Friday, April 1, 2011

knitting like the wind

Past few weeks have been filled with whirlwind knitting, on two projects specifically. I went on vacation last week (yeah!!). Before I left I really wanted to finish and mail my best friend Jill a pair of socks that I made for her. They were a surprise-- I didn't tell her, so I couldn't post about them since she occasionally reads this blog. They went SUPER fast. Definitely the quickest pair of socks I have ever made. I started them on Monday, and finished them Thursday. Woowoo! I used some stashed Patons sock yarn, a pretty pink/white/gray multi. I don't remember what I originally bought it for, but I thought she would like it. I didn't use a pattern. I recently got this adorable little book, "Knitting Rules" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, and there are kind of quick-and-dirty guidelines for making hats, scarves, shawls, socks, etc. I used her instructions for socks, and a sock pattern I wrote a while back, to improvise these socks. Your standard sock pattern is pretty simple. Here they are:

I also sewed in some of my "Made Especially for you by Abra Melanie Forman" labels. Because every knitter likes her recognition. I mailed them to Jill and she claims to love them, so that makes me happy.

My other lightning-project was another gift for someone else: my pregnant friend Michelle. I was going to be pretty leisurely about the baby blanket I started for her in February, considering she isn't due until July, but circumstances jogged my hands-- a friend of hers threw a baby shower for her and the pressure was on to finish the blanket by then. The party was on the same day we returned from our vacation, so I thought to myself, "Well, I'll just finish the blanket on the cruise!" Other knitters take knitting on vacation, right? Why shouldn't I?

Turns out that knitting on vacation with a deadline is kind of like work. All I wanted to do was lay around and read, but I had this nagging feeling that I was neglecting something. Like I had homework to do. It was a mildly annoying feeling. I was on vacation! I kind of felt like I wanted to be on vacation from knitting, bad as that sounds. But seriously, sometimes knitting CAN feel like an obligation. But I did manage to do quite a lot of laying around and reading anyway. I finished about four books, and they were all really fantastic. I highly recommend "Never Let Me Go"-- it was so good. It really made me think. Also a fantastic post-apocalyptic novel by Margaret Atwood, "Oryx and Crake." I am looking forward to reading the sequel. I devoured about a book a day. That is what vacation is about for me: reading. Yet, the reading came with an uncomfortable sense of guilt.

Knitting on vacation.

So all the hours I wasn't reading, I was knitting like mad!! I had twenty inches of blanket to knit inside of a week. I brought another four skeins of yarn, in addition to the two that I had already used, to reach the calculated length of the blanket-- 41" as recommended by the pattern-- but after I finished four skeins, the blanket was already pretty big and I didn't have that much time left. I used a few yards from the fifth skein to finish up the garter edging and bind off. The finished measurements were approximately 39" by 30", I think, which was plenty big.

I brought a little case of notions with me to finish off the blanket: tapestry needle, measuring tape, needle and thread to sew on one of my labels, Fray Check, and some pins. After I cast off, I wove in the ends, which was difficult with this cotton yarn. I wasn't that pleased with how the woven ends looked, but I don't think most other people would notice.

I finished the blanket in one of the lounges on the cruise. To my surprise, no one on the cruise had commented on my knitting-- I had been knitting all over the ship for a week-- until the last day. A woman came up to me in the lounge and asked what I was making. She said she'd seen me knitting earlier, and that she was also a knitter, sewer and crocheter. I showed her the blanket. She asked about the stitch pattern, and I gave her the blanket pattern, since I was pretty much done with the blanket. It was great to talk to a fellow knitter. I had really expected more people to approach me, since when I knit in public people often do, but I guess I was on a ship of mainly non-knitters. Anyway, I finished up the blanket, sewed on my label and it was done. I photographed it in my cabin but the light was horrible. The colors came out badly, even though they were really pretty in real life:

Finding a way to wrap it was fun. I had brilliantly forgotten to bring a nice gift bag and some tissue paper with me, so we ended up begging some from the gift shop. It didn't end up too bad. And when Michelle saw it she was very happy-- and that's all that matters!

Yay! Labors come to fruition. Still quite a few months before the blanket meets baby, but it's best to be prepared.

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