On Giants' Shoulders

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Knitting is Finished

Well here's the update. I didn't run out of yarn (I found one more skein in my stash - Yay!!!). The sweater fits (although it's snug, not loose - we''ll see what happens after washing). The only final disaster I encountered was a HOLE in the neckline while I was weaving in loose ends (I may have clipped a stitch). This resulted in my having to frog and redo the entire neckline (a four hour chore with over half of it devoted to the frogging part (because of all those woven in ends!).

Now I only have a few ends to weave in and to decide what to do about the color problem. My dh says you can't see it when I'm wearing it, but I can. The lighter color is right across my chest when the sweater is on me. That problem will have to wait until next week because I don't have a dye pot at the moment and the microwave is currently apparently terminal (it's sparking when it's used). We have snow today so I'm not going any kind of shopping, not dye pot nor microwave.

I'm still trying to decide whether to put an I-cord border around the bottom of this puppy. I'm going to wait on that decision until after I wash it and see how the bottom edge looks.

My daughter came to me yesterday before she left for a weekend in Burlington. She had her purple sweater in her hand and said, "I need you to mend this for me." The wretched thing has a hole in it. I'm beginning to think M----s have invaded. It would have to be the purple one, of course. I told her I'm not touching it until at least next week. My eyes have got to recover from all my purple work this weekend.

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Story For My Niece

My niece Laura has asked for a family story, so I thought I'd treat you all to a story from Vermont. This one makes everyone laugh now (even me), although I was certainly not even beginning to laugh about it at the time.

I arrived home from school later than usual one afternoon, having stayed for play practice or some such thing. My sister had come home on the bus as usual, while I had caught a ride with someone else. I was wearing a pair of red seude boots that I really loved. I had got them at the bargain counter, so they weren't really replaceable, but they were definitely my favorite boots (totally impractical for the farm as you will see).

When I got to the door my sister opened it for me. She wasn't paying attention to the fact that our dog, Ginger, was right there as well. Ginger was a notorious deer chasing dog and had to be kept either inside or tied to prevent that in the fall and winter. Ginger darted out the door as soon as it opened. I yelled at my sister for letting the dog out and then took off after our errant mutt.

Ginger headed across the yard at a run and I ran right after her. Then she crossed the road and headed through the barnyard. She was getting away from me and would soon be headed to the woods, I was certain. When she got to the manure pile she zipped right up it because it was frozen. It was also large, large enough that I knew that if I took the time to go all the way around it she was going to get away. So I decided that where the dog could go, I could too. After all it was frozen, right?

Well Ginger made it all the way too the top and down the other side. I on the other hand made it only about a quarter of the way up before one foot went crashing through the frozen surface and into the unfrozen manure underneath. Need I note that the dog probably weighed all of 40 pounds, at most(she was a minature collie terrier mix), and I weighed over 100. I knew I was in some trouble, but only panicked slightly. I put my hands down to try to get some leverage to pull the foot out. Then the other foot went through the frozen surface as well. There I was stuck in the manure pile. One foot was ankle deep, the other was stuck almost to the top of my boot. I yelled for help, but no one came. I was in deep .......(well you can fill in the blank!)

Somehow I eventually managed to extricate myself and carefully slide back down the pile. Of course, by that point it wasn't only my boots that had manure on them, but my hands and coat as well. The dog decided to investigate what was going on with me and I managed to grab her collar. I dragged her back to the house and banged on the door to be let in. When my sister saw the condition I was in she let out uproarious roars of laughter. I was not amused. I was sure that my favorite boots were ruined.

I did manage to get them cleaned off (I suspect that they were manmade material rather than real seude) and I did wear them again. The whole incident was the subject of much laughter in the family and continued to be one of the family stories that got told from time to time. It was trotted out each of the two times that a cow got stuck in the manure pile (they had to be pulled out with a bucket loader!).

The physics of the whole thing actually explains my dilemma. Underneath the frozen surface there is actually a lot of biological activity going on (as any of you who've ever made compost would know). All of that creates enough heat that the inside of the manure pile is still quite, well to put it delicately, soft. A little dog could run across the surface of it, but even a skinny teenager was unwise to try.

