Sleepless Nights

Last night I went to bed late. I’d gotten up early and been at physical therapy (bunged my knee) at 7:40 a.m. I’d done an hour-and-a-half phone interview, written a bit, then worked at Home Ec for five hours, most of that spent on my feet. I knocked off a little early, at 7 p.m., so I could attend a knitting class to learn to knit Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket.

I’ve been knitting a lot this winter, and most of it has been pretty basic. I did do a lace knit hat, which was new to me, but otherwise nothing required a lot of attention. Which is just how I like it—I love knitting while watching TV or on a car or plane trip. But this jacket was so adorable and I decided I was up for the challenge.

Our teacher, Greg, is an incredible knitter and has knitted at least 30 of these jackets. Once the knitted piece is folded and sewn, it’s an adorable and completely recognizable sweater. But before being stitched up it looks, as a member of the class said, like some kind of weird woodland fungus. Just getting my mind around how it would work out was a challenge. And then Greg said we’d be happiest if we did a provisional cast on. It took me about half the class to figure out how to make my fingers accomplish that, and another bunch of time to count the darned wonky stitches. And then there are the knitting acronyms I wasn’t familiar with, and the fact that they could be done multiple ways for different effects (three methods for a double decrease).

White shape is the knitted shape before folding and stitching together: finished, striped sweater at the bottom

I decided to come home immediately and knit a bunch of rows so I wouldn’t forget what we were supposed to do. So I sat up until nearly 11 and lo and behold, I seemed to be doing it right. It took a lot of concentration, but I had it!

Then I went to bed and tossed and turned for nearly two hours. The only thing I can imagine that kept me up was the sheer stimulation of learning all that stuff. My brain hurt. I was so excited about what I did that I didn’t think I could do (provisional casting on—too hard!) and those double decreases via a second method. Turns out that just like they say about exercising or using your computer too close to bedtime, crafting late doesn’t make for much shut eye. Years ago I interviewed Heather Bailey and I remember her telling me that she couldn’t think about fabric designs too late at night or design ideas would flash through her head like a slide show, one after the other. No doubt about it: creating is exciting.

EEEEP! Finally Giving EPP a Try

I am heading down to the wire on my book, but that doesn’t mean I am not doing any handwork. I CAN’T not do handwork. I pass no judgement on those who can either focus or zone out appropriately, but I can’t comfortably watch TV or go for a long car ride or play Scrabble with friends if I don’t have something I’m doing with my hands. (Can you guess that I’ve never been able to stick with meditation? But that’s another story.)

I’ve long been interested in English paper piecing (EPP). Its portability appeals to me, as does its flexibility and the variety of things people do with the finished hexies. But what’s never appealed to me is the cutting out part. And the sheer number of methods overwhelmed me. People seem so opinionated about this way or that being the best (and only) way. So when I spied Tula Pink’s cute little EPP kits, with their pre-cut fabric squares, I decided it was time to give it a try. (I chose the Acacia fabric in blues and greens.)

Here’s a bit of what I accomplished last night (after watching and reading 4200 online tutorials, because there are at least that many ways to do EPP). I’ve settled on the basting with thread (vs. glue) method, using a paperclip to hold the fabric to the Paper Pieces templates, and on not stitching through the paper. I may add a punched hole to the cardboards to make them easier to pop out with the tip of a scissor. I also think I’ll iron them before I remove the cardboard.

The kits are lovely, though I would love to have a few more squares with the fox’s face. I’ll combine the pieces with some solids and do something or other with the hexies…for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying the fabrics and the satisfaction of watching those finished pieces pile up. Though a kit is obviously unnecessary, it was just what I needed to get me started. And I’m thrilled to have another way to use the packets of 2.5″ fabric squares I’ve accumulated.