home, -ish

We moved! With no disasters. The cats were incredibly good.

IMG_4892.jpgOverlooking a La Quinta parking lot, I can’t remember which one.

We got here and had three snowstorms in March to welcome me back to true winter.IMG_5014

But eventually things have changed from looking like this:B7979491-54E9-4246-A373-96D0788D6052 (1)

To looking more like this:IMG_5164.jpg

And this:IMG_5200

And this:IMG_5190

This is what spring looked like when I was growing up. It’s very strange both to remember this landscape, because it was my default for so many years, and to find it completely unfamiliar, because it has been so removed from my reality for so many years.

In any case, we made it. And I have been knitting – as soon as we got here, I had to start making a hat, because it was really REALLY cold, and I had foolishly packed all my handknits to go on the moving truck, which took about a week to reach us. So I’ll show you those soon. Until then, have a birch tree.IMG_5118

a few changes

Although right now in real life I should either be packing, throwing things out, cleaning, or sleeping, I decided it was instead the right time to refurbish my long-neglected virtual home a little. Put plainly, I am no longer going to be a desert knitter – I’m moving to the deep dark woods, to the general area where I grew up; hence, return to the mothership. I know the locals where I’m going will identify themselves as absolutely different from the people where I grew up. But for me, being within a ~2 hour drive of where I began, in pretty much the same climate and the same kind of landscape, is a form of going home. It’s certainly much closer to my original home than I’ve been for 25-ish years, and also – hopefully – going to be my long-term home.

So excuse my long absence here, and I hope to find more time to post, and show you cold-weather clothes and accessories for a change.

img_4757Where I’m going

It’s happened

I’ve cast on for a project, set it aside, and absolutely forgotten what on earth it actually was.

Back in July I wrote about figuring out I’d unintentionally colorblocked a project – in the accidental way, not in a purposeful and attractive way – and was planning to frog it. And sometime between now and then, I did exactly that.

I remember that I was inspired to frog the project (which had been languishing abandoned in a project bag for stretch) by seeing something I really wanted to knit, which I thought the yarn would suit.

But I can’t remember what on earth that actually was.

Merry Christmas/Christmas Eve, everyone!

31856658895_9afc9809cb_h

(WAIT, I REMEMBERED!!! The current plan is for a Sibella cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. But it took me way longer to remember that than it should have. I think this is a sign that I need to finish some projects.)

Still here, still knitting

The projected low here tonight is 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am that endless summer may have come to an end at last. Yesterday it had rained by the time I left work, and I walked outside and thought, Cold weather! (Then I realized it was probably about 60F, which shouldn’t count, but it was a 30-degree drop from the weekend, so “cold” is probably fair.)

I went back east to see my mom at the end of September, which was lovely, even though – or maybe even because – it was cool and rainy much of the time. My cousins were visiting while I was there, and the first two days were spectacularly gorgeous and sunny.

30784718515_c17b99c2ab_oArchetypal New England scene. Unfortunately we were a little early for fall colors, but I’m pretty happy with green. I was trying to line up the vertical lines of the church with the vertical lines on the grid of my camera screen and realized that there weren’t actually any true vertical lines on the church – reminding me of a moment in high school when I was sitting in the kitchen of my parents’ very old house with some friends and one of them said, “Does your ceiling go down or do your cupboards go up?”

29572114023_e9c5789ff5_oNo idea what this is, but I liked the colors. It was in the border of a little town square with a monument to “those that fell in the Rebellion of 1861 to 1865.” God, I love New England.

30201361875_90152844e6_oThis town holds movies and concerts in the park over the summer – the grass was all worn down and tired out and ready to go to sleep for the winter.

Then it turned gray. We went exploring one day to find a tennis goods store that had apparently turned into a resortwear store and then wasn’t even open anyway, but we realized we were about a block from the beach, so headed that way, parked illegally in the driveway of a beachfront mansion, and took a short walk. (My cousins are from England, and the plan was if anyone had a problem with where we parked, my cousins would put on their best accents and charmingly claim confusion. But it was a cool gray September day and the beachfront mansions were all deserted.)

img_4172

The vacation was a great break from real life. And of course, having all that spare time (including ridiculously long flights) was great for knitting. I think my cousins were a little bemused that I could knit and hang out talking with them at the same time. Isn’t it great how magical knitting seems to non-knitters? I plowed through about three-quarters of a sport-weight cardigan.

30457490106_a6868a99aa_oStitch marker courtesy of Yarn Hound, which is a really pretty little store. Kinky yarn courtesy of unraveling my swatches because it was easier to knit from them than to wind a new skein.

