Drumroll, please

Published on Monday January 9th, 2006

At last I have pictures of my father’s finished Christmas sweater. When I say “finished”, I’ll add the caveat that I didn’t actually get to block it. I wove in the last end around 2 a.m. on Christmas morning, having worked a couple of inches of 2 x 2 ribbing for the neckband that incorporated my dad’s initials at the back. The initials didn’t show up as well as they should have, and the cast-off edge of the ribbing looked too feathery and soft for a man’s sweater. So on Boxing Day I tore out the section with the initials and worked a further inch of ribbing all around so I could roll the neckband to the inside for a rounded collar. I bound off and joined the seam using the sort of fake grafting sometimes used for shoulder seams. It looked great. So it was time for a photo shoot:

This isn’t the view from my house, unfortunately. We went on a little hike to burn off a little of the awesome toffee bread pudding my cousin made for Christmas dessert, and this is the view from the top of our little mountain. Here’s a closer view of the back of the gansey:

(I apologize that only the thumbnails are available at present. I think we’re going to install Lightbox JS in the next couple of days, which will allow you to click on the photo and get the full version, so check back.)

I like to think of this as Dad’s Sound of Music pose. Pretty cute, eh? It really shows how the sweater needs blocking, though.

Specs for Dad’s Christmas Gansey:

Most of 8 balls (about 1550 yards) of Jaeger Luxury Tweed in color “fern”

US size 6 Addi Turbos, 32″ long – and thanks to Lisa for the loan of the second circ that let me work the sleeves in the round!

Design is my own, via Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’s basic instructions in Knitting in the Old Way and Barbara Walker’s excellent first volume of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I used the tubular cast on and worked the sweater in the round up to the armpits, then divided to work the front and back flat. I joined the shoulders using kitchener stitch, then picked up stitches around the armholes to work the sleeves in the round. Lastly, I picked up around the neck opening (I’d left the stitches at the front and back center live, on waste yarn) and worked the neckband as I described above.

We’ll close with a gratuitous cute puppy shot:

Did I mention I love the mail?

Published on Monday December 12th, 2005

There hasn’t been much to see Chez Blue Garter, save the frantic blurs of pencil on graph paper and madly swatching needles on Jaeger Luxury Tweed. Yes, we are in the throes of holiday knitting. It’s not looking good for some of the secondary projects (certain people may be getting IOUs for socks, scarves, etc.), but the gansey may just come in under the wire, barring disaster. No pictures, but I’m sure you can imagine grafted shoulders and six inches of the left arm, picked up at the shoulder and worked on two 32″* #6 Addi circs (thanks, Lisa!). So nothing to see…until the mail arrived today:

Y’all, I may just have a new favorite online store. When I ordered sock yarn from Earthfaire, I was hardly expecting it to come wrapped in color-coordinated tissue paper, several packets of beautiful beads, a special little beading tool, and a page of instructions with a hand-written note. I know you can’t see all that in the photo, because I took this crappy picture on the ironing board under the fluorescent light in the living room. But I did get some fairly decent shots of the contents:

The first picture is Nature’s Palette merino sock yarn in colorway “Odd Duck 4”, a happy accident of the dye process for their green colors. It’s going to be those pretty leaf socks in the winter IK. I was planning to make nearly identical socks using Barbara Walker’s notes, but I’m not sure I would have thought to make the last leaf curl up the toe so beautifully. The second picture is Shelridge Farms Soft Touch Ultra in “Deep Blue Sea”, for these. A sock pattern so tricky it looks like it could make you cry? Sign me up, baby. I can’t resist. Who wants to make me a button that reads “Sock-Knitting Fool”?

And now, to bed. We’re not quite at the crisis stage of the holiday knits where we have to burn the midnight oil. A girl needs her rest and her wits to stay on top of Twisted Tree and Twist Stitch Diamond Patterns, you know.

*oddly enough, the needles are not actually the same length. Lisa’s is about seventh eighths of an inch longer than mine. Hardly the rigid German quality control I would have expected, but of little import for this project.

Now I remember why I don’t work out.

