I took a pause from the lace tonight (don’t worry, I still made progress earlier today) and went to a concert with Jenny Holmgren and band, but it was really a family reunion. Three (from our perspective, two of the three were siblings) cousins with families met up and it was quite fun. Most of them I’ve never met before, or I was too young to remember or be remembered. The lead singer is my second cousin (I have a gazillion second cousins but I’ve barely met anyone so it’s both new and fun to actually do so and also hear her sing) and she is super talented. She sang, her husband played the guitar, her mum gave me good career advice and my mum told funny stories of long gone family members. On the train I knit on something not white lace and it was a great evening. Tomorrow, though, awaits white lace. That’ll be okay too.
I am behind on this weeks stitch count. I did 32 000 stitches last week and should, according to all calculations, be a mere 30 000 stitches from a finished center. So far I’ve only made 16 of the 48 rows this week and need to make more than 10 rows every day for the rest of the week. I’ve also decided that this shawl should be blocking by June 28 so I need to step it up. Luckily, the 13 first rows of the pattern repeat, which are the most challenging ones, are now done. The rest should be quicker, but then again, you never know when it comes to knitting.
Throughout the years since I first joined Ravelry in 2010 I have favorited a lot of shawl patterns. By a lot I mean a lot. Some I’ve already knit and some I don’t care for anymore but a lot of them are still very pretty. I might not want them myself but I think they would be very fun to knit. Most of them are lace but not all. A lot of them are fingering weight yarn and some are lace and some are made of heavier stuff. Some are huge and some are small but I think the shawlettes are down to a minimum. When I last looked at these favorited shawls it struck me what a waste it is to have favorited all these yummy shawls and not knit them.
I know people who have made themselves their own sock club. In early January they put together 12 kits with yarn and sock pattern, they put the kits in ziplocks and stash them somewhere where they can’t see what’s inside the bag, like on a top shelf, and then, at the beginning of every month they randomly choose a ziplock and try to finish the pair of socks before the month is over. By the end of the year they have 12 new socks.
This might be disillusion from knitting way too much white lace on tiny needles speaking but I think it would be fun to make myself a shawl club. I would choose the twelve prettiest shawls amongst my unknit favorites on Ravelry, make sure they are a diverse, e.g not all lace weight lace shawls but also some fingering weight, some worsted weight, some cables, some slipped stitches and so on, purchase the pattern if I don’t have it already, maybe pair it with yarn (even though this is a bad idea, what if I happen to choose brown or blue in February, that poor shawl would never be knit), hide kits, randomly choose on the 1st of every month and then happily cast on. Instead of pair the pattern with a specific yarn I could perhaps designate a box with stash yarn, make sure I have everything I need in there for all the shawls and then pick a color that suits my mood.
This could be a fun way to actually knit all those lovely shawls I’ve favorited. First I would make sure I’m actually interested in making that specific shawl though. I have favorited a lot that I no longer like or that are just good looking but not something I would want to knit. At the end of the year I would have twelve new shawls. I’m not sure I would want them all for myself, they could just as easily become gifts. It would all just be more of a way of knitting and enjoying the process and knowing the end result will be something I appreciate, rather than the end result in itself. The shawl will not be destined for something in particular right away, maybe I figure it out as I go along. Or maybe I will just end up with a box of shawls that no one will ever use but at least I kept myself occupied and had fun in the process.
Last week I heard a comment that I’ve been thinking a lot of ever since. I’m not sure that I agree with the comment and I’m not sure I disagree. It has a lot to do with what I’ve discussed before, last spring when I was supposed to knit something masculine. I have good arguments for both sides of this comment and I’m not sure anything will be settled but I definitely think it needs to be discussed. The commenter was very sure of her thing and even though I might have given you a different answer to this if you’d asked me two years ago, I’d like to think that I’m now humble enough to see this issue from different perspectives.
The ever so interesting discussion about colors on babies arised last week. I am a firm believer that all babies (and older kids too for that matter) should wear all colors of the rainbow and then some (even though I might have some issues with black, which probably is more because of my lack of interest in knitting black than anything else). Then again, I personally like wearing all colors of the rainbow myself. From what I understand, kids usually like colors and I think that bright colors probably helps stressed parents to find clothing items when they are in a hurry at daycare. Also, knitting in only one color is pretty boring (you ask me how I know this? Well, I’m currently knitting a humongous white shawl on needles 2,5 mm, thank you very much. I can tell you it will be a while before I knit in white again) and I like to pick and choose when I knit. Maybe May isn’t the right month to knit dark red but an excellent month for lime green? Or, May might be an excellent time to knit dark red and December is good for lime green? It all comes down to what you are in the mood for and if you don’t want to knit in a certain color but cast on anyway, it will take a lot of will-power to finish that item.
