Regaining Balance: Wodehouse, Knitting, Math
Giveaway winners, and a new set of yarn and books, at the end of this post. Feel free to scroll down!
So, people, the thing I haven’t mentioned is that I had surgery a couple of weeks ago. [I'm fine; don't worry!] The recuperation has been a little longer than I expected – as in, I thought I’d be fine the next day, and instead I’m still building back to normal. I find it depressing not to be able to do everything I was doing before, and as a result I returned for a while to my primary comfort behavior: namely, re-reading books by P.G. Wodehouse. [Hey, you do your thing; I'll do mine.]
In a few days, I read five Wodehouse books. I realize that this is a bit much, and even as I type this I wonder whether I should admit such excess to the world. But here’s what I realized: one thing I love about Wodehouse is that balance is restored at the end of his books. There are stakes, sure – mostly to do with social humiliation – but I do know that, in the end, girl will get boy, butler will get tip, and Lord Emsworth will have his pig returned to him. It’s funny; it’s safe; it’s serene.
Happily, one of the books Mr. Trask brought me included a little knitting in it, which gives me an excuse to talk about Wodehouse here. I wouldn’t say PGW was known for putting knitting in his books, but there are a few delightful moments, including this one (from Cocktail Time):
Old Mr. Howard Saxby was seated at his desk in his room at the Edgar Saxby literary agency when Cosmo arrived there. He was knitting a sock. He knitted a good deal, he would tell you if you asked him, to keep himself from smoking, adding that he also smoked a good deal to keep himself from knitting.
As a former smoker, I can attest that knitting keeps me from smoking – and also from over-eating. And a little knitting in my Wodehouse gave me the pleasant feeling that the universe might just be looking out for me after all. Why, yes, lying in bed does make me a bit philosophical.
From there, it was a short leap to the realization that I feel a kind of balance when I’m working on a top-down sweater pattern. I know, I know, I’m a complete dork, but there’s something about the way the increases lead into the sleeves and the math does its thing that makes me feel like there’s a geometric harmony to the universe. [Again, why am I admitting to the world that I think this way?] Anyway, I feel this way in particular when I’m designing a garment, because it seems magical when the math works out without much trouble (this does not always happen, of course, especially when I’m sizing a pattern).
I’d love to get a renewed sense of that balance, that harmony, and I have these 10 skeins of Spud & Chloe Sweater in my stash. Originally, they were going to be a blanket for a friend, and then I realized that she didn’t need a blanket – she needed a baby sweater – and so there they sat for a while. I think now’s the time for them to come out and play, because I also found last summer’s raglan-sweater-along on the Spud & Chloe blog. I’m not up for doing a whole design on my own right now, so I’ll be following along with what the group did last summer a bit, but making changes as well.
The first change is that I cannot imagine getting 5 stitches to the inch in this yarn. It’s wonderful yarn – wool and cotton, just right for a walk-the-beach sweater – but I have gone all the way down to a size 5 needle and I am at 4.5 stitches per inch. [This is the story of my life: weird gauge.] More importantly, the fabric I got on the 5s is about what I would like the sweater’s fabric to have – the stitches are tight and even, but not too crowded. So my gauge will be 4.5 stitches and 6 rows to the inch, instead of the 5 st/inch the group has. I know that I want to have a wide, boat-ish neck the way Wendy’s sweater has, but without the aggressive ribbing. Let’s face it: I’ll be making this up as I go. Plus, I’ll be doing some stripes.
That’s right – I have five different colors of this yarn (2 skeins of each, although a fair piece of my first yellow skein has been taken up by my millions of gauge swatches): Moonlight, Firefly, Ice Cream, Rootbeer, and Splash. I didn’t plan it this way, but those names do suggest a glorious summer night to me…at the beach, with a root beer float, perhaps? Am I taking this too far? At any rate, I turned to the Random Stripe Generator (a cousin to our old friend the Random Number Generator) to give me some ideas for my stripes. This is a great tool: you select the colors you have and tell the tool how many rows you want and how wide the rows can be, and it pops out a little stripe pattern for you. I probably won’t follow their instructions to the letter, but looking at different combinations of the colors gave me a sense of how much of each color I’d like there to be in this sweater.
I used the yellow skein for my swatches on purpose; I knew that I didn’t want too much yellow in my sweater. II’m a little concerned about the Firefly and the Root Beer – I think the brown could be too dark, too muddy, and the yellow too aggressive. One might have to go. What do you all think? Who has opinions?
If anyone would like to join me in this here adventure, please do. Grab some yarn out of your stash and start swatching – a top-down raglan is fun to design and rewarding to knit. Onward and upward!
Stash Giveaways for This Week
The winners from last week were Andrea, Robin, Consuela, and Brooke. Check out Andrea’s nifty blog, too! This week, there’s more fun to be had:
1. Two skeins of the Fibre Company Canopy Worsted Weight – one in Kaffir Plum and one in Orchid.
2. Two skeins of Claudia Hand Painted Yarn fingering weight – one in Blue Fields and one in Toast.
3. One skein of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Watershed in a lovely light blue that I suspect is the Randle Circle colorway.
4. One copy of Hannah Fettig‘s wonderful book Closely Knit: Handmade Knits for the Ones You Love.
As always, the yarn has lived in our one-cat, non-smoking home since it was purchased. I’ll be freezing the yarn for 24 hours before mailing it. Comment on this post by noon EST (GMT-4) on Saturday, July 9 for a chance to win one of these dandy giveaways. As always, thanks for giving my stash a home!