Sunday, March 02, 2008

Laetare Sunday

This is the point in mid-Lent when we sit down beside the road and relax. My liver is in for a surprise, after three and a half weeks – it seems longer – of idling about in there. ("Laetare" means "Rejoice". It is an imperative form, despite its infinitive appearance. It was the first word of today's liturgy, in the Good Old Days.)

The gansey sleeve is now within an inch or less of the finish. I’m going to attempt a sewn cast-off. The sudden declivity at the end looks a bit odd, but I think is within the range of the permissible. I was pleased with the way the remaining stitches gather in to the cuff – I had to decrease from 94 to 64 stitches in the first round of ribbing, yet it doesn’t seem to look strangled or lumpy.

I was interested in your remark, Mary Lou, about how the sleeves often come out too long for you when you knit a dropped-shoulder design.

And yes, Kate, I will undo the whole neck – an evening’s work, two at worst.

Helen in Thessaloniki, my daughter and severest critic, said of my knitting at some point in the last decade, “You’re getting better.” I think that’s true to a slight extent, and the reason is that I rip things out more frequently, and the reason for that is that I am in touch with a whole world of knitters on the internet.

I have said before, but it can’t be said too often, that the really astonishing thing about Elizabeth Zimmermann is that she taught all those things about knitting which we now take for granted, in the face of an unbelieving world and without the support of the network which we, by now, also take for granted. In the early days, she seems to have worked without the support of any knitting friends who could reassure her that she was right. A truly remarkable woman.

And on a related theme – I looked in on Meg’s Kliban hat knitalong the other day (you have to scroll down). It’s too complicated for me just now, with the weight of Tuesday’s primaries on my shoulders, but I think I’ll print it out to keep. There’s lots of good advice there, and I’d like such a hat. I wandered away from that page and bought some books – I’ll tell you about them when they turn up.

I’d like gloves like Jared’s, too, especially if they’re as quick to knit as he says. Once, long ago, one of the knitting categories for the Games was “men’s gloves”. I laboriously knit a pair in a droopy brown wool, and resolved, never again. I won first prize, too – because no one else entered. They furnished me with a Christmas present for my father that year (I very much doubt if he ever wore them) and I haven’t thought of knitting gloves since, true to my vow. But I love Kureyon, and I have some in the stash, and if Jared can do it in a weekend…

MaryJoO, I have neglected your question about cotton. Spring or no spring, I prefer wool. Cotton always seems heavy and inert by comparison.


  1. Anonymous2:24 PM

    I really like the way you designed the sleeve. I think a "loose" sleeve makes the whole sweater look more comfortable and cozy. I appreciated your comments on Elizabeth Zimmermann. A true genius. AND, as you say, so many of the things she unvented are written into patterns without giving her credit.
    Ron in Mexico

  2. I agree with your opinion about cotton. I've just finished 2 baby blankets in 100% cotton (about a fingering weight) and my hands are still sore. The blankets are softer and have much more drape than I expected, but I think it really isn't worth the torture on ones muscles. I can't imagine knitting an adult size garment out of cotton. My experience has made me quite sympathetic for any knitter allergic to wool. And how some knitters can just crank out those cotton dish cloths is beyond me.

  3. I remember buying Beth Brown-Reisel's book on a drizzly day in Cockermouth. We drove up the Lorton valley with the intention of climbing Rannerdale Knotts. The rain got heavier and we called off the walk. I've never actually knitted a gansey but the memory of the delight the book gave me on that wet day stays with me.