The Down Hill Slide

Time has flown this month with all the rapid changes at both work and home and I'm a bit behind when I wanted to get my next post out.  I'm still doing my "essential" job, the boy is working on school assignments at home, the weather is improving with more time for hiking and learning to ride bicycles.  Of course, part of why I've been so busy has to do with my most recent project.  

At work, we're seeing patients through telehealth now due to COVID19 which is taking a little bit of getting used to and trying to avoid as many in-person encounters as possible but it seems like the criteria in what conditions we can see, what my schedule looks like, and what and where imaging and labs are available is constantly changing.  Calling it a "fluid situation" is a bit of a running joke at this point.  For a while, I thought I was going to get pulled from my usual job to cover inpatient medicine so the hospitalists could cover the COVID peak but thankfully the overwhelming load of inpatients we worried about never materialized and so I'm back to my comfort zone of outpatient care.  I'll admit, I was actually looking forward to shaking things up a bit and returning to some inpatient care.  There can certainly be something rewarding about taking over the care of someone acutely ill asking for help to feel better and having access to the resources of inpatient medicine to urgently investigate and hopefully diagnose and correct an underlying problem within the span of usually only a day or two.  Of course, the long standing relationships formed over multiple encounters with patients working to control chronic issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol has its redeeming qualities too... sometimes they just take longer to materialize.

Speaking of taking longer, I now have a total of three completed knitting projects under my belt.  The first was a simple scarf with acrylic yarn,

the second a handspun knitted cowl


Most recently, I decided to tackle a shawl, and at one point I felt like it was an endurance exercise that was never going to end.  It took forever!!!  How do people actually finish sweaters or afghans?!!

This whole experience of knitting a shawl started due to my eventual plan was to knit something out of what I call my "down-hill slide yarn."  But that is some special yarn-- its finely spun, Navajo-plied from a beautiful blue-green-grey colorway  braided roving I bought while attending a Spin-In with my mom at Priest Lake a couple years ago.  I don't even remember the fibers anymore and I'm not sure who was selling it.  I know that it contained some small portion of Yak, a bit of silk I think, and it was the most beautiful fiber I'd ever seen! Up to this point, I've never been one to buy fiber.  I'd always been a tag-along-- I went with mom, I borrowed her wheel, I spun whatever she had extra.  This was the first time I'd purchased my own fiber and THEN I realized I didn't have a wheel.  This darn fiber is how it all started.

A few months later the 50th edition Schact Matchless, my dream wheel, finally arrived.  I figured, if you're gonna start something, you might as well go all the way! Of course, I couldn't start spinning my down-hill slide yarn yet.  I had to try out a couple different fibers and yarn weights, get comfortable with the wheel and the double drive which was all new territory for me.  These were simply practice, my goal was a lace-weight "down-hill" yarn.  Finally, I was to the point where I felt I could tackle it.


 I did... and I loved the yarn.  Although I'll admit, I actually had quite a bit of anxiety about how it would turn out.  There was a lot of expectation riding on this fiber for me.  It was nearly everything I hoped it would be, except not quite lace weight. The calculations suggested fingering weight and just over 400yds.  For me, that feeling of a project finished is what I crave, it makes the time spent worth it, and I certainly felt accomplished when I got to the end of that roving, or maybe just relieved. At this point, this is my most treasured yarn I've ever created. 

I started looking for knitting patterns. Ravelry is amazing. I love the idea of being able to sort free knitting patterns by yarn weight and length and difficulty and I found one that fit all my criteria:  Reyna, a ~400yd, fingering weight, easy difficulty knitted shawl that looks like this on the pattern site:


But then I was back to the same problem I had when I had just gotten my new wheel.  The pattern said easy but there was all sorts of stuff that was new to me.  I was certainly not brave enough to tackle this with my "down hill" yarn.  I bought some cheap acrylic stuff.  

I YouTubed the parts I didn't know or needed a refresher course on.  I learned some stuff along the way like which way a yarn over is supposed to be wrapped and what "ssk" means.  Of course, I also required a bit of help when I couldn't figure out how to fix the last error I'd made or trying to decide if I'd even made an error or it was supposed to look like that. Through the process, I'm pretty sure I became a bit better at knitting.

 And after hours and hours and complete weekends full of sore wrists and fingers using muscles I didn't even know I had (looking back at anatomy class I suppose they're real and I might even be able to come up with a name for them if I thought really hard), I finally got to the last cast-off row, learned a new cast off and was done.  Well, then there was the weaving in of the ends and asking my mom to block it out for me and THEN I was done.  And now mom has a new shawl

with lots of "artistic elements" that may or may not have been intended made of a cheap commercial acrylic, but looks amazing in it...  And now I can't quite find the enthusiasm to spend quite that much time doing the SAME project again with my most treasured down-hill yarn.  What's a girl to do? I think I'm left with only one option--- I'm gonna have to look for a new pattern.  Its definitely quite a trip, this down hill slide.  

1 comment


You did a fantastic job with everything involved in this spinning and knitting project: it feels very good, and looks really good. Was it perfect like machine-made? Nope, it showed the learning and love that went into it. Well done you. Oh yeah, doctoring is good too.

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