As close as we got

Published on Monday July 20th, 2009


We drove down to Monmouth Sunday morning to take part in the Cycle Oregon Weekend ride. Unfortunately, we discovered upon arrival that the bag containing our shoes, jerseys, sunscreen—basically all we needed—had been left behind. So the bikes got an airing on the car roof, but didn’t get to taste the road at all. In truth, it was probably a blessing in disguise, as I’ve been having knee/back trouble and hadn’t felt great after our easy ride on Saturday. I may just have irritated the knee enough that it’s going to grumble even though my spine and seat height have been professionally adjusted, in which case there’s nothing for it but to rest.

In knitting news…


Yes, that’s Daisy Daisy blocking on the floor! She lacks a button and the special embellishment I’ve planned around it, but I wanted to block her for length before I placed the button. I may be off my real bicycle more than I’d like, but things look good for my conquest of the yellow jersey in the Tour de France KAL!

Two days

Published on Monday July 6th, 2009

This was the state of Daisy Daisy yesterday at 4pm. After two days of knitting, I’ve got decreases done, and enough sweater to cover me up to the ribs! I’m flying through this knit, which is only appropriate since I’m completing winging it on the design. I like a bit of waist shaping, but need the fronts to be totally clean for design reasons that will be revealed later. So I can’t use my usual scheme of placing four dart-like decreases and increases on verticals centered under the bust and correspondingly on the back. Instead I shifted all the shaping to the center back, and while I was at it, I thought I might as well make those decreases decorative.

This should be easier to see when it’s blocked out, but those are 4>3 eyelet decreases engineered by Amy Detjen and featured in her Beginner’s Triangle shawl from A Gathering of Lace. I’ve unvented a corresponding decorative increase, too. I watched half the Tour stage this morning before work, and I hope the increase section will be finished by the time I’ve watched the end tonight. (Don’t tell me what happened, okay? I’m scrupulously avoiding the world of cycling news, including today’s KAL thread on Ravelry, so it’ll be a surprise!) And then it’ll be time to start neckline shaping and cast on some sleeves!

All is not entirely rosy, though. I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough yarn. That daisy stitch is a real yarn-guzzler, and the i-cord cast on, while I’m 100% sure it’s the right look for this jacket (I started with a couple of other cast ons and ripped them out), it used a lot of my first ball, too. So I’m hunting a sixth skein, and may have a lead via Ravelry. This yarn—it’s Louet MerLin Avalon—has been discontinued and reissued as MerLin Worsted, so while I’m pretty sure MerLin Worsted in Champagne would be an acceptable match, I haven’t found a local store selling it so I can compare the colors.

Anyway, I’m going to knit until I can’t anymore, and if I have to put Daisy Daisy on hold while I wait for that last skein, I’ll just slide over into the Polka Dot jersey category and tackle some of my innumerable WIPs.

And for those holding me to task on my cycling goals, I’m happy to report that I rode both days this weekend. Saturday I set out midday (after the time trial was finished; it was well worth a hotter ride to see Cancellara come scorching in 18 seconds over everyone else!) with my bike computer registering 99 degrees. I got out as far as Kelly Point and turned south, having already downed a bottle and a half of water, and then my beloved Serotta and I experienced our first mutual flat tire. I was cruising along, and I didn’t see any patches of broken glass or anything I might have ridden through to cause a puncture, but suddenly the bike felt mushy and slithery under me and I knew exactly what had happened. I hadn’t yet assembled a patch kit to carry on this bicycle (situation amended—thanks, neighbors!), and I’d never changed a road bike tire anyway. Luckily there was a patch of dense shade handy, and Mr. G had sent me out with his cell phone, so I called for the sag wagon and my man and our dog came to rescue me. Only about ten miles logged for that day. But yesterday I went out with our neighbor and did the Airport Loop and Rocky Butte—my first look at that climb. I huffed and puffed and gave it my best shot, and although I did stop once to pant and drink water, I made it to the top, and the descent was definitely worth it. I didn’t know the road and wasn’t quite brave enough not to touch my brakes at all, but I topped 60kph and loved every second of it! (Good thing my computer happened to be logging max speed… on the way down I was too busy watching the road and trying to judge my lines for the bends to think of looking at the screen!) So climbing is still my weakest point, but I’m determined that I’ll be able to pedal straight up Rocky Butte without resting by the time I have to be ready for the Tour de Cure on the 25th! I’m going to try to ride it again after work at least once this week.

