‘Tis a gift to be simple

My life is kinda complicated right now. We just moved, the house is nowhere near the state I’d like it to be in (and I haven’t yet settled on a happy state of housework mediocrity), my first paper is due in a couple weeks, I’m still kinda awkward around the bazillion new people I have to meet, and we’re not all best buds yet, and any and all “free” time I have is spent reading or trying to goad myself (and/or my spouse) into doing housework.

Overall, I’m sure you can see why I’ve made so much progress on my plain-jane sweater.

That is what it looks like while I’m knitting on it, but it probably looks rather weird to you. So I didn’t have to take it off the needles to model it myself, here it is on a smaller model to give you the basic idea of where it’s going:

The top is on top and I’m working my way down. Top down sweaters sounded like a complicated affair, but this is one of the simplest things I’ve ever done. It’s just stockinette stitch, with a few predictable and well-signaled increases in the yoke and sleeves, and no complications whatsoever in the body section. I knit on the knit side and purl on the purl side. When my house is a mess and I can’t fix it, when my attempts to hang art on the walls leave me with bent nails and a sense of helpless confusion, when I have to ignore all the disorder and try to read about the church in the 2nd century… this project is like a deep sigh, breathed through my fingers. It’s my “it’s okay, at least you can do this.”

That’s been my reading knitting; my class knitting has been the Chausettes.

Bells the one-eyed teddy is a less effective model for this particular article of clothing, but again, you get the idea. One sock done (and it fits my little foot! Huzzah!) and the other is in the midst of picking up gusset stitches after the heel turn. This project is perfect for class because it’s good for listening. The tight stitches are kind of demanding on my hands and wrists, so the time limitations of class are a help.

I realized about halfway down the leg of the second sock that I wasn’t following the pattern at all, but I had adapted the pattern very well and simply to be done with size 1 needles and fingering weight yarn. So if you find yourself doing these socks and the idea of 000 needles makes you as ill as it does me, try this:

  • (1) – heel. You can follow the pattern as written for the leg. But when you finish, clearly the 51 stitches expected for the heel flap would be way too large, so I started the heel flap when the lace pattern is at its fewest stitches – 27. It’s a very weird feather and fan… decrease for several rows then increase suddenly all at once. The pattern said to start the heel flap after the increases; I started 1 row before.
  • (2) – gusset. I honestly still have no idea what the pattern says about when to stop the gusset, but I’m pretty sure it would have left me with too many stitches. So I just decreased every other row and tried it on until it fit – at my gauge (about 9.5 st/in in stockinette in the round), that meant 35 stitches on the bottom (non patterned) part of the foot. My foot’s a fairly average woman’s medium.
  • (3) – toe. Same story as the heel flap. The picture when I looked at it looked like what I think of as a “normal” toe, and it said something kinda like that in the caption. I was in the middle of class when I came to the toe, and I wasn’t going to STOP KNITING because of some silly thing like not having the pattern with me, so I finished the last decrease row and started the toe. I had 27 stitches on the top of the foot and 35 on the bottom, so I just scooted two on each side from the bottom to the top so there were 31 on both. You should be able to follow the pattern’s toe instructions; just switch to decreasing every row when you have decreased away half the stitches. It’s not an exact science, though it helps to make a note of what you did so you can repeat it for the second sock. Um… oops… didn’t do that. It helps then to be able to look at your first sock and sorta figure out what you did so you can approximate it for the second sock.

These are my two main knitting niches – reading and class. The other times I used to be able to knit – lots of time in the car, a few hours a week watching tv, hours upon hours sitting at the yarn shop – have almost completely evaporated. So I really haven’t figured out how I am going to do complex knitting, except to somehow memorize all my patterns to make them simple. (I’ll let you know how that works out for me.) In the meantime, Bethany’s shawl is being sorely neglected, my fair isle sweater is a measly bit of cast on row, and the spinning wheel sits alone and forlorn in a corner. I’ll find a way to come back to you, my little friends, but… maybe after my house is clean. *twitch* *twitch* time for some stockinette.

6 thoughts on “‘Tis a gift to be simple

  1. Jonica says:

    I know what you mean about the cleaning! I have not touched my bedroom in 4 months. When I realized I could not find my things I needed for that time of the month last night I had a fit! Realized I needed the clothes to go in the dressers and not ON the dressers. So went and got plastic storage totes from home depot and started getting the yarn out of the dressers. Yeah I put yarn in the dressers. Shoot me. I am a knitter.

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  2. Bethany says:

    I love the bear-with-socks picture! Bells looks rather toasty =)

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  3. Linda says:

    Dear Rebecca! I love your stories. It helps me to not feel so far away from you. I am amazed that you can read and knit…..I have not even tried that. Things are getting busier for me too, and I count myself lucky to get around 1 row of that fair isle sweater now.
    Jonica, you are too cute! I LOVE that your knitting passion has taken over your bedroom! I can tell I’m WAY to uptight…..I need to let go….let my knitting fall out of my baskets, onto the floor and migrate to the rest of the house……

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  4. […] the pattern adapts very easily to fingering weight on 2.5 mm (US 1.5) needles, and I described a couple days ago how I did it. I love how knitting connects me in a tactile, experiential fashion with my past, and […]

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  5. I still have a teddy… 🙂

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