm back, I'll start swatching, again. I hope it won't take too long to find the right needle for gauge. I suppose I could re-chart it at my given gauge... No, Peg would kill me.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bohus, Wherefore Art Thou ...

I got another email from Anita at the Bohus Museum. She told me how to find photos of the various hats for which they have kits. It's in the Swedish language section. And all the patterns for hats and mittens are only in Swedish. Now THAT really adds to the challenge for the Knitting Olympics. I figure that they all come with charts, since the original Bohus sweaters, etc., were knit from charts. So, I'm OK. Wait, the colors will be in Swedish. That handy-dandy knitting translator book should help, if they do basic things like the names of colors. Hmmm. Wait again, what about cast-ons, when to increase/decrease, all those fussy little details that make knitting patterns actually work. Rats, I may be in over my head.

Then I got a post from Ullis, telling me about an online Swedish knitting dictionary and actually offering to help with translations! Yahoo! Ullis, my eternal thanks. May moths never find your stash, and may your knitting needles be blessed for a thousand years.

I'll knit the Bohus kits (yes, plural; remember the hat kit?) whether they come in time for the Olympics or not. The idea of recreating one of those amazing patterns just makes my heart beat faster. I wonder if it's from excitement or anxiety.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

So Far, So Slow

I've been working on Sabetta's sweater. I've got the back and front done and I'm working on the sleeves, both on the same needle. It's a tennis sweater from a Vogue Knitting mag, don't remember the issue. I'm using KnitPicks Andean Silk - 55% alpaca, 23% silk, 22% merino; and it's lovely stuff to knit, good stitch definition, soft and lovely hand. I'm using vintage Ber-Mel needles, size 7; they have nice pointy tips and metal cables. I really like them.

This morning, I was knitting in front of the SAD light, getting my 30 minutes before dawn in, and all I knit was 1 1/2 rows at 82 stitches per sleeve. I know I'm not a fast knitter, but this is ridiculous. I feel so clumsy, so awkward. My guess is that it's the meds that give me the tremor in my right hand. I used to be so proud of my manual dexterity. I used to be able to do lots of things other people couldn't or do them faster. Hubris. Never boast or the gods will get you, sooner or later. I've officially backed off on my Knitting Olympics goal; it's now *one* fairisle mitten, not a pair. I just don't want to drive myself nuts, well, nuttier than I already am. I'll still try for the pair, but Stephanie said to make the challenge achievable. And if I actually get the Bohus mitten kit in time, that will be more than enough challenge for me. 9 stitches per inch, indeed!

I still find the slowness rather depressing. I do want to be able to finish more projects, but it's the ego thing more than that. I identify myself as a skilled hand worker. If that is slipping away, what's left? A formerly skilled hand worker? Doesn't have the same caché. And if we start talking about memory, I'll really start weeping in my ale. Rats.

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Knitting Olympics

Things are wild over at YarnHarlot's blog. My guess of a gazillion knitters participating in the Knitting Olympics seems low. I actually counted the knitters registered and there were 702. Watch out, politicians, Stephanie is a force to be reckoned with!

I've been waffling a bit on my choice of project. The latest seemed to be Rainbow mittens from Lucy Neatby. I've ordered the kit, and all. Now I'm being seduced by Bohus. Sigh. I'm taking the Bohus class at Stitches West. I have the book, Poems in Color. I even own a Bohus sweater (pre-felted by a previous owner and pre-nibbled by previous moths, grrrr, but better than nothing, much better). I'm not Wendy, however, and there's no way I could knit a whole Bohus sweater in 17 days. A tam, however, seems do-able. And there are mittens. To buy another kit or two, or not. Clearly, I've been reading too much of the YarnHarlot and have become rather fickle, myself. My guess is that I will order those 2 kits from the Bohus Museum (thanks for the links, Wendy) and see if they get here in time. I'm assuming that the Rainbow Mittens will arrive, so they can be the fall-back project.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Welcome to my world

Dashed if I know what I'm doing, but here goes. I knit, I have Siamese cats, and so far this sounds pretty dull. I'm a stay-at-home mom to one daughter and wife to one husband. We're all a bit geeky, all scientists. I'm a former geologist, he's an organic chemist and she's a student physicist.

I'm a traditionalist Episcopalian, preferring the 1928 Book of Common Prayer to the "New Book" and sometimes ranting on about the Episcopal church. Don't be confused; I'm also a feminist (rather an old fashioned term these days) and I have no intrinsic opposition to women as priests. I'll judge any priest as an individual and I've certainly seen male priests who were veracity-impaired and therefore, in my not-so-humble opinion, not worthy of their calling.

I knit. Slowly, but I knit. I'm a great fan of Knitter's Review and the Yarn Harlot (aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee). Two days ago, Stephanie threw down the gauntlet and established the Knitting Olympics. You choose a project that is challenging to you, you start it when the Olympic torch is lit and finish it before the torch is extinguished. Along with what seems to be a gazillion other knitters, I've signed on. Wish me luck.