Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ah, youth!

The young can get away with so much, can't they?

The description for this photo, originally published in the Rochester Herald on September 22nd, 1918, reads:

"Russell Dean of the U. S. Navy is the winner of the 100-yard swim in the city swim meet. He wears a garter-stitch knit sleeveless top in this waist-length portrait."

Credits: From the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center Rochester, N.Y.
You gotta love libraries!

If you click on the image, you can see the knitting better. Wonder if he knit it himself?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fleurette Cardigan (was Big Swatch)

It started back in  April as a small swatch of the Fleurette stitch from Barbara Walker using KPPPM Koigu on 3mm needles. I was trying out the yarn in various open stitches to see if I could up with something that would break up the colour pooling in an interesting way. I'd been able to buy 9 skeins of the same dye lot in the sale at KnitnPurl before they closed.

I blocked it and checked the gauge. I ended up knitting a bigger swatch the size of the back of a cardigan up to the armholes. I blocked it and checked the gauge again. It was consistent: 5 stitches and 8 rows per inch. I contemplated copping out and just doing a drop shoulder pattern, but something drove me on to conquer the set in sleeve. 

I grew bold. I calculated the armscye using the instructions in Vogue Knitting: the Ultimate Knitting Book. Knit her up and blocked again. The armhole depth was 7 inches. Maybe a bit shallow I thought, but the stitch is an open one and I thought it better to underdo it on such a stretchy fabric. I had this crazy idea that this cardigan was going to turn out to be huge and baggy. 

I began to feel a bit nervous but carried on and cast on for the fronts continuing to use a seed stitch border all around.  Knit a V neck because I like them and put off thoughts of a collar for later. I told myself I could always rip out the armscyes and revert to the drop shoulder pattern if necessary. One of my sisters  (you know who you are) called the Big Swatch a rude name (use your imagination).

I put it aside and started all manner of other projects large and small, trying to avoid the moment of truth. I avoided thinking about why I was publicly knitting a sweater with no pattern and expansive yarn all the while knowing that I could well run out of yarn before I finished and embarrass myself royally.  I avoided knitting the sleeves.  I tried to think of a new name... I was channelling our Auntie Jean toward the end. She would have liked these colours. How about the Fleurette Cardigan?

In the end, the deadline of a baby shower on July 17th for the Cobweb Crepe and a bunch of other  deadlines at work spurred me into action. I got into gear and started finishing projects off: the Cobweb Crepe, the February Lady, a pair o socks. Funny how knitting can distill one's personality. We knit as we live.

I lucked out this time, people. I made it up as I went along and I took my time. This cardigan fits perfectly. It is close fitting without being tight. It has 3/4 length set in sleeves and a shawl collar. It measures 14 inches from armpit to waist.   I'll post a photo of it on me but it could take me a bit to get  good shot.

Meanwhile I'm so thrilled that I'm posting this without a good picture of it in action. Here's one of it on the back porch. Click to make it bigger:

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Better than Hosta Blue Cadet

Six. Count them - Shandy in far away Essex, UK has knit six (!) pairs of beautiful blue mittens for the Rochester Knitting Guild community knitting mitten drive. I'm am completely stunned. Not only are there many pairs, but two pairs are beautifully patterned. If that doesn't motivate us Rochesterians to knit mittens, nothing will.

Here's another super photo of Mrs. Nellis from the Albert R. Stone Negative Collection, Rochester Museum & Science Center. The description reads: "Samantha Stanton Nellis stands in the doorway of her home, located near Naples N.Y., where she and her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Nathaniel Eaton, live. She is wearing a dark dress and dark bonnet with a white knit shawl wrapped around her shoulders. She holds a broom in her right hand and a dust rag in her left showing that even at the age of 107 she still does chores around the house." 

Poor old soul. They can't seriously have made a woman that age wield a broom. This picture is similar to one said to have been printed in the Rochester Herald, January 21, 1917. Maybe I'll try and track it down in case there was an article about her.

Check out the shawl. Any ideas about the pattern?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On and Off the Needles

To begin with, the comments.

Shandy, the winter here is relatively cold, I suppose. A lot of the time it hovers around the freezing point, but it can occasionally go down to what I would call minus 20. I'm completely out of it when it comes to winter temperatures, having grown up with Fahrenheit then switched to Celsius when I was in grade school and had just finished learning about temperatures. Then moved back to Fahrenheit just when middle age set in and the brain will not adjust. It is about the same as Toronto here but quite balmy in comparison to Ottawa or Montreal. We do get a lot of snow (100 inches or so on average per season) but it freezes and thaws and doesn't pile up the way it does farther north. I think that 25% wool will do just fine. I love recovering and re-using yarn too. It's very satisfying. Thanks again!

Marjorie, I feel for you on the subject of deer but there's nothing to be done about it. It's not even worth crying about. Just pick your plants from a list like this one. There are so many people at my work who moan about deer, or too much shade or too much sun. I include myself in this number. What we keep coming back to is that the art seems to be to pick plants that suit the conditions you are faced with. Do so, and your garden will be brilliant. 

