A Long Finished Object — More Than One

Greetings all! Here I am, back at college, holed up in my little room, really not wanting to leave for any reason at all. It is cold outside.

But good news in regards to that though. I’ve finished my coat! Well, I finished it a while ago, but I am just now getting around to writing about it, which means that it is actually done, instead of the nearly done stage that I’ve been wearing it around in for months.

Also, this means that I am done with the Zimmermann Project — the thing where I knit all the patterns in Knitting Workshop, which took (past tense people!), a little over two years, a great deal of my sanity, and miles of yarn. There will be a blog post to follow about that, something so big that I think it deserves its own post because, really, how often do you knit 32 different things all in one book, and live to tell the tale?

So the coat. We will start with a few pictures because it has probably been a long time since you all saw this coat, for which I am sorry, it is a great coat.

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There is something about dreaming, designing, plotting, and knitting a knee-length (or about) coat that smacks of madness. And really, that is not untrue. It is a mad, mad, undertaking, which you realize as you are wrestling with a coat in late July, very thankful for air-conditioning, but still sweating up a storm as your realize your cables are slightly off, but you really could not care less.

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It makes sense though — in a strange way, to end something big, with something big. Both are insane, and very satisfying though, in the way that finishing just anything isn’t — this is special because it took time and effort. I worked hard, on both this sweater, and the Zimmermann Project, and I am proud to put my name on both of them.

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(I call the one above this “Reaching for the Stars”.) I am proud of this sweater, with its cables and its pockets, and the saddle shoulders. I love the buttons and the toggle closures. It is warm and woolly. I wore it all over the place this fall, and people were constantly admiring it, then I got the pleasure of telling them that I had made it, and then enjoying the look of astonishment on their faces.

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I have to admit that it does look sightly like something an old lady would wear, but I don’t really care. Thankfully “funky” (however you want to interpret that) is sort of the new fashion. Wear whatever you want, but own it, be confident.

I guess that confidence is really what all this Zimmermann is all about. She preached to confidence in knitting, and as is often said, you can take her knitting “philosophy” of confidence, hope and enjoyment into your day to day life. Don’t worry and relax because you are doing the best you can, and that, despite how you often feel the opposite, is good enough.

Big Stuff!!

Well, need I say that this, a long hiatus from blogging, was a bit much. Even now, over break, I still have a hard time finding time to sit down and write a blog post. As usual, there are a thousand other things that crop up, things that really seem more pressing at the time than writing drivel to be read by no more than ten people. I find a list format would be useful for a quick update on what I’ve been doing for the past few months.

1. College. That time suck. I think I am stuck in that sophmore space — the newness has faded off, while the classes got harder, so really I just want to be done — I get bored easily and am ready to move on. I think about if I wasn’t in college I would have so much time, and do so much, then I realize that it would be like trading a fishing pole for a bucket of fish. Yes, it would be easier — for now. So onward I go, studying German (of all things! Kill me!), and English.

2. Work. Hey! Did you know that I got a job? Hey, did you know what sucks? My job. I am, what I like to say, a telephone research specialist for a data collection agency, which is a fancy way of saying a telephone surveyor. (Not a telemarkter. Call me one, I dare you.) It is awful, but it’s a job, which is what everyone says to people that have awful jobs and it is not the least bit comforting. However, they have very flexible schedules and were willing to give me a leave for Christmas break. And it’s second shift too, which I love because mornings are awful. (Tell that to my morning German class all next semester.)

3. Well, I started writing another book this fall. This one is about a heroin addict who dies. Because of this I now have a very incriminating Google search history. I mean for this one to be more experimental than my other books — thus making it more fufilling to write. (And I crave fufillment.)  The narration style is less direct and controlled than my earlier works — making this one more flowing and artistic.

4. The Beatles. I had listened to them before, but I never really appreciated them, you know? I recognized the cultural phenomion that they were, however, I never actually liked music. Then, I don’t know, something clicked in me, and suddenly it was like Beatlemania up in here. Guess what is playing in my ears as I write this?

