The Fog of Wool
October 22, 2014
It’s Wednesday and I’ve just finished hooking a small rug and I’m still floating on the fumes of my Saturday at Rhinebeck, aka the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, aka my annual renewal of my vows to knitting. I know that, for people who don’t (a) live in the Northeast and/or (b) organize their personal, family and religious calendars around knitting, Rhinebeck is a kind of Emerald City that they read about in scores of feverish blog posts every year. Sometimes, as I walk through the gate each October, I think, “we’re overselling this thing. It’s just shopping.”
But it’s not. If Rhinebeck were any other weekend of the year, it might just be a pop-up Mall of America for fiber lovers, or one among many occasions for knitters to fly our freak flag (or fry our fleak flag, as I just typed) and Wear All the Knits. But the third weekend of October, in the radiant Rooseveltian fields of Dutchess County, with the spookier days of fall just ahead–dang it, it IS magical.
The purpose of this post is to show off my Rhinebeck sweater. “But Kay,” you say, “you never knit Rhinebeck sweaters because you are a special snowflake and don’t go in for the mass hysteria of cool-kid projects like racing to complete a new sweater in time for Rhinebeck.” Yes. That’s true; I am no ordinary snowflake. But this Rhinebeck sweater was not for me. It was my half of a swap with Liz K, who crocheted a massive Comme des Garçons granny square wrap for me last winter. I felt no guilt about not working on my debt of honor during the spring and summer months, as Liz had chosen a truly winter-iffic sweater, Adara from Brooklyn Tweed, and she had selected Purl Soho Worsted Twist, a puffy merino that would not have been tolerable as subway knitting during the season of sweat. But when Michael’s started pumping the pumpkin spice out of the HVAC, I knew: it was Time. Since I was going to Rhinebeck with Liz, that seemed like a healthy deadline.
This was the scene at my house on Rhinebeck Minus Two: I still had the neck to pick up and knit, and the prospect of setting in the sleeves. You know how Brooklyn Tweed patterns always tell you precisely how to execute any knitting technique that you might not have jumped out of the womb already knowing how to do? Well, the instructions for setting in the sleeves went like this:
“Set in sleeves.”
I screwed my mattress stitch to the sticking place, and by God I set in those sleeves. I finished at the stroke of midnight, on Rhinebeck Eve. All that remained to do was….
DIGRESSION! All that remained to do was to push the ON button on my AWESOME NEW JIFFY STEAMER, and steam-block my freshly finished Adara. WHY DID I WAIT UNTIL MY FIFTIES TO GET A JIFFY STEAMER? WHY OH WHY? MY LIFE HAS BEEN A CHARADE, A MERE PANTOMIME OF EXISTENCE, WITHOUT A JIFFY STEAMER.
Basically, it’s the coolest thing ever and has cut my already-small dry cleaning bills down to the nub. The very nub, I tell you. Unless you are spilling ketchup, almost any dry-cleanable can be freshened up, with far less wear on the garment, with a nice gentle scald from Jiffy. Best thing I ever Amazon’d.
Not surprisingly, I got virtually no pics of Liz wearing Adara at Rhinebeck. Well, I took a couple of hasty snaps in the parking lot, only to realize later that she had it on backwards, which kind of misses the point of the lovely fully-fashioned neckline shaping. So Liz kindly modeled it at home and sent me these lovely shots.
Pattern notes: I subbed Purl Soho Worsted Twist for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. While this made sense on paper, in reality the Worsted Twist is denser than the Shelter, and it was impossible to knit it to gauge without cramming too many stitches in and making the fabric look crunchy. So I knit the smallest size and hoped for the best. Luck was a lady, and it worked.
If I knit another Adara (as Someone in my household has requested), I will go for the Shelter, for more accurate gauge and also a lighter weight in the finished garment. Purl Soho Worsted Twist remains one of my favorite yarns in the universe. The navy in particular is lush, but all the colors are so good, and you can wear this merino on bare skin without complaint.
My Rhinebeck haul? A sackful of rughooking supplies from my lady Heavens to Betsy (and the kindly Mr. Heavens To Betsy, who works the cashbox), and one exquisite sock kit from the Tsock Tsarina. Oh, and wooden spoons. I don’t like to think of the wooden spoon guy heading for home with more than a few spoons in the truck. That would never do.
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