I might note at this point that, although my father had owned a farm since I was a year and a half old, we didn't live on a farm until I was nearly fourteen. I was really not familiar with the insides of winter manure piles. Manure didn't get spread at that point in the year. I honestly thought it was going to be like climbing over a mound of piled up snow. Of course my stupidity on this count was part of what my father found so funny. I suspect my sister would have been smart enough to not climb over the manure pile. Of course, she always contended that she would have been.

So there you have it, Laura, I wouldn't have landed in the manure pile if your mom hadn't let the dog out. Of course I also wouldn't have landed in the manure pile if I had had been even a little bit observant of the properties of manure. I, was a lot more interested in reading novels than observing such natural phenomena. I also should have known better than to go chasing after the dog in dress boots.

That dog ultimately ended up getting shot when she was deer chasing, recovered from her wounds and lived to chase again. One day she never came home and we always assumed that she got shot by a hunter. I on the other hand never stepped foot on another manure pile. Some of us learn, some of us don't.

That also was the last pair of red boots I ever owned. My dress boots since then have always been either black, or a nice manure colored brown.

Monday, February 20, 2006

So I'm Not A Pampered Chef

I discovered Jessie Raymond's website this weekend and read one of her amusing columns for the Addison Independent. It reminded me of why I failed as a Pampered Chef Consultant a few years back. Contrary to some people's mistaken impressions it is not because I sliced a chunk of my thumb off on the slicer/grater (fortunately not at a party!). There were other reasons.

It didn't make sense really, I have a promoter personality according to those personality tests. I've talked people into homeschooling, I've talked people into baby led weaning, I've talked people into raising sheep. Why couldn't I talk people into buying Pampered Chef? It's a money thing.

I honestly couldn't talk people into buying stuff I knew they didn't really need. Some of the products were nice. Some of them I continue to use. Frankly some of them were plastic junk and I could buy cheaper versions at the grocery store that lasted just as long. As a matter of fact I did, and they have.

I got talked into trying Pampered Chef by one of the mom's in my homeschool group. I gave it the old college try. I got into it at the point that our county was beginning to get Pampered Out, and like Jessie I have the wrong kind of friends. My friend Ellen had these parties where they served wine and the credit cards got whipped out. I had parties where they served generic soda and people ordered lemon zesters. I stayed in long enough to earn my demonstrator kit, then I quit.

The thing that ultimately made me quit was the thing that was supposed to pump you up. I went to one of the consultants' meetings. The lady who was in charge of the whole area got up and showed us the wonderful pin she'd won and the charms we could win. She talked about trips to national conferences. Everyone else was oohing and aahing and vowing to sell more next month. I was vowing to never do another party. These people were like the sorority girls in college or the cheerleaders in high school. They frankly were not my type of people - sorry sorority girls and cheerleaders, sorry Pampered Chef and Tupperware consultants. There it is, I am not one of you. I didn't care about the pins, I didn't want to go to national sales conferences.

Now I have nothing against jewelry, but I'be never even once worn the one charm I actually earned in Pampered Chef. I love conferences, if they are the right type. I'd love to go to a Gilbert Conference, I drool over conferences at Oxford, I enjoy Defending the Faith when I actually get to go. I even enjoy conference tapes when I can't go. A conference that's devoted to telling me how to sell something to people who don't want it, however, is not my idea of a fun event. Frankly a root canal sounds like more fun.

I actually think I would be good at sales if I truly believed in the product and the people were coming to me because they were interested in buying the product. When I went to my first Pampered Chef party I was actually interested in some of the stuff. I didn't mind spending $50 because thre were things I wanted (like the instant read thermometer and the pizza stone) that I hadn't seen in stores around here. It wasn't until I actually got into it that I realized the degree to which you were trying to guilt people into buying something. I just wasn't good at that.