(Also, as an aside, do you know why they spelled their band “Bea” instead of the more common spelling “Bee” ? It was due, in part, to the Beat Generation — a school of writers with whom I’m infatuated — there are like three beat books on my desk now as I write this, and one book of really awful poetry that was obviously trying to imitate that — but failed.)

5. Virginia Woolf. Are you afraid of her. For a long time, I confess that I was, till I had to read A Room of One’s Own and “The Mark on the Wall” for a class, along with Mrs. Dalloway because I wanted to, and fell in love with her beautiful prose, which walks the line between poetry and narrative plot.

6. Knitting! Well, I’ve been doing some of this. I finished my coat this fall, knit another vest, a few little things, and am working on a sweater now. I’ve been very busy, can’t you tell? (School was, um, like hell there for a little while — I didn’t really sleep for about three or four days there for a while during finals week because I had too much work to do, in addiction to doing 1-2 all-nighters a week for two months prior. My professors were doing that thing where I swear that they get together and try to kill me — the scary part is that they almost won.)

7. That part about the coat above? Do you remember that coat? If you do, you may also recall that it was the last project in Knitting Workshop. Yes, I guess that means I’ve finished it. It may sound like I’m not particularly excited about this, and that’s for two reasons — one, I finished it months ago, and two, I really don’t know how I feel about it. I will explore this more in an upcoming post; I feel that it at least deserves that.

And here I am, back at my old desk, my feet propped up on the same old tin, surrounded by cookbooks and dwarfing piles of paper, post-its with nuggets of wisdom taped all around me, and half-read books waiting for me to get to them — which I will, right now.

Five Weeks

Okay, so it’s been over five weeks since I last made a blog post, and almost three weeks since I’ve knit a stitch. This sort of behavior is not acceptable! Of course, it’s not like I came without a large amount of excuses regarding my lax blogging and even more lax knitting. 

For starters, there was packing. I didn’t really start doing that till a few days before I left, mostly because that idea of dragging out suitcases and finding boxes proved to be far to much for me to handle in my ragged mental state. I did forget a great many things, like my sanity and hangers. (I forgot hangers last year too. I sense a theme.) So I just piled my clothes in the bottom of the closet. Live with it. 

Then I’ve got the big one, Classes. Boy, there really is a big difference between Freshman year and Sophmore year. Namely, you loose that two week grace period. Last year they sort of didn’t really make you do anything when you first came back. You had time to order pizza and have great sex and then stay up till three in the morning talking with some people you just met who seem like they’re really awesome. It was the time of long lunches, even longer dinners, and classes were really just your justification for this. Now that’s all gone. I have written two papers already. Learned more German that I thought I could (only those nutty Germans would find a way to have three genders).I’ve read three books. Pretty much everything. I’ve done it all. 

Except knit. Do you remember that coat? That coat. The one that only needs about a dozen ends to be wove in before it’s finished. The same coat that will finish off the 28 month Zimmerman project? (Lets put that 28 month into perspective, there are walking and talking children who are younger than this.) Part of me is waiting for the right time to finish it. Not in a rush between classes, but quietly, with a cup of tea, the way that I started this project. 

But part of me just wants to grow a pair and do it already. So what if I don’t finish this the way that I finish it? I’m not that same person (thankfully, I think). I’ve grown, changed since then. In some ways good, in some ways bad. I’ve realized the degree of which I’m not well. I also have lost a lot of my compulsive tics. (Not all though.) I’ve relaxed in some ways, sped up in others. Developed a love for Jack Kerouac. Developed love in general. I’ve seen some scary parts of the underbelly of humanity, but I’ve seen the best that it has to offer. I’ve needed crutches, been the crutch, stood up for myself, learned when to shut my mouth. I’ve learned that you have to put on your own life jacket before anyone else’s. I’ve become someone that I like at times, and that’s really good. 

And maybe the new me would just grow a pair and finish it off already. Well, it has to happen soon. I didn’t bring another coat, that was my plan. So I have to do it before it gets really cold out. 

