So, the Tour de Fleece ended last week, and I am pretty proud of my efforts.
642 yards of 3-ply silk/BFL, washed and ready to go. I was truly thrilled with how consistent the yarn was overall:
During this photoshoot, Dusty kept laying his tail across the skeins, as though to say, but LOOK. It still isn’t as pretty as MY TAIL. If you want to make something as pretty as MY TAIL, work HARDER.
The TdF ended last weekend, and of course, that other international flurry of patriotism, bad sports commentary, and gorgeous musculature-in-motion opened last night: The Olympics.
For years, the online knitting/spinning/yarn community Ravelry.com has sponsored something we called the Ravelympics, an event where knitters could show their support of the Olympians by participating in yarn feats of derring-do. The idea was that the Olympics were a place for athletes to show their stuff, to reach higher, to see what really can be done with a human body, some training, and a lot of willpower. (We will avoid the entire issue of corporate sponsorship and swimsuits emblazoned with logos for the time being.)
Likewise, the Ravelympics was our chance to join in the spirit of the International Games by pushing ourselves and our craft to the limit. Each crafter would choose an event (this year, mine are the “sweater triathalon” and “handspun heptathalon”), and then select a project that would truly challenge themselves, either in technique, in execution, in learning, or whatever. The project could not be started until the start of the Opening Ceremonies (London time), and had to be finished at the end of the Closing Ceremonies in two weeks.
Lots of knitters/crocheters/spinners/weavers look forward to this all year, plotting out this amazing project or that one. Many folks work on their project whilst watching the Games on TV, egging on their athletes of choice. It’s a huge deal in our community. We award medals and prizes, donated by vendors in the community. We get a badge to put on our blogs if we actually achieve our goals. (Yeah. Um. Don’t be looking for one of those badges here from past Games, OK? This is the first year I am a serious participant.)
Well, as so many of you have heard by now, the International Olympic Committee sent Ravelry a cease-and-desist letter, saying that the use of ” -‘Lympics” in the Ravelympics name was a violation of copyright and a muddling of the brand. (I’ll skip right over the other insults that were in the letter, since those were so graciously apologised for later.)
Casey, half of Ravelry’s founding team, wisely took the better part of valour and changed the name, with a vote by the membership of Ravelry. Our challenge event is now called “The Ravellenic Games.”
Don’t ask me. I wanted Ravelry Games or Pan-Ravelry Games or RavelRumpus, but I’m only one vote.
You are allowed to do all sorts of prep work prior to Opening Ceremonies for your RavelRumpus project: choose yarn, choose a pattern, make swatches, that sort of thing. I had originally intended to take the handspun I made during the Tour de Fleece and knit up the lovely Ivy cardigan by Glenna C. (Or maybe Stage Door, I hadn’t quite decided.) But now that the yarn was not going to be finished in time, I had to have a plan B.
Thus madness ensued. Have you ever seen a knitter toss her stash? Have you? Frightening. Bins are opened and yarn is tossed out (thus “to toss the stash”), then some is put back in (often in the wrong bin, it’s a fun spontaneous way to re-org and drive your future yarn-searching-self crazy all at the same time); closets are opened, the land under beds is gingerly explored, and sooner or later, there are skeins of yarn everywhere, pattern books laying open on all surfaces, and your knitter is glued to the screen with a zillion Ravelry project pages open on screen, looking in vain for The Perfect Sweater That Matches A Yarn I Already Own.
Yeah, baby. It’s a RIOT of fun. (It’s also a time when spouses-of-knitters can earn medals in Patience, Keeping Kids & Pets Out of the Way, and Not-Contemplating-Divorce-More-than-Once-A-Day.)
I wanted to challenge myself to start and finish a whole sweater in two weeks. I’ve done all kinds of deadline knitting, but not an entire sweater. I also wanted to do something I’ve never done before in my personal knitting: Knit from someone else’s pattern, all the way through, modifying ONLY for fit, not because I’d rather have the cable THERE or a V-neck rather than a crew neck. Focus, commitment, follow-through, and trust were the virtues I would be working on in my knitting. (Yay me.)
