Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Walk

"Hey, Mom! Yeah, getting ready to head to work... I sound stuffy? Oh, yeah, because I'm wearing my new sweater, and it's really fuzzy. I'm kind of worried that it makes me look broad...a little more than a month from now...yeah, I have a running program. Starting today, I have to run/jog/walk twenty miles a week. I think I can do it if I walk to lunch and go to the gym on the way home every night this week."

Later that day, I stepped out into the bright, warm day. Here is my account, written minutes after I returned, overheated and uncomfortable, to my desk.

April 10, 2008 - 12:45 p.m. PDT

0.1 mile - two geese fly overhead. "Geese are so beautiful," I think to myself. "Maybe I should stop eating meat again."

0.2 miles - Realize that I'm wearing an angora sweater over a black shirt. It's a gorgeous, sunny day, probably 80 degrees. Stop at the light, pull off sweater. Do not turn back to put sweater in the car.

0.4 miles - Smell the blooming shrubs. "I'd never notice how lovely they were if I weren't walking. Good for me!"

0.5 miles - I am walking with the weight and heat retaining equivalent of a Pomeranian slung over my arm. Shift sweater to other arm. Feel how hot it is already. Shift it back to original arm.

0.7 miles - Cross over the freeway. Get a little panicky on the overpass. Cars appear to move much faster when they're speeding past below you.

0.9 miles - Start to think that walking was a bad idea. Wonder if anyone from work would come to pick me up. Remember that I don't have my cell phone.

1.1 miles - Stop in for a moment at the chick gym. "Hey, Ellen! Just taking my friggin' angora sweater for a walk and thought I'd pop in." Leave the following note for my trainer: "Amazon -- Walking to Jamba. It sucks. I'm hot. Halfway there. -- Me".

1.3 miles - Notice that there aren't lights at the pedestrian crossings on the Crow Canyon overpass. Avoid being hit by cars entering the freeway.

1.5 miles - Stop at a light. There's a guy with a sign advertising a lunch buffet at Pizza Hut. He's waving the sign back and forth. Wonder if his arms get tired by the end of the hour. Don't actually ask him.

1.7 miles - Buy Jamba. Pause long enough to notice that I'm drenched in sweat. "I've been walking for a long time! I bet it's further than I thought."

1.9 miles - Think to myself, "Don't be disappointed when it's not further than you thought. Don't be disappointed when it's not further than you thought." This becomes a mantra.

2.1 miles - Concentration on mantra broken when two cars smack into each other at the Norris Canyon/Camino Ramon intersection.

2.4 miles - Get back to my car. Climb in and drive route I just walked. Determine that it's 2.4 miles. Am disappointed when it's not further than I thought.

Pattern - Fluffy Angora Menace

It's my own. I wanted to see how far approximately 700 yards of yarn would go toward making a garment, because I've got a lot of 700-yard bundles in the stash. I've also got a few 500-yard skeins, and now I know that they'll at least be good for vests, because I knit the body of this sweater with less than that.

I was at the same gauge as the Two-Tone Shrug, so I figured if I cast on the same amount of stitches it'd fit across the neck and shoulders. I knit from the top down, increasing every other row at the raglans, every fifth row at the neck. When I started to think the v-neck was going to be too deep, I switched to every three rows, then every other row to close it up faster. It makes a nice, sharp u-neck instead of a v-neck.

I knit 3/4 sleeves because I wanted to sleeves to be exactly one skein long. Also, I was bored by the color and irritated by inhaling the fluff, so I wanted to just be done with it.

As I was knitting it, I kept changing my ideas about what I wanted it to be. I started off wanting something classic and Ann Taylor-ish. Then I thought it'd be better if it were more rustic, sort of like 3x Chic. I couldn't decide what to do with the collar, and I kept thinking I should make a shawl collar and then remembering that I'm allergic to angora, so I'd have to keep it from touching my neck. I ultimately went with a simple crochet collar.

The thing that's kind of hard to see in this picture is the texture. Every fourth stitch on every other row is twisted. The fuzz is obscuring this detailing.

Yarn - Elsebeth Lavold Angora in 'Driftwood. I used a little more than seven skeins, and only broke into the seventh skein in order to do the crochet edging. The important thing to know about this yarn is that it's been in my stash for at least four years. It's one of the big amounts of yarn that I bought because I didn't yet understand that 'closeout' didn't mean 'you have to buy it now because you'll never be able to get anything like it again and you'll regret it for the rest of your life'.

I love the feel of this stuff, but man does it get messy. This weekend, I spent two hours with a sweater stone and an electric shaver trying to knock the halo down. I succeeded, but it was hard work. Unfortunately, I was doing the defuzzing in the breakfast nook, and apparently I didn't get all of the tufts of fiber cleaned up. Buddy's been sneezing violently for three days.

Needles - Addi Turbo US#6 (body and arms) and Addi Natura US#4 (ribbing). Size F Brittany Birch crochet needle for the edging.

Time - February 13th to April 9th. If I could have tolerated knitting it all the way through, without throwing it on the bar and leaving it sit for more than two weeks, it would have been done on March 23rd. I had everything but the neck edging done at that point.

Modifications - None, because I made it myself.

Conclusions - I'm proud of it. It's not a flashy sweater, so it doesn't get much notice when I wear it, but they don't all have to be flashy. With a solid shirt under it, this sweater does a great job of framing necklaces, which was one of the results I was hoping for. I wore it again yesterday, and A.B. said I looked hip.

I'm figuring out that I'm not so much a fan of top-down knitting at the moment. I like having pieces to finish. Top-down is good for projects where you don't know how much yarn you're going to use. I certainly have a few yarns in the stash that are going to require this type of construction because I didn't buy enough of them and I can't get them anymore. I'm not swearing off of it forever. But I'm not going to make another top-down anything for a while.

After last week's heat spell, we've gone back to normal springtime temperatures. I should get at least a couple of more wearings out of Fluffy before logic and reason dictate that I put it away until November. It might even fit better by then, if I keep up the running. I look broad in it...


knottygnome said...

wow, going for a walk in warm weather with an angora sweater is sheer madness, woman.

i love the delicate fluffiness, but i fear i'd have the same difficulties with allergies as you. alpaca makes me sneeze and it's not nearly as sheddy.

i really like your sweater. it's very classic and wearable. except when it's 80 degrees out.

Anonymous said...

you never cease to make me laugh! I like the sweater -- I like classic! Just don't wear it on those long walks anymore ;)

Karen said...

I love the sweater!

ZantiMissKnit said...

I like it, and I love your story.
I'm knitting a cotton/angora sweater now, and I hope I can finish it before it hits 80 here (which is, sometimes, July).

Beverly said...

Excellent job! It looks great on you.

DeltaDawn said...

Nice! Satisfying to make it up as you go along, isn't it? I'm inpired.... Bet you won't be wearing it again til it's really, really cold out!