Okay, so you know, I’m supposed to be working part-time. Really though, it’s a very large part of time. Like really just a few hours short of being full-time. (I wonder why . . . . ) (Did you get that sarcasm. I hope you did.) While I really don’t like this, I really enjoy the fact that I get closer and closer to being able to return to college each week. (I have got 25 days before I move back into the dorms, 26 till classes start.) And as I sit here and write this, attempting to ignore my sister who never ceases conversation and her two crying kids. (The one keeps asking for a bath and the other keeps trying to grab my computer cord.) 

And oh boy, am I ever looking forward to going back. Mostly because it means that I no longer have to be live-in childcare, and that I either get to quit or take a long leave of abscence from my job, which is slowly draining the life out of me. I don’t like people, I don’t like gas, and I don’t like hot dogs. I don’t like the uniform. I don’t like counting the ciggerettes at the end of the day, or the lottery tickets, or cleaning the grill, or stocking the grill. But I mostly don’t like the new manager — no one does and we call her Godzilla behind her back. (This is mostly because I work with catty old women and young catty girls. I am the only male, and I am really bad to perpetuate work spats. Because I get bored there, and really, talking about your co-workers behind their back is a fascinating enterprise.) She expects me to do my job, which I really don’t like, and she never helps me with my register, not to mention she does everything by the book, which means that I can’t ring up my own sales. But then how can I buy anything if she’s never on her register? All so frustrating. (25 days.) 

I’ve been knitting a little bit though, not to bad considering that I’m also trying to do all my reading for college before I start back, so that way if I miss a reading assignment it’s not the end of the world. (Considering that I’m taking three writing intensive courses means that I’ve got my work cut out for me, or means I have to write two papers a week for fifteen weeks. You’d start working early too.)

I still have yet to take pictures of that shawl and that sweater that I finished about a month and a half ago. I don’t know why. Leave me alone, I have issues. I should get to work on that; it’s not every day that you finish sweaters, and I should at least document it. But I’m so close to being done with knitting workshop that facing the idea of knitting or blogging, I typically, (as my publishing record this past year has gone), chose knitting. I’ve gotten a little bit done, though, take a look.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What you can see up there is the first sleeve, with sheepfold running up the front of it. (I’m going to make that be the part that I saddle back and forth on later.) then there are two fish-bone cables running up the side of that, with a chain cable at the back, with increases on either side of it. (Do you see how the increases are turning into ribs, I did that, all that. I’m pretty proud of it.) 

You also can see up in the first picture, the snow cuff. This a technique that was published in Knitting Around, (which while it was written by EZ, the video for this book clearly paints this as Meg’s idea, like a lot of the things that EZ came up with late in her life. The more I look into this the more I see of Meg being the real genius.) No matter who unvented it though, it still is a very smart idea. The problem with coat cuffs is that, while you want them to be snug to keep out the bad weather, you also want them to roomy enough to fascillitate the wearing of other garments. So Meg came up with the idea of the snow cuff. You knit the beginning of  a sleeve like you would for a yoke sweater, only increasing a bit more, work till its about four or five inches. Then you start the sleeve for the coat on another needle (which is a bit more roomy than a standard cuff) and work for about two inches. Then you do this thing where you stick the cuff into the sleeve and then knit (or purl) according to the patterns on the upper piece. (I try and time it when I only have a few stitches on the front piece to cable on.) I like the way that it fits, really snug, and it means that the upper piece, (the thinking piece) doesn’t have to be as long as it usually would have to be. 

The second sleeve hasn’t been quite as lucky. 

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My favorite part about all these pictures though, is my T-shirt. I went last weekend with my parents to see James Taylor while he played as Blossom. (And to local people, I had NO IDEA how very far out into the middle of nowhere Blossom is. I was waiting for those guys with the banjos from Deliverance to show up.) It also sprinkled a little bit during the concert (and we were on the lawn) so I heard Fire and Rain, in the rain. James said that we were getting in touch with nature. Easy for him to say as he sits under his nice little pavilion. I smelled someone smoking weed at one point, which made me really happy, as I felt the experience would have been lacking without that. 

It’s been a while

Forgive me, it’s been a little while. I signed onto this job, thinking that it would be a part-time (you know, considering that that was what they told me it would be). And it is technically part-time, just a pretty big part of my time. So I thought that I’d have a nice leisurely break, work a little, and loaf about and just have some fun. Well, I’m fine with the not-full time, full time, but it does not leave me with a whole lot of time for fun internet things.

