Sober Reflections on Fair Isle Knitting
December 26, 2005
It’s been just a heckuva week, between the bourbon milkshake problem last Sunday at book group, the Rebecca Ruth Bourbon Balls which made their annual appearance at our house, and the general bourboniness of the season. Hubbo figured out a way to debourbon the Bourbon Balls (he likened it to gutting a fish–a swift twist of the knife, and you’re left with a chocolatey shell), but to me, why would you want to tamper with a product that leads with chocolate and ends with a cocktail, all in one piece?
Anyway, I hope everybody had a great holiday. I’ve entered chocolate detox (Weight Watchers Anonymous), and swear I will never, ever eat a Rebecca Ruth Bourbon Ball for breakfast ever again.
In the brief hiatus while the Perfect Handknit pattern is mellowing in its aged oak cask, I’ve come dangerously close to achieving my new year’s goal: completing unfinished objects. I’m down to a small pile of stuff:
Baby sweater, needles yanked for another project never to return.
Ill-fated day trip into log cabin knitting.
Something cylindrical, never to be felted.
Worst idea of the year: nutmeg-colored shetland lace. Even the needles ran from this project.
Nutmeg? Please don’t say anything about this, or about any of these. Dregs, dregs, DREGS. I’m scraping them into a bag, writing TIME CAPSULE–OPEN IN 2105, and throwing it in the attic.
Down to the Wire: Keava
The 2004 UFO that has most dogged me has been the one that’s been teaching me the most: the Keava Fair Isle pullover from Alice Starmore’s 1995 In the Hebrides. (I’d include a link to it but I can’t find one for this elusive, seriously out-of-print book. I may have hallucinated the whole thing.)
I’m just about done with the first sleeve, and I have some observations:
The simplicity of this pattern (three tubes, basically, with no seams) means that once you’ve begun the sleeves, you’re toting a serious load of knitting with you. It means that you’re not taking this thing anywhere. It turns this into a Homebound Project, which is a bummer because some of my finest moments are the five and ten minutes that come along while Waiting for Children.
Kay, I know this is an alarming sight. I know we agree about socks, and how we are not sock knitters. (Yet.) But the dirty secret of Keava is that by the time you crank your way cuffward, there comes a point when even a 12″ size 3 circular needle is no longer helpful. The time comes when the double-pointed needles come out, and you’re down to 72 stitches, and hell you might as well turn a heel and make the thing into a giant sock. This sleeve has me halfway to a sock without my ever realizing it. I have been tricked into knitting a sock.
This is the seamy underside of the Keava sleeve. The pattern crashes together like two women at Kroger fighting over the last chess pie. I have a lot to refine when it comes to decreasing a Fair Isle pattern in a tidy way. It’s not hard, but for some reason things get very blumpy and burbly during the lane change. The good news: this pattern is so LOUD and CRAZY that it doesn’t even much matter. What’s going on back there? Just keep it down, willya?
Packing Up for Chicago
We’re heading out tomorrow for Chicago. The Sister-in-law and I are really looking forward to seeing everybody at the Windy City Winding Party Thursday night. If you’d like directions, please email me. I’m packing my yarn winder and some yet-to-be-determined portable projeck.
I’m contemplating my 2006 new year’s resolutions. What are yours?
Happy new year, everybody–we’ll be back in Nashville next year . . .