Sunday, March 9, 2008

Why knitting makes me happy

Things in my life on more than one front are stressing me out and in those times, art comes to the rescue. Making things with my hands takes my mind off of things and in the end, there is something tangible to show for it.

The stress isn't awful, no one's going to hospital, jail, war, morgue, or being deported, but I've been in a funk lately.

I am taking pottery class, which normally calms me right down. But I am always late. Class is Monday night and Monday nights I usually work late. I should say that every day I usually am the last to leave at 6pm and sometimes later. But Mondays because it's the first day of the week, I always seem to be slow to start again and so feel like I have to stay later.

Pottery class starts at 6:30pm, I have a 50 minute commute home, then I have to change and go to class. So actually, having a class, another thing I have to do according to someone else's schedule is not as enjoyable as it usually is.

Knitting, on the other hand, is something I can do on my own schedule and pretty much at anytime. I have a portable project (mohair shawl, based loosely on the Scribble Lace scarves from Mason-Dixon Knitting and other places) I keep in my purse. At an International Women's Day lecture yesterday, I sat in the back, knitting. And I wasn't the only one. The one other knitter in the room sat with me working on a baby sweater. And when I spoke with one of the speakers later, I asked if she could see me knitting and she said no.

I also have various other works in progress that I have to do at home because of the size or stage of fiddly finishing.

But I've been itching to start a new project. So yesterday, between International Women's Day events (including a very tasty lunch at an Indian restaurant), I went to the Needle Nook and bought some yarn. A lot of yarn. Two sweaters' worth.

First I bought six skeins each of green Malabrigo in worsted weight merino: three in Verdes and three in Saphire Green (their spelling):

Not sure what I'll make with it, but I'm thinking a striped cardigan, alternating between the solid-ish Saphire Green (top skein) and the kettle-dyed Verdes (bottom skein).

They also had silky merino, half silk half merino, like the name says. Lovely but not as much yardage. And for a sweater's worth, the yards per dollar ratio is important.

I also got 8 skeins of Lamb's Pride Bulky in the Ocean Waves colorway. It looks green here, despite being photographed under florescent lights on a white counter top. It's really a bright turquoise. I've linked to Yarnzilla's site so you can see the true color. At least you can see the varigation effect. Here it is swatched:

In preparation for making the Long Coat with Chevron Lace border, from Fitted Knits by Stephanie Japel. Basically it's a long cardigan, v-neck with a lace border all the way around. It goes down to the knees but I'm not going to make it that long.

Today I swatched. Yarn calls for a size 10.5 US needle, giving 12 stitches = 4 inches. The pattern calls for a size 13 needle, giving 10 sts = 4 inches. The top swatch is with size 11 needles giving 12.5 sts = 4 inches. I tried using size 13 (bottom swatch) but the gauge didn't changing much. So I'm using size 11 needle and using the medium size instructions instead of small, and hoping that it works out.

The good thing is that the cardigan is a raglan sweater knitted from the top down. So I can try it on as I go and customize as necessary. I may never make anything other than top-down raglans ever again.

Tonight I did the first 15 rows while watching My Neighbor Totoro -- not one of my favorites from Hayao Miyazaki. That would be Spirited Away. Husband isn't a big fan of Miyazaki because all his films' protagonists are preteen girls who face some sort of challenge, with elements of fantasy and strange creatures. He thinks they're all the same. It's like saying all war movies are the same, or all westerns are all the same. They all follow a template, but the interest comes in the variations on a theme.

It's like complaining that all blankets are the same, when we know there are infinite variations to be found within that form. Look at the world of quilting.

Anyway, now I have a project I can look forward to coming home to and can go to bed happy.

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