Monday, July 9, 2018
There’s no way to explain this except to say I had The Fever. I was cleaning behind the bookcase last week and letting knitting podcasts just auto play in the background, when, happening to look up for a moment, saw Kristy Glass asking one of the makers of Spincycle Yarns about the sweater she was wearing. I thought about my stash of handspun yarn, none of which is enough of one color or fiber or ply angle or anything else to make a whole garment. I love all these skeins, but I had started to feel guilty about having them in the cupboard, taking up space, when they were probably just destined to be a pile of lumpy hats nobody wanted. I remembered this from last summer. I put down my dust cloth, bought the pattern for The Twigs and started winding yarn.
The Fever got worse, because over the next few days, the weather suddenly went from summery to sultry and, undeterred—in fact, ecstatic—the garment grew into a sweltering lapful of knitting. Let me just say that I don’t mind this one bit. I sit in the shade, I aim a huge fan at my face, I keep a dripping glass of iced coffee nearby. I am a summer baby, and it is never too hot for me to knit. But I am aware that I will not be needing to wear this one for a long time. It is knit at a gauge of 4 stitches per inch, in fairly densely spun wool. It is heavy. This garment is for the future; for a distant season that I hope does not arrive too early, and frankly I wouldn’t mind if it never got cold enough to wear this, but I know it will, and sooner than I’d like...anyway, as I knit and it was predictably lumpy and weird and the contrast colors veered in and out of matching the main color in value, I just kept shaking my head at myself and saying, well, I’ve got the fever.
Then, five rows and the button bands from the end, I ran out of yarn. This, you may recall, is yarn I spun by hand, from a bump of roving that had been in my stash since the heyday of The Backstreet Boys, and there was no getting any more. Since the whole point of the project had been to use some of the handspun, I was determined not to buy any yarn. A little story for you: when we were thirteen or so, my best friend and I got hungry in the middle of a sleepover, so late at night, we crept into her mom’s kitchen and baked a cake from a mix. It wasn’t making a big enough mess, so we got out the food coloring and started dumping stuff in, and pretty soon, that cake was army green, with no going back. It looked gruesome, and very un-foodlike. We left it on the counter, turned our attention to oatmeal and honey facial treatments, and eventually went to sleep. In the morning, we got up to find her dad standing over the pan, eating a huge piece of it with a fork, and smacking his lips like it was the best cake in the world. As I was looking at the last bit of the hand-dyed, handspun yarn disappearing into the top of the yoke as I knit, I thought about that, and how easily we got bluish-greenish out of kitchen food coloring. So I scrounged up some Cascade Ecological Wool, leftover from something else, rummaged in the back of the cupboard behind the candy sprinkles and started dumping stuff into the dyepot. The result was close, but not quite. It’s not perfect, but nothing about this poor thing is perfect in any way. It is sort of motley and wobbly, and for the first time ever, I think my cut steek might collapse like a house of cards, and it still doesn’t have any buttons, but honestly, I truly love this sweater. I’ll show it to you next time, all finished with buttons and everything, but it’ll be a long time drying, and a really long time before I can wear it.