Thanks for the encouragement about the vest! I’m still amazed it turned out as well as it did.
I too think it looks kind of cool with the white edging — but that’s not what Mark wants, and it might not work as well for the uses he intends to put the vest to. So the edging is going to be black. I’ve done the button band, and it seems fine — pulling out the cotton yarn was a bit difficult, but possible — and finding the holes to pick up stitches was easier than I thought it might be, even in the black fabric. Now I’m working on the armholes, and thinking about the pockets.
I don’t think I’ll be down at the Stitch and Bitch tomorrow night, unfortunately — we’re having a pub night for the department, and we socialise rarely enough as a group that I don’t want to miss it. Especially since I won’t be back in the fall!
But I’ll definitely bring the vest down there next week — whatever stage it’s at.
First, thank you, everyone, for the congratulations and good wishes. We’re very excited, and I’m sure you’ll hear more as we get closer to actually moving. And I will, of course, keep blogging from Sackville — so every detail will be recorded, don’t worry!
But for now, it’s back to my May Stashbusters project, which may not get quite finished within the month… but no matter. As long as it works out in the end.
So, this afternoon I started with this sorry-looking heap:
The white border is not permanent — it’s the temporary edging in cotton, designed to keep the edges from flaring and provide holes to be used for picking up stitches post-felting, to make the actual button bands and armbands. The temporary edging is therefore much shorter than the pre-felted vest, leading to the bunching and general deformity evident in this picture. This is a moment that requires alot of faith.
With this in hand, I ventured downstairs to face our lovely new front-loading washine machine. Now, I know that this machine will felt — I felted the swatch in it, after all. However, the controllability of the process is the problem. The machine basically won’t let me open the door once a cycle has started — and it gets very tetchy if I try to skip parts of the cycle (like the spinning). It sometimes refuses to allow the door to be opened even when the cycle is over, if it’s been interfered with along the way. A wiser woman than I am would not even try felting a project like this without more control over the conditions. I, however, pondered briefly and then went for it anyway.
After one “delicate” hot/cold cycle the vest was only barely felted. After a second “delicate” cycle, it was definitely felted, but significantly too large. At this point, in my usual impatient way, I threw caution to the winds and threw the vest in for a “short” regular cycle. And this was the result:
Amazingly enough, it’s pretty much perfect! It needed a little stretching lengthwise, but the width is just about right. I’m flabbergasted, frankly. This entire time, even when I was doing painstaking calculations and following clever instructions faithfully, I was secretly convinced that it was all going to go terribly terribly wrong. But look at it! It’s a vest!
For good measure, here’s a close-up of the texture and the cotton edging:
It may be a bit of a pain pulling out the cotton and picking up stitches in the resulting holes, but after the miracle of the felting, I’ll trust the reference book I was using ( Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas) on anything.
There is still a fair amount of work to be done — button bands and armhole edgings need to be picked up and knit, pockets must be cut and inserted (probably fabric pockets), and buttons need to be put on. But so far, so good! I didn’t waste all those hours of black stocking stitch, after all!
Time to find something colourful to work on for a while…
To Sackville, NB! (Not Antigonish — that didn’t work out). Not until the end of August, but I’ve just found out that I’ve got a doctoral fellowship at Mount Allison University for next year. We’ll be heading down as soon as Mark finishes his summer teaching. He’s probably going to teach a course or two there… we’re working that out.
We’re very relieved to have definite plans for the next 11 months or so — it’s been very wearying to not know what we’ll be doing next year, especially because feeding ourselves was starting to look a bit problematic (not to mention feeding the yarn habit!). There’s lots to be worked out in terms of the practical details of getting us down there, but for now, I’m just excited about it all. And I’ll get to teach 3rd year classes, in Latin poetry! (Both in the original and in translation). To classes of less than 150 students! (Probably around 30-40). Sounds like heaven…
So, any Sackville knitters out there? And I guess I won’t be very far from Halifax, or Fredericton…
I’m starting to see the glimmer that is the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve finished all the pieces of the vest and sewn them together:
Now, if you think there’s something wrong with the picture, you’re right. The vest is black — pure, normal, ordinary black. Not purple. I can’t explain it — the grass should be greener, too. It was an overcast day, maybe that messed up the camera? Anyway, it’s black. Trust me.
And the edges are curling something wicked, but the felting should take care of that. There’s still one step remaining before I can felt it, though. As detailed in Felted Knits by Beverly Galeskas, I’m going to knit on an edging around the armholes and neck/button bands in cotton, picking up stitches to correspond to the length that the vest will be after it’s felted. Then, after felting, I’ll remove the cotton yarn and use the holes that it leaves to pick up stitches for the “real” edgings and button bands. They will remain unfelted. Apparently this stops the edges of large pieces from flaring out, and makes it easier to control the edgings and make them even. I have yet to do the math to work out how many stitches I need to pick up, but I think I should be able to get it pretty close.
The vest is ludicrous looking right now, though. I tried to get Mark to model it, but he refused to be pictured on the blog wearing it. Funny that…
This evening we had a lovely dinner with friends (Hi Madhava and Kate!) to celebrate Victoria Day. I made rhubarb and custard pie — apparently baking with rhubarb is a traditional way to celebrate our Queen’s birthday, at least in this household (see last year’s Victoria Day entry). As is the grey and cold day, it seems — we bbq’d, but ate indoors because it rained.
