Saturday, February 5, 2011

Knitting and Frogging During Snow Storm 2011

Winter struck North Texas with a vengeance during the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  We woke up to sleet and ice polishing the roads and turning trees into eerily beautiful ice sculptures.  The result?  The metroplex ground to a standstill.  Business, churches, schools and universities, including mine, closed for the next three days and the storm earned an official name.  "Winter Storm 2011" blared in large font on the newspaper headlines, radio and television preempted regular broadcasting to air continuous coverage of the havoc the storm wreaked upon its residents.  Thursday evening the forecast was for a light dusting of snow and instead winter continued to taunt Texans by dumping 7 inches of snow on top of the remaining ice.  Everything remained closed for the 4th day.

Having lived on a small homestead in South Dakota for 11 years, I'm no stranger to winter and its fickle charms.  However, up North you have a gradual start and a winter that lasts several months not a winter encapsulated into 4 days.  The result is that you are used to it, prepared for it, and actually come to love its charms and look forward to it.  Here in Texas it's another story.  While I had plenty of food in the house, a nice roaring gas fireplace casting a cozy feel to the family room, a stack of DVDs, and 4 days off work to knit to my heart's content, I found myself curiously unsettled in the knitting department.  During these 4 days I actually began 3 sweaters and frogged 2 of them.

The first was Myrtle Cardigan by Snowden Becker.  Myrtle is a lovely lace cardigan in which you have 7 charts that combine differently across each row in a 16 row pattern repeat.  Perfect for serious knitting concentration.  The yarn I chose was a 100% alpaca fingering weight in a soft shade of gray.  I named it "Moaning Myrtle" out of my love for anything Harry Potter and the fact that I was sure to be moaning while trying to knit the complicated lace.  I knitted the border and 1 1/2 pattern repeats before I frogged her, not because of the pattern, but I decided my choice of alpaca fingering weight wasn't working.

Looking through my Ravelry queue and stash I decided to cast on Close Cables Cardigan by Anna & Heidi Pickles.  This cardigan required knitting with 2 strands, one a DK weight and the other lace or fingering weight, on size 15 needles.  I named it "Ice and Sleet" in honor of the weather and the yarn I chose.  I used Cleckheaton Country Silk in dark gray and my old friend the light gray alpaca fingering weight that had just been frogged.  I knitted 24 rows and then had to cable.  Have you ever tried cabling over16 stitches with 2 strands of yarn and on huge needles?  I had the dickens of a time trying to keep 8 stitches on the cable needle while knitting 8 and then knitting the 8 off the cable needle.  After finally completing the row with many curses uttered under my breath, I decided the the result did not look like anything I would want to wear much less continue knitting.  I frogged her and again contemplated my stash and queue.

This time I chose Myrtille by Debbie O'Neill and Valley Yarns Sheffield from my stash.  Sheffield is a beautiful and soft blend of merino, angora and silk.  My colorway is Chianti which is a rich warm looking reddish/purplish/brown which closely resembles a fine glass of Chianti held up to the light.  Myrtille is a simple cardigan made up of stockinette with the addition of a Bellflower Rib pattern at the waist to add shaping.  This  is the one.  It is simple knitting to be sure but perhaps that is what I needed.  Simple knitting that allows the mind to wander while the hands continue knitting.

Perhaps it's my love of a fine glass of Chianti that made me choose this color or the fact that the sun has returned and the ice and snow are melting.  Gray is out and warmth, both in the temperature and knitting, has returned.  Whatever the reason, I'm knitting again and all is well in the world.