Now when I get invited to a Pampered Chef party I go, if I can't get out of it. I've even hosted one myself, as a favor to a friend. I told the consultant not to count on a big party, and it wasn't. I don't even make a good Pampered Chef hostess because I'm not good at twisting people's arms and I'm lousy at getting outside orders. I, like Jessie, have the wrong kind of friends. My friends look at the plastic clips and know they can get them cheaper at Hannaford. My friends may buy a pizza stone, but they don't feel like they need a whole cupboard of stoneware. Most importantly, my friends don't hold parties of their own, so they are really bad news for the consultant who can't keep the chain going.

So there's my confession. I'm not a Pampered Chef. I won't ever make a Tupperware Lady, and the even the idea of being a Creative Memories consultant makes me shudder. All the hoopla, at all those root you on meetings, just leave me cold. It's like being at a Pentecostal prayer meeting without the theological content. Except there is in a sense some religious content there. It's the religion of materialism, the religion of the bottom line. Ah, there's the problem, when it comes to that religion I'm a heretic, so I'm as out of place there as an atheist would be at a Pentecostal prayer service, or an old line Pentecostal would be at Mass.

The great God Mammon is what they worship. It's weird because many of the consultants I knew were evangelical Christians and they seemed to find no disconnect. Maybe that's the inheritance of Puritanism, I'm not sure. I just know that I couldn't worship in that pew and I wasn't good at doing that job.

Some day I'll have a party with my friends where no one has to buy anything and I can serve good food without worrying about using biscuits from a can. I like parties, I like my friends, I just don't want to have to try to sell my friends things at parties. That's why I'm not a Pampered Chef.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Purple Sweater Update

I now have only 18 rows of decreasing left to do. The rows continue to get shorter and shorter. That's the good news. The bad news is I'm running very short on yarn. I think I have enough to finish the decreases (I'm fairly sure, in fact), but I don't know that I have enough to finish the neckline, cuffs, and hem. I'm thinking we're looking at contrasting edges here, folks. I could spin up some more yarn and dye it. Of course I'd have no guarantee that it would match the sweater yarn, but at least I'd have yarn that was a close match for the edges. The hitch there is, I'd actually have to stop knitting in order to spin the yarn. Also since I currently have Dorset wool on the spindle I'd have to finish the spindle of Dorset and ply that before I'd have empty spindles to spin the Romney. SIGH! I can't believe I'm running out of yarn! I weighed it before I started, I thought I had more than enough. I was sure I'd overestimated yarn amounts this time. This is a repeating problem. This is why the yoke of Abby's sweater had two colors in it. This is why my teal blue sweater has a low u neck. This is why there's never a lot of extra yarn to mend holes. I'm beginning to think there's something wrong with the estimated yarn amounts in the book. Or maybe it's just that I get so eager to get started with the sweater that I hate to take the time to spin just one extra skein. Unfortunately, here I am AGAIN coming down to the wire with questions as to whether I'm going to run out or not. WHINE,WHINE, WHINE. Of course I still haven't solved the problem of the lighter than the rest of the sweater middle section.

I think I've just figured out what an excellent purgatory for me would be. Purple sweaters, one after another, with never quite enough yarn to finish with ease.

A Pot of Tea and Cinnamon Toast

This morning I made myself a pot of Earl Grey tea (with loose leaf tea from Common Grounds) and cinnamon toast and came upstairs to sit at the keyboard. This pot of tea was making me nostalgic because the pot is one my sister made for me nine years ago. She loved to do crafty sorts of stuff and one Christmas this appeared in the box of Christmas presents. It's a neat little pot that sits on top of its own cup. It holds two full cups of tea (just the right amount for daily heart health). She made it in a ceramics class, one of her favorite ways to unwind, destress etc.

As I was surfing around on my favorite blogs and sipping my tea, I landed at Wittingshire. There the blog for the day was about family memories. Of course that fit very well with my nostalgic mood. You see my sister died a year and a half ago at the age of not quite 52 (her birthday would have been the next month). This left me quite literally an orphan. I am, as I noted to family at the time, the keeper of all the memories, all the stories. It is my account of things that people will get. I finally get to have the last word.

My sister and I fought like cats and dogs when we were growing up. She most often played the cat and I most often was found hiding out in the bathroom while she pounded on the door from the other side. Now, I can't even remember what it was that we were fighting about. Isn't that weird? I remember the fights, but not the issues.

