Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Forty (not ounces)

I'm turning 40 in a second, and while I've been making that joke for most of my 30s, it's suddenly no longer a joke.  For my 40th I've decided to challenge myself with the Vivian Cardigan which has been in my Ravelry queue since September 7, 2010. Thanks Ravelry, for maintaining a procrastination timeline for me, totally appreciated.

Here is Vivian - I can't tell you how much it pains me to see her using the cuff of a hand-knit sweater to wipe oil paint off that canvas.  Clearly she didn't knit it herself:

This pattern is a little intimidating and I'm going to have to adjust for measurements, something I've never done before.  But I'm 40, and can do this.  If I were 20, I'd  just shrug and say "Math is hard.  I'll make a scarf instead," knowing I had years to come back to the Vivian.  But I'm 40 now.  I have the patience of middle age, a phone that doubles as a calculator, and a narrowing window of arthritis-free years ahead of me.  This is the time.

I started out by searching the local knitting stores for the right yarn and finally settled on this pretty baby alpaca from Juniper Moon called Dark Harbor.  It's sooo soft, just the kind of thing the most impressive sweater you ever knit should be made of.

I forked over my $120 for the baby alpaca (surprising cheaper at Gather Here than online) and wound six balls of yarn for myself - ensuring that it was no longer returnable.  It's a good sign when you keep petting it, right?

Then I dutifully made my swatch to check gauge, and I knit 5 stitches to the inch instead of 4.25 which doesn't seem like a big deal until you think how many inches there are.  It's already such a loose knit that I don't want to up the needle size.  For all you non-knitters this basically meant that I was stuck with six balls of non-returnable, too-thin yarn.

But I'm 40 right?  So I met with one of my many newly-in-her-40s friends, who happens to be good at math, and over coffee and a 4 lb. chocolate eclaire, phone calculators in hand, we THINK we have solved the problem - and not with more math.

Katie's going to knit the same sweater - so it's not like she's working for free!
We just manhandled my swatch until it fit the gauge - I'm sure this is exactly how Elizabeth Zimmermann would do it.  It took two hours to write out and knit the first row.  This thing is either so complicated you'll never see my mistakes, or so intricate you'll notice every one.  I'll share the final product either way.  My goal is September (I guess I should specify, September 2014).

And for those of you who are wondering - THIS is 50:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Curse Of The Love Sweater

I learned it as the "Sweater Curse" but whatever you want to call it, the belief is widespread among knitters: if you try to knit a sweater for a significant other, the relationship will fail before you finish it. Some people think once you're married the curse no longer applies, but I'm (conveniently) not one to tempt fate.

My way around the curse was to seek out the hand-knitted sweater that I would have made for Mr. Responsibly if I wasn't constrained by the curse.  That's how he ended up with this pretty Irish fisherman's sweater by a Maura Kennedy.  Maura and I, because I like to think I had something to do with making this sweater before it appeared on the shelf at Irish Imports, chose a lovely blue/green wool that matches his eyes but falls a little flat in these pictures:

My plan worked, it definitely makes him feel loved:

Since then I haven't really knit for him.  I don't do gloves, and Mr. Responsibly doesn't wear scarves much.  Really all he's ever gotten from my needles is one unwearable hat.  I just can't quite get it right.  Back in 2008 I really wanted to make him the Elizabeth Zimmerman Watch Cap:

Nice job,!

After three attempts with the same ball of yarn, I'd made two too small, one with a super girly brim when you folded it (I think I cast on too tightly), and finally, well, this last one:

I gave up.  But this December we could not find the box or shelf or drawer where we must have packed away our winter things so Mr. Responsibly has gone hatless.  I decided it was time to try again.  No more pork chop stitch, we're vegetarians.  No more worsted, I was going chunky.  No more variegated burnt orange, it was time for a conservative charcoal.

Sometimes I like it, but from the side I'm less sure: 

Is it still a little off - too long maybe? Does he just need better glasses frames? Or does my simple little hat just not stand up next to Maura's sweater?  I guess the only thing that really matters is, he wears it!