General knitting spirituality

My Socks–and Mourning (?)–are Done

So I’ve finished my socks that I started in the wake of Diana’s death. I am quite pleased with them. They are colorful and fun. THey are comfortable, and wonderful. And to some degree, they will always remind me of Diana. 

Being done with them, I am filled with conflicting emotions. There is always the excitement of completion, and the sense that I am very  much going to enjoy these socks. In this case, there is an added level. I had said that finishing these socks would, in some sense, mark the end of my mourning period for Diana. Now the question becomes, how ready am I to be done mourning?

In most senses, I think I’m pretty ready. I’m not aware of her absence all the time, anymore, but there are moments when it sneaks up on me, unaware. Times when I think I catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye, and catch myself thinking I’ve seen her. Moments when I’m making sure there are no plastic bags lying around, and realize it doesn’t matter so much, because she isn’t here to chew on them. But for the most part, it’s getting easier. 

I’m very excited by these socks. They are warm and colorful and represent the kind of clothing I wish I could wear all the time. And therfore, I’m looking forward to wearing them often, enjoying the yarn and the colors, and thinking of Diana.

General Jewish Spirituality knitting spirituality

Diana Memorial Noro Socks

It’s been way too long since I blogged. First, I wasn’t blogging because I had nothing to say besides, “I’m still missing Diana,” and I didn’t think that merited anyone else reading it. Then, I couldn’t quite figure out how to start again. Then I got pretty busy. So I haven’t been blogging. 

But now, I return. With a new knitting project: socks of Noro yarn, which I deliberately started while mourning Diana. It not’s that I didn’t have other knitting projects, but they were all for other people. And for the first week after Diana died, I didn’t feel like knitting at all (hard as that is to believe). After that, I wanted to begin to explore knitting again, but didn’t want my sadness and mourning being poured into a baby blanket I was working on, or a gift for anyone, in fact. I wanted to have those emotions become part of something I was knitting for me.

These socks are made of Noro Kureyon sock yarn which I bought with a gift certificate which was given to me as a thank you for doing a bat mitzvah. Noro is significantly more expensive than the sock yarns I’ll usually buy, but I’ve always admired the colors. It was a splurge, and it was for me. So when I was deciding to make something for myself, that I could put whatever emotions I was feeling into, this felt like the right thing to work on. 

At the beginning (and I’ve been working on these for 2 weeks or so, now), there was a huge amount of sadness involved. I would not have wanted to been working on a baby blanket at the time. Now, I’m still sad sometimes, but for the most part, I’m ok. In between I turned the heel, realized I’d made the foot too short, ripped back, and turned the heel again. I’ve been watching the colors slowly unfold from the skein, and enjoying the progress as they do. 

I’ve knit my sadness into them, and I’ve knit some happiness into them. Now, it feels like i want to finish them before moving on, as though finishing the socks will officially mark the end of a period of mourning for Diana. Obviously, the process of mourning doesn’t end that suddenly, but having a demarkation, whether it be one of time or accomplishment, can be useful to let one know when it’s time to regard life as “back to normal.”

In Judaism, there are three stages of mourning. First, there is shiva, which lasts about a week. Then comes shloshim, which is 30 days. Finally, for the first year after the death, it is customary for the mourner to go to the synagogue daily to recite the kaddish, a prayer in memory of the deceased. Obviously, I wouldn’t observe these stages for a cat, even one I love as dearly as Diana, but I want some way to mark the end of the period of active mourning, and I think finishing the socks will be that way. 

So I’m knitting along on my socks, and looking forward to finishing them, and moving onto the next stage of life.


Eva's Socks Are Done

I’ve finished Eva’s socks. I don’t have pictures, yet. I know I should, but somehow haven’t gotten around to it. I finished them Saturday afternoon, and they look pretty good…until they actually get worn much.

The problem is one I foresaw, but sort of ignored. They slouch. They don’t stay up adequately well. I know why this is (the spiral pattern of ribbing doesn’t provide the stretchiness that vertical ribbing does), but I’m still somewhat frustrated by it. I’m wondering if it’s too late to add some elastic (I rather suspect it is). Eva says she likes them as slouch socks, but I’m not as satisfied with them as I’d like to be. So it goes. There will be more socks moving forward.

In fact, I’ve just started another sock (this one for me). It’s the second sock of a pair I started back before I started Eva’s. It’s a very similar pattern, but with far more ribbing at the top, and less of the swirling pattern up the leg. We’ll see if that helps it stay up better.

This is the first time I’ve been disappointed with how a big project turned out. I’m not deeply upset by it, but I am aware of a number of things I would do differently if I were doing it over. I’m not going to rip back and re-do it…in large part because the socks took so long to do the first time, I can’t quite face spending that much more time with them again. Instead, I’m trying to focus on this as a learning experience. As disappointments go, this one is fairly minor. It’s something that if it mattered enough to me, I could fix (I think).

What this means, among other things, is that I am now done with one project, and down to 3 active projects on the needles. One of these (a bedspread) is my “in front of the TV” project, and getting some attention. Another, a shawl, is largely languishing at the moment, but I’ll come back to it. Regardless of how I feel about how the socks came out, it feels really good to have finished something. Eva’s socks are the first project I’ve finished since January, which, for me, is a really long time. Just finishing them is an accomplishment, and I’m feeling good about moving forward again.


The Heel is Turned and there are Pictures

At long last (at least it feels that way to me), I’m done with the foot of the first sock, I’ve turned the heel, and I have pictures of Eva’s Birthday Socks: evas-sock-foot.jpg

That is the sock in its current state. It has ribbing on the foot, which is being put into motion (swirling) around the calf. In the photo below you can better see the transition from the ribbing on the foot to the swirl on the calf. You can see the swirl better than the ribbing.


The really exciting thing about this is that I feel like I’ve finally made some real progress on this sock.



Working the Short Heel in Short Spurts

Today I (more or less) had a day off. Admittedly, I wound up doing far more than I intended, but it was mainly fun (the standing around overwhelmed in the grocery store? less fun). In between, I’ve been working on Eva’s socks, and specifically working on turning the short row heel. You know, a few rows at the pharmacy while the pharmacist clears up why the insurance company paid three dollars towards the prescription I was picking up. . .for my cat (it was a mistake and I paid the extra $3, which I suspected I would have to once I pointed it out to him). A few rows while Mycroft had her yarn put on the cone at Yarnia. A few more rows at some other store, I think.

A better blogger than I would have lovely pictures of this heel for you today. In fact, a better blogger would have thought about taking pictures during any of a number of lovely spots of weather today, rather than now, as the sun is pretty much down. And of course, a better blogger would have a way to transfer said picture to the computer on which the post was being composed. This is all a long way to say, “no pictures. I’m sorry.”

Turning a short row heel is sort of interesting. I’m following the instructions in this pattern, and find it relatively easy, but a little disorienting. The odd part about short row heels is that you find yourself knitting fewer and fewer stitches each time back and forth. And as opposed to most ways of doing decreases or increases, where you wait a row between reductions, these happen fast. It sort of reminds me of the end of a game of pong, where the ball is moving faster and faster between the two ends of the screen.

Like most things, however, the short rows are about to start expanding again, and I’m going to have to strive to keep gaps from forming. I have yet to knit a pair of socks without gaps around the gusset type thingy. We’ll see if this goes better. I think the trick has something to do with learning to pick up the “wrapper along with the stitch”, whatever that means. I think I did it wrong last time, so I suspect I will ask some advice from the knitting mavens at CubeSpace.

Speaking of whom, Emily had her pattern published in the new edition of Knitty out today. Yay Emily! Check out her big family tree knitting design project here.


