Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monoganomous Knitting

     I am a pretty big fan of monogamy.  I have been married for many, many years, and find it hard to imagine my life otherwise.  I have been married long enough to have a 29 year old daughter who is getting married on 9-10-11.  I almost always drive a Subaru (though not at the moment); Pink Ladies are my favorite apples, Newcastle my favorite beer, and I love Vermont Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese, though it no longer likes me very well. It is rare for me to deviate from my favorite things. But knitting monogamy has not really entered my life until recently.  I am knitting wedding shawls.  Six of them.  One for the bride out of cashmere/silk handspun which has been be spun by the bride's mother- who would be me; and five others for the bridesmaids.  There are only 4 actual bridesmaids at the moment, but I am making 5 shawls, in case of some unforeseen emergency.
     The way I usually handle my knitting projects is pretty simple .  I have stay-at-home projects and on-the-go projects.  Stay-at-home projects are those that are either too large and unwieldy or to complicated to knit when I am away from home.  Right now the stay-at-home project is  Girasole which is a lovely circular shawl designed by Jared Flood based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's Pi shawl.  It is knit in Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance in the color Cappuccino.  It is a wonderful yarn and a great pattern.  But the damn thing is going to be about 70 inches in diameter and it is very heavy.  Not only that, one must count every stitch and every row. Currently there are about 600 stitches on each row and I am about half way done.  Not a traveling project.  In fact it is upstairs in my sewing room (where I rarely sew), resting.  Then I usually have a travel project.  This is something pretty small, preferably that fits in my purse, requiring no mental acrobatics and not on size 000 needles.  It is usually a sock, a plain vanilla sock, knit on size 2.25 needles, in some self patterning sock yarn.  Recently I knit 5 Koolhaas hats as holiday gifts, and after the first hat, they became travel items.   It is rare for me to have more than 2 projects on the needles at a time.  It happens, usually only after taking a class, when I start a couple of projects and am anxious to finish them before I forget what I learned.  I recently took 3 day classes from both Ann Hanson and Nancy Bush.  I started 3 projects with each teacher, and haven't touched any of them since I took the classes.  That is just how devoted I am to these wedding shawls.  My current on-the-go project is a 6th Koolhaas hat.

     The first problem , of course was choosing both the yarn and the patterns for the shawls.  After several false starts on both accounts I settled on the Icarus shawl in the Aracaunia Rialto solid yarn .  I bought 2 skeins of each of five colors at Webs in Northampton, MA and I was pretty sure that I would have enough yarn for each shawl.  But no, I ran out of yarn on the first shawl 14 rows from the end, so ordered another skein of  3 of the 5 colors.  Two colors where out of stock, so those shawls will be slightly smaller.  The first shawl is complete and blocked and I'll show you a picture of the colors as well:
     The bridesmaid's dresses are champagne, so I wanted to add a bit of color, but not too much.  Because theses colors are tonal as well as hand dyed they look fairly similar.  Though each color says that all 3 skeins come from the same dye lot, they do vary a bit.  We are calling that a design feature.  The lavender one has about 20 rows of each skein alternated, and that makes a nice transition.  I completed the first shawl in 10 days, but the second is taking longer because I went off to Burlington, Vermont to take a 3 day class from Nancy Bush on Estonian knitting.  And ski season is wrapping up as well, so I have to get in all the hours that I can on the slopes.  The yarn for the bride's shawl is complete.  It is Antique white, as is her dress, so the combination should be lovely.  Natalie's shawl is in the Swallowtail pattern by Evelyn Clark.  I had originally planned to make Nancy Bush's Summer shawl, but Nancy thought the silk/cashmere was too heavy for her pattern.  It is a heavier yarn than the Rialto, but Natalie's dress is strapless and she is always cold, so we are going with a more substantial shawl for her.  Knitting these shawls is not just a labor of Love, but a real lesson in perseverance.  At this point I am still enjoying the process.  I just hope the bride appreciates the results.

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