Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Self imposed ...

deadlines, the ones that knitters sometimes invent for no good reason. Deadlines, that possibly derive from having no socks at all on the needles .. and Christmas being 2 days away .. and thinking 'I wonder if I can finish Whisper in time to wear for Christmas?". I have no idea why I would want to set myself a target like that ... Whisper is fun to knit, a pleasant knit, I keep stopping to stroke the wonderfully soft fabric growing from the needles .. but I'm only just past the center back on the shrug section .. and conceivably I could finish it Christmas eve (tomorrow night) .. but I suspect it would break me and the family should I try. Still ... I knit, and stroke and think "ooo ... wouldn't it be nice to wear it for Christmas'. Don't worry, I'm only playing with my own knitters mind ... I'm not about to make it a fixed challenge .. honestly with the sun finally warming up this corner of the world, I've much better and more rewarding things to do with the time before Christmas than sit on the sofa and knit for 28+ hours straight. So being on holiday I'll knit for as long as I want, when I want and make sure I do the things that I need to, things like wrap hand knit presents and weave in forgotten ends, things like bake bagels because FrozenDirect didn't have any left when I went to buy them, things like distract myself with crochet ballet nets ....

I'm still Whispering, and fighting the urge to try finish this in the next 36 hours. I've knit the sleeve, across half the back, worked the center back gather ... and am part way across the rest of the back. I love this yarn, it is so so soft, luxuriously ridiculously soft. I have a secret fear it will pill, it is so soft, but I'm telling myself that as it is felted, it won't pill (much). I was tempted to alter the pattern (again), I saw the across back measurement was 24" and that confused me. In my professional world of pattern-cutting, the across back measurement is taken across the back, from the fold where the right arm meets the body across the back to where the left arm meets the body. Using that methodology my personal across back measurement is 12" ... the pattern is for a 20/22/24" across back. That little bit of information worried me ... I thought there must have been an error of some kind. I Google'd, I Ravelry'd, I tried to find out what others had done to knit Whisper to fit. Quite a few had adjusted the back to gain a better fit.

The designer further confused me by making saying the gauge made the fabric forgiving and stretchy, and providing the size she knit and the size of her chest as a comparison to guide knitters. What she didn't provide was an indication of her own across back measurement - that would have been useful. Then understanding struck... first that the across-back measurement that I know as used in patternmaking is not the across-back measurment that is defined for American knitwear. Large sigh of relief, as I at-the-same-time realized that whilst one could try on the shrug as one knit, the body opening would eventually be 6" smaller once the 3" of rib was added around the shoulder/sleeve/back section. A relieving ah-ha moment as I finally understood the 20/22/24" measurement and how it related to the instructions. As I knit towards the center back, mentally tossing around my options for making it fit, before finally realizing that it would fit if I just trusted and followed the instructions .... I also pondered the use of the 'gathering' at the center back. None of the Ravelers I stalked mentioned it .. I wasn't sure if I wanted the back smooth or gathered. Finally I decided that if the sizing worked .. then I should trust the pattern and knit the gathers as written. Here they are, a row of k2tog, a purl row, a row of k1m1 ... continue as before to the other side. I suspect the gathers provide stability at the center back and prevent the back of the shrug from drooping.

Between Whisper knit sessions (Whispering?) there has been Christmas preparations, including wrapping of presents. Luckily as I prepared to wrap the Mojo I knit for my Dad ..... I slipped one onto my foot for one last admire before they become someone elses socks ... and discovered they were not finished! Oddly I had only woven in the ends of the afterthought heel on one ... imagine that, gifting unfinished socks. I'm pleased to say that all the ends are all woven in now, and I won't be embarrassed by loose ends when he opens them.

Other pre-Christmas distractions involved making Bagels, using a recipe from The New Zealand Bread Book, by Mary Browne, Helen Leach and Nancy Tichborne (Godwit, 1996). I've not made Bagels in over 10 years, pre-children, and this is not the recipe I used before, it makes too few, but it is a good recipe. I made a batch the day before - and again yesterday that time doubling the quantity. Bagels are deceptively easy, the recipe always reads like a lot of work but really its only one 10minute knead, I did that by hand - I enjoy the way the dough turns silky and stretchy as its worked, followed by 5 minutes of making buns with holes (a whole-lotta fun - sorry for the pun). I twirl these on the handle of a wooden spoon and its more fun than work. Then the bagels sit for 15-30 minutes to proof, covered by clean tea towel. I'd like to think the NZ coloured sheep kept them warm.

The poaching is quick, 4 at a time for 20 seconds, hardly any time at all, brush with egg glaze, then straight into the oven, for a 20 minute bake. The clean up between each stage is easy, a bowl and a measure, and silicon spatula, or wipe down the board and wash the slotted spoon.

I Googled par-baking and saw that to par bake one reduced the cooking time by one quarter, so I undercooked most of these ready for the freezer so we can finish/heat them as needed.
Of course we had to have soft fresh bagels for a snack ... as soon as they were cool enough to eat. Home made are much much nicer, softer, chewier but not tough, fresher, just better :D

The other distraction from things-Christmas was crochet. A few weeks ago Poppy had her end of year ballet recital, and as parents of a Ballet-student we learned about Ballet-make up, Ballet-shoe polish, Ballet-costumes, Ballet-tights and the strict requirements for a quality durable ballet hairstyle - the Ballet-bun. Bobby pins, hair elastic and terribly terribly fragile hair nets to tidy away all the wispy bits. Poppy loved it .. and I do admit to practicing for several Saturdays and rehearsal nights to make sure I could put her hair in a bun, neatly and securely. I tore at least two of the nets, not expensive but a bother all the same. I wondered what happened to crochet bun nets, I remember them from my school days, on other girls for I was an Art-kid, not a Ballet-kid, and that prompted me into making one from some pretty yarn the cubs had for learning to knit with.

Christmas still looms but we have all been 'on-leave' this week, we spent today at the Christmas farmers market, a special mid week market .. where there were fresh berries, and goodies galore. This year feels more relaxed than it should - perhaps I have forgotten something? I hope not. There are still cub-prezzies to dig out and wrap (Bear and I have been squirreling things away in odd corners for a few months now), there are parcels arriving by post [- although only half of one of Bears gifts is here ... grrrr back-orders, but I ordered him two of something .. so he will at least have one] .

Take care, may the holiday be a relaxed and trouble free event, and I hope the sun shines unless you really really want/need/like snow.
na Stella


Abby said...

Oooh, bagels! I've recently returned to baking, and bagels are on my list of things to try. I am one afterthought heel away from xmas knitting being done... except for the pair of socks that never even got cast on. The recipient is not worried - he knows he will get his eventually.

Knitting Linguist said...

Those bagels look delicious! I've never tried them before, as you are right, the directions always look fussy, but I think this may go on my list of fun things to make next week while the girls and I are home. Your Christmas preparations are sounding well under control -- I'm impressed! ;)