Monday, September 15, 2014

Good gifts . . .

I have to admit that my favorite kind of gifts are the kind I got not long ago -- two great gifts in one weekend.  First of all, they were totally unexpected - it wasn't my birthday, or Christmas, or Mother's day, or, well anything.  And though I appreciate the generosity of any gift, they were not embarrassingly extravagant.  What they were was perfect.  Really perfect for ME. 
The first gift was the box of card catalog note cards.  It was a gift from someone who knows me very well, and it really is exactly right.  The box looks like a little card catalog drawer, and contains replicas of catalog cards from the Library of Congress.  They're all of cards from classic books.  On the back, there's room to write a short note, and there are little envelopes to mail them in that look like the ones that held the date due cards in library books in the olden days.  (You know, the olden days, before libraries used barcodes and scanners.) Eventually I will use them to write notes, but right now, the box is just sitting on a table in my living room, because I can't bear to part with any of them yet. 

The book journal was from someone who probably doesn't know me all that well, but who works in a bookstore.  And it too is just the thing for me.  For quite a few years, I have been keeping a list of the books I read and listen to.  My not very impressive reason for doing this is so that I can remember whether or not I've read a book (or just read about it), and to recall titles of books I'd like to recommend to one person or another.  The flaw in my plan is that I write down books as I read them, so there's no easy way to find a particular book except to skim the list, which by now is quite long. 

This journal is designed like an address book, with alphabetical tabs on the side and a page for each book.  When I counted the pages and looked them over, I realized first of all that there aren't enough pages to last very long, and that I probably didn't want to reflect quite so much on each book I read as to take a whole page.  So, I'm using the alpha tabs (by author) but not using the whole page, just a paragraph or so, and a star rating for each book.  Also, I'm using some blank tabs at the back to STILL keep a chronological list of the books I'm reading, because sometimes I need to be reminded of the title (or author) of a book I just finished. My mind really is a sieve like that, I'm afraid.  And so far,  this journal is working out great!

How about you?  Have you ever received a perfect gift, just because? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

One Last Summer Sweater

  Cascade, by Marie Wallin

  • made of Rowan Silkystones yarn, 52% silk, 48% linen, color Grassland, 10 skeins used though the pattern asked for 9 (more about this later)
  • US size 5 needle (pattern calls for a 6)
  • Size M (designed for 36-38 bust, for a 46" garment (!!)
  • On Ravelry
 I actually fell in love with this yarn first, when I saw this picture in a magazine:
But this sweater is crocheted, and I don't crochet (much), and didn't think this much crochet, with such a textured yarn (and oh, I did love the color and texture of that yarn) was a good idea for my first project.

But when I looked at the Silkstones pattern book on the Rowan site,  I decided it would be worth a try to make Cascade, a lacy KNIT sweater with a similar shape.

Working with this crunchy (it washes out to a softer, drapier garment, but the knitting was definitely crunchy) yarn wasn't too difficult, but estimating size and gauge was tricky.  I did wash and dry my swatch, and used those measurements to knit to a certain number of rows, rather than the centimeters specified in the pattern.  It was a good that I did, or my very oversized sweater would have been HUGE!

Before blocking
And after -- just smoothed, not stretched.

The first time I tried on the sweater, it looked like this:

Too oversized!

I didn't really want to reknit - so I did some pulling and pinning and finally decided to take about an inch and half off the top of the sweater -- this lifted the neckline, and made the sleeves smaller.  Still perhaps not ideal, but certainly an improvement. (Compare with the photo at top.)  And as to needing the extra skein of yarn,  maybe with tighter gauge or a smaller size, 9 would have been fine.  The next smaller size called for 8 skeins, I think. 

This sweater illustrates a problem we knitters (and seamstresses too) can have - we (usually) don't get to try on garments for size and style before we put hours into making them.  I knew at the outset that this might be an iffy style for me.  I am not a waif-like 19 year old model for Rowan, who wanders listlessly on the Spanish coast.  So, time will tell if this sweater really works in my wardrobe, for my body.

But in the meantime, there's this rustic lace.

Which I know I love.