My knitting time during these deep winter months (January into March) has focused on small, quick-to-complete projects while I await participation in my first test knit. The sage colored cowl uses yarn I hand-dyed with Kool-Aid as part of a class with Heather Best and I did a stash dive for the wool, alpaca, mohair, silk blend that resulted in the soft, squishy cable bordered shawl.
The pattern I volunteered to test is currently in the making by Jennifer Berg, Native Knitter. While her projects often incorporate geometric images in contrasting colors reminiscent of Acoma pottery or Navajo blankets, a first glimpse of her new design reflects the dramatic colors the raw southwestern landscape. Proceeds from the sale of this soon-to-be released pattern will benefit MMIW – Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
There is something oh so satisfying when a project is laid out on the blocking squares. And, I can claim double the fun (just like double mint gum) having finished Fiadh, my January-February sweater knit-along (KAL), and my friend’s Halley within just days of each other.
Fiadh is a dense Aran sweater with swirling Celtic cables and funky bobbles designed by Marie Greene and knit using Kelbourne Woolens Lucky Tweed in medium gray with white and black flecks for a very classy look. After some self-psychoanalysis to discover the why behind being stuck on sleeve island, I hunkered down and finished the cabled sleeves, picked up 338 stitches for the ribbed front band, shawl collar, and added the vibrant orange hidden pockets. All just in time for 100 degree days, a very unusual meteorological phenomenon for June in Minnesota.
Designed by Martina Behm, another of my go-to designers, Halley incorporates a lacy zigzag reminiscent of Halley’s Comet, as well as stars and meteorites crisscrossing the night sky. Knit using HiKoo Popcycle, an environmentally conscientious blend of 50% bamboo rayon and 50% polyester from recycled plastic bottles.
Knitting, reading and a bit of writing have been my primary activities during our pandemic lockdown. As we slowly emerge fully vaccinated from home into public spaces my COVID project inventory totals 35 between March 2020 to June 2021 with Halley and Fiadh being projects #34 and #35, respectively. Quite an assortment of productivity including three sweaters, seven hats, seven shawls, two pairs of socks, nine cowls, six pairs of mittens (fingerless included) and one cabled, reversible scarf. Swatching for Fireworks is complete but I am waiting for the pattern release on July 1 before beginning Marie Greene’s fifth annual 4-Day Sweater KAL. And so I find myself in an unusual state of affairs with nothing on my needles. Time for a quick delve into the project queue.
It is not often I admit to feeling “stuck” while knitting. My list of frogged projects is surprisingly small as only two have moved from my needles back into balls of yarn and into the realm of never more. Three colorwork projects have drifted lower on my queue awaiting more research on stranded knitting and five are hibernating with yarn purchased just needing time to start.
While cast on with great gusto in January, my Fiadhsweater is still mid-sleeve with front band and pockets yet to be started. I am oh so close but so not done. The only other time I remember feeling this stuck was my first (and to-date only) felted project. The pre-fulled mittens made it off my needles. As the pattern directed, the mitts were much larger than any hand (unless the hand belonged to an MMA fighter) but I was intimidated by the wet felting process, so they sat for seven years. But my sweater delays cannot be blamed on a lack of technique. I have the stitches covered.
I keep trying to analyze how my January enthusiasm for the interlocking cables and framed bobbles waned. At first, I attributed my glacial-like progress to the spring temps and the urge to get herbs into the backdoor pots. That my Fiadh sleeves were stuck mid-bicep, then at the elbow and now just before the cuff because I was gardening rather than knitting seemed a valid rationale. But not really. I was not gardening after dark and I was knitting every night and even during the day if there was a Cubs baseball game or Formula 1 free practice, qualifying, or race to watch. Just not working on this sweater.
I finally realized I deeply associate Fiadh with the many months of our social distanced, masked quarantine. Previously in awe of intricate Aran designs, the COVID lockdown gave me license to tackle something big and beautiful. My “stuck-ness“ may be a visual example of my own version of re-entry anxiety; that somehow the completion of this sweater and my re-entry are linked even though I know I control when and how I choose to re-engage.