Too Many Projects, Not Enough Knitting

I’m currently working on at least 4 projects:

  1. A pair of socks for Eva.
  2. A pair of socks for me.
  3. A blanket/bedspread.
  4. A shawl.

Two of these projects are “large” (blanket and shawl) and two are relatively small (socks). I figured having projects of various sizes would be a good thing. It would mean that I would have a portable project when I needed it, a project that involves virtually no pattern work when I need brain-dead knitting, and good projects to get buried under when I’ll be sedentary for a while.  But a problem has arisen.

It’s been a while since I’ve finished a project. Like over a month, I think. Which for me, is a long time. I finished one of my pair of socks, but then before I could start work on the mate, I wanted to get Eva’s socks out, because they are a birthday present for her…which was about a month ago. And the big projects are moving, just very, very slowly. All the more slowly because I have other projects going at the same time.

I knit, at a fundamental level, for the joy of the knitting itself. I do it because it relaxes me, because it helps me focus and because it helps me think. Oh, and because I like yarn.

I don’t knit for the finished object (for the most part). So I find it curious that I’m having this sense of wanting to finish an object. Nonetheless, there it is.

I could, of course, cast on a quick and dirty project just to do something I could knock out in under a week, but somehow starting a fifth project as a response to having too many projects going at once seems like the wrong answer. I’m not saying I won’t resort to it, just that I’m not resorting to it YET.

In the meantime, I’m about to the point where I get to make the short-row heal on the first of Eva’s socks, which suggests I’m making real progress on them.

knitting Rabbinic

Back in the Swing

I am beginning to be recovered from last weekend. I feel significantly more functional than I had been, which is good because tomorrow begins another full weekend. This time, a bar mitzvah Friday night and Saturday, followed by religious school and adult education on Sunday. But it’s not nearly as draining as it was.

Things are adequately back to normal that I’ve had some time to do some knitting. My primary project at the moment is working on Eva’s socks, which  are good, but a little bit fussy. I’m working from the toe up, and the top of the foot as a k6p3 ribbing pattern that I’m going to turn into a spiral once I hit the leg. At this point I’m about half way up the foot or a little more.

These socks have taken a while because I had to rip them  out the first time once I was about 3″ in because I didn’t like the fabric: it was a bit too tight, and thought it might stand up on its own without a foot in it. That seemed bad.  So I upped my needle size from 00 to 0, and I like this fabric much better.

This pattern is basically my own, and once I have it a bit better established, I will probably go ahead and post it (assuming I like it once it’s done).

In other news, I’m distinctly pleased to be feeling human again, to have a little bit of time for knitting again, and to have the brain power to be knitting something other than straight stockinette.  I’m even back to using polysyllabic words.

knitting spirituality

Yarnia Part II

I’m beginning work on a new project: Eva’s Birthday socks. Here’s how they look so far:


This is the project I alluded to earlier when talking about the yarn I “might” have bought when visiting Yarnia. And this is when I will do a little more talking about the yarn I purchased.

What I bought is 4 strands of wool: 2 green, 2 purple. They are not plied together, but are simply combined. I brought it home on a cone, straight from the machine:


I’ve now divided this into 2 evenly sized amounts of yarn (1 ball, and the rest still on the cone). And I’ve started knitting with it.

The yarn knits very easily. The multiple plies are easy to work with and don’t separate much more than a plied yarn. It feels great to work with, even if it is a little less elastic until it is worked into the fabric.

Regardless of the yarn being used, there is always something exciting about starting a new project. I know there is a lot of knitting ahead of me (which is a good thing), but I don’t really know how it will turn out, yet. I have a plan, and a sense of what I’m aiming for, but I know that the reality may look different from my expectations. Often, the reality is way cooler than my expectations. Almost certainly, it will be better than it looked while it was in process. Starting a new project starts this process.

So, tonight, I am beginning this process: evas-sock2.jpg

And I suspect that I will be continuing on this project for the next few months. Mainly joyously, occasionally dragging myself through it, always waiting to see what the socks will be.