Saturday, May 13, 2006

Steek Snipping

I unearthed my baby from the studio this afternoon. My mother bought this little Elna Lotus in Switzerland in 1966, a year before I was born. I learned to sew around the time I learned to walk, and its velvety hum was part of many of the happiest hours of my childhood. To my utter astonishment, she bequeathed it to me when I left home. I couldn't imagine how she could ever part with it, but unconditional love is a powerful thing. It has never failed me, never fussed, jammed or broken a thread, and runs as smoothly as the day it joined our family - truthfully, I have never met a quieter machine. It has sewn drapes, doll clothes, quilts, graduation dresses - and now, steeks.

Stabilized, snipped, and the shoulders grafted:

My daughter demonstrates, to my relief, that the neck is appropriately sized. I'm thinking it shouldn't be any smaller, though - perhaps this would be a good opportunity to try a simple rolled edge.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Blue Heaven

I am in love. (Yes, with that guy too, but this is different.) I was, until today, a Fleece Artist virgin - an admiring onlooker, but not yet consumed with the heady lust of hand dyed wool. Then Yarn Forward had their 25% off sale and praise be, it was not excluded from the sale items... and I dipped my toe in the ocean.

I wonder, did the mailman have even an inkling of the glory contained in that plain brown box? Did it perhaps make him tingle inexplicably, flush just a little as he held it?

But how to use such a treasure? Only 250 gms (125 yds). Observing the outcomes of others' hand dyed projects, I believe it will likely be happiest in a very plain scarf, as close to the the natal glory of the simple skein as possible. Perhaps a funky / loopy edging on either end à la Nicky Epstein. The universe will reveal in good time whether there is enough for a hat.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Paying Attention

Early this week, after a few deep cleansing breaths, I ventured into the territory of lace and discovered, at last, an antidote to monkey mind.

For as much as I like to sanctify my knitting habit as a form of meditation, the truth is that I have achieved sufficient technical proficiency to permit me, in most cases, to Not Pay Attention. I knit serenely in the rocker by the sunny window and contemplate: what's for dinner, what on earth could be causing Mrs. B's elevated potassium, and whether the odd whirring noise in the next room indicates irrevocable harm being inflicted on the CD Rom by my three year old. All perfectly valid avenues of intellectual inquiry, but missing the point of mindfulness.

After ripping back to the beginning four times over, two wonderful things happened: I sorted out the mystery of chart reading, and I began to Pay Attention. Thankfully, the Jaegerspun Zephyr retained its essential being and remained unfuzzy.

In lace knitting, the consequences of monkey mind are concrete and irrefutable - none of this "gently and uncritically draw your awareness back to the breath" business. While I make an effort to be gentle with the ripping, I simply can't be uncritical of the crooked set of eyelets five rows back. So I Pay Attention. To every stitch.

How many shawls to enlightenment?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Dumpster Diving

And it came to pass that the Dulaan sweater reached the top of the shoulders and, wishing to postpone the task of unearthing my long disused sewing machine in order to stabilize the steeks, I turned my gaze elsewhere. And it became apparent that somewhere in the long mists of the last ten days, the current Vogue Knitting had passed out of all thought or knowledge. Things were forgotten that ought not to have been forgotten, and though I searched high and low, yet it eluded me.

Then the Man arose, and said "I tell you, the giant stack of paper recycling which thou hast been sorting these many days resides yet in the big blue dumpster by the garage." And being consumed with my need for the patterns to two half-finished sweaters, I did venture into its depths. As I pawed through the murk, my inner eye became aware of a strange flashing behind me, and turning, I beheld with dismay that the Man stood with camera aloft and a strange smile - nay, a leer - of triumph on his visage.

"Man," I said, "doubtless thou art fond of thy sword and would desire future occasion to unsheath it. I have, therefore, a proposition. Ere thou return tomorrow from thy labours in the sky, thou shalt venture - in uniform - to the Drugmart of Shoppers and purchase a replacement copy of that which I seek. For such is the doom of Men."

Monday, May 08, 2006


Falling down and falling down,
pebble in the azure sea.
Weightless as the sum of being,
falling to the end of seeing,
lucent blue lucidity.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Good Enough?

The Dulaan sweater is almost ready for neckline shaping. You can see one of the steeks in all its glory on the left side of the picture.

Now the dilemma. I can only presume that it was a stray electron jumping the wrong synapse in my brain, because I decided, two rows ago, to start a new pattern off the top of my head. By halfway through the second row, it suddenly became blindingly clear that this was not going to be the pattern I thought it was, and I would have needed a 6 stitch repeat, not the 5 I had established. Still, if I press on, I may have serendipitously invented a thing of beauty. Or not. I hate ripping two color knitting (OK truthfully I hate ripping), and you can't exactly tug on the Lopi either.

But what if it's Not Perfect? My logical brain points out that this is for an orphan trying to keep warm while living on the street - this sweater will not likely be judged on the finer aesthetics of two color knitting. But my inner child, the one who had to attend an affluent school clothed in the hideous cast-offs that were "good enough for poor people" has a hard time giving away anything substandard.

It is also entirely possible that I am WAY over thinking this, and will miss the deadline for submitting it at all if I don't press on.