Back to Autumn Knitting

 

Responsible Knitter took a deep breath and pulled Mom’s sweater out of the knitting basket, along with the long-neglected pattern. Knitter Id said nothing, but rolled her eyes.

“It’s been too long,” mourned Responsible Knitter. “We haven’t touched this since the basil went into the garden. Now, the basil is spent and the black-eyed Susans are past prime. It’s time to pull out the fall knitting.”

“Why so early?” argued Knitter Id. “We have months and months of cold weather ahead of us. Let’s make some cool mitts out of this fun sock-weight yarn!” Knitter Id lovingly fingered the skein of blue-green Mountain Colors Crazyfoot perched in the yarn bowl next to the knitting chair.

Responsible Knitter was stern. “You had your way with the project lineup all summer. You made socks and cowls and refused to listen to me about making at least a little progress on Mom’s sweater. Now, she’s expecting a sweater, and the yoke of it isn’t even finished yet! And don’t get me started about the colorwork mittens. Remember those? Once upon a time, you found them irresistible.” Responsible Knitter was rifling through the knitting basket, looking at neglected projects, which was making Knitter Id anxious.

“Oh. Right.” Knitter Id was sulking now. “The ones that will go with the forest green alpaca cowl we made. How was I to know that the thumb gusset would be so fiddly, and doesn’t everyone agree that it’s a pain to follow a colorwork chart when you’re on a summer road trip?”

“Well, we’ve managed to knit the first mitten and the cuff of the second, so we need to knuckle down and knit the second,” Responsible Knitter intoned. “Now, back to Mom’s sweater.” The sweater-in-progress consisted of a mostly-finished yoke. It had been in hibernation so long that Responsible Knitter — and certainly not the attention-span-challenged Knitter Id — had no idea what the various colored stitch markers meant. At one time, some colors reminded when to increase for body sections, some for sleeve sections, and some set off pattern motifs. But now, it was a mystery. “I’m going to have to re-read the pattern and figure out where we left off. I don’t think there’s much more to go before we can divide for the fronts and back.”

Knitter Id has no patience for parsing patterns. “Fine,” she said in a voice that would make any teenage girl who wasn’t getting her way feel proud. “You can at least let me put the thumb in the mitten we’ve been carrying around as a purse project. That’ll be easy, and then you can call the first mitten done. Won’t that make you feel accomplished and productive or whatever it is that motivates people like you?

Responsible Knitter sighed. “Deal. Tonight, I’ll re-read the pattern for Mom’s sweater. Tomorrow, we have to watch an all-day training webinar for work. We can do that at home. I’ll let you put the thumb in that mitten, and then we have to get cracking on Mom’s sweater.”

The next day, Knitter Id was happy to finish the mitten first thing in the morning.

Blooming Gale mitten 1

She¬†even cast on the second mitten and was ribbing away, when Responsible Knitter pulled out Mom’s sweater. Responsible Knitter could hear Knitter Id grumbling under her breath. “A deal’s a deal,” said Responsible Knitter. Time to crank on Mom’s sweater.” Knitter Id gave Responsible Knitter the stinkeye and put away the mitten.

For the rest of the day, Responsible Knitter worked away on Mom’s sweater, finishing the yoke, dividing for the fronts and back, and even casting the sweater onto waste yarn to try it on for a sanity check. It checked out, and Responsible Knitter placed it back on the circular needle just in time for the webinar to end and wine-thirty to commence.

 

Jaylen Jacket yoke

“See?” Responsible Knitter told Knitter Id as she poured a glass of wine and took things out of the fridge to make dinner. “The worst of it is over. The rest will be pretty easy.”

“Except for the button bands,” countered Knitter Id.

“Okay,” Responsible Knitter said. “When it comes time for those, I’ll let you take a few breaks with the project of your choice.” Responsible Knitter turned to look at Knitter Id to gauge her response, but didn’t see her right away. Then, Responsible Knitter saw her in the study. Knitter Id was already on the computer, checking out yarn for a project to work on when she needed relief from the button bands.

 

 

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Summer Vacation

I didn’t set out to take the whole summer off writing blog posts. I figured that I’d write less often than I do during the cooler months, but I never thought that I’d stop altogether. Before I knew it, though, cherry season turned to peach season and is turning to apple season. Summer camps and summer jobs and summer road trips came and went in a pleasant, busy, blur, and now the busyness is everyone back in school and the rhythm of autumn is beginning. And with that rhythm, I’ll be able to write more often.

So, what’s kept me from writing all summer? Well, for one thing, there’s the summer food preservation effort. We had a decent cherry season, so I put up cherry pie filling, cherry jam, and cherry barbecue sauce. Fall fruit will start coming in next week, and I expect to be busy putting up apples and pears pretty soon.

