Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Walpole Day Showcases Small-Town Civic Pride

IMG_1434.JPGYesterday, I drove around the little towns outside of Boston (and not far from Norwood, where my grandmother lives), in search of yarn shops. I mainly found myself lost, many times, on country-sized roads cutting through green neighborhoods with a decidedly small town air.

And then, I got to Walpole. Bordering Norwood on Highway 1, Walpole is another one of these “est. before 1776” types of small New England towns. It’s only 20 minutes outside of Boston, but the contrast between big city and small town couldn’t be more dramatic. This is a pretty town, with lots of greenery and big, old, single family homes. As I drove through the neighborhoods, I saw many weekend gardeners out, enjoying the sunshine and putting in this year’s morning glories and zucchini plants.

Walpole has its first deed in the 1640’s, with a mine claim. It later hosted a sawmill, and formally separated as a township from nearby Dedham in 1722. The town history is a rich tapestry of community organizations springing up in response to its growth, and new buildings (or restoring old ones) to accommodate students, infrastructure, and civic bodies. The town elections are held in early June, and signs outside the police station proclaim that “It is your civic duty to VOTE!”

I arrived just before noon and parked a few blocks away from my destination, planning to walk. As I approached, I saw the sidewalks lined with people, holding balloons, their hands poised to wave.

“My goodness,” I thought. “All these people out to welcome me? What a friendly town!”

Alas, I was disabused of this notion when I asked someone what the hubbub was about. Yesterday was Walpole Day, a kind of founders day/community celebration