Thursday, August 16, 2007

I can knit, I can purl, but can I get it on the needles?

On returning to Austin from the crossing, I made for the closest store that had yarn, a Hancock Fabrics, which pretty much carry Lion Brand yarn exclusively. So I loaded up on a dozen skeins of LION WOOL, and a few balls of MYSTERY to make the heretofore mentioned scarves. But before the scarves, I was on a mission to make a tea cozy for moi.

Prior to the Austin move, I lived for 22 years in the DC metro area in Maryland. My dear friend and back door neighbor there has relatives in Ireland who make a pilgrimage to the US every couple of years for extended visits. Her Auntie Nyna was a knitter, and she made both of us the most remarkable tea cozies: they were honeycombed in texture, giving them fabulous thermal properties. Her cozy would keep a pot a tea hot for over two hours, better than any carafe on the market. But over the years, my grey and salmon cozy slowly but surely lost it's elasticity and most of the buoyant thick texture that made it function so well. I still have it (sentimental fool that I am) but it is pretty much useless. Auntie Nyna died several years ago, and with her the tea cozy pattern. No one knew anything about it. The first project idea that lept into my head was finding a similar tea cozy pattern and actually and knitting it. Myself.

God Bless the Internet, long may it reign. On the ship, Ann told me there were veritable storehouses of information about knitting on the Internet, including video tutorials and patterns. Once home, a Google search produced not only the tutorials I needed, but also a nearly identical tea cozy pattern! I couldn't believe my luck. It had the same double walled (I call it honeycomb) construction as my Auntie Nyna cozy. The pattern called for worsted weight 100% wool yarn, so I chose two skeins from my new stash: Lion Wool 'goldenrod' and 'winter white', and dove into my first project on my own. Then a real dilemma then arose: I had never learned casting on while under Ann's protective custody. The process just stymied me. Instead of belaboring it and delaying other progress, she merely did it for me ... as did others in our group. A definite disadvantage, but one that I could fix when I returned home with Internet video tutorials, she reasoned.

I sat before the computer armed with needles and yarn, replaying the long tail cast on tutorial over and over and over and OVER. I just couldn't figure it out. My youngest daughter wandered in, and sensing my frustration, came to see why I was so near tears. "Let me try" she said, having never even seen a knitting needle in her short 16 year life. She studied the tutorial a few replays, then took the needles and the goldenrod yarn and cast on 40 perfect stitches!

Another knitaholic was born.

Claire knitting Christmas gifts for friends,
with Sophie placidly snoozing in "her" chair.
Claire made all the baby hats on the table.
She's a natural!

I'm all for role reversal, especially when it's my kids teaching me. Over and over, Claire cast on and demonstrated the necessary finger movements. Once again, I started to feel like a knitting retard, until suddenly it just CLICKED. We were both jubilant. Claire quickly learned to knit and purl, and suddenly we had a new interest we could share.

Once the cozy was on the needles, I was fine. My first solo project had colorwork! Every four stitches I had to change colors, but it wasn't a big deal. Claire made one for her own small teapot in Lion Wool 'lemongrass' and 'purple'. Both cozies were made on size 6 needles. With her usual flair, Claire added two amber glass beads to the tails of her bow.

Happy teapots are cozy teapots. On the left, large cozy in Lion Brand Yarn, LION WOOL. Colors: 'Winter White' and 'Goldenrod'. This is a 48 oz. pot (large!), and I cast on 84 stitches to get the correct size. Right: Small cozy in Lion Brand Yarn, LION WOOL, colors 'Lemongrass' and 'Purple'. Claire cast on 76 stitches for the small teapot.

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