December 9, 2009

We look nothing alike, and yet

And yet I know this scarf will be brilliant on me. I know it! In just these colors.

Simple, pretty, bright.
I think it's because we both have yellow undertones to our skin. My friend Yukiko is Japanese American and while we look nothing alike, we share the same color palate to a T. When she still lived in New York, we could always share lipstick and often clothing (tops only, as I have about 6 inches on her in the height department). It's fun having a palate-twin, kind of like being blood sisters when you're 9 years old.
Here we are a week from Christmas and I'm fantasizing about what I want and what will look good on me. Hmm. I'm not a greedy person, nor am I a narcissist. I think I've been so consumed with holiday knitting that I'm fantasizing about what I'll do for myself when the season is finished as a little mental escape. If I'm being honest, I have to admit that all of this crafting truly is for me, since it makes me happy and proud to make these things for my loved ones. Still, there are a lot of amazing patterns out there which I feel are watermarked with my name, and my chubby fingers are itching to get started!
And the scarf? I found it at Garn, a Danish on-line yarn store to which I'll be returning. Oh, yes, I shall return. Mwwa aaa aaa aaaa!

You know that expression

"It's a marathon, not a sprint"? Not this season, my friends, not for me, nor, I imagine, for many other people who make their holiday gifts. No, I'd have to say that when you look at it, the list of to dos and the number of days in which I have to do them, it's both a marathon and a sprint.

I've no one to blame but myself, really. I got this early start back in July, was feeling all prettygood about my planning and got sidetracked somehow (how? how?????). Now, in the midst of holiday season parties, I'm in full-on panic. Trying to make the most of my stash and also create lovely gifts for my loved ones, my head is spinning with options and indecision. In a fit of full-on rationalization (I have the perfect yarn, I just need the right patterns!!), I bought Whimsical Little Knits, 2, Ysolda Teague's latest collection of patterns. This turned out to be a wise move, as I was able to whip up this beauty in just four days:

That's a sneak peak. I hope to get a better shot of it with it's intended recipient, with more details to follow. The yarn is a smooth yet bumpy silk that I purchased last summer in Uppsala at Yll och Till. It's nice to work with, especially when using plastic, rather than sticky bamboo, needles. It's the same yarn that I used to make Adrienne's Ishbel (another Ysolda Teague design. Hmmm . . . I'm seeing a pattern in my pairings of yarn to designs). I like how the creamy color and the lacy design combine to create a Victorian doily effect. I have fantasies of working up a pair of her Veyla fingerless mitts before the 25th, as well. Wish me luck!

One thing that's slowed my Christmas knitting progress is December birthdays. I've always felt that December birthdays get the shaft, especially when it comes to giving "combination" gifts. Those are insulting. Better to give a card for one occasion and a proper gift for another than to give a combination birthday/Christmas gift. No one pulls that crap when your birthday is in May, like mine. So, filled with conviction about the wrongness of such deeds, I put my needles where my mouth is (mixed metaphore - sorry) and made these for my friend David:

Pattern: Dashing, by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks That Rock
Started: December 1
Finished: December 3

These were a fun project. The Silkie Socks That Rock is a really soft and bouncy 81% merino/19% silk blend. Because I wanted a sturdy and somewhat wind-resistant mitt, I held the yarn doubled and used a small needle. This yielded a dense fabric that I think will be perfect for chill, but not frigid, days weather. If anyone doubts the utility of fingerless mitts, behold:

They're great for climbing your way out of cemeteries when you;e being chased by zombies, trolls or vampires. They're also handy when you're cold, but need to open a bottle of ketchup (or beer, as the case may be)

OK, what am I doing here? I've got things to make! Schnell! Schnell!

November 30, 2009

The Gift of Found Time

If you ask me, the best thing about long weekends is found time. My typical weekends are highly scheduled and packed with activities, some of which are social, but man of which fall into the category of "tasks". These are things like laundry, hanging up tried on and unworn clothes, grocery shopping, restocking the linen closet with toiletries (two weeks ago I simultaneously ran out of the TPs: toilet paper, tooth paste and tampons). Not exciting stuff, but stuff I have to take care of, lest my life fall apart. Throwing an extra day or two into the mix changes everything.