30457500336_60e05101cb_o

I love the way the raglan increases look in this yarn. And I’m so. very. close. to being done – I have about 1/2 a sleeve and a collar to go; I’ll show you the whole thing and the pattern when I get it done, and washed, and all the wrinkles from being stuffed in my project bag have been smoothed away. Unfortunately, not long after I got back from vacation I used up my last wound yarn. I have more yarn, but it’s in the skein, and life/work (mostly work) has been crazy enough that I really haven’t wanted to spend my little free time winding yarn. Instead I’ve been picking up whatever projects I can find that don’t require thought or winding yarn. I have a tiny bit of breathing space now and I can’t decide whether to come back to the cardigan, or finish the even-more-mindless projects. We’ll see what inspires me more. (It’s still too hot to wear the cardigan anyway.)

The absolute best thing about the vacation was reconnecting with my family (I saw my sister too! and she has pink and purple in her hair right now and it looks awesome! and I live far away from all my family and am really terrible about making time to see them and I need to get better at that really soon before it’s too late). But I also loved seeing how much knitting I could get done in a week of really serious knitting time. I think I miss vacation as much for the gobs of knitting time as for the rest of it, in part because the knitting is almost as relaxing as the rest of the vacation. Too bad that whole pesky day job thing gets in the way of knitting.

My next vacation is going to be between Christmas and New Year’s, and I’m already pleasurably plotting both what I’m going to knit for the vacation, and on the vacation. There’s going to be plenty of car time. It’s going to be epic. (For a middle-aged middle=class lady who loves knitting, that is.)

 

Coming up for air

The less time I have to knit, the more I wish I could do nothing else but. Seeing everyone’s wonderful pictures and videos and recaps of Rhinebeck doesn’t help – I am so envious! I didn’t discover knitting until I’d moved away from the east coast, so I’ve never been, but am SO determined to get there one of these days. (I enjoyed this video quite a bit – so fun to see everyone’s Rhinebeck sweaters.) Probably in reaction, last night I found myself reading through the Vogue Knitting Live program for NYC in January, and wondering whether we could swing that. I’m sure it’s a completely different vibe from Rhinebeck, but I wouldn’t mind an excuse for a weekend in NYC, either. Has anyone ever gone to Vogue Knitting Live? What did you think of it?

Anyway, since I last wrote, not much and quite a bit has happened, knitting-wise. My attempted Lena tee remains shoved in a project back awaiting frogging. However, I did finish (mostly) the sweater that began as a swing cardigan that was too big, and got frogged – meet 80s Lipstick (wrinkled as are all my sweaters when I photograph them):

30494016635_83a9505f37_o

This is Lipstick by Joji Locatelli (called “80s Lipstick” because the idea of teal lipstick just seemed so 1980s to me). It’s made out of Malabrigo Rios in Teal Feather, continuing my obsession with what is not the world’s most practical yarn for the desert (worsted-weight wool). So I chose this short-sleeved cardigan, thinking it might be a bit more climate-appropriate. So far, I’ve only worn it once (to travel to a cooler climate), but it’s wonderfully comfortable. The color is a little more green than it looks here – it was hard to photograph. And while the skeins were all bought from the same place at the same time, I did end up alternating them – in my first try with this yarn I realized you could see where the skeins changed. I’m actually really happy with how uniform the fabric looks here.

30377037572_4f238917fb_o

I have to finish putting on the buttons (I bought gorgeous sleek silver buttons from Purl Soho but can’t find them right now, so the ones in the picture are a couple of placeholders). At the moment the front edges tend to curl open, due to the reverse stockinette panel (you can get a sense of that in the top picture), which I find annoying, but I made buttonholes the whole length of the front so I think once I get all the buttons in place I can deal with that better. Also my blocking game has been hindered by SMALL FURRY PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO EAT YARN, so this was mostly just washed and left to dry away from cats – you can see below that none of the lines that should be straight actually are.

30377045072_2eb4755f5a_o

As always, I had lots of help when I was trying to take pictures.

29863295634_18b1e06222_o

(At least he’s not eating it.)

Now my dilemma is this: my sister saw this and absolutely adored the color, which makes me want to make her some kind of sweater for Christmas (probably something completely different in style as she’s skinnier than me and goes for fitted over loose). But she refuses to wear wool, and I don’t know of any non-wool yarn that quite reproduces the beautiful tonal variations you get in yarns like Malabrigo and Madelinetosh. Any suggestions?

