Friday, June 5, 2009

Three Steps Forward

While Bobby has been amazing me with his new experiences, I have been amazing myself with my productivity! I've been sewing and knitting a good bit and though I've had a few setbacks I'm still pretty happy with my progress!

I started that new Whisper Cardigan. I love the yarn. It has reminded me of how much I love knitting with alpaca. The way it practically caresses your fingers as it slides through your hands is intoxicating. I was so eager to start and once it was cast on so enticed by it that I only gave the pattern a cursory glance. I've knit it before, I'm relatively aware of what's going on with it, I told myself. And I finished almost an entire arm in a matter of days!But after getting this much done I realized it was a bit tighter around the upper arm than my other one, and wasn't I going to need to bind off about 16 of those stitches before moving to the back? Well yes I was, the pattern told me. And that's why I should have cast on 16 more stitches than I had. Oh well. Live and learn. It just means more knitting time with that alpaca, and I value our quality time together.

Unfortunately it also means I probably won't have it done by the time I go to Sock Summit. Not because I don't have time. If I focused, I could get it done, but because I have other things I need to be knitting instead. For example, some socks for Bobby to wear to the sock hop, some socks for me, maybe, and some color work of some sort. I'm feeling a bit of pressure about one of the classes I'll be taking and so I'm trying to prepare myself.

You may think that's sort of silly. After all, you're taking the class to learn, right? Normally I would totally agree with you, but there are two things that make this a different situation as I see it. Before I explain those things, let me tell you a little story from my past. I think it will help to make my point.

I signed up for my very first knitting class in the fall of 2006. I had learned to knit the summer before that and a friend of mine who also knits suggested we sign up for a class called "Magnificent Mittens." Now, in winter in Alaska who couldn't use a pair of good mittens? So, I said, "Sure!" I signed up and then looked at the description for the class.

You needed to be a Beginner II level knitter for the class. Alright, I know the word beginner is in there, but I had only been knitting for 4 months or so at this point and was freaked out that I'd show up and not know one end of the needle from the other. (Which is actually quite reasonable given that they were double-pointed needles, but you see my point.)

Then I also found out that the woman teaching the class was the mom of one of my husband's friend. I had met the guy, he was cool, he and my husband got along great, and Bob said his mom was really nice, too. So, then I knew I couldn't make an idiot of myself and then try to remain anonymous. The pressure was on.

So, I went out with the book for the class, Anna Zillboorg's Magnificent Mittens, and bought the yarn and needles I thought I needed. Then I proceeded to work my way through the sample mitten that she starts the book with. This way, I figured, I would know that I could at least get through the class and have the skills necessary to make a pair of mittens from the book. Great! I finished a mitten and knew that while it wasn't pretty it meant that I could actually do what I needed to for the class. In the class I learned how to keep the knitting from being tighter in the stranded section. Notice how the black and green portion is skinnier than the rest of the mitten? And I learned a lot more about gauge. Any of you who were wondering, no it's not supposed to be extra large.Also, because I had already knitted the practice mitten that everyone else learned to knit in the class I learned how to cast-on for a mitten with a striped band! Unfortunately that gauge lesson hadn't quite hit home yet...
So, that's the kind of person I am. I like to take full advantage of opportunities to learn. I also think that learning builds on itself, so the more you know, the more you can learn. Sort of like the light-bulb in the dark example, the more you know, the more you don't know. And, I really like knowing things.

With all that background let me tell you about the class I'm nervous about. First I'm going to be sitting next to a woman I know and admire: she taught that knitting class that I took and every class I've taken since. She's amazing and I really don't want to embarrass her. I can handle humiliating myself (well, I've gotten to where I cry later, instead of bursting into tears at the moment anyway... ...) but don't ever want to do that to someone else, even by association! And, there are a lot of good knitters who because of the demons in the servers didn't get in. I want to make the most of this opportunity since they can't.

Second, the class is going to be taught by the woman that wrote the book for that first class: Anna Zillboorg. I can't explain how amazing and wonderful this opportunity is; I really don't want to blow it because I don't know enough.

So, I'm going to be doing a lot of sock and color work knitting for the next two months. I'm also going to be trying to convince Bob to let me buy two of Zillboorg's other books that are about socks, full of great patterns, out of print, and thus crazy expensive.

I've already been doing a little bit of sock knitting, though this pair will be on the back burner for a while as well. I started the Angee socks out of Cookie A's new book Sock Innovation.
I'm done with the knitting and now just need to graft the bottom together. My most recent knitting class was about knitting socks from the toe up (which these aren't) and I really like the short-row technique I learned, so I've been using it whenever I can. And, since I can now Kitchener stitch without it looking like gobbledy-goop I can graft stitches competently, too! (See, would you want to admit to Anna Zillboorg, much less the woman who you've taken several knitting classes from that you can't Kitchener stitch? I didn't think so!) So the bottoms of these will be done soon and I can use this wonderful pair of needles to work on a different pair of socks!

Those socks though are knit from a yarn that I love more and more. The colors are beautiful and there are places where it looks like an old growth forest with rich browns and tans, and other places that look like a tropical island with sand and deep-blue water and places where the greens are vibrant like spring turning to summer. All in one skein of yarn! I don't remember the name of the colorway, but it is dyed by my friend at Northern Lights Fiber Co and it is amazing and I'm going to need more as soon as I have some sock yarn money available.

The one problem with that is that I just spent a god bit on this sock yarn:
It's ShiBui sock yarn, superwash merino. It's soft, has beautiful stitch definition, and the order finally came in and I had been waiting for a chance to buy some and went a little crazy on it. Justification: only one pair of socks is intended for me. The other 4 are for Bob. Then I was thinking that the leftovers could be a really cool stripey pair for Bobby! I'm making sure to not go back until I can withstand the yarn's loving looks. There are still lots of wonderful colors I didn't pick up.

Other than obsessing over socks and sock yarn, I've also been sewing and finished all of the blocks for my Twinkle quilt!There are a few blocks that are a little wonky that'll need to be taken apart and redone, but then I can look at the layout and be ready to actually finish a quilt top!

See? Amazing amounts of progress!


Sally said...

I can't believe you finished your Twinkle quilt! (well, practically) It looks amazing.

Northern Lights Fiber Co. said...

Wow! You totally rock! I can't wait to see it all in person!

RitaLee said...

These have the green tomato batik that is in your mom's tote! She told me the story behind it it!