Ba-baaai, summer! Bwah!

Published on Tuesday September 27th, 2011

Time to say goodbye, Ada style, with a vigorous kiss blown at the end, to the briefest summer in my memory. All night, dozing lightly with one ear cocked upstairs for baby sounds — the only way I seem to know how to sleep anymore — I heard rain on the pavement. This morning I put on a wool sweater (Pas de Valse), a wool hat (“Mama HA’!” exclaims my small one, reaching to pull it off my head and flop it over her face for peekaboo), and wool socks. (Darned if those aren’t still the best-looking socks in the drawer, despite having been knit in 2005. My admiration for Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock grows annually.) Ada is in her reversible brioche cardigan (blue side out today) and her new boots. The boot leather squeaks and she steps tentatively in them, unaccustomed to the stiff soles.

We replenished the bird feeders this morning and discovered a mouse had moved into the seed bin on the back porch. I spotted the evidence right away, but didn’t expect to see Mouse herself peeping up at me from a hole in the bag, all sleek fur, bright eyes, and quivery whiskers. Ada, having been recently enchanted by a pet rat at the tea shop, thought we should pick her up and get to know her properly, but we didn’t. I am tenderhearted about mice, although I sincerely hope this one’s family isn’t expecting to move in with us for the winter. (The cat should be an effective deterrent. For all his faults, he’s a competent hunter and also pulls his weight when it comes to chores like dispatching house centipedes with alarming legs. (Don’t google them. If you don’t know what they look like from personal experience, thank the appropriate deity and go on your blissfully ignorant way.) And while the dog is useless against the creepy crawlies, she’d be thrilled to go all buddy-cop with Mingus on a mouse if he wouldn’t end her for cramping his style. So I’m not too worried about a rodent invasion.) But I’ll be devising a way to lock down the bin lid more securely. In the mean time, the finches seem untroubled to have shared some of their sunflower seeds. I’ve never seen a handful of birds tuck in with more vigor. They must realize summer is fading, too.

While the featheries are plumping up for winter, I’m feeling ready to turn my attention back to the thickest and warmest projects in my knitting basket. If you’re a knitter, there’s an excellent chance you already know what this is…

MiteredCross (1 of 1)

… but don’t tell, okay? Here be secret knitting. And speaking of miters, I’ve nearly finished my Mitered Cardigan: a seam to graft, buttons to attach, ends to weave, and then I cross my fingers and block this sweater like the dickens and, if all else fails, maybe take up running in case there’s a spare inch or so that could come off my middle.

Color studies II

Published on Wednesday October 11th, 2006

Here’s what I learned about colorwork last week:


Project: “Mist” by Kim Hargreaves, from Rowan’s A Yorkshire Fable

Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4-Ply, eight shades

Needles: US #2 and #3

This beret is worked flat and then seamed up. This presents the special challenge of colorwork on purl rows. The center line of that teal band with brown and white crosses? Pure fiery hell, my friends. It’s the only line of the chart where Kim introduces a third color, and naturally it happened to fall on a WS row. I think the working of it may have taken me about half an hour. You bet your boots I realized this was going to be a problem from the outset, and if I could have thought of a way to knit this puppy in the round I would have. But alas, I possess neither 16″ circulars nor #3 double pointeds. And I confess I was concerned about the jogs looking messy anyway. So I worked it as given.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the result. I scrapped the suggested pompon (yes, that’s the correct spelling – you can blame the French), because those are for the birds. I notice the folks who did the photo shoot for the book agree with me. I can just picture the Rowan fashion editor stalking the models with a pair of scissors – snip snip! – and little colored balls of fluff skittering away over the Yorkshire moors like so many grouse chicks. (Do they have grouse in Yorkshire?) Anyway, the hat looks rather ducky, although it needs to be blocked over a dinnerplate (thanks, EZ!) to achieve proper tam shape. Here’s what’s less ducky:


Ends, the curse of colorwork. Scores and scores of Medusa-like ends. Minus the ends, I love the purl side of fair isle, or anything stripey. I’ve long intended to knit a striped baby sweater intentionally wrong-side out.

So what did I learn about colorwork from this project, besides the devilish dexterity necessary to manipulate three working strands of yarn across a purl row? Don’t be afraid of bright and contrasting colors in fair isle. These are not the colors Kim H. dictated in the pattern. In my defense, Yorkshire Tweed 4-Ply is hard to find, having been discontinued, and for all my scrounging in yarn stores I never did come up with two of the shades she calls for. But I rejected the recommended lawn green and peacock blue as too garish for my taste, and that was probably a mistake. I chose eight colors I thought were harmonious, but I’ll bet it doesn’t look to you as if there are eight different colors in these pictures. The mulled wine, chocolate brown, and deep neptune blue are too close in value, and it’s hard to distinguish them unless you look very carefully. And the bone color looks very white in comparison to the darker shades. Lesson learned! I’ll go for more contrast when I start my mittens.