A Project to Share

by Lee Louise3 May 2018 -- The Prize

All year, I have been knitting cabled squares for an afghan. The afghan is not finished yet, although with 17 of 20 squares complete, it sometimes feels like it should be. But, the project was a READ and Knit A Long. We were to read a Sherlock Holmes story each month, and that month’s square was inspired by that story.

In addition, the creator of this Sherlock afghan adventure ran a trivia contest each quarter. With PRIZES!!! And, the second quarter, I won the prize. And there, nestled in with a project bag, some knitting notions, and a variety of tasty treats, was a skein of Dream in Color Classy in a beautiful, deep red:

Dream_in_Color_Classy_015_Pome_Grenade_3_medium

But I didn’t knit it up into a project until this month. Why now? Well. This year in the Midsouth Knitting Guild, the group has been working through the techniques in A Year of Techniques. This month, October, it was my turn to demonstrate and lead a workshop in wrap-and-turn techniques for garter stitch, as illustrated by Woolly Wormhead’s pattern, Ruschia hat. I wanted the hat to be done in time to show off at the workshop on October 22. I failed to meet that deadline, but I taught the class, and finished the hat the next night, October 23. I love it! I will wear it. It’s M.I.N.E.!!!!

 

So why, you may ask, if I love my hat so much, am I not wearing it in those pictures?

Well, the photo shoot went down like this:
Me, waving my cell phone around: Would you take some pictures of me? Wearing my hat? Please?
Daughter, appalled: NO!!!
Me: Would you let me take pictures of you wearing my hat?

And that is how it comes about that Hillary, A.K.A. DD#5, is modeling my finished Ruschia hat!

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Joint Effort

by Lee Louise

Joint Effort, complete, with Ezra modeling, age 2, view 3, 2018_08_01

25 years ago, I started crocheting a sweater for then-baby Hillary. The yarn is pale mint green. For some reason that eludes me now, a reason shrouded in the mists of long ago, I stopped after the back and two sleeves, and set the project aside. Perhaps Hillary had already outgrown it? Perhaps the cotton yarn felt harsh to my fingers? Perhaps I was afraid that I was going to run out of yarn before I was done? Whatever the reason, I set it aside and did not pick it up again.

Yesterday my daughter Katherine finished it:

winning a game of Yarn Chicken in the process:

Joint Effort, evidence of Yarn Chicken view 2, complete 2018_08_01

She crocheted the front and the neckline, and sewed the seams. The sweater is done, and it fits my 2-year-old grandson!

Joint Effort, complete, with Ezra modeling, age 2, view 1, 2018_08_01

What Goes Around Comes Around

by Lee Louise

My daughter came for a visit recently. When she left, she tossed a crocheted dishcloth onto my lap and said, basically, “I made this for you, you can finish the ends.”

I looked at it, looked at her, and started working sums. It took me 17 years to finish the ends on a little red baby sweater. 17 years from now? It would probably be 2035 before we could use that dishcloth.

That night, before I started knitting, I worked in the ends, and the dishcloth is now folded neatly in drawer with all its little friends. So proud of myself!!! Thank you, Margaret.

However. The dishcloth made me remember her graduation afghan. High school graduation. The one that I finished when she was a sophomore in college. She wanted one of those multi-stranded afghans that were so popular at the time. We went to the yarn store, and she chose four different yarns, that I dutifully (and perhaps resentfully) held together and knitted, using size 35 knitting needles. It was not particularly fun for me. I was thinking descriptive words that I hadn’t known that I knew, as I knit that afghan. It didn’t that take long to knit, but remember that there were four yarns, each in different length skeins. There were multiple skeins of each yarn. Needless to say, there were many, many ends to finish off when the knitting was done, and since it was knit at a size 35 (for my non-knitting friends, those are Very Large knitting needles) gauge, they were going to be hard to work in securely.

Snarling, though snarling gently through a pasted-on smile, so as not to be too obvious as I thought my uncharitable thoughts, I took the afghan to her at the university, forcefully handed it to her (okay, maybe I threw it at her), and informed her that she could finish the ends.

I never saw Margaret’s afghan again, and I finally asked her when she was here if she had ever used it, if she had finished the ends, if she still had it. No, she said. It was one of the things that was destroyed in a house fire, so she didn’t still have it. No, she had never used it; no, she had never finished the ends. But now she wished she had used it, even with the ends undone.