Last week, I had off 2 1/2 days for Thanksgiving, which brought my "weekend time" up to 4 1/2 days. Let's be real: I had a week off. What to do with a week off? A week in which my holiday travel involved taking the 2/3 train from Atlantic Ave to 96th Street? A lot. Thursday was lovely, truly lovely, Unfortunately none of my photos really captured the feel of the evening, nor the deliciousness of the food. I had dinner with dear friends (Megan and David) in Manhattan, their children, her father (whom I have known since I was 14) and stepmother and another delightful guest. I have dinner with this crew quite a bit, so Thanksgiving wasn't particularly unusual, but that's part of what made it so nice. No drama, no tension, just good food, better company and some vino to keep us all warm. In an unusual turn of events, I was fairly abstemious, as I've been under the weather for two weeks now, saddled with a dry yet persistent cough. Still, it was such a nice evening, and one which made me feel how truly fortunate I am.

The next day, I had one thing on the agenda: make a cake. It was a lemon cake with lemon butter cream frosting, a combination I adore for my friend Matt's birthday. He had initially thought about a coconut cake, but I thought that on the heels of heavy Thanksgiving eating, a lemon cake would feel lighter and more refreshing. While the cake was baking and cooling, I took care of a bunch of household chores, so the day had the feel of a Sunday. Only it was Friday. Still dealing with my cough, I stayed in that evening, knit and watched News Radio on Hulu. I retired early, as I knew the next day would be a big one.

And it was.

At 8 am on Saturday, I met up with Sarah, Penelope and Angela (from the Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill Knitting and Crocheting Group) at a local patisserie. The plan: road trip to Webs, a yarn superstore in Northampton, MA. Webs has amazing sales and a tremendous selection, and there's really no substitute for buying yarns in person, feeling their texture and seeing the colors, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to really do some educated shopping for large volumes of yarn, like enough for a few sweaters, in addition to doing some holiday shopping. I brought several patterns with me so that I'd have all of the information that I needed. I naively thought this would keep me organized.

Northampton is about three hours from Brooklyn, and I thought I'd use the drive time to get some knitting done, but it made me a bit queasy so I had to go slowly. Sarah, however, started in early on a pair of socks and did not stop!

Her tenacity was both demonic and impressive.

After pit stops for gas, water and cough drops, we finally arrived. Initially, the store seemed less than impressive.

What's the old adage about looks being deceiving?
(NB: I am wearing a "Property of the Seattle Super Sonics" t-shirt that I got in 7th grade at the one and only Sonics game I ever attended.)

Holy moley, is that place amazing. The front of the store is like any other yarn store, only much, much bigger, and with more staff, more books, more magazines and more yarn. Penelope was the only one of us who had been there before, and she was able to maintain her composure and stick, more or less, to her game plan. Angela, Sarah and I were like chickens with our heads cut off, bopping from here to there with our mouths agape. I was composed enough to mutter that I just had to wander for a while before getting down to business, but that was about it. Eventually I felt orientated enough to head to the warehouse. Attached to the main store, it is a giant storeroom where most of the yarn is in boxes on racks. This is where they pull for their on-line orders. It is also where the keep the CLOSEOUT yarns.

Penelope has knit many, many more sweaters than I, and with greater success, so I enlisted her help in selecting some yarn for Pas de Valse .

Things got a bit crazy back in the fingering wt. section.

As the day wound on, we all calmed down considerably and started narrowing our selections, which felt great.
This smiling lady was immeasurably helpful with that process! Not only does she work at Webs, but in talking with her, Angela realized she's also a knitwear designer, one who happened to design one of the sweaters Angela was buying yarn for. Without her assistance, I never would have located enough skeins of the Berroco Peruvia Quick that I'll be using to work up Amber, a free pattern from Rowan.
After shopping, we hit ridiculously cute and charming downtown Northampton for a late lunch at Paul and Elizabeth's (a mostly vegetarian restaurant), followed by ice cream and sorbet at Herrell's, a Northampton institution. I had chocolate pudding ice cream. Sounds silly, but it was delicious.

