Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trapped in the Burrow

OK....so the steek piece is blocked but still wet. I am waiting for it to dry. What to do in the meantime? Why, start Deathly Hallows, of course! I am sorry that I have misled you, true believers. The draw of the wizarding world has proven stronger than my willpower....

On the up side, I have completed a new gauge swatch in a lovely pumpkin orange, merino/angora blend. It is a cable pattern that I loved the name of, but I wasn't sure how it would show in the yarn. How delightful that (with a minimal change) the two are perfect for each other! Pictures to come (looking for a good background color....)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Eek! A steek! (Part 2)

OK...I haven't forgotten about the steek. It's just that I sort of lost my nerve AND the piece of knitting for a couple of days. This weekend, it surfaced to the top of the project bag. There will be no more procrastination. It's on the ironing board now (along with a test swatch) awaiting blocking, stitching and the cut of the steek. After I finish the research allotment for today (which was put off to doodle on the blog a bit), it will be time to plunge headlong into the unknown. And I do promise that there will be pictures, no matter what the result. Wish me luck!

Update: July 19. The best laid plans have gone quietly awry this week with an early arrival for dinner (Mon), a school event (Tues), an unexpected trip (Wednesday), and a test tomorrow (Fri.). No, its not steeked yet, but it is still located. On the ironing board in the room where my husband and dogs don't go. Never fear -- it will get done this weekend BEFORE I start reading Harry's latest adventure.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The mystique of the male knitter

Our knitting group met last week. Although we don't have a "formal" membership process, a core of 'regulars' has developed over the past couple of months. We had THREE first-time participants, so it was sort of a red-letter day.

Even more exciting is that one of them was both a first time knitter and A MAN! This may not sound like much, but male knitters are somewhat scarce in the craft. Like on the scale of finding a gem-quality diamond in the dirt on your afternoon walk kind of scarce. I'm exaggerating (a little), but suffice it to say that you will be hard pressed to find many dudes that will profess to proficiency with the knit sticks.

This was my first time witnessing the birth of a male knitter. It's always exciting to see someone pick up the needles for the first time. Most of the time, they are eager and nervous at the same time. It makes coordination of the yarn and needles a little harder than normal because they are trying very much to do it 'right.' But with encouragement and support from a willing teacher, they are ticking along in no time.

J was not fooling around on his first time out. Under the watchful eye of his girlfriend, he had cast on a series of stitches and had spread them over three double pointed needles. Yes, you heard it right true believers. He bypassed standard flat knitting on two needles and jumped right in the deep end to knit in the round. This method is most commonly used in knitting socks and is sometimes compared to wrestling with a porcupine. J had also elected to use two strands held together (another bold choice for a beginner).

J took a seat in the common room and diligently worked the rounds in his project. Ever the gentleman, he even moved to the floor to allow the ladies a chair. And at some point in the evening, each of us paused to watch him work and offer encouragement. Or told his girlfriend (so he could hear it, of course) how lucky she was to have a man that knits.

Don't misunderstand -- we are supportive of ANY new person that decides to brave the needles and tame a skein or two. It's fun to see that look of "A-HA!" when the process begins to make sense. But somewhere along the way, the craft landed (mostly) in the feminine domain. "Knitter" somehow became effeminate. It is fascinating to see a man knit in the same way as watching a muscular, tattooed gent handle a toddler (interesting day people watching at the mall -- another post entirely.)

And if you are a single male, there is quite possibly no better way to meet a quality lady. If you go to a knitting class without a wedding ring, someone may ask your status during the course. (Knitters aren't too shy and some are downright nosey!) One of your classmates will be willing to tell you about their lovely and talented daughter/granddaughter/neice/cousin/ friend who would be delighted to meet you. Or if you find a good place to people watch while you work on your latest project (read: park bench, gallery, or even the bus/subway), you may get a gentle inquiry that turns into a conversation.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

You want me to WHAT??!!?

This could also be titled "The great steek experiment." For a few months, I have been toying with a pattern that requires a steek for the neckline. A 'steek' is a section of stitches put into the pattern so that the piece can be continually knit in one piece (in the round or flat) with the purpose of sewing around them and cutting them later for a neckline or arm holes. It's done in stripe or fair isle type knitting so that one doesn't have to fuss so much with matching/continuing a pattern etc. It's also a very scary thing because you are putting your faith in four little machine stitched rows and praying to the fiber gods that those jokers are going to keep everything else in line. (Those of you that have dropped a stitch (or lots) that have laddered all the way to the selvedge edge know what I am talking about here.)

Anyway, I have been working on an original vest in a multicolored yarn that conspired to make its own color pattern as it was knit. Things were going great until I realized "It's not a pullover. You need an opening." Drat.
That one got "tinked" and I started thinking about how to get that same pattern with the ease of knitting in the round. Again and again, the steek looked like the way to go. It would also allow me to make a "V" shaped neck with a minimum of fuss. Laziness wins, I incorporated the steek allowance and off we go.

Now, everything is finished except for the steek. I will probably block it and sew in the holding stitches this afternoon. Depending on my nerves, it may get cut tonight. Or not. I'll post the pictures if I'm still steady enough to work the camera. :-)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Kung-Fu knittastic

It's the season of blistering afternoons and deep purple ripened blackberries here in my part of the world. For the past two weeks, it's been a ritual. Put on the long pants, shoes with covered toes, and one leather glove. Grab the keys, a little bucket, and let the dogs out. Set out some cold water for the puppies and head into the briars for as much totally organic, pesticide-free succulent fruity goodness as you have the inclination to collect in the fresh air.

I've filled the bucket to different levels every day. Some blackberries went to the freezer, some to an experimental pancake syrup, and some to a friend who likes them in cobbler. That was after having them fresh with yogurt or just out of hand as a snack.

Berry-picking in the afternoon is hot work. When I come in, I end up in a melted heap on the couch thanking the electric company for AC and watching whatever channel comes up when I flip on the TV. It is a terrible habit.

Lately, the remote has landed on a whole LOT of martial arts films and I am fascinated. During 'Enter the Dragon' (the first Bruce Lee film I have ever watched from beginning to end), I was knitting like mad. Ditto for whatever I caught the last half of the next day. Crazy-fast knitting! Today, I didn't have the needles up because I got too wrapped up in "Hero." The scenery had me thinking of some yarn in the luxe stash (Noro Silk Garden Lite) that has not yet told me what it wants to be when it grows up. And other scenes (that had a single color in both the setting and in the costumes -- too cool) got me to thinking about an original design. (More on that one later, I think.)

It's crazy. Two totally unrelated subjects that appear to have a relationship. I don't know what element (the music, the action, delayed dialogue?) makes the stitches and rows flow while the kicks are flying. But they are having a martial arts film marathon on the 4th....maybe I will start a new project at the beginning and see how much I can get done by the end.