I’m way behind on my blogging, but not really my knitting. (Not that knitting is something that you can really be behind on. It’s kind of one of those things.) I’ve got a sweater, long finished that I need to talk about, as well as a finished shawl, as well as a major part of a coat. If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll note that that I am almost out of things to knit out of KW. As a matter of fact, I really only have about half an inch of body to knit, two sleeves, a hood, and buttonband, in addition to the fiddly finishing stuff, so yeah. (We’ll talk about that more when the time comes. I’ve got  a big two-part blog event. It’ll be great. I’ll talk about all my problems. Well not all. I don’t have that kind of time.)

Today though, we will talk about my Aran coat — which is really only because it’s downstairs and I don’t feel like going upstairs to get something. And these coats don’t appear often, which means that they should be well-documented, instead of the poor showing I’ve made here. But better late then never. (Seriously, this thing is almost done. )

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That place where I’m pointing is the center front (to be cut later of course), and you can see the four cables that I am using, fishbone, plaited cable, sheepfold, and the chain cable. The back is a mirror image of the front. I’m almost done with it for now, it being at the stage where I’m about ready to cut the steeks and sew in the sleeves. I would do that now, but I need to get the needles for the sleeves, and then, well, knit them. I’m planning on doing the snow cuff, which is sort of an inner cuff that is knitted on. I was going to do a lining, but I don’t feel like it. Maybe I’ll add it on in later.

I’ve done a good bit on the body, and I think that I’m going to give it saddle-shoulders, instead of the drop-shoulder like I’d planned. This is mostly because I forgot to add a spot where it would be convenient to skeek for the armholes. I could finagle something, but really, when you’re cutting up your knitting, you really don’t want to finagle anything. And I like the idea of giving it saddle shoulders. Of course, this could lead to running out of yarn, and having to rip it out, but I guess that is just going  to be a risk that I am going to have to take. s

I’ve still got a lot to talk about, but I feel I must space out my content. Amazing, what a few weeks without a blog post will do.

 

 

The Pereline

Oy Vey!! Almost two weeks have passed since my last post, and a great deal has happened then. I’ve been working long hours in the Petrol Station. (I heard a Brit refer to it as such and I started using it, considering that it does sound better than a gas station. I’ve been working away on my books, writing letters and reading a great deal. I’m really all about books these days. I am in the middle of three (four?) and spend a lot of time doing it. I’ve also been knitting a great deal, finishing things left and right. I’ve got a backlog of things that I need to talk about. The Pereline is done, (more on that later) a shawl that I just need to weave the ends on (and find, ahem). I have a sweater that is almost done, and a coat that I’ve started and have got maybe five inches on.

If you’ve been paying close attention (really too close), you will notice something very interesting. I have cast-on every project from Knitting Workshop. You read that right. I have nothing left to start —  a lot left to finish, but nothing else to start. I am feeling oddly calm about this. We will see how I feel when I finish them. I’ve still got a lot left to do before I get to that though.

For now though lets focus on the Pereline. I knit mine out of un-spun fiber that I drafted as I went along. That was an experience in and of itself, but I’m really pleased with the finished product.

Well, sort of. What I’ve got now started out as the Pereline, but ended up being well, something else. Here’s a picture of the Pereline before I finished the I’cord.

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That should give you an idea of the shape that it is supposed to be in. Sort of like a shawl and a poncho. Nice, but I didn’t like it. It puckered, it flared, it hit me in all the wrong places and I didn’t like it. Then I was playing with the shape of it and holding the two sides to the back. I liked that, so I sewed then up, leaving room for the armholes. That was nice, but I still wasn’t crazy about it. So I pinned up the front of fake a seam and I really liked the shape of it. I sewed it up and loved it! Here’s what I ended up with.

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I really like the way that the stripe snakes around the body and the way that all the increases come right to the center of the back. I see myself wearing this with long sleeves this winter. All in all I’m very pleased with the way that it turned out.