Floraphage

Adventures in flora, fauna, food, and the great unknown.


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Knitting hearts and love

May in western Massachusetts felt quite a bit like summer, with a bunch of high-80s and low-90s days, so when the weather cooled off again, I think it tricked my brain into thinking the worst was over. (Summer is not my favorite of the seasons. It’s not conducive to knitting!) July has reminded me what a fool I’ve been, and between the warm days and evening oven use, our apartment is feeling pretty stuff these days. And it’s a shame, too, because I have a really pretty sweater that I am just dying to wear.

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I love how the cables mimic little hearts.

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The cables on the front mirror those in the back. And you can’t tell here, but those buttons are quite pretty.

Yup, it’s I Heart Cardigans, finally completed (back in early June, actually). I am crazy proud of it—it’s my first sweater, four months in the making. A lot of time and love went into this. I was more patient with this project than I have ever been—totally comfortable with each stitch taking as much time as was needed—and the result is an extremely wearable and, dare I say it, quite attractive sweater. I’m a sucker for cables, and these are some real beauties.

In the time since, my needles haven’t exactly been quiet. I’ve cast on for two other sweaters—one light and airy (Tule), one bulky and warm (Campus Jacket)—and have finished two shawls. One is a gift that I won’t post here, but the other was entirely selfish; I wanted something hand-knit to bring with me on an upcoming weekend trip to see family, and I’ve been hoarding a few hanks of luscious, self-striping shawl yarn for myself.

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My peacock shawl—basic stockinette with a garter-stitch border, knit with Caterpillargreen Yarns MCN fingering shawl stripe.

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The “peacock” colorway is something of a muted rainbow. Just lovely.

I was working on this project in late June when the Supreme Court of the United States made its decision regarding marriage equality. Given that, the nature of the colorway, and the fact that this is based on Tanis’s Prism Shawl pattern (while also being a complete copycat of her project)*, I like to think of this as my marriage-equality shawl. It will be so nice to be able to make that association every time I wear this in the years to come, a pleasant memory knit up into the fabric of a shawl.

I hope to make decent progress on Tule while traveling this weekend—how nice to have a sweater project that is also extremely portable and good summer knitting! But that doesn’t mean I’m still not looking forward to surrounding myself in layers of wool during the cooler days of fall.

*Okay, this post is clearly a bit Tanis-obsessed, but I swear I’m not stalking her or anything. (Even if I did snag some sock yarn from her recently, too. That one-day-only “cosmic” colorway was just too delicious to pass up.)

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The obstinate sock

I’ve been knitting a sock. A pretty, blue and white and gray sock. The cardigan I started in February is no longer especially portable, and its cables require a certain amount of active attention. Vanilla socks are small and light, require little concentration, and are an extremely practical thing to knit (I’m going to need more socks eventually anyway, right?)—and besides, I already had a bunch of much-neglected sock yarn in the stash.

Knitting a sock was the perfect solution to a problem I barely even knew that I had. Dull meetings became a joy. Endless grocery lines became opportunities. Life was good.

The aforementioned cardigan, at a much earlier stage.

The aforementioned cardigan, at a much earlier stage.

But it’s been fits and starts. The first time through, I quickly became frustrated with the damage that gradually revealed itself in the yarn, strands half worn away—so I ditched those parts and started again with a different, solid-colored yarn for the toe. That yarn was somewhat damaged too (insects be damned), so I taught myself how to splice the ends together, making an invisible join at the weak points.

Vanilla sock, iteration number two.

Vanilla sock, iteration number two.

I knit ten inches of sock-mark-two before realizing that in my attempt to make a foot-sleeve large enough for my ungainly hobbit feet, I had instead made one that was vaguely… baggy. And that simply would not do. A sock, especially a hand-knit sock, should stretch gently over its intended foot—not cover it halfheartedly like some sort of sack.

For a few days after that, the sock and I weren’t on speaking terms. But Wednesday night, while M was out, the sock and I had a heart to heart, made up, and started over again, together—this time four stitches slimmer. Here’s hoping that the third time’s the charm.

* * *

Postscript: It wasn’t. Foolishly believing that, surely, I must know the pattern backwards and forwards by this point, I forged blindly ahead, forgetting entirely about the increases and decreases surrounding the heel area, as well as about an inch of the foot length. Suitably chastened, I ripped back to before the heel. The saga of the most basic sock in the world, and my apparent inability to complete it, continues.


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The end of winter

Officially, it’s spring—but I still find my thoughts on the winter. It’s not entirely surprising… There’s still snow on the ground. A slushy rain fell this evening while I was walking my favorite canine companion. And our heat is (mostly) still on.

But there’s another reason, too. On February 21, I had the distinct pleasure of making my way to the Berkshires, putting on a pair of boots and skis, grabbing some poles, and getting out on the snow for the first time in ages. I had attempted this sort of activity a few times in my early post-college years, albeit on a snowboard instead of skis. I can’t say that those experiences went well; in fact, I was pretty miserable both times, got badly bruised, and haven’t exactly been pining for it since.

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Speaking of pines…

But this time was different. At first, I had some trouble figuring out where my skis ended and began, but by the end of my lesson (which M was gracious enough to join me for), I was getting down the hill pretty well, making decent turns. I fell only once—in my first attempt to board the magic carpet to get back up the hill. I became infatuated with the sound and feeling of the skis’ edge against the snow, growing more sure of myself with each run. Every single time down was a blast. I couldn’t get enough.

I never did get around to riding the lift and skiing down a real trail; by the time I felt confident enough to make the attempt, our day was near its end, and I didn’t want to risk ending the trip on a bad note. Instead, I took a few more runs down the little hill before returning to the lodge with a grin on my face, my heart bursting with happiness.

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And check out that hand-knit hat!

We rounded out the day with a Guinness in the lounge before heading home. More snow was falling, and I was walking on air. A girl could get used to this. Too bad it’s spring.