Dale can crank out mittens like nobody's business. She always seems to have a pair in progress somewhere, or one just finished. Since I don't tend to wear mittens much (I'm really more a glove kind of gal), I've never really had the burning desire to make them in the same way as I did socks. I couldn't wait to learn how to make socks, and there's always at least one pair in some stage of construction in my knitting "bucket."
That has changed a little bit since my friend Fran and I took a mitten-knitting class up at Rosemary's a couple of weeks ago. We had ourselves a grand old time (aside from the snowstorm we had to drive through on the way home). Mittens work up quickly and they're wicked easy to make. I may not wear them much myself (though the dark peacock blue shade of Peace Fleece I chose for my class pair is so beautiful you can taste it), but now I envision myself spewing forth pairs upon pairs of mittens from my blazing needles. My niece and nephew each need pairs (plus extras in case of loss), for sure. So does everyone else in my family, and in the neighborhood, and... If I were a faster knitter, I'd be leaving pairs of mittens on doorsteps, ringing the bell, and running away.
Not only that, but the basic mitten pattern looks awfully plain in just one color. I've caught myself scanning the available worsted-weight wool in the house and thinking about how nice some patterned mittens might look. Oh, and flip-top mittens at that, since I still want the use of my fingers at times, in ways that wearing mittens just won't permit. Extra-long cuffs? Yeah, those too...
I'll shoot a picture of my first pair and post them sometime soon. You can see where this mania got started.
It's not that I need more yarn, in worsted weight or any other. My current stash is almost embarrassing. After I counted enough balls/skeins of sock yarn in my collection to make an easy 78 pairs, I missed the additional bag of yarn that was hiding under a couple of other projects. Although I haven't had the nerve to make an exact tally yet, my guess is that the discovery of this additional stash will put me above to 100-pair mark without every trying too hard.
I'm not saying I need to go completely cold turkey in the yarn-buying department, but at least the next dozen pairs have to come straight from my stash before I can even make room for any more yarn. Sure, I know people (many of whom are reading this blog) whose personal stashes make mine look like Charlie Brown's bag of Hallowe'en candy ("I got a rock"), but I've amassed more of the stuff than anyone who has only been knitting for 3-odd years should have collected. I was able to adopt out a cone and a half of Brown Sheep Bulky to Dale, but that barely made an open spot in the Brown Sheep collection.
Greg has asked me to make him a pair of socks, which is a pretty neat thing. I typically make the first of any type of knitted article for myself, so I can live with whatever mistakes I've made during the learning process. Now that I've made several pairs of socks and even given a couple of pairs as gifts, I feel confident that I can create a pair for Greg that he'll actually be seen wearing. I showed him the two balls of dark-gray Jawoll I'd acquired, and he didn't wince much.
Gregory Hall Does Carnegie Hall
Speaking of Greg, he's been hard at work on the Brass Quintet of late, while he's waiting to hear what shakes out in the schedule for the upcoming CD of sax quartets. A trumpeter he's been corresponding with has mentioned possibly playing the piece at Carnegie Recital Hall this spring. Sounds like an auspicious place for a debut to me.
A Training Breakthrough
Seamus and I have been taking three classes a week for the past month and a half or so. Things just happened to have worked out that way -- we got into the competitive agility class in Portland that we'd been hoping to join, plus we have the Saturday class we enjoy, and Sunday is Rally Day. If it seems as though I've been spending half my time at one dog class or another, it's because... well... I have.
The work is paying off, though. Seamus's attention and my handling skills have both sustained a sudden increase, probably due to the fact that we're in class three nights out of every seven. Even though each class is distinct, they all have one main thing in common: they require teamwork. Seamus and I have been becoming a better team in the past few weeks. I'm very proud of the little guy, and I hope the additional work is helping me become the kind of handler who can help him be his best. I'm beginning to relax, and I'm even enjoying the competition class. Some of the other handlers are even talking to me now.