This having a record of the past year’s daily activities is slightly surreal — I’m sure I would never have remembered that I baked rhubarb pies on Victoria Day if there weren’t pictures of them online…
Well, only one meme, actually. Eileen tagged me, so here it is:
10 things I like, in no particular order:
Cooking/baking (does that count as two?)
Swimming in a nice clean lake
The wonderful smell of a forest on the Canadian shield in the fall
Watching baseball (the Bluejays, for choice)
Hanging out with old friends
Meeting new friends
Pretty predictable, eh?
5 things I may or may not have done and would like to learn or try again:
Horseback riding — I rode from age 7 to age 20, but haven’t done it since, so it would certainly involve some re-learning
Learn German and Italian — I’ve tried the German, but I’m very slow, and I never actually learned Italian formally, though I can struggle through it in writing
Pottery — I love the feel of clay, and I’m fascinated by the wheel
Piano — again, I played as a child, but haven’t in years
And now you know.
I’m glad you all liked the Banff photos — I have more, but I’ll spare you. And thank you, Aara, you’re too kind — but I should mention, for those of you who know Aara, she was wearing some pretty amazing pieces of knitting herself — her Birch, and her Audrey… lovely.
Hi again! I got back from Banff on Sunday night, but I’ve been running around since — I started teaching a summer course Monday afternoon, and had several important errands that had to be done yesterday as well. But I’ve finally worked my way through the 200 Bloglines posts that were waiting for me, and I’m ready to get back to my own blog.
I actually got very little knitting done while I was away — I was too busy going to talks and socialising with Classicists. And no, for those who wondered, I don’t feel comfortable knitting in the sessions — there are only 20 or so people in the audience, and I think it would be seen as rude. I wouldn’t want the speaker to think I wasn’t paying attention. There were, however, several other knitters there, so we did chat about knitting quite a bit (hi, Aara!).
To distract you from the lack of knitting progress, then, I’ll show you some pictures. First, I visited my cousin and his wife in Calgary for a couple of days. I didn’t manage to get any picutres of them (I forgot about my camera until the last minute) but I can introduce you to their lovely pets:
Both were very sweet and kept me company while Patrick and Shannon were at work (though I slept for alot of that time, too!). After spending a lovely couple of days hanging out with them, I joined up with the conference and got on the bus to drive from Calgary to Banff. Along the way the scenery was incredible, as we left the prairies and entered the mountains:
Of course the photo doesn’t do it justice, but I give it to you anyway. The conference was being held in the Banff Centre — ridiculously expensive, but very pleasant and well-organised. The desserts at the buffet meals were fabulous… we all basically reduced our entrees to the minimum and started doubling and tripling up on desserts…
The surrounding countryside was pretty nice, too:
with its local wildlife:
We didn’t see any elk, although we were warned at length about the dangers of the local population, which was in the midst of calving season, and thus apparently very aggressive.
Even the tacky touristy shopping strip is framed by amazing scenery:
All in all, the conference was great. My talk went well, and so did those of my friends; I met lots of new people, and caught up with old friends; I ate and slept well; and I think I even learned a few new things. What more could anyone want?
Now we’re settling into our new summer routine, so I’ll try to post more often — especially if I actually get some knitting done. I’ll also answer the meme Eileen tagged me for soon — but I think this post is already long enough!
So, I really haven’t got much knitting done this week while Mark’s been in Kalamazoo. I’ve started the back of the vest, and worked on a sock for Mark; I also played with some frivolous yarn that I’ll talk about later. But I’ve been very lazy and unproductive in all areas of my life these last few days. It’s been lovely.
On Monday I’m leaving for a conference of my own, the annual meeting of the Classical Association of Canada. This year it’s being held in Banff, Alberta (a resort town in the middle of a national park in the Rockies). I’m going out a few days early to spend some time with a cousin who lives in Calgary. I’m really looking forward to seeing him and his wife and their house, and the conference should be pretty fun too. Right now I’m doing laundry and putting the finishing touches on my conference paper, but of course the most important item under consideration is what I should bring to knit. I think a sock on wooden dpns should make it onto the plane (I hope), and of course the vest back, but I might try to find something fun to bring as well. We’ll see.
I won’t be posting much from Alberta, though, since I don’t anticipate having either easy internet access or alot of free time. I’ll try to take some nice pictures, though, to post when I get back. See you then!
This felted vest thing isn’t going quite as slowly as I feared. I’ve finished one front and am about halfway done the second. Here’s the first front laid out on top of the vest I’m using for a template — I made it for Mark several years ago, and it fits him well, so I took the desired finished measurements from it.
It looks ludicrous, of course, but I have to have faith in the math (erg!) and keep going. I don’t want to felt one piece by itself, even to test my numbers, because it’s so easy for different trips through the machine to produce different results.
I’ve started another pair of socks for Mark, and I’m still working on the green socks for me, but nothing’s close to completion. Mark leaves tomorrow for a medievalist conference in Kalamazoo (hee hee — it makes me laugh every time I say that) so maybe I’ll get lots of knitting done when he’s gone… not that his presence slows down my knitting very much, of course. But I hope to have progress by the weekend.
I’ll leave you with Tigger trying to pretend he’s a book — we had to move all the bookshelves out of the third room in our house this weekend, so that’s all I did on Saturday and Sunday; the books are now scattered around the house, in the bedroom, study, and dining room. Here the shelf has just been moved but not yet re-filled: