This is more than a little anti-climactic, given that you all saw my finished Tubey during the medal ceremony. Speaking of which, thank you all for your wonderful comments on my last post and for thinking Team College Hill was fun and funny as opposed to cerebrally addled. Or at least for only mentioning the fun and funny part.
I also appreciated your words of encouragement when I wound up having to frog several inches of Tubey with only 24 hours to go. I’m very glad I went to the trouble. Even though I think there’s still an ill-placed darkish stripe, the overall effect isn’t nearly as 19th-century corset as it was before. Besides, the fact is that it’s a close-fitting sweater and my waist is pretty narrow compared to my hips. So I’m calling it a success in that area.
Redoing half the body in the last day turned my easy coast to the finish into a fairly exciting sprint. Driving home from our friends’ house in Connecticut Sunday morning was a race against time, and the race was not made any more pleasant by the car sickness I was battling most of the way. I figured I could either stop knitting and forfeit the gold, or keep knitting and throw up on Tubey. Since the yarn is machine washable, I decided to risk the latter. Fortunately the worst did not happen, but I did have to lie down for 20 minutes after weaving in my last end at 1:55. (The Olympic deadline, for those who did not live and breathe this challenge for 16 days, was 2 p.m.)
I am very pleased that I participated in the Olympics for myriad reasons. First and foremost was the fun I had with Team College Hill. Second was ending up with a great sweater in a short amount of time. And finally, I think I established some new habits for myself through this process, as the competition seemed to make me hold my knitting to a higher standard than usual. For example, I learned a terrific new provisional cast on rather than going with the lame clumsy one I usually use; I attempted to make my stripes jogless two different ways (limited success, but still); and I didn’t hesitate (much) to frog when things just plain needed to be frogged. I hope to carry these habits forward with my in my non-Olympic knitting.
So without further ado (and I realize that this was quite a lot of ado), I present my finished Tubey.
Pattern: Tubey from the Winter 2005 Knitty
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in (I think) chocolate (008), moss (003), dusty pink (603), and beige (102). I’m not positive about those, though — the ball bands are long gone.
Notes: What a great pattern. It is ridiculously easy — I honestly can’t think of an easier sweater pattern — and it yields a really cute, flattering sweater. (Also just the littlest bit sexy.) There is so little shaping it’s not worth mentioning, there is zero finishing, and the fit is very forgiving in almost all ways (that is, there aren’t very many measurements you have to stress about getting exact). I highly recommend it for all those reasons.
Aside from inventing my own stripe layout, I modified the pattern only very slightly. I made the size extra-small, which calls for 160 stitches for the body tube. After starting this once I worried it would be too loose, so I ripped back and picked up/cast on 144 stitches instead. In retrospect, I think a better move would have been to pick up the original number but knit the body with a needle one size smaller. I have seen this recommended elsewhere, including in the Tubey knitalong.
The other key to getting this pattern to fit well is the cross-back measurement, which is the distance from center armpit to center armpit across your back with your arms held forward (this requires a buddy — someone whose fingers you feel comfortable having in your armpits). There can be no fudging this measurement (which translates to the length of the part of the arm tube that is knit back and forth, between the in-the-round sleeves), because if you make it too long (even by a bit) you’ll get lots of bunchiness in the back, and if you make it too short you’ll be pinched by your own sweater. But get it right and you’re pretty much golden.
I liked working with the DB Cashmerino pretty well, and wearing the sweater next to my skin for most of Sunday afternoon and evening was a delight. I have heard less-than-stellar things about how it wears over time, but I can’t really speak to that now. I do plan to wear this sweater a lot (hooray!), so maybe I’ll report back sometime if I think of it.
Thinking of making this sweater? Do it. You won’t regret it. It’s a quick knit: if I hadn’t had three fairly significant frogging episodes, I could have finished in well under the 16 days it took me. (As it was, it was sort of exciting to weave in my last end just 5 minutes shy of the deadline.)
