Saturday, October 27, 2007

Many beginnings

Wool cotton sweater update: Okay, I frogged back again because I wasn't loving the look of the little openwork diamond motif in the center front of the sweater. Sadly, with my new incredibly time-consuming profession I only really knit on Saturdays anymore, somewhere between house cleaning and grocery shopping. So I frogged pretty much an entire week's work of work and it took me two more weekends to recover that ground. I put in another KC Brocade diamond there instead. Here it is looking all crumpled from being in the bottom of my knitting bag for a while.

I'm getting a little tired of the Rowan Wool Cotton. I feel like I've been working with this yarn forever, which makes sense considering that I bought this yarn to start the Gatsby project all the way back in March(!) and have been working with it *ever since* -- first as Gatsby, then as this new sweater I'm designing.

As a result (or maybe just because I wish I had more time to knit and am trying to cram in more than I can actually do) I seem to be on a rampage of starting new projects.

I started a pair of fair isle mitts with the goal of finishing them in time for the Thanksgiving trip to my mother's traditionally chilly house. I'm mostly through one mitt at this point, using up odd bits of worsted from the scrap department of my stash. The pattern is from Drops Design and I think it turn out nice once blocked. Right now the stiffness of the fair isle is puffing out above the tight ribbed cuff a bit more than I would like.

We'll see what happens here because I must admit that I have a serious and chronic case of second-mitten syndrome.

Meanwhile, I went to Rhinebeck last weekend. Sheep! Goats! Llamas! Alpacas! Bunnies! I petted all of them - shamelessly. Narrowly escaped returning home to our New York City apartment with one of each plus a Border Collie puppy. Thankfully, my husband and I showed remarkable restraint and returned simply with a couple of Christmas presents that shall remain nameless, a chunk of sheepsmilk cheese, and three little yarn purchases for moi. . .

From left to right, purple/black handpainted sock yarn (um, yes, for the girl with a hard case of second-mitten syndrome -- but I want to try at least one sock!), a natural toned pink-grey-brown worsted from Shadyside Farm, and some fuzzy, super-soft Angora yarn with steel grey and rose variegations. The bunny yarn is currently on the way to becoming a scarf.

The fuzz makes it hard to see the stitch pattern, but it's a simple little openwork, broken-rib pattern from BW's Treasury #1, called Dewdrop. I had some fun looking through the book and trying different ideas. This one is inspired by themes in The Book Thief, the October selection for KTC. More on that later.

The worsted got swatched up for the Sienna cardigan from IK Fall 06. I've been wanting to make this sweater since I first saw it in this issue. I think I would love to wear it, but somehow I just never got to it. I also didn't want to put up the cash for the suggested yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas, which is a fairly heavy worsted, and I never really came across the right substitution. I think my new Shadyside wool will be perfect for it.

I love knowing that this yarn comes from western PA, too, right between where I used to live in rural PA and where my family is from in rural, eastern OH. I can picture these sheep hanging out in my sweater on a fantastically green steep hill under that cloudy Pennsylvania sky.

I just know that this sweater will be a favorite and I haven't even started it yet. The yarn kept drawing me back to their booth again and again all day. It's exactly the kind of stuff I most love. Quality that's subtle, not flashy. Perfect in the details, striking just the right balance between natural and refined. I like the natural colors, but many of the more natural wools at the fair had a rustic, sort of look to them that was too rough for my taste, either because they were single-ply, thick-thin yarns or because they were completely undyed. Shadyside had some nice patterns for their wool, too, although I didn't buy any. I think I might just steal some of their ideas instead!

The wool is super soft like a merino, though it's from Romney sheep, and the woman from Shadyside said she had been breeding the sheep for softness. There's something poetic and lovely about that that makes me want to write a poem "bred for softness" I heard cats described once as "comfort-loving creatures" and I thought about that, how some creatures are comfort-loving and others are not so much. People too.

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