29 August 2007

My Knitting Journey

I learned to crochet at a pretty young age in 4-H on St. Croix. I don’t actually remember learning, but I know that’s when & where I learned. When I moved to NY after high school I started to crochet again for a bit. I still have the yarn I bought from a Woolworths. Yes, it was that long ago.

Then one day I went to see my grandmother…not the risqué one that I talk about these days, but my father’s mother that passed away. She was making these warm and squooshy sweaters for her attorney and his wife. They were navy blue and beautiful.

I asked her if she would make me one and she said, “No, I don’t knit for grown women. I will teach you how to knit.” She pulled out some yarn and needles and taught me how to knit, purl and change colors. It was fun but it killed my hands. She knit what I thought was continental, and between the slippery yarn and needles, and trying to keep the stitches from slipping off while being way too tense I knit a pretty substantial swatch, and then pretty much gave up on it. I did buy needles and more yarn, but I didn’t enjoy the process.

Here is my first knitting ever. Yes, it lives on the needles she taught me on just like that.

Fast forward about 15 years and my grandma passes away. I’m living in her house amongst her things and take possession of many of her knitting stuff. It’s special to me, but I’m still not compelled to pick up the needles. Then I meet a guy and fall hard, he breaks my heart and in order to break the cycle of sitting home crying every weekend I ask my uncle’s fiancé to teach me how to crochet a hat. She and my uncle join forces and teach me. Then she introduces me to a yarn store, and now Pandora’s box has been opened, but only for crochet. I stick to hats and scarves, anything larger is simply too daunting.

About three years later I moved to Los Angeles with two tons of yarn stash, and continue to crochet but I expand to afghans. I was semi-employed and friendless so I had LOTS of time. And in another fit of loneliness I found yarn stores and somehow came across Stitch-n-Bitch LA. I convinced Melissa to come with me to the Atwater Village meeting and that was the start of my enjoyment of my life here. I’ve made great friends and have learned things that I might not have considered doing otherwise.

My father turned 60 this year, and as a tribute to his mother I decided to knit him a sweater. His favorite color is blue and why not navy like the sweaters that prompted my learning to knit? Not the cabled wonders she made, but a simple cardigan he could put on in the evenings when the weather gets cool during hurricane season.
After a major false start on yarn I decided on Knitpicks Swish in Dark Navy, and I’m using a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern. So far so good. I’ll probably need help with the collar & button bands, but so far so good….plus I’ve got a wonderful group of friends who are excellent knitters who will help me along the way.

24 August 2007

A Tale of Two Socks

I keep a pair of socks on the needles now. This practice began when I started school. They're easy walk around with projects (esp if they're on a magic loop), and they're usually simple enough that I can work on them anywhere. The embossed leaves were not this class of sock, but I did walk around with them as much as I could.

The socks that I have been walking around with are from stash yarn. I think I got the yarn at A Major Knitwork when I got the ugly brown-n-black Trekking XXL yarn. It's Lana Grossa Meilenweit Cotton Spirit. It's a self stripping yarn with a 45% Cotton, 42% Wool, 13% Polyamide mix. I tihnk the yarn is nice looking enough...not spectacular, but fine. I decided to do a simple 3x3 rib on the cuff and down the top of the foot. It knits fine, but it's a bit hard on the hands. Not as bad as the Sockotta, but my finger feels rough after a session of heavy knitting on the sock. I've decided to avoid cotton sock yarn from now on unless it has a substantial amount of elastic in the mix; read: Espirit by Elann, or Cascade Fixation. Maybe it's the cotton/wool mix that makes it so hard on my hands, but whatever I'm over this mix.

Here is the first of the pair. The picture is horrible, sorry, but you have an idea of what the colors are like. I have to cast on for the second sock. I cast on for the second sock while waiting to be picked up for surgery. My mother was totally stressing me out and I was trying to suppress the tears so I knit. However, I somehow--under the stress--cast on the wrong number of stitches; then they took the sock home despite me requesting that they bring it to the room for me post-op. **sigh** So, when I looked at it again I realized my error and frogged the three rows.

