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See Denise Knit

Knit Denise! Knit!

Yes, I have finally cast on for something other than a sock (not that there’s anything wrong with socks, mind you). In fact, I am still making progress on the second unmatched pair (“Sock of Destiny” and significant other):

Sock of Destiny and Guest

But it is kind of a relief to have cast on for another project.

So, without further ado, may I present the new project:

Vested InterestVest cable detail

I know it doens’t look like much now, but before long, it will take shape into a lovely (albeit simple) tunic-y vest. Mostly stockinette,  just a bit of cable interest in the front and at each side, and some shaping at the waist.

I had been undecided for quite a bit about what kind of sweater to start, and then it finally dawned on me; I should knit what I need in my wardrobe. Fairly obvious, I know. But these things don’t always occur to you at first when you are planing a project. You can sometimes get swept away on the wings of  clever techniques and glossy magazine photos.

This vest is mostly about the yarn and it’s natural variegation. I love this yarn:

Alger Shetland

This wool came from a guy who lives just north of me in Acme. He’d placed a craigslist ad for wool. $5 a pound for shetland, $1 a pound for all else. So how could I resist?

I called, he gave me directions, and I drove on out there to check it out. This guy has a lot of wool, but it’s all packed in feed sacks up in the loft of his barn, so he goes and gets a ladder, and I climb up there to evaluate his stash by flashlight. There’s a lot of scottish blackface, and some romney, but then I came upon this yummy stuff.  Ah- there’s the shetland! What I didn’t realize right away was that there was two years worth of fleece on this sheep.  But once I got if home and spread it out on the driveway to see what I had, I basically separated the first years bleached dreadlocks from the silky brown and gray underneath, and still walked away with a lot of really nice wool. It is very convenient in this type of situation that a lot of shetlands naturally shed (or partially shed) their coats each year. The break in the wool between the two coats was easy to pull apart by hand.

Wish I’d met the sheep.  She must have been a beauty.

When in doubt, swatch

Here’s an update on that blue ribbon romney fleece that I was given a month or so ago-

Blue Ribbon Swatch

I decided to spin it up as a three ply, so it would be nice and squishy aran weight, and I am so happy with how it’s going. It is heaven to knit with, it’s making me rethink (again) my next sweater plan.

I do love cables, and this yarn might be just the thing to get my creative juices flowing again. It feels so nice. And I’m finding that this February gray and cold is making me run for my tried and true comforts- hot Tang, down comforter, wood fire, and of course, wool– soft, sweet smelling wool.

Whatever it takes to get me through to spring.

Lichen It

It’s about this time every year that we think “Surely this icky weather must come to an end soon”. But it persists, and we are left to browse the seed catalog as we sit by the woodstove and plan for what we might do once the cold and rain abate.

This year, (much to my delight), it seems that we are going to tackle the pasture fencing issue! The man, armed with his knowledge and contact info from the fencing seminar in Stanwood a few weekends back, is making plans, and hopefully once the weather improves we will be re-fencing (as opposed to the un-fencing we’ve been engaged in for the last couple of years!).

This, of course, is very exciting because it puts me lightyears closer to bing able to have some sheep out here eating our grass and growing beautiful fleeces.

Right now, our fences look like this:

lichen encrusted fence

And that is one of the sturdier posts. In certain light, they look pretty cool, all green and furry. But of course, what is picturesque is not always functional. Here is a close up of the lichen:

lichens close

Quite an interesting assortment of colors and textures, eh?

I’ve heard of people dying with lichens, so perhaps there is a wool tie-in here, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go exploring that avenue quite yet.

I think at least the lichens are enjoying the our dreary winter days.

They’re likin’ it. Get it? heh heh heh

Left-Handed, Right-Minded

I just knit.

And it had been a long time since I gave much thought to how I knit. But then I was in an yarn store today looking for a book, and I got to talking with the clerk about EZ. I was buying “The Opinionated Knitter” for reference (because I think some of my “next sweater” ideas are starting to coagulate), and I said something about how I love EZ’s style, even though she wouldn’t approve of my “backwards-ness”.

And so we got talking about backwards knitting and handedness.

Now, I only started knitting left-handed because I couldn’t seem to make myself do it the standard way. It was very awkward. There were some helps on the internet, but for the most part, I figured it out myself. And it makes sense to me. It’s just what I do, and I don’t try to press it upon anyone, or make a case that everyone should do it my way.

So I guess I find it kind of surprising that some people are very insistent that everyone should knit in the “standard” way (and by “standard”, I mean using the right needle as the working needle). Why do they find it so troubling that other people are doing something differently and achieving the same result?

I’ve heard all sorts of arguments for why it’s silly that anyone should feel a need to knit “backwards”:

Knitting is a two-handed activity, it shouldn’t matter which hand is doing what

It’s so much more complicated because you have to re-write or interpret patterns to compensate for working at it form the wrong direction

There are a lot more, but I think you get the idea.

I think it’s actually funny that some supposedly creative, artistic folks can be really closed minded about methods of the craft. (What is interesting to note here is that even with”standard” knitters, there are pickers and throwers, and all different styles amongst them. If you ever sit and watch a bunch of people knitting together, chances are you won’t see any two people doing exactly the same thing.)

In some ways, backwards knitting actually makes more sense. When you’re reading a chart, for instance, and you can follow it left to right, as you would read anything else in English. But most of the time, it’s just the same. You just have to understand how the stitches are formed and how what you’re doing contributes to the shaping of the item.

In other words, you have to have The Big Picture.

And when you’ve backed up far enough to take in the whole scene, you’ll see that we’re not really doing anything different, you and I. We’re just doing it from different perspectives.