Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

...and World Peace

The baby bonnet I'm knitting progresses slowly. I've had to frog rows on different occasions because of idiotic errors for which I can blame no one but myself. I do partially blame it on the weather and a lingering chest cold I can't seem to shake. I also had the interesting experience of giving a great hayfevery sneeze one morning last week, and when I went to lift my head back to its upright position so that I might continue readying myself of work, alas, my neck protested with immense pain. Yes, I managed to severely strain the muscles in the right side of my neck with a single sneeze.

One doctor's visit and two prescriptions (for muscle relaxers and horse-tranquilizer-sized Ibuprofen) later, my neck still made it too difficult to attempt knitting. I got some writing done but looking down at lace-knitting was just beyond me and took a few days out of my knitting schedule.

Despite this setback, I finished the back of the beloved baby bonnet from the latest edition of Jane Austen Knits and have 17 rows done out of 54 on the main portion. This bonnet has a trick to it that made me feel quite clever while knitting it. The brim of the bonnet, which appears to be a picot edge, is actually the other edge of a provisional cast on, folded over and joined with the working yarn 12 rows down. This leaves the row in the middle of the cast on and 12 rows down, done in an over-other-stitch eyelet pattern, exposed at the top. The eyelets create the picot affect.

Provisional Cast On: 
Extra stitches get cast on to a piece of scrap yarn while the rest get cast on to the needle

The lace pattern is easy enough to memorize and so long as you keep a row counter handy and pay attention to your stitches, you can get away with skipping stitch marker use. I really dislike stitch markers, though I suppose this may be because I've never used the right kind. I've been using the little knitting time I've managed to acquire watching episodes of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple on Netflix. There's just something amusing about stitching up a bonnet while watching an old biddy solve crime by visiting the lys (local yarn shop for the fiber-uninitiated) in the area.

Despite the entertainment inherent in my current project, I'm developing a heavy dose of startitis I have thus far managed to hold at bay. Apparently, I am not alone in this. My favorite podcaster, Hoxton Handmade, explained the link between approaching cold weather and the need for knitters to "knit all the things" in her latest installment of Electric Sheep. I've discovered a number of pretty stellar podcasts in the last few months, the Sheep and Hoxton as well as Knit 1 Geek 2, 2 Knit Lit Chicks, and the Cogknitive Podcast. I've also listened to an episode of Craft Lit, which blends fiber discussion with audiobooks of classic literature. The particular episode I partook of reacquainted me with the first few chapters of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

Through 2 Knit Lit Chicks and Dr Gemma of the Cogknitive Podcast, I learned of the thing that has me so itching to cast on before bonnet completion: the Mother Bear Project. Mother Bear is a lovely woman who read an article about the hardships of children affected by AIDS in Africa (most of them orphans) and decided to show those kids a bit of love. To do this, she repurposed a teddy bear pattern from World War II. She started a charity that donates these knitted bears to children in need. For five dollars, you can purchase a mother bear pattern in knit or crochet, flat or in the round. The pattern also comes with a name tag on which the knitter (or crocheter) should write her name. The tag then gets attached to the finished bear, so the child who receives it will know it was made by someone who cares. It doesn't seem like a lot but there are stories of kids who risk being swept away in a flash flood rather than leave their mother bear behind. Often, the bear will become this kid's only possession. More than that, they see it as proof that they are loved by someone somewhere in the world. Heartbreaking, no?

I learned that the mother bear pattern also exists in a book called Knitting for Peace, so I checked it out of the library, just to make sure it was a pattern I wanted to undertake. Sometimes, as much as I love the outcome of a pattern, I just don't want to tackle it. This pattern looks easy to follow though, so I'm going to be sending in my five bucks (proceeds benefit the charity). I might send a ten and get the crochet pattern too. It's for a good cause. Obviously, I want to make a mother bear, like last week, but more than that, this book is full of patterns and charities that will distribute items if you knit them up for the less fortunate: lap blankets for seniors, security blankets for children suffering trauma, chemo caps for cancer patients, tiny knitted apparel for preemies. There's even a charity that collects small blankets for animal shelters. (Apparently, an animal is more likely to be adopted if it has a blanket in its cage. No one knows why.)

I too want to knit all the things. I love the idea of my hobby contributing to the comfort of the people who need it most. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm totally selfish in my startitis over here. I still have merino waiting to become an ice skating cape and several skeins of sock yarn that have yet to become socks. All in good time, I say, but first, I need to finish this baby bonnet and then make a mother bear 

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