In closing, I just want to say how annoyed I am that in none of my blog posts have I gotten a chance to use the hilarious “Tubey? Or not Tubey? That is the question,” which I thought of several weeks ago. Now that Tubey’s done, there isn’t much to question about it anymore. Still, I was so vastly entertained by my own pun that I couldn’t let it go without awkwardly working it in here.
If you’re going to be in the general vicinity of Providence any time soon, I strongly suggest you wear shades. The glare is nearly blinding.
Yes, that’s right, every member of Team College Hill won a gold medal in the Knitting Olympics this weekend! We gathered at 2 p.m. today to admire each other’s Olympic projects and carry out the formal closing ceremonies, including the awarding of the medals. It was quite an emotional event. Especially for the neighbors, who got very emotional about the fact that they are going to have to move to avoid the loonies who stand in the courtyard and award each other medals all afternoon for no apparent reason.
As the team captain, Theresa did the bemedaling. Leah was first on the podium and was honored for her stunning work on Ene’s Scarf. Cameras clicked incessantly as she modeled its delicate loveliness.
Katja medaled in the same event, also completing Ene’s Scarf as her Olympic project. You couldn’t see for the flash bulbs as she struck a pose in the kiss-and-cry area after the ceremony.
Then it was my turn. While composed during the actual awarding of the medal, I froze in the face of the international media and couldn’t seem to produce a genuine smile. I expect that never being one of the media’s darlings means I will quickly be forgotten as an Olympic champion.
Finally the team captain took the podium to receive her gold medal for Am Kamin, the intricate, subtle, gorgeous cabled cardigan that shattered all previous Knitting Olympics records. This is one for the history books, folks.
The frigid weather prevented the raising of the flags and the playing of the national anthems, but the team did brave the cold long enough to gather on the podium and take the final team photo. In the broadcast booth Scott Hamilton was falling all over himself trying to convey to the television audience what a powerful and flawless performance the team had turned in. It was an afternoon to remember.
Tomorrow: Official Tubey finished object post. Thanks to everyone for their very supportive comments and enthusiastic cheerleading yesterday — I think it actually made the difference!
You may have noticed that last night my Tubey progress was at 90 percent, and today it’s at 70 percent. The picture to the right is the reason. I tried on Tubey this morning to determine how much more length I wanted to add, and when I looked in the mirror I discovered that the wide brown stripe created an effect I can only describe as “girls in wool sweaters with brown knitted sashes” — not one of my favorite things. Matt looked at it for a long time and finally said he thought it was fine, and I almost allowed myself to take that position as well. But then I remembered that part of my personal Olympic challenge is not to fall victim to my standard “I’m sure it’ll look fine when it’s done” rationalizing, which has resulted in half a dozen unworn knitted garments in my closet. So I am taking it out all the way up to the top of that stripe. This is the one time where my habit of fastidiously weaving in ends as I go has backfired: I won’t even be able to enjoy the catharsis of frogging with abandon.
Will this cost me the medal? Can I recover? We’re going on a four hour round-trip car trip this weekend, so you can bet I’ll be using that time wisely. And I’m sure our friends whom we haven’t seen in months will be fine when I explain that our activities need to be restricted to those that can be combined with knitting. I’m sure when I tell them it’s for the Knitting Olympics they’ll understand perfectly.
It was bound to happen sometime. Word of Team College Hill’s heroic knitting feats has been attracting the attention of the national and international media since before the Knitting Olympics even began, and the team members have had to resort to bodyguards and armored cars just to carry on their knitting in peace. Eventually the pressure from the adoring masses became too great, however, and the team agreed to grant one exclusive interview. After considering the possibility of going with Fox News’s Brit Hume, knowing he’d only lob us softball questions, we decided instead to go with a real media outlet: the Pulitzer Prize-winning Providence Journal. The paper hit doorsteps this morning with Projo writer Bryan Rourke’s hard-hitting, award-winning* article featured prominently.
