October 27, 2004

Birth of a glacier.

While we were in Newfoundland this summer, we vistited the Tablelands. This barren, rocky place was incredibly hot, yet up near the top of the mountain was a patch of snow. It was August, the mountain barely qualified as a mountain, so I didn't think that the temperature could be different enough for there to be snow...so I asked the guide how there could still be snow up there.

He explained that so much snow falls and drifts in that area, that it can't all melt during the summer. Parts of the tablelands are covered in more than 90m (295 feet, for my American friends) of snow and it just can't get hot enough, for long enough to melt that amount of snow. Come the next winter, there's a little patch that hasn't melted, and the new snow falls on top of it. Each year, that little patch of snow gets a little bigger. The guide explains that this patch of snow makes Geologists nervous. What is happening with this little ever-growing patch of snow is the birth of a glacier. (If this makes you nervous too, you can relax. It's going to take a really long time).

This week, I realized that the same thing was happening in my email inbox. Every day I am getting a little more email than I could ever answer. I am trying really, really hard to answer everyone, but everyday the inbox grows a little larger, and emails are getting buried and frozen in the pile. It is the birth of a glacier, and it isn't taking a long time.
I read and love every single email and comment, and don't want anyone to have hurt feelings if I can't reply, I'm just giving everyone a heads up that I'm shovelling as fast as I can...but the snow keeps falling. If you sent me something that you really think I should have answered, send it again. I don't want to discourage anyone from leaving a comment (or sending me an email) especially since the comments on this blog are often funnier and more interesting than the blog itself, just don't take it personally if I don't answer you....I'm probably just buried.

Tuesdays were for spinning, and I'm pretty darned happy with the results. The Merino/tencel is pretty freakin slick and slippery (Hey Kerstin? Can I be Slick Chick now? I always wanted a nickname.) but after 10 minutes of having it snatched out of my hands faster than a sequin at a Cher concert, I got it figured. The long draw (my preferred spinning technique) is hard with this fibre, so I used a supported long-ish draw, holding the twist out of the drafting triangle, then sliding my pinch along the fibre. At no time did I relinquish my grip on said fibres. (I would suggest that you hold the fibre with a force somewhere between "death grip" and "exceedingly firm".)
When your hand cramps severely into a distorted spinning claw in....oh, 7-9 minutes you've probably got it right. I kept the tension on the wheel at a "whisper". The singles looked pretty good.


I toyed with they idea of plying it with the white mohair laceweight. Imagine how sexy it would be? I gave the idea up after a few moments, when it turned out that the idea was far, far more elegant than the reality.


Disappointing, Yes? It looks like a designer nursery layette vomited.


I plied it back on itself, and I'm actually happy with the results. Shiny, slick, very nifty, and putting the colours next to each other made them a little more edgy I think. I far prefer it to the saccharine candy of the first plying attempt.
Bippy, Cassie and Erika have all asked about Joe's gansey. I knew someone would. This day had to come. Harlots are notoriously unfaithful. Truth is, the spinning for Joe's sweater is on hold until I turn on the heat. I need to wash more fleece and I just can't face the piles of damp brown fleece rats lingering around the house for days. Once the heat is on I can pile fleece rats on the kitchen heating grate and dry them in a matter of hours. It's so good that I have all of you to keep the pressure on, isn't it?

I've cast on a wee hat to go with the sweater, using my patented roll brim hat approach. I give it to you here:

Roll Brim Hat Recipe.

1. Cast on 20 stitches with the yarn and needles you would like to use. Knit in stocking stitch until you have a piece at least 5 cm (2 inches) long, longer if you think that swatches are funny, pleasant or if you are collecting them. (Note for proper knitters: if you are the sort of person who has not yet accepted that most simple roll brim hats are lost way, way before they are ever washed, or if you are giving the hat to someone you know is so responsible that they will want to wash it, you may wash the swatch now. I never have.)

2. Measure how many stitches to the inch you are getting. I cannot stress enough the importance of being completely honest here. If is is 4 1/3 stitches, then that's what it is. Do not give in to the urge to stretch, squash or lie about your stitches.

3. Measure the intended head. Subtract an inch. Multiply this number by the number of stiches your swatch has to the inch. For example: The head measures 20 inches, subtract an inch = 19. I'm getting 5 stitches to the inch.
19 X 5 = 95.

4. Cast on that number.

5. Knit until the hat measures (with it's brim allowed to roll up) the length of the intended victims hand, from base of palm to tip of longest finger. (Note: this may not be long enough if your victim is a baby, on account of their freakishly large heads. Make it about 12cm (5 inches) for them.) If the victim is not available, I just make it the length of my hand, plus or minus an inch depending on the person's size.

6. Begin to decrease for the top.
Knit 2, knit 2 together all the way around. Do not worry if this doesn't work out evenly with your number of stitches. Fake it. I have never been struck by lightning for doing this.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 1, knit 2 together around.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 2 together around.
Knit a round plain.
Knit 2 together around, every row until you have less than 10.

7. Break yarn, draw through remaining stitches, tighten up (not too tight, for wool's sake, pulling the yarn hard enough that you snap it is a serious bummer at this point).


8. Show it to everyone who is home, put it on the cat and make fun of her. Dogs and helpless children are also good. Spouses are generally resistant to this part of the process.

Posted by Stephanie at October 27, 2004 1:34 PM