Archive for July, 2015

Nailed it

I went for my manicure on Friday (a new color from CND Shellac, Tartan Punk!).
I never thought I would be a manicure person, but I have to admit after a few times, I was hooked, and now I go every two weeks, because shellac lasts that long and looks nice and shiny and doesn’t chip or peel. The part that got me hooked was having nice nails that didn’t break or split and how much more enjoyable knitting became without constantly snagging with my always-breaking, thin nails and dried up cuticles and hangnails. If you knit or crochet, get a manicure; it’s miraculous.

I often take my finished projects in for show-and-tell, because really I don’t have anyone to show off to except my manicurist. At any rate, near the end of my time, I was approached by one of the hairstylists and asked if I might knit a shawl for her mother’s birthday in September. Apparently she had been silently admiring my work for a while. Most of you know about knitting to spec. Don’t want to do it. It’s a drag and takes all the fun out of it when you have to do something, rather than want to do it. And then, what’s a fair price for both sides?

I was taken aback and torn by the request at the same time. First the reluctance to do spec knitting in general. Next, the fact that she thought I could make something pretty (and for her mother) was very flattering. Then the fact that she is from an unknown one-of-the-formerly-Soviet-Union republics. They know from knitting. It’s a bit intimidating to be approached that way and uncertain if you can live up to the standards and esthetics of Russian knitting.

We talked briefly about what she had in mind, but there was a bit of language difficulty. I came home with a little sketch and color preference and went to work searching my Rav library for patterns I hoped would meet her parameters, or at least get a better understanding of what she wanted. I sent her a list of 14 patterns that I thought might work and waited to see if any caught her fancy. To my delight, she chose Southern Blue, a pattern I bought as soon as it was released. I’ve wanted to make this shawl since I first saw it. Then I looked through the finished projects and more at the pattern … and it is loaded with nupps.

I don’t mind working nupps, but it has a lot of them. Let me repeat, A Lot. Still, we’re only in the planning stage here, and now I have the pattern selection, she might prefer to have beads in place of nupps. Or maybe a combination. And we’ll still have to get together over what fiber, what weight, what blue exactly. I’ll probably take in a dozen or so shawls so she can give me an idea if she wants light and airy lace, drapey lace, warmth, or just what her thoughts are on that front.

I don’t intend to become a spec knitter, but I’m thinking this might be just what I need to get some mojo back. I’ve been floundering for several months, not knowing what to make and just occupying myself with some charity hats for schools, a scarf test knit, and a couple pair of socks for myself. So, here’s me, looking forward to an experience but with a small measure of dread.


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Dreambird was finished some time ago. I ended up with 18 feathers, used about a pound and a quarter of yarn (some 1,300 yards) and wet blocked that puppy out. It took two days to dry completely. It’s huge and heavy and awkwardly stored away. I’ve come up with no good way to fold or roll it up for safekeeping, so put away it looks like a toddler’s attempt at origami. I didn’t bother to measure it because I couldn’t find any meaningful reference points for dimensions. The short row construction makes it a spiral shape, sort of knit on the diagonal. It’s an enigma, in a way. A pretty enigma. But it does a serviceable job of covering the hood of my car, so you can see it’s large.

In the time since finishing it in May, we’ve been having nearly record-breaking high temperatures. This does not best please me. I am a delicate flower and wilt when it gets above 80F. So I’ve been making hats and cowls for distribution to a school district in Wisconsin. It gets cold in Wisconsin. And small projects are just the ticket when your own weather is scorching.

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