Wednesday, October 06, 2010

knitwear past and present

I'll start out by saying that I found all the comments to the last post very interesting and thought provoking. I've lived in lots of places (summarized list in the last post's comments) and seen beauty and scenic views in all of them. I think what I was trying to say was that the prairie "scenic views" do not have to be seen at the top of an observation tower--I see them every day. Maybe my thoughts weren't just written out clearly. On reflection, maybe I also assumed some things about travel since I've done a bit of it and lived in a lot of places.

For instance, it is not a small thing to say that a road enables good knitting time. I've been on some roads in North America and abroad (In the U.S., for instance, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, New England and upstate New York) that basically made knitting impossible. If the hills are straight up and down, the turns are "hairpin" and you're trying hard to keep your lunch down, well, it's not a good time to knit. In fact, in winter, just staying on the road seemed a real achievement in some places. You know, the places where the snow on either side makes the twisty, ice covered road feel like a tunnel?

Obviously, I should get back to knitting talk here.

Photo one is of my first sock for the KAL. I have just turned the heel (this photo was a bit before that) and things are going very well, for the most part. I think the socks will be roomy, but I find that superwash wool tends to sort of tighten up in washing, so I think roomy is fine as a starting place.

Yesterday, I took advantage of our lovely warm fall weather to wash a lot of woolens. We have a big basket of scarves, hats, mitts, and dog sweaters in our front entry. I turned out the pockets of every one of my coats and sorted things into dark and white washes. Using the washing machine as a set tub (Fill up with hot water and detergent, stop, let things soak, spin out. Fill up with hot water, rinse, spin...) I gave some hard working wool items a good wash. I won't even tell you how dark the water looked in my "white" wash.

The Professor reminded me that we get used to thinking some things don't need to get washed too often. Mittens are one of those things I could do with washing a little more often! All in all, I counted 6 pairs of handknit mittens that I wore on a regular basis last winter. These are rotated among at least 3 different winter coats depending on temperature and occasion. I tend to wear a double layer of knitted mitts when I'm out walking the dogs. This means that it is "all hands on deck" in terms of my mitten usage. In this collection, I saw some mittens I'd spun and knit 15-18 years ago (in college) as well as mittens I'd made in the last 3 years. I also have too much white in there--some of these should definitely visit the dyepot!

I washed my Cuddle Coat too, the white sweater that you can see me wearing in the little picture of me on my blog. (the one with Harry the dog) This sweater was so easy to design and knit and has seen hard wear for the last 5 years. I love it and sleep in it nearly every night in the middle of winter. None of the photos I've done or others have done have shown how truly comfy it looks/feels.

Since I can't seem to give up knitting along on my red sweater at the same time as the socks, here are a couple of photos of my progress. When I design a sweater for myself, I often do it as I go, on the needles. The directions I gave myself here were: "Cast on 300 sts on #15 needles. Knit garter stitch for 18" or so. Then you can change yarn and stitch pattern." I am nearing 18" at this point and have created a lap full of sweater. While mohair boucle can be tricky to knit, the luminous nature of the finished knitted fabric is something else. I tried to catch that in this last photo.

The complicated bits with dk weight alpaca and wool yarns, shaping armholes and sleeve lengths, edgings and neck--all that is to come. What I think people will notice about this sweater? This mohair boucle's shine and energy. That's probably true with most things--the most difficult parts look plain jane and simple...even unglamorous. (turning a heel, for instance) It's only the maker that can tell which parts were easy glitzy attention seekers and which parts were prim, proper, and took hours of care.

Ain't that life for you?

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Blogger Cathy said...

I'm a bit behind on my blog reading. Your washing of woolens reminded me that I need to do the same thing. There are a boatload of scarves which will be needed before I know it, along with a hat or two. Your red yarn is luscious! Too bad we do not have the ability to send textures via internet. Smells via internet wouldn't be bad either!!

October 12, 2010 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Joanne, I love your beautiful knitting pictures which were taken in sun shine.
Maybe some days I'll paint it...

October 29, 2010 at 10:51 AM  

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