Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11: A tale of two sweaters

It's barely mid-April and I've already made two more sweaters this year than I did last year. Of course, I didn't make any sweaters last year, but that's beside the point.

The first sweater was Stopover, which I knit as part of the Bang out a Sweater KAL hosted by Mason-Dixon Knitting. This was a fast, fun, frivolous project – it's Lopi at a loose gauge, fast to knit, light as air and very warm. It only took two weeks from cast-on to bind-off and I've been wearing it a lot. I don't do them often, but I really enjoy online knit-alongs. It's great to see what everyone else is making – there are infinite interpretations – and the excitement really spurred me along. I love this sweater.

The second sweater is Bedford. I actually started this one on my Christmas vacation – got the sleeves finished and the hem cast on before I dropped everything to make Stopover. Whereas Stopover was a quick knit, this one was a bit of a slog. It's made of Briggs & Little – a nice Canadian yarn, pretty rustic, with a fairly heavy grist and no small amount of vegetable matter spun in – knitted at a fairly dense gauge. The finished sweater weighs more than a pound. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's basically waterproof.

I've got lots of thoughts about product vs. process, fast and slow knitting, wearability and durability after knitting these two sweaters but there's some sorting out to do first. Which one will I be wearing in a year, three years, fifteen years? I have my suspicions...

Friday, April 1, 2016

March 31: Report from the Niagara bureau

Spent yesterday travelling, and there were so many modes of transportation involved (bus, plane, moving sidewalk, car on a boat, car, car in a violent downpour) that I didn't think about meeting my daily writing commitment until I collapsed into bed at the not-at-all dignified time of 8:50 p.m. In my defence, I'd been up since 5:30 a.m. and had changed time zones, so I'd earned my faceplant moment, but still. The end of the month arrived not with a bang but a whimper.

I'm visiting family in Ontario for a few days. Today I drove around my hometown with the windows down, listening to the songs of my youth on the radio (on the oldies station: woe!), and it didn't take too much effort to feel like I was back in university, enjoying one of those few precious empty days between the end of exams and the beginning of my summer job.

Spring is a little further along here, but not much: the grass is greener and the maple branches are heavy with red buds. Earlier today, thick black storm clouds rolled in across Lake Ontario, and I caught a glimpse of a stand of weeping willow trees, backlit by the mid-morning sun, glowing chartreuse against the sky. I've yet to see any real leaves, though, and I've spied precious few flowers: maybe I'll drive out to the greenhouse tomorrow to get my fix. Either way, I've got a date for a walk with my favourite two year old, and we'll see what we can find. Diggers and trucks and buses, probably, but the joy of discovery will be the same.

PS Thanks for accompanying me on my month of blogging. I appreciated all the comments. It's always great to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

March 30: Restlessness

Today: red maple buds glowing in the late afternoon sun, the company of a raven on my walk through the park, a cacophony of starlings, a tiny fir tree on a distant spit of land, daffodils almost ready to flower, coltsfoot blooming among shards of brick in an abandoned lot, pastel skies, the fading moon.

(Look up!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 29: Dishevelment

Walking home the long way, my eyes refused to rest on the horizon. I'm tired of the sombre grey clouds and the skeletal trees. Every so often a gust of wind would send a leaf skittering across the pavement like a mouse. But it was never a mouse. It was the detritus of the autumn long past: leathery oak leaves, lacy half-rotten beech leaves, the occasional strip of birch bark, tumbling down the sidewalk to adorn half-dead lawns or snag in the branches of the winter-barren hedges.

And then, oh yes! under the leaves and behind the deadwood, I'd catch a flash of bright green or a little patch of purple. My heart would lift at the thought of tender leaves and tiny crocuses, and I'd squint and look harder, only to have it drop at the sight of a scrap of cardboard or a discarded plastic bag. That's spring in Nova Scotia for you: hope, elation and disappointment, all jumbled together like mulch.

It felt exactly like when you're walking through a crowd and you unexpectedly catch glimpse of one of your familiars. Just the sight of the back of their head, maybe, or the cadence of their walk; a whiff of perfume or the timbre of a laugh. Heart quickening, knowing it can't be true, you pick up the pace anyway...only to get closer and see that no, of course, it's not them. Sometimes it's almost too much to bear.

But sometimes you do see a familiar face, one that breaks into a grin at the sight of you. And sometimes you round a corner and find a sheltered garden with a southern exposure, home to a fistful of the palest mauve crocuses, a wee clump of snowdrops, heads bobbing, and a forsythia bush full of the promise of spring.

March 28: Everything's a metaphor

I do not like colouring, but I'll make an exception for colourwork charts. I spent part of Monday afternoon working up a chart for Cruden, which I'd like to be my Squam sweater. (Full colourwork on 3.25 mm needles is ambitious, but it's a vest, so it might be achievable yet.)

When it comes to colourwork I rarely go off-script, preferring to leave the complicated decisions to the experts. I haven't spent much time developing my colour sense, and I'm not always great at predicting outcomes. But it's time for that to change, so I spent some time with the pencil crayons and then I started swatching.

And I'm learning a lot already. I thought the green would really pop against the blue (it's basically invisible) and that delicate light pink that I love so much looks...completely insipid. I'm resisting the urge to rip it out completely and choose a different sweater entirely. I'll change up the colours and keep going. You have to start somewhere...

Monday, March 28, 2016

March 27: Easter bonnet

I had plans to make all sorts of things this weekend, but (hot cross buns and sweet rolls aside) in the end it's been a weekend of small milestones: another couple inches on that sock, joining sleeves to body on that sweater, and finishing up this cute little baby bonnet. It's a gift for a friend who loves purple. Ran out of yarn before I could make the ties, so subbed in bias binding instead. Pretty cute.

(Pattern; yarn)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

March 26: Go forth

The morning forecast called for clear skies and sunshine after a night of torrential rain, but no such luck. Instead it was cold and grey and not even the birds seemed inclined to wake up. Even after four cups of tea I could see their point. 

Finally, well after noon, I gave up on waiting for the sun and headed out anyway. Off to the fabric shop, where I bought some fabric for a quilt and talked about (of course) hot cross buns; then across the Common and downtown. Stopped in for sundries at the grocery store: tulips, cheese, a baguette. I bought a cookie from the coffee shop at the library and ate it as I wended my way through the DalTech campus. There's something so satisfying about knowing the little back alley shortcuts that I didn't know before. 

Finally, I stopped in at the coffee shop for a chai to drink as I walked back along the boardwalk to the ferry terminal. By then the sun had come out in full, and the harbour had transformed from the morning's gunmetal grey with whitecaps to brilliant blue. There was lots of boat traffic to watch, and a cold enough wind coming off the water that I didn't mind the too-gingery drink. 

On the way home, I sat up on the open deck of the ferry for the first time this year, and marvelled again that such a ride could ever feel quotidian.