20 April 2010

The Language of God

In case anyone was wondering what kind of a church I serve... it's a pretty awesome church. Check out the United Church of Christ!

18 April 2010

Good Thing I Like My Shalom Cardigan...

...'cause it's going to be in my passport photo for the next ten years.

I stopped in to the post office to buy some stamps and ask where I could get a passport photo taken... turns out, they take them at my local PO branch. Next thing I knew, I was getting my picture taken: unshowered, un-makeupped, post-Easter, and wearing whatever I threw on that morning.

Ah, well. We must always be ready to accept the consequences of our actions, right? Really, it's not a bad picture at all.

15 April 2010

Doc on a Rug

Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to milk any more blog posts out of Kiki Mariko... but Doc the Cat just looked so contented sitting there on the rug. He really likes this new addition to the floor (a.k.a. "his territory"), and it made me happy to see him curled up there all on his own.

Of course, when I started taking pictures, he shut his eyes firmly and pretended to ignore me. What you can't tell from this picture is that, every time I said his name, he flopped his tail.

Happy kitty on a rug! How could I not post it?!?!

12 April 2010

Easter photo!

Also, I wore Shalom on Easter Sunday. It made me happy to dress in bright colors like an Easter egg!

This is not the most flattering photo of me, but it is the most flattering photo of the sweater. That's the front door of my church, photo taken after two Easter services, a breakfast, an egg hunt, and a coffee hour. I'm not so much "casually leaning" on the pillar, as I am using the pillar as a support so I don't fall over from sheer exhaustion. (Shortly after this photo was taken, I went home and took a four-hour nap. Made a quick hospital visit first, though.)

I totally knit a sweater in Lent. NOT something I had planned to do or set out as an intention. Knitting a sweater was not my Lenten discipline -- it would have been kind of bizarre and maybe even unprofessional of me to have made knitting a whole sweater start-to-finish an actual goal at such a busy time. But it's kind of cool that I did it. Now I guess I know that I can (if it's chunky yarn and size 10.5 needles and top-down-no-seaming, anyway).

A church member/knitting friend and I talked about this for a while. She, too, knits more during stressful/busy periods. It seems a little counterintuitive, because there's less time for knitting during more busy times: but that's exactly when we *need* the act of knitting the most.

For me, the knitting helps me to create balance -- during busy times like Lent, I need something that's NOT work to occupy my energy and my brainspace sometimes, or I'd burn out. I've got all this nervous energy from the stress of having so much to do, but there are plenty of times when I can't actually use that energy for work-work (can't so much make pastoral care phone calls in the middle of the night, for example). There are times when I *must* do something else -- something that forces me to sit down and relax and spend time with my husband (but without spending a lot of money) and just BE for a while. Knitting is my Holy Timewaster.

We all need a Holy Timewaster. That's where we find sabbath.

10 April 2010

Shalom Continued

When last we left the Shalom Cardigan, I was in a tight spot because I didn't quite have enough yarn to finish the second sleeve. But I had also knitted the body too big, so I was hopeful that ripping and reknitting would achieve a less lumpy-bumpy body AND garner me yarn enough to finish Sleeve #2 without having to cannibalize Sleeve #1.

I frogged the body all the way up to the armholes/yoke garter-ridge, which enabled me to remove the extra bust-area stitches I'd added on the front panels. Funny, I found a note-to-self that I'd made on Ravelry, and I totally should have seen it coming: "body stitches (after arms bound off) = 32+12+47+12+32=135 stitches --> should be 41.5” around bust." I don't know what I was thinking. I do not have a 41.5" bust even when I'm wearing thick clothing. And I was wanting some negative ease in there! (I always forget about calculating for ease.) Clearly, I was doing the planning in a not-good-for-planning state of mind.

So I ripped out the body. I recalibrated my understanding of how the sweater would actually fit on my body, and knit accordingly. This meant I had 28+12+47+12+28=127 stitches around -- and after four rows, I decreased by two on each front panel. After four more rows, I decreased by two again on each front panel, plus decreased two more in the back (near the underarms). Down to 117 stitches. Then I did a little more decreasing for waist shaping, and then some increasing for hip shaping...

And came up with a much more flattering fit. And a ball of leftover yarn that gave me hope. Perhaps I would be able to finish that second sleeve without needing to frog the first after all!

(This is me on Good Friday, home after the noon service, still dressed for work.)

Holy Saturday ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day. And I had managed to wrangle my Holy Week so that I could actually have some sabbath on Holy Saturday instead of having to get work done. So I got to go to my CSA farm (this is not a noraml CSA thing -- my knitter-friend Mango happens to live there) and knit on the porch with my friends.

(This is me and Aubrey diligently knitting away. I must be sewing on a button? Aubrey is working on a BSJ. What a gorgeous afternoon! And yes, Mom, I was wearing sunscreen.)(Thanks Jess for the photo!)

