My Visit to Japan

Here's my progress on the Japanese oak leaf cardigan.  Knitting this pattern is not unlike playing charades.  I have everything I need to understand it, except words.

I am feeling pretty smug to have finished the first sleeve.  I was halfway up the saddle when I realized this is my first saddle-shoulder sweater.  Good thing I started with an easy one.  Not.

The fascinating thing about this pattern is that I can knit it at all.  The credit for that belongs to its author, rather than my skill.  Believe it or not, every single stitch in the garment is plotted on the chart.  There is only one size (no clue what size that is, by the way-hope it fits somebody I know), and each piece has a schematic drawing with metric measurements. 

I found online the characters are for "stitches" and "rows", which allowed me to decipher the gauge (once I learned that Japanese needle sizes are also different from US and metric ones).  Then I made some swatches, during which I learned that if you don't recognize a symbol in the chart, the chart key is not going to help you one stinking bit.  The tip of each oak leaf involves turning 8 stitches into 3, and crossing some of them over others of them.  That part I had to totally fake.  Trial and error (mostly the latter) eventually yielded a leaf that looked like the one in the photo.  I think.

Other than the wierd-y leaf tips, all the other stuff in the chart worked just like it would in english, only with far more precision.  Which direction should the increase or decrease lean?  It's drawn directionally on the chart.  How many stitches to bind of at either side of the saddle?  Each bound stitch is on the chart.  Crazy, man.  It totally works.  No language needed.  I feel like a musician, just playing the notes without knowing what the song is supposed to sound like. 

Good music, here in Japan.

Hapless Bystander

I blame the Cub Scouts. 

Campbell participated in a cake auction this weekend, as a fundraiser for his den.  

Together we chose a recipe for a cake so luscious, so chocolaty, so decadent that I couldn't bear to transport it to the auction in anything less than a proper bakery cake box.  It was raining, after all, and wet cake never raised any funds.

I begged at the grocery.  I implored at the mega-mart.  Nobody seemed to have a disposable container for cake transport.  In a feeble last attempt, I tried the craft store.  You know how they have that cake decorating area?  Yeah, it's right next to the big "Today Only: Paton's Classic Wool $3.99" sign.

And everything after that is kind of a blur.

I know I got the cake box.  I also know we attended the cake auction, because I have a finished sock to prove I was there.  But time seems to have pleated on me (by the way, who reset all these clocks?).  I also, for some reason, have 10 skeins of this gorgeous color called "Cognac Heather".  It has russet, and purple, and green, and gold in it.  And it was SO CHEAP!  And I have this Japanese pattern that I have been dreaming about decoding for two years...

So the next thing I know, it's Monday already.  I have been knitting in Japanese (possibly the most difficult thing I have ever attempted, knitting or otherwise) for longer than is appropriate.  I can tell because:
    A.    There is an uncommonly deep dent in the cushion on my knitting chair, which made ass-extraction more challenging than usual when I went for the dismount.
    B.    No household chores have been accomplished.  And by chores, I mean, child-feeding, dog-walking, or husband-bossing.  The whole pack of them have gone feral.  Or so I assume.  I won't know until I find them all.
    C.    I have actually knitted something.  It seems to be the beginning of a sleeve, but don't quote me.  And it looks strangely similar to the pattern I have been trying to decipher.

I can't put it down.  The stripy vest languishes on the coffee table.  Both Weasley jumpers cower in a corner.  The second sock whimpers for attention, from somewhere in the depths of my purse.  And all I can think about is whether that curlicue thing with the upside-down smiley face could mean "stitches", or "rows".  And look!  I made an Oak Leaf, out of $3.99 string!

There is still some part of my brain that is trying to function.  I know because I can hear it grinding out feeble directives like "Go to the bathroom", "Feed the cat", and "Look for the Children".  But I'm ignoring it, because the pull of the oak leaves and the Japanese squiggles is just too powerful.  And the whole evil digression is not even my fault, because the cub scouts, and the cake, and the box, and the yarn sale all happened in spite of my more noble intentions. 

And that's my story.