And I bought shoes.
They are quite foxy (or as foxy as German shoes get).

Northampton reminded me a lot of Northfield, MN, where I went to college: small and kind of crunchy but with lots of expensive artisinal things. Our final stop before heading back to Brooklyn was a Germany bakery where my travel mates picked up treats for their husbands and I tried my first sugar plum (not pictured). As with the ice cream, it was delicious.

What a fun day! And a fantastic use of day 3 1/2 of a 4 1/2 day weekend. Thank you so much to Penelope for suggesting the trip and for driving! I'm really excited start in on the yarn that I bought, including one for a gift that must be complete by the 12th. Yarn is just yarn, but somehow it also represents potential, love, inspiration and hard work all at the same time. I will make things out of the yarn that I bought. I'll match colors and textures to patterns and people, and where there was nothing there will soon be many things. And I'll have a lot of fun in the process.

November 18, 2009

Pink and Blue and Cream All Over

There's been a bit of a lag since my last post, but don't for a second think this means I have not been busy. On the contrary, my fat but long fingers have been whipping up many knitted delights; the problem is that most of them are gifts, and hence to be kept on the Q.T., you dig? I'm excited about them all and look forward to a time in late December when I can share them with you. While I've been Christmas planning, I've also been feeling a bit grabby lately, like I see yarn and think "Ooh, I want that and I want it now." I don't feel guilty about this, since I seldom make things for myself, but I do have to be careful: On Monday I "accidentally" dropped $60 on three skeins of Malabrigo Sock Yarn in lettuce, an electric green. My plan is to make Laura Chau's Honeybee Cardigan, the cropped version. After the holidays, I imagine.

While there's much I can't reveal, there are some projects which I can. Like this:

Pattern:My Kind of Town Cowl, by Trish Woodson
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Needles: US19/15.0mm
Started: September 15
Finished: September 19

This started out as Jane Richmond's Marian, but I wasn't feeling the combo of the yarn and the pattern, so I ripped it out and started over. The cowl I ended up making is chunky and dramatic, but it has the problem that plagues so many of the new and trendy cowls: it leaves a gap in the front of my neck through which the wind can whip me. Wind whipping is precisely what a cowl is supposed to stop, so this project rates only an OK from me, and therefore, is unlikely to find another home.

Now, this next project made me much, much happier:

Pattern: Fetching, by Cheryl Niamath (highly modified)
Yarn: Noro Retro
Needles: US7/4.5mm
Started: October 26
Finished: October 28

I love these! Love, love them. I wear so much grey and black during the winter and have been looking for ways to bring some color to my wardrobe, so when I saw this beautiful ball of yarn at Seaport Yarn downtown, I couldn't walk away from it. I tried, because I was just there to buy some crochet hooks. But it was so pretty: chunky, bold and rustic yet feminine. And the blend of wool, silk and angora just felt so good. Later I learned that it's a new yarn from Noro, which somehow made me feel better about the impulse buy.

I used Fetching as the jumping off point for these, but I modified heavily. I omitted the cables, adjusted the number of stitches cast on to accommodate my gauge, knit the wrists longer and wear them inside-out. I like the look of the reverse stockinette; it has a more open and textural feel than regular stockinette. I call them my Pink Shockers, in part because they're shocking pink in color, but also in honor of some Minneapolis friends. They know why, oh yes, they do.

And now, so do you.

Earlier this fall, I was seduced by a Webs sale. It seems that Sheep Shop Yarn Company is going out of business, because their yarns are on sale all over the place. This was the first time I've purchased anything of theirs, because I found the yarns to be rather spendy. Hmm . . .perhaps this is why they're going out of business.

