Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bristow, Lucy, the Lorikeet and I

When we moved into our little house, we didn't know that the family across the street kept livestock. Chickens, specifically. We didn't learn about it until we woke up on that first morning in our new bedroom. "Err-err-Err-errrr-ERRRRRRR!" Their neighbors on the other side of the street said, "Oh, that's Claudio's rooster. He's got hens, too. They use the eggs, and they've got kind of a big family, so we don't hassle them about it." We wanted to be good neighbors, so we decided we wouldn't hassle them either, even though it's not legal to keep fowl within city limits. We watched with interest as the chicks grew, and when they broke free to wander the neighborhood, we tried to herd them away from the yard with the German Shepherds.

We got used to the sound of the rooster, and at some point he stopped crowing. I don't know. Maybe they ate him. Autumn was quiet. The next April, we heard more crowing. This time it was two distinct roosters, one with the traditional crow, one with a stuttering call that seemed to strangle off at the end. "Err-err-err-EEERRRR-err-err-err-ERRRRGRGRGggggg." His call always followed the younger, stronger rooster's, like he was trying to compete with the upstart bird. I laughed about it every time I noticed it. Summer passed, then both roosters fell silent, for whatever reason, before Halloween. This pattern, roosters in April, quiet by November, happened for many years.

This year, no rooster. You know what we do hear? The ungodly calls of some creature that I cannot positively identify. I pull into my driveway every evening and step out of my car, and I'm immediately confronted with the sound of a troop of rhesus monkeys being attacked by a murder of crows intent on plucking out their shiny monkey eyes. At least that's what I imagine is happening when I hear the cacophony coming from across the street. You can hear the horrible screeching throughout the neighborhood. "What the f*&k is that thing, anyway?" I say every time I hear it.

A few months ago, a beautiful, multicolored bird landed on the telephone wire that runs past my bedroom window and stayed there for several minutes. I think it was a lorikeet, and further, I think it's now kept in an outdoor aviary over at Claudio's. It looked like a lorikeet, and I don't care if it's actually a conure or a parakeet, because I like typing and saying and reading 'lorikeet', and I have to find something to like about the damned thing, since it's apparently not going the proverbial 'way of the roosters' any time soon, and it's showing no trend toward shutting the hell up.

At least I hope it's a lorikeet. I hope to God he doesn't actually have a cage full of terrified, enraged monkeys in his back yard.

The look on my face in the picture above? "No, seriously...what the F&*K is that thing???"

I finished Bristow, by the way. I'd almost forgotten why I went outside to take that picture, what with all of the excitement over the Cries of the Lorikeet and, I kid you not, neighborhood children playing 'Three Blind Mice' on their recorders while marching around their yard. Loudly. Badly. Repeatedly. As children do. It was a fun afternoon in the garden.

So, more than six months after starting it, I'm done with Bristow. It took me that long because I was absolutely intolerant of any mistakes. Working with the first yarn I ever purchased, in a smooth, light color that would show every imperfection, I just couldn't let little things go. If I got an increase wrong five rows before noticing it, I'd unknit the five rows and fix it. No frogging back for me, no way. Unknit every stitch so that I'd be sure I didn't drop or twist any of them.

I knit the small, and it's almost the perfect size. It's a tiny bit big, but my gauge runs just slightly larger than it should, so I'd expect it to be a little wide. I knew the arms were going to be roomy and a little bit long, but I knit to the pattern anyway. I've got this weird idea that if I dampen just the arms and throw the whole thing in the drier, I might be able to shrink them up a little bit. Then it'll be absolutely perfect.

Here's a detailed shot of the front and the edge of one of the sleeves. I loved knitting this sweater, and I feel like I've learned a lot about finishing, and reading my stitches as a result of making it. My finishing was always sort of haphazard at best. I'd thread ends through stitches all willy-nilly, totally obvious and lumpy. With this one, I learned to weave in ends as duplicate stitches, and more importantly, I started to understand why that works, how the yarn moves through the fabric, if that makes any sense. It took three tries, but I finally got the sleeves set in so that they look GOOD, not just lashed onto the body. I haven't been the best at that in the past, but now I feel like I know how to do it well. Bristow was important enough to me that I wanted it to be right.

I even took the yarn with me to Stitches this year and bought just the right buttons for it. These are from Moving Mud. I can't get a great picture of them, but they're beautiful when the light hits them.

This is a great pattern, everything very well thought out. Once I got the hang of the cable pattern, I found it easy and fun to work. I actually think I got it wrong, on the arms, but if so, then I was consistent over both of them. The diamonds are one purl too wide, which means my cables on the arms are a little different there than on the body.

Would I knit this again? Definitely. I had a blast knitting it, and I love the finished product. I'd knit it in a yarn that didn't have so much sentimental value so that it wouldn't take another six months to complete.

Would I recommend that other people knit it? Absolutely. It's a great introduction to aran knitting, because it's not so complicated that you'd feel hopelessly lost if you forgot your place in the chart. I know a lot of people on the Knittyboard are debating this one, after overlooking it when it was first published. Knit it. It's a beautiful sweater, and I imagine it would be flattering on almost everyone.

But Suzanne? You said I could be in the picture because I'm sitting like a good dog and waiting for you to blow the ants off of my bone, and you said I was a pretty girl. Don't I get to be in the picture? -- Lucy the Dog

What of me, the Woman? Let me outside. I also want to be in the picture. You can call it "Buddy Hunts the Rogue Lorikeet". Two words, the Woman. "National". "Geographic". The dog can be my pack ox. -- Buddy the Cat

Good girl, Lucy. No dice, Buddy. Friggin' ants. Hey, Claudio?!? What the f*&k is that thing???


Anonymous said...

Absolutely superb!!!! Excellent job on Bristow - the effort you put into making and finishing it shows!

Well done you!!

Batty said...

Oh, wow! Gorgeous! I just adore the shape of the sleeves at the top. The cables... sigh. The color.... the fit...

Everything is absolutely, amazingly beautiful. You did a great job!

Trillian42 said...

Bristow is LOVELY! Great work!

And when you first described the sound of the lorikeet, I was remembering the first time we went to our friends' house in the spring and heard what sounded like a woman screaming behind their neighbor's house. It was freaking PEACOCKS. So you have my sincere sympathies if it is anywhere near that obnoxious.

turtlegirl76 said...

Wow. Gorgeous! I love the yarn, the shade is perfect for you. And the buttons are so neat looking. Your dog is pretty cute too. ;)