Daisy, Daisy

Published on Tuesday June 30th, 2009

Three days left before the start of the Tour de France. I’m anticipating a thrilling edition of the race and plotting a new sweater design to go with it. For some time now I’ve been kicking around the idea of a little 3/4-sleeve summer jacket with an edge treatment in the beautiful Daisy Stitch you see above, knit from Louet’s worsted weight MerLin (this is actually worsted MerLin’s discontinued but basically identical prototype, Avalon). I have significant design hurdles to overcome (How do I change needle sizes to get the fabric I want in the Daisy Stitch and in stockinet? What kind of shoulder construction will work best?), but that’s perfect for Tour knitting. And of course thinking of my Daisy jacket in company with cycling brought to mind the the popular 1890’s music hall song, “Daisy Bell,” known to most (among those who know it at all) as “Bicycle Built for Two” or “Daisy, Daisy:”

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do!

I’m half crazy, all for the love of you.

It won’t be a stylish marriage

I can’t afford a carriage

But you’ll look sweet upon the seat

Of a bicycle built for two.

The original isn’t much heard anymore, but the song has entered the folk tradition and spawned a variety of saucy answer choruses. In my family (and it’s a family that knows more 100-year-old ditties than average, thanks to my grandmother and mother, and always appreciates a saucy tune), we’ve always sung:

Harry, Harry, here is my answer true:

I’ll not marry in spite of my love for you.

If you can’t afford a carriage

There won’t be any marriage.

‘Cause I’ll be damned if I’ll be crammed

On a bicycle built for two.

My Daisy is designed for a modern age in which a girl might well be tickled to be married from a tandem. But in fact, the social history of women and cycling intrigues me. You should read some of the period scientific literature warning against permitting a young woman to ride a bicycle, both because it might damage her reproductive organs and because by angling the seat a certain way she might derive (gasp!) sexual gratification. (This last is pretty hilarious to any girl who’s ever ridden a bicycle, ever, but the men of science of the 1800s don’t seem to have applied as much imagination in testing their hypotheses as they did in formulating them… they don’t seem to have thought to ask an actual woman what it felt like to straddle much of anything, for instance.) Bicycles represented a new kind of freedom for women, a measure of control over their own mobility and a new opportunity to use their bodies athletically. A quote from Susan B. Anthony: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” And another, which I love, from Frances Willard, a cycling enthusiast who was otherwise conservative enough to lead the Women’s Christian Temperance Union: “I would not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.”

And hey, the bicycle helped get us out of corsets, ladies. If that sentiment makes you want to follow the Tour this year, it’s not too late to join the knit-along on Ravelry.

Free wheeling

Published on Tuesday May 19th, 2009

Sometimes the weather really is too good to stay inside and knit, and anyway, how could I just leave this beautiful machine in the garage? Yep, that’s the Serotta Ti, and she’s one-third mine! (Happily, my neighbor is willing to accept an installment plan.) Isn’t she gorgeous, raspberry sorbet pink and all? I *heart* her. You’ll have to forgive the iPhone photo; the SLR really doesn’t fit comfortably in the back pocket of a cycling jersey. You’ll also have to forgive my glowing lobsterishness. This is about eighteen miles into the twenty-six we covered on Sunday, which is the longest I’ve ridden in quite a long time, and that’s just how my face gets. I match my bike!

It was the first time I’ve seen Cathedral Park, under the St. John’s bridge—a very promising spot for picnicking above the river. We didn’t picnic, though; we were travelling light. But we did stop for tacos at Por Que No? on the way home, which made for a perfect afternoon.

Evenings are being spent working on the Frost Flowers cardigan. Those of you warning me to ditch it now are probably right, but my mother would tell you I’m awfully stubborn. Apparently I am also optimistic to a perverse degree, because somehow I’m still holding out hope that I’ll really like this sweater when it’s finished. I’m just getting comfortable enough with the double-sided frost flowers motif that I can work on it while I watch the Giro d’Italia coverage. I’m tickled that today’s Cuneo to Pinerolo queen stage takes the peloton through the mountains where Mr. G and I travelled to see some of the Olympic skiing in 2006. The race went right through Oulx, the town we hiked and glissaded down to after the women’s freestyle was cancelled for too much snow and the buses couldn’t get back down the mountain, and through Sestriere where we saw the men’s downhill. What beautiful country it is up there. Motivation to get stronger at riding the hills!