Pattern: A Little Ruffle, by Jennifer Lang
Yarn: Sheep Shop Yarn Company Sheep 3 Yarn
Needles: US7/4.5mm
Started: October 1
Finished: October 25
This yarn gets a mixed review from me. It is incredibly soft and was a great choice for this project. However, and this is a big however, the skeins were drastically different. One was a bit of a semi-solid pale blue, while the other was variegated blue and cream, heavy on the cream. The result is that the wrap appears to be almost striped in one section. It's super annoying, and I've never had such a problem when ordering yarn on line.

On a more positive note, the pattern was well written and I think the project came out really well (ignoring aforementioned color issues). This did involve yards and yards of stockinette, which came to be incredibly boring, which is the only negative thing I have to say about the pattern, and that's not even a criticism, just a comment.* So beware: If you're not up for a few days of straight up stockinette, work a different wrap. But if you think you can stomach it, this project is well worth the monotony.
*That was a bad run-on sentence up there. Sorry for that.

November 4, 2009

Marathon Sunday

For close to 10 years now, I've been carrying on a love affair with New York City Marathon. It started when I was invited to a marathon party on the Upper East Side. Promised bagels and Bloody Marys, I showed up that Sunday morning a bit skeptical and unsure of what to expect. How exciting could it be to watch strangers run past me?

Very exciting, as it turns out. It was the fit and the fat, the old and the young, families and friends and firefighters and folks in costumes. Then I saw the man with one leg. Cue the waterworks. What I learned that day is that the New York City Marathon is not about watching people run past me; rather, it is about watching what a single person can do when he puts his mind to it. And it's not just what a person can do, it's what ANY of us can do, if we commit ourselves. Not "athletes", not professionals, not the genetically gifted. Any of us

A year after watching my first marathon, I ran one. It wouldn't have occurred to me to sign up on my own, but my cousin Paula, who's always been more athletic than I suggested it. I promised to think it over, and then, during Christmas dinner that year, she announced our intention to run the marathon to our entire family. So, over the next six months, separated by more than 1,000 miles, we trained and trained. And then, in June, we got the good word: both of us had made it into the marathon by way of the lottery. Five months later, we crossed the finish line, in front of Tavern on the Green, together. It was an amazing day.

A couple of years later, I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn that happens to be on the marathon route
and started hosting an annual marathon party, for friends to come and eat, drink and cheer for the racers. Around 50 people come to the open house; some early to watch the wheel chair and hand cycle athletes.

And some come a bit later, nursing hangovers with coffee and mimosas.

It's a very family friendly event.
We line up on the sidewalk waiting, WAITING for the police cars and official time truck to come by and signal the arrival of the day's first racers.

And when they arrive, we clap and jump and scream and cheer.

It's always a bit slow at first.

But in no time, there are throngs of racers.

One of the most exciting things about hosting the party is having guests who are cheering for a particuler runner. This year, Laura and Don were cheering for Don's husband, also named Don, who came down from Toronto to run.
They saw him! People ALWAYS spot their runners from my place. It's got good juju.

Because guests start arriving around 8:30 in the morning, I've got to get my ass organized, so I spend Friday night and all day Saturday cooking and baking. I usually wake up in a panic, worried that there won't be enough food, and so bake one more loaf of this, or another pan of that.

This year's menu included Green Chili and Chorizo Breakfast Strata, vegetarian Chili and Cheese Strata, homemade Oreos , Cook's Illustrated's Dreamy Cream Scones (recipes compliments of Smitten Kitchen), Brooke's Grandma Smith's Banana Bread, pumpkin muffins, pecan muffins, lemon bundt cake, oatmeal blueberry breakfast bars and a spinach chickpea curry. It's important to have a mix of sweet and savory at a morning event, don't you agree?

Of everything I made this year, the scones were my favorite. They were ridiculously good, creamy almost. I baked some of them as written and served jam* on the side but with the rest, I did my thing, by which I mean I baked jam into the scones. Holy Mary, is that delicious. Trust me and try it sometime. Your loved ones will freak out.

