October 29, 2007

Cold hands, warm heart

I had a very fiberish weekend, well in keeping with the time of year. The Great Canadian Furnace Wars are in full swing in the McPhee clan, and anything that involves wool is very welcome. Last year the ongoing battle to see who could go the longest without turning on the heat involved a great deal of confusion. My Uncle Tupper and his wife visited Ian, and since Susan isn't a McPhee, she compelled him to turn on his heat. Ian complied (he is nothing if not a good host) and provided heat for the duration of their visit, then turned it off again and outlasted me from that point.
(I say this means he lost, since managing outside influences is part of the Furnace Wars, and why you turned your furnace on is irrelevant. On is on. Dude lost.) Ian disagrees, and the lack of clarity surrounding who the victor was has only impelled both of us to do better this year.

Ken (who lives downstairs from my Mum) turned on their heat last week, thus disqualifying both of them. (We suspected that this would anger my mother, but it turned out that she had snuck it on briefly the week before) My sister Erin was unceremoniously turfed from the contest three days ago when the temperature outside fell to 0 degrees (32 Fahrenheit) and it was discovered by a mole (my daughter, who was babysitting) that she was using her fireplace to heat her home. Ian and I discussed it, and we were clear. That's heat. She's out.

Therefore, the two cheapskates virtuous contestants left in the match are Ian and me. In past years I have been held back from the full glory of my skills by the presence of small children, but now - they are young women and the fact that they carry McPhee DNA could not be more apparent. The girls discussed it the other night, and in addition to the financial and environmental rewards reaped by waiting, they also have embraced the glory of kicking their Uncle Ian's arse on this, and have broken out the sweaters, afghans, wool socks and hot water bottles to make it possible.
(I think that even if I wanted to turn on the heat now, I would be outvoted.) We are baking bread, we are making soup...and I - armed with the best defence possible (and regretting every woolly thing I have ever knit my brother, since he is not turning it against me) am playing with wool and planning to defend our position in the Furnace Wars with knitwear.
While I waited for the Sunrise Circle wool to dry (slower than expected, probably due to the low indoor temperatures and dampness) I really meant to work on the Rotating Rib socks, but a comment from Linda reminding me of these sent me scurrying to the stash and bookshelf.

I am an enormous fan of the book Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition, by the lovely Terri Shea, since it feeds a chronic low grade obsession with fancy mittens that flares up every once in a while. This beautiful book concerns itself with the handcoverings of the Norwegian Selbu folk tradition, and there's both mittens and gloves.
I let Amanda pick a pattern she thought was good (steering her off of the gloves) rounded up some Kroy in off-white and some seriously pretty Shelridge Farm handpainted sock yarn, and I went off to the races.


Looks good, yes?


No. It's an illusion. That is actually a pretty poor mitten for a bunch of reasons, and actually, we can speak of it in the past tense, since it has already met with a vicious ripping and been replaced with this:


I know it doesn't look much different, but it is. For starters, I decided the Kroy was too stiff and heavy compared to the Shelridge Farm stuff, then there is the fact that upon closer examination I was apparently only doing an "interpretation" of the chart for the cuff rather than the chart itself, which was an error I could have lived with except that it led to a further error (too many stitches) which I then compounded by doing another "interpretation" of the palm chart, which I also could have lived with except that it became obvious that it sort of looked like ass and wasn't going to come to a point evenly at the top. I knit on for a while trying to figure out if I cared....and by the time I worked out that I really cared a lot....I had the better part of a mitten. (A thousand curses on slow thinking. )

Samantha came out from under the wool blankets she was snuggling in long enough to help me rip it back to zero. I replaced the Kroy in off-white with Sisu in cloud white, followed the chart (what a concept) and now I'm much happier....


As I've slogged through though, I've realized that there may be a flaw in my plan to use wool as a secret weapon in the Furnace Wars. I think Ian can buy mittens faster than I can knit them.

Posted by Stephanie at October 29, 2007 4:06 PM