Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One more for Jan

I couldn't bring myself to put the Rick socks back on the needles this week (not until two days ago, anyway), so I worked on something that I thought I could finish fairly quickly: a needlepoint pillow made from a canvas that my friend Jan had finished before she died.

When I was going through the totes that held her quilting supplies, I found a completed needlepoint canvas. It was a dragon stitched in wool, just waiting to become a pillow. I figured that since we knitters were making blanket squares for Jan's niece, maybe one of Jan's sisters would like to have the pillow Jan probably would have made with this completed canvas.

So last weekend I went out to Joann's and picked up some fabric, trim and a pillow form. Once I got home from the store, I pinned the canvas to my cork board, sprayed water all over it so it would be blocked into a nice straight rectangle. After giving it a few days to dry, I was able to start sewing! It was pretty straightforward: strips and gold braid for the front, two overlapping pieces for the back, et voila: a pillow. I'll take it our regular knit night and hope that one of the girls can get it to Jan's sister.

I hope next time I'll have a happy update on the Rick socks, and maybe some more progress on my Columbines needlepoint. Until next time, Friends.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Home stretch? Not so much.

So, this week I thought I'd made some progress on the Rick socks, turning the heels and completing the gusset decreases. I'm not sure why I blew off the top-of-foot charts, though, but I did. What I got was a twisted foot to each of the socks that had no chance of being wearable. Of course, I couldn't really tell until I got the gussets decreased and had both tops on one needle and the soles on the other. Once I could see how twisted the socks were, I started ripping. A whole week's worth of knitting. So frustrating! I guess I'll just have to consider it another lesson in humility. Read the chart. Follow the chart. Trust the chart.

In better news, I've gotten a little farther along with the columbines needlepoint that I set aside for the Christmas knitting. I'm very pleased with how the background color is looking against the flowers. I'm so glad I chose a color with enough contrast. Now it's just slow and steady to get it done. With the 18 mesh canvas I'm working on here, that's 324 stitches per square inch. It's a lot of stitches!

Well, that's all for today, Friends. Let's hope for a little success.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sick knitting

It's what I did when I had to stay home from work for a couple days last week. I had a pretty vicious cold, which is mostly gone now, having taken my voice with it. Right now I sound a little like a cross between Lauren Hutton and Joe Cocker.

Anyway, when I wasn't sleeping off the fever or coughing my head off, I was working on a fast, fun infinity scarf that I saw in the current Amirisu magazine. The Walnut Snood seemed like an ideal project because I had a natural-colored bulky-weight yarn in my stash, so all I had to do was buy the pattern and I'd be off.

After the provisional cast-on, I got started on the cable chart, which knits up fast, especially since it's bulky yarn and size 10 needles. So different from my usual sock knitting! Once I got going, it was easy to keep going, although I started getting bored after about the seventh chart repeat. I eventually completed all 11 repeats and was able to wash and block the scarf this weekend. It ended up being a little longer than the pattern's 67-inch length, but I think it will be fine for winding around my neck once it gets cold again. (It's 48 degrees F today.)

Well, that's all I have for today. Until next time, Friends.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

In Memoriam

I've been thinking about this post for a couple weeks, since my knitting friend, Jan, died. Her death was unexpected, leaving our group stunned and saddened. Jan was kind and generous, with a quietly sardonic wit. She was devoted to her family, especially her niece. What I didn't know, at least until after she died, is that she was comparatively new to knitting. One of things I'll remember most about her was her willingness to untangle other people's yarn. She spent weeks undoing a pile of yarn barf that anyone else probably would have written off. She will be missed.

The day after we all found out about her passing was our usual Thursday night group get together. Jan's sisters sent over her yarn stash, insisting that Jan's friends have some of her yarn. As we were going through it, many of us noticed that there was a lot of Cascade 220 in there, and so we decided that we would make squares for a blanket to give to the niece that Jan loved so much. For myself, I took a skein of Kentucky Blue Fiber Co. Alpaca 2 ply sport weight. I imagine Jan might have chosen it for its rich color, thinking it would become a really luxurious little accessory.

With that in mind, I searched the Ravelry pattern database for projects that called for 200 yards of sport weight yarn. As soon as I saw the pattern for the Elis cowl, I knew it was just the right thing to make from Jan's yarn. It was a super quick knit: it took me about 2 evenings to finish the knitting and I was able to block it the next day. I love it. It has a soft, elegant drape that makes me wish I had something better than a bunch of printed t-shirts to wear with it.

It still feels strange thinking of Jan in the past tense, like she only missed a couple of knit nights, but she'll be at the next one, knowing that she won't, really. But we all feel that way when someone we care about dies.

Until next time, Friends.