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April 22

Saturday was laundry day, which meant a few spare hours sitting in the local laundromat with not much else to keep me occupied but spanish MTV and my latest knitting project. S was there too but he was too distracted by Philip Glass and Ender-verse to make for good conversation, so I settled in the only booth the laundromat had and worked on finishing up the last few inches of the cashmere cowl I had started a couple weeks prior.


Now, let me start by saying that I am not a knitter -- not by a long shot. When it comes to being crafty, that's more of Iko's thing. She's the one versed in sock-making and skirt-sewing; come the holidays, she embroiders placemats and cross-stitches bookmark stocking stuffers with dainty little flowers and ivy leaves. Me, I'm more of a Martha-Stewart type, with an eye toward presentation. Give me some artisan yarn and some linen and I can wrap a present like it's nobody's business; give me the same stuff and ask me to make a skirt out of it -- you'd better believe I'd be giving my sister a call.

The more I think about it, the more I think out interest in crafts and homemade things must come from our mom. Growing up, she made us more than our fair share of church dresses and Halloween costumes. She was the daughter of a tailor and, back in the Philippines, had made a lot of her own clothing. To this day, whenever someone asks about her wedding, she announces proudly: "My wedding dress was a pink suit that I made myself!" I've seen the photos myself and it's appealing to me to think that something I made may find its way into the fabric of my memory and possibly into the collective memory of my family.

Getting into the actual nitty-gritty of crafting was the first challenge.

I had tried to pick up knitting a few years previous, again at the proddings of my sister, but had ended up with little more than a trunk full of disused yarn and a dozen aborted projects. Only two scarves emerged from the whole affair intact -- one of which was a much-loved gift, misplaced at a club somewhere in New England, never to be seen again. Since then, I've only watched from the sidelines as my sister kicked out project after project. Felted bags, Ron Weasley hats, and lots and lots of shawls later, she may have finally won me back over.

The secret to her success? Bamboo.


Rowan Classic Yarn Bamboo to be exact, which they stock in a variety of colors at our favourite local yarn store (Modern Yarns). I had found the cowl pattern on the internet -- a link off of a link off a link -- and immediately fell in love with it. Not only did the soft drape look appealing, but it also posed a different approach to knitting that I'd never tried previous: knitting in the round! Granted, it isn't anything too daring or different than anything done during Knitting-Attempt v1.0, but it is a welcome change of pace. Stockinette stitch in the round, so it's just a matter of knit purl knit purl knit purl until my eyes bleed and my knuckles ache.


When looking for yarn to make the cowl in, my sister told me the most important things were drape and touch, so I went through the store, giving all of the yarn of the right weight the tried and true chin-rub method to test how nice it would feel against the skin. And when I came across the bamboo it was love at first chin-rub -- soft and completely smooth and with a wonderful springy-ness when you squeezed it. I chose the most neurtral color they had without going completely white; "hemp" is an organic feeling pale grey, with slight hay colored overtones in the light. The bamboo also gives a natrual sheen to the yarn, which is very loosely plied from several very tiny strands. This made it a lot harder to knit mindlessly, since it was very easy for a single strand to be left behind and was also very prone to showing off even the smallest flaws (see above). The result is an unperfect knit, which at first drove my inner perfectionist crazy, but now makes the whole thing feel a lot more rustic and home-made. Since I'm still green in the ways of knitting, my stitches are less than perfect and in some places look a little wonky, but so far, I'm flying high on how well the whole thing has turned out.

By the time our clothes were done with their fluff and dry on Saturday afternoon, I was a few dozen yards of yarn away from being complete! Now it's just a matter of putting on an audio book and buckling down after dinner in order to finish up and cast off. Thrilling!

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