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The High Country Knitwear Newsletter

   Christmas is coming much too fast for me.  And probably for you.

   When you design knitwear, for pete’s sake, everyone on your list expects…knitwear.  If you’re me, they also want a jar of your home canned Plum Ketchup or your gingerbread cookies.  And you’re knitting your fingers off.  This year, my knitting for gifts has been mainly Fingerless Mittens and Cuff Kerchiefs and Not-a-Scarfs.  I found an inexpensive yarn for several of these: Paton’s Rumor, which works up as a tweedy mix.

   I buy very few Christmas gifts, and don’t much enjoy shopping to the assaultive music of the season.  Incessant rendition of The Little Drummer Boy can destroy my Christmas spirit justlikethat.  In consequence, I make most of my gifts.  But I mess up the gift list.  I add to it.  I give gifts early.  When I’ve finished something nice and warm for someone, and the weather turns cold, I give it when it can be most welcome. 

   So my friend Terry already has his Not-a-Scarf and his matching Fingerless Mittens, because we had an early blizzard and miserable sub-freezing, even sub-zero, temperatures.  My postman Alex has his new Turtleneck Dickey and a matching pair of Fingerless Mittens, for making his rounds in the cold.  My neighbor, Julie, came home shivering one night, so I gave her the Cowboy Hat I’d been holding for Christmas.

  My other knitting at the moment is a lunatic project.  What was I thinking?  That I’d made a whole series of charts from examples of Congolese Kuba cloth, which is beautiful and has geometries completely different from anything originated in Europe or Latin America.  I needed a new rug.  My Sister Knits had Cascade Ecological Wool.  It’s one of my favorites, and natural colors would be perfect for a Kuba rug.  Before Christmas. Oh, yes!

  So I’m working on it.  It’s meant to be felted if I can find a local laundromat with a machine big enough, or work up the courage to do it in the tub.   I think of Lucy and Ethel stomping those grapes!

   It is 4 ½ feet wide, and 6 ½ feet long, knit in the round, and now bound off and getting its top and bottom edgings.  That done, I’ll chain stitch two rows on either side of the steeks cutting line; cut it, work those edings, and figure out a way to felt it.  

   It is easier than it looks—just a 10 stitch by 11 row repeat.  I’ve used the in-the-round technique for lots of sweaters, but it was only last summer—when I was faced with the need to make three baby blankets in a row—that I hit on the idea of using it for flat work. 

   There are considerable advantages in it.  The pattern is always facing you.  If you knit faster than you purl, it is faster than knitting back and forth, especially on jacquard.  This is two strands of each color worked on 13s, so it goes quickly.  When I’m done, if the prospective rug is a success—which is far from certain—I’ll put up something that will be not so much a pattern as a recipe, with the Kuba charts, and pictures of the steps involved, and notes on this whole knitting adventure.

   If it fails? Chewbacca, my dog, will have a new bed.

   If you’re going to try this, especially if you have problems with your hands and wrists, please make something smaller and less awkward and heavy as it nears completion, leave it as an at-home project, and be ready with a crochet hook to correct mistakes.  At this writing, at a little more than 6 feet, I’ve had to rip out only three rows, all done when I was tired or much-interrupted, or had failed to work the first repeat on a row to remind me where I was.   It is nice to keep a more portable and less demanding project working at the same time.  Here, in any event, is the chart, if you want to try it.

   I’ve also been talking customers through projects.  I helped a customer, Christy K, in Calgary, and her son, Matt, find a really good pattern for him.  He can’t buy sweaters, being a young man of awesome size, who need an XXL and XXLong.  We twiddled with the specifications for an XL so it would fit him, changing to a slightly larger yarn that will give the needed measurement, and slightly larger needles, so that all she needs to change is body and arm length.  She’s knitting away, and probably will be for a while. 

   No, not one of my patterns, but an old Icelandic one, with a round yoke. The yarn in Sandnes Alfa.  We used the Craft Yarn Council measurement standards, a version of which is on this month’s Tips and Tricks and compared the pattern’s standards for ease.  Written for a standard lopi yarn at 14 stitches/4 inches, it is being done in Sandnes Alfa at 13 stitches/4 inches/10 cm, which will add the requisite width.

   A few days later , I encouraged Mary W, in Savannah, who had finished a cowboy hat and wrote to tell me that she thought there…might…be…something…a…little…wrong.   There wasn’t.  But as it always is, the hat as knit seemed too huge ever to make a hat.   But it felted into a one that her husband loves, and for which he chose the yarn.  The whole process seemed magical to her, as it still does to me.

   I wish you all the best of this festive season, and hope that the recipients of all your lovingly made gifts are pleased by them, and that they appreciate the hours of time and thought you devoted to make those gifts of warmth.  Thank you for making the first few months of High Country Knitwear a success, and for giving me the gift of being such good customers.

And do check out a new Independent Designers webring, at http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?ring=KnitDesign;action=list

With warm wishes,