The revised Re-Gathering Guidelines for church begin with this practical yet inspiring statement. And, when applied to my everyday life, these words remind me to treat myself kindly and help re-infuse my enthusiasm for Fiadh cables and bobbles.
With care for each other’s health – body, mind and spirit – we will move into new phases gradually while valuing inclusion, science, flexibility, and grace.
I started the year with only a few projects in my queue knowing my January – February (and now my March – May) focus would be Fiadh, an Aran sweater designed by Marie Greene. I made steady progress on the body, sometimes even falling into the zen-like rhythm of swirling Celtic cables and the occasional well-placed bobble but somehow got stymied and landed on “sleeve island”, a place where I am not usually marooned. But, with Cubs baseball airing on Marquee TV, I am once again progressing steadily — 24 rows last night as the Cubs swept the Mets.
For weeks, Fiadh was my day-time knit. My evening projects necessitated a little less focus although offered enough variations to keep the design interesting but not so complicated so as to make reading subtitles impossible. The Spiced Ginger and Berry Patch shawls are also Marie’s designs and included in her book, Knit Shawls and Wraps in 1 Week. With blocking complete, my Year of Projects list has two additions.
I don’t remember ever buying anything with a bobble. My pre-retirement wardrobe was chosen to set a professional tone, nothing frilly. Bobbles, while proportionally smaller, were like pompoms, to be avoided. Even when knitting for others, not a single hat is topped with a fuzzy ball. And yet…I harbored a secret attraction to the funny little nibs of texture.
Two of my three Building Block Shawls included a 12×12 inch square with rows of bobbles framed by lacy yarn overs. Ever since I completed those squares in October 2013, I have wondered what project might lead me back to that bit of whimsy. Visions of earlier eras, although definitely not simpler times; Bletchley Circle heroines in hand knit sweaters with intricate cables and bobbles.
Intended as easy to pack warmth against the chilly Faroe Islands air where, as the travel literature warns, visitors can experience all four seasons with related precipitation on a given day, my Cable Bobble Hat & Cowlnudged me toward the capricious. Enough so that I succumbed to Knit Camp eyecandy and joined the January Workshop KAL (knit-along). As Fiadh (an Irish name meaning wild) grows on my needles, a controlled tangle of cables is being revealed and, yes, bobbles too.
At the beginning of this holiday month, I joined the Ravelry group, A Year of Projects, mid-way through its July – June year. After years of managing an organization with a fiscal year of those same months, work that included lots of grant applications to secure Federal and state funds, I had planned to treat December as just another month and, once again, do the real work in June. But we all know 2020 has been anything but normal and I have been inspired by my fellow writers’ December summaries. Here is an update on that earlier list:
I frogged the first Hortensia Mitt back to the cuff as I did not like the long strands of yarn on the inside which will surely catch. These await time and more practice with locked floats.
After a yarn delay, my Project Peace 2020 KAL shawl is 12 rows from completion. Currently at 455 stitches (having started with three), each row takes considerable time (made less tedious by a good audio book) as I work towards a final stitch count of 483. Still with a goal to complete in December.
A second delayed shipment stalled my work on the River of Dreams bedrunner but that is underway again and an easy knit during evening TV viewing, sometimes even with subtitles.
I did complete one project in December, the Knit Camp cowl, Selwyn! There is a forthcoming pattern for a hat-to-match which will make a very nice set.
I am deep into swatching and measuring for a new sweater, Fiadh, which the pre-release notes describe as “A textured Irish Aran cardigan with cables, double moss stitch and a shawl collar.” The pattern drops on Monday, January 4 and, unlike earlier projects, my authentic heather gray Donegal Tweed yarn is already in hand. The teases reveal an intricate cable design incorporating four different styles covering the sweater’s front panels, back and sleeves, plus decorative bobbles bordering the ribbed button band. Happy New Year and happy knitting!