How has it been nearly a month since I’ve posted here again?
Part of it has been due to the fact that I’m actually on a half-assed regular sleep schedule, for literally the first time in my life. I’m sleeping 7,8, 9 hours a night! This has never happened before. I feel great, but can’t help but still feel like I’m wasting my time. Very rarely can I piss around until 1AM on a week night anymore. Now, I have to get everything done that needs doing by about 10PM, before I crash.
So between sleeping, and being busy with dance shows and other things, I just haven’t had time to blog! A friend has recently decided to start blogging and asked me for some advice. I figure I should lead by example and find time to update my own blog!
I have, however, had time to finish a project that was a looooong time coming.
If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you may remember this picture (or something like it).
I had started knitting a siwash sweater (or a cowichan, to some people), using vintage Mary Maxim patterns that my gramma had used for decades.
One year when I was about 10, for Christmas I believe, everyone in my family got hand knit siwashes from gramma. My mom and I both got pink ones with a burgundy diamond pattern on them. I wore it all the time.
After a couple years, I outgrew it and had to stop wearing it. Then one day, I was at my gramma’s house and it ended up being colder when I went to go home and I didn’t have a warm jacket. My auntie was still living at home at that time and let me “borrow” hers for the evening. Then I just kept forgetting to bring it back and before I knew it, I had worn that thing for 20 springs and autumns.
It’s still a good sweater. It gets a little bigger every year as I hang it up and it stretches out. But since I wear it, and this sweater is cream and light blue, I have permanent coffee stains on the sleeves and what looks like a car grease stain on one part that just will not go away.
So in the fall of 2010, I was ready for a challenge. I wanted a new siwash and I wanted to make one myself. The hunt was on for The Right Yarn. The standard siwash yarn is Mary Maxim’s Titan yarn. But it’s acrylic. And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do synthetic yarn (unless it’s a bit of nylon in sock yarn).
Then I discovered Debbie Bliss’ Como yarn. 90% merino, 10% cashmere.
Yarn.com had a pretty good price on it, so I did the math for how many skeins of Como translate to the number of skeins the pattern called for in the larger Titan skeins. I measured and remeasured and checked my math and placed my order. Soon, I had a big box of delightful wool in navy, ecru, and magenta.
I wanted non-traditional colours because – I’m not sure if you’ve noticed – I’m not a beige/brown/black/grey kinda gal. I also knew I wanted a traditional design, in that I wanted some kind of animal found in Canada. But I didn’t want the reindeer that the pattern called for, nor did I want an eagle or a fish. I also didn’t want the same diamond pattern I had as a child. So I altered the Owlie Owl Cowl pattern from Ravelry to suit my needs.
And lo, a surly owl siwash in blue and hot pink was born!
I was making great strides until I realised I was running out of wool. Oops! Didn’t do the math right. I redid the math and ordered more of all 3 colours. They arrived a couple weeks later and I carried on. After a year of knitting on and off, I was so close to being done, and I ran out of blue again. Crap!
No worries, I could just order more, right? Well, at that point, Yarn.com had discontinued my yarn. And I couldn’t find it anywhere else. I searched everywhere.
Discouraged, I just hid the project away for a while, feeling more and more terrible every time someone asked me of my progress. I had lots of ecru yarn and some magenta. I was literally half a sleeve and a collar away from being done. I really didn’t want to put an ecru collar on a blue sweater.
But I could dye the ecru yarn, right? Of course! I bought some dark navy dye and stashed it away for months until my lazy ass felt like doing something with it. 2 weeks ago, I got really gung-ho again, and got to work dying yarn on a Saturday afternoon.
After an hour of the yarn in the dye bath, it was still just a sad grey/blue.
Okay, plan B time. The collar, I decided, could be magenta. That would look okay. But the sleeves… what to do with the sleeves? One sleeve was already done, all in blue. The other was about up to the elbow, with no blue yarn left. So I ripped the completed sleeve out, down to the elbow and knit a pink stripe in the centre of each and then carried on with the blue. I had to do this a couple times, ripping all the blue out, adding more pink, then knitting the blue back in, until I had enough for both sleeves.
FINALLY. I was done knitting this thing.
After a lengthy phone call to my gramma about Just How Do I Sew This All Together? I was ready to start the hand sewing.
Have I mentioned how I loathe hand sewing?
I loathe hand sewing.
I spent a good hour on Thursday night sewing pieces together at the kitchen table until my back had had enough of that. I guess I wasn’t wearing the sweater the next day! Friday after work though, I finished the sewing. It took a good few hours to sew everything together, but I was determined that I was wearing this sweater the next day when I went on a road trip with my belly dance girls. So by about midnight on Friday night, I had me a sweater!!
(Obligatory horrendous 80s knitting catalogue picture)
Lookit those surly owls. Aren’t they surly? With their half-lidded eyes?
Those owls say don’t fuck with me. I may be a sweetheart, but I regularly handle pointy sticks, so don’t fuck with me.
At least that’s how I imagine it in my head!
It definitely needs a little relaxing and stretching out, which always happens with a siwash after a few wears. I’ve already been “pet” a few times – everyone loves how soffffft the cashmere is.
This was a definite feat. A real accomplishment. I don’t think I’ll ever want to knit anything this massive again. It’s like Mount Everest. I’ve climbed it, proven that I can do it, but now I think I want to come down and just knit some socks. Or maybe a nice shawl.
I’ve got a couple more posts I’m working on that I can hopefully get out there soon. I’m off work all next week and since we’re still under so. much. snow, I’m probably not going to get to the couple of hiking day-trips I was planning. So I’ll probably be sticking around here, making some things, cleaning and hopefully blogging!
Be good to each other!