Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hi there

Long time no see. As is apparent, I've been having a heck of a time. My car died, my cat died, my dog almost died, and then I was so far behind at work from dealing with all this, that I did nothing but slave away for weeks. I'm feeling a little better and am trying to get back into the swing of things - hence, I'm back. :-)

The biggest knitting news is that Dottie (dottie2 on Rav) and I have started a new knitalong called More * More. This cryptic name hopefully avoids any legal proceedings that might be visited on us by the knitwear-designer's-name-who-may-not-be-mentioned. (I should make fancier graphics for the group, but I just don't have time.)

The group focuses on more advanced garments such as those designed by Alice Starmore, but any designer’s pattern is welcome. While we’ll be dealing with fit issues (ample girls always welcome), the primary objective is to offer a support group for more advanced knitters who want to finally make that dream sweater they haven’t had the time, endurance, and fortitude to complete.

While it will primarily be an online Ravelry group, we’re also going to have face-to-face meetups regularly. Our first event will be:

Saturday, April 21 
11 AM to 2 PM 
Roy Rogers Meeting Room 
301 Ballenger Center Drive 
Frederick, MD 21703

We hope you’ll join us! Bring your project and come hang out, each lunch, and talk shop. It will be a blast.

Those of us whom have already signed up are now planning what to make. For years, Dottie has longed to make St. Brigid and now she gets her chance. She's Cascade 220; naturally, her project's name is Brigid Pink.

Ironically, my project is based on St. Brigid, too - but not the Alice Starmore design. My sweater, which will be a DK weight fair isle cardigan, gets its inspiration from this remarkable painting by Scottish painter John Duncan entitled "St. Brigid."

My plan is to make a cardigan that uses a design like Ann Feitelson's Fridarey. During my recent dark days, I worked on genetic genealogy using recent DNA test results my father received. We discovered, much to our surprise, that we are Scottish, so creating a beautiful highland cardigan is exactly what I have in mind. I like the motif in this particular sweater which reminds me of the Ohio Star quilt square; my father is from the Buckeye State, so this is a nice tie-in, too.

I want meet the challenge of selecting and ordering colors for a unique and beautiful fair isle head on. To prepare, I read Ann Feitelson's classic "The Art of Fair Isle Knitting" which includes a spectacular chapter about color theory and about how colors work together in effective fair isle design. Properly educated, I used the lovely painting as my guide and I pulled out ten different colors in two hue ranges. I'm using Jamieson's DK, a 100% shetland wool since I couldn't bear the idea of knitting this in fingering weight. It's going to take forever as it is. 

Next step: work up the chart and start playing with the colors. I've got a couple of new knitting software packages I can use; if I don't like them, I can go back to Excel which I've worked with to design fair isle previously. I'll post my chart when I'm finished.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a quick crochet sweater while I wait for the yarn to get here. Crochet goes so quickly! This lacy pullover (? - haven't completely decided yet) is based on Cather by Mary Beth Temple. I'm using the same stitch pattern but with a smaller needle and thicker yarn. I wanted more lace and smaller holes, plus I'm going to make mine with as a modified drop shoulder and probably tunic length. 

That's the latest, girls. I hope you're doing well and are knitting away. No matter what goes wrong in life, we still have our knitting - or most of us do anyway. My Rav friend Linda broke her hand in a gazillion pieces and is in a cast for the next six months. Poor thing! I'd be knitting with my toes, I swear it. Get well soon, Linda!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Best of times and the worst of times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." 

Back in the day, I was never crazy about having to read unending Dickens novels, but this one phrase redeemed countless hours of abject boredom spent in high school English classes. The beginning of  "A Tale of Two Cities" also precisely defines my life these days.

As some of you know, my cat, Monica died last week after a short, very sad illness. Monica and I spent 19 long years together and it was terribly difficult to let her go. I did the best I could to send her out in the best way possible. My ex-husband came to provide support and say goodbye to our cat (he is the best ex-husband EVER). We hired a local vet to come to my apartment and put Monica to sleep on our sofa. It was sweet. Monica laid between Mike and I purring quietly and then went off to sleep. It was beautiful and incredibly poignant. Here are our last family portraits. I know it's weird to take pictures right before the pet dies, but we always do.

I have been a total mess if you want to know the truth. I'm  hiding out, reeling in sadness, just trying to get my act together. The day after Monica died was incredibly difficult because it was my birthday. I whiplashed between grief and trying to be happy. I so appreciated all that everyone did for me that day even though I still felt very low.

Let me tell you about a couple of truly lovely surprises cooked up my Knitting at Large member Linda (qwikstitcher on Rav). First, I received a surprise package from Linda with an adorable little pug bag that looks just like Moose as a baby. I'll be using it for small knitting projects. I love it!

Then Linda held a virtual birthday party for me on Rav. What a lovely, fun surprise! Lots of folks dropped in to say happy birthday, share recipes, raise a virtual glass, and generally have fun. Thank you to Linda and everyone else who made me feel a little better on a really sad day.

Of course, despite everything, I'm knitting. I finished two cowls for my bff, Theresa and her sister, Anita. Here's a pic of Theresa modeling hers. She thinks I'm incredibly talented for knitting this but you and I know the truth that this is the easiest of projects. I'm glad Theresa and Anita love their bulky cowls.

I also made myself my own bulky scarf using five skeins of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Super Chunky in the Magic Flute colorway. Not a cheap project! But it makes up as a really cute scarf made solely of garter stitch and fringe. I'm logically calling this project the Easiest Peasiest Really Long Scarf. Too bad I finished it just as the weather reached 70 degrees! If you'd like to make this, I'm making the pattern available for free on my website.

I'm also working on my Red cardigan, a test knit for Deb Gemmell's upcoming plus-size knitting book. I'm almost ready to divide for the sleeves. It's just a plain stockinette raglan cardigan but uses special techniques for a better fit. I look forward to seeing how it turns out.

I've gotten lots of questions about the Carnation pattern. It's ready to go but I was going to get professional photos taken and do complicated, attractive formatting, but I've decided to just throw it over the fence as is. I can always redo the pattern later. So stay tuned.

I'll try and get back in the saddle here and on Rav and every where else. I'm just worn out. But I'll be back soon.