Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ain't Nothing goin' on but the Knit....

Its been knitting hell here. I've been in knitting hell before so I recognize it. Its a place where nothing goes right when you pick up the needles. Let me show you:

Exhibit One.
This was a diversion from a couple of nights ago, see below, when I was so full of good knitting karma. I didn't mind that I had to learn

  1. a provisional crochet cast-on;
  2. toe-up design;
  3. stupid short-row heels with WT (wrap and twist my arse!) that leave little holes--sure, that will be cozy!

NO! Stalwart, finely honed knitter that I am, I soldiered on! I even overlooked what must have certainly been a drunk designer who said the top of the foot could be bound off at five inches! Sure---if you're a achondroplasic (sp) dwarf! No, no, my knitting kittens, I soldiered on. And I ended up with exhibit one---a footie long enough for my shapely foot but one that even Haley can just barely get onto her foot because of the lame construction. Back! Back! Put that yarn back in the stash and make a black mark next to the pattern.

Exhibit Two.
My So-Called Scarf. This has been one of the more popular quick knit patterns for the last two winters. Everybody loooooves this scarf. But not me. I love the yarn, I love the herringbone stitch but I'll be damned if putting them together makes me think less of both of them. Frogged. This one is back in the pond.

Exhibit Three.
My Henley Perfected. Oh, what to do. I spent [insert your favorite expletive for too much] money on the yarn for this one and it is really going to be a beauty one day. The lace pattern you see here is a lovely little zig zag but dudes, its not supposed to zig OR zag. Its supposed to be small LEAVES. So. I've looked at other peoples' pictures (OPP?), I've talked to the designer (what a lovely person). The problem is not with the lace; its that somehow in the approach I'm not reading the pattern correctly (???) so that my yarn-overs (which make the lace "holes") stack up instead of travelling. May I say this? SHIT. I've worked it many times. I will try again. But for now? I'm putting it away.

So in just two days I've gone from too much to knit to not knowing what I'll knit. The re-up on Lolly's Hoodie hasn't arrived yet (what's up people???), the rockin' sock yarn not here. I've dreamed up a scarf design to replace the so-called one. I'm going to use the same Manos yarn on a much larger needle to create a less dense fabric; I think I'll wing a little wide cable or something for interest but Manos is tricky for designs that are even---Manos weight varies very widely in a skein (that's why we like it, yo). And then I'm going to put on the funkiest fringe you've ever seen in your life:
Trust me; this is going to be an enviable piece of knitwear! And I'm pretty certain I can actually do it, since I'm making it up!

Knitting Frogs
You might have guessed that the euphemism knitters use for undoing a lot of work or abandoning a project is to frog it. A clever little play of words, then, for the after-school club I am organizing at Haley and Anna's school whose mascot is a bullfrog. One of the things that I really love about this school is that they run two sessions per year of after-school activities---low cost and very broad selections and they provide bus service as well so its just so easy for parents to allow the kids to check out things they ordinarily might not have access to. In the last couple of years, Haley has participated in a digital arts session (they did very basic photography and computer manipulation), the Drama Club, a scrapbook club, etc. They also have a homework club that I imagine is very helpful for kids whose parents don't have a lot of time in the evening.

A week or so ago a flyer came home asking for parent volunteers to support some the clubs or to lead new ones. I offered to start a knitting group. The response has been overwhelming! My favorite LYS Retailer, Jacqui from Woolwinders has agreed to not only assist with the instructional piece but also to donate some supplies. What a gal! One other knitting Mommy has signed on for the early meetings where the kids are going to need a lot of help getting started. Best of all, though, I found an organization called The Helping Hands Foundation which supports efforts like this by providing no-cost guides, patterns and initial materials for the groups' first projects. They are truly amazing---they ask only for a ten-dollar donation to cover shipment of the materials.

I'm really very excited. I hope that after we learn the basics and complete our first projects that we'll be able to go forward with an objective of knitting for others: afghans for Warm Up America
hats for the Linus Project or other similar organizations. I have a wonderful book that Rob gave me for Christmas called Knitting for Peace with plenty of ideas for charitable knitting. Additionally, there's a rather new assisted-living facility near the school that I'd like to eventually include in our activity.

I think needle arts are in great danger of dying off---no one really needs to sew, embroider or knit to produce clothing or household goods; its almost always less expensive to buy these items in today's economy. I've always been a person who engaged in needle crafts (I began to embroider at about age 6) and I know that not only do these crafts produce beautiful and unique objects of great value and use but they also offer glimpses into history, other cultures and provide common ground for people to come together. So you might imagine that I'm VERY happy to be kicking off this group. The knitting frogs--plus we can also say "rip-it, rip-it!" when we have to correct some work...

Fair Isle Lesson
So remember me being crazy about learning to do Fair Isle (that being a particular method of knitting multiple colors)? Yesterday I stopped in my LYS to talk to Jacqui about the Frog Knitting and I mentioned I had gone around the bend (or over to the dark side, as she says) and voila! Sitting right there was the talented lass that teaches the classes for the shop and she offered me a private lesson! Yee-haw! Next Tuesday, boys and girls, I will confront the beast!

Off to knit a scarf now...

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