Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another World

So the latest project takes a little explaining. One of my husband's oldest friends is currently living in Takhar Province in northern Afghanistan. He went out there six years ago, working for Shelter for Life International, and eventually helped found his own organization, the Marigold Fund, to take on some of the projects that needed to be done. Do click on the Marigold Fund link if you're at all interested- the photographs are incredible. One of the things that particularly impresses me about this group is the level of local involvement. Local Afghan people are involved in every part of these projects, from the decision-making to the design to the construction. They're currently finishing construction on a tuberculosis clinic.

Anyway, my husband's friend's mother is a knitter, and when knitters hear about cold people, they make toasty knitted things. She's gotten together a group to knit scarves- regular scarves for boys and extra-wide head-covering scarves for girls. Hence-
Afghan head scarf

This is the girl version. It's a very simple pattern, garter stitch, switching direction every three stitches. Yarn is Wool-Ease Thick & Quick from Lion Brand. Northern Afganistan is mountainous, and very cold in winter, so the instructions said scarves should be at least part a natural warm fiber (like wool) and the thicker the better. A quick knit, and a satisfying one.

If this kind of project is something that might interest you, let me know, I can forward an instructions flyer and contact information.

Gneiss Summer Socks

It seems like every time I've had the computer booted up this week, the camera was somewhere else. But here they are at last, the gneiss summer socks:

gneiss summer socks

I really loved the yarn (Tofutsies)- the socks are very soft and comfortable to wear. This was just a plain sock with a little 2x2 cable up the side of the ankle- I thought it looked nice enough, but very small- with such fine yarn, I could have done a 3x3 cable and it would have stood out more.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Okay, the Montreal photos have been edited, but the FO pictures I managed to delete off the camera before downloading. Drat. The FOs were the gneiss socks (which I can reshoot) but the second pair of blue spruce mittens have gone on to their new home. Of course they look a lot like the first pair, but I'd have liked a picture of the decreases, as they were much neater than in the original pair!

However, that does shorten the post considerably! So, Montreal. Two weeks ago we drove up to do some sightseeing and catch some of the World Science Fiction Convention, which was in town for the weekend. On the way up we were amused to note that immediately after crossing the border, the mountains disappeared and the terrain became very flat and covered with farms, more like the Midwest than anything we see in New England. I'd forgotten that from my prior visit. My husband drove, so I got to knit all the way- I was halfway through the cast-off of the second sock when we pulled up to the hotel.

We spent the first day walking around the city, and climbed to the top of Mont Royale- not a terribly strenuous climb (it's more of a hill than a 'mont') but a terrific view of the city.
View from Mont Royale

On our way up to the top, we walked through the McGill University campus. I was much taken with this lion, especially when I realized that he was on the school of dentistry- doesn't he look like he has a toothache?
Lion's Teeth

We greatly admired the Point-a-Calliere Museum of Archeology and History. They've excavated one of the oldest parts of the city, including the site of the old customs house, and then built a museum on top of it. You can walk through the excavated area, viewing exhibits, and in some places see computer recreations of what it looked like in various times, with spotlights highlighting the parts of the ruins relevant to each era.

Another day we rented bikes, and rode out along the Lachine Canal. Montreal sits on the river above the Lachine Rapids, which prevent ships from sailing any further upstream. The canal was the 1800s answer to the problem. Nowadays big ships go upriver via the St. Lawrence Seaway, but the canal locks are still used by pleasure boats.
Lachine canal lock

We cycled back along the St. Lawrence and stopped at the Rapids Park to get a look at this obstacle to navigation. It was quite impressively rough, though there were thrill seekers in boats, and even surfboards out in it.
Lachine Rapids

Rapids Park was quite lovely- despite the focus being on the views over the water, they had beautiful gardens.
flowers in Rapids park

To a large extent, we felt that despite the signs in French, outside of the old port area, Montreal didn't feel especially foreign. However they did have some excellent signage designed to cross language barriers:
descriptive sign

Can't get much more explicit than that!

Coming back we stopped in Montpelier for dinner, which proved to have a very nice Mexican restaurant, and a lovely New England downtown.

To see all Montreal photos, check out the slideshow.

And next up- FO pictures (this time for sure!), and new projects.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Night of the Living Ends: A Tale of Two Blankets

I've got to edit some photos before I can talk about last weekend, so instead we're hopping into my handy time machine to...uh, last week, or whenever it was I finally finished the last couple of projects.

So I've had a couple of small blankets that have been getting occasional attention in between other projects. The first one was a variation on the Baby Blanket Moderne pattern, which I started to use up a lot of odds and ends of baby yarn.
Baby Blanket Moderne

I'm happy to have done it, it's cleared out a lot of leftover yarn bits. All other things being equal, though, I don't think I'll do this pattern again in garter stitch. It does make a nice cushy thick blanket, but the boredom factor was pretty high. I started this over a year ago, and if wasn't for DVDs, it still wouldn't be finished. Also, doing this as a scrap blanket would have been easier if all my yarn had been the same weight. Some of it was so fine I doubled it, other yarns I used singly- the variation in thickness of the different sections of the blanket is noticeable. When I got to the end, I wanted a border that was all the same color, and yet I wanted to use up that last ball of yellow, so I switched to crochet, and did a half-double-crochet border until I ran out of yarn.

I like the second blanket a lot better:
Double Crochet Baby Blanket

This was made mostly from gift yarn (the white). I liked the way it looked in pattern (this is my all-double-crochet blanket), but I thought that just a little contrast would liven up the design. So I found some navy blue that was a perfect match for weight (see? learning behavior!) and threw in an occasional navy stripe. I thought it made for an understated and dignified blanket.

Of course there were ends to be woven in. You kind of expect that with blankets. But the combination of the scrap yarn for the Moderne, and 96-yard skeins (I ask you, who in their right mind makes bulky weight yarn in 96 yard skeins?!) did make for a lot of ends. Between the ubiquitous ends and the belated arrival of summery weather, all through July, I'd pick up these blankets, weave in a few ends, say, 'it's too warm for blankets' (er, that wasn't necessarily true- usually it was too boring for weaving in ends) and then go back to a nice sock. But. Even blankets eventually come to an end--and so does this post.