Sunday, February 6, 2011

Back, Into a New Year

So, my first blog post after Africa. Well, there's tons of things I could go on about, but I'll just chat about the knitting for now.

Going to Malawi for 3 weeks was the reset button I needed. A completely different culture and climate, it was the place I needed to be, and I loved every minute of it. Ok, well, not every minute - but in those trying times (it was hot, extremely sweaty, the bus wouldn't go, or the bus would be going for SO long), knitting saved me, it really did. It provided the necessary distraction from the crazy driving, and the long bus stops where I swear we hadn't been on the road for longer than 30s that we were stopped again. Seriously. And it was hot. 30+ degrees hot. Sweat just running down your back. And all I could think was: "One more row, just do one more row and maybe you can finish a row before the bus gets moving again". These long bus trips, and 1.5 weeks sitting at a beautiful hut in Nkhata Bay really helped the knitting come along. It was hard to keep motivated some days as the snorkelling, napping, and eating really got in the way.

But, after all is said and done, I was able to finally finish the Christmas presents that I just couldn't get done by Christmas:

1) All the Toasts for my girls in Malabrigo Merino Worsted (loved the colourways):

Colourways were - Orchid, Tuareg, Paris Night, and Forest. Gorgeous mottling in all but the Tuareg which I found to be just a beautiful turquoise.
2) My Mom's Chirstmas Multnomah that I seriously screwed up on Christmas Eve, rows and rows to be ripped out, reknit, then knit some more to provide my better size. I used the beautiful as always Sweet Georgia Cashluxe Fine sock yarn in Tourlamine - reminded me of the colours of the ocean, and the feather and fan pattern creates a wave-like effect.

3) An Ishbel shawl for me (yay!!) from Sweet Georgia's Stella colourway in Cashluxe Fine sock yarn, and I am in love! Thought it might be a bit bold to wear, but a) I absolutely love how well laid out this pattern is - very easy to follow - I might check out more of Miss Ysolda's patterns this year ( I am already on to Ishbel #2), b) the size is just perfect, not too short like my lovely but small Simple Yet Effective Shawl, and c) wears great with neutrals. I'm very happy with this. Blocking has helped increase the size a bit also.

God, love this colourway!

4) 3/4s of a hippo from Red Heart icky icky icky!!! acryllic grey and Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton in light pink, the pattern from Susan B. Anderson. Absolutely fantastic, but I need to stuff the parts, and do the finishing.

5) And last, but not least, I ripped out the entire linen stitch scarf for the boyfriend's dad for Christmas, on my last week of the trip. I am not impressed with a) the pattern where if you screw up to pick up the slipped/knitted/purled stitches is quite difficult when there are 280/row b) the yarn - it is so soft, but sheds worse than a camel! and I was very embarrassed to work on it in pubic as I would end up wearing the scarf (not intentionally). But it was good work for the 27 hours in the airplane home (thank god all flights were good to take my needles!!), and just last night have casted off with the last bit of Rowan Coccoon in grey (do not need any more of this contaminating my stock), and need to do the finishing touches and blocking. More pics to come.

I was definitely over ambitious when 1/2 my backpack was full of yarn and needles for my projects - I unfortunately had to leave some behind. But I did trade crafts for them (carvings and such), and taught one of the craft women, Mercy, to knit in the round, which was very exciting. Crochet net hats are very popular there, but there is only black. Now she has some beautiful Sweet Georgia Tourlamine, pinks, and Gourmet Crafter Gourmet Sock in Tofino Fern to work with, and sell something different.It was really hard giving these up though, and I almost cried when she had to tug it from my hand. Mercy obviously caught on quicly - her hands were a blurr. And yes, we were knitting in the dirt.

After getting back, I had a full week without knitting anything (gasp), even though I went into the yarn store the day after I got back, pleased to see more Gourmet Crafter colourways. I scooped up Stanley Park Lights - beautiful yarn that literally looks like she put a bag of M+Ms in a melting pot with the yarn, or Christmas light flickers - very cool - but definitely more of a Christmas yarn feel (good work Alexa)! I have started another Ishbel in it already.

I also had to get another skein of Tofino Fern because I just love it and needed to replace it.

Sweet Georgia called to me on the rack also this week, so I got the Cashluxe Fine (god forbid I went down to the Tough Love Sock level) in Boheme, a beautiful colour that looks like Neopolitan Icecream with it's pink, white, and brown colour ways. Mmm, makes me want ice cream!

All in all, a great trip, and I'm glad to come back to cold weather (ok, not really), just for the fact that knitting is comfortable and I can wear what I make.

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