There hasn't been much time for knitting this week, but it's rare and awful week that admits no time for knitting. This is what I took as travel knitting to Boston and back again.
I've had this yarn–it's Felici, from Knitpicks, in the Schooner colorway–in the cupboard for ages and kept meaning to try it out. The night before my flight east, it rolled out of the stash cupboard for the 11,232nd time and I said, Enough already, you're next.
I haven't used a self-striping yarn since my first socks, and here's why. When making things from scratch, I turn into a control freak. Just ask the poor souls at Interweave who got stuck on the team that put the little book together. (They'll be out of rehab in time for the launch, though, so all's well that ends well.)
Oh, I know. You figured that maybe with the Buddhism and the meditation and the potent pharmaceuticals I must be blissed-out all the time–one of those wispy artistes who likes to let go and invite the universe to step in, take my hand and lead me on a merry dance 'round the garden down paths unseen and unexpected.
Screw that. I don't have a garden, and if you dance down a path unseen and unexpected in my neighborhood park you're likely to get a nasty surprise. I have a hard time letting other fingers make changes to my work, even figurative fingers like yarn that decides on my behalf when the color is going to change and what the new color will be.
I broke down when I saw Schooner, though, because these are–wonder of wonders–colors I'd choose to use. And the stripes are real, bold stripes, which I prefer even though I acknowledge that they make my ankles look fast. And, you know, the stuff is from Knitpicks, so it's inexpensive but good quality–not much of a gamble.
Anyhow, I like it so far. I'm just doing a plain vanilla top-down sock with p1, k1b rib in the leg and the instep. Even under the most jittery circumstances–like hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet worrying that angry, disappointed knitters will throw eggs at you after your first lecture–you can still work on this without messing it up too much.
I also finished Evelyn Clark's deservedly famous Swallowtail Shawl as a present for a certain person in my life whose ninetieth birthday is being celebrated at a surprise party (a true surprise, since the actual birthday will be in January) this weekend. She doesn't read my blog, so I feel safe giving you a peek.
I wanted a larger shawl than the pattern normally yields, so I used sport* weight (Joslyn's Fiber Farm Sheep's Gift Solid) and bigger needles, and in surprsingly short order I was finished. This is the fruit of ten hours, maybe twelve, of pleasant work. It's still a small shawl–only about 4 1/2 feet tip to tip–but it's large enough for church, and that's what I wanted.
I didn't make any changes other than the yarn and needle substitution. And here's tip, if you've eyed patterns with nupps and worried about working them properly: practice with heavier weight yarn. Working these was incredibly easy, and having done so many in a thick yarn I know I'll approach them without (or at least, with less) trepidation in fine yarn.
Notes on the Nightcap
Speaking of yarn substitutions, there have been a lot of questions about yarn choice for the 1840 Nightcap. The Steinbach Wolle Maxi isn't impossible to find (I bought mine right off the shelf at Loopy), but if your LYS doesn't have it and you don't want to shop online, go ahead and substitute another very skinny yarn. By very skinny, I mean a light sock weight, a lace weight, or similar crochet thread. Use anything fatter and you'll find, considering the number of stitches in the cast on, that you've made a head-and-shoulders cozy.
Also, there have been some questions about ease. I wish I'd noted that the fit of the hat is somewhat loose as compared to, say, a beanie meant to be worn outdoors in the wind. This is more comfortable for sleeping and, so far as I can tell, appropriate to the period. If you're concerned about it being too loose, you can alter the fit by casting on fewer stitches (in multiples of 13) and adjusting your other numbers accordingly.
And to the extremely angry** lady who wrote asking why I'd sized the pattern to fit a man's head and not a woman's and calling me a sexist, please read the article. It's a man's nightcap. The man wearing it in the picture–see the beard?–might also have been a clue, if you'd looked closely.
*Edited. I originally typed "worsted." My brain must be melting. Maybe it's because I've been working with so much lace and sock weight–everything else now feels like rope.
**Where is all this knitter anger coming from, anyhow? All the things in the world that are wrong and broken, and there's anger over a free knitting pattern?