Tuesday, December 18, 2007

FO: Fiery Shetland

"Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames." -- Rumi

Viv's Fiery Shetland Triangle
Pattern: Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style
Needles: US 8 Lantern Moon circulars
Yarn: Sheep Shop 3, 1.6 skeins red-orange
Mods: Left off last two rows of edging, did 10 repeats of main body chart.

The above quote by Rumi seems so appropriate here. Vivian has been one my best friends for eight years. We met in college and quickly became friends with two other girls, Nicole and Maya, and the four of us have basically shared a brain since then. We do a good job of fanning each other's flames, both positively and negatively. I am not a confrontational person, but these are the first friends I ever had with whom I felt comfortable arguing and fighting. There's something to be said about meeting non-family who will love you no matter what you do or say. And there's definitely something to be said about meeting people who will always tell the truth even if it's unflattering.

So, this is my Christmas present for Viv. A bright, fiery, lacy, cuddly shawl. Seriously, this shawl is almost neon. I half expect it to burst into real flames.

And although the pattern refers to a "fir cone motif," I say, "Pshaw!" This ain't fir cones. This here is what I call fire. Ok, maybe not fire, but at least a flickering candle.

I left off the last two rows of the edging chart because I saw it done so often on the Ravelry lists and I liked the subtler, gentler scallops. The rest of the pattern flows so beautifully that it seems a shame to end it with sharp points.

The underside of the shawl actually does remind me of fir cones. Or maybe sea foam on an ocean of fire. One of the most beautiful things about nature, in my humble opinion, is the repetition of shapes and forms and colors and textures. As if every little thing understands its intrinsic relationship to everything else around it.

I also cannot wax poetic about this yarn enough. This is my first time working with Sheep Shop and I can assure you that it won't be my last. There's just enough shading to lend dimension and depth to the finished product and the color hardly bled at all once it hit my Woolite wash. The feel of it is like the softest of feather down and reminds me of that Little House on the Prairie book when Pa shoots a swan thinking it's a goose and they use the swan's down to line the hood on baby Grace's coat.

Final verdict: This shawl is a quick knit, looks much harder than it actually is, and my other friends say that Viv will faint when I give it to her. I think that's a good verdict.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Didn't Start the Fire...

...but I can't seem to stop the impulses of startitis. Mostly because I hate shopping for Christmas presents. In NYC, it's basically a bloody nightmare times six, six, six. People shove you around, yell at you because you don't walk fast enough, yell at you because you move too fast, glare at you for taking more than three whole seconds to figure out what you're ordering at Starbucks, and generally transform an ordinarily optimistic gal into a growling, troll-like misanthrope. Did I mention I don't like shopping for Christmas presents?

This is why, when December reveals the true colors of venomous shoppers everywhere, I try to take refuge in things that don't involve waiting in line for three hours to buy the perfect gift. This is also why, inevitably, I fail to finish many Christmas presents and end up running around on December 23 like a chicken with its poor head cut off.

I'm older and wiser now. I'm not trying to knit everyone a present. But Mom and Dad will get one and my friend Viv will get one. Viv has been one of my bestest friends since my sophomore year of college. We bonded over a cappella, Muppets, and our combined sense of mischief. Unfortunately, she moved to LA a year and a half ago to go over to the dark side (e.g., law school). She'll be in lots of offices that pump the a/c like crazy so I offered to knit her a shawl for Christmas. She said, "Can it be bright? How about yellow? I like yellow." Um...I am not knitting her a bright yellow shawl because it will make her look like a banana. This is the compromise:

The beginning of a crazy bright Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style. The real color is a blazing coral red with glimmers of orange. I'm a little obsessed with silk/wool blends right now and I'm going to work through a few brands one by one. This one is Sheep Shop 3 and it's heavenly. Soft and light but with enough weight to create a nice solid fabric.

The other project I cast on is the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I'm kniting it up in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, which is luscious without breaking the bank.

It's a big project. I may have bitten off more than I can chew. But it's entirely garter stitch and I'm knitting on it every chance I get. I chose camel, brown heather, bright purple and plum. My mom and I have birthdays two days apart in February and the amethyst tones seemed appropriate. And its Mondrian-inspired lines make me feel like my simple garter stitch rows are like fine art. But I may have to plan on a small back-up present in case my knitting powers are not as strong as I imagine.

I also finished up the Helsinki Hat Scarf a couple weeks ago and it's sitting pretty at the store:

I'll try to get a better photo of someone actually wearing it. For now, it's pretty happy sitting on that chair and being tried on by random passersby.

There's also been some indie yarn pr0n Chez Sway:

Top: Chewy Spaghetti in "Serendipity;" Bottom: GypsyKnits BFL Fingering in "Whirlygig," both from The Loopy Ewe. Colors make me happy. Now I have to go finish my Christmas shopping. Durn.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Young Scarf

When I was 10, my father finally put aside his Ph.D. studies and got a job for the first time. That year, we bought our first house and that Christmas, my parents finally sprang for a Christmas tree. A week before Christmas, my dad came home with a giant turkey provided by his office to all the employees as a sort of Christmas bonus. My dad's first name happens to be Young and his co-workers had played a little joke with his turkey crate. Instead of "Young Turkey," someone had added " 's" to the "Young." My brother and I thought this was the funniest thing we'd ever seen. We ate "Young's Turkey" for Christmas dinner.

Since my dad keeps making sad little comments about how many things I've knitted for my mom and how I've knitted nothing for him, I am knitting him his very own Young Scarf:

I'm using Noro Iro and the Braided Mischief pattern by Teva Durham in Scarf Style. At first, I thought about seed stitch, but my hands are not that deft right now for whatever reason and I found it fiddly, especially with chunky yarn. I moved over to a broken rib pattern and was seriously displeased with the curling. I figured I should look through Scarf Style since I've only made one pattern out of it so far and it was like seeing the pattern for the first time. The sample in the book is knitted with Felted Tweed, but the Iro is so much squishier.

I also read this:

I cried a lot. I haven't seen the film version yet, but I hear it's equally heartbreaking and moving. Jean Bauby was the editor of French Elle when he suffered a massive stroke in 1995 that left him paralyzed. The only part of his body that he could move was his left eyelid. Using this one movement, he and his nurse figured out a method of communication by which he eventually wrote this incredibly uplifting and beautiful memoir. The title comes from this passage in the book: "My diving bell becomes less oppressive, and my mind takes flight like a butterfly. There is so much to do. You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas's court. You can visit the woman you love, slide down beside her and stroke her still-sleeping face. You can build castles in Spain, steal the Golden Fleece, discover Atlantis, realize your childhood dreams and adult ambitions."

I am always in awe of those who refuse to give up despite the awful things that can happen in this world. A year ago, when I was in the depths of despair, I read some poetry by Wislawa Szymborska and found the following sentence: "Not without its charms is this terrible world; not without its mornings worth our waking." This book captures that idea so perfectly.

I also couldn't stop myself. I knitted a sock. Monkey pattern again, this time with Socks that Rock Lightweight in Scottish Highlands:

I think the pattern complements the dye job beautifully. The hills are aliiiiiive with the sound of muuuuuusic.