28 April 2007


It was a beginner's mistake.
I thought, Oh, I will knit lace, and I will use this lovely twilight-colored misty yarn.
(I may have mentioned that I have a thing about saving money on yarn. I feel there's a particular creative alchemy in creating something wonderful from something that didn't cost very much. When I buy really expensive yarn, I get nervous. As a result I regularly buy whole bags of yarn at yarn sales and from Knitpicks. That, I can justify. So it's really no big deal that I have four large boxes of yarn in the top of the closet. I just think of the money I saved on it.)

Anyway, I bought this.

Then I picked out a beautiful lace pattern and sat down to knit my first lace shawl.

I didn't have any problems; I zoomed along; I kind of enjoyed the process.

A big part of my enjoyment of knitting lies in my sensuous delight over what I've already knit. I like to spread it out, touch it, feel it, look at it as I go. Call it my own take on process knitting.
Now, I know lace does not really reveal itself until it's been blocked.
But even a mother has trouble loving THIS.

The problem, obviously, is that in my inexperience I chose the wrong yarn. I think variegated lace is fine, but when it goes from white to dark blue like this you can't see the pattern at all. And while I rather like the speckly effect the variegation makes on the sides, the pooling in the middle, and the stripes around the border, are just plain ugly.


Now, I know exactly how to fix this. When this lovely shawl is done, before blocking it is going to have a little bath in some blue dye. (I may even graduate from Kool-Aid to real, grown-up dye.) That should take care of the contrast problem and help the pattern to pop - right now you can hardly see it at all! - while retaining enough variegation to be interesting. (And if I hate that, I'll just overdye the whole thing black.)

The problem is that I have to finish it before I can do that. But I'm only about 1/3 through, and I tell you, it is hard to stay motivated with a project you don't enjoy looking at. A finicky, high-maintenance project you don't enjoy looking at.

Now, however, comes the slog-along - a chance to come clean and, I hope, find some moral support as I continue to slog toward the finish. I know it's going to be worth it when it's blue. And done.

09 April 2007

Sock it to me

A call to help from serious bloggers - how do you take attractive pictures of your own feet in socks? Mine always come out looking like my legs were by Botero. They're not that bad, honest. (Or maybe I'm just in denial.) Until I learn better sock-photo technique, thank God for the Crop tool.

These are the most recent socks I knit, but with some of the first yarn I bought. It was my very first yarn expedition in New York. I googled "Yarn Store New York" or some such and landed on Alison's blog. Wow, I thought, imagine that, here's a woman who has a whole blog about knitting; how cool. (Reader, I was naive.) Alison had taken a trip to New York and listed all the yarn stores she'd visited, and thus I made my way to Downtown Yarns, which was not at all conveniently located to my residence, but sounded properly hip (into image? me? oh no). My journey was rewarded with some cherry-red alpaca and a pattern that replicated almost identically a sweater I'd loved that burned up in our house fire. (Another story for another day.)

And there, by the cash register, just happened to be some sale yarn that had my name on it. In fact, it literally had my name on it (hm, somehow I knew that my pretext of anonymity on this blog wouldn't last long). So I bought it, thinking a) it would make a nice sweater and b) one big skein would surely be enough for the airy, short-sleeved sweater I would make of it. (See "naive," above.)

Fortunately it sat in the stash so long that I was able to learn what sock yarn was, and, equally importantly, how to make socks, before I picked it up one day in a train riding through the Alps and cast on my toe. (Since I have already confessed being into image, I will also confess that I would have cast on at least an hour earlier had I not had to overcome my reluctance to pull out a knitting book to find the instructions for casting on from the toe up. Somehow when you're sitting on a fast train through the Alps it seems far more sophisticated just to whip out your needles and cast on from memory. There is something rather, well, touristy about rifling awkwardly through the pages of a book - a book in English, no less - to figure out what you're supposed to be doing. But sock-lust finally won out over sophistication.)

Alas, I fear that these socks' beautiful crisp colors have gotten lost, or leeched, in the translation from iPhoto to Internet. Yet pale shadow though they be, I aver that these photos justify my ever-firmer preference for the short-row heel (see how the stripes match up?). As for the self-styled sock photo - just wait til my sock blockers come in for some real blog fodder. Until then, well, at least I can furnish proof that I knit both of them.

03 April 2007

Knitting for Knieces and Knephew

My colorful knitting history, continued: here are my second and third sweaters, made for my two nieces.

(These are from patterns at The Yarn Co., which has a whole archive of projects, but which I later started effectively boycotting because I found them a little snotty in the store itself. And I belatedly realized just how expensive the yarns were that their patterns called for. And then through reading blogs I learned that lots of other people felt the same way. But they sure do think up some cute kids' sweaters.)

So then it was announced that my brother and sister-in-law are unexpectedly expecting number 3.
Fortunately I had just been waiting for an excuse to log-cabin.

A work-in-progress. (It needs a border. And perhaps one more round of stripes, first? And, of course, those ends have to be dealt with).

I had visions of creating a beloved baby heirloom like Alison's inspiring blankies.But as I said in a previous post, I fear my log cabin is pretty wonky. Don't ask me why I can turn out sweaters with no major problems, but I can't manage a basic log cabin.

Let's hope that baby boy won't notice that his stripes are wobbly until he's already fallen in love with them.