Monday, April 30, 2007

project withdrawal

Do you hate it when you finish a big project? I do. Whether it is finishing a long novel or binding off a sweater or coming to the end of a semester, I feel restless until I manage to find a new project that can occupy my mind and/or my hands. At present I only have one project on the needles - this lacy scarf for my mother-in-law. I like how it's turning out, but I find it exhausting. Every other row of lace is a little different, and I have to concentrate to prevent mistakes. It's not the kind of project I can relax with.

I'd really like a large project right now, especially as it is autumn here, and the leaves are falling, and it will soon be winter and time for hibernating, but I'm having trouble deciding. My main problem is my local yarn store. Now, living in New Zealand, home of the sheep, one would think lovely yarns would not be hard to find. But that's not so. My LYS carries Rowan (horrendously overpriced here, but at least one can find yarns that have disappeared from the shelves elsewhere, like Cork) and Jo Sharp and Paton's, but that's basically it. Otherwise it is bin after bin of squeaky acrylic or, if I'm feeling "funky", feather yarn. No handpainted sock yarns, no bins of linen or bamboo or even silk. And while the rest of the world is going through a knitting revival, here I always seem to be the youngest person in the store by decades and the only one not wearing an intarsiaed poodle. Sigh. I drool over yarns on the internet--Koigu, Artyarn, Handmaiden silk--and sometimes I indulge myself and buy the yarn for a project, like the Kollage Cornucopia, but the shipping is outrageous. Still, Ashford, home of the spinning wheel and an hour away, makes a lovely wool, so that's a small comfort.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Finally: The Lorelei!

After much ado, my Lorelei is now complete, and I'm pretty happy with it. This is my second "sweater", or at least full article of clothing, to knit, and while I had a little trouble with it (see previous post), the directions were remarkably clear. Thanks, Shobhana!

I substituted yarn for this project. At Christmas my mother gave me a ball of Feza Alp, color #019, and I wanted to find a project in which to use it, so I chose Lorelei. And then, because the Alp is a "novelty yarn", I wanted to pair it with another novelty, so I chose Kollage's Cornucopia in wine (5 skeins). Cornucopia is a funny yarn to knit with. When I washed it, the colors didn't run, and there was no fading, but when I was knitting, the yarn turned my needle tips and stitch counter pink, and when I was crocheting with it, my fingernail turned pink. Weird. But I do like the yarn. It's stretchy, but not too stretchy, and quite light and airy to wear, perfect for hot weather. Also, I like the stitch definition. I don't think the Cornucopia looks quite as elegant as the silk, of course, but I think a tank top is a good project for such a yarn.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Some thoughts on the dreaded dropped stitch

Last night, I was in the process of finishing my Lorelei tank from Lisa Shobhana Mason’s Yarnplay, had only the front to finish, when what should happen but I should notice a bit in the armpit has unravelled. Stitches I had thought were bound off had suddenly come undone, and all those loops were now open and loose, gaping like the mouth in Munch’s Scream. Every attempt I made to finish it simply unravelled it more, until I realised (gulp!) that the only solution was to unravel it all back to a point where I could regather the stitches and begin again.

You can imagine the carnage: yards of kinked yarn all over the living room floor, the cats eyeing it with interest, my husband eyeing me to see when I’m going to explode, and all I’m thinking is: look at all those hours gone to waste. Every kink in that yarn is a breath, a gesture of my hands working in unison, the kinks formed in part by the oil passing from my hands into the fibers so that they will hold the shape I give them.

I just finished my first sweater in March of this year, and I can hardly stop wearing it. Not only did I make that sweater, but it is me: it is a record not just of my existence, of something I made, but of every breath I took during its construction. And that amazes me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Beginning of the Skein

Hello! This is my first post, and my first blog, a place to share my encounters with yarn, and any other beautiful thing I come across. I started knitting almost a year ago, when I returned from a trip to Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne was beautiful! There were so many shops full of beautiful handmade things, so many lovely outfits and shop windows. Even a local green grocer made a new vegetable sculpture each day in the front window! Walking through the streets of Melbourne was a reminder of how beautiful each day can be if we take the time to pay attention. When I returned to Christchurch, I decided I needed to start creating beautiful things myself. I had learned to knit many years before, but it was a disaster. My first hat on circular needles turned into a mobius strip! But upon returning from Melbourne, I purchased a copy of Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch, and some knitting needles and yarn from Goodwill, and away I went! The only other knitter I know is my sister (I taught her at Christmas), but she's on the other side of the globe. So, this is my public entry into the world of knitting, and a way of getting in touch with other knitters. Happy knitting!