Also, I’ve crammed in two more hobbies into my already busy life. I participated in the summer autocross season with my husband and older son. For the uninitiated, an autocross course is a twisty course set up with traffic cones in a large parking lot, and the object is to finish it as fast as you can without hitting too many cones, because there’s a time penalty for doing so. The guys live for it. I thought it was a lot of fun, too. It’s only six Saturdays per season, but that’s time away from doing other things, like knitting and writing about it.

I also decided to be more diligent with Nordic walking and going to the gym for strength training. Now, in my heart of hearts, I’d much rather spend that time ensconced in my knitting chair, knitting away. But taking that time to work on building muscle and maintaining aerobic fitness has really paid off. I’m no Olympic athlete, but I was able to hike with the family this summer without any issues, my blood pressure’s well within the normal range, and my back hurts less.

Of course, I’ve found time for some knitting. This summer, I knit socks for my niece:

Blackberry Jam finished

and my sister-in-law:

 

Cable Clock Socks

I made some bed socks for me:

Goose Hollow Socks

 

And also a mohair cowl:

 

Mohair Smoke Ring finished

And another cowl:

 

Garter Stitch Cowl

So, I have been knitting, just not writing about it. When I’m pressed for time, and I have a choice between knitting or writing about it, knitting always wins. I do plan to write more often this autumn. I’ve got my fall knitting on the needles, and I’ll have lots to say about it in the coming weeks.

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Travelling Knitting

I’m packing again, this time for a week-long business trip back East. I’ve gone back a gazillion times since I moved out West, sometimes for just one or two nights, sometimes for a week or even more. So, you’d think I’d be able to estimate how much knitting is reasonable to take.

Well, you’d think so, anyway. Last time I went back East for just a few days, I took four knitting projects, and just to be sure I didn’t get bored, I downloaded three full-length books and a whole bunch of magazines. I think I knitted on two projects and maybe read just a wee bit from one book.

This time, I decided I’d try to be better about packing only the knitting I truly thought I’d get to. I’d try to ignore that inner voice that always nags at me to bring ever more knitting projects.

I considered my week. The flight is roughly four hours. Add about an hour of wait time beforehand each way, and that’s 10 hours of flight-related knitting.

But what if there’s a major delay?

I tried to ignore The Voice. I continued my calculations. My trip is [sadly] not knitting-related, so I won’t be knitting at work. Really, I’ll be busy morning to night with meetings, lunches, and dinners. If I’m really lucky, I’ll have an hour, total, each night to decompress, do sink laundry (alas, there’s a downside to packing light), catch up and down with the family, and knit. So, I’ll allot 30 minutes per night of knitting for a total of 2 hours.

But what if you have more time on your hands in the evening?

“I won’t,” I told The Voice. “This isn’t one of those trips where I’m alone and wind up in my hotel room after a too-early dinner. No, this is one of those trips where I may not toddle back until nearly bedtime. Won’t. Happen.”

I figured about 12 hours of knitting time over the course of the week. I looked over my WIPs. For the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I decided I didn’t need to cast on a new project just for this trip. I had things to take that would work.

First up is this mohair lace cowl. The yarn is handspun from Tajikistan that I bought from a Cloth Roads trunk show.

 

IMG_2026

I’ve been saving this project specifically for airplane knitting. It’s small, portable, easy, and it’s on circulars. Ever since I about lost a critical DPN on an airplane some years ago, I tend to stick to circulars in flight. I figure I have probably at least 12 more knitter-hours to go on this cowl, so the trip could be a one-project trip if I wanted it so.

But I don’t want it so. I’m checking a bag, due to the length of the trip. Really, my office wouldn’t begrudge me two checked bags, but the more stuff I take, the more I have to wrangle, so I’d rather take a checked bag and a daypack on the plane and be done with it. So, I have room for multiple projects.

I chose to bring my sock project, as well.

IMG_2027

 

The self-striping yarn is engaging and the pattern is easy. I busted a move this weekend to finish the first sock so that I could cast on its mate and bring just the sock-in-progress. It’ll make fine hotel knitting, or knitting in the airport, or even knitting on the plane if I finish the cowl. I estimate I’ve got at least 8 hours to go to knit the remaining sock. Maybe longer. I’ve never been accused of being a speedy knitter.

You’re going away all week, and you’re taking just two small projects? At least take a spare skein of yarn or something.

At this, I paused. Sock-weight yarn is soft and will squish around my other things in my luggage. I could certainly take an extra skein in case there was a breach in the space-time continuum and I suddenly had way more time to knit than I expected. And really, I don’t think I’ve ever packed so few knitting projects for a trip of this length. It’s a little unnerving.

I started packing. I told myself that if I had the room in my luggage and I really, really wanted to, that I’d give myself permission for a spare skein of sock yarn. Well, I’ve got the room, but I’m holding steady with those two projects. I have about 20 hours of knitting packed, and only about 12 hours to actually knit. Seems like a good cushion.

I’ll give it some thought, though. I leave in the morning, and by then, The Voice may win out.

 

 

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