After several false starts and about nine different swatches (true fact), I made my choice:
The Yarn: Indigodragonfly‘s MCN worsted in a deep purple. (“I Made This Tape Special For Today” is the cryptic colourway name;the names are almost always a quote from Dr. Who or a Joss Whedon gig, but sometimes it is just a phrase out of the darkness of Mr. Indigodragonfly’s weird, twisted, winds-yarn-in-the-buff brain.) (Don’t make me show you a photo of that last, just take it on faith, OK?)
The Pattern: Sandrilene, by Jesh of Jeshknits. Cute little bottom-up cardi, cabled edging, cuffs, and hem. I liked the simplicity, the classic styling, the cables, and the interesting armhole/shoulder treatment. Plus, Jesh is shaped like me and I trust her to design stuff that will look great on both of us.
So, at 4:14 PM EST, during the Opening Ceremonies, I cast on 240 sts and was off and running.
1680 stitches and 7 rows total, including knitted cast-on.
I figure that Olympic athletes count their victories in tiny increments, like milliseconds, so I am counting mine in stitches.
I’d forgotten how much I love Kim’s yarn. I don’t know how she does it, but her dye process leaves the yarn soft and yet not pilly, with a wit of shine and a lot of depth.
I just PRAY that my calculations are correct and that I have enough. I bought every skein that Lettuce Knit had at the time, 7 skeins, which is 1330 yards. For my size, I need 1375, which means I will have to shorten the sleeves and rip out the swatches to make it work. A little cap-sleeve sweater will be cute, right?
I think it’s a very good exercise for me, focusing on a single project from beginning to end. I’ve been pulled in too many different Ooooo Shiny directions the past year, and although I have learned a metric TONNE of things, I don’t have much to show for all my hard work. I can show you that the TdF yarn above is a hundred times better than yarn I was spinning a year ago; I can point to my knitting and tell you ways in which I have improved my techniques and my design capabilities; I can show you my class syllabus and point out the strides forward I have made in speaking and teaching. And of course, I can show you endless reams of notes and diagrams I made in the course of figuring out the dark depths of Sleeve Cap Shaping and Circular Shawl Design.
But I did not finish any socks this past year. No sweaters, either. A few shawls, lots and lots of samples and swatches, several partial mittens, and so on. Everything I worked on in the past year was HomeWork Knitting, knitting to learn, knitting to experiment, knitting to prove a point. I haven’t really knit to MAKE anything in a while…so this Ravellenic Challenge is a perfect time for me to stop and see if I still can do the Quintessential Knitter’s Event: Plan, knit, finish, and wear a nice handmade sweater.
I’m going to try to post at least a photo and the day’s stitch count each day. I’m telling myself it will be OK to do just those two things, to make the every-day-posting possible. Some days there will be Chispas and stories and such, but some days, I’ll just post “the leaderboard,” if you will.
Why don’t you treat yourself to some chocolate wine this weekend?
I always wonder what rich people spend their money on if they are not knitters or crocheters or spinners. (Because, obviously, if you are a rich spinner, you have All the Wheels; if a rich knitter, you sponsor a hundred independent yarn dyers, right?) How about 25 totally useless products you absolutely “have to have“? I do love the cupcake holder. And the outlet cover.
Some of those things, however, make me think of the 6 ultra-rich folk who did not pay taxes last year and all the poor people who DID, and then I get all ranty and stuff. (Some wealthy folks say they are proud of America and are job creators and so on. But they don’t want to contribute to America financially; they’d rather hide their money overseas. They want to boss us around, but not help us pay the bills. Odd.)(Whoops. Ranted anyway. Sorry.)
There are pianos all over Toronto. No…really. Random pianos in public places. Anyone can play them. People LOVE this.
Beat the heat: Home-Brewed Iced Coffee. (You’re very welcome.)
And now back to the knitting stadium!