Although the racers are pretty much gone by 1:00, the party doesn't usually end until 7:30 or 8, which makes it a mini-marathon of our own, I suppose.

Good times.

*Jam made by Brooke and Marisa.

October 27, 2009

Thing 1 and Thing 2

What an exciting week! My friend Beth, whose wedding I attended in Karlstad, Sweden, had her babies on Wednesday. She and Niclas are now parents to Rasmus and Felix, adorable babies overall, but with particularly cute noses. It's kind of hard to believe that what was once two is now four (they're multiplying like Gremlins!). Just a few days before the babies arrived, I went to visit Beth and Niclas so that I could give them the crazy baby viking hats I made and together with a couple of sweaters.

A little before Beth told me she was pregnant, I had instituted a moratorium on the making of baby things. It's really fun and quickly satisfying, but man was I feeling the burn, as in burnt out! So many of my friends and relatives have had babies in the past two years, that between knitting for kinder and for holidays, I hadn't really made anything for myself. So the weeks leading up to my birthday I dedicated to knitting only for me. Then I got the news about Beth's twins, and I became impossibly excited, so excited that I practically ran to The Point's going out of business sale to pick up the yarn for these:

Pattern: Little Coffee Bean, v.2, by The Brown Stitch
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too 2nd Time Cotton
Needles: 4.5mm and 5.0mm
Started: May 31
Finished: June 3

This was a great pattern, clearly written and easy to follow and I'll probably make it again. I decided to use cotton yarn because I wanted a natural fiber that would be comfy and easy to care for. The cotton was about as sticky as cotton can be, but it probably didn't help that I worked this up on bamboo needles. Metal needles would have allowed the yarn to glide a bit more fluidly, yet I was pleased with the yarn, and continue to be happy with the resulting sweater.

I really liked the neutrality of these colors, but was left with a button quandary (as in "You put me in a quandary, Jack Donaghy. A quandary!").* Clear was out of the questions (often looks cheap and seems lazy) and matching the orange would have been really difficult. And ugly. Wood was an option, but the colors I'd selected for this sweater were already rather subdued, so I thought something a little more funsy was in order. I walked myself up to P&S Fabrics one day during lunch and found these little smiling frogs, which I thought were pretty great.

During the same visit, I found these sweet things:

These were an easier selection, since I had already decided that I wanted red buttons for teh blue and green sweater. I didn't consider another color really, it seemed so right to me.

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket, by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Austermann Algarve Grande
Needles: 4.0mm
Started: July 21
Finished: July 23

This is the third Baby Surprise Jacket that I've made and likely will not be the last. They're fun and simple to knit, easy to finish and look super cute on babies.

Beth and Niclas seemed so touched and excited when they saw the sweaters and crazy hats that I immediately knew I had made good choices. Perhaps the best moment was when Niclas said that the orange and grey sweater is exactly something he would buy for himself. I'll admit it: my feathers were fluffed. But more important than any boost to my pride, their reactions were an immediate reminder of why we knit for those we love: because we care.

*I could't find that clip, but I did find this.

October 17, 2009

The importance of having people

Last winter my Grandma Ditsch passed away. It wasn't tragic or particularly unexpected, but it was sad. She was 85, almost 86, and for the two years prior to her passing, I was convinced that every time my phone rang it was someone from my family calling to tell me that Grandma had died. It wasn't a hysterical fear; it was a practical one. With each visit that I made to Minnesota, I could see that Grandma was getting slower, having a few more health problems. That's how life is, or at least how it is if we're lucky. What I mean is we should all be so lucky to live long enough to have adult grandchildren and baby great-grandchildren who know and love us, to have been retired for over 15 years and to have travelled to Alaska to see Moose, Hawaii to visit a niece, to Branson, MO (multiple times) and Pennsylvania (where she saw some "Amish" who, she proclaimed, "weren't wearing black or nothin'", so I suspect they were actually Mennonites) with the local Senior Citizens group, and to New York City to see your granddaughter (me!)graduate from law school at Carnegie Hall. And especially we should all be so lucky to have these, and other people, surrounding us in our last moments, to know that there is no place they would rather be than with us for those last few days.
Yes, my Grandma Ditsch had people. And, I realized after that trip, so do I.

