Friday, September 28, 2007

Knitting across America

This country is beautiful, folks. I still believe that Vermont is the best place on earth, but I truly was enchanted by all the places we drove through. Our route ran through the Adirondacks in upstate New York, into Ontario, across the northern shores of Lake Huron, through Michigan's Upper Peninsula, across the top of Wisconsin and the middle of Minnesota, straight through the North Dakota, cutting across the southeast corner of Montana, down the spine of the Rockies through Wyoming and Utah, and then down into the deserts of Arizona. And here's what I knit (remember, my theme was to finish or re-knit long-languishing projects):

Project 1: Organic Cotton Baby Blanket
The blanket was knitted up when we left, but I'd been procrastinating on all the ends I had to sew in. Here it is, in Hanover, NH just as we started our drive. My Dartmouth readers will appreciate that Baker Tower (in the background) was chiming the alma mater as I took the photo

On the first leg of our journey, I made a matching baby cap. Here it's nestled on moss by the shores of Lake Eaton, in the Adirondacks. This was probably one of the most beautiful campsites of our whole trip. Crisp fall weather, forest trails, a secluded cove for dipping in the cool, fresh water.

I didn't get to the blanket's loose ends until a few days later, on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We had a rainy morning, and I stayed in the tent weaving in the ends. Here's the finished blanket by the shores of Lake Superior.

Project 2: Jaywalker Socks
These socks started out in July as experimental double-knit socks. I'd spent countless hours on it before I realized it was boring and ill-fitting. Here's that damn sock before I frogged it, on the road to the Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario (it was raining out, so no pretty pictures of scenery).

I frogged it and reknit it as a Jaywalker. Here's the first sock, in front of the red rocks of Moab. You might observe that it's a long way from Ontario to Utah. Yes, it took me very, very, unpleasantly long to finish this sock. Also, my macabre side keeps seeing the red splotches as blood splatters. So the second one may never be done.

Project 3: Peppermint Stick Cap
This cap is meant to match a scarf that I made for my sister back in February. It was knit as a small clapotis out of wool yarn (Henry's Attic Licorice Twist) that I'd dyed with cochineal. The hat started of as Interweave's top-down tweed beret, but it looked hideously busy in this marled yarn. And when I'd tried to wing it on my own, it ended up as a gigantic, round mat (diameter=1 foot -- it had been all squished onto a 12" circular, and I hadn't quite realized how huge it was). I hadn't touched it since March, and here's what was like at when I pulled it out of my knitting bag in Wisconsin.

There was no salvaging this monstrosity, so I frogged it and started it again as a simple cap. It was halfway done by the North Dakota badlands. Here's my morning knitting spot behind our campsite in Roosevelt Park. I have to say, both Isis and I were in heaven here. I was happy for the lovely, cold weather, because it meant I could don my Cambridge watchcap. Isis was happy because of all the wild animals that she could see and smell. In fact, when we drove by a bison rubbing up against a tree, she whined to get out of the car to play with it! (Fiber note: I did go back to that spot to see if it left any fur behind; it did not, but I found some later in Yellowstone.)

Anyways, I finished the hat when we were near the North Dakota-Montana border. I have to say that I loved North Dakota. I found the landscape -- the subtle roll of the land, the golden fields, the sculptural hay bales -- totally entrancing. It was so much more beautiful than I ever would have expected.

Project 4: Cabled Baby Sweater
Several years ago, I bought this lovely soft merino yarn. Twice, or maybe thrice, I started a mistake rib scarf. But it wasn't worth all the work that it takes to make a long scarf, and it had been sitting, abandoned, for at least four or five years, untouched. Here is the yarn and partially-knit scarf as they looked in Red Lodge, Montana, when I pulled them out for frogging:

I decided to use the yarn for a baby sweater, loosely based on two that I'd made last year: the child's placket sweater and the bookworm sweater. The cable from the latter is fun and impressive-looking, but I wanted to adapt it to knit in the round, with an open neck. I'd finished the lower body by the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

The sleeves and neck were finished by the time we got to Phoenix. Here it is, resting in some cacti in our back yard:

I plan to sew up the seams this weekend, and then I'll take it out to one of the mountain preserves to photograph it with a saguaro.

And that's it! With all the scenery to distract me, I guess I didn't manage to knit as much as I'd hoped I would.

But I'm back in business in Phoenix now, and I'll be getting all caught up with everything soon enough!


textilejunkie said...

Wow what a great road trip. I think you accomplished more on the road than I did sitting at home all summer. I love the head sticking out of the baby blanket :)

Anonymous said...

MOM says "tell her I think the photographs are spectacular! With the artistry of blending the particular knit with the beautiful background. Plus the beauty of HANNA." then she adds "her text is good too"

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous, just gorgeous. I've been waiting for this update and it was spectacular. That baby sweater is just lovely! I like the open placket - babies have big heads. And I have a feeling that sister of yours will LOVE her cap...when does she get it :)

Anonymous said...

oh and that happy dog face! priceles!!!

Anonymous said...


Elizabeth said...

Wow, that's a lot of knitting! Everything looks wonderful. I agree that there's nothing better than a trans-America roadtrip. My husband and I did one from Illinois to LA and back when we were in grad school and loved it. Glad your trip was wonderful.

Jill said...

I love the way your blog reads...and I am so jealous of your trip! Everything turned out great, too. So liberating to get rid of the nagging unfinished stuff and make them into something useful and beautiful. :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to start off your journey in Arizona, seeing the land gradually and dramatically morph from the atlantic mountains to the deserts of the southeast. I love road trips, and the U.S. is amazingly large and beautiful, as I also realized on my one road trip out west.


Macoco said...

What an amazing photo of the blanket by Lake Superior. Beautiful.