My goal was to finish the sleeve and sew on the buttons, and mayyyyybe even weave in the ends.

... I accomplished my goal. And got my first soft-serve ice cream of the year, too.

The buttons may be a smiiiidge small -- I might go back to NEFAC to get new ones, or I might just see if I can fiddle with the buttonholes themselves to ensmallinate them.

All in all, I'm very pleased with the Shalom Cardigan pattern, and with my modifications to it. The sleeves are great, the fit is great, the whole thing is great great great! I've never really thought that mustard yellow was a good color for me, but I think I'm changing my mind. I expect to wear this baby a lot!

I would totally knit this pattern again, and use this Debbie Bliss yarn again (too bad it's discontinued). Five stars, all around!

Look at me being all modelly, swinging my hair in the breeze! I repeat: it was a gorgeous day.

07 April 2010

Shalom Update

The Shalom Cardigan knit up really fast. Like, realllllly fast. Two weeks after I started, I was nearly done. I did not set out to knit a sweater for Lent, but that's kind of what I did.

But then I encountered two problems.

First, I didn't have quite enough yarn to finish the second sleeve. I knew it was going to be down to the wire, but... I really like the length of the first sleeve (seriously, I think this is the first time I've ever been truly happy with sleeve length -- most of my sweaters end up with sleeves that are slightly shorter than my arms, and I always think "It'll get worked out when I block it," and then it never does), so I'm reluctant to rip out the bottom of Sleeve #1 in order to make them even (and uncomfortably short).

The second problem is that I tried to make this sweater fit my "curves" and I overestimated how big my curves actually are. The danger with using chunky yarn, we know, is that it can sometimes make you look like a chunky person. And I'm not a chunky person. Ain't nothing wrong with being chunky, but that's not what I am and I want my sweater to fit ME! Anyway, I overestimated how big my biggest curves are, and the sweater is... not flattering this way. It's a cardigan, not a ballet wrap -- but I can wrap that baby and get about four inches of chunky overlap. Not pretty!

The good news is that the solution to the second problem (ripping and reknitting the body in a smaller size) then provides a solution to the first problem (more yarn for Sleeve #2). The bad news is that I have to rip and reknit half the dang sweater. But since I'd prefer to have a sweater that actually fits me and I want to wear, rather than spending the time and effort to knit a sweater I won't wear because it doesn't fit... yeah.

Stay tuned... I may or may not have achieved Shalom before Easter.

05 April 2010

Shalom Progress

It's a lot easier to knit a sweater named "peace" than it is to make peace happen in the world. That's my deep observation for the day. Still, both are worth attempting. I figure, if I keep knitting peace, the real thing might come a bit closer too.

The only visible mod you can see here is the buttonband: I've added buttons all the way down, rather than only one at the top. They're spaced strategically -- allllmost evenly, but not quite -- so that the sweater doesn't make a gap in, um, certain places. And there are two close to the bottom (you can't really see the bottommost buttonhole, but it's there and you will see it in future photos). Invisible mods include making a bit more room for my bust, and moving the waist shaping to a place where it actually gets smaller where my waist gets smaller and bigger where my hips get bigger.

There's a smidgeon of an in-progress sleeve on the right-hand side of this pic, too.

This is the progress of a week, amazingly enough. For the first three days or so, I really was knitting up a skein a day. I slowed down a bit, though, when the math for the sleeves took a bit more thought and I was in a not-math-thinking-y kind of place. More on the sleeves when I actually, um, have them done.

02 April 2010

The Selbu Project: Part II

So the big secret behind the Selbu project is this: some seminary friends and I get together every year for a clergy women's retreat, and this year it was my turn to host. Since most of these friends live south of the Mason-Dixon line, I had the brilliant idea to knit a pair of mittens for each of them, to welcome them to the cold weather -- different patterns, different color combos, but all with the same cuffs and from the same book. Originally, I thought I'd be making something like 12 pairs of mittens (not hard: one pair per month would be plenty doable), but as the weekend grew closer and closer and things came up (notably a wedding that several of us were IN, but also just other life-stuff), it became clear that there would not be anything close to 12 people at this weekend. Turns out, we were four strong. And it was a great weekend. We really missed our companions who couldn't make it, but we also felt good about "carrying the torch" this year. (It also turns out that the weather was unseasonably warm and we didn't even need coats most of the time, much less mittens. But still. We had them.)

Coincidentally, all the women who came to visit me have names that begin with C. Since I didn't get their permission to use their names when I posted these pictures, we're just numbering them. The photo above (with the NHM#9s) is C1. C2 (with the NHM#1s) and C3 (with the NHM#3s) are below, hugging goodbye at the airport. I found it fascinating who chose which mittens -- they all knew right away which ones they wanted, and no two people wanted the same pair. Conflict-free mittens! Woo!

I actually have two pairs of mittens left over, and I haven't decided yet what to do with them. Stay tuned, but be warned: they may just marinate in my mitten basket for a while.