What I did on my summer vacation

I just want to say first of all, that even though the fires in Tahoe started the day after we got there, there was no Kninja involvement. Seriously, it was spooky scene, as you can see above. We were staying at the north end of the lake, and the fire was at the south end. We’d look out and see…that. The shadow caused by the smoke meant that the green water was quite cold, while the blue water on the left side of the picture was fairly warm. It was utterly surreal. The loss of property in Tahoe is pretty devastating, but it’s amazing that there were no major injuries.

Other than the fires and the fact that Mr. Kninja and I both were a little under the weather, it was a nice trip. We were able to relax, to go to the beach, to play miniature golf, to watch Ratatouille, to hike in a lovely meadow, to eat fondue…it was a very pleasant trip.

And then we tried to go home.

That didn’t go so well. The car broke down at Donner Pass, and we were stranded where stranded people once ate each other. We opted not to eat each other, especially since there were conveniently located restaurants in the vicinity, but it was tempting, under the stress and with the prospect of a long drive ahead of us, to at least nibble on one of the children. We didn’t, but there was an agonizing ordeal involving renting a car, having our car towed to a gas station right next to Donner State Park, and deciding to go back home without it. In the end we made it home, but the car never will. It’s gone to that big Volvo lot in the sky, rest its soul.

The one redeeming feature of all this mess is that Mr. Kninja was able to snap this photo on his way back up to dispose of the car.

So that was stressful, and now I am trapped at home with three small people and no car, and very little to do within walking distance, which is everyone’s dream situation.

However, I did do a heckuva lot of knitting when we were at Tahoe. In fact, I knit at the beach rather than frolicking because the end result of my illness was weight loss, and I looked like a walking skeleton, so there was no way I was getting into a bathing suit. I figured I’d end up on the cover of some tabloid with the caption, “HAS THE WEIGHT OBSESSION GONE TOO FAR???” Instead I wore jeans to the beach and sat on a towel and worked on the Rowanspun striped sweater. But that wasn’t all. I got a lot of knitting done.

Pattern: [Not So] Fluffy Bolero from Simple Knits for Little Cherubs
Yarn: Random stash yarn
Yardage: Unknown, but I used whatever amount of yarn I had
Needles: size 5 generic bamboo needles
Modifications: The pattern has a major error, so I had to make some of my own decisions about length. More below.

This one was frustrating, since I didn’t have computer access to look up errata for Simple Knits for Little Cherubs. I now realize I should have looked this up before I left, but I didn’t think of it. There’s a part here where the knitter is told to knit for nine inches – and that makes up only half of the sleeve for a two year old. I know no two year olds with eighteen inch (circumference) arms, but even though I could tell it was wrong, I went along with it, because I thought I might be misunderstanding things. I wasn’t, and it meant a lot of unraveling. I chose my own length for the sleeves, and it all worked out fine. This is a major error, and I’m not sure how it made it to print, but apart from that it was a good knit, because the construction is really clever. The front panels are knit separately, then joined to form a single piece, and only the sides are seamed.

I don’t usually like pink, but this pretty heathered stuff makes me smile. I used it both to clear out room in the stash, and because it goes well with most things, and I figured the girlchild could use a simple sweater for times when she’s wearing a dress without sleeves. It worked out well. She wore it out before it was blocked. It looks better now, but she still looked cute.

Then there are the socks. As you may know, I do not make socks. I don’t really dig DPNs, and I haven’t found the desire to make socks to be so overpowering as to force me to learn Magic Loop or to just press on. Nonetheless, I made socks – well, slipper socks, but they were made the same way as regular socks. And then I learned how hard socks are to photograph well.

Pattern: Cable Footies from One Skein
Yarn: Leftover Andean Silk in Leaf
Yardage: Slightly less than two skeins, about 180 yards
Needles: Knitpicks Double Pointed Needles, size 6
Modifications: Smaller needle size, made them in the medium length but the smallest width

I like the end result of this, but I’m not in love, either. Knitting socks was sort of enjoyable, but not enjoyable the way knitting a sweater is. And even though I went down two needle sizes, the socks still turned out a little too big. They’ll work for slippers around the house, but they’re not ideal. Today I performed a meaningless task and boiled them in a futile attempt to shrink them. They felted slightly but remained the same size. Eh. I boiled them longer and mashed them with a potato masher while they bubbled merrily away, but they just went on being their own too-large size. I haven’t seen how these have turned out for other people, but I’m bewildered about the fact that they’re intended to be knit on size 8 needles. Are my feet really that narrow?

I also started another Cotton Glace top, this one from the bottom up. I have a definite picture in my head of what this should look like when it’s complete, but we’ll see if it works. The color isn’t really accurate here – the color is a deeper, richer shade called Spice. I’ve had a pack of it sitting around for about a year, and I’m just now getting to it, but I’m glad I waited, because my original idea of what to do with it was very, very boring.

I didn’t quite get those leaves right. They’re something I made up based on a lace pattern in a Barbara Walker book, and I almost got them the way I intended, but not quite. I’m not worried, though. I’ll get there.

As if this wasn’t enough, I finished the back of Willow.

She’s zipping right along. I also made some decisions about languishing projects. My apologies to those waiting to see the Seaberry Shell in its finished form, but I’m going to frog it. I just can’t quite like it, and I really do think it’s too thick. I don’t want to end up with something I won’t wear, so ribbit, and the Sir Galli will find new life as a skirt. I’m thinking I might use it to make the skirt from Greetings from Knit Cafe, or I might try to come up with something on my own.

The other project I came to a decision about is poor Gabriel’s sweater. It’s been unfinished for a year, and I never have really gotten into it. It’s two things – the intarsia, and this, which I’m just now finding the heart to admit to. I made the intarsia chart myself. He wanted a beautiful hawk and I turned a beautiful hawk into a chart, but what I didn’t take into account was that the shape of the stitches was not the same as the shape of a normal square on a normal sheet of graph paper. I’ve been working for months on an unpleasurable squat, fat hawk that looks like it’s been sat upon and I’ve been so unwilling to admit to this that I’ve just kept plugging away at it. No more. I’m unraveling the sweater and starting over. This time I’ll be making it as a seamless hybrid – Gabriel was admiring his father’s sweater – and doing the hawk after the fact. I think that should work out better for both of us.

Whew. This has been a long entry. If you’ve read the whole thing, get up and go get a piece of chocolate. You’ve earned it.

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3 Responses to “What I did on my summer vacation”

  1. Adrienne Says:

    LOVE that baby sweater! All your projects look great!

  2. whitknits Says:

    Oh, wow, that is a hilarious (and also sad, of course, for the poor VW!) story about your car dying in Donner Pass of all places! And that photo! Priceless.

    I can totally empathize on the losing-weight-due-to-illness thing. I’m paranoid about going out in cute summer stuff now, too, as I’ve already gotten several reproaching “look at that skinny *****” comments from women in stores (almost makes me want to wear a sign that says, “hello, I am sick! I don’t want to look like this!”).

    I like the look of the Cotton Glace top so far, I’m eager to see how it turns out!

  3. Kathleen Says:

    Nice to see you back. You have certainly had a productive and dramatic holiday. I love the Cotton Glace top, and the toddler’s cardigan.

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