I'm not married, nor do I have any children, but I have family. Since my mother passed away 12 years ago, I've become very close to my aunts, uncles and cousins, which is nice because I grew up half a country away from them, in the Pacific Northwest. When I was young they were people I knew mainly from stories told by my mother, and who I saw every two years or so when she and I would travel east for a family gatherings. Our lives out in Oregon were very different than theirs in Minnesota, in part because we lived in a city and they all lived in farming or rural communities, but also because my mom had moved west in order to forge a different life for herself. Yet we were the same in so many ways, especially my cousin Paula and me. Six months apart in age, we fancied ourselves like the mice in that story The City Mouse and the Country Mouse, and during my visits, she and I were thick as thieves.

When I went to college, I picked a school in Minnesota and soon found myself spending long weekends and school breaks with my Grandma. She would drive down to Northfield, often with an aunt or uncle in tow, and pick me up from my dorm. It was kind of ridiculously sweet. Back at her place on the farm, she would make my favorite spareribs and sauerkraut for dinner (the noon meal) and we would spend the weekend visiting and watching Walker, Texas Ranger. It was during these years that I really got to know my family, and developed my own relationships with them which were not mediated through my mother and these relationships have only grown stronger in the years since she died. We're close enough that I make a trip out there once or twice a year to visit, and many of them have been out to see me in New York. Paula and are are still quite close, and it was our relationship that was the reason for my most recent visit.

More specifically, this guy was the reason for the visit:

His name is Broderick (Brody) and I went out there to renounce Satan in all of his forms and to promise to look after Brody's spiritual life, a.k.a. be his godmother. I'm not a terribly religious person, but being a godmother does make me feel that we have a special relationship. And it's touching that Paula has charged me with this task, twice now; I'm also godmother to her first child, Ethan (seen below reading some books I brought him).

It was a super fun trip filled with love and food and laughs, yarn shopping, delicious breakfasts and roller disco in St. Louis Park. Oh, and this:

Snow in early October? B.S., sure, but no matter. I'll always go back to Minnesota, because I have people there.

October 15, 2009

Did someone say birthday?

They keep me busy, those birthdays. The thing is that I much prefer to make a gift instead of simply buying one. I like the mental effort it takes to think up an appropriate project, and then selecting the yarn, well, that's super fun. Like this here:

I found this yarn at Yll o Tyll in Uppsala, Sweden. The color is very Adrienne, and it's a rustic, slightly nubby silk, which is perfect for someone who is sensitive to itchy fabrics (Adrienne) and lives in a temperate, yet dampish climate like Seattle (also Adrienne). And I just really loved it. So purchase it I did, and then toted it around with me back to Stockholm, up to Karlstad, back to Stockholm and then home to Brooklyn. So, it's seen a bit of the world.

Adrienne's birthday is the first week of October, but I was so cranked up that I started this the week that I came home from Sweden.

Pattern: Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Yll o Tyll Soft Silk
Needles: US7/4.5mm
Started: July 16
Finished: July 31

I am SO MUCH happier with this Ishbel than I was with my first Ishbel. The pattern is great, pretty yet straightforward. It just goes to show how important it is to select the right yarn for a given project. The one mistake I made in working this up was using bamboo circulars; as bamboo and silk are both a bit sticky, I had to work kind of hard for each stitch. The next time that I work with this yarn (I bought two more skeins in different colors) I'll use metal or plastic needles. The project will sing off the needles!

Now that I'm looking at this, I realize that the lace portion is a variation of the one used in the project below:

It's pretty obvious, so it's a little doofy that I'm only now making the connection. I know that I have a distinct sensibility, but I'm surprised that it's so evident in the projects I make for others.

