Wednesday, March 21, 2012

third time's a...

Knitting, it really is about perseverance. Last winter I picked up just enough Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed on special to make a Snowbird Cardigan. I was pretty excited about the cardigan style and this wool was actually what the pattern called for - down to the exact colourway. It seemed meant to be. So I started the collar - twice - then worked quite a bit of the yoke/body. But I eventually had to admit that it wasn't working for me. The collar wasn't as hefty as I was expecting and overall I doubted if I had enough wool. On to sweater attempt number two.

Next was the Summer Solstice cardigan pattern by the same designer. The construction is interesting and I made it all the way through both sleeves before realizing it was much too big, and again, not quite what I was expecting. Instead of unravelling though, I started a very simple top-down raglan cardigan using stitch counts that I'm pretty sure I made up. I just tried it on as I went and eventually got all the way through the body without any side increases. But then I picked up a stockinette stitch collar inspired from the Summer Solstice pattern and knit about 20 rows of that. I remember trying it on, thinking the collar was shapeless and dull, and then quickly stuffing it, the still unravelled Summer Solstice and the rest of the wool into a bag to rid myself of any reminder of my efforts. That was last April.

Fast forward to this January and after some knitting success, I was getting stuck on another sweater/wool combination. Instead of getting to the same point of frustration, I took a break. But for some strange reason I pulled out the Jo Sharp mess. And then it happened: I knew how to fix it. I ripped the collar back and picked up a 2x2 ribbed one instead. I used short rows at the neck to create a better shawl effect. And I made nice, roomy sleeves with big cuffs that I can fold over. This took only a week to bring back to life but wow, it was oh-so-worth it. I could live in this sweater.

Sure, I have a few more tweaks in mind, but it's pretty fun to hone in on the right sweater for you and your body. There have been surprises - like how I prefer a sweater with no waist shaping or A-line increases at all, or how much roomy sleeves make me happy. I'm eager to try this sweater again, giving me a decent new reason to try Quince and Co's Lark wool, if only I could choose a colour. Seriously, I still don't know what colour is right.

As for reading, I finished The Peach Keeper during this sweater revival and I think the light tone was a good match. It was a fun, escapist, on-the-edge-of-chick-lit read - the kind of book we all need sometimes. For more knitting and reading stories visit today's Yarnalong.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

right now

When I first learned to knit I spent hours with the moss stitch pattern. I was drawn to the look of it, but my main goal in those early knitting days was to be as quick with a purl stitch as I was with a knit stitch and the forced back and forth seemed like a decent strategy. Today it's still one of my favourite stitch patterns but I feel like I've forgotten all about it lately.

I've had Quince & Co's Puffin in Winesap and Storm lying around, but haven't had much luck with the Storm sweater attempts I've made. But one night last week it was chilly in the house and I thought there was no better time to knit my first cowl and I quickly found a simple pattern that renewed my love for moss stitch (Ravelry link). The added bonus was that it only took two sittings to complete so my knitting fix was immediate. I'm not sure I can really pull off something this red, but I wore it the very next day and all weekend. Clearly I've been missing out on the whole cowl thing because they are totally amazing. If it wasn't 13 degrees outside today I'd be tempted to knit another. Oh wait...I may be tempted anyway.  I can't say I'm crazy about Puffin though - it's a little scratchy for me - but I want to try Lark or Osprey soon, if only I could choose a colour. With 37 available I just don't know how to decide. Part of me wants a red sweater, but after this cowl experiment I may do better sticking with grays. Boring, right?

As for reading, I got a little Amazon shipment today and realized how defining a book order can be. You see, I don't go to the movies, or concerts, or even restaurants much.  My entertainment costs are surprisingly minimal so over the past year I've let go of the guilt I've had for years about buying books. They are my entertainment and I adore opening Amazon boxes, plus I've been reading way more since I started this habit. Today's order includes Cal Patch's Design-It-Yourself Clothes (because I'm taking a class with her in April and I need to do homework!), Extra Yarn for me and the kids, Fifty Days of Solitude (which I read on the subway today and I'm loving already), Calm and Compassionate Children and finally, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Fiction and non, kids and instructional - covering all of my interests at this particular moment. A grouping of words and pictures only I would choose.

Knitting and reading, favourite pastimes indeed.