Thursday, January 21, 2010

in which i dream of pastures and farms

it's raining. again. last time i posted, it was raining as well, and for several solid wintry storms to come so low as sunny california in so short a time is pretty atypical. dreary weather has swallowed us up. and i love it.

if it weren't for winter and its precipitative nature, how would i sustain my garden come summer? last week, i ordered my warm-weather seeds. i'm anxiously awaiting their arrival. living in a USDA zone 9 affords a long growing season; i'll start some seeds in cell packs as soon as i can. propagation methods will not differ greatly from last year's, but the varieties of seeds i selected do. my choosy tendencies come into play here!

though our garden plot is not large by any means, i do feel like a real, grown-up gardener when things are growing well and producing. growing and nurturing the garden makes me appreciate those farmers that work on larger farms, or those farmers who didn't have the modern conveniences we do today...

i suppose that maybe the daydreams of warmer days and turning soil was already in my head when i started scouring ravelry for a new knit project. i had a skein of malabrigo worsted in glazed carrot in the stash -- one i'd bought last summer when i saw the lone skein of it sitting in the store. i'd been feeling that a cowl in that orangey color would be perfect in all of this gray weather, especially since i walk about in a charcoal gray jacket, jeans and dark shoes most days. i came across gudrun's crofter's cowl and cast on immediately. the cowl is unlike any other i've knit, with a unique construction: you knit two halves then graft them together. the three-repeat pattern for each half is a shetland lace, which is beautifully showcased with the single ply, lofty malabrigo.

this project definitely required stitch markers, though i believe it was due to the fact that i was watching heavy doses of HGTV while knitting and staying dry inside. i worried that my kitchener's stitch was too tight and created a visibly invisible seam, but i think that what looks like a seam is more the cause of the color variegation typical of malabrigo. in any case, when the cowl is all slouchy on the neck, the midline is the least visible part...

in other knitting news, my modified annikki is almost done. yes, really! the sleeves were done last week, i cast off the back last night, and am halfway up the left front. besides the most basic mods i noted over here, i have also made further changes mid-knit. i've been certain to take notes and hopefully i continue to make progress in the right direction. once i finish, you'll be the first to know, of course!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

frozen needles

on this rainy winter morning, i am finding my mind ever drifting to thoughts of knitting. there is laundry and cleaning to be done -- when is there not? -- but all i can think about is cozying up with some yarn and coffee, the preschooler nestled up against my side.

it's a romanticized view of what will, in all honesty, be a source of stress to me, because once again, i want to knit a sweater, but also want to modify the pattern significantly.

the yarn is here. the pattern booklet is finally here. now i just need to find my courage.

annikki is a long sweater coat. the design of the top half is what i adore: the ribbed polo collar; the modern, snug fit. but i simply cannot fathom wearing a handknit sweater coat. firstly, this skirt feature would only accentuate areas i try to mask on a day to day basis. secondly, i live in a temperate climate, where even wearing a waist-length sweater all day long is not always a possibility. thirdly (and lastly, though i could probably drone on and on), i can just imagine snagging the skirt part of the coat each and every time i sit. i'm not especially clumsy, but i would figure that the wear and tear on this knit would be evident first in its bum region. (see point one.)

so what to do? how to begin planning the adjustments needed? i think that this blog post has been a good start. airing out my grievances makes it feel as though it's a necessity to modify the pattern. other people have successfully altered the design. surely, i can, too.

are you one of those daring knitters, jumping right in and figuring the modificatons as you go? are you able to pick up a pattern, then pick up a yarn in a gauge other than listed and just go to it? or do you refuse to deviate from the pattern -- yarn, stitch count and all?

or are you like me, and take weeks to research possible substitute yarns in the same weight, and in what color, and carefully knit a gauge swatch, only to see -- again, in plain sight -- that your gauge is too tight [obviously! c'mon, you've been visiting here a while. you must know by now that i'm tightly wound, ergo my gauge would be tight!] and you've got to go up not one, but two needle sizes? and once you've got the gauge right, do you then wait another week before you can cast on, just to be sure that you really can and want to commit to this garment? no? then come over. i have coffee. i need to borrow your fearless knitter's confidence.