Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Summer and Winter in Spring

The last week in March had some of the nicest weather I've experienced in Scotland. Scotland was setting record Highs for temperatures in March and nearby Aberdeen was the hottest place in the UK for a couple of days running at almost 23C (73F) and Inverness was not far behind. Chris and I spent the weekend outside: we went for walks (in shorts! Without sweaters!), we cleaned the patio, we had a bbq, drank Pimm's and Lemonade, and had lunch in the garden.
Daffodils were in full bloom, we opened all the windows, and I lived in sun dresses for three days. It was everything you could hope for in a Scottish summer and more! So a week later it snowed:
I had to dig out our daffodils and a week later they're still half horizontal. From shorts to three layers of wool almost overnight. Clearly we'd had our summer and it was back to winter, except an oddly bright winter with the almost 14 hours of daylight we're currently getting. On the plus side, when I saw that thermal underwear was half price, I was in the right mindset to buy a few pairs, and I got to wear my newest knitwear, my Blueberry Scowl.
This was the final cowl in Liz Abinante's Great Cowl KAL, a challenge to knit five cowls in 50 days. The above picture of my cowl being modelled by an uncharacteristically affectionate Libby (she sat on my lap, trapping me on the sofa, just as I finished sewing on the buttons) was taken the evening of the final deadline and it was a near thing finishing at all.

I'd signed up for the KAL in the days between returning from our honeymoon and learning that my father was dying. When I flew out for the funeral I had just cast on the third cowl and I packed appropriate yarn and needles for the fourth cowl which would start while I was in California (along with two sock projects). The last cowl, the Blueberry Scowl started around the time I flew back and was the only project for which I didn't already have a suitable yarn. I checked with my LYS (local yarn shop) but Worsted Weight, which falls between Aran and DK (double knitting) isn't readily available in the UK for whatever reason and my LYS isn't known for its extensive selection, and there was nothing suitable. I searched online and eventually found a suitable yarn on Etsy and ordered it. We were a week into the three week deadline, but I had finished with time to spare on the other projects so I wasn't terribly worried until another week went by and there was no sight of my yarn. It turns out the dyer I'd purchased it from had gone out of town for the week and hadn't had a chance to post it before leaving. Gah!

I kept waffling about what to do: on one hand I had other projects, lovely projects, crying out to be knit; on the other hand the Blueberry Scowl was my favourite looking pattern going in; on the first hand, that meant I had the prize I wanted; but on the second hand to have come so far and give up at the end; I'd get around to knitting it eventually, right?; or would I get distracted and leave the yarn and pattern to languish like so many projects before them? What to do?

Obviously I knit the Scowl, but not as written and not with the yarn I'd ordered. The day it arrived I CO with the half skein of Malabrigo Worsted - which is actually an Aran - I had leftover from the mitten and hat KAL on G+ (which, now that I think about I never told you about. Um, oops?). Not enough yarn to knit a full-sized Scowl but enough to knit one that would just fit around my neck and button snugly. Just before going to bed, I realized that I'd not actually read the pattern, just skimmed it, and left off a section so I frogged it and started over now with only 3 days to go. Good thing we already know how the story ends or this would be getting tense, right?

Yes, friends, I finished the cowl and got a picture of it draped across Princess (I wanted it buttoned around her torso but she made it clear she doesn't like me that much) and submitted with hours to spare. And then it snowed and I even got to wear it! Unfortunately my buttons are too small so it won't much stay buttoned, but that's okay because I can replace them with larger buttons when I find the right ones.

And the rewards for finishing? For completing the Blueberry Scowl I got another cowl, the Like Honey Cowl, and for completing all five cowls I get to beta test Liz's (after this I feel like we're on a first name basis, Liz and I) new Members' site with access to future patterns. All of that in addition, of course, to the free patterns and beautiful cowls that made up the competition.