Flight

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Photograph copyright Jared Flood 2014

Whee! I can’t quite tell you how thrilled I am to have a design in the Wool People 8 collection without grabbing your hands and jumping up and down… you’ll have to imagine that part. Oh, my brown sweater. Drab as it sounds, that’s how I refer to it amongst the few friends and family who saw it take shape last summer. My knitting sisters, Katrin and Martha, who each put a few long rounds into the body for me while I drove the car to Bainbridge Island and back on a girls’ weekend. (Seriously, we humans can land a probe on a comet somewhere off Jupiter but we don’t have self-driving cars commercially available yet? How is this possible?) My family, who watched the sleeves grow as we all huddled around the television watching World Cup fútbol. My husband, who fielded texts full of unladylike language when I realized I’d made the ultimate careless error, setting aside the wrong number of underarm stitches on one side, a mistake that meant there was nothing for it but to rip 14,000 yoke stitches less than a week before the deadline. (He had no visceral understanding of the tragedy, but knew enough, stout fellow, to be sympathetic whilst volunteering to pick the kids up from school and feed everybody for a couple of days.)

This sweater is born of a decade’s learning and inspiration. Elizabeth Zimmermann is here in the seamless yoke construction. The contrast cuffs and hem are especially for her. The brilliant mid-century Bohus Stickning designers get all the credit for the techniques that make the colorwork sing. I turned to Amy Herzog and Ysolda Teague for guidance on flattering, contemporary shaping of the torso. Jared Flood saw promise in the design and helped me bring it to maturity, choosing the final color palette himself. I’m grateful all around and feel just plain blessed to be alive in the wonderful worldwide community of knitters at this remarkable moment in the craft. Thank you all so very much for the warm reception you’ve given this design.

Now my little brown sweater is out there in the big leagues, in extraordinarily fine company. (I mean, look at this. And this. And I’m totally planning to knit one of these and one of these for myself. Pretty sure Ada and I need matching cabled berets, too.) Treat yourself to a pot of tea and the whole Wool People 8 lookbook if you haven’t already.

Still

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The weeks go by more or less like this. Knitting, work deadlines, construction, the pell-mell of family, the clatter and whistle of the approaching holidays already audible in the distance to those of us aspiring to make gifts — and yet the photographs make it all look so still. The camera can’t really capture life. Or can it? There was stillness to be had. The dog in her sunbeam savored it. My little ones tasted it for a moment, watching the grown-ups race the cyclocross course — and then rejected it, clambering back onto their own bicycles to try this divinely muddy and exhilarating sport for themselves. A little baby ice storm halfheartedly forced it on the city for a few hours last Tuesday — a snow day with no snow! And at last my husband and I helped ourselves to a sweet spoonful of stillness: two nights at the coast while the children rumpused their sainted grandparents, and a whole day in between to sniff around bookstores, eat breakfast at noon, and loll about reading and talking and imagining. Taco truck spoils in front of the fire. Bit by bit, finding the rhythm of two again, so we’ll know how to listen for it through the noise. Because like the stillness, it’s always there.

Tomorrow’s a big day around here. I’ll be back to preen my feathers about a new design!

Remember?

BookendMitts1

Remember when knitters used to blog their works in progress? I kind of miss that. So here’s a good old-fashioned snapshot of what’s on my needles right now. These are a modification of Katya Frankel’s Side by Side Mitts — my third go at this pattern, which tells you that it really ticks my boxes. This time I added length to the cuff, working ten repetitions of the wee cable motif before the thumb gusset. And I decided to pretty up the finger end with an eyelet row sandwiched into the garter and a picot bind-off. I realized afterward that this makes sort of a frankenpattern of Side by Side and the popular Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts. I think it’s quite a successful monster, anyway! I’ll call them Bookend Mitts… at least until I devise an original mitt with similar qualities for publication and steal that name from myself. I’m using the scrummy Swan’s Island Merino, their worsted weight (it’s light enough to sub for the DK this pattern requires), in the Sky Blue color. It’s dyed with indigo, so it does turn your fingers blue when you’re knitting, but I don’t mind. It’s butter soft and I love it to bits. I wish these were for me, but they’re not. I’m sending them to a friend who used to be the librarian at my school but is now teaching Beowulf and other great English literature to some very lucky high schoolers. She used to be in charge of directing carpool for 190 elementary schoolers, out there in the circular driveway in all weather with her red megaphone and uncanny memory for ever-shifting constellations of kids and drivers and vehicles. I used to lend her the wooly mittens I always kept in my backpack. I thought about giving them to her in remembrance when she left us last June, but then I thought she might well be reveling in having shed that particular aspect of her job and would therefore appreciate something a little more refined for indoor use. Miss you, Maureen!