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Like flies to manure

7 Oct

As soon as the instructor started placing materials on the tables, I knew she wasn’t joking about it being a hands on workshop. The class was entitled “Breed Specific Knitting” and before lay yarn from ten different breeds of sheep. As she unpacked, the air filled with the smell of farm and lanolin. I was itching to reach out and touch. So were the other people in my class. We were drawn to the fleece like flies to manure – and there was manure.

It was my first day at Knit City, who’s motto is “A modern fibre event”. The event might be modern but this class was old school and wonderful.

We learned about the importance of the length of each fibre and how crimped it is. We stretched fibres, pulled them apart, and snapped them by our ears to hear ow easily they broke. We got dried manure on our hands.

“Don’t worry,” said our instructor, “I brought wipes!”

By the end of the workshop, the white tablecloths were speckled with dried manure, but we all knew a lot more about which fibres work best for which knitted items.

 

Revision

10 Sep

I bought some yarn this summer. Im, fact, I bought quite a bit of yarn. I went on vacation with four patterns in tow and a plan to get yarn for two of them. By the time I got home, I had yarn for three.

I started knitting one of the sweaters, a beautiful short-sleeved top that involves colorwork. I knit a swatch and worried a little that the contrast, which seemed evident in the skeins, seemed muddied in the knitting.

I started the sweater, hoping it would be better, but two rows into the colorwork, I knew it wasn’t going to get better. I set the project aside.

I had purchased the yarn at a store in Montréal. Of course, it was the house brand and only available there. I looked through the color options and placed an order.The yarn arrived yesterday.

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As tempted as I was to jump right back in a  few things had to happen first. I had to finish the sock I was knitting. I had to wind the skein into a cake. And, I still had to tear out the two rows of colorwork I had already completed. I finished the sock last night, so, when I get home from school today, I will wind and rip. With any luck, I will also begin knitting.

Back in style

27 Aug

Many people have back to school traditions. Some people take a yearly photo. Some people have breakfast traditions. For the last few years, I’ve knit socks.

This year, I had my 2019 back to school socks ready for the first day of inservice week.

These are knit in a colorway called Patience. It seemed appropriate.

My 2018 socks were knit in No. 2 Pencil.

The 2017 school year started shortly after the eclipse. Naturally, this colorway was called Total Eclipse of the Sun.

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In 2016, I used this yarn, Fall for Barrie, for another project, but had enough left over for a pair of shortie socks.

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Hand knit socks aren’t cheap, but it makes me happy knowing my feet are sheathed in something made by my own hands.

 

Baa Baa Black Sheep

9 Jul

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It’s called the Black Sheep gathering, but it welcomes sheep, goats, and other wool bearing beasties of all colors.

Although I’ve lived in Oregon for almost 23 years, I’d never heard of this wool festival, that celebrated it’s 45th anniversary on the weekend, before this year.

I started my visit in the barn, walking around the pens and getting to know the different breeds represented that day. When I left the barns, the scent of sheep barn clung to me, even though there was nothing on the soles of my shoes. I went into the marketplace, the scent still present like an ovine perfume, but no one seemed to notice. Perhaps they wore it too.

I had the chance to talk to a dyer I like and to get to know a few others I’d never heard of before. None of them mentioned my sweet aroma. Fortunately, the scent of raw wool permeated the air in the hall.

A trip to the restroom offered up one more beastly delight:

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Furiously knitting

29 Mar

“Do you ever take commissions?” my librarian friend asked.

I cringed inwardly. It can be an awkward question to answer and I gave my standard reply,”Yes, but I have rules.”

Her raised eyebrows were a sort of encouragement to go on, so I explained, “I won’t accept payment and you have to live with my timeline. I could finish it in a week, a year or never. I love to knit but don’t like pressure to perform. I want to knit a project because I love it. What did you have in mind?”

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My friend had been on last year’s Printz committee. What she wanted was a pussy hat with the word “Fury” on it, in celebration of Damsel by Elana K. Arnold.

“Let me think and look around,” I said.

I found a free pattern  –  Hamilton Pussyhat by  on Ravelry. – that captured the beauty of the cover.Screen Shot 2019-03-28 at 3.39.27 PM

During the Rose City Yarn Crawl, I made it my mission to find some yarn that would capture the colors of the book and work with the pattern. I did.

 

I took the peace of Spring Break to adapt the pattern, replacing “Rise Up” with “Fury” and began knitting. I learned to knit a Latvian braid and, slowly, but surely, the hat took shape.

It is now finished and blocking. I’ll give it to my friend when I see her at our next book club meeting in two weeks, unless I see her at the library first. I hope it is a good fit.

 

 

The opposite of toe jam

19 Mar

On Saturday, I posted about ripping out my knitting. I likened it to revising writing.

Last night I sat down to finish the second sock. I thought I knew where I’d left off and how much longer I had to knit before getting to the toe. You think I’d have learned, but I didn’t measure. When I got close to where I thought I should make the transition, I finally decided to measure.

The sock was too long.

Sometimes, writers do the same thing. We write too much. We need to revise by removing the excess. My students certainly do it. I have told students that they really have two stories and they should focus on one or the other. Sometimes they see it; sometimes they don’t. It can be hard. It all feels important to them though.

The excess in the foot of my sock did not feel important to me. Once more I ripped out and restarted. I am much happier with the finished product.

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Test prep

18 Mar

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am test knitting a sweater for a designer. Here is a collection of words and images – a sort of visual prose poem – that tells the story of what I need to do before I can actually begin knitting the test knit.

It starts with the pattern

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Next comes the yarn

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Which has to be wound,

 

And weighed

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Then swatched and gauge measured

Before the test knit can begin.

 

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