Pattern: Haven, by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky
Needles: US11s/8.0mm
Started: October 6
Finished: October 13

I have been wanting to make this for over a year, ever since Amy gave me Kim Hargreaves book, Heartfelt, The Dark House Collection. There are so many lovely patterns in the book, but thus far I've only managed two make two of them, and both for the same friend, affectionately known as ABD. She's rather glam and ladylike and stylish, and since chunky, bulky scarves and cowls are all the rage this season, as are all shades of purple, I thought this would be a good birthday prez for her.

I need to find a better solution to the bathroom self-portraits.
The project didn't travel overseas, but it did come to Minnesota with me. For $$ reasons, I subbed in the Berkshire Bulky for the Rowan Cocoon called for by the pattern. I ordered 5 skeins, thinking it would be plenty, then panicked when it arrived and was convinced that I wouldn't have enough. As a fix, I modified the pattern so that I worked only one lace repeat each row, rather than the two directed. This worked out just fine, but I have 1.3 skeins of yarn left. I loved the scarf, and now want one for myself. Well, perhaps after Christmas crafting is done.

October 1, 2009

Do over!

This week is a week of do overs, of sorts. A week ago here in New York City were the primaries, which were not entirely conclusive. So . . . on Tuesday registered Democrats are being asked to do it again; vote, that is, in two run offs. As a fan of both the 15th and the 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, I exercised my rights and voted. Our machines here are among the oldest in the country, and not in compliance with federal voting laws, but there's something really fun and satisfying about moving that big lever from left to right, selecting your candidates and then feeling the unmistakable THUNK as you move the lever from right to left.

Crazy old fashioned, right?

So, Tuesday morning, in addition to voting in the run offs, I completed another do-over. Remember the disaster that was Sedum? Well, I finally got around to fixing it. I was really bummed about how it had turned, out and that the mess had taken two weeks of my life and a lot of moss stitch to complete that it was hard to get the energy up to fox it. And, truth be told, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to fix it, and that I'd have to rip it out in its entirety and spend two more weeks re-knitting it. I wasn't even sure how the ripping would go, as I'd used a felted join to join all of my ends as I went along, and couldn't imagine how I would manage the mass that would result from 6 balls of frogged Noro Kochoron.

Staring at the fiasco of a sweater, a sweater that I'd hoped to love and wear with pride this fall, eventually became more depressing than imagining the work that I'd have to put into fixing it, so over the weekend, I started the do-over. The pattern calls for one to knit (1) the body, (2) the sleeves, (3) the button bands and (4) the collar in that order. I decided to rip and reknit the collar and the button bands and see if that would fix things. This time I used smaller needles (US10 1/2s) and picked up fewer stitches on the buttonbands, hoping that this would remedy the excessive drape that I'd obtained the first time around. While I think I could have picked up a few more stitches, my fixes were largely successful. As you can see, the button bands no longer pull the sweater into a crazy long V at the bottom.

Now, in the original iteration of my sweater, I knit the neck way too big. This was the one thing that had me really worried: would I be able to work a fix without starting the sweater from scratch? My idea was to pick up stitches around the neckline and work up towards the head in moss stitch using smaller needles than on the first version, and also reducing the number of stitches, closing the gap, so to speak and elevating the yoke a bit. I did this for something like six rows, and also worked four short rows at the back to add some height to the sweater's neck. Finally, I worked the collar in 3x3 rib ans called for in the pattern. Et voila:

It's a bit too big, but if it's to be worn as a sweater/coat, that's not s terribly huge deal; it's just not super slimming. C'est la vie. And it's not as lovely as some other Sedums (including the designer's original), but I attribute this in part to my choice of yarn. Kochoron is great, but not very bouncy, doesn't have a lot of body, so my ribs are more flat and broad than puffy. That's OK though; I don't have a very puffy personality.

Or do I?

The next time I knit this sweater (and I do believe there will be a next time) I think I'll used the yarn called for in the pattern, just for shits and giggles.