Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Lace Cardi

Today was a busy one. Knitted a whole row on the Elann crop cardi. Spun some more merino top on the Ladakhi spindle from Jenkins Woodworking. Knitted another row on the Elann. Forced self to keep going on another four rows. Yielded to temptation and started another motif for the Irish crochet lace top.

Reluctantly returned to another session with the Elann. Deserved a treat. Genuinely looked forward to picking up the little Interlacement socks. They and I have a cosy relationship now. It's a pleasure doing one little row, then another little row - unlike SOME projects one could mention (more about that Elann heavyweight later). Then I realised that the blackberries we picked yesterday weren't going to last for ever. With a sigh, got down the big copper pan from the top of the cupboard. Of course it needed a good scrub since it hasn't been used since last year. Checked the cupboard and realised that sugar was needed too. Into Macroom. Out again. Put on the blackberries to simmer. Hey - here's a whole lot of spare time standing at the stove which could be utilised! Can one knit socks and stir jam at the same time? YESSSS! Especially if you tuck the ball in your pocket.

In case you're wondering, the bags of sugar aren't behaving like a fire risk. They're getting warmed up, in preparation for their entry into the jam arena. Stirring and knitting was quite a relaxing exercise. Made me feel at one with nature and the cycle of the seasons (jam and warm socks for the winter, nice thought, mm?) And when it was all done, and the jam in pots and labelled, that was a really good feeling. It must be some remnant of the hunter-gatherer instinct - after all, we know we could go out and buy the stuff any old time, but making your own is really really satisfying.

Howzat? Ten pots of Sophie's Special Blackberry Jam. (The three dogs take it in turn to have the latest batch of jam named after them, and it was little white wuv-bucket's turn this time.) There was a little left over, which meant JAM BUTTY time! The socks (several rows the better for the kitchen session ) were precipitately retired to a safe distance to avoid unintended additional dyeing, and the bread-and-jam nursery treat enjoyed thoroughly.

Then it was time for another row of the Elann lace crop cardi. After all, Bantry Show is on September 3, and entries have to be registered by August 22 so it's going to be decision time soon - which of the many projects on the go do I concentrate on? Wanda very sensibly advised entering something that was different to the usual; and that probably does mean the Elann, since Irish crochet lace is usually well represented. I don't think they are likely to have seen anything like the lace crop cardi though. Come to that, I haven't seen anything like it!

I have to say that I'm beginning to get a bit stressed over the Elann design. What am I saying? I am already HUGELY stressed over it. It's just so - demanding. It's not that the pattern is difficult - it isn't. But there are all those increases to be incorporated on every wrongside row, and coped with on the following rightside row. The sheer width and weight and uncooperativeness of the thing. Not to mention the stitch markers (already in their dozens and still more needed) every few inches to make some vain attempt at keeping me on the correct count.

This afternoon it seemed like a good idea to check stitch counts and see if both sides roughly matched. They didn't. In one section there were fourteen whereas on the matching opposite side there were only twelve. Clearly two increased too many had been worked on one and not on the other. Or - was it that increases had failed to be worked on the other side? Which one is wrong? How can I correct something when I don't know what I've done? Answers on a postcard please.

(Actually there was no way on earth that this gal was going to reduce the number of stitches anywhere, NO WAY. It's been hell enough already getting this far, you're asking me to take a backward step? The radical solution adopted was simply to sneak in an extra increase on rightside rows in the offending section until they matched up again. So what? Who's going to notice? I did it, and I'm glad I tell you, glad, glad, glad!)

So how is it looking now? Frankly, I'm beginning to think I will never reach the shoulder or the armpit or whatever part of my torso it's supposed to reach before I can begin breaking it up into understandable wodges like sleeves and fronts and back. It's just going to go on and on like this forever, one interminable and ever-increasing row after another. How many stitches do I have now? You're going to laugh, but I don't KNOW. I simply do not have the courage to count them en masse (those checks I ran this afternoon were only tiny ones in specific areas, between stitch markers). All I do know is that there are LOTS. And I mean really really LOTS. I have never had so many stitches on a circular needle in my life. They're sliding off the ends by this time, and it isn't a short circular either. It's rattling with stitch markers and getting seriously overcrowded in the middle like a rush-hour train, and I'M AFRAID TO COUNT THE STITCHES in case I lose it altogether.

To get it into some sort of shape for this picture I had to squash all the middle up and even then the end stitches were drifting off into the open air. I have this horrible nightmare that they're all going to escape during the night and I'll open the sitting room door and find millions of tiny blue stitches running all over the place, climbing up the fireplace, trying to get out the window, swinging from the chandelier... It's got to end soon. It's got to end soon. I got so worked up that I had to go and take a picture of the peaceful scene outside the window by way of a calming down exercise.

