Monday, March 28, 2011

Over thinking, worrying, losing touch, losing in general

Over thinking: I think I've done this with the hood. I am not enjoying the knit the way I should, because I'm too busy thinking about how I'm going to do the next part. Stocking stitch, or basket weave? I'm not sure I want it to be too busy with lots of patterning, yet the pics I've seen so far don't seem to be too much pattern. I am not sure I want it too plain, either. I've seen some that are done with a combination - a basket weave band part way along the hood, for example. I think I recall either seeing or reading that someone was going to start with the basket weave, then "fade" to stocking stitch. I think that is the route I may take.... I know I want the angels in the back - one because I like them, and two because I don't want a pointy style hood.

Worrying: I'm worrying about the length of the facing. I have four repeats done. I am not sure if I am going to have too floppy of a hood if I make five, but I know it will be too tight if I don't. I mean, sure, blocked and a little stretched, it will work. But, putting the hood up or down will turn my hair into a static-y tangled mess. Too loose and floppy, though, and it won't keep my head/ears warm, rendering it relatively pointless. I headed over to Ravelry last night, and found some photos of finished hoods. I really appreciated the people who took pics with it on their head, so that I could get an idea how long the facing should be. So, I think I'm going to do five repeats, and leave it at that.

Losing Touch: With being away, then doing some catch up at home, I am way behind in reading the Ravelry posts for the Cape KAL, and for my team (Yay, Ulster). I know that there are probably just a lot of chatter posts that I don't *need* to read, but still, I feel out of the loop. And behind, what with still knitting on the facing, which so many others finished two months ago. I know, it isn't a race, and I know some of my need to be a part of things is where my unease is coming from. I really need to work on that last bit. Part of my whole packrattyness, borderline hoarding, insecurity. I know I should be letting go more - I often remind myself, when my emails get so far behind, that I have lived this long without knowing the content of the emails so I should just delete them and start fresh. Just like with clearing out some of my stuff at home, it works for a while, then I seem to reach a threshold where I cannot toss another thing. Often, if I do try to force myself to go just a little further, one more box, or even finish off the box I'm working on, or the emails, or whatever - that extra push causes me to revert, and "rescue" some of the things in the "to go" pile... *sigh*.

So, yeah, this blog is more than just a report on progress, it is a report on feelings that happen while I'm working on the cape. Well, these are some of the feelings that are surfacing right now.

Losing in General: I seem to have misplaced my cord for downloading from my camera... So, I have taken a few pictures, but can't post them just yet. I am not sure if I put it back into the suitcase/bag that I used to carry the craft stuff on the trip, or if I put it away where it belongs, or if I stuck it in a different spot.... I haven't had much chance to look in depth just yet - I briefly glanced into the bag, and in the potential different spot... Hopefully, I get around to looking for it today. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Think I have it.

Ok. I am feeling way behind, even though I know it isn't a race. Yes, life is a little in the way - but really, I'm just plain depressed. I'm really really suffering from it these days. I have been depressed for over a year now (I know exactly what triggered it) but it was relatively mild and manageable. Now, all I want to do is hide on the computer, or sleep. I manage to do a little more than that every day, but not much else.

Anyway - I am going to force myself to get busy and knit this cape. I want to - honestly, I do - but I just don't feel much like knitting anything. So - I go for the easy excuse - too hard to do the math to figure out the facing repeats. BUT - I have made a decision. I'm going to leave the one repeat I've made, and I'm going to use the second skein I wound (I wound two skeins to take on the trip, just in case) and work up a repeat using the 5 mm needle. The first one, I used the recommended 4 mm needle. Now, I know the facing shouldn't "overwhelm" the hood, but I also kind of don't like the resulting fabric on it.... It seems quite stiff. Which is probably the other reason for my lack of enthusiasm about continuing. Normally, going up one size at a time is what would be recommended, but I'm going to jump across the 4.5mm needle, and go right for the 5.