You can read the article online here (and please do!). The Projo requires you to log in to read, so Theresa created this one for all our fans:
The phone has been ringing off the hook all morning (never mind that it has mostly been my work colleagues). I expect we’ll have a film contract by noon, so I’m not going to bother doing any real work today. (Note to work colleagues who find my blog from the link provided in the article: Just kidding!)
This was all quite a bit of fun. As far as I understand it, Leah pitched the idea to the Projo and was somewhat surprised when Bryan expressed interest. He arranged to meet with us, and at that time we figured we’d be a little sidebar — nothing more than a short blurb. But when he showed up with a photographer and talked to us for over an hour on Monday, we had a feeling that maybe we were in for a bit more than that.
This was a very worthwhile expenditure of my fifteen minutes of fame. A sincere thanks to Bryan, who wrote a fun and funny article that really captured the balance of humor and earnestness with which we (and I think most knitters) approach knitting and the Knitting Olympics. Also to Sandor, who took 100 pictures and managed to avoid choosing the 99 in which my hair looked like limp whole wheat spaghetti with my giant Dumbo ears poking through. (In fact, my ears are pretty much totally concealed, a feat never before accomplished by any photographer.)
And thanks, of course, to my fellow members of Team College Hill, who have made the Knitting Olympics experience infinitely more fun than I had even hoped — and I had high hopes. (Hmm, when did I slip into award-acceptance voice? Maybe I’m anticipating that gold medal. Must not get cocky — I still have a full quarter of the sweater to go!)
Now go, read the article!
*I am making an assumption here that it will win some kind of award eventually. How could it not?
Well, I didn’t get a chance to post an update before the weekend was over. Were you worried about me? You needn’t have been — I tried on Tubey yesterday and it fit much, much better. I hope you can see here how much less bunchy the back is. Even the bit of bunchiness that there is is deceiving because my elbows are back, making my shoulder blades bow a little. Anyway, I’m feeling confident in it, and now I just knit round and round and round and round and round until the body is the desired length.
I charted out every single one of the 110 rows in the body — not for the stitch pattern (even I don’t need a chart for K3P1), but for color. I wanted something pretty substantially different from the stripe sequence indicated in the pattern, but I had a feeling that just making it up as I went along was a recipe for frogging (or at least a recipe for repeated inner turmoil over whether to frog or learn to live with dissatisfaction). So I spent two hours yesterday painstakingly tinkering with a color chart. It looks good on paper, so if it doesn’t translate well to the sweater I’ll just turn the chart into an iron-on transfer, put it on a t-shirt, and wear that instead.
Early signs indicate that that probably won’t be necessary, though. Even Matt, generally knitwear neutral, is liking how this sweater is looking. He did, however, strongly urge me to lose the tank top and call it finished in the state you see it in at the left. (Too suggestive for a family-friendly blog?) Speaking of which, I swear I’m not trying to be all provocative (because don’t you feel provoked) by showing a bit of midriff there — I just don’t usually notice these things until it’s too late. I’m also not trying to blind you by overexposing the white of my tank top like that. My camera has an issue with way overblowing whites, but I didn’t want to wear my pink one because it matched the sweater a little too well — in my last post Laura thought the sweater was finished and that I’d used perhaps a bit more pink than she might have expected. Hence, I now look radioactive instead of nicely color coordinated. The things I do for you, Laura.
Team College Hill got together for a little afternoon knitting today, and we managed to get a bit done on our projects in spite of incessant hounding by the Knitting Olympics paparazzi. (More on that later this week.) Their stuff is all looking great and you should go check out the team captain’s blog for details on their progress. We are getting together for some home-stretch knitting on Thursday while we watch figure skating, and big plans are being made for the closing ceremonies. Costumes, props, and sets have already been discussed. In case you are wondering, we did not spend our entire time together lined up on the couch like that. We just got in formation for an official team picture, obligingly taken by the team water boy/equipment manager. Also known as Matt. Poor Matt.
