The day before Thanksgiving, I woke up with that ominous itchy feeling in my ears that never bodes well. I made it up to Maine for the holiday, but by Friday it was all I could do to pry myself off my parent’s couch and drive home. I should have stayed, but the trip back was forced by the fear of all the inappropriate places the cat might pee if I left her alone too long. I got home late Friday afternoon and proceeded to not leave my bed until Monday afternoon, when I ran out of cold medicine.
Unfortunately, sleeping was pretty difficult. It was one of those colds where you finally get settled in just the right position, sort of lying down but mostly sitting up, and you are able to doze for an hour or two before your body rebels and starts trying to cough up all the phlegm that has accumulated during your snooze. So in lieu of sleep, I streamed MI-5 (aka “Spooks”) episodes from Netflix and knit, while consuming three boxes of tissues and endless mugs of tea.
MI-5 has been on my recommended list for years, but I kept avoiding it because it seemed too intense and violent for my liking. It is intense and occasionally disturbingly violent, but it is excellent television. It’s like NCIS on steroids. The only problem was, I’d drift off mid-episode and find myself having fever dreams about being a British spy. Also, I kept Googling terms they use on the show, like “semtex” – which turned out to be some sort of explosive material. If I disappear in the middle of the night, it’s because some government agency has mistaken my TV viewing habits for an interest in covert terrorist operations. (Although: there was one episode where government and corporate officials try to organize a coup of the British democracy, and when the people took to the streets to protest the loss of their rights the police were all dressed in riot gear. It was a little eerie, given the OWS stuff right now.) I also discovered three straight days of British television and little other contact with the world at large means that when you finally go to the drugstore, it’s a little weird when no one there speaks with a British accent.
And then, the knitting. There’s been a rash of really good knitting-for-babies books published lately, and when Borders had their liquidation sale I stocked up on a few. Knitting baby stuff is fun because it doesn’t take that long to produce a finished item, and since they are small they don’t use a lot of yarn. And since someone’s always having a baby, it’s nice to have a little stash of finished projects to give away. I also am thinking that knitting a few baby sweaters before taking on an adult-sized sweater might be a good idea, just to get the concepts and construction down. Here’s what turned out:
This sweater is from Vintage Baby Knits by Kristen Rendgren. SO, so cute, in a shade of bright blue called “butterfly blue” (hence the buttons). It only used about one-and-a-half skeins of yarn, and the yarn I used was only $5/skein, so a really inexpensive project. It was a fairly easy knit. The hardest thing was finding the right gauge yarn to use – the photo in the book looks like chunky yarn was used, but the pattern calls for a yarn with 27 stitches over 4 inches, which is basically sock yarn (in fact, the author recommends sock yarn for most of the patterns). I wound up using Brown Sheep Company’s Nature Spun Fingering wool, which totally worked. The finished sweater is thin, not bulky, which from my limited baby experiences I think would be a good thing, but since it’s wool it will still be warm.
My favorite thing is the picot edge at the top. As I was knitting it, what I had in my hands had absolutely no correlation to the photo in the book, and I was convinced I’d dorked something up. But sometimes the simple things in life are the most genius, and a simple fold-over and hand-sewing was all it took to make things right.
My least favorite thing is that I got this all knit and sewn up when I discovered I had a dropped stitch in the back yoke that was somehow hanging on for dear life in the midst of the yoke pattern (I think it was a knit-2-together where one stitch failed). This was a fatal error; any good knitter will tell you the only thing that could be done was to undo the finishing work and rip it back to the mistake. However, I am not a good knitter. I really do like to knit, but I like to problem solve even more, and I like finished projects even more than that. So, I took some waste yarn and used it to more-or-less anchor the rogue stitch in place. I don’t know if this was genius or sheer idiocy, but I pulled every which way I could and it didn’t move. I’m claiming victory and moving on!