I'm also working on some socks, on smaller needles, but since the ones I'm using for the socks are quite sharp (Addi Lace) I am stabbing myself a little too often, lol... So, I will take a break from those tonight (even though I need new socks) and work on the larger needles :) Maybe I'll alternate evenings - one evening socks and stabbing, the next catchup and healing ;) Then, when I'm done a repeat of the heart cable, I'll compare the two side by side, then decide if I'm going to rip the 4 or the 5. I'll take pictures then.

Oh, as for the socks - yeah, I have the new hills socks, but I need thin socks as well as warm thick wool ones.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Back and Behind

Well, I thought I was going to do some quality knitting in the hotel room, as well as on the beach. I did do a lot on the beach and by the pool, but spent so very little time in the room, that I only got as far as row 25 on the first repeat on the hood facing. Since coming home, I managed to make it to the end of the first repeat....

Finding time to work on this project isn't going well right now. I need to concentrate on the cable part, so I don't mess it up. For some strange reason, I'm having difficulty working from the chart, and need to go with the written directions. And, since I'm mildly dyslexic, the process is slowed down this way.

Oh, well - I shall persevere, and once I get going, there will be no stopping me!!! :)

Next hurdle - I need 28 inches for the facing, and my first repeat is 6 inches... I need to adjust something somewhere. Maybe I can remeasure, and don't need 28? Maybe I need to sneak in some "buffer rows" between repeats? I'll have to do some thinking and some doodle-sketching before I continue knitting.

No pics at this time, but I do need to take some of the projects I did on the beach (didn't get a chance to get pics while I was there), so I'll likely get at least one of the facing so far.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

There will be a temporary break....

I will be going on a trip, leaving in two days. If I can, I will pop in with a pic of the pair of socks completed (they aren't yet, but will be before I go), and if possible, I may do a post while I'm away - but I won't promise anything. Don't know what type of access I'll have. (They have Wifi, but for a cost, and I don't know the details yet)

Will tell all about my progress when I return. I'll be working on the hood when I can, and will still journal in the form of notes, which I will transcribe here at my earliest opportunity. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

sock pic

Good for showing the colour. This is the sock being tried on to make sure it was the right length.

Bad colour, good detail :) The sock after grafting and weaving tails.

Lesson learned today: Using a crochet hook for grafting only messes with my mind. Trying to remember which way to put the hook (opposite of the directions for the darning needle) and which way to go next results in opening a suitcase and redoing the graft...

But, I now have one of my darning needles stored with my craft supplies in the livingroom. I still have plenty of them in my travel tin...

Sock 1 DONE!!

(Ok, I confess, I still have to graft the toe)

I finished up the foot last night, and still had time before bed to do the toe decreases. I then wanted to graft the toe, and realized - I've already packed my craft notions!!! I don't have any darning needles handy!!! Yeah, yeah, I could unpack... but who wants to do that??? So, today, I will use a crochet hook to draw the yarn through instead of a darning needle to "push" it through. :)

Then I will take the picture. :)

And cast on the second sock tonight. At this rate, the pair will be done before we leave, and I'll have nice toasty warm socks to wear when I come back to nasty cold winter after two weeks in beautiful warm Mexico!!

It is really a lovely sock, and lovely pattern. I can see myself having a few pairs, in different colours :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

First sock over half done

Have turned the heel and decreased the gusset. Now just the foot and toe to do.

I have learned a lot already. I learned that my knitting skills have indeed improved over the last few years. I started to learn to read my knitting when I started knitting lace. I learned how to compare the chart with what I had growing below my needles. I began to recognize various elements. Teaching classes also meant that I had to know what *I* was doing, so I found that it wasn't too hard to count rows of garter (something I had never really been able to do before - stocking stitch, yes, garter, no) as well as how to do a few different cast-ons, and a few other little tricks and tips. BUT I didn't think I could read cables. One attempt to rip and recover a cable pattern didn't work, so I just didn't try again. Now, however - I managed to knit the repeats on this sock with barely a reference to the pattern. Of course, it did help that it was a fairly simple pattern to start with, and fairly easy to memorize what to do. But by the end of the second repeat, I wasn't even looking at the paper anymore. Same with turning the heel. Other than a fast glance at the pattern to see what sort of heel Meggie had chosen, I just went ahead and knit it. :) I was especially happy to see that she didn't specify a number of stitches to pick up for the gusset - that was something I tried to pass on to my sock knitting students in the classes: In the big picture, it really doesn't matter if the pattern says to pick up X number of stitches and you get X+1 or X-1 or even two stitches out - the number is just a guideline, and as long as both sides are within one or two stitches of each other, no one is going to notice. My usual line at that point was: And if someone *does* want to stick their nose that close to your foot to count stitches or rows, they have a bigger problem than you do!!

