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The High Country Knitwear Newsletter


 

   Did you finish your Christmas knitting?  I managed to finish mine, including The Rug, and the only commission Iíve taken all year:  two pairs of fingerless mittens for Alex, the postman, to give to his grown daughters, whoíd been here over Thanksgiving and liked his so much that they were ready to pinch them.   One pair in grape, one pair in black, both Cascade 220. 

   Because I was a little short of black, I did the first part of the cuff with some spare natural merino, changing to black three rows before the turning row.  And a good thing, too.  If I were going to do this again, Iíd make the cast-on and first two rows of the inner cuff in the main color, as well as the three rows before the turning row, to avoid show-through when the two cuff faces are worked together.

   As to the rug:  Once it was bound off, and before it was felted, Chewbacca fell in love with it, and thought it belonged to him, and would be his Christmas present, as you can see at right.

   As I thought about thatóand how could I refuse my companion in all things?--I wove in the ends, picked up and knit the binding on the ends (six rows, with an increase on each side on the right-side rows working toward mitering the binding; a purled turning row, seven more rows with decreases on the right-side rows, and then sewing one stitch at a time from the needles to the back of the work.

   I then chain-stitched the steek, and cut it very carefully between the chain-stitching.  The picture at left shows the cutting line between the contrast yarns.  On the sides, I picked up and knit just as I had for the ends.  Once Iíd sewed the edgings down, I sewed the corner miters and wove in all remaining ends. 

   Then to felting:  I held my breath, and put it in the washing machine, which has a double-sized tub.  It felted perfectly on one try.  To help the machine get over its chores, I wiped out the tub, though this is not an especially linty yarn, and gave it a cycle with nothing in it to clear the filter and the outflow lines, as I pinned the rug with every pin in the house, on a clean old bedspread laid over carpet in the basement.

   The edgings were a little ripply; I think I should have decreased the stitches about 10% on the turning row.  But when it was dry, it was smooth, firm, and perfect for an early Christmas gift for Chewbacca, so I put in on the daybed in the office that is his favorite perch, and where he had rearranged an old quilt that Iíd been refolding about six times a day.  He canít disarrange this, but he does like it best if an assortment of scarves, one ancient sweater, and some mittens allow him to make a sort of den.

   The final felted bed rug is easy to keep clean, hard to disarrange, thick, and warm.  Not a complete success, but it does work.  If Iím ever nuts enough to try this again, I think Iíll felt it when itís bound off, edge just the ends, then cut the steek completely and carefully off the work.  I think anything this firmly felted is not going to ravel or fray.

   Whatís next for me?  Iím starting a new sweater design in delicious Cascade Cloud 9 in a rosy red (#104)

   This is a 50/50 mix of angora and wool.  It retails, as far as I can figure out, from $7.50-$8.75  the 50 gm ball.  The new design will replace and be adapted from an acrylic sweater that I bought years ago, on a cold day, for $5 on sale, in the maternity department at Kohlís. 

   Please note that the ballband on this yarn says that Cloud 9 gets 22 stitches/4 inches or 10 cm on # 6 needles, which would make it DK weight, and that Cascade says it gets 16 stitches on #8s, which makes it a worsted weight.  Iím working on #6s, and getting 18 stitches to 4 inches, and a firm but flexible fabric that Iím hoping wonít stretch, as angora is prone to do.  Itís nice to be working on a simple, and portable, project!

   Other peopleís knitting:  I have only one new picture in, from Gail.

   She was a little hesitant about her orange cowboy hat, but got it exactly right.  It is shown here drying, with its ribbon and clothespins (which made dents, which had to be steamed out), but it looks great, with that perfect potato-chip roll to the brim, and great proportions for Gail.

   Now Iím thinking ahead to the New Year.  Iím making the usual knitterly promises to myself: 

1) work my way through my entire stash

2) donít make another enormous rug 

3) knit more for charitable causes such as Red Scarf Project, Afghans for Afghans, Dulaan, for military personnel serving abroad, and especially for my local homeless shelter

4) encourage more non-knitters to give it a try, because basically itís a simple, but infinitely varied, craft that can combine utility and beauty as few things can. 

   Like anything worthwhile, it takes some patience to learn, but once youíve mastered the basics, it has an infinite number of possibilities.  If I teach two people, and you teach two people, and each of those four teaches two, and each of those eight teaches twoówell, you can see where that goes! 

   If you havenít finished your Christmas shopping, thereís still time to buy, for the two people youíll teach in the coming year, copies of Knitting for Dummies, two balls of inexpensive worsted, a pair of #8s,  a crochet hook, and a gift bag that will serve as a first-ever knitting bag.  And youíll have two more people to knit with!

With best wishes,