Friday, May 22, 2009

Brown Paper Packages

Receiving mail is so fun. It would be better if packages still came in brown paper tied up with string, but still. And packages with yarn? The best.

Way back in December, I had convinced Mum that a share in the sheep from Grand View farm in Vermont was a good graduation gift. Doubts about my sanity were aired, explanations of Community Supported Agriculture were given (Twist Collective's article does it best), and I ended up with the very last share in their Cormo sheep. I waited, and waited, and gasp! last week, my package arrived.

Stella inspected it thoroughly for me, just in case:

I knew that I'd get four skeins of yarn, 16 ounces total, but I didn't expect it to come so beautifully packaged: the box was lined with tissue, topped with a thank-you note bearing a picture of the sheep and a "knit local" sticker.

As I unpacked the softly spun, chubby skeins, I uncovered a little sachet of herbs to keep out the bugs and--

Is that just not the coolest thing ever? Kim, the woman who runs Grand View, knows how to do things right.

What about you guys? What was the best package (fibery or not) that you've ever received in the mail?

Friday, May 8, 2009

What the Dickens!

(I'm not sure why, but Stella finds this a comfortable style of repose)

The new season of Masterpiece Theatre is in full swing, and it's the perfect opportunity to get working on my Top-Down Shoulder Warmer. The "Classic" portion of the season--Tales of Charles Dickens--has just ended, and although I knit my way through both the end of Little Dorrit and The Old Curiosity Shop, frankly, I'm looking forward to a good, wholesome murder or two on the "Mystery" leg. It's not that I don't love Dickens--David Copperfield is one of my favorite books and has an awesome Masterpiece adaptation--but these two did not end on the note I was expecting.

I saw the way The Old Curiosity Shop was going when I realized they were cramming the whole thing into one and a half hours. A Christmas Carol fits into one and a half hours. Anything else, forget it.

But Little Dorrit... We pretty much sat there staring at the screen after that one ended, all thinking, did that really just happen? I will not go into detail, for those who have not yet been floored by this one in print or picture form. Suffice to say I didn't know that sort of thing flew in Victorian England.

In the same vein, I am a little puzzled with my Shoulder Warmer. The first thing I realized when I was trying to figure out which size to knit was that my back size (16" or L) had no correspondence to my bust size (34, between S & M). A review of the pattern and a modicum of common sense told me that in a sweater without a front, the back size is probably the way to go. So I went that way.

I think part of my dissatisfaction at the end of The Old Curiosity Shop was that at that point, I discovered that my trim, snug little shoulder-warmer-in-progress was neither trim nor snug about the shoulders. The sleeves, and the shoulder region they grew out of, were too big. Apparently my back size has no correspondence to my arm size, either. I tried the nascent shoulder warmer on three times, deliberated, went through the notes on all the Top Down Shoulder Warmers on Ravelry, deliberated some more, and decided there was nothing to be done but rip the whole thing back to the beginning and fudge it.

The back size had to stay, but none of the sizes written give a a sleeve with a 10-11" circumference, which is what I wanted. Careful perusal of the pattern revealed that the different sizes were achieved in part by working more or less increase rows. Another trying on of my sweater revealed that the armholes were a little deep, so I decided to attempt a custom fit by combining strategies.

First, I cast on more back stitches and fewer sleeve stitches, and now, I will work fewer increase rows. This will produce the right stitch counts and hopefully will *not* throw the design out of whack. I was quite pleased to have figured something out for this conundrum, but all the same it makes me wonder if I'm shaped like an effigy jar.

*Sigh* Nothing to do but continue knitting and keep our fingers crossed for a nice murder this Sunday night.