 

Cabin fever

Cabin fever in the summer just seems wrong. Coming from cold places with what it’s fair to call dreadful weather, I’m conditioned to expect cabin fever in the winter. There’s a logic in it that makes sense to me – the cold, wet, ice, and snow,  the short dreary days – they drive you inside, where you do what you can to create light in the darkness, and heat in the dark, to foster the illusion that you didn’t really want to go outside anyway.

But cabin fever in the desert (at least, my desert) comes in the summer, because it is simply much too hot to go outside. You spend your time going from one artificial climate to the next, trying to avoid contact with the outside world at all costs. Even walking out into the dark of night is like walking into an oven, which seems very odd when you’re used to thinking of the shade as cool. Your skin isn’t burning from the sun and you keep thinking you should feel cooler, but you just really don’t.

And the worst is that this is the time of year when I expect to be able to go outside. Summer is vacation and a break from school and relaxed schedules and picnics and swimming and hiking and biking. It’s freedom in a way that winter, in a cold climate, is not – the freedom of long days and golden twilights extending the time you can spend in all your summer pursuits.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the freedom of summer is illusory in many other places, too. Massachusetts and Minnesota can both get ridiculously humid (not helped by a dearth of AC, either because buildings were too old and never retrofitted, or cheap bastards figured AC wasn’t worth it for the three to five weeks it was truly necessary), which leads to MOSQUITOS. There’s nothing like collecting 32 bites to your ankles while waiting in line at the outdoor ice-cream stand to convince you that summer is actually kind of a pain.

But the northeast and Midwest still fit that glossy magazine ideal of summer better than the desert, which is winter cabin fever turned on its head. (And don’t get me started on how the bugs here can be worse.)

Which is all a long drawn-out way of saying that the summer is making me a bit nutty, which may be why this:

IMG_1910

Has now turned into this:

28256309482_2d997d946c_o

And I swear that when I sat down to write this, I didn’t even realize my last post was about (potentially) ripping things back, too. For some reason it’s clearly on my mind these days.

Argggghhh

Question of the day: what will compel you to rip back a sweater? What do you do when your momentum on a project comes to a screeching halt?

My most recent knitting project has been the Lena Tee, by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I started knitting it because I am a sheep: Karen Templar of Fringe Association linked to this Instagram of a finished Lena, by danabarath. There is something indefinably inspiring about that garment in that shot, and I thought, self, you NEED to make that sweater.

The pattern calls for fingering weight in something drapey, and I decided to use some stashed Malabrigo Silkpaca, which is laceweight, held double. Silkpaca is (shockingly) silk and alpaca, so drapes beautifully, and I thought it would be soft and light for a summer tee. (Of course, alpaca is really warm, but eh.)

So I cast on.

27694329140_83fb444ba4_o

The color is Zarzamora, which is this wonderful kind of mottled steel-gray/purple/greenish stormcloud color.

Except that it is also handdyed, with all the beautiful variation that accompanies hand-dying.

See, I had originally bought 2 skeins (back in 2013), intending to make some kind of infinity scarf. I then decided that knitting an infinity scarf in stockinette on small needles was tedious even for me, so bought two more skeins to make a lace cardigan. I bought the second pair at a totally different time and totally different place from the first, and yet they ended up pretty much an exact match.

Then when I decided to make this sweater holding the lace double, I realized I needed a couple more skeins. They arrived. They are beautiful. But they are way more PURPLE.

See?

28103535731_17b4e95950_o

It may look like the top is just in shadow, but I promise that it’s not – there’s a really distinct line where the new skeins started and the sweater turns decidedly more purple.

Hence the post title.

So I find myself at a crossroads. I’m really – well – cross, because I only have a few more inches of knitting to go, and might have been able to finish the sweater this weekend (you knit from the bottom up in the round, then divide front and back; I finished the front and have been plowing away on the back). I was really looking forward to a finished object, I really really don’t want to start over. Also, this is laceweight held double on size three needles, and even for a basically sleeveless tee, that’s a lot of knitting. Further, frogging (mostly) alpaca is not my idea of a great time.

BUT. Will I really wear this sweater if most of the body is lavender-gray and then the top third-ish is purple?

Frankly, I don’t think I will. It will bug the heck out of me.

It’s not a hard fix, at all, in theory – frog and start over. Especially since I’m holding the laceweight double, I can then mix and match holding skeins together and end up with a much more uniform fabric.

I just have to frog and start over.

Or, if I can’t face that, I can just finish it, and wear it with the big purple stripe effect.

So. What have I done? Shoved it in its project bag and cast on something new (which is itself an example of halted momentum: I knit the entire yoke and an inch or two below the armholes of a swing cardigarn, then figured out it was too big). Someday I will come back to this one and decide what to do.

Till then, I have lots of other yarn.