Others are firm believers that little baby girls should wear pink and little baby boys should wear blue. Personally I think that they can of course wear those things as well as other things but I will never only knit in blue for a boy or pink for a girl. I have blue periods and I have pink periods but I also have green periods and yellow periods and red and purple and… you get my meaning (I’m like Picasso this way). I have knit pink for baby girls and I have knit pink for baby boys, I have knit blue for baby girls and I have knit blue for baby boys. I try to knit in colors that I know that the parents like since the baby in question is too young to have an opinion, and I knit in colors I like myself.
Interestingly enough, back in the days and up until the 50’s, pink was considered a good color for little boys since red was the color of power and pink was a lighter form of red and therefore good for boys whereas blue was a soft and gentle color and therefore suitable for little girls.
So far everything is pretty clear, some people like a variety of colors and some want to be a little stricter and some completely ban pink for both boys and girls. Now for the comment that has gotten me thinking. During this discussion someone said that parents should be grateful just to get something knitted, no matter the color. I agree that if you get something knitted you should always say thank you, the gift itself is less important than the fact that someone spent time and effort to think of you. That goes for all gifts and in that aspect I think that a reciever should be grateful no matter what the gift is (unless it’s obviously meant in a spiteful way, like, you don’t have to be grateful someone gave you chicken pox or an envelope full of gravel, even though those things too can be kindly meant). But, as a knitter, should I respect the parents wishes and beliefs or should I go on with my own political agenda (and yes, no matter which of the three aforementioned opinions you choose, it’s a political choice). Maybe I can combine the two? Maybe I don’t have to do anything that goes against my own beliefs but at the same time meets the beliefs of the receiver? Is it more important for me to do what I want than to listen to the receiver? Don’t you want the thing you knit to come to use? For example, I don’t give my mum a pink frilly blouse even though I might love a pink frilly blouse, because I know she would never wear it in a million years. She, in return, would never get me a dark blue plain t-shirt, because she knows that I will never wear it. I want to give her something she will like and I think that goes for most people. You wouldn’t get a bottle of wine for someone you know don’t drink alcohol and I try not to knit in anything but merino for someone who is sensitive to wool. If I don’t drink alcohol I probably won’t get a bottle of wine for someone who does but I might buy a nice cheese and some crackers instead. If I am not fond of merino myself I can perhaps knit in cotton for the person who finds wool too scratchy.
When we get gifts for our friends and family we try to get them something we think they will love, without bending our own beliefs, and I’m not sure I actually think that the sober alcoholic who receives a bottle of whiskey has to be grateful (unless the giver had no idea the receiver is a sober alcoholic, then it’s an honest mistake, but then again, maybe a bottle of whiskey isn’t such a good idea for a gift for someone you don’t know very well…).
Why would we do anything differently when it comes to babies? Why then is it suddenly more important that we get to follow our own agenda than to listen to the people who, after all, is in charge of that little person. They are in charge and that means that if they don’t like what you’ve made they aren’t going to use it. Even though I might have issues with the idea of you changing what I’ve made, I respect that that is your choice, once I’ve handed over my gift, it’s your decision what to do with it (but perhaps you don’t have to tell me about it). I personally love knitting in pink but if I know the baby’s parents doesn’t like pink I won’t make something pink for that baby. Instead there are so many other colors to choose from.
I guess here is my problem with the comment that all parents should be grateful no matter what. Yes, we should all be grateful when we receive something but if I knit something orange for someone who doesn’t like orange or if I knit frilly lace for a baby boy whose parents doesn’t like that on little boys or if I refuse to knit blue for the parent who loves blue, then how much is my gift worth if I didn’t even bother to respect the receiver enough to make them something they would love and use? Of course, sometimes you don’t know the parents wishes but then you might want to be a little neutral in all directions. I wouldn’t embroider a skull on a baby’s cardigan for someone I barely know but for my heavy metal friends I might do. Is it more important to get to knit pink to every little baby girl there is or is it more important to stay friends with their parents? Couldn’t red be an equally good color? It obviously goes both ways, I won’t knit pink for parents who doesn’t like pink on their baby boy but I might knit green instead. By knitting green I have listened to the parents’ wishes about no pink and I have followed my own beliefs that kids need a variety of colors and not just one.
