Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adventures of a Prodigal Knitter - Part 2


Although I always had a pair of socks on the needles, I yearned for larger, more substantial projects. When I learned that my son and his wife were about to buy a house, I decided that an afghan would be a great housewarming present. After all it was literally there for warming you up!
I pored over patterns by the dozens. There were so many criteria -- not too simple, not too complicated. Not too old-fashioned, not too boring. No sewing up of endless squares. I wanted it to be interesting for me to knit, and attractive for them to enjoy using. I thought it should be wool, since acrylics are never as warm as wool. It needed to be machine washable, since I couldn’t see washing a great big blanket by hand.
I finally found a pattern I liked. I asked my daughter-in-law to choose the colors, I ordered Cascade 220 Superwash in 2 coordinating colors – a warm terra cotta red and a deep gold - and away I went.

I had a few bumps along the way— I ran out of yarn and had to order more. I found that due to changing tension over time (the work went on for 6 months), I had a trapezoid and not a rectangle, and had to partially re-knit it.
In the end it was about 45” by 72” -- huge!

What I learned: Knitting an afghan that uses 10 balls of Cascade 220 means 2200 yards of knitting, or over 150,000 stitches. That is a ton of work! I don’t think I’ll do that again anytime soon.

After knitting several lacy socks without incident, I thought I’d go for the ultimate – a lace shawl. I chose the Seascape Shawl, from had 5 skeins of a fuzzy mohair yarn which looked as though it should work for this pattern. It’s a really lovely blue-lilac color, like hydrangeas or blue hyacinth. The Seascape pattern was less fussy, and more tailored, than a lot of lace shawls and seemed like a good bet for my first lace shawl. Mohair is really hard to unravel so I had to get this right.Also, inspired by someone’s version on Ravelry, I decided to add beads: some at the edges, and one in the center of each motif. So, it was my first beaded project as well.Might I add, the mohair was really hairy and got all over my clothes and even up my nose when I worked. I had to stop working on it an hour before I went to bed or else I’d sneeze and cough when I was trying to get to sleep.

Anyway, my mother-in-law was staying with us for a while, so I decided I would make it for her. She is always complaining that she’s cold, even here in Los Angeles, so this might help.She used to knit but doesn’t anymore, so at least she would appreciate the work that was going into it. There were some errors near the beginning, but then I decided to obsessively put stitch markers every 10 stitches and keep counting that there were exactly 10 stitches between markers. Once I did that, there were no more errors.

I was a bit anxious if my hard-to-please mother-in-law would like it.
Well ---She did. I wrapped in tissue and put it in a box, so she would have a nice "gift opening" experience. When she saw it, she said "how pretty".
Then she said it must have been a lot of work.
Then she wore it the rest of the evening.
Half-joking, I told her I would keep the temperature of the house low so she would *have* to wear it (because she's totally the type who would put it away and save it for a "special occasion").
My MIL has done a lot for me over the years, not the least of which was looking after my baby boy so that I could go back to work. So I was happy that I could do something nice for her.
What I learned: Knitting can be very rewarding, both for the knitter and her loved ones.

So, where does that leave me?
I absolutely love knitting, and with a new baby granddaughter, I have plenty of new patterns in my Ravelry queue, and lots of new challenges ahead. There’s entrelac, and fair-isle, and lace-weight, and double-knitting ….. I have even started designing, and I have sold several designs. Check out the Crayon Pocket Cardigan on Ravelry.

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