Fate, Tempted

You know, it is hard to know how to blog a project when it’s all going really well.  I mean, could there possibly be anything more boring to read about than a piece of knitting that has no problems? Such is the case with the Dover Castle Shawl.

Actually, let me be clear. It’s not just that this thing has no problems – It’s that it is all going so swimmingly that I cannot even dream up a bit of dramatic interest. Nothing, except for yesterday I sneezed and dropped a stitch, and then I picked it back up again.  It’s hardly the plot for a blog post. Not only is it all going beautifully, but since this shawl starts small and gets bigger, I didn’t see the reason for a swatch. The shawl can be the swatch, I reckoned, and I’m not shirking.  I know that if you’ve ever been in a class with me I’ve likely told you that there’s not very many times when I don’t consider skipping the swatch a dereliction of knitterly duty, but here, we have one of them.  I could just start, I figured, and rip it out if the gauge wasn’t right, when the shawl was swatch-sized, and I’m happy to block things on the needles, so I knew I wouldn’t get a surprise there – and since I made the yarn myself, I know there can’t be a surprise. I’d normally warn you here -that the swatch is as much a talent show, or an interview as it is a gauge test – there’s many ways a yarn can be wrong for a project that go far, far beyond the number of stitches per 10cm, let me tell you that. Here it was designed by me to be perfect for this purpose, and since I washed it after spinning and before knitting, I know that it won’t bloom or change with washing after, like a lot of commercial yarns can. The point is, I blew off the gauge swatch, and then the gauge was as perfect as a poem.

Even better, I was hoping I’d be able to make this a little bigger than the pattern calls for – it suggests seven repeats of the main chart before moving to the edging, and I just finished number eight – and haven’t even moved onto another colour yet. Really, short of the thing spontaneously bursting into flames (unlikely, since wool is flame retardant and self-extinguishing) I really can’t see anything going wrong at all…

There. I said it.

PS. If anybody is on the fence, a few spots for our Spring Retreat remain. Send me an email if you’ve got questions. We’d love to have you. (InfoATstrungalongDOTca)

Well There Now

I know, I know. I absolutely remember what I said about knitting with grey this time of year just a few days ago, but surely, the rule (that I made) can be broken by me at any moment I see fit, and surely, surely, it was not intended for spectacularly perfect little skeins of yarn like this.

That’s the little Jacob from two posts ago – spun up in entirety, into five gorgeous little skeins that are exactly as I imagined them. (If a little plumper than I intended, after their baths.) Each is a two ply, somewhere between a laceweight and a fingering, and since they’re all from the same sheep, they make a lovely gradient, of sorts.

The big skein of cream is about 180m, and each of the smaller greys are about 70m, near as I can figure it. That gives me a little less yarn to work with than I had planned, just 480m (that fleece was really tiny) and means my original plan isn’t going to work. I’ve tried about a hundred times to convince myself that 480 and 530 are just about the same in terms of meterage,  but they’re not and it won’t work, and that’s okay, because they’re so lovely it was easy to come up with another plan. (I use the word “easy” here to mean that it was a two hour Ravelry search and involved the wits, skills and experience of six or seven knitters dedicated to the hunt to work it out, which is pretty easy considering how picky I was. Shawl hunts can be epic.)

This afternoon, after I finish all my work (or as much as seems reasonable, considering the unending nature of it all) I’m giving up on cleaning the kitchen, casting on for Dover Castle, in sublime grey, and suddenly, it seems like the most perfect colour. Just look at those skeins.

 

Under the Wire

With my plan for the Self-Imposed Sock Club in place for this year, at the beginning of January I dutifully went to the downstairs Stash Cupboard, and pulled a bag. That’s how it works, the Sock Club, I’ve got everything all sorted into bags, ready to go, and on the first of every month I am reaching in, pulling a bag, and whatever that is, that’s what I’m going to knit. No swapsies, no takebacks, no do-overs. The rules are the rules. I meant it too, except for one thing. I went to the cupboard, reached in, and pulled out this.

Never mind what the pattern was, it doesn’t matter. I looked at that grey, I looked outside at the grey, I thought about the long dark tea-time of the soul that is January, and I thought about my friend Denny, who always says not to knit too much grey in the Winter because it’s just too hard on your heart, and knitters…. I swapped it. I took that bag and I shoved it bag in the cupboard and I pulled another one, and then put that back and then I kept going until I got something that made me want to live a little.

Spring Forward is the pattern, an oldie but a goodie (11 years!) it never stops pleasing me, this one. Looks fancy but is easy to memorize, and travels well as a result. It went most places with me this January.

The yarn is Valley Yarns Charlemont, a standby sock favourite of mine. Wool and silk make it warm and soft, and the silk and nylon mean it wears well.   This one’s the hand-dyed variety – a long defunct colourway, sadly.  It reminds me of tulips and pink hyacinths and other promises the spring holds, once we trudge through January. (And February, and March, and probably April.)

It was a pleasure knitting them – so much so, that this morning, it being the first of February I marched gleefully to the cupboard, pulled a bag, looked at what was inside, looked at what was outside (which is another unbelievably cold day, even for here) and tossed it back again. There will be February Sock Club Socks, and they’ll be worth braving the cold for,  but it’s my club, and I make the rules. I’m off to the yarn store.

PS. Because one of you will ask, the tea towel in the pictures (I’m using it as a spinning cloth at present, so it was handy for the pictures) is from Tilly Flop.  I found two of them in my stocking this year, courtesy of Ken Santa Claus. I love them.