Posts for : August 2016

Randomly, on a Thursday 8

Finns Hat

This has been a banner week for communication. Sometimes it seems impossible to accomplish anything when it involves appealing to far-away people I don’t know for a response. It can feel like my phone calls and emails are just wafting off into the void. The last few days have been different, though.

One communication success didn’t have anything to do with knitting, but I’ll tell you about it anyway. I wanted to express my views on a particular situation to the mayor’s office. I couldn’t find an email address and so resorted to calling, thinking I’d either reach an administrative assistant who’d just mark down my position on a list or, worse, that my call would be routed into voicemail hell. As it turned out, I did have to leave a message, but to my huge surprise, the mayor himself called me back not twenty minutes later! Can you believe it? I was blown away. We talked for about ten minutes. He gave me some suggestions about additional people to contact, and I walked away a happy citizen. Imagine that.

There have been a number of other minor communication successes, but the really fun one you might actually be interested in has to do with knitting. I’m teaching a class on double knitting at the upcoming Knotty Ladies Fiber Retreat on Roan Mountain. I’ve been enjoying poking around trying to figure out how the popularity of the process evolved in recent times, and I kept running into a significant gap.

Double Knitting

There aren’t a ton of resources available on double knitting, but up until the late 80’s, it seems like everything out there proceeded on the assumption that the technique must be accomplished in a particular way. If you know about double knitting, the “way” is with the knit or purl one and then slip one method. This allows you to do things like work a tube with two straight needles or to make a piece of flat knitting that has two layers. It gets the job done, but because it takes two passes to complete each round, it’s slow.

The modern way of doing things is to knit each side (of the tube or of the double-thick flat piece) simultaneously. It’s much quicker and more efficient. I learned this method from Alasdair Post-Quinn. His book and his Craftsy class are amazing resources.

DK Books

Anyway, as I perused some of the earlier explanations of double knitting, I started wondering if Alasdair was the first to use this modern method. Before his book, the most comprehensive examination of the topic was Beverly Royce’s book, Notes on Double Knitting, and she does things the old way.

So I sent Alasdair an email last night via his website and figured, not that that was the end of it, but that it would be at least a week or maybe even a month or more before I heard back. The man has a full-time, non-knitting job, plus he writes and travels all over the place to teach classes.

Well, guess what. First thing this morning, I had an information packed response from him that was just as helpful and nice as you could ever hope to get. It absolutely made my day.

In case you’re still following along with the technical end of this and are interested, the short version of the answer he gave me was that he wasn’t the first to use the modern method, but that the earliest source to which he could trace it didn’t present it with the sort of fanfare you’d expect to accompany a true innovation. This makes him think that someone, somewhere must have introduced this technique before. The other things published around the same time as the article Alasdair mentions and those that immediately precede it all seem to teach the old method, though, so it appears we’ve still got a missing link. But thanks to Alasdair’s terrific response, it’s a little gap in my understanding of the timeline now rather than a massive, gnarly one.

If you’re not interested in double knitting, this is probably a pretty boring blog post. But maybe the take-away can be that, every now and then, reaching out to someone in the public sphere for direction or information can actually produce real results.

Checks and Balances

In other news, I’m still working like a maniac and just getting my knitting in where I can. I’m almost finished with the front of Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater, and then I’ll just need to do the sleeves and join everything together.

I also started a double knit hat for my godson who left for his freshman year at TCU this week. That’s it in the photo at the top of this post. Since there’s about a 101% chance Finn doesn’t read the blog, I’m not at all worried about spoiling the surprise.

Poor Alice is moulting.

Alice

Augie is pretty much living in this blanket pile because of the crazy thunderstorms we’ve been having . . .

Augie

Everyone thinks they’d feel better about the weather if they could mooch some homemade ice cream.

Ice Cream

The garden is winding down.

Bounty

And there were peanut butter cookies.

PB Cookies

That’s it for now. Knit on, my friends!

“I hope fireflies remember to do exactly what it was they used to . . .” 16

Birthday Cake 1

I think I’ve mentioned that soon after we moved to the mountains, my father moved up from Texas to be near us. We love that, and I think he does too, but he misses his Texas friends. Well, for his 84th birthday this past week, a couple of them came up to visit him.

We went with him to the airport to pick them up, and I knitted on a new pair of socks while we waited for the plane to land.

Airport Knitting

For Daddy’s birthday, I made Smitten Kitchen’s Triple Berry Summer Buttermilk Bundt Cake. It might have been the best cake I’ve ever made. Instead of using three kinds of berries, I used all blackberries. They were some of the ones we picked this summer. And I added birthday sprinkles.

Birthday Cake 2

It was a happy cake for a very happy occasion.

 

Birthday Wish

With visitors in town and a lot of work insanity going on, there could not have been a better time to come across this post on Wool n’ Spinning about getting your knitting in when you can. Wise words right there, folks.

I took the advice to heart and ended up working on Paul’s Checks and Balances sweater in ten-minute spells here and there to the point where the progress on it started to actually offset some of the frustration that’s been going on with work lately.

 

Knitting 1

Knitting 2b

Knitting 3

Another yarn-related thing I read this week was this post on the huge number of spindle whorls archeologists have found buried with female skeletons. Some are from as far back as Neolithic times. I knew about this in a vague way, but the article made me think more specifically about what it means that women were taking their spinning with them into the afterlife. I’m still thinking about it.

Here are a couple of other pictures from my week.

Chocolate

Work was hard. Paul brought me chocolate.

Our little friend Shanti stayed with us while her mom and dad went on an end-of-summer trip. She and Lola alternately played until they couldn’t play anymore and then passed out.

Shanti and Lola

Even though it’s only mid-August, the air is starting to feel like fall. I’ve been working on the porch when I can. Rasta likes to help.

Rasta

The title of this post is a line from Josh Ritter’s “Song for the Fireflies.”

With intermittent rain and shine
the sky re-started six or seven times
It’s blue because it sees
All our infidelities
We both know that it’s been so long
I’m not sure what to say so I hope
Fireflies remember to do exactly what it was they used to

I’ve been listening to Sermon on the Rocks non-stop.

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