We understand each other. And I admit that I totally deserved having an unfinished dishcloth dropped in my lap. I thought about that afghan as I finished the dishcloth, in less than 17 years. I have two more high school graduation afghans to make, then I will make Margaret another afghan, though in a design of my own choosing. And I might even finish the ends before I give it to her, though I might not. What goes around comes around, after all.

 

Little Red Sweater

by Lee Louise

I joyously completed a project recently, one that I began 17 years ago. Ever since 2001, the sweater has looked like this:

4-Tam Pram Sweater since 2001

Yes, you read that right, it is not a typo. 17 years ago (that’s seventeen!!) I knit a tiny baby’s sweater, and left it languishing, hidden among a myriad of UFOs that only increased over the years, until I found it again. I had been seeking a gift for my new grand #15, who is due in the early fall, and this was P.e.r.f.e.c.t. At least, it would be perfect if it were finished. In point of fact, it took me only a couple of weeks to finish — in actual time, maybe four hours.

First I had to finish those pesky yarn ends (illustrating a common failing of mine — the knitting complete, I do not pick up the needle to tuck away the yarn ends for 17 years):

4-Tam Pram Sweater back view of grafted center back

Buy some buttons (this took hardly any time at all, although I suppose I should confess that I had bought another set of buttons 17 years ago; I found the sweater, but not the paper of plain red buttons; I like these better, so not a big loss):

4-Tam Pram Sweater buttons

Give it a soak and a bit of a stretch:

4-Tam Pram Sweater bathed and drying 2018_06_04

Sew those buttons on (this took most of the week. To get to, you understand.)

4-Tam Pram Sweater with perfect buttons

And it is finished. In this glamour shot, the little red sweater is lounging on the piano:

4-Tam Pram Sweater complete and lounging on the piano 2018_06_09

You may be wondering… Many other people are wondering, not the least of them being my husband… Why did I knit this sweater, 17 years ago, without any intended recipient? (My youngest was 8 at the time, and the oldest grandchild was neither born nor even thought of. I remember getting a lot of flack over knitting this little gem.)

I’ll tell you. The sweater is a Debbie New design. Back in the day, Ms. New was an innovative genius that took the world of knitting by storm and changed the way we knitters look at a potential knitted object. Sweaters in stockinette stitch with ribbing are no longer the norm. Socks can be knit side to side around the foot in garter stitch. She even designed a teacup and saucer, and a boat that actually floated! You can see some of her designs in her book, Unexpected Knitting, including the pattern for this little red sweater.

But back to my explanation of why I knit this sweater. The secret motivation is the unusual construction detail. It is made of two hexagons, folded, then grafted together up the center back. I am a math major, with a specialty in geometry. Need I say more?

But… Why have I kept it without finishing it for one of 14 other grandchildren? No idea. No idea at all.

Back on Track

by Lee Louise

R.I.P.

Last night I looked at my Estonian Flower Garden, as it languished. It had its issues:

  1. nupps facing back instead of front
  2. tonal variation in the hand-dyed yarn that hid the design

And, with some help, I frogged the project (rip-it, rip-it):

Frogging Estonian Flower Garden in process

And then I started my 2018 Olympic knitting with that orange yarn:

Snow. Moguls. Loving it. Next up? The Olympic torch.

Olympic Knitting Progress Derailed

by Lee Louise

Well now. The February knitting plan was to do some Olympic KALs. To be specific, a cowl and a scarf were/are in the queue.

I was not planning to knit the warm-ups for Sock Madness this year, at all.

Totally unsuspecting that a major change in plans was brewing, I went to the SuperBowl sale at Rainbow Yarns in Germantown on February 3, and this yarn followed me home:

ONline neptun-color yarn for warm-up 1

I was thinking “baby hats”, because I can get as many as 4 newborn hats from one of these skeins. Then the Nogardaton pattern became available in the Sock Madness drop box, and my fingers itched to make those bobbled cuffs, that lacy leg, the marvelous short row heel — in this beautiful sea-colored self-striping yarn! Even though I have two other projects, both Olympic KALs, to knit this month, I found I. Could. Not. Stop. Myself.

