Until this weekend, the weather has been unusually good for April. Good enough to sit in the garden with bare legs – the sort of behaviour that I generally reserve for July and August. Trees are coming into leaf two or three weeks earlier than normal and pelargoniums and bluebells are flowering. But, as of today, things are back to normal with overcast skies, intermittent rain and temperatures that warrant a couple of jumpers and warm trousers rather than bare legs.
I just pray that the last few weeks haven’t been the best of the year’s weather, you never can tell in Yorkshire. But it was good while it lasted. My bicycle has emerged from its hibernation in the garage and I’ve had a couple of rides, the first since last October. Using the bike makes getting into town much quicker than walking – I only take the car when it’s very wet or I have a supermarket shop to do – with the result that I tend to go more frequently in the summer months than in the winter. Popping into town to meet a friend in the evening or take something to the Post Office at lunchtime is a lot more feasible when the round trip takes 25 minutes instead of an hour.
Perhaps because I have been sitting outside soaking up the sun in every spare daylight moment, I haven’t achieved very much craftwise this week. I’ll be glad when the Color Affection shawl is finished, which won’t be long now as I’m knitting the navy blue border. It involves garter stitch rows of nearly 400 stitches, which take forever. It’s looking pretty dramatically stripy though, I can’t wait to get it off the needles and blocked. I have a slight concern that it may be difficult to coax it into a nice crescent shape, since it is knitted in inelastic cotton instead of wool and its natural shape is not very crescent-like, but time will tell.
In anticipation of my next knitting project, I’ve been studying the pattern I’m going to use, a cardigan called Stripes Gone Crazy. It is lengthy (10 pages) and very detailed, which is as well because the construction is one piece, top down, with contiguous shoulders, and the body is worked at an angle to follow the stripes which dip down across the back. It looks like I will have a fair amount of new knitting territory to explore, but I’m pleased to see that at least one element is familiar: German short rows are used for the shaping. This is definitely my favourite short row technique, just look at the effect it produces in Color Affection where the two colour stripes meet the three colour stripes.
Very neat, and nary a hole to be seen.
The Stripes Gone Crazy design seems to involve a lot of yarn-cutting, which I’ll aim to minimise by carrying the colour that isn’t being used along the edge between stripes, assuming I can do that without causing any distortion. Again, because I’m using cotton rather than wool, the chances of sorting out any distortions during blocking are reduced.
Stripes Gone Crazy is meant to use just two colours, in my case chocolate brown and a bright, corally red. I only bought a single ball of the red (I’m mean like that), so I’ll put in one or two extra-crazy stripes using the very pale blue left over from Color Affection. I have 45g of it, which should be enough. I’m looking forward to making a start on the cardigan. I never thought I’d say it, but it will be nice to purl again after a few weeks of uninterrupted garter stitch, even if I will still have an enormous number of stitches on the needles.
The other thing I’m planning is to “re-purpose” a rather fine tea towel I found in a drawer, still in its cellophane packet.
I have no idea where it came from, but as the design printed on it is a Châteauneuf-du-Pape label I can only assume we were given it by a Rhône wine producer as a thank-you for buying an excessive amount of wine. (It does happen.) The tea towel is heavy cotton and enormous – pillowcase sized, at 29″ x 19″. Much too nice to use for drying dishes. I feel a bag coming on. The first job is to wash it to make sure it is fully shrunk, then unpick the hems to give me as much material as possible to work with.