I will be coming back later today to edit this post and add a picture of the current progress, but I'm afraid that I need to take off shortly to take my vehicle in for repairs. In the meantime, I just wanted to update on the sock.

(Ok, so I have now added pictures - on the left, the picture as I took it. On the right, the picture after playing with the contrast. I think it does help, a little. Also, the first pictures I took in the livingroom; these ones on my kitchen table.)

I also wanted to mention, that I was in touch with my sister, to confirm my heritage. I was going, as I said a few days ago, from memory. Turns out that I do not, after all, have any Irish in my background. Won't stop me from continuing this journey, however ;) And as Meggie said in a Ravelry post, some family are born in the heart. So, even though I may not have Irish blood in me, I definitely have Irish in my heart.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sock leg done

As far as I'm concerned, anyway :) I did four repeats of the pattern, which my memory of the pattern picture was - I've now looked, and there were six repeats, not four. I put it on my leg and took pictures. For some reason, I'm not getting the contrast to show off the texture... I guess I could have adjusted that with my editing program but that thought only just occurred to me (blush).

Anyway, this is about how long I normally make my socks, so - on to the heel :)

I edited this post a couple hours after writing it, correcting my impression of the pattern (I thought the picture showed four) and adding the labels. I am not used to adding labels, so I am almost always coming back after to add them!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sock progress

I started the sock, and I'm making progress!!!

I didn't follow the pattern exactly exactly - I didn't do the cuff for the full two inches. I did my usual cuff length. I also messed up a bit following the chart. My laptop and my printer don't talk to each other very well, so I had transferred the chart by hand to a piece of paper. When I started knitting it, I thought I'd copied wrong, and I purled when I should have knit. Back to the laptop to look, to check, to recheck... Remembered that somewhere in one of the Ravelry threads at some point someone said that one needed to follow Meggie's directions exactly to get the same results. So, even though most cable patterns I've done or seen before use purls where Meggie has knits, I ripped back to the cuff, and followed the chart exactly. I like this look better ;)

Lesson for the day: Do what you are told, not what you think you should do. Trust the pattern.

I know it is hard to see in the pictures, but there is one complete repeat of the chart done. If I hadn't had to rip, I would have had two repeats done last night. Oh, well - I should make a few more this evening.... maybe even get up to the heel turn. I had hoped to do two socks at a time, but in hindsight, I'm glad I've only got one on the needle - it will be much easier to adjust for heel placement than if I'd had the second sock on there too.

The comments from Ravelry I mentioned referred to the technique for "make one". There are many ways to add stitches to knitting, but to get the look one is after for this cape, it is best to use the same method directed to by the pattern directions and designer. Some things you can play around with, such as the cuff length, and it really won't matter. But to make the cables look the way they were intended to look, I need to do what I am told. :)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Less Traveled

First, the excitement :)

We got a sock pattern!! What a great excuse to knit up a pair of socks in my favourite yarn to make socks with!! And it has cables and everything!! I've been looking forward to this pattern since I first heard about it. :) When we got the hat pattern, I was excited. Besides the main cape, we're getting blessed with "blessings" - five additional companion patterns. The first was the hat, the second is the socks. Now, I thought that they might be released throughout the year, to keep things fresh when we might become frustrated with a difficult bit on the cape, perhaps. To get two of these "blessings" so close together - I feel, well, blessed ;).

I love the title. "The Hills Less Traveled". It so reminds me of the road less traveled - from a poem, which paraphrased tells of a traveler reaching a fork in a forest path. One direction is well worn and easy to follow, but the other direction appears less used. The traveler choses the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.