And so, on February 8, I cast on at the university library’s Craft-n-Chat in the Rotunda, and, after about 3 false starts (false start = dropping a stitch in one of the beginning rounds, which I find I cannot salvage, but must start over), I had finished the bobbles and cuff, and started the leg. My one regret is that the bobble round fell in the dark green stripe of this yarn, so it is hard to see them clearly, unless you know they are there.

Warm-up 1 Feb 8 cuff with bobbles

Note to self: start the second sock so that the bobbles will be light-to-mid blue

Then last night it looked like this:

Warm-up 1 Feb 9

Love that lacy, waving lace.

No regrets.

Stay Warm

by Lee Louise

For 2018, I have already committed to three new year-long knit-a-longs. I haven’t started knitting them yet because, alas, I am still knitting a Christmas present, and that is a project shrouded in secrecy since it is intended for someone who might be reading this blog post:

But yes, there are three KAL’s in my future. At the end of the year, I should be rewarded with two Shetland lace scarves and one cable sampler scarf, all hand knit by me! Now, that’s not to say there won’t be other projects tucked in here and there throughout the year, because you know and I know that there will be. It is inevitable.  But today, as most of the country shivers in a brutally cold weather pattern, I want to talk about these three KALs.

The clues for the first one are issued on the first day of the month, and so the January clue has already dropped. I am using Harrisville Shetland fingering yarn in the lovely cornflower colorway, which is very tweedy in light to medium blues and purples. For my Christmas gift, Tom bought a whole cone (900 yards) for me:

Harrisville Shetland fingering cornflower

which is roughly twice what I will need for this scarf. And so, I plan to roughly double it, and make a wrap instead of a scarf. The right side rows have eyelets and decreases, and the wrong side rows are knit straight back across, making garter based lace.

The clues for the second Shetland scarf drop on the 15th of the month. The difference is that the wrong side rows are purled, for stockinette based lace. I am using red Kashmir DK, a discontinued yarn from Louisa Harding:

Louisa Harding Kashmir DK bLouisa Harding Kashmir DK a

The 10% cashmere fiber content makes the knitting enjoyable. The microfiber makes the project bouncy, as in I stretch it out, and it bounces right back. I worry that it won’t hold a blocking well, but we shall see.

The third KAL scarf is a cable sampler. The clues drop on the 20th of each month, and I’ll be using Cascade Cloud yarn in Honey, left over from another project a couple of years ago. Look familiar?

cascade_cloud_honey_2

Back in November, when I was setting up my project page, I wrote “The scarf will be very warm [as in too warm for anything I might possibly need myself], but I know some people who live where it is cold [and that is decidedly not where I live].” I feel pretty silly about that right now. I live in the MidSouth, so I did not believe that this could possibly include me, but this past week, Memphis along with most of the rest of the nation, has succumbed to an arctic vortex, with temperatures dipping into the teens or lower each night, and seldom rising above freezing during the day. It has been quite awful. When I moved to Memphis, I erroneously believed that, as I was moving South, life would be warm and wonderful. I have been disappointed. Every year, I have been disappointed.

Watching the weather news I realize that many people could benefit from a warm scarf about now, considering the arctic temperatures and considerable snowfall still in the forecast. Indeed, I hope everyone has a warm scarf, maybe with matching hat and handwarmers. You probably do. If you do, wear them. If you don’t, knit some.

Stay warm. If it is icy, stay inside. And, if you must go outside, be safe.

Advent Scarves

by Lee Louise

I think Advent scarves are the most delightful idea imaginable. You start them just as your other year-long knit-a-longs (KALs) and crochet-a-longs (CALs) wind down. There is the whole month of December, waiting for you to create a new project, a few rows each day, while you think about the holiday season, and its meaning for you. I started two Advent scarves at the beginning of the month — one knit (Advent Scarf 2017 by Tricia Weatherston), and one crocheted ( Advent Scarf 2017 by Melinda Miller). Unfortunately, this year I also failed both of them. No excuses worth sharing, beyond saying that even though I didn’t start the projects, I did think about the season.

I have succeeded in the past. Indeed, I have been wearing this Tonalita Adven Scarf from 2016 for the past month:

20161226_152457.jpg

I know that next year I will once again commit to one or two Advent-a-longs.

So what did I accomplish this Advent season? We shipped a box of hand-crafted items to California:

I crocheted granny loveys for charity:

I finished another combinatorics shawl:CombinatoricsFinished

And those are my Advent projects.

