Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cardigans large and small—WIP Wednesday

Last night I cast on for the pattern Climbing Lace Cardigan, by Vanessa Ewing. (Side note: this pattern was recently translated into French. Do I have any Francophones reading my blog?) I'm knitting this cardigan for myself.
Here are the swatches I knit first: one in the lace pattern, and one in stockinette. I'm glad I swatched the lace pattern—it tripped me up a few times. Probably because rows 2 and 4 are identical, so I sometimes lost track.

I'll be using the techniques I learned from Amy Herzog in her Fit to Flatter class and her book Knit to Flatter to make sure it fits me properly. This includes adding waist shaping, since the original pattern doesn't have any—it goes straight from hip to shoulder. That's not how I'm shaped!

The yarn is Peace Fleece Sport DK, in the colorway Sheplova Mushroom. I bought this for a different sweater about three years ago, before I understood that it's nearly impossible to make DK weight yarn work in a pattern that calls for Aran weight.

It's wool and mohair, very crunchy and rustic. I love crunchy rustic yarns. The swatches are noticeably softer after washing, though I'm sure they'll never be as soft as merino. That's fine; I'll always be wearing a shirt under this cardigan.

Oh, and I'm knitting this as part of the Yarniacs Podcast Fall 2013 knitalong. I figure this is close enough to the color Pantone is calling Samba.

The small cardigan referenced in the title is for my nephew, who's currently 8 months old. The pattern is called L'illo and is available in the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty. (Click over and have a look at the pattern model! Isn't he a cutie? Of course, my nephew is cuter....)
This photo shows the back and half of the right front. I'm knitting the 12-month size and shooting to have it done for his first birthday in November.

The yarn is Takhi Cotton Classic Lite, 100% mercerized cotton in sport weight. My nephew (and his mom and dad) live in a suburb of Dallas, so he doesn't need tons of cold-weather gear, and I already knit him an acrylic cardigan before he was born.... it was supposed to be a newborn size, but apparently my yarn was too thick, so I told my sister to save it for next winter. I'm hoping a cotton cardigan will get more use.

I wish I had started it on wooden needles instead of aluminum. The combination of slick needles and slick yarn means I have to take it slow. But I can't change in the middle. It might affect my gauge, and then the pieces wouldn't fit together.

The back looks short, but that's because this sweater has saddle shoulders. I've never knit that kind of shoulder before, so it'll be interesting.
Here are links to my project pages on Ravelry: Li'l Cardi and Climbing Lace Cardigan. (I guess I should come up with my own name for it?)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Can knitting be an idol?

The Second Commandment, out of only ten: Do not worship idols.

It was the subject of a recent sermon at my church. The preacher acknowledged that actual idols that people literally bow down to are vanishingly rare in modern Western culture. And yet, humans still have this need to worship something. And we still have this tendency to drop our eyes from God to something we can actually see.

I certainly do, anyway. I didn't write for ten years, because writing had become my idol. And when I write that, I don't mean that I nobly and selflessly put it away from me and now I'm all righteous. I mean that I had my idol smashed before my eyes, revealed as the false hope it was, and all my desire to write evaporated.

But that's a story for another time. Because now I'm worried about knitting.

When I arrived at church a couple weeks ago, I realized I'd forgotten to bring my tithe—again. Now, if it were just a bill to be paid, I'd be ok, because there was one more Sunday in the month, I could catch up then. But it's not just a bill... or at least, it shouldn't be. It bothers me that in some ways it IS just another bill to me. It's not the act of worship it should be.

By contrast, I went to a fiber event the day before. I planned way ahead for that. I carefully hoarded my spending money, made sure to get my cash together, thought about what I'd shop for.

Follow the money. What's my priority?

OK, it's not a perfect comparison. Fiber events are rare for me; church is every week, there IS always next week. However, one of the criteria our preacher mentioned for identifying an idol was, "What do you always seem to find money for?" Hmm.

The jury's still out; I don't see most of the other criteria applying to fiber crafts in my life.

However, I do see signs that there may be people out there in the "fiber community" who DO put their crafts in the place of a deity in their lives.

No, they don't bow down before their yarn stashes. But how about acquiring more stash than you can possibly ever knit—and then continuing to purchase more?

Some other criteria from the sermon:
  • It is the source of our security.
  • It is the source of our identity.
  • What do you treasure? Dream about, dwell on?
I see people writing about yarncrafting as if it's their comfort and their solace and their ultimate. Like it's the cure for all social ills. Like only at a fiber-oriented event can they find true fellowship. Is this worship?

Maybe; not necessarily. There's nothing wrong with using knitting to relax after work. Crafts can be a creative outlet, and yarncrafts have the potential for something really useful as the end result.

The trick is that just because something is lovely and comforting and whatever other good qualities it may have, doesn't mean it can provide ultimate fulfillment.

The key statement in the sermon for me came, oddly, in the middle. This is what I want to take away and evaluate myself against whenever I seem to be getting too much into something:

Idols are usually good things that we have made god things.

Another way of thinking about it is, what do I look to for life? (I don't remember where I picked that up; possibly John Piper.)  What do I look to for fulfillment?

I just want to remember that He is the ultimate; anything else good in my life is a gift from Him.