Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once in a blue moon....

As perhaps you know, tonight there's a blue moon, meaning the second full moon to occur within the month. It's a somewhat rare occurrence.

This blue moon coincides with the very last day of 2009, bringing to closure a decade filled with unspeakable terrorism, protracted wars, the financial collapse of states, corporations, institutions and individuals; real estate suicide; pandemics both actual and anticipated; grotesque discrepancies between those who have and those who don't; polarized, vitriolic politics, lustily encouraged by corporate media, lobbyists, and demagogues; and for the majority of these years, the presidency of W. It was, to paraphrase Dickens, not the best of times.

All I know is, if it hadn't been for my knitting, I would have been in far worse psychological shape.

May the new year bring every one of us, knitters or not, beautiful new patterns and good strong yarns...more than once in a blue moon.

Yours with love and modest hope,


ps: my next post will be on new year's resolutions for knitting. If you have any to share, please let me know asap.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Sock Grows Near Brookline

Today's post takes us north, to a novice sock knitter, Cynthia Ward, who lives in the Boston exurb Jamaica Plain, near the Brookline border. And the wool she's using, the self-striping Opal Hundertwasser (, came from her LYS, A Good Yarn, in Brookline Village, on Station Street. (As a former resident of Brookline, I'm happy to see that the mediocre restaurant on that corner of Washington and Station Streets has been replaced by a more appealing establishment.)

Cynthia learned to knit when she was ten, but now, several decades later, this is her first pair of socks. They're for her husband, Paul, "because he doesn't like sweaters, vests, and scarves, and I couldn't find reasonably-priced ragg socks in the store." The pattern is from Ann Budd's Getting Started Knitting Socks (Interweave 2007), a book she recommends.

Initially, Cynthia wasn't thrilled with working on four double-pointed #2 needles, but she's getting used to them. The first sock, begun on Christmas day, is now nearly complete, and the process of watching the pattern and shaping emerge has been "addictive. You can get a lot of different things done in each sitting." She predicts: "There are more socks in my future."

Lucas, her six-year-old son, says, "Socks take a lot of concentration. My mom is always telling me to wait a second, when I want her, because she's knitting." Cynthia adds, "And he he won't jump on me, because he knows that all those little pointy needles can stab."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'twas the night before...

What am I supposed to do with this?

It's a very small stocking. Size 0 needles, I bet.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

But wait, there's more!

At the risk of sounding like a major kvetch, I will round out the recitation of the year's knitting snafus by mentioning two projects gone awry. One, recently, was barely started before dysfunction reared its ugly head. This is the "Sweet Fern" mitts pattern from Clara Parkes's newly published The Knitter's Book of Wool (Potter Craft, 2009). It's an intelligent book, and the pattern is attractive--obviously that's why I wanted to make it. However...its cable design is mistakenly charted (I hope accidentally) in reverse, so I can assure you, it doesn't look anything like the photos. After starting and stopping and ripping more times than I care to mention, I realized what the problem was. By then, though, I'd lost my appetite for the knitting the danged thing.

Time out, time out, time out!

Deep breath.

At least this is a fixable problem, and maybe there will come a time when I want to give the pattern another try. More aggravating is the "Magic Mitten Gloves" pattern from The Knitters Bible: Knitted Accessories by Claire Crompton (David and Charles, 2006). (May I suggest the name be changed to "The Magic Is Totally Missing Gloves"?)

I began this project last February, thinking its small size would make it ideal for airport ennui when I went to San Francisco that month. Alas, I had to put it away after a certain point to protect myself from tantrumitis, and even when returning to it some months later with great determination and a fully open mind, I gave up just too often.

This is because the measurements and instructions for the fingers are completely loony. You knit up the fingers and their placement looks a little odd, and you try the fingers on and your digits are in deep discomfort because they're being forced into some weirdly twisted arrangement, the result of the width of the mitt being too small to accommodate all the finger pieces. Then you reread the pattern and rip out the fingers and start again and after all that it still looks and fits the same. (Dealing with patterns like this activates terrible memories of high school trigonometry homework, I must confess.) And finally you realize that unless your hands are seriously deformed, there's no way these babies will ever be comfortable, because whoever designed the pattern was probably taking measurements from a Gumby instead of a human being.

Yet I also loved the idea of the pattern, with its pop top that covers the fingertips and forms a mitten at the discretion of the wearer--that's the reason I bought the book, actually--and so I have determined to frog the fingers and just knit the top. This is sad because in an ideal world the fingers actually are a delightful element of the pattern, and without them it will be a lesser design.

But, sigh, I shall not attempt this soon; not until next year. The remainder of 2009 will be spent knitting items that do not violate my comfort zone.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All was not lost, evidently

And now I'm wondering if ignorance would have been bliss.

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BulletDelivered, December 14, 2009, 9:03 am, WEST ROXBURY, MA 02132
BulletSorting Complete, December 14, 2009, 8:46 am, WEST ROXBURY, MA 02132
BulletMissent, December 10, 2009, 7:05 am
BulletArrival at Post Office, December 10, 2009, 7:05 am, LAWRENCE, MA 01840
BulletProcessed through Sort Facility, December 10, 2009, 12:10 am, BOSTON, MA 02205
BulletProcessed through Sort Facility, December 09, 2009, 11:30 pm, BOSTON, MA 02205
BulletProcessed through Sort Facility, December 08, 2009, 11:00 pm, BOSTON, MA 02205
BulletProcessed through Sort Facility, December 07, 2009, 7:46 pm, PROVIDENCE, RI 02904
BulletAcceptance, December 07, 2009, 11:54 am, HOPE VALLEY, RI 02832