Sunday, January 20, 2013

Who Says I'm Not Knitting?

In a great spurt of creative energy after I finished France Socks, and after a prod by my knitting and travel buddy, off I went to Ravelry to find out about "The Beekeeper's Quilt." I was fascinated!

Back in my old days of going to The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival I amassed quite a collection of Koigu sock yarn. This was back in the day when Koigu had a booth selling . . . I forget their name for it . .  . end of dyelot, end of run, end of the road, mill ends? Well, you get the idea. They were less than full skeins and were sold at 10 cents per gram. Rule of thumb: 100 grams needed to knit a pair of socks. Can you believe it? A pair of Koigu socks for $10!!! You could spend hours searching through overflowing baskets of multi-sized skeins tagged with color and dyelot numbers and find enough of one color to make a pair of socks, sometimes enough of one color to make a sweater. Of course the shading might be a little off if your color choice consisted of different dyelots. Some of the shading was not discernible and certainly wouldn't matter in a pair of socks. But a sweater? I wouldn't venture that far unless I was going for a Joseph's-Coat-inspired sweater and picked many different colors. Dyelot would not come into play. But I digress.

I would return to my motel room after a long day of fiber overload and band my little skeins into 100 gram bundles visualizing how the socks would be knit, darkest shaded dyelot to start and working down to lightest at toe, or vice-versa. The socks would have to be knit two at a time so that the shadings matched. I'm very anal about matching handknit socks.

So back to The Beekeeper's Quilt: I went to Ravelry for the pattern, researched the history and nuances, (I'm also anal about researching patterns and yarn.) and made the commitment to start knitting "hexapuffs," the little hexacombs the quilt is made up of. In the end I wasn't sure I wanted to dismantle all my Koigu 100 gram bundles, although they had been laying fallow for years in a decorative basket as part of my "comfort of yarn" collection. I found an online vendor who was selling "skeinettes" of Koigu supposedly big enough to knit one hexapuff. I'm not referencing that vendor because my $25 Grab Bag order of what was pictured as being many blue hued skeinettes contained mostly non blue and each was too short on yardage to make a whole hexapuff, even though they were supposed to have been made just for that purpose. Grrrrrr!

a skeinette that ran out before hexacomb was finished
Using the closest match to finish didn't appeal to me.
    So I started using my comfort of Koigu.

The Beekeeper's Quilt continues on at a snails pace. I complete a puff a night when I'm on course. But here's the thing, during the process I learned a neat cast on and found a great video to help me get the hang of it. (I'm left handed living a right handed life. Some things are awkward for me.)

Once I had that cast on down pat I decided my Beach Socks 2012 (being knitted in 2013, far from the beach and in the winter) would be toe up, two on one long circular. I never like doing two at once on one needle but thought the challenge would be good for me. Go figure.

There is a ridge. It works for hexapuffs but for toe up socks you might prefer Judy's Magic Cast On.

Anyway, who says I'm not knitting?!!!

Bona Fide Knitter

Friday, January 11, 2013

Down But Not Out

Written January 6, 2013:

It's been just a whisiper less than a year since I last posted a blog entry. Life's challenges have been hard and time consuming. Sometimes you just have to drop out.  What I've always liked to do is write and what I've also liked to do for the last decade is knit. I didn't do much of either in 2012, not much knitting and the little writing I did here was to bemoan the fact that I wasn't knitting. I apologize to my Dear Ones on the doll list and to my friends here. I plan to do better in 2013.

I made an attempt and composed the following draft back in July 2012 while on vacation on Cape Cod. I left it unposted because I found I could not add the pictures I referenced. High tech is great except when you don't have access to all the necessary components when you need them. And to add insult to injury, Blogspot changed its format. Another hurdle for me to jump! So here it is at last, four months and an extra five days later, with pictures:

July 2012

Hello! Is there anybody out there? Do you remember me? I've got eight months worth of happenings
and non-happenings to report. I'm going to start here and work my way back. There will even be knitting content. So let's get started.

I'm going back now--way, way back in my life.

A long time ago, when I was a child (I did say it was way, way back, didn't I.), my mother used to regale me with a recitation memorized in French. She studied French in high school and excelled at it. She loved it. Her teacher called her "Marguerite Clement" giving her name, Margaret Clement, the French pronunciation and making my mother feel very special indeed. Anyway, here is the English translation of the beginning of  Mar's recitation, "When you take the train from Paris to Avignon you will arrive at the station at . . . " Little did I know way back then that on May 26, 2012, I would actually take the train from Paris to Avignon. Yes, when you wondered where I was in June, I was in France.

I left here on a Friday evening in May and landed in Paris Charles DeGaulle airport on Saturday morning. From the CDG airport I took the TGV (high speed train) to Avignon. I could hear my mother's perfect French (according to her account of her teacher's high praise) reciting from her long ago assignment.

When I arrived at the station in Avignon, my travel buddy and knitting mentor, Kathryn, who was there three weeks ahead of me, met me on the platform and we were officially on vacaaaaaay together!

Kathryn pointed out Avignon landmarks

Avignon's Bridge To Nowhere

 as she drove from the train station to a SuperU, a French supermarket, to pick up something for dinner.  And then on to our rental house in the little town of Sablet in the Provence region, 45 minutes away.

The house was perfect, exactly as pictured. The ground floor bedroom with en suite bathroom was
mine. The second floor master bedroom room was Kathryn's and the other bedroom was Lynda's, our other housemate who was arriving a few days later.

Kathryn and I spent that first evening catching up over our dinner of rotisserie chicken, salad and wine. Aside from our last meet up at Stitches in 2008 in MD, almost all our communication had been via email. We don't see or talk to each other nearly enough. There was a lot of catching up to do. We talked late into the night, until jet lag overcame me. And that was the beginning of my French adventure. I will throw in some of the highlights of my trip in the coming weeks, but that's enough for now.

On the knitting front, in the last eight months I haven't done much--knitting or otherwise. I've thought of doing a lot and even accumulated patterns, but as I am the first to admit, I am full of "getting ready" and not much on "carrying on." "Getting ready or carrying on" are terms used to help determine for tax purposes whether a person is starting a business or actually in business. Although knitting is not a business for me, years of tax accounting make me think in those terms. Lately I have not been "carrying on" much. I finally finished Beach Socks 2011 on May 12, 2012, just in time to start France Socks.

Beach Socks 2011

 France Socks (sock #1 is still on the needles) and it's time to start Beach Socks 2012!

 (Update: The France Socks were completed November 10, 2012 and are pictured below. On November 13, 2012, Beach Socks 2012 were started here at home in my living room. More about them next time.)

France Socks
(Can you discern the Eye of the Partridge Heel?)

My knitting nemesis, Volt, the shawl I love to hate, still lies mouldering in its project bag. I can't seem to bring myself to continue the three needle bind off that caused me so much disappointment during the winter. Should I continue the less-than-perfect looking last side of the bind off or should I frog that part and try again? The indecision has paralysed me. 

As evidence of my scattered state of mind these days, remember I bought green Birkenstocks to wear with the shawl when it is completed? Well, I forgot all about the shawl and the sandals and bought another pair of green sandals in France. Actually they are are a better color and I'm trying not to wear them to death before the shawl is finished.

Okay, so much for what I wrote months ago. I wanted to get something posted before I had to say "I haven't posted in over a year!" This is it. More to follow sooner rather than later. I promise.

Happy New Year 2013!

Bona Fide Knitter