April 20, 2004
Hey—have you noticed this space over here in the middle? Why, look: it’s our blog! Just like I remember it!
Sturm und Drang
Sorry I’ve been so unreliable in blabbing my every thought. My excuses are mostly in the category of ‘The Dog Ate My Blogwork’. I’ve been overwhelmed by the effort to transform our home of many years into a Dee-Luxe Family Apartment that someone would actually want to buy. This has involved draconian paper-disposal measures, the putting out to pasture of creaky and/or crappy furniture, the borrowing of bodacious furniture, and pretty much hourly vacuuming. My wedding-present vases have been so constantly replenished with spring flowers that they are filing an unfair labor practices complaint. One of them tried to return itself to Bloomingdale’s. Overtime was not what they signed up for, 12 years ago. They are accustomed to a quiet life in the back of a kitchen cabinet, working mainly on holidays, or when we have a new baby or a dinner party (equally rare occurrences). Now they know how cushy they’ve had it all these years.
In addition, I shopped and cooked for two nights worth of Passover short ribs and one afternoon’s worth of Easter festivities. (For Cristina–here’s a peek at the washi eggs .) In addition, the Teenage Dell Technician paid two visits to fix my busted Blog-o-matic, which I had previously taken apart with my bare hands in a nightmarish 77-minute telephone call with the Dell People. In addition, Carrie became Glassy-Eyed Feverish Waif for a solid 5 days last week. (She’s fine now.)
Come what came, I followed Elizabeth Zimmerman’s advice to knit on through all crises. Such excellent advice! I would modify it, in my case, to specify that one knit only the most soothing projects. As soon as anything needs to be counted or figured out or sewn up—stop, drop and roll!
Every day, I found some time to work on Baby Taro’s stroller blankie:
The Taro Blankie is done, and just needs a do-over of the border, which I ripped out because I had done it too tightly on the first try. I’m really happy with it; it’s almost as groovy as the borrowed coffee table it’s draped over (designed by my friend Rick Shaver)! Here’s a close-up . It was pure relaxation to watch the self-striping Noro Silk Garden transform itself into blocks of softly undulating color. I went down two needle sizes to a US 6 to get a properly weathertight fabric. Knitting to this gauge made my wrists ache, so I wouldn’t do it again, but I do like the snugness. Little Taro will probably not need such a warm blanket for a while, but when he does, his Bug-A-Boo will be well insulated with toasty silk and mohair.
This past weekend, I went to the LYS to pick up an extra ball to finish the Taro Blankie, and I fell, hard, for Elsebeth Lavold’s new yarn, Cotton Patine (there should be an accent there–pa-tee-NAY), and her book of elegant patterns for it. Feeling like a break before taking a second run at the Taro Blankie border, I made this
–for Carrie. It’s the Agatha top, designed for both women and girls. In a slightly elongated Size 6, it took just over 2 balls of yarn.
It was a quick and entertaining knit, once I devoted some Scowling and Cussing to Ms. Lavold’s chart for the lace motif. I always thought that the chief virtue of charting out a knitting pattern was one-to-one correspondence: each square stands for one stitch. When you are doing something that involves more than one stitch, the symbol covers all pertinent stitches. Not true in Lavold Land. ‘Knit 2 together’ is indicated by a symbol placed on just one stitch, and you are supposed to just know, I guess, which stitch you are supposed to knit it together with. Same for ‘Slip 1 st, k2tog, psso’–a 3-stitch maneuver indicated by a mark on one stitch.
The most mysterious and metaphysical of Ms. Lavold’s symbols, to me at least, was the blackened out square. The blackened out square is defined to mean ‘no stitch’. Wha..? What is a ‘no stitch’? When you get there, what are you supposed to DO? Observe a moment of silence? Drop a stitch? Declare that, despite strong evidence of a stitch, this is ‘no stitch’? Gnashing my teeth in existential angst, I wondered: what am I supposed to do to this absence of a stitch, to this negation of all that is stitchy? Please, Ms. Lavold, tell me!
Here’s what I figured out, after much cogitation. When you get to the stitch marked ‘no stitch’, you do to that stitch what it says to do to the NEXT STITCH, which is usually something that you do to MORE THAN ONE STITCH.
Maybe I’m a bit slow. Maybe lots of designers chart this way. I make no claim to experience in lace-knitting. I’m just saying, I think it could be a bit more straightforward. Now that I understand it, it seems obvious. But it took me a while to get there.
It’s great to be back. I close with a gratuitous picture documenting that my girl did wear her Lacy sweater on Passover: