Adventures . . . We Got Some! (warning: loooong post!)

OK, I admit it. Facebook has started to distract me. But really, the past weeks have been full of knitting and adventures, some at the same time!

Here is my FIRST EVER FAIR ISLE knitting--an oversized hat for DH, who felted his first one accidentally. This one is of Bernat alpaca (blend) and superwash Bazic wool, so I think it's safe from laundry disasters. He likes an oversized hat, but even this might be a bit much. The double thick ribbing band, that's OK, but when I started to decrease it took a lot more rows than I realized, and as a result, he can probably keep some little forest critters warm in there if he finds them in desperate straits.

And yes, I have a little competitive streak--after finding out that DD#2 had learned Fair Isle, I thought (sorry, Honey, doesn't reflect well on me), "If she can do it, then surely I can!" And I could, and it turned out great. What her successful project did was kick me in the butt to watch the tutorials I knew were online. I found that those on stranded knitting were quite useful, and I ended up using a combination of the techniques and just Continental, and it worked fine. I found the Vyridia pattern at ravelry, aptly described as "Perfect for 1st time fair isle knitters." You'll note that I omitted the last set of Fair isle stitches but dang! it was already turning into a stocking cap, so who knows how long it'd have become if I'd persevered.

Speaking of persevering, I finally got up the nerve to take my pathetic Quidditch Sweater to Purlescence for some guidance. I had tried to set in the sleeves twice with horrible results, and when I tried the sweater on the second time I actually found that in stitching up the sides I had created an armhole that only a child in a third world country would be able to get on. So I took out about an inch of the seaming on the sides and went for help. First, my very kind helper pointed out a much better way to pin together the sleeve and body, with those clippy things that are like safety pins. (My god, I am an English teacher, and this is the best I could think of to describe them??) She also showed me how to quarter each side of the join, body and sleeve, and attach them at the same spot using the pins, for working in the ease in short sections, for balance. And she taught me that regardless of the pattern instructions, it is always better to do the sleeve down to the side seam before finishing either the sleeve seam or the side seam, so it's just one long shot, and a much smoother finish.

Frankly there ain't no way this sweater is going to have a smooth finish. One reason she mentioned this to me is that in seeing the "fruits of my labors," she realized, but discreetly didn't criticize, that I had done the side seams (and sleeve seams) incorrectly and so they were bunch, unmatched to the ribbing, and not in any way smooth or neat. I know she was being tactful because a different person came by and announced it generally. ([whines] Heunnnh :^( one needs a strong self-image when learning new things.) At the time, I was sick with grief over how this supposed gift is turning out, but this morning I was more circumspect and am starting to take out those seams so I can re-do them. If I want there to be a prayer of a chance that DD#2, the patient recipient of a birthday gift now six months overdue, will even put it on and wear it once, I need to catch up to my present skills and learn a few new ones, all of which will help me with the NEXT sweater.

I am put in mind of Bells, who worked on and off for a long time on her steeked jacket, and kept redoing and reworking and gathering up courage (the cutting! aack!), and recently won first prize for that gorgeous piece of artistry at the Royal Canberra Show in Australia. Now I have no illusions that the Tufts sweater (yep, DD#2's school's colors) will win any prizes, nor is it of the caliber of the steeked jacket, which was not "merely" steeked but also had a totally intimidating two color stitch pattern (I bow to your genius, Bells, congrats!!). But I want to be able to be proud of this sweater.

Yes, knitting is making a better person of me. Less half-assed.

Did I mention adventures? DS and I had a quick jaunt to the Midwest in early March (usually a setup for flight delays due to snow and de-icing procedures on the planes, etc.--yuck) which turned out wonderful for many many reasons. First, we were going to surprise DB for his 50th birthday (March 9 it was, but this was the weekend before), and surprised he most certainly was.

This is DB and DS, the morning after we arrived. They are my "family of origin." 8^)

Then we were in cahoots with DSIL Carol who had a big surprise birthday bash planned for the day after we arrived, so we kept DB very busy while she got the house ready and all the guests arrived. My brother is a quiet sort, and DH had wondered if my brother would be unhappy to be surprised in that way--no need to have feared, because though he was very confused when we drove up and all the cars were crowded in front of the house, he gathered the nature of the event very quickly. And was quietly happy, and immediately surrounded by his son and daughter, their spouse/spice, his loving wife, their grandson Brian, and many family friends.

DN John had gotten a gift for his dad that truly was inspired. On craigslist someone was trying to get rid of a boat that had been sitting out unused (needed engine work) since probably the mid-90s. He wasn't asking any $$, just removal. And though it was not pretty, it really only needs surface work, new cushions and steering wheel, and some rewiring (it came with the boat trailer!). The engine it had was too big for this little fishing boat, so probably the main expenditure will be a refurbished engine of the right HP. And DB has a nice project for the sunny weekends this spring and summer. Maybe by midsummer he'll be out fishing on it! I like to think it will also be a great father-son project, as they are a super team.
Maybe of all the assorted pleasures of this weekend, the one that will stick in my memory forever is of my brother, the long un-self-confident and cautious man, relaxed into himself and holding his adoring grandson, 14 months, with whom he has a most special relationship. Brian has learned a few words, and one of them is a version of "grandpa." Even that weekend he hadn't gotten that one down, but he loved to look up at DB and say loudly "Hi!" to which DB answered equally loudly, "Hi!" as Brian ran to him to be picked up.
We won't go into the pangs of "wannabe grandma" that I experienced. Take your time, girls. You are very busy with the things you need to be doing right now. I'll give you a few years before I start in on you. ;^)

And I forgot to mention the icing on the cake! It was warm (70s) and breezy all weekend long. Just lovely. And the tornado warnings started just AFTER we left. (Fortunately nothing serious developed from them.)

Back to Facebook (oops, I mean, KNITTING!). Happy crafty projects, all.