It was only in the last years of her life that we were beginning to have a real friendship. It was really after my mother's death that we actually began calling each other on the spur of the moment. If we'd had cell phones we probably would have talked with each other a lot, but we were both too concious of long distance charges to use land lines really frequently. The fall she died was the one when my life was finally going to allow the time for me to go to Missouri to visit her. I had it all planned out. I was going to go in October. Unfortunately, the trip was to Nebraska in August instead and she was already comatose when I got there.

One of the very difficult things about living here and now is that family bonds have to get stretched over such incredibly long distances. People move far away and visits simply don't allow for the same sorts of relaxed relationships that living fifteen minutes away does. My own mother lived less than ten minutes away from one sister, less than twenty away from another for most of her adult life. They still didn't spend inordinate amounts of time together, but they certainly had a drop in sort of relationship. Our relationship with the aunt who lived less than ten minutes away was so close that she was nearly a second mother to us. I know that I will never truly be a second mother to my sister's children. They grew up without me there. It is not for lack of desire on my part, it's simply that we never really got to know one another all that well. My trip to Nebraska when their mom died helped a bit, but I know that on a certain level we will probably always be a bit more strangers than I am with my nieces and nephews who live only five hours away.

This is part of our American heritage. We are a nation of immigrants. Our ancestors left their family homes knowing they would probably never see their families again. Then a few generations later people hit the trails west, again leaving family behind, with no real hope of seeing them again. Now I see young people who are desperate to go to college on the west coast, to get as far away from family as possible. This was not why my sister and her husband moved to the midwest. Had they had the choice they would have stayed in the east. It was the Nixon recession that forced them out of Vermont. They wanted to retain family ties, it was just so difficult when family was mostly a twenty four hour drive away and plane tickets were expensive.

One of the things that you lose when you become an orphan is the very sense that there is someone else who does remember the stories. You lose the sense that there is someone else who knew you when you were seven and had a broken wrist or who understands why you're afraid of falling, or who could help you replicate your mother's stuffing recipe. I tell the stories to my kids (like about getting stuck in the manure pile while chasing the dog) and they are funny, but somehow not so funny without my sister there to join in the tale. We have Grammy Drown's coffee cake and Grampa Drown's omelet at Christmas. We have Aunt Mary's baked beans (the only baked beans my kids will eat!) and we try to pass on stories, but only I have the memories.

I sometimes wonder whether the fact that we are so separated from our birth families doesn't make it easier for people to walk away from marriages after 20 years or so. I often tell my kids that when someone does that they walk away not only from the other person, but from the person they were at twenty something as well. When you walk away from the person who shared the births of your children for example, you lose a part of yourself in the process. No future partner will ever know the you you were then. No one else will ever know you quite like your siblings, your parents, your cousins who lived down the road.

I think that one of the reasons that children appreciate books like Little Women, Penderwicks, Swallows and Amazons, and Narnia is that they do realize the importance of family. One of the things that homeschooling does for children is to provide them with a solid family base. In a culture where everything may change several times in the course of a child's growing up this seems to me to be incredibly important.

Very few children still have the experience of living in the same house from the time they were born until they get married. My family moved around in the same general area, but there was a point when I was in college that the joke was that I couldn't go home for the weekend because I wasn't sure where home was. There came a time when I could go to my mom's, but I couldn't go home because I truly had never lived where she was living. Home was where I lived, not where my mom lived. My husband had the opposite experience "the house" is still where he grew up. We still go over to "the house." My children grew up with grandparents around the corner. It has in fact shaped who they are.

I think that all of the moving around my family did (even though it only encompassed three different towns and only 25 miles of distance)and the fact that I now live on the "other side of the state" from where I grew up makes the sense of orphanhood greater for me now. It gets exaggerated by the fact that ten years ago I left the Protestant church we had attended for nearly 20 years and became Catholic. This was a decision that was right and necessary, and yet in a sense it was another sort of separation. The people who knew my children as babies, who attended their baptisms, who watched them sing with the Sunday School for the first time are not the people whom they now worship with on Sunday morning. We sit in pews with strangers, after nearly ten years in the same parish there are only a handful of people I know by name and I still know far more than my kids do. In becoming Catholic I amputated myself from my homeschooling friends, nearly all of whom were evangelical Protestants, I amputated myself from my close high school friends (all of whom were Pentecostal Protestants), I amputated myself from my Intervarsity friends from college.