Giving Thanks

by Lee Louise

antique-cornucopia

Today, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in the U.S. And so, today we ate turkey, succotash, cranberry salad, and pumpkin pie, and maybe also lasagna, and macaroni and cheese, and sweet potato pie, if we are from the MidSouth. We watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. We greeted each other with wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving, or maybe just a “Happy Turkey Day.”

When I woke up today, I was not particularly happy. My feet hurt. They always hurt in the morning these days. And so, I pondered on this philosophical conundrum as I sat on the edge of my bed, convincing myself that I could stand up, while asking myself unanswerable questions. What, precisely, is meant by a “happy” Thanksgiving? What part does happiness play in a Thanksgiving celebration? Do we have to be happy to give thanks? Were the Pilgrims happy that their harvest was dangerously diminished in that famous 3-day feast? (I doubt it.) Does it mean today that we are happy to be thankful?  Or thankful to be happy? Or, are the turkeys happy?

thanksgiving-turkey-illustration

I will admit that I don’t have any answers to these questions, and so I looked at the history of the holiday.

By presidential Proclamation 118 in October 1864, Abraham Lincoln set apart “the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

I am thankful that we do not have leftover turkey tonight. I am thankful that there are no bags of leftover turkey in the freezer, coming back as turkey surprise next year. (Surprise! It’s turkey! Again!) I am thankful that even though my feet may hurt, my hands can still knit.

Purloined Bobbles Preliminary Blocking

I give thanks for the blessings I have and, as I count my blessings, I am happier. And, I hope that you all had a Joyous Thanksgiving Day.

The Delft, Part 1

by Lee Louise

This story is a year late in the writing of it.

I chose not to post the 2016 holiday gift stories last year, in 2016, because — well — because I was making gifts! Gifts should be surprises. And so, stories and pictures about gifts have no place on the internet until after they have been gifted. One never knows who might be furtively peeking.

The Delft, in particular, was a stealth project of the highest order, because it was to be my son’s afghan that should have been made and gifted about 15 years ago, according to the Epic Afghan Timeline.

It was October 5 when I first read about the upcoming MCAL by Margaret MacInnis. “Inspired by Dutch Delft Polychrome pottery” — I am a fan of Dutch Delft pottery, at least I was, once I had seen some pictures! “Please join in the creation of this unique afghan, which features ovals and odd shapes” — creativity, uniqueness, ovals and odd shapes all spoke to me, and I realized that this would make a wonderful afghan for my son. The time table looked doable, with the first clue arriving on October 15 and the seventh clue on November 26. Finish up the borders by the beginning of December, and ship it off in time for Christmas. Piece of cake! I thought, I can do this!

Join me as I reminisce. Indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events with me. Read along. Watch as my journey encountered rocky spots that made me question my wisdom in tackling this wondrous project. Here we go, starting a little more than a year ago:

18 October 2016.
I want to play too!

Everyone is choosing such lovely colors. The blocks are interesting in construction (not your everyday granny square or double crochet square), and quite lovely. So, I’ve bought in. A little late, perhaps, but, from now, I am with you all till the end. Having gotten the pattern, I ordered Brava 100% acrylic yarn from KnitPicks last night. I am surprised at myself for choosing to use Brava. You see, I stopped using 100% acrylic yarn about 25 years ago when I bought some [brand deleted to protect the guilty] acrylic yarn in burgundy red to make an afghan, and my hands were getting paper cuts! Seriously, it was like crocheting with cardboard. But I have great hopes for Brava.

With input from my daughters, I chose clarity, denim, red, dublin, and almond for my colors and will start crocheting when the yarn arrives. (I wanted to use a white, sky, cotton candy, alfalfa and custard yellow colorway – all pastels! — and I probably will someday for a different design and a different recipient. But, for this project I was outvoted.)

22 October 2016.
I am still waiting for my yarn to arrive from KnitPicks. According to FedEx tracking, it should arrive late today, and then I will start to play. The game? Catch up!!

22 October continued.
Box of yarn arrives a little after noon!

Brava_DelftyDelftColors_1.jpg

25 October 2016.
1 square and 1 oval done. Slow but steady wins the race.

Delft_Clue1_1

But already, with just 2 months till Christmas, I was wondering what I had done to myself. The pieces were, indeed, odd and oval. But I was committed, and ready to move forward.

To be continued…