Did anything else of note happen this weekend that I should share with you, my blogging public? I’m trying to think. Well, there is one little thing:
I have a feeling 28 is gonna be a good year. (Name that (slightly adapted) showtune. Of course right after that song the singer’s husband comes back and shoots her boyfriend and they tell Tommy he didn’t see or hear anything so he becomes deaf and blind but for some reason really good at pinball. I’m hopeful that won’t happen to me. And oops, so much for the showtune guessing game.)
Ack! Today is the halfway point in the Knitting Olympics! Lots of people have posted those Olympic countdowns on their blogs, but I don’t think my nerves can stand up to something like that. Just getting quick glimpses of them on others’ blogs is enough to make my palms sweaty.
So fifty percent of the time has elapsed. (I sort of wish the Knitting Olympics had an Iron Chef-style timekeeper who would ominously announce via echoey loudspeaker things like “eight days have elapsed.”) So where does my knitting stand at this halfway point? Well, I’d estimate that in the picture to the right I’m about halfway done with Tubey. Great, right? Absolutely, except for the fact that it’s too big in various dimensions and required not-insignificant frogging today. You can’t tell here, but you can see in the photo below that a) the cross-back length is too long (it’s all bunched along the full breadth of my shoulders, especially near my arms), and b) the circumference of the body is too large. The former was partly the result of the fabric stretching over the past week and partly the result of lazy measuring as I was knitting. The latter is a mystery to me, as it’s the number of stitches called for by the pattern. As tempted as I was to just let it be a sort of oddly shaped, oddly fitting sweater, I reminded myself that THIS IS THE OLYMPICS! Half-assed efforts do not Olympic champions make!
There wasn’t that much actual knitting that had to be taken out, but it did require me to re-pick up 112 stitches, which is something I’m lousy at. (Interestingly, though, I discovered yesterday that I have been picking up stitches absolutely wrong for the last six years. I’ve always hated it, so for this project I thought I’d check The Knitter’s Book of Finishing Techniques to see if it provided any useful tips. It did: “Try not doing it completely dead wrong, dumbass.” Turns out it’s a lot easier to do the real way than the way I was doing it, but still slow, tedious, and joyless.)
To address the sizing problems, I tried to close up the shrug opening by creating inch-long seams at the tops of the arms. I made a few different attempts, and every one of them looked assy (that’s the third form of “ass” I’ve used in this post — rather out of character for me), but I figured that since this part of the sweater will located it in the pitiest part of my armpit, there was no point in making myself crazy over it. Then I picked up 16 fewer stitches than before (144 instead of 160) for the body, and now I’m poised to start again. I plan to knit through Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit tonight and then try it on again. If you hear distant screaming around 11 p.m., that’ll be me. I’m optimistic it won’t come to that.
In spite of some frustrations, I am enjoying knitting this sweater and am liking the pattern, yarn, and colors quite a bit. I am also liking the stitch markers: the little handmade piggy markers that my secret pal sent me are perfectly color coordinated with this project. And they are so freakin’ cute!
So that’s the Olympic update. If things go well tonight and tomorrow, knitting-wise, I should have another update before the end of the weekend. (If they go badly, I will sink into a pit of despair and you will not hear from me for a while.) Team College Hill is getting together three times next week for some mutual cheerleading and motivation — I hope I’m keeping pace!
Guess what? I’m going to knit socks. For months I’ve been oscillating between turning my nose up at the sock knitting craze (why spend all that time on something so small and barely visible?) and nearly succumbing to the undeniable temptation (just look at the amazing colors available in all those sock yarns!). Well, my paper-thin wall of resistance was blown to shreds on Friday when I laid my eyes and hands upon this gorgeous stuff:
That is Sunshine Yarns “Gryffindor Stripe” self-striping sock yarn. Harry Potter socks of my very own are just a few tens of thousands of stitches away. (I will cast aside my suspicion that would more likely be sorted into Ravenclaw than Gryffindor; I am more nerd than hero.) I have gone from unsure about the whole sock thing to itching to cast on in the time it took me to open the surprise package that arrived on my doorstep Friday afternoon. (Laura, I know I was showing solidarity with you on the whole no-sock thing, but you can’t blame me for cracking in the face of gift yarn!)
