Friday, July 27, 2007

A case of startitis

Startitis is defined, more or less, as a condition wherein one achieves a sense of euphoria by beginning a new project. The longer the condition persists, the more projects metamorphose into UFO's (UnFinished Objects), which can languish indefinitely. There is no known cure.

I have been suffering from this ailment for a while, but this was an especially bad week. I have been working diligently on Mystery Stole 3, but Melanie took off a week in honor of the release of the Harry Potter book, so I finished Clue 4 a week early. I could use that time to finish the Endless Edging of the Garden Shawl, R's nearly-finished socks (which I keep misplacing), the Hanne Falkenberg jacket that has been about 85% finished for two years, the alpaca shawl I started in the spring (but is too fuzzy to work on in the summer)... I actually sank so low as to order a kit for the lovely Bee Fields Shawl – in spite of my long "To Do" list and rapidly increasing stash.

The photo on the left shows MS3 completed through Clue 4. The one on the right shows more detail, and it is the first photo in which the beads are visible. The evolving design is beautiful, and I am enjoying the Kit-along immensely, in spite of the huge volume of email it has generated.

The other consequence of having to wait a week for the next clue is an increase on reading time. Inspired by Roberta's recommendation, I decided to eliminate one of the many lacunae in my literary education and read Beowulf. This particular edition, translated by Seamus Heaney, is extremely readable. In fact, I am finding it hard to put down. One of the most fascinating things about it is that the original Old English text is printed alongside the translation, and the occasional glimpse at the original shows very little correlation to modern English. Languages, we are told, change all the time, and a thousand years is a long time, but I am still astonished that there is almost nothing in the Anglo-Saxon text that is recognizable.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Of Singing and Knitting

Last week we went to the 18th Annual North American Jewish Choral Festival. In all those years I have missed only two, and every year it is surprising how fabulous it is. It is four solid days of singing, going to workshops, listening to performances, and eating worse-than-mediocre food (but then we keep reminding ourselves that "it isn't about the food"). Workshops and performances covered 500 years of Jewish choral music in every conceivable style, from Italian Renaissance to "hot-off-the-presses" American and Canadian. This year's honoree was Theodore Bikel, storyteller, actor, activist, and folk singer par excellence. He spoke, he sang, and he charmed all 500+ attendees, whose only regret was that his time on stage was limited to one afternoon session and an evening performance.

One thing that was different this year was amount of knitting going on during the brief "down" periods between sessions, or while waiting for something to begin. Waiting for the first "community sing" session to begin, I was knitting the cuffs of the almost-finished socks and the person on my left said "phooey, I should have brought my knitting too... I left it in the room!" Then somebody sat down on my right and started knitting on a hat. At almost every session I spotted somebody nearby knitting something, and many were people I had known for years without knowing they were knitters. Question to ponder: Why is it that this was the year we all brought along our knitting for the first time?

Not surprisingly, this wasn't the time or the place for knitting lace, but I couldn't bear to get behind on Mystery Stole 3 – especially since my decision to redo Clue 1 with a double strand (on the night before Clue 2 was released) meant that I was already behind. (Yeah, yeah, I know it isn't a competition.) So lace-knitting time was restricted to 5:30-7:00 every morning. Clue 2 was finished within an hour of the release of Clue 3 on Friday morning!

The decision to restart was a good one. I am much happier with the look and feel of the doubled yarn, and the 6/0 silver beads are more visible than the 8/0 beads on the single-stranded version. (Trust me on this, despite their invisibility in the photo.) The design is starting to take shape and is looking really beautiful.

Before going away I finished the Alix's Shawl from the Interlacements merino sock yarn that had a previous incarnation as the too-pink-for-a-boy baby sweater. It knit up very fast, and like Myrna Stahman's other patterns, it is nicely shaped to fit easily over the shoulders without slipping off. The 500-yard skein was just enough for a smallish (54" x 28") shawl which will be perfect for a birthday gift for my mother, who often wears these colors and frequently suffers from the cold in over-air-conditioned Florida. If I make this pattern again I will make a few more pattern repeats to make it larger.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Second Thoughts

This morning I finished Clue 1 of Mystery Stole 3. I liked the way the swatch knit up on #4 needles, but I am wondering if the fabric isn't a bit too loose now that the first 99 rows of the actual pattern are finished. Since lace always looks really crummy before it is blocked, it is hard to tell for sure. There is time for a do-over before Clue 2 is released next Friday, but do I really want to do that??

On another front, the beginning of MS3 coincided with the end of Icarus. I will always think of this as my "Florence shawl," since most of it was knit during the far-too-many hours in airports and on airplanes on the way to and from Florence last month. This was a wonderful project for traveling, because the yarn squishes up to almost nothing and can be tucked away into a corner of a purse, and the pattern for most of the shawl is simple enough to memorize. (I have to confess that the more complicated charts were done at home after the trip and could never have been done on an airplane.)

Pattern: Icarus Shawl by Miriam Felton, Interweave Knits, Summer 2006
Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr - Aegean blue, just under 100g
Needles: Addi Turbo US #5
Size: 80" across the top; 37" top to bottom

I finally got my invitation to Ravelry this week. What a fabulous site! I have started entering a few projects in my notebook, but mostly I have been browsing. It was nice to see how other people's Icarus shawls and MS3 beginnings turned out in other yarns and colors, and the site is set up in such a way as to make that easy to do. I wish Jessica and Casey much luck with this endeavor.