The Weird That Is at Your Feet
November 2, 2009
Thanks to everyone who gave Cousin Dan a boost yesterday during his marathon!
Now that I have recovered, I gotta get you up to date on the project that has been OBSESSING me since I picked it up again last week.
(I am marinating the gansey idea at the moment. I think I have a good idea, but it’s an epic project if I decide to do it, so I don’t want to just jump in all willynillycrazy.)
As you know, I finished the creepy mom pirate sweater, which would have made a great Halloween costume by the way except that I ended up going as a white-haired vampire due to the availability of a big cape and a leftover Albert Einstein wig from a seventh grade class project. It apparently wasn’t vampirically correct, according to one Twilighty trick-or-treater who seemed to be up for a conversation. When she asked who I was, I said, “An old, tuckered-out vampire.”
She responded, “Vampires always have the color hair they were born with. You know. So. Were you like born with white hair?”
“Here, ya smartypants, take yer Kit Kat and move ON.” This left me thinking, holy cow, of all those suspiciously aged blonde women I see everywhere. You mean they’re VAMPIRES? You mean I’M A VAMPIRE?
Anyway, the project loss I felt after finishing the pirate sweater made me sentimental for something familiar. It’s just not that hard to find half-finished projects at my house: there’s usually one at my feet. So I stirred my feet, which landed upon the Alice Starmore Donegal pullover that I started eighteen months ago. I felt a rush of purpose and CHECKED OUT OF LIFE in order to devote my full attention to this project.
Let me just say: re-starting a Fair Isle project is exactly like restarting an exercise regime, or a diet. It just feels terrible. What was all this mysterious crap inside this tote bag? I found this chart with one column of stitches highlighted, for some reason, in red. There was an index card into which at some point I had tenderly threaded samples of each color of yarn. Seeing these relics made me realize how very little I remembered about the whole thing. All the colors looked the same to me. Rainforest? What kind of a yarn name is Rainforest?
I forgot that you have to set up a command post in order to knit this sort of thing. It is the LEAST portable kind of knitting. So I set up my lovingly purchased KnitPicks Fair Isle Chart Holder Thingie, put the yarn swatches right next to it, arranged the nine shades of yarn in a little pile, fired up my superbright reading lamp, loaded up on coffee, and commenced knitting.
AAAAAAAAAAAAACK! I forgot that the 28-stitch, 32-row pattern was an asymmetrical mosh of 2-1-2-3-4-5-3-5-3 stuff. It don’t make no sense. It was horrible. But, sucker for punishment, I decided I had to stick with it long enough to have justified setting up the knitting command post.
It was so pretty, for one thing. I remembered how beautiful all this Rowan Donegal Lambswool is. And I remembered how clever it feels to knit with two hands. I remembered that as tedious as that first row was, the second row was half as tedious, and by the third row I could hold most of the pattern repeat in my head. GAH, I was a GENYUS!
The good news is that the soul-sucking torso marathon was finished already, and the armhole steeks were under way.
All I had to figure out was the neckline.
It’s clever, really, and it’s not anything I would have ever thought of doing. The neckline on one of these things has a little shaping. To achieve that shaping without abandoning circular knitting and resorting to front-and-back knitting, you place some neckline stitches on holders, and you create little steeks in the front and back of the neckline, decreasing on either side of the steek. When you cut the steeks (stay tuned for that thrilling episode), the neckline opens up, voila, and the shaping is done. It means that you never stop knitting in the round, and you easily keep the pattern cooking. Who thinks of stuff like this?
After a lot of knitting, and Kitchenering of shoulder seams, during which I watched not a single episode of Mad Men because I needed all my brain power to do it, I ended up with a piece of wonky knitting architecture:
I mean, when I restarted this project, I didn’t have it my head that I was in the mood to make this:
It just goes to show that sometimes, you can find a whole world of weirdness right at your feet.