You may all remember my secret pal, who spoiled me again and again and again and again last spring and summer. Well, she has struck once more. I have a birthday coming up this month, and the generous and wonderful Carry surprised me by marking the occasion with a completely unexpected box of treats. The only thing that could have been better is if she herself had arrived on my doorstep. Maybe next time. (Rhode Island really is a lovely spot for a lengthy vacation, Carry!)
Note the drifts of snow out the window. The only reason I won’t whine about the Nor’easter we got this weekend (and the attendant shoveling) is because we haven’t had a flake of snow since December; I don’t want to seem ungrateful for that and incite God to send a blizzard every weekend until May to put me in my place. Yes, my theology is highly questionable. But I’m getting way off track. (What? ME??)
What you’re seeing above are two skeins of Brown Sheep worsted weight wool in a wonderful ocean blue; the Yarn Harlot‘s Secret Life of a Knitter; almond roca and a mint chocolate bar; piggy stitch markers (enlarged to the right, handmade by Carry herself); the aforementioned sock yarn; “Lucky,” the most recent CD by Melissa Ethridge; and a hilarious cat card. I know, I couldn’t believe her generosity either! There’s even more: I also received Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears, a classic that I wanted to add to my collection, but I couldn’t get it to fit into my tableau.
There is no question that the opening ceremonies of an Olympic event with 4000 participants from all over the world would provide enough knitting joy for one night. But add to that the unexpected receipt of several wonderful gifts, and you’d better believe I was on Knitting Cloud Nine the whole weekend. Thank you so much, Carry!
Speaking of the Knitting Olympics, I made good progress this weekend, though I’m going to frog some of it (I had decided to make Tubey with a tapered sleeve instead of a bell sleeve but didn’t like the way it came out, so I’m taking it out). I am very happy with how my colors are looking together (sleeve stripe detail to the left). I successfully employed a new provisional cast on and slightly less successfully tried for “jogless jog stripes” at the color changes. I think I’m where I should be at this point in the event. I’m liking the yarn, liking the pattern, and hating the fact that I have to go to work tomorrow instead of knitting all day. Harumph.
Last night was so packed with excitment that I’m going to split it into two posts for your own protection.
The focus of this post: the Knitting Olympics, of course! First of all, a big sincere thank you to Team College Hill for welcoming me so enthusiastically just a day before the games began. To express my appreciation I will make us a team button at work this week. A little late, sure, but we can display it next to our GOLD MEDALS forever. Now a slightly more reluctant thank you to Theresa for promising the readers of her blog better photos on my blog…those of you here as a result of that promise should brace yourselves for disappointment. I have a hate-hate relationship with the flash on my camera, and my non-natural-light pictures are a clear demonstration of that.
But enough introduction! Last night I raced home from work to gather together all the necessary supplies for the opening ceremonies. Pattern, yarn, splurgy Addi Turbos, DNPs for the sleeves, gauge swatch (upon reflection I don’t think that actually had any purpose last night), trusty ugly knitting bag, and my contribution to the Olympic Feast: brownie bites and Ben and Jerry’s. I was set to go!
After botching the directions I’d been given and carrying ice cream and knitting around the apartment complex ringing random doorbells, I finally managed to arrive at my destination. I entered the Olympic Arena:
This was just before the thousands of performance artists dressed in skin-tight one-piece costumes arrived to arrange themselves in formations representing knitting themes. Seriously, that happened. Team College Hill doesn’t do anything halfway.
