August 27, 2011

Adventures in Knitting




I apologize for neglecting the blog for the last several weeks- we went to visit friends and family in Connecticut and Maine, which was lovely, but, 'reentry,' as one of my girlfriends calls it, is difficult! There's laundry, unpacking, and just in general getting back into the swing of things. While we were in Maine, I was inspired to take up knitting again! My sweet grandmother, the one I've mentioned before, with the amazing garden in Maine, she taught me how to knit when I spent summers with her. We would knit in the living room, watching television. I can't remember anything else she watched other than General Hospital, which, I think she actually watched for the clothes. Despite the fact that she lived in a small town in Maine, she was sharp! My sister and I actually still have her beautiful mink stole that she used to wear down to the theater in Boston, it is even hollanderized with her initials on the inside. Anyhow, she was such a capable woman, in the kitchen, keeping a house as neat as a pin- (she ironed bed sheets) and even though she has passed away, when I visit Maine, I get to thinking about her and the things she taught me.

One of our activities in Maine on this trip, was to visit a cashmere goat farm! At first, I chose this activity because there was a special insert in the newspaper that listed farms nearby that were open to visitors. The write up for this particular farm was so charming- baby goats, you'd be able to pet them- so one morning, my husband, my mother, baby and I were all off! Well, two things happened. First of all, we couldn't find it at first, and the directions in the paper were completely unhelpful, AND, my mother realized reading the newspaper insert that there had been a special 'farm day' on which all these farms were open, and today was not that day. Well, my husband and mother particularly enjoyed that fact at my expense (hey, what do I care?) and we decided we'd invested so much into visiting the goats that we'd just show up and see what happened... Well, there was absolutely nothing to worry about, the woman who ran the farm was incredibly sweet and welcoming, introducing us to her favorite goat, explaining how when goats had children they typically had fraternal twins, but one of them had had triplets recently, and about how the shaggy hair that some goats had was a recessive gene and actually not related to their cashmere fiber production- that's actually the undercoat. In addition to petting the adorable goats and baby goats, she showed us some beautiful cashmere yarn that had been made out of her cashmere- I snapped up a lovely pink and a creamy blue and was immediately inspired to knit! If you have a chance to visit, I highly recommend it, it is Black Locust Farm in Knox County, Maine, but call first!

Well, I didn't remember how, exactly, so off I went to the town's knitting store, the aptly named "The Cashmere Goat". The two ladies running the store were so helpful, they paired me with a beginner's book and off I went. I was back a few days later, explaining that the knitting needles I had were slippery- they had an answer for that, too- wooden needles for softer, more slippery yarn, and true it was, working with a 2 ply cashmere yarn with bamboo wooden needles was incredibly easier! These two ladies were full of useful information- they introduced me to this knitting website called ravelry.com, which is wonderful- you can search for patterns and then look at them online- many are free, some are a few dollars. I can't yet read charted patterns, but written patterns I can follow.

I was wondering why recently I am enjoying knitting so much- I think that the reason is that knitting is actually a wonderfully complex three dimensional math problem- especially with complicated patterns- my favorites tend to me what are called 'lace.' This is when there's a lot of holes or eyelets created with yarn over stitches, and a lot of decreasing and increasing stitches going in certain directions. I recently completed my first project, a vine lace pattern scarf using 1/2 oz. of pink cashmere 2 ply yarn, and we met the goats it came from! This scarf is on its way to a sweet friend as a belated birthday present!

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