Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Ski

I am not naturally tempermentally inclined toward downhill skiing. I adore the mountains - give me miles and miles of trail, a water bottle, and a good pair of runners and I'm in heaven, but this business of falling down a steep hill in semi-controlled fashion runs absolutely counter to my nature. Nevertheless, one can't live in Whistler without skiing, so I have persisted (or rather, Rob has persisted in shoving me out the door.) I am therefore happy to report that for the first time this season, I felt a sense of genuine joy and anticipation on the ride up that almost entirely obliterated the customary anxiety.

It would be difficult not to be happy up here - the temperatures are mild, thanks to an inversion, the sweet smell of pine is in the air, snow conditions are marvelous, and the sun is blessedly brilliant.
Perhaps this is what all the fuss is about.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Top of the Matter

It has been warm and misty here in the valley this week. It's the kind of air that hugs your shoulders like a lace stole, settles sweetly on the tongue with every breath. Snowy things also settle in this unusually warm weather:In these short winter days, the close dim light can become oppressive though, and one gets the urge to rise above it all.
A quick trip to the top puts things back in perspective and we are fortunate enough to be able to ski the 1200 m (4000 ft) drop straight back to our door (arrow):

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Functional Swatching

Thanks to all who left such lovely compliments on the sleeve shaping. Really, it's a natural extension of the circularly knit, custom fit sweater approaches developed by the likes of Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker, and I'm not at all sure that it hasn't already been done (what hasn't?), but thus far I've only seen it hinted at in the descriptions of patterns for sale. I really ought not to wax too poetic about its qualities until I have a finished garment to wear and wiggle in, but what excites me most is the possibility to fine tune and personalize the fullness of a sleeve cap for any given armscye - because this method matches row for row, there is no agonizing over ease along the seamline. It may, however, take me several sweaters to find my absolute ideal fit.

On the evenings when my brain gets too fuddled for math (sick kids, lack of sleep), I've been entertaining myself with the Dulaan sweater:
I'm keeping this one dead simple - straight sides, dropped sleeves. I am steeking the armholes, but when I write up the pattern, I will include the option of flat knitting the upper portion of the sweater. This little pullover is a great blank canvas for experimenting and playing - the stranded knitting is necessary for warmth and wind resistance, but the actual patterns can be as simple or complex as your heart desires. I opted for two colours, because I am sick to death of weaving in ends, but you could easily work in different colours or even yarns, as long as they were wool and of similar gauge. Think functional swatch.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Set-In Top-Down Short-Rowed Bell Curved Sleeve Cap

Or SITDSRBCSC for short. It worked!

Exhibit A: the shape of the short-rowed sleeve cap as set out in EZ's The Opinionated Knitter.
I used this method for my Love the Yarn You're With sweater, and it did produce a very tidy and shapely sleeve cap, but for a close fit on my big boned shoulders, it was a little tight. Also, EZ's method starts with an inch or so of plain knitting around the full circumference of the arm, and I wanted to develop a method that would start the short rows immediately after picking up stitches, so as to ultimately be able to match sleeve and body patterns in an invisible row-for-row manner.
So I set about to reverse engineer a sleeve cap shaped like this:
It really wasn't that difficult, though it took the better part of a day of writing out the numbers in columns to get a visual grasp of the concept. The general idea is to consume one body row (stitch) for each sleeve row, while simultaneously expanding the sleeve at a varying rate of increase.

Here's the sweater with the first completed sleeve cap:
The full on view of the cap:
Leaning the decreases toward the body produces a tidy, almost invisible join:
I had a small crisis of confidence when I tried it on, because there appears to be just a titch too much ease in the sleeve cap. However, when I tried on the first sleeve cap method, it initially seemed just right, and then after finishing up both sleeves and snugging in the neck opening with ribbing it wound up a bit tight, so I have high hopes that this will in fact, be just right in the end.

Monday, January 22, 2007


It's snowing hard again today - though hard is hardly the word for it - enormous toonie-sized flakes twirl down to smooth and soften all over again the tracks of boots and plows. The igloo we built yesterday will soon be a deliciously secret cave under a swooping curve of snowdrift.
The close, gray clouds and soft snow absorb sound and light, making for a slow, pensive sort of day. Thoughts half-formed for weeks have space to take shape - like this:

Since leaving the Other profession, my senses are heightened, and I can see my children in ways that were previously obscured by anxiety and busyness and struggle. I look directly in their eyes, and watch the exquisite passage of delight, curiosity, opposition, comprehension - and they see that I see. I smell their hair, trace the curve of little necks bent intently over projects, linger over extra-tight hugs and the perfect fit of a small head under the hollow of my clavicle at storytime. There were many days Before when I would feel frighteningly disconnected, as though a dark veil hung between me and my family. The veil is gone now, and though I still do not fully understand who and what I am, I know with certainty that this is better.