The sun was getting low, and sending shafts of light across the shadows on the cornfield while the hills behind were still bright. And the birds were chirping, and flitting about happily. They weren't knitting.

Did you see that marvellous list of Things Done Or Still To Do where you tick off your own achievements? Rho had it on her posting this morning and it got me thinking of a few that I must get round to doing. I still haven't seen the Northern Lights, despite making a special trip north of Dawson in Yukon Territory for that purpose. DH did see them, on a working trip to Rovanemi (isn't that near where Lene of Dances With Wool lives?) I was so jealous - and still am. Wouldn't you know, we even missed the Perseids meteor shower last night - right on cue, the clouds descended and didn't lift until morning when it was too late. Of course tonight is clear - and as I glanced out of the window just now, I saw a huge yellow moon (waning, so only about three quarters full(, hanging low over the trees. Wouldn't it be a good idea to put in another row on that Elann before bed? No it would not. A good idea would be a mug of hot chocolate and a wicked book.


rho said...

I think your kitchen may be smaller than mine :D

You need a set of Denise circular needles so you can increase the length as you need to on projects so things don't get all scrunched up. The only bad thing about them is they aren't as sharp as metal ones -- BUT I think you can take them on planes without problems.

On the Northern Lights our friends have a hot tub on their deck and go out and sit in it with a glass of wine (or for me it would be a good Scotch) and watch the lights while relaxing in there. Doesn't that sound like heaven. But it means a trip to Alaska in the winter instead of the ever light summer....

Wish I could offer you some encouragement on the Lace Cardi - but I haven't ever done an intense project like that so all I can say is hang in there - and think how good it will feel when you look back on it when it is all complete. :D

BTW -- that wasn't my list of things to do - just a generic one that you tick off what you have done on it. Good GOD bungee jumping would never ever make it on my list - no NO NO HELL NO!!! But I would parachute if someone would promise to pry my fingers off the plane and push me out....

Lene said...

Just travel few kilometers north from R and there I'm.
Northern Lights are quite frequent up here. Did you know that you are not supposed to whistle when you see them (--- according to my Mom)?
Good luck with the little wild stitches.

Angie said...

OOOHHHH home-made jam. When we first returned from N.Z I was about two and we lived in a pre-fab .But it was next to a house with a huge walled garden and we were allowed any fruit we liked. I was a toddler but I still remember getting lost in the gooseberry patch.Mum made Gosie and Blackcurrant jam .The thing I liked most was how the green gooseberries turned pinkish when made into jam. I have made jam but not for a few years .Mum's pickles were a reminder Christmas was coming with rows of red ,yellow and brown pickles in the cupboard. I keep intending to pickle onions but somehow I knit too much .Holly has taken a great interest in cokking and lugs my old "Farmhouse Cooking" around so maybe she'll make some.

Fiberjoy said...

I want to come tramp through your countryside!

The cardi is stunning! One row at a time and you're sure to wear it yet. Maybe it's a good thing the 22nd is just around the corner, your carrot in front of the cardi.

Have you tried it over your shoulders to make sure it isn't going to end up draped to the knees?

Anonymous said...

To show how inspiring you are as a writer, I'm almost motivated enough to try something really complicated too. Note I say 'almost'. I might just stick around to see how you get on, although the progress looks wonderful so far. I'm sure it will be a winner at the show (see, positive thinking). My projects seem to be reverting to simpler rather than more complex at the moment.

As a child, my dad used to point out the sky lights as aurora borealis - not sure how valid that was, but it sounded good to me.

Dez Crawford said...

I saw your comment about the Channel Islands on Yarn Harlot and looked up your blog. It's fabulous. I will be a regular visitor ... I can travel to Ireland vicariously.

I don't know much more about my Irish great-grandmother than that she came from a small village in southwest County Clare near the River Shannon, in 1888. Of course she married into Irish she found in America. I keep getting stuck trying to trace her ancestry, as her name was Mary Margaret Murphy and I keep finding as many as four or five MMMs on the same ship on the same day! :)

I hope to visit someday in person, and stand on the western shore near the mouth of the River Shannon, and hope that maybe my great-gran stood on that same spot looking wistfully out to sea.

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...

Dez, hi, welcome to Ireland! I sympathise with your difficulty on tracing your ancestors - it's actually marginally more feasible at your side of the Atlantic than here, thanks to the work of the Genealogical Society who reprint so many ships' manifests, old documents, etc. I'll put some pictures of Co. Clare and Shannon on for you - I don't seem to be able to access your weblog.

Dez Crawford said...

Jo, I will look forward to those images from County Clare! And I do hope someday to visit in person.

I can't imagine why you can't link to my site, we are both on blogger. Could I have typed it wrong?