Saturday, December 29, 2007

Life, Death, and Knitting

I want to thank all of you who have left such thoughtful comments about my sweet dog. I would like to thank each of you individually, but I'm sure you already know that Blogger is reluctant to give me your email addresses. Please accept this general thank you as an expression of my deep appreciation for your concern and support. Molly is home with us. She made it through Christmas, which was our goal. She is heavily medicated to control her seizures and can't do much but lie on the sofa with her head in my lap. There is some chance that she will recover some of her energy and balance once she adjusts to the medication, but we will not force her to go on in this state if there is no improvement.

To update you on other news, my friend and her husband have come to terms with the imminent arrival of their late-life baby, and she is embracing her new role as mom. She is four months along and is having a boy. I will be heading over to her house next week to help get the nursery ready. I haven't seen her since the night a couple of weeks ago when she realized she was pregnant, but she reports that she has had to move up to maternity pants already and is noticeably showing. (She's tiny. An apple seed would probably show.)

And of course, there has been knitting.

This is the Noro Kochoran sweater coat I started a couple of posts ago. Those pieces at the top are the sleeves. As you can see, it is almost done (I knit more when I am stressed). I did the sleeves first, contrary to my usual approach, because I wanted to try out my pattern and see how the striping would work. Then I decided to work the body all in one piece, because my previous experience with Noro has taught me that the color changes are irregular, and I am way too compulsive to put up with stripes that don't match up at the seams. This means that the stripes on the body are much, much narrower than the stripes on the sleeves (the rows on the body are much longer than the rows on the sleeves), but this is less disturbing to my internal harmony than mismatched seams. (It has been hard on my wrists, though. The sheer weight of the thing makes them ache.)

I have a love-hate relationship with Noro. I love the colors. I hate the textures. I am a tenderfoot. I don't like anything scratchy. Kureyon feels like a Brillo pad to me. Even Silk Garden was a grave disappointment. So I was hesitant to order the Kochoran in the first place, but...it was half off. And I was intrigued by the subtle, water-color shades. And the label said angora. How could angora be anything but soft? So I ordered it. And as usual, I was disappointed with the texture. The yarn was much bulkier than I expected, and not especially soft. I left it marinating in the stash for several weeks, until I finally broke down and gave it a chance.

I'm glad I did. This yarn is a mystery to me. The label says it is wool, silk, and angora and knits to 4.5 stitches to the inch. Right off the bat, I knew I would never get 4.5 stitches to the inch. Even with a small needle, the tightest gauge I can make is 3.75 stitches to the inch, and that makes a very dense fabric. And then, there is the fiber. It is tightly twisted, with a dry, almost cotton-like hand. In the skein, it feels coarse and woolly, but as I knitted, it became softer and softer, and now has a lovely, furry halo of angora over the wool and silk. The finished fabric is dense, heavy, slightly fuzzy, and amazingly soft. The colors are subtle and the stripes are almost blurry, but in a restful, Monet-esque way. I wouldn't want to use this yarn for a pullover; the finished fabric is too heavy. But it is perfect for a jacket or coat, or--for the very ambitious--a blanket.

I had a whole (ten-skein) bag of this stuff. With nearly 200 yards to the skein, there should have been more than enough to make a sweater coat to fit my 34-inch chest, so I didn't hesitate to cast on for this large project, even though I bought the yarn at an online clearance sale. But the knitting goddess hates hubris. And she loves a good joke. So naturally, with only the collar left to go, I...say it with me now... ran. out. of. yarn. Yep. Really. The thing is still on the needles, so I can't try it on to see where all the missing yardage went. I'm sure once I get it bound off, I'll discover that, instead of a fitted sweater coat, I have knitted a family-sized sleeping bag. However, in keeping with tradition, I am bound to soldier on, refusing to recognize the obvious until I have sewn it up, woven in the ends, blocked it, and added the buttons. I will then try it on and be completely surprised that it doesn't fit. Knowing this changes nothing. Experience is just recognizing that you're making the same mistake again.

14 comments:

sophanne said...

Good to hear from you. Dogs, babies, and watercolor striping. I'm with you on the Noro. Oh how I wished I loved the texture more.

Gail said...

That sucks about not having enough yarn. I've done that before. How frustrating. I hope molly gets better. Hugs...

melissaknits said...

I am glad Molly is home. Regardless of the outcome I think it's nice for them to be home.

Now...about that yarn...what color number? I promise nothing, but I bought a lot of it when we had it 50-60% off...just saying...MAYBE...

Sarah said...

Your title has made me remember my nana's saying. She read the Announcements in the paper everyday to get her "hatched, matched and dispatched" news.

I am glad to hear about your friends and her husband, who is hopefully being very supportive. I wish her well as she progresses.

I am learning so much from your knitting (and other) wisdom.

knottykitty said...

So glad to see your post--was worrying about you and all that has been going on. I'm so happy that Molly has had some more time at home with you where she is loved---she is quite a fighter to have made it through so much!

I'm also glad to hear about your friend & husband's adjustment to the new arrival---I sorta figured it would work out that way...after the shock wore off!

As for the running out of yarn thing---I got nothin'. Seeing as I'm too chicken to make anything larger than a scarf or huge basket, the thought of buying a whole bag of yarn and STILL running out doesn't increase my confidence that it would work out well for me to make a sweater! Hope you can find some more to finish!

Hang in there, sista! Your life is certainly very eventful--I feel like I need a seatbelt just reading about it sometimes! :p

Donna said...

Glad to hear Molly's doing okay, will keep my fingers crossed for her.
Now the sweater, you had me scratching my head while reading some of your comments.
Gauge....never go by the ball band, make whatever feels nice to you. Otherwise you wind up with armour.
Size and missing yarn...I'm a 48 chest and used 1600 yards on a sweater-coat, does this give you a hint as to sizing.
But for that matter, why not let me give you a gentle push. Take that thing off the needles (string some yarn through the stitches first though) and try it on. Makes no sense to continue on with something that will drive you crazy later. If if it a sizing problem....rip and reknit with some new calculations.
Happy New Year and Happy Knitting.

The_Add_Knitter said...

Hooray for a new baby! Sorry about the Kochoran disappointment, such is life with Noro (awesome colors, try-to-make-do with the scratchiness)!

Viktoria said...

Glad to hear about molly!
I've never allowed myself to buy noro, even though I see and hear so many people working with it and enjoying it... it just seem's so scratchy to me! Your coat looks beautiful

Haley said...

glad to hear molly was here to be enjoyed for another christmas. also really glad to hear about your friend. i'm glad she's now excited about her little blessing. good luck with your yarn problem. may you somehow be blessed in that department too.

Sharon said...

Very relieved to know that Molly is OK. And that your friend and her husband welcome the baby.

About Noro, word! Some yarn mfrs. do color superbly but fiber, not so much, and vice versa. The only ones I know of who get it right on both counts are HandMaiden and Fleece Artist.

CresceNet said...

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Sarah said...

I'm so glad to hear Molly is home with you now, and made it through Christmas. Your coat is lovely, I hope you find yarn for your collar and it all works out!

Life's a Stitch said...

My problem with Noro are the fluffy bits that disintegrate to nothing while knitting. As for the gauge, someone at my LYS told me the label refers to Japanese needles or something that doesn't translate.

Li

Katie said...

I'm glad to hear that Molly is back home with you. I hope that she has a miraculous recovery and your family is able to spend many more years enjoying her company. If not, I hope that you guys are able to enjoy the last bit of time you have left with her, snuggling, cuddling and making even more fond memories.