Published on Monday December 5th, 2005

I’m a lapsed athlete. I was that coltish kid in the seventh grade who set the girls’ school record for the mile and was never defeated in her (brief, and admittedly B-league podunk) track career. I played in the Oregon state soccer championship (we lost). This was ten years ago. As recently as three and a half years ago, I was capable of gasping through a six mile run. But since I’ve come to New York, any pretenses I ever had to athleticism have died a quiet death. Maybe this is because Mr. Garter is Triathlete Extraordinaire and I figure he does all the working out for both of us, and for most of the other people on our city block. More likely it’s just because I lack discipline, and having been relatively fortunate in the genetic lottery, I’ve gotten lazy about exercising to make the most of it. But every now and then I build up the urge to go do some physical activity. So I went to the gym.

I ran an easy two miles at a 10-minute pace, or even a little slower. Then I ended with three-tenths at a 7:20 pace. At this point, I was well out of breath and decided I’d call it a day so as not to scupper my chances of willing myself to do it again tomorrow. I don’t like distance running. I’ve never been able to reach the point where it’s exhilirating, relaxing, focusing, meditative, euphoric, or any of those other blissful adjectives my husband claims it is. I find running for its own sake intensely boring; I need a purpose. I need to know I’m doing it so I’ll be able to beat someone else to the ball, the puck, the wire. However, it’s undeniably the cheapest way to get in shape.

Unfortunately, running doesn’t like me, either. When I stumble off the treadmill, it’s not a pretty sight. I turn a shade of red that’s really not suitable for public display. I’ve always had fat, rosy cheeks. People used to tell my mother what a healthy baby I appeared to be. Except for one lady on the ferry who looked down her nose at my poor mom and said (you’ll have to imagine the Lady Catherine de Bourgh voice Mom uses when she tells the story), “My, her cheeks are very red. Have you had her lungs checked?” It would be fine if it were just the cheeks. But it’s the entire face, particularly the nose. Boiled lobsters bow to my superior vermilion. If this were a paint color (and pity the neighbors if anyone were to use said paint), we’d call it Livid Sunburn. And it lasts a long time, people. An hour later I begin to return to normal.

But it’s worse than that. Running makes me stupid. It took me from the time I was in the shower until I was halfway home on the subway to remember who won the World Series this year. (Why was I trying to remember this? I believe it may have been because the frightful shade of my face above my blue T-shirt reminded me of the Red Sox team colors.) And it makes my fingers stupid, which hinders knitting. And that I can ill afford at present.

So I’m hoping I can work some deftness back into them as I pick up my dad’s sweater. I’m determined to finish that Christmas tree and the first raindrop row tonight. We’ll see about a return to the gym tomorrow.

Gansey in the snow

Published on Sunday December 4th, 2005

When I promised pictures of my father’s sweater this weekend, little did I know I’d be taking them in two and a half inches of new snow. I’ve given up trying to photograph this yarn indoors, and this was all the natural light that was on offer today. But you can see I’ve completed the back. And I’m happy to report I’m more than halfway up the tree motif on the front now, too. Here’s a closer shot that better shows the design:

The goal is to finish the body and start on the sleeves before the week is out. Of course, that means I have to dream up and chart the sleeve pattern.

So, a quiet day of knitting and watching Horatio Hornblower. I hope it snows again tomorrow. The weather people can grouse about “nuisance snow” as much as they please, but new-fallen snow will always hold a sense of magic for me. It gives me a shiver of delight when I wake up to see the landscape…um, cityscape…transformed.

There was certainly no sign of snow last night when I stumbled in late after the Spiders holiday extravaganza, lavishly hosted by Amanda and Katie. Those girls know how to lay out a spread, let me tell you. They made filo samosas, sweet potato puffs, baked brie with mushrooms, spanikopita, umpteen dips, and let’s not gloss over the truffles and the fudge, nor the signature Spiders cocktail. I foolishly failed to photograph any of ones I drank, but here’s a screwdriver with a spidey twist:

And the gifts we exchanged:

The Spider version of a gift exchange is pretty polite compared to some I’ve attended. I was only robbed twice. Lisa took some yummy Christmas-colored Manos, and Veronique boosted my seafoam Lobster Pot. But I went home happy with a nice score of Australian handpainted laceweight in purples, blues, and teals, and some snazzy stitch markers from Zephyr Knit. (Amanda, you’ll have to tell me the website again – I googled it and couldn’t find it!) A merry time was had by all, including the significant others, who found plenty of common ground in discussing our depravities and founding the Fraternal Order of International Non-Knitters (FOINK), or to be more PC since not all the members are gentlemen, OINK.

20 days and counting. Happy Frenzied Holiday Knitting, everyone!