Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Bounty of Books

The New Year holiday was a welcome break from intense work activity. Synagogue services were inspiring, lunch with friends was delicious and fun. USPS worked through it as usual, bringing me some wonderful "presents" in the form of books, one of which I'd been awaiting since May.

First book I cracked open (post-holiday) was Sweater Quest: My Year of Knitting Dangerously by Adrienne Martini. In case you don't know, the 2 books are related by virtue of the fact that Martini wrote about how she spent a year knitting a design by the author of the second book. The design is Mary Tudor, and it was published in the out of print Tudor Roses, which I am lucky enough to own. I followed Martini's adventures along with Tudor Roses open at my side. I could appreciate the art and the craft of the design, the intricacy of the colors, the beauty of the finished product. Martini included no pictures, which several people on Amazon commented about in their reviews. The book entertained me for the most part until the end: the sweater did not fit Martini. How she didn't know this a priori boggles my mind: the schematics are right there, in black and white. Now, I've been known to resize a sweater (not drastically, mind). Often, going up a needle size or 2 can be enough (often, not always). In the case of designs by AS, who might specify a size 5 (3.75 mm) needle for bainin (Aran-weight wool from Ireland) to make a sweater waterproof, going up a needle size will not only make it larger but may give it better drape. If you don't need a waterproof sweater, why not make it to suit you? I was left, well, cold upon reading that Martini balled up Mary Tudor, stuck it in the closet, and declared that she's a process knitter. Well, so am I (that's my excuse for my kntter's ADD and I'm sticking to it), but I still make sweaters that fit folks (most of the time- I'm only human after all). And I look at schematics before picking out yarn and needles to see if size needs adjusting. The ending did not satisfy me as a reader or as a knitter.

A case in point about resizing a sweater is ongoing due to the second book I received, the long-awaited (since May) reprint of AS' Aran Knitting. We'll get to it in a moment. I have the first edition, and now the second. I do not regret owning both. The photography in the second is mostly updated, so you get more beautiful shots of sweaters (in new colorways) set against beautiful scenery. There's an retrospective introduction, with a couple of fantastic (in the sense of fantasy) claims made. And then there's the new design: Eala Bhan, which means fair or white swan.

To say it is gorgeous is to understate its elegance, its perfection (I couldn't get scans of the sides and back of the sweater to show you; trust me on this). BUT its largest size is like Mary Tudor, which is a tad too small for me. Oh it'll fit if I wanted it to be a blouse. But I need a dressy cardi for Sabbath winter eves. when I have the thermostat cranked down. I'm making the lovely White Lies Designs Collette for DD#2 in ivory wool (as soon as I'm caught up with other knitting); I don't think the Mom and Daughter thing will go over too well. Eala Bhan will suit quite nicely if I can get the size to work for me. My plan now as I mull it over is to make the largest size 10% larger by using a DK-weight yarn in place of the light sport-weight specified in the book. That'll give me the ease I need and I should be able to knit the pattern as written. A bit longer won't bother me, and I know I want the sleeves shorter than they are on the model. As befits a fair white swan, I'll look for a lovely ivory or winter white color.

Meanwhile, I finished the body to Twist and am currently blocking it.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. The pieces are wrong-side up, so I could flatten the edges. I love Magpie but its one drawback is that it's so tightly plied it curls like the very devil when knit in stockinette stitch. I now regret not having knitted the body in one piece, but what's done is done. Pattern says to block before adding the hood. DD#1 is now vacillating about whether she wants sleeves or not (please, not! there's so much other knitting I have to get to!).

And I have yet to take a photo of the new project for DD#2, but that's its own story (and therein lies a clue).


fleegle said...

Twist will be stunning, no matter which side is up :)

fleegle said...

You can instead invest in a Royale Hare spindle, which doesn't need a bowl--the spindle spins freely on a heavy brass base. Good for klutzes. I have one for sale for $55. You can read about it here.

Experimental Knitter said...

Ooh, looks like something I'll need for Chanukah. Thanks for telling me.

Henya said...

What a nice twist. But you are braver woman than me. You will not catch me knitting in pieces. Just not my thing.
You are such a fast knitter, and here I am dithering about, unable to finish a vest for a relatively small 13 year old.
Back to knitting!

Donna Lee said...

That new sweater is gorgeous. The detail is stunning. It will be beautiful in winter white.