All of this amputation was difficult, yet when my sister was still alive I felt it less keenly. There was still someone there who knew me when I was in high school youth group, in Intervarsity, even from a distance as a Congregationalist evangelical homeschooler. She saw the continuity in what seemed like radically different decisions. She went to church with me both as a Protestant and as a Catholic. She didn't follow me into the Church and yet she didn't treat me as a pariah. We were sisters, no matter what. She was on my side, no matter what.

Fortunately that's not the whole story. My husband of 31 years has known me for nearly 37. My sister-in-law has known me for 39. I have one Protestant friend (who hasn't abandoned me) whom I've known for 44 years and there are still my cousins who've in fact known me since I was a baby. I have to travel to find those people who knew the little girl me, but at this point in time they are still out there. There are still cousins who went to Grammy's for Thanksgiving, who taught me to play chopsticks on the piano, who showed me how to swing a bucket in a circle without spilling a drop, who locked me in the chicken coop, and scared me with stories about big black dogs. I sometimes feel that I'm the keeper of the memories with them as well, but at least if I tell a story it does seem to awaken the memories with them as well.

Maybe story tellers are meant to be the keepers and recorders of memories. Perhaps we care more about memories, see the value in roots. Perhaps it's just an oldest child thing (although my sister valued memories at least equally). I just suspect that we live in a time and place that is encouraging us to run boldly towards the future while blithely discarding the past. In the process we risk losing not just valuable insights from the past, but pieces of ourselves as well. There are times when change is necessary, when moves are unavoidable, when separations are simply a fact of life. It is important, even then, to figure out which things can be left behind, which relationships were only situational and which are core. It's then important to figure out how to load the spinning wheel, or grandma's old bedstead and the family pictures into the covered wagon and carry them along with us, even if wagon seems a bit more crowded and we'd rather simply reinvent ourselves when we arrive in our new home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

UFO Update

In the knitting world unfinished projects are known as UFO's. Now, as I mentioned awhile back, I have a purple sweater in the unfinished project catagory. I didn't join the knitting Olympics so that I could instead finish my purple sweater. So how's the unfinished project going? Well, Michelle Kwan dropped out, I merely frogged back. That's right, I ended up ripping out about 4 inches of knitting because of one stitch at the seamline that I, quite frankly, couldn't stand the look of. I tried laddering down to it and hooking it back up. As a matter of fact I tried doing that for about an hour (the same day Michelle fell in practice as a matter of fact). I finally got really disgusted and began ripping back. When I finally had ripped all the way back to the point where the decreases were to begin I stopped. I picked up the stitches and started over again. Of course when you're working with tiny stitches on small needles with fine yarn that's easier said than done. I spent quite some time laddering up stitches that I hadn't quite picked up right and untwisting twisted stitches. The weekend was not a fun time for this project! Finally, by Monday night I was back to where I was when I began frogging. On Tuesday I actually made progress. I now have 50 rows to knit until the decreases are done. Of course since I'm eliminating 8 stitches every two rounds it goes faster and faster. Will I finish in time? Well, at least I have a better shot at it than Michelle does at the gold. I keep wondering if I brought her bad luck with my frogging!

Of course there's also this story I'm working on that seems to be in a messy muddle in the middle.... Oh no another unfinished project!!!!!!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Combatting SADD With Funny Hats

Kris Franklin over at Space Dweebs suggests funny hats for writing inspiration. So today since we seem to be suffering from February SADD around here I decided to go funny hat shopping. My daughter indulged me and went along, in part to prevent me getting truly obnoxious hats, I suspect. Anyway we found a couple. The joker hat actually has balls that light up, although that doesn't show up in the picture. I hope they make you laugh as much as they make me. Hopefully the work the way Kris's funny hats do too, but at least they provided a break from SADD.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Review of a Controversial Book

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with Steve Kellmeyer's books, but his recent book on parochial education (Designed to Fail) is thought provoking, to say the very least. Steve is not necessarily a whole hearted advocate of homeschooling. He recognizes that not every couple is prepared to teach their children calculus or chemistry, for example. He does, however, strongly assert that the Church teaches parents are to be the primary educators of their children in matters of faith. His analysis of what's wrong with Catholic schools and how the problem came to be is destined to provoke strong reaction. He does not, as some people do, blame the problem on post-Vatican II failures. Here's where some of the nost interesting insights are, from my perspective. He sees the connection with industrialism, clericalism, Americanism, and ultimately a failure to recognize some of the graces connected with the sacrament of marriage.

I've given this one only a very quick read through, but I could hardly put it down. If his historical research is credible there is some very interesting information here. I find it intriguing that one of the accusations he makes about public schooling is very similar to one that I used to see in Growing Without Schooling newsletters back in the eighties. The accusation was that public schools were designed to prepare people to work in factories instead of being independent businessmen, farmers,craftsmen, or merchants with independent thought.

I'm not beginning to do the book justice, because, as I said, I've only given it a very cursory read through. I believe, however, that it is an important book for parents who are serious about raising their children in the Catholic faith. It's a book that pastors concerned about the education of the children of their parish should read.

Steve contends that parishes should be putting their money into adult formation, and then expecting parents be the teachers of their own children. He has a lot of Church teaching to back up this premise. He even (gasp) suggests that perhaps we should be shutting down some of our parish schools.

Buy the book. Read it. Pass it around. Discuss it with your friends. Give a copy to your pastor. Send a copy to your bishop. The issues Steve deals with deserve to be discussed, even if that discussion ruffles some feathers.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Homeschoolers Have You Tried This?

One of the things I particularly appreciate in a novel is when the author brings it to life by describing what the characters are eating. Agatha Christie does it, Madeleine L'Engle does it, C.S. Lewis does it, even Mary Higgins Clark does it. Among the authors you probably read to your children the one of the ones who does this most extensively is probably Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course this is why there is a Little House on the Prairie cookbook.

Anyway one of my most enjoyable activities when the kids were younger was to cook up somthing that the characters in the story had been eating. So we had prairie type cornbread (quite different from the New England variety) salt pork with milk gravy, pound cake, and even sourdough. We didn't stop with the Little House books though. We had sardines and toast with Mr. Tumnus, and bacon and mushrooms with the hobbits.

Among other things it's a great way to introduce your children to new foods. It's also fun to learn cooking techniques. One example of this would be making popovers along with the Little Women, or trying to improve on the horrible cooking that the Little Women do without Marmee or Hannah there to help. The same would be true of Anne of Green Gables.

Of course where your food adventures take you will depend on your taste in books. Having never read Penderwicks, I don't know what those girls eat. The Swallows and Amazons have to do a lot of camping type food.

I'll admit that fiction has inticed me to try retsina(I hated it), make poached eggs without the little metal poacher, learn to make plum pudding with hard sauce, make Irish soda bread, use real parmesean cheese instead of the stuff in a can, make Poor Man's Stroganoff (among other things). I remember even when I was in high school eating bread and cheese along with Jane Eyre.

Of course fiction may also intice you to make nine patch quilts, or cloth dolls, or knit socks, or take up piano playing. I guess maybe one of the best things it does is to give your kids actual things to do rather than have them just watching tv or playing video games. I just think it's a great inspiration to get into the kitchen with your kids and start cooking.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Olympic Challenge

There is a knitting Olympics out there in blogdom where knitters are being challenged to knit something they've never done during the Olympics. Knitters are to cast on during the opening ceremony and finish by the closing ceremony. I wanted to do it, I really did. I even knew what I wanted to do: entrelac socks out of handspun Dorset wool. I decided to do something even better. My challenge to myself is to finish my problem purple sweater by the closing ceremony. It's not something new, it's something undone, imcomplete, unfinished business. Just call me the Michelle Kwan of the knitting world. Michelle is going for gold, one more time. I just want to finish a purple sweater.

So is there anyone else out there with a partially done project who'd like to join me for an Olympics challenge? Let's see if we can quit procrastinating and finish by the closing ceremony. We could call it the Unfinished Business Olympics. It doesn't even have to be crafts. It could be an article you're writing, a book you need to finish reading, some mending that's screaming to be done, unanswered correpondence, a cupboard that is pleading to be cleaned. In short anything that you've been putting off. Of course it will be easier if it's something like knitting, crocheting, quilting, rug hooking, or tatting that you can do while you watch the games. It just doesn't have to be something you can do during the games. Maybe you can even play games with yourself. You can't watch the ice skating that's on that night unless you've worked for a few hours on your project, etc.

Anyone up for it? Procrastinators everywhere join the Unfinished Business Olmpics and go for the gold.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Problem With Purple Sweaters

I've been a fan of purple off and on ever since it was my favorite color in first grade. When I got my "colors done" more than a decade ago I was pleased to discover that as a "fall" I got to wear certain shades of dark purple. I've since then had some purple shirts, but never managed a purple sweater. I guess I was too busy knitting, brown, teal, turquoise and other appropriate fall colored sweaters. For my daughter I knit red, green, and brown sweaters (only two of which were out of handspun, homedyed yarn).

A year ago at Christmas I presented Abby with a nearly completed sweater made of handspun purple yarn with a somewhat contrasting yoke (lilac with purple v's all over it). I say nearly completed because I hadn't cast off the neck, just to make sure it wasn't too tight or anything. Well, it didn't fit. The arms were too short (I'd measured the wrong old sweater for size!), the yoke was too tight. So I frogged it (ripped it back - to clarify for all you non-knitters). It was pretty frustrating because I'd already fought with the yoke more than once. Well it took me until Epiphany knitting furiously at that, but I finally got the sweater finished and Abby actually wears it a lot. There's still this one stitch in the back that bugs me when I follow her up to communion (the yarn was particularly thick there), but all in all it came out really pretty.

I loved the color so much that I decided to make a purple sweater for myself. Only mine wasn't going to be worsted weight. This was going to be a light weight sweater from a finer yarn. I spun and I spun and I spun. I hadn't realized how much longer it takes to spin two ply fine than two ply bulky. I didn't keep track, but it was way more than the week it took me for my bulky knit blue sweater. Finally I had what looked like enough yarn. I put it into a dye pot and it came out beautifully. Everything looked like it was going great. I cast on and began knitting. I took the sweater with us when we traveled to Pittsburgh to visit Duquesne, knitting most of the time I wasn't driving. Those small needles and fine yarn sure made for slow knitting. I put the project down over the summer and picked it up again when we went with Abby to Duquesne in August. Again I knit and knit in the car. When I got back it was finally time to try the thing on to make sure my previous calculations were actually working right. It didn't fit, was much too small!. So I frogged the whole thing, started over with more stitches and began again.

I got it knit to the point where the body was done up to the armholes. Then I began the sleeves. I got the sleeves done and attached them, on the home stretch, Yeah! Well this week as I was beginning to knit with the whole project together I suddenly noticed something horrible. There was a band of slightly darker purple about a third of the way up the body of the sweater. It wasn't dark enough to catch close up, but from a distance it was pretty obvious. What to do? I refuse to frog this project again!

So what is the fix? I'm not quite sure. At the moment I'm going to knit the rest of the sweater, then I'll see how to remedy it. My first thought is to redye the completed sweater by putting dye on and then heating the sweater in the microwave. My second thought is that I could clip a stitch and frog just the bottom third of the sweater and reknit it with leftover yarn (if there's enough left). My third thought was to do little v's in duplicate stitch in contrasting colors in random spots on the sweater to sort of draw the eye away from the offending color shift. So knitters and spinners out there. Do you have any better ideas? I've even considered sewing sequins all over it, but I hesitate to do that.

When I showed the sweater to my daughter this morning she told me that I was just doomed to have problems with purple sweaters. She doesn't know the half of it. When she was about two I knit her a purple dress with a lovely yoke with diamonds all over it (also for Christmas - I think there's a pattern there) I ripped it out at least three times. Maybe I should just stay away from purple!