Monday, May 7

Two Finished Knits (and one new)

Flower Basket Shawl, pattern by Evelyn Clark:
One skein of Sea Silk made on US 3 needles made a triangular shawl 60 inches across, 24 inches to the point. I used 94 grams of the skein and was able to make 12 pattern repeats. Previously I had calculated 12 repeats would use 86 grams of yarn. I still believe my formula was correct, but for some unknown reason, I had misweighed the yarn. I had thought that the tangled blob I had extracted from the 100 gram skein was 12 grams, but it was really only 7. How did I make that mistake? I don't know. The upshot was that I had thought the shawl weighed less than it really did. Fortunately I figured it out before starting pattern repeat number 13 which would have had to be ripped. I realized when uploading this photo that it was taken from the purl side. Oh well.

Micro Mini Clapotis. One half skein (about 60 grams) of AngoraValley sock yarn, knit on size 3 needles. I did only one or two increase sections (ended up with 45 stitches on needles) to make a skinny scarf. I am very happy with the size. Unstretched, after light blocking, it is 66 inches by 4 inches. I love it. Thanks, Erika, for the inspiration.

I have too many projects unfinished, mostly because they all need the sleeves finished. I think knitting sleeves is a royal pain because of those damned increases, so irregular, every 6 rows, every 12 rows, every what? So hard to remember to put them in correctly and you have to remember to do the other sleeve exactly the same. Maybe I am just cut out for knitting shawls and maybe vests?

To that end, I couldn't help myself, I started a new shawl. Also by Evelyn Clark, the Estonian Garden Wrap. The pattern calls for laceweight yarn and makes a wrap approximately 19 inches by 60 inches. I am using fingering weight alpaca. I wanted it wider, much wider would be fine with me so I didn't muck with the pattern. What I didn't know was how much yarn I would need. I had three skeins (50 grams, 215 yards), would I want more? How much? The pattern calls for a provisional cast-on, then knit the main body, knit the lily-of-the-valley edging, bind off, then go back and pick up the cast-on and knit the edging again. Instead, I did the provisional cast-on and knit the edging first. That way I could bind-off and measure, before picking up the cast-on for the main body. First edge weighed 40 grams and is about 14+ inches long (perhaps 25 to 30 inches wide?). I procured 2 more skeins which will make for a nice oversized wrap.

Wednesday, May 2

What a little warming can do

My front yard contains a large unkempt rhododendron which nevertheless for a couple weeks a year looks stunningly purple. For the past couple months, ever since the raccoons left her an only child, Tasty has taken to roosting in this overgrown bush.

While in Seattle, many rhodies and azaleas, along with the dogwoods, lilacs and hordes of other species are already blooming, our rhodie is a late bloomer. She always starts to color up a few weeks later than most.

The tree is full of these tight little buds. At least a week before any will open.

But look, there's a bud opening. How'd that happen?

This bud is on the branch Tasty calls home. She parks her butt right next to this bud every night. The extra protection and warmth must have triggered the blossom.

Yes, I sleep in an ornamental tree. Wanna make something of it?

Victorian Shawls and Novels


I will have two FO's soon, the Sea Silk Shawl and a mini-clapotis. Sea Silk just needs the last row knit and then the bind-off. Clapotis is long enough to start the decrease section, so I have to either find the instructions that I printed off or reprint them again.

After that, my backlog of projects will only (!) be five sweaters and Dulaan hat number three to finish, and knit hats four and five to complete my promise.

I am not in love with Sea Silk. It is slippery and has no give so it is hard to knit, looks pretty, but not so pretty to justify the expense. And when it got tangled, it fused together in nasty lumps which makes me suspect it will pill terribly. I don't yet know how big the finished shawl will be, not till it's off the needles and blocking, but it won't be big enough to qualify as a real shawl in my imagining.

So, even though those sweaters are all sitting there trying to make me feel guilty, I am dreaming of knitting a real shawl. Something very big, at least 72 inches wide. Something soft, perhaps with mohair for extra softness. Something warm, but also something very feminine, soft flowery lacy pattern of some sort and a silk content for a sheen. Still contemplating patterns, and will work on the sweaters until a shawl pattern and yarn grabs me. To that end, I have ordered Victorian Lace Today. I think I'll find something appropriate there.


Although she remained a lurker and didn't respond to my Jane Eyre question in the comments, Nancy the English Lit PhD gave me some insights into Jane from modern feminist theory. (Nancy has not read Jane Eyre in years and gave me a simplified explanation which I most likely am misinterpreting, though.) Bertha Mason symbolizes the repressed female sexuality in Victorian times, how she is in some ways Jane's alter ego. Too much libido got women locked up in loony bins. I can see that, but I also think that Jane is not all that repressed. She does want a sex life. But she is not willing to have a briefly fulfilling sex life that might ruin her long term happiness (Rochester's improper proposition) nor will she commit to a sex life that won't be fulfilling at all (Rivers' marriage proposal). And the message about too much libido is a warning to men as well as women; Rochester's giving into his horniness pretty much screwed his chances of lifelong happiness. He had to lose his eyesight and a limb in order to redeem himself and win Jane. Probably a fair trade. Rivers denied himself his horniness and ended up feeling fulfilled with his life. His words to that effect end the book. Is Charlotte's message really for men, in telling them they cannot "have it all"?

I've ordered Wuthering Heights; figured I'd see how Charlotte's sister's view of men and women and sexuality compares. Will Heathcliff be as flawed and creepy as Rochester? In the meanwhile, I went back to the other Jane, Ms Austen. Mansfield Park. It's pretty good so far. What was Jane Austen like in person, I wonder? In her writing, she is such a snarky lady, every paragraph holds a zinger.