Knitting time

This was when I was supposed to have more knitting time, right? The thesis is in, after some technical snafus and an additional day of panic, and the rest of the week has been somehow consumed in catching up on rest and trying to put the house back in some semblance of order after a couple of weeks of thesis-related neglect (coupled with my usual apathy). Plus, we’ve had some bad news that has greatly impeded my winding-down process. Nobody’s sick or dying, thank goodness, but we’ve suffered the kind of setback that reminds me why a person has a knitting stash (and an embroidery stash, and a huge stack of books to be read, and…). Plus, the weather has been too wet to play outside, so finding ways to occupy my older son has been a challenge, which is a nice way to say that he’s been clinging to me like a vine and I’m about to lose it. At the moment, he has a friend over and they are broken on 11 and watching horrific TV shows. People warn you about a lot of things when you have children, but not once did anyone tell me that they would someday want to have friends over. That’s news to make anyone want to rethink the whole enterprise of childrearing.

One good thing about the late summer is that I don’t feel too hot to knit, so I can go on with my socks and think about fall projects without wanting to faint at the very thought of ever wearing sweaters again. We’ve been running about 60F and raining for the last three days. I think my perennials on the back porch are drowned, and I miss my lounge chair. It was a good run, that week or so in May when I could use it.

I’ve been thinking about an article for Piecework’s historical knitting issue for next January. The deadline is August 1, so I have to find time to go back to the Historic New England archives before then, but I really want to work on this. It’s come out of my research on the Codman family for my thesis. I don’t know whether there are patterns, but at least two family members have “knitting papers” listed in the archive. I hope it goes somewhere.

Some other beginning’s end

I’ve been meaning to post, but something (thesis) has always had to take priority over writing, so forgive me for the quiet weeks. My thesis is very much in the home stretch, and my advisor spent two hours on the phone with me on Monday night. She approved the chapter on the Penhallow bedspread, thankfully, making only a few suggestions to improve its flow, and she really loved the parts of it that I found most interesting, so that’s always gratifying. “Interesting” is a strange animal in grad school. To a professional scholar, “interesting” means “could write at least twenty pages about it, if not a book, and in my wildest fantasies, redefine the entire field.” It is the holy grail of sentiments.

In my copious spare time, I’ve gone on with Via Diagonale, and have about four inches on it now. It’ll be a Christmas present for one of my sisters, and I think it’ll look really good on the one I have in mind. If you’ve hesitated about this pattern because you don’t like colorwork or haven’t done the slip-stitch technique, I urge you to give it a shot. I really don’t like colorwork, and this is as painless as it gets. You never carry the yarn more than one stitch, so there are no concerns about too-tight (or too-loose) floats, and you only work with one color at a time, so the patterning is uncomplicated. Better still, you work MC-MC-CC-CC all the way up, two rounds of each, and the second round of each color is just purl of the first. You don’t even have to pay attention to the pattern after you’ve set it with the first round. And as it’s a repeating pattern, it becomes very easy to read the knitting and tell when you’re off or when you need to k3 or k1 instead of the most common k2, sl1.

I also wanted to pass on an opportunity for those of you who may do some stitching on the side, or have an interest in supporting a large needlework exhibit coming up at Winterthur. They are currently showing the Plimoth Jacket until January, and this fall will mount a large exhibit with the jacket in it, called “With Cunning Needle: Four Centuries of Embroidery.” Tricia Wilson Nguyen of Thistle Threads put up a very informative blog post about the challenges and expense of mounting exhibitions, particularly textile exhibitions (which nearly always have to be temporary, to save the objects). She has designed a small project to support the exhibit, a tent-stitch tulip slip that can be made into a very pretty pincushion. You can get the kits here and the directions here. Or alternatively, donate without the kit purchase by going here.