And, when in doubt, remember that all babies look good in white.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. These past three weeks I’ve made more than 30 000 stitches per week for a total of 95 000 stitches. According to my calculations and also according to Julle’s, (his might be more accurate but he doesn’t know the lace as I do and and he has never had his arse kicked by the knitter goddess and therefore I trust my own calculations more. They might not be as based on real numbers and algoritms and such but they are based on simple math, knitterly experience and sanity) the center will be done in two weeks as long as I keep this 30 000 sts/week thing up. In twelve rows I only have two repeats of the pattern left but I still think that is about 60 000 stitches. It would be great if the center ended when May ends so I can use all of June to knit on the edge lace. If I’m not mistaken, the edge have 78 repeats and if I make a mere 3 repeats a day over the course of June, the whole shebang will be ready for blocking by June 26. That would be a great idea but it will not happen as I’m going away over Midsummer and I don’t want to bring the Great Lace. It’s not very transportable and when I say I need a vacation I really mean a vacation, from everything, even kick-ass laces. (I’ll bring other knitting though, don’t you worry.) So, considering I’m not going to knit on the lace for almost a whole week, I have two options. 1. To raise the amount of repeats made per day from three to four or 2. to have the lace ready for blocking by July 4. I’m not sure which of these options I’ll choose, maybe something in between. July is still a fairly good margin but I’d prefer it if the lace was done before the end of June.The point is that I can at least see the end of it, I know how much is left and I have a plan for making it happen. And, I also know how close I am to get to knit other things again…
I have a very sensitive neck. Since I first got one of those really bad wrynecks back in 2009 my daily wardrobe almost always contains a shawl of some kind, wrapped around my neck. I’m careful and I try to stay out of draught. Over the years my neck has been too used to and to comfortable with the added warmth around the neck that it mutters in a huffed voice whenever I dare to leave it bare. This has made me a bit put out, I think I should be in charge of my neck and not the other way around so I have gradually gotten my neck through detox and helped it to get used to be bare every once on a while. It has worked pretty well.
Last Monday though was a very windy day but it was also a very sunny so I had both lunch and coffee outdoors. Yesterday morning I realized my mistake. Wryneck. I even dreamt that my back was cold and I woke up in the middle of the night and realized it was. I covered it and Went back to sleep but yesterday morning still saw an umcomfortable neck and I covered it in a shawl and thought it would get better during the day.
It wasn’t. This morning was even worse neckwise, I had a hard time turning my head and I wondered if maybe I could knit something to make it better, something that comes down on the back but is still big enough to wrap around the neck. I’m not sure why I thought that I could knit something that I could use to help this wryneck today but I guess it’s the thought of a knitter – anything can be helped with knitting, I don’t care if it will take me some time to make it.
Usually shawls are either designed to cover your shoulders elegantly or to be wrapped around your neck in a scarlike manner (not as elegant I think but much more effective for my purposes) but nothing that will cover both.
Then I thought that maybe a triangular shawl would help, something big enough to still cover my upper back while I wrap it around my neck. Now, I don’t have that many triangular shawls. My shawls are mostly crescent shaped and the ones that are triangular are more of shawlettes than shawl.
Then I knew it. Back in March I finished this year’s first MKAL – Rock the Kasbah. It’s big, it’s triangular and it’s warm since it’s mostly mosaic knitting and therefore two strands of yarn has been carried along those parts, instead of just one strand. Aslo, it has beads (not that that helps the neck but it adds a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to the whole ensemble). It worked perfectly and all day today my poor neck, shouldes and upper back has been wrapped in this shawl. They are not very happy yet but definitely happier than they would have been had they not been wrapped in this amazing shawl.
In the past two weeks I’ve made 63 000 stitches on my lace. That’s a little over one fifth of what I figured I had left when the border was done and I panicked over how much was left to be done. At least I know that a fifth is done and I also made a lot before that. Now, if I can keep this up the center will be done… soon… I hope. I made 31010 stitches last week and I now have over 500 stitches on the needles. So, knit on, knit good.