So, I may have forgotten to mention that I even joined Team College Hill. After my last post I accidentally stumbled upon this group of three knitters who are fourth-year med students at the university where I work (and of which I am an alumna). I tentatively posted on Theresa’s blog and was enthusiastically welcomed to join the team and even get together with them for the opening ceremonies. I was a little unsure about spending this all-important occasion with people I’d never met, but my concerns were utterly unfounded. I walked in and instantly recognized Katja, one of the team members, as someone I’d known from when we were both undergrads, and it turns out I’d also been her roommate’s psych TA (poor her — I was a lousy TA). The three of us (Leah, the fourth member of the team, had to work, unfortunately) got on famously, and I have been invited back for the closing ceremonies. There was much team spirit. Also much knitting. Katja is making Ene’s Scarf from Scarf Style, as is Leah. Theresa is making something so impressive that my jealous brain refuses to acknowledge it, so I’ll just skip right to some photos.
Please scroll up and reread the disclaimers about my crappy indoor, low-light photos. Neither of these lovely women is grainy and discolored in real life. Anyway I’ll stop being petulant and tell you that Theresa is knitting Am Kamin, which is a daunting enough pattern under the best of circumstances, but when the pattern does not have a lick of English in it (it’s Japanese), that’s just plain crazy. Theresa muttered at the schematics for a few minutes, punched a few numbers in a calculator, and declared, “It works!” I quietly continued knitting the stockinette back of Tubey.
(Theresa is the kind of knitter so many of us aspire to be but most of us never will be. When she greeted me at the door I instantly recognized that she was wearing a Noro Kuryeon sweater and handknit socks. I was dressed in my mass-produced Gap cabled sweater. It was not a highlight of my life. I am redoubling my knitting efforts from this point forward.)
Anyway, it was a really great time, and I encourage you to go check out Theresa’s blog for more info and a picture of me in which my hair looks pretty good. Unless you’re a pedophile: then Theresa’s dad respectfully requests that you leave us alone. (Yeah, blog in-joke. I try not to. Sorry.)
Tomorrow: updates on Tubey’s progress and information about the second half of last night’s excitement, which is not related to the Knitting Olympics. Let the games begin!
This will provoke interest in absolutely no one, but I’ve at last given myself permission to join the select group of 3000 knitters taking part in the Knitting Olympics. I have been dying to do so since the first day the Yarn Harlot proposed it on her blog and as I watched blogfriend after blogfriend commit to the challenge. I knew I wouldn’t finish the RRS in time for the cast-on, though, and it just seemed wrong to make my mom wait an additional two weeks for her birthday gift (now 8 days overdue and counting).
When my mom and I were having lunch after the yarn sale last weekend, I was enthusiastically describing the Knitting Olympics and saying what a fun idea I thought it all was. When she asked why I wasn’t doing it, I reminded her of my unwavering commitment to the RRS. Appalled that that was the only thing holding me back, she insisted that I set the shawl aside and take up the Olympic challenge. Never one to disobey my mother, I didn’t need to be told twice. I will be knitting Tubey alongside knitting athletes the world over. Hooray!
This is why I’m hoping that my monthly luck ration was not completely depleted by my good fortune in the LYS this past weekend. I’m going to need a bit. While I’m confident that the skills required for the pattern are completely within my reach, I believe I will be challenged by a) the time limit (I’m really not all that fast and I’m always pretty busy), and b) the fact that it actually has to fit me. Flatteringly. I’ve swatched, I’ve planned, I’ve warned Matt that I will see him on Valentine’s Day and that’s it during the 16-day Olympic period, and of course I’ve joined the appropriate teams.
Team Knittyboard just because I spend a bit of time there (though obviously not enough, because I have to confess that I don’t know who Maude is); Team Tubey because, well, obviousy; and Team Wales because they crack me up. If you haven’t already, you should check out their requirements for joining.
And, of course, a special team just for me:
I expect to be at least 85 percent finished with the RRS shawl by the opening cermonies of the Knitting Olympics, and I will return to it promptly once I’m wearing Tubey and my coveted gold medal (I figure I should go into this thing with confidence). In the meantime, Citius, Altius, Fortius
! With emphasis on the citius, please.