Ravellings

And when I say “survived”, I mean of course “loved every minute”

Well, maybe not every minute. There was a particularly bad day soon after arrival when I got cocky and then got scared and… well. Let’s just say, if/when we ever have children, at least Armin will have had plenty of experience in dealing with toddler tantrums.
But we had a wonderful, wonderful week. Davos was of course full of important people talking about changing the world, which meant it wasn’t full of holiday makers, which meant the slopes were pretty empty. The skies were blue, the snow was powdery and perfect… we couldn’t have asked for more. I worked pretty damn hard at learning to ski, and I am proud of my progress. The last day, indeed, saw me ski all the way down – from the very peak of the Jakobshorn (3,000m above sea level) to the base (1,540m). That’s a lotta mountain, people.
We also took a little side excursion involving a 3.5km toboggan run, and a lot of screaming. Really, a lot. Not from me. That was all Philippa. Well, mostly Philippa. (Apparently, sheer terror gets you a ride on the back of Armin’s sled – more speed, less worry. I’m jealous!) It also involved very wet bums (why on earth didn’t we think to wear our ski gear? What made us think we could go tobogganing – at night – in jeans?). So we ended up waiting for our bus in a bar full of soldiers, downing a couple of schnapps to warm ourselves up (and recover from the trauma), and prompting the soldiers to comment (in German) that “these women drink like they’re in the army!” Heh. That helped us to feel tough again.
Have a look at some pics… and then indulge me as I rant a little (hm… maybe not so very little) about my idiocy in packing holiday knitting.


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Right. The knitting. (Sorry, picture free at this time. Just how long do you want to have to wait for this post, anyway?)
I had given a lot of thought to what to pack. I was keen to start a lace shawl, which I figured should keep me busy for most or even all of the holiday, but wanted to have a sock along too (for variation) and a scarf (for back-up). I’d decided exactly what would best fit the bill for all of these.
First, I had the Irtfa’a shawl, using some lovely laceweight merino I’m test driving for the shop.
The socks would be Broadripple, in some very colourful and cosy yarn that I was sure would cheer me up.
And the scarf was a self-designed, simple ostrich plume affair in Freyalyn’s handspun, bordered with some beaded Tilli Tomas.
Now see how this supposedly careful preparation turned out to be no preparation at all…
I gather the patterns (where needed), the yarn and needles. Pack them all up. It may be worth noting at this point that the packing was being done rather after the middle of the night; we got to bed just before 5am. This is normal, right? Nobody’s actually ready for a holiday before 5am on the day of. Right? Anyway. Sleep deprived or not, ain’t nobody getting between me and my knitting. I make sure I have everything, and I go to bed.
So we arrive in Winterberg (where the in-laws live, near Zurich), dump our suitcases, and I decide against bringing my knitting out immediately. It might be construed as antisocial, right? Better wait at least an hour or so. I trot downstairs to be sociable – and Rita immediately asks: “Wo sind deine Stricknadeln?” Oh! I say. Um… “We don’t recognise you without your knitting in your hand.”
Clearly, I have trained these people well.* So I go off and fetch the shawl-to-be. I settle down, and read the pattern.
“With 3.25mm needles…”
I don’t have 3.25mm needles. The pattern calls for 3.5mm needles, and 3.25mm for the “applied edging”. Fancifully, I imagined the “applied edging” would be applied after the main body. Apparently not. But I think, hey… it’s a quarter of a millimetre. I’ll just use the bigger needles and knit tightly.
Having made this decision, I come to the fateful words: “Using any provisional cast-on…”
Right.
As it happens, provisional cast-on is not part of my repertoire. But let’s see. I remember reading the description of the crochet cast-on while editing Puss’s Magical Stockings, and I think I can probably repeat it. Of course, I don’t have a crochet hook with me, but surely I can improvise. I proceed to improvise. After a few goes, I successfully achieve the provisional cast-on, and a few rows of the bird’s-eye edging I’m doing. I decide it’s time to read ahead (you know how everyone always advises you to read the pattern first? Yeah… turns out that’s not bad advice) and check how much of this I’ll be doing.
I discover that when all this is done, I must leave it on the needle, and use my (non-existent, remember?) bigger needle to pick up stitches for the main body.
I give up. Why this should be the last straw, I don’t know. After all, it would be far from difficult to leave those last stitches on a scrap of yarn, or even on one of the other needles I have with me. But I give up. This particular Raven does not want to fly on this particular holiday. Fine. I have socks.
I toddle off to fetch my socks. This part will be fool-proof, of course. It’s just socks. Easy pattern, familiar construction.
Turns out, I really hate the yarn. Which will remain unidentified, because it’s really good yarn, and I do not wish to hurt its feelings. Actually, I love the yarn. I just hate the colours I chose. The bright, childish colours that I was really happy about in the skein, that looked only marginally less appealing when wound up, transform into a muddy, clashy mess when knit up. After about 10 rounds, I show it to Armin. “Cute,” he says encouragingly. But I can see the pain behind his eyes.
“It’s really, really horrible,” I contradict him.
“Well…”
Enough. I’m on to project no 3, my last chance, and we’re barely an hour into the holiday. Do you feel the fear?
Project no 3, however, behaves itself well. Not that it’s exactly plain sailing from here on. I cast on for 3 repeats of the ostrich plume stitch, and work my way up at a fair clip over the course of our weekend in the Zurich environs. But the handspun is a significantly finer gauge than the beaded silk, and in this delicate stitch it bunches up and looks simply too narrow. I decide that 5 repeats would be much better. Frog and start again.
Come Monday, we are heading to Davos at last, and I am looking forward to 3 hours on the train – prime knitting time. Before we even make it off the suburban line, I run out of contrast yarn. The rest of the ball has been packed in the suitcase. “No problem,” says Armin. “I can get it out easily.” Great. We change to the Landquart train and find seats. I ask for my yarn. “Not now,” says Armin. “There are all these people in the way.” Okay. I wait… and of course, by the time everyone has boarded and sat down, our suitcase is at the bottom of a large pile.
Oh well.
There was good scenery to look at, anyway.
So finally we’re in Davos, and I get some more knitting down in the snowy evenings, and again, it’s progressing well. Looks great. Five repeats is a great width. But it’s starting to look like it may not end up a great length. After all, I only have this one skein of unrepeatable handspun; and who wants a super-wide lacy muffler?
Frog and start again.
(It’s coming on well now. No more frogging on the menu… I hope. Pictures soon.)
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*Aside: at a gathering last night, an old friend’s new girlfriend commented: “Oh! She’s brought some knitting!”
“No,” her man explained gravely. “Robynn has not just brought knitting. Robynn IS knitting. If there were a god of knitting, and he came to earth to spread the good word, he would turn around and say: I am not needed here. There is Robynn.” Quite something to live up to, but it’s good to have a clearly defined image…

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