Look what I found yesterday! One blooming lilac flower. I don’t Think it got the memo that lilacs bloom after the bird cherry and not the other way around (whenever would the shoemaker have a vaction otherwise?). On the other hand, I can understand this little lilac. Last spring this particular lilac bush was crammed in between ladder scaffolding and didn’t have much space to bloom at all. Maybe the bush feels that it have to seize the opportunity to bloom when it can in case the same thing will happen this year. In my opinion, and that’s based on how it was when I was a child, the lilacs shouldn’t bloom until the beginning of June, or at the very earliest the end of May, when school is out for the summer and you have many weeks of lazy days and fun things. In reality, after about a week you were sick and tired of having nothing to do and all your friends had already left town, but right then and there, first days of vacation, the lilacs were blooming and you had no idea yet what this wonderful summer had to offer.
Last of April is a special day in my town. Some people love it, some people hate it and everybody has got an opinion about it. It’s a day filled with joy and festivities, celebrating spring but it’s also a day with way too much alcohol and underage drinking and all the problems that follow. I have celebrated Last of April for probably 20 years or more, a little differently as I have grown older. In the rest of the country last of April is called Valborg, or Walpurgis Night, but in my town it’s known mostly as last of April by the natives. You can almost tell by what people here call April 30th if they’re born and raised here or if they’ve moved here later. I had probably never heard the word Valborg before highschool, when I had friends in my class who was from other parts of the country.
Over the years I’ve celebrated last of April differently. When I was a kid the bonfire was the best thing and my parents usually served shrimp for dinner for some reason. I have never been a big fan of peeling shrimp but they taste good. Then I got a little older and me and my friends went downtown to watch the raft race on the river. Then I got a little older still and we had picknick in the Botanical garden. When I became a student we went to the university library for the ritual donning of the caps at precisely 15:00 (when I lived in France I invited my friends to the park to have a picknick and at 3 pm I put on a hat, not being home should never stop you from celebrating last of April). I’ve done most of the other traditional things too (except the porridge breakfast, I do not and will never eat porridge) over the years, champagne gallup at the student societies, herring lunch, listening to the choir in the Assembly Hall and the another choir up at the castle in the evening and the big ball at the castle, including walking home slowly in the wee hours of the morning in high heels and ball gown, happy with feet tired from dancing. Last year I was so happy that I had finally moved out of my student apartment which meant I could actually be at home on April 30th without going insane. Before that, being at home was a bit like being in the middle of the hugest party and not participating, but last year I sat in my armchair knitting and listened to the silence. I’ve done it all, everything you could possibly want on last of April which means I’ve become a bit laid back when it comes to this day. I don’t mind going to work even though I know a lot of people look at me like I’m crazy when I say that (and I must say I get a bit annoyed when people ask me surprisingly why I’m at work on April 30th, it’s because it’s a work day and I don’t understand why it’s weird to go to work on a work day, it’s not like a lot of things is happening before 3 pm anyway and by then I’m off work).
What has stuck through they years though, is having a picknick in the Botanical garden and the donning of the caps. If I get to do that, I’m happy. Agnieszka and I have been doing that for about 14 years, not every year but almost. The big advantage now over when we were 16 (ok, I was 16, she wasn’t) is that we have our own homes and less prestige to try to live up to. This year we started our picknick outdoors but it was crazy windy so after an hours or so, we decided to go home and continue there. That wouldn’t have happened 14 years ago, partly because we both lived so much further away, and in opposite directions whereas it now only took us ten minutes to reach Agnieszka’s apartment. Now when we are in our 30’s we also know that we can stay out for as long as we want to and therefore have realized that a very windy day is not worth it sitting outside. 14 years ago we probably had a curfew and didn’t want to come home before that.
Now we also know that we probably have more food and such at home (and can drink hot tea from a mug instead of a thermos, the latter is supposedly more romantic but still quite unconvenient) so it just works better to continue a picknick at home. What can I say, I’m 30 and I like cutlery.
At home on a cozy couch is also a great place to knit and Thursday was the only day last week that I didn’t knit on my Great Lace. Instead I enjoyed some heavier yarn on some bigger needles and really, that was all I needed for last of April to be magnificent.
My little monster is growing, slowly but steadily. I got a lot of stitches done last week, over 32 000 of them and I now only have five repeats of the center lace left. I also have about 450 stitches on the needles so I should expect things to go a little slower from now on (even though I totally wish it wouldn’t). Nine repeats done, that’s good.