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...