December 2008 Archives



Yup, y'all guessed it. My Christmas treat is to knit up Ysolda's Vivian pattern for myself. What a nice change of pace it is not to have to worry about all the ins and outs of sizing!


So far, my plan about Vivian is working out surprisingly well. Yesterday I had a very productive session working on the sizing for Ethel, and I think a few more sessions like it will get the pattern to a point where it's ready to send to test knitters. Before I left for Australia a certain issue had come up with the larger sizes, and has been hanging over my head ever since; yesterday I got it all sorted, which is a great feeling. I still have a way to go, but I'm feeling much more eager and optimistic to work on it now that the Big Confusing Problem is no longer standing in my way.


I absolutely love the way this sweater is designed. I often compare garment construction to the plot of a novel: I want to keep reading and finish the part I'm on, so I can find out what happens next. If sweater-making is like novel reading, then, the "plot" of the Vivian pattern is best compared to a twisty, turny read, with lots of clever reveals and unexpected connections, but still with a warm-hearted, comforting core of familiar, likable characters. The torso portion in particular is always harboring some new and clever development, and it makes the thing a blast to knit. Both the style (zip-up, hoodie), and the yarn (bulky) are outside of my normal range, but I'm so glad I picked Vivian as my relaxation knit. It doesn't disappoint.

Needless to say, given that I'm hooked and want to find out whodunit, my progress continues at a healthy clip. The torso and a single sleeve are completed, and the sleeve is seamed. (I have a strong aversion to using double-pointed needles larger than a size 3, and I didn't have any circulars appropriate for a Magic Loop sleeve, so I just worked it flat and seamed it. Doing it that way also meant I didn't have to worry about differences in circular versus flat gauge.) I'm really excited to see all the pieces come together in the yoke (the equivalent of Poirot announcing "You're probably wondering why I've gathered you all together..."), so I'll probably be powering through Sleeve Number Two in the next few days.


Snow days


Let's recap, shall we? A week ago, I was looking at this:


Now, I am looking at this:


That is totally a person in a parka, snow-shoeing down my street. Because it's freaking cold and snowy here! Portlanders just aren't used to this kind of thing. Mr. Bingley doesn't know what to think.


So. Okay. I'll try not to just post astounded blog entries about the real live snow drifts on our front door, but holy mackerel. Snow. What can I tell you?

In more pertinent news, although you might think that a few days of forced quiet time inside would lead to productivity, in my case you would be wrong. I've been taking stock of the projects ahead, and frankly, there are an overwhelming number of them. So I decided to narrow them down to three for the time being: the sizing for the Ethel sweater, a piece of secret-for-now design work, and a big ol' piece of mindless knitting to work on while I'm puzzling out the first two. Sounds like a good, balanced plan, right? Except, faced with the cozy vibe, the board games, wine/hot chocolate, and silly movies from the '30s, it's hard not to just default to the mindless knitting and forget all about the challenging parts of the equation.

And that's just what I did.


This project is a huge luxury, and my Christmas present to myself: a whole sweater designed for me by someone else! And, it uses up a big bag of yarn over which I've been fretting for over a year, which failed to inspire any original designs. Those two circumstances together make me feel like I'm easing back into a warm bubble bath every time I work on it. So really, it's no wonder I'm having trouble tearing myself away.

More on the pattern later, although I bet a few of you will be able to figure it out. In the meantime, happy celebrations to those participating, and happy regular-day-except-everything's-closed to everyone else! I'll be spending the holiday in snowy Portland, making purple cables and relaxing in front of my parents' fire.

Vacay knitting


Despite the unreasonable refusal of Qantas, Australia's national airline, to let knitting needles on the plane even if they are itsy-bitsy, I did get do some mindless, summery knitting while I was on vacation. Knitting which now seems ridiculously inadequate to cope with the weather conditions in Portland.


These are Kate Blackburn's lovely Rosamond pattern, in a simple, easily-memorizable lace pattern that ends up looking delicately romantic. They're worked in the Lenten Rose colorway of Sundara sock yarn, and alternate between looking lavender or grey, depending on the light. After all, a lady is entitled to change her mind. As is a fella, when it comes to that.


I finished these on Kangaroo Island, she of the wallabies and koalas of my last post. Which meant that I was knitting along in gorgeous, 70-degree weather, looking at views like this, never anticipating that I would return to frozen landscape of ice and snow. I keep expecting a nefarious lady in a sled to pull up and offer me enchanted Turkish Delight.


In any case, I was a bit disappointed with these when I first finished them. I don't know why I wasn't prepared, because I've knit a goodly amount of lace before, but they came off the needles unattractively bumpy and frumpy compared to the negligée-inspired idea I had in my head. We can all see where this is going, of course: fast-forward to back in Portland, after a nice bath for these girls and a few days drying on the sock blockers, and I'm much more excited about the results.


When my mom's cousin Jan was in town, she noticed this pattern in my Ravelry queue and said that it was the kind of thing ladies used to put in their hope chests. I think that sums up the appeal for me. Except I, luckily, get to wear them right away - or would do, if it weren't insanely cold here. I think I'm back to lace-less woolen socks for the time being, but I'm glad to have posted these on the shortest day of the year. Warmth and daylight will be here before I know it, and when they are, lacy Lenten Rose socks will help me greet them.


Post script: being forbidden from plane knitting wasn't actually so bad. On the way back to the States I read the whole of Peter Carey's amazing My Life as a Fake, which I highly, HIGHLY recommend. Check it out!

Welcome home


David and I returned from our trip to Australia to find that the Family Trunk Project site was down, and all of my emails since forever had simply disappeared.

Welcome home!


Luckily, our hosting service managed to transfer us to a new home with no data loss, about which they originally told us they "were not optimistic." So we're all breathing a big sigh of relief, which is nice, because it gets the blood moving through veins which otherwise might be frozen 'cause holy mackerel, it's cold here. I know all y'all in the Midwest and Canada will think I'm a whiny baby, but Portland is not used to having weeks of icy roads and snow forecast into the foreseeable future. I did do some knitting Down Under, but it might be a few days before I can photograph it given the miserable lighting conditions.

Despite the weather and the rocky return, though, I am so delighted to be home. Our trip was lots of fun, but it's always so nice to get back to my own little nest. I'm nursing my jetlag for another day or two, and then diving into sizing on Ethel and some other design work. Thanks so much to everyone who has volunteered to test-knit, by the way; I'll be sending out an email/Ravelry message to all of you in a few weeks. In the meantime, have a wallaby.


(I'll be posting more photos over on my Flickr page during the next few days, for anyone who's interested.)