Sunday, February 1, 2009

January and Knitting

January is already over. I spent some time reflecting on 2008 while working through some things and suddenly it's February. The economy and national politics invite hopes and fears for the year and farther into the future. I have been answering the tax infolines at my workplace, so have had some first-hand contact with the pain the economy is bringing. I've also listened to much hopefulness due to the changes in the White House. I believe that the changes needed are much bigger than people of this nation are willing to make - most believe others need to change what THEY are doing. Many issues are so emotionally charged that they don't seem able to look at a larger scope; things like the environment take a back seat to human "quality of life", the definition of which varies by individual. And I'm fascinated by the media manipulation of our collective emotions.
While I'm doing my best to pay attention to our nation and world, I know the things I can impact are on a much smaller scale. Which means I can support my friend, Kellie, who has learned to knit while recovering from her breast cancer surgery. Which means I can be inspired that we are one month closer to spring, Valentine's Day, George's upcoming races, and our MADRONA FIBER RETREAT!
I have been facing my knitting challenges. I decided to frog my Comfort & Joy socks back to the beginning of the gusset and use the other end of my ball to introduce a different distribution of color. It was better, but still not what I was looking for, then was compounded by the "seam" which I foolishly placed right in the middle of the heel. I didn't realize it would be so dense, and is bound to be uncomfortable. So, I decided to do what Melinda, Naomi, and Ellen had suggested in the first place, and learn the short row heel. I am now armed with Simple Socks - Plain and Fancy and Melinda's tutorial, so I hope to report success in learning and execution soon.

My second Melody's Shawl was completed this month, from Plucky Knitter's silk-merino in her lovely soft red. I was just over half complete on size 9 needles when I decided I wanted a tighter fabric, so I frogged the entire thing and began again with size 7 needles since I am such a loose knitter. It was immediately so much better that I bought a second skein of the same yarn in blue, and will make yet another one. The tense moments were unraveling and cutting the fringe - it's just amazing to me that it doesn't unravel completely.
I delivered it to Mom last week when she came in from Bainbridge Island to have lunch with me. She isn't certain how to wear a wrap or a shawl and felt a little silly modeling for me in a downtown building, but she's willing to try. She noticed the warmth right away while I was taking the photos - I think she'll find what many of us have found - a lightweight, luxurious way to keep warm.

Here's the swatch for George's Rowan DK Marl sweater using Karen Alfke's topdown Un-Pattern. I was thrilled last year at this time to have found the vintage yarn on e-bay for my own Sock Monkey sweater by Rebecca, and purchased from the same seller enough of that yarn in the Fudge colorway for me to knit something for George. He wants a pullover with a high shawl collar neck - while he can't stand to have anything close around his neck, he also doesn't want a low neck. My challenges have been planning that neckline and anticipating the change in my gauge when I switched from back and forth to in-the-round knitting. I didn't swatch for that, so I have another little learning experience under my belt. I'm now on track after about four frogging sessions, and have gone down two needle sizes to match the gauge. This yarn makes a beautiful fabric - and George is very appreciative of the effort since he's witnessed so much re-knitting.