Sing joyfully*

Published on Monday April 13th, 2009

For Easter has arrived and with it a respite from the Holy Week choral marathon! After singing five services in four days and being stuffed with Easter dinner at the in-laws’, I was good for very little last evening. Rain was coming down in torrents, so it was time to get cozy indoors. I swapped my lacy tights and heels for a comfy pair of handknit wool socks and my dressy Easter clothes for yoga pants and a sweatshirt, pulled my favorite Welsh wool blanket (a wedding present from my cousins in Maine) out of the bureau drawer and snuggled up on the couch with my cat, some knitting, and the third season of All Creatures Great and Small. I thought about working on this:

But it requires too much brain power. That’s the beginning of my Cocoon-Stitch Half-Circle shawl in the Toots LeBlanc angora/merino, and I’m pleased as punch with how it looks and how it feels… softer and deliciously softer as the yarn passes through my fingers and the angora halo blooms. But the pattern is written out line by line and I haven’t memorized what happens between the “cocoons” and the increases yet.

So I picked up my newest project: the Three in One cardigan for my mother, which I cast on Wednesday (which feels like a month ago) at the Close Knit knitting night. I put on my 184 stitches and got started, then remembered I was planning to work continuous garter-stitch hem/button bands with mitered corners for a nice, finished look after I steek… a nice, finished look that was going to require the forethought of a provisional cast-on. Oops. Tracy lent me her crochet hook and reminded me how easy it is to do a provisional cast-on using the hook to draw loops over your needle. I am the world’s clumsiest person with a crochet hook. (As Tracy tactfully put it, “Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone carry the yarn in the right hand for crochet.”) I can steam away with two needles at lace, cables, travelling stitches, short rows, you name it… but Galapagos finches can manipulate their insect-extracting twigs with considerably more dexterity than I can muster in wielding a crochet hook. But after a while I developed a sort of left-handed throw that was more or less efficient, and the advantage of the crochet-hook method is that I think I’ll be able to remember how to do it next time, whereas I always have to look up video tutorials of the methods I’ve tried before.

The Three and One turns out to be blissfully brainless colorwork, premium for watching Little Dorrit on Masterpiece Theatre. (I haven’t read this particular Dickens and it’s seriously stretching my attention to figure out what is going on with the truly creepy French guy and some of the other murky fringe characters who are obviously tied into the Dorrits’ and Clenhams’ murky history in some murky, confusing way. I think murky may in fact be the definitive adjective for a Dickens plot. But boy am I looking forward to the romantic payoff when Amy and Arthur finally get together. End tangent.) I’m doing the “Pheasant’s Plumage” version with the purl stitches. The major design dilemma is this: Mom wants some waist shaping. I can’t add it by decreasing without disrupting the three-and-one pattern. (Well, I could–there’s an occasional single-color plain round that would allow for subtracting multiples of four invisibly–but the vertical alignment of the motifs would be thrown off OR, if I bunched the decreases, I’d have potentially unflattering stair-steps at the side “seam.”) If it were for me, I’d throw in an extra design element: a band of about 4″ of ribbing to draw the sweater in at the natural waist in the oatmealy background color. This would echo the shawl collar I’m already planning to add (Mum and I both have slender necks that make the rest of us cold if left exposed) and the ribbed cuffs and might, with the addition of a tie-on belt using some of the contrast colors, give the sweater kind of a rad Starsky and Hutch vibe. But I don’t think my mother owns any belted cardigans, and if the belt of her bathrobe is anything to judge by, I might just be knitting puppy bait. Because apparently

fabric belt : Labrador


thumb : toddler


Coors Light : my brother-in-law.

All’s just right with the world when the two meet at the lips, you know? And also I’m fairly sure my mother has never seen Starsky and Hutch, original or remake.

So I’m delaying the decision until I can put the question to Mum, and meanwhile I’m angling in for some subtle shaping by going down a needle size now that I’m about 3″ in. (Mum, if you read this post before I see you next weekend, leave your preference in the Comments, okay?) Any advice for me, wise readers? Solutions I haven’t thought of? What do you like to do with colorwork patterns and decreases?

*Post title courtesy of William Byrd’s delightful but tricky setting of this psalm:

Sing joyfully to God our strength; sing loud unto the God of Jacob!
Take the song, bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp, and the viol.
Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed, and at our feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.

I like the bit with the trumpet and the new moon.

15 Comments to “Sing joyfully*”

  1. Renae Reljic Comment Says:

    I laughed out loud to this entry. Your knitting looks beautiful. I think an extra pattern would make it even nicer.