On Saturday, when the temperature was about 90 F (35 C?), well, it FELT like 100 in the shade, I went on the Rochester Civic Garden Center's summer tour. Spent about 2 speechless hours in Jerry Kral's garden. It's hard to speak about this garden without sounding like a blithering idiot. If you get a chance to go, don't hesitate. I loved this sculpture in particular:

In all, we trailed around gardens for 6 hours. All of them were wonderful. I wish I had taken more pictures. Rochester is a city of old frame houses. Some were torn down in the 60's and 70's to make way for raised highways and the like, but because we're in the Rust Belt there are many old houses of all sizes, including tiny apartment sized houses as well as large Victorian beauties. Had there been a boom here, the little ones would all have been torn down and replaced. 

At the end of the day, we found ourselves steps away from the Fitch Building!

While the others went to peer into the garden of the Zen Center, I nipped over and took this shot of the building that housed the Knitting Bureau, replete with fire engine. It's right across the from the old Sibley building at East and Alexander and down the street from the Quality on East Avenue. I couldn't tell what, if anything, was going on in there now. I'd like to go back again, preferably not alone, and take a closer look.

Last, but not least, I have two f.o.'s to report, the February Lady cardigan and a Cobweb Crepe, modified. I love them both. Details for the hard core knitters can be found on Ravelry. Big Swatch is back on the go, so stay tuned for an update on that project. 

Here are photos:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hosta Blue Cadet

Here's a photo for Shandy who made my day by asking where to send mittens for the community knitting drive for the Rochester schools. Mrs. Nellis would certainly bless you!

I grew these hostas from nubs or eyes or whatever they're called that I purchased at Home Depot. I've split them up a couple of times. Plants always seem to do better when you grow them from seeds or roots. 

But really, thanks for your comment. It's the end of a long work week and it really lifted me out of the doldrums to read that someone from overseas might actually want to contribute to our humble effort. Our goal is to gather 500 pairs of mittens in time for the cold weather. We never talked about sizes, but these are for grade school children (ages 5 or 6 through 12 or maybe more) so any size is welcome.  I have been using this pattern by Elizabeth Durand. Very basic. I've been thinking of jazzing them up by knitting exclamation points and various punctuation marks into the palms of the mittens just for fun. Many thanks.

Mittens can be sent to this address, or for those here in the area, just bring them to the first RKG meeting in September.  Marcia will faint, I'm sure, if there are a lot of pairs.

Community Knitting
Rochester Knitting Guild
PO Box 92264, Rochester, NY 14692

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireflies and Sour Cherries

There were fireflies when we went for a walk this evening. It's really hot - about 90 F or 32 C and for some reason I didn't mind it today even though I was heaving books around and driving in the car for much of the day. Funny that. Normally I just melt in the heat.

On Sunday morning I went with friends to pick sour cherries. I picked, washed and pitted about 8 pounds. I froze a bunch, made a Russian summer drink called kompot and a kind of fruit crisp dish for people who don't like oats or regular pastry. Tough customers I have. 

About the Big Swatch, Helen, I think I might get back onto it this week. I've been pushing ahead with the blanket edging but it's so deadly that I have to turn to something else occasionally and I have only about 10 rounds left on Big Baby before it's done. That means I'll be turning to Big Swatch next. 

Myfanwy  - I've borrowed the Gladys Amedro book from a friend who purchased it recently. If I do knit it, the first thing to sort out will be exactly how much yarn is required. The book says 10 hanks of 1 ply cobweb lace wool (Jamieson's). The question is, since the time of writing, did Jamieson's change the amount of yarn in their hanks of 1 ply? How many yards/meters are required? According to the Ravelry pattern page, we'd need 2250 yards of 1 ply for this shawl. The Jamieson's site says their Cobweb Ultra has 175 metres per skein. Raveller LisaRae, however, says their cobweb skeins have gotten larger. Her project page says she used 3800 yards. Wah!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I could get used to this

Feels like the beach to me.  I'm easy to please.

If it weren't for that dratted telephone pole. 

There's a rocking chair, a zero gravity chair and a good upright hardback chair out of rattan. It's always in the shade and when you get fed up, you go for a toddle around the garden and eat a few strawberries, gooseberries or whatever is in season. Check on the progress of the dahlia's and get back up on the porch.

Plus, you get on with your reading or knitting very nicely. 

In knitting, the scalloped edging of the Cobweb Crepe style baby blanket is chugging along. I could finish the Big Baby and Big Swatch sleeves quite quickly if I put my mind to it. Hah, hah.

I've been thinking about next projects. I'd love to get back to a large lace shawl. I've been thinking about Gladys Amedro's Sheelagh Shawl. Can't find a good picture of it on the web, but here's the Ravelry link. I just love the way the Print of the Wave outer border flows all the way around it uninterruptedly. Also, there is such a variety of patterns in it - this is important. Won't fall asleep knitting this.