When I realized I would be readmitted to the hospital for the dehydration I decided to cast on for a plain sock, and that I would use the Austermann Step that I got as a gift from Melissa at least a year ago. See, more stash knitting! :)

So, I cast on did 10 rows of ribbing for the cuff and headed on down the leg in stockinette...well, knit stitch only. I worked on the sock in the bad lighting in my bedroom all day as I waited for the doctor's office nurse to call me back and tell me to go to the hospital. I knit about four inches of sock and it looked the same color. I sat there looking at it thinking, where the fuck are the stripes? Ugh! I'm soooo glad I didn't buy this! Four inches of the same color is NOT variegation! The nurse never called me, and I went to sleep still annoyed at the sock.

The next day I got up and had decided I was going to work. If that heifer couldn't be arsed to call me back then why the fuck should I miss days from work? Yeah, two feet outside my door and I realized there was no way I could make it from the parking lot to my desk so I went back in for my carefully planned "hospital bag" and headed to the emergency room. I didn't take the bag in, but I did take the sock with me because you know: stress relief.

In the bright white light of the ER I realized I had been wrong about the poor sock that kept me semi-calm the previous day. I felt like I needed to apologize to the yarn, to Melissa, and to the sock. It was indeed variegated...subtly so, but there were three colors where I had seen only one. I worked on that sock non-stop in the ER, then in the room that had been arranged for me until they started with the attempt at inserting the IV.

I finished up that first sock in the hospital after my hand stopped aching, then I switched over to Madeline's Embossed Leaves. Word got around amongst the nurses about my knitting and there were lots of visitors for the Embossed Leaves, but the Plain Step sock is the one that kept me from completely freaking out during a highly stressful situation.

Last night I happily turned the heel and am now heading down gusset lane on the second of the pair. As soon as it's done it's back to the hard cotton. The Step is nice. Not merino soft, but nice to work with. I cannot say that I see a difference in the moisture level of my hands because of the Aloe and Jojoba Oil that is in the yarn, but it's been a pleasurable knit.

That is the tale of my two socks, and how I plan to avoid Second Sock Syndrome (SSS).

21 August 2007

Where Have I Been?!?!

Here are just a couple of the reasons I’ve been MIA....can you see them?

I got thru the organ rearranging just fine….the post-op gas was quite painful, but I survived it. It’s the dehydration that I have a problem with. It’s been difficult to drink as much as I need to drink, plus I got terribly nauseous and that made me not want to drink…at all….which lead to dehydration. So I was sent back to the clink [aka: Hospital].

I survived that too, but came home looking like a bit of a junky. I’m not sure you can see the marks, but my arm is quite the palette of color. The base color is brown, as you know, and my enhancements are greenish and purple today. Let me just say that IVs are difficult to put in on dehydrated patients…and if the patients start crying it means they’re losing more fluid and becoming even more dehydrated. Don’t let them do this to you…..that’s all I have to say.

I have been knitting during all of this. You know, in hopes of maintaining the shred of sanity I had…I’m not sure if it worked, but I did make a nice pair of socks. I also finished two other socks…they’re singles, but will soon be paired off....no SSS for me!

These are the second iteration of the Embossed Leaves Socks from IK Winter 2006 (I think). The first pair was too large and need to be frogged and re-knit. I’m not looking forward to that, but they’re a gift, so I must. These I took four stitches out of the pattern and they fit beautifully. That’s what I’ll need to do with the other ones.

You can't really tell from these shots, but these are gorgeous. I couldn’t get nice shots of them…not that I tried very hard, but I think even if I had there’s no way I could have captured the richness of the color of the yarn. It’s an almost solid forest green with flecks of lighter color that range from light green to yellow. It’s beautiful. I made them as a gift for my friend who was coming out to spend my birthday and surgery day with me. She didn’t make it, but was here in spirit…Her socks are now done. I just need to send them off to her.