  2. Kristen Comment Says:

    Oh, I like the idea of going down in needle size for the shaping, though I’m not sure what that would do in a colorwork sweater.

    I just wanted to note that until I’d been crocheting for about a year, I held the yarn in my right hand (and picked up stitches at an odd and not-normal angle – consistently, but still) so you’re definitely not the only one. I find it much easier now that I hold the yarn in my left hand, but I wonder if it comes back to what feels natural. I’m a thrower in knitting, and have a weird method of holding the yarn in my right hand then, so it seemed to make sense when I was crocheting to hold the yarn similarly.

  3. Erika Comment Says:

    That Byrd anthem is fun! I think I tend to get a bit over-enthusiastic at “Blow the trumpet”.

  4. Heidi Comment Says:

    I am loving the Little Dorrit. I also never read it so the mystery is killing me. My poor daughter came home for Easter and had to endure hours of Masters Golf Championship with her dad and then the third installment of “Little Dorrit” with her mom. She loves Dickens but not so much when she missed the first two shows. Ah well, glad to find someone else who is anxious for the ending.

    I love your blog and check it often,

  5. Jodi Comment Says:

    Sounds cozy and wonderful! I’ve only read the James Herriott books — I’ll have to add the DVDs to my queue.

    Mmmm… angora. The shawl looks gorgeous, especially since I envision the halo and softness.

  6. tracy3xl Comment Says:

    It wasn’t so much the yarn in the right hand, it was the yarn AND the hook in the right hand that threw me off! And, funny, I too was curled up on the couch with some knitting in that rain. Guess that’s the only thing to do in a situation such as that.

  7. Veronique Comment Says:

    That shawl is lovely! I love how the little cocoons are bubbling up.
    Have you tried this method of provisional CO: you use 2 different yarns to work a long tail CO. Use your working yarn over your index (to create the st on the needle) and waste yarn over your thumb (to create the bottom edge). No crochet hook needed!

  8. Mom Comment Says:

    Ooo, the evil, slithery French BlancNoir (name?) is so nasty – and quite the actor! If he were real I’d suggest you knit him a gag (something itchy) and handcuffs. Thank goodness no one like that ever showed up on the front porch asking for a date with you.
    The shawl is beautiful!
    The sweater – bless you – I’d like you to knit the way you feel pleases you most, but is also easy to do. You be the artist, I the happy recipient (and proud Mom). Don’t let it steal time from all the book editing. However it comes out, I’ll try to restrict Sonnet to the bathrobe tie ends.

  9. Seanna Lea Comment Says:

    Rain everywhere! I got to do some knitting during our rain shower on Saturday, but only after I got myself thoroughly soaked walking in the rain. I don’t particularly enjoy the cold rain, but I love seeing all the grass coming up green and the buds on the trees after a good rainshower.

  10. Shana Comment Says:

    Interesting decrease dilemma! Good luck. I like the decrease + belt idea but know how tempting hanging ties are to pups. Alas.

    I too have been trying to knit and watch _Little Dorrit_, having never read the book and feeling very anxious the more evil that Frenchman becomes, and the longer we must wait to find out how these people are all linked to one another. The gray color scheme of city life, plus _Alice in Wonderland_-esque manic character portraits, plus mystery, plus so many wrongs against poor Amy, make very engaging viewing with friends each Sunday night! Almost hard to knit during it — and for me, that’s saying a lot!

  11. mamie Comment Says:

    the belt – toddler- brother thing got a good guffaw out of me. thanks. and looking forward to seeing more of the knitting. looks good so far. happy spring!

  12. minnie Comment Says:

    you couldhave added food:teenage boy to that list. don’t ask how i know (although, sometimes i don’t think food actually TOUCHES their lips, as they shove it down so fast)

  13. Wendolene Comment Says:

    Wow–that *is* a conundrum. I like the idea of going down a needle size, personally (no worries about visual inconsistency).
    I agree totally–murky sums Dickens up in a tidy little packet. I completely cheated by coming into Little Dorrit on episode 3 and having my sisters explain all that they had deduced from the previous two. Even still, all those murmuring British voices (and Andy Serkis running around as a crazed French murderer) make it really difficult to keep up!

  14. kaet Comment Says:

    haha! i know my boyfriend is so very glad for a respite from the holy week choral extravaganza! he had rehersals sunday, wed, thu, sang service thu, rehersal and service fri, rehersal sat and a 8am early service and 3 hour regular service sunday! whew! i hope your vocal chords are getting the rest and tea they need! your easter sounds perfect by the way, comfies to wear and loungin!

  15. emily Comment Says:

    that shawl is looking fabulously cozy, and I’m excited to see what happens with the 3-in-1. belated Happy Easter too.