I've been thinking a lot about that lately - it is a quote I like; I try to remind myself to stay to the road less traveled. It is always easier to take the smooth route - go with the familiar instead of the unknown. But sometimes, one must get out of a comfort zone, must try new things, learn, perhaps enjoy - when I've taken a different path in forests, I've nearly always seen an interesting wild flower, or fascinating leaf, or a bug, or a frog, or even a black bear!!! Ok, that wasn't quite as pleasant, but never the less... I would not have seen it had I stuck to the clear pathways. And it is quite true of less tangible ventures. Sometimes I find myself pleasantly surprised.

Of course, it has been on my mind because of my awareness of the pattern, and its title. Things always happen for a reason. This weekend, in our comics section of the paper, a similar theme came up in one of the strips I enjoy reading:
So, this is becoming a recurring theme for me.

I wonder why? Am I about to find myself facing a fork in the road? Am I becoming stuck in a rut of familiarity? Is it even more simple than that - is it this very journal, something new for me? Oh, I've journaled feelings before, it really helps me to sort things out in my mind when there is no one available to talk to, or I'm concerned with something so personal that I don't want to share with anyone. But, this is my first time trying to journal about a specific craft project. I've heard about other people who do it regularly, especially with heirloom items, but I've never really tried before. Thought about it, but was never really motivated to do it before.

Anyway - it will be interesting to see where this less traveled path (be it hill or road) will take me. :) (now, off to cast on for the socks!!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Celtic dreaming

Not California Dreaming, but Celtic Dreaming.

I hope my interest holds for a year. Seems I'm doing a lot of thinking about Celtic stuff and Irish and Ireland these days. Especially since determining that I was going to do my best to journal this adventure - the knitting of the cape.

I've been reading other blogs, and Ravelry posts, and I feel suddenly so shallow. I joined this KAL originally because I thought it would be cool to knit a cape with lots of cables based on celtic knots. Then I started to get to know some of the other people on this adventure, and especially the Ryan family. Meagheen, the designer, is using the cape to tell a story. Her story. Ireland's story. Already I am learning things. Things I thought I knew. I suppose, in a way, I did/do know them, but not from such a personal angle. It is one thing to read a newspaper, to watch a documentary or movie based on fact. It is an entirely different thing indeed to hear a first hand account, from one who lived it. Especially when you find that you have so much in common with the person - shared interests, shared attitudes in general....

It is an eye-opening wake up call for me for sure.

I am somewhat beginning to question who I am, what I am. I mean, I know myself, rather well. I am pretty much comfortable in my own skin. Happy with myself. BUT - I sometimes feel, well, shallow. I mean, many people have a heritage, a sense of belonging. I feel somewhat lost at times. I feel like I don't belong.

I was born in Canada. So, I am Canadian. Yet, I don't really *feel* Canadian. My parents, my brothers, and my sister were all born in England. I have English heritage. Yet, I don't really *feel* English. I try to be proud to be Canadian. But I'm not always ssure what that truly means. I don't fly the flag from my rooftop, I don't play the anthem every morning. Heck, I don't even know the words to it anymore - someone decided it needed to be rewritten, and I just never got around to figuring out the new words. As for identifying with being English... I was once quite proud of my heritage. Proud to be English. Yet, there have been two times in my life when I felt like denying it, however. Falling back on the fact that I was born in Canada. the first time was when on a trip at a Carribbean resort. Half way through our week there, a group arrived to stay for a week or two - they had taken a cruise ship to get there. They were all from England. And they were the most rude, arrogant group of people I'd ever met. Sure, the resort employees were there to serve us, but that doesn't mean they should be treated like less than people... My initial joy at possibly meeting and talking to people from my "homeland" soon turned to disappointment and even revulsion. I did not want to be associated with such people. I do not believe that all English are like that group, but it definitely made me a little less proud.

The other time is right now -

Again, I know that regardless of how some or even a majority of people in any given group behaves that it doesn't necessarily reflect the beliefs or values of all of the people, I still feel uncomfortable knowing that I could be considered to be "like them". To be so close to someone or someones who have been hurt by the events of a war that I know of but really not about....

And, then there is the part where I really am not totally sure of what my heritage really is...

I mean, yeah, my parents and siblings were all born in England. However, I was always told by my mother that there was Irish and Welsh blood in me from her side, and Scottish and English on my father's side. BUT - memory being what it is, and these recollections were not the stories passed down from generation to generation but rather passing comments made when I was still fairly young, I'm not totally sure of the accuracy. Or, how many generations back. What I do know, is that I have always had a fondness for celtic music, for celtic artwork, and for knitting cables.

So, sure- I'm shallow. I admit I've joined this KAL because I'm intrigued by the idea of knitting a top down hooded cape with lots of cables.

But I'm also willing to say that I am not perfect. I do not know everything. But I am openminded, and adventurous, and most important, I am willing to learn. And I'm willing to offer help when I can, to my fellow adventurers. I look forward to the journey, and to the new friendships that are developing and will develop as the year continues. I mean, I have a choice - I can abandon the project and bow out quietly, or I can sit quietly in the background and only participate when needed, or I can jump in with both feet - take the route less travelled - and grow.

I shall be forever changed by this journey. I have no doubt that the change will be a positive one, a definite chance to grow. And maybe, by learning along the way, I'll be better equipped to help to prevent civil wars that drive wedges between peoples in the future. Maybe, I might even find myself along the way....

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Beginning

Of the blog, at least.

It has been suggested to journal while working on the project. This is a new experience for me - journalling something specific, not knitting or blogging in general. :) So, I thought, why not? I'm not too old of a dog to learn new tricks. ;)

So, I am to post about the good, the bad, and the ugly while working on the cape.

Even though my process started in November or December some time, and it is now the end of January, I'll try to "back post" my feelings.

I first heard about the KAL (Knit A Long) in one of the Yahoo Groups that I am in. Someone mentioned they'd be doing the year-long KAL to create a cape based on some Celtic themes. I had to check it out for myself for several reasons.

1) Breaking it up into a year long project means less chance of getting bored - I'd be able to put it down between sessions and work on other projects, of which I likely have too many.
2) My British heritage - I'm first generation Canadian; my siblings and parents came here just a few years before I was born. Though not Irish, it's close enough for me ;)
3) I love the look of Celtic knot-work, and the way it is interpreted in cable knitting.
4) I love cable knitting. I'd always been intrigued when my mother would knit a cabled project. I never really watched how she did it, but was amazed at how the knitting twisted around itself. I thought it was like magic! When I finally sat down and knit my first cable, I was almost disappointed in the simplicity - but fell in love with them all over again :)
5) I'm always up for a challenge; love to try new things (top down hooded cape), and love to continue to learn and stretch my knitting skills and my brain.

So, I wandered over to Ravelry, and signed up. I'm meeting all kinds of new people, and sharing a few laughs with them already. I do so love the internet, and the opportunity to make new friends around the world. Some of my best friends have been made this way. Sure, some of them, I've never seen in person. But life has a way... I have been able to do a little bit of traveling to meet some of my online friends face to face - so, who knows what the future will bring? I just might get to see some of my new friends one day :)

I selected my yarn based on weight (aran/worsted), price (lot of yardage needed) and availability (had to find at my LYS - quite a challenge, as they seem to be focusing on novelty yarns instead of any of the basic staples). I selected a yarn I've worked with on many occasions, and love - Briggs & Little Regal. Colour was harder to choose - I wanted something neutral, something that would go with just about everything. White would have worked - but, a cape? I wanted something that wouldn't need constant washing. White + 2 dogs + 2 cats = probably would never wear it. Instead, I went with light grey.

I have some of it wound and all ready to go - but I'm not starting yet. We were given a sample chart for a part of the cable - to use to see if we would have any trouble with reading charts or knitting, and to use as a sort of swatch. Well, I didn't get started, because I just don't have any free time at the moment... I do have a little, but spend it on the computer instead of knitting. I know, I know. But, I am getting ready to go on a trip, and I will be taking this project, along with a few others, with me. And I'd rather take them "fresh", rather than "on the needle". I'm sure some will be coming home that way, I probably over-packed, but better that than being without something to do. So. Turned out that the "swatch" would be evolved into a part of the hood. And then the hood pattern was released :) So, here I am, itching to knit, itching to start, but holding back...