Thursday, January 17, 2008

My point (and I do have one)

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite all-time people.

My Grannie. She was a hard working, creative soul – a country woman who could crochet, sew, cook and garden. For me her meatloaf, creamed corn and English pea salad were legendary. I can make the English pea salad to suit me but have never mastered her meatloaf or creamed corn.

She ate a slice of white onion and slice of tomato with almost every meal and loved ice tea and Mexican food and hamburgers.

After my Grandad died in 1968, my Grannie, who was married very early and had never earned her own living, was left to make her way. She found a little house, got a job in the cafeteria of the local hospital, saved her pennies and crocheted. She crocheted doilies and afghans and doilies and lace collars and doilies and table clothes. I can’t even tell you the number of hours I spent lounging on her bed or sitting in the rocking chair while she crocheted, talking and watching her form stitch after stitch and stopping every once in a while to count.

My Grannie was the ultimate perfectionist (my mother can be, too – wonder what happened to me?). I can remember her making the little loop at the back of a blouse for the button closure over and over because it kept twisting. Never mind that it wouldn't twist once it was buttoned. Her clothes were always as beautiful on the inside as they were on the outside.

I can also remember her making huge table clothes using size 10 or 20 crochet cotton. Every once in a while she would go back and count to make sure everything was copasetic. A loud “Ohhhhhh…” would be followed by her ripping back to the point where she’d made a mistake – even if that was 100 rounds back! I could never understand it – after all, 100 rounds later, if she hadn’t caught it all those times she’d counted, who else would know. “I’d know.” And that was the end of it. Since I’m much more the person who would try to find some justification to overlook such a minor error, I was always at a loss to understand her compulsion.

All of that was to say this.

I’ve started my Skrå-trøyer sweater over. Here’s where I was:

And here’s where I am now.

If you check out this post from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, you’ll have an idea what happened. My math mistake wasn’t in the buying of the yarn but in working out how many stitches I needed.

Using the number of stitches I originally cast on would have made a sweater to fit a sumo wrestler. I sort of realized it early on so I decreased by a pattern repeat on the front and back and on I went, thinking I could just steek that little bit. And on I knit.

I got to the armhole where I had to split for the top part of the front and back. You see, up to now, the sweater was on a circular needle and not where I could easily spread it out and check the size. After all, I’d done the math. Well, the split happened and I realized that it was smaller than I’d started with but would still fit an NFL line backer. So I took it in by 2 pattern repeats as I worked up the back and happily knitted on. Ignorance (even willful ignorance) really is bliss, evidently.

I got most of the top back done when I happened to hold it up and realize that it was still going to drape down to my elbows so, in distress, I abandoned it to its basket while I worked on other things such as the Miser’s bag and shawl.

Finally, I plucked up the courage to look at it. I knew all the time in my heart of hearts that I just wouldn’t be happy if I kept knitting with my head in the sand. Alas, the winds of reason have blown away the sands of denial. In my head, I just keep hearing Grannie say, “I’d know.” And I knew.

Therefore, in honor of Grannie, and because I plan to have this sweater until I’m 90 and because, even after all this, I’m still so enamored of this sweater, I started over.

Of course, the fact that I’ve got about 150 fewer stitches will make it go faster so I’ve got that going for me. I don’t want anyone to even ask the question about what went wrong with my math. Let’s just all agree that I suck at math and leave it at that.

Here’s to Grannie, the voice in my head pushing me to do better!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Portuguese Fisherman meets the '70s

Just a quick post with a photo of a 1970's American Home Crafts magazine version of a Portuguese Fisherman's sweater. I like the look but it's not like any of the other pics I've been able to find of a traditional pattern. Any thoughts or ideas of where I would find references for this type of sweater?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Finishing off

I’ve been on a finishing jag this weekend.

The first thing I finished was the geometric miser’s bag I’ve been working on. I was moving right along when I ran out of thread but once I got more (and more than enough) I was able to finish it up fairly quickly. Every once in a while you make
something that you just fall in love with; this is one of those for me. I definitely want to do others like this. The squared part is made from a cross stitch pattern so I’m going to try a few other projects with these patterns.

The second thing I finished was my prototype for my Scottish shawl. Here’s a shot of it as it was drying after being blocked. The original plan was to have the saltire (St. Andrew’s Cross) in the middle, then the thistle leaf pattern for the border and, finally, a knitted border. I did this prototype because I’d never done a Shetland shawl before and wasn’t quite sure how the middle would work out and because I wasn’t sure how the border section would work doing it all in the round. You’ll see the border looks more like seashells than thistle leaves. Ah, yes, well
there’s a story about that. I did it wrong. But at least I did it wrong consistently and made up my own different pattern! Happy accidents, don’t you love ‘em? I also wasn’t sure about the corners of the border. On this one I just did a stockinette stitch, which I’m not crazy about. But now I know I want to do a running vine pattern on the corners that should contrast nicely to the thistle pattern (once it’s actually done properly, that is!) and with this prototype, I can easily see how to work it in.

The nice thing, too, is that because so much of it was plain stockinette, this version went really quickly. The other adaptation I made was not working the knitted edging. I really didn’t want to invest that much time knowing it wasn’t going to be the “real thing.” I crocheted off the stitches and then did a couple of rounds of crocheted edging and I have to say that I kind of dig it. I think on another shawl of this type, I would definitely do a much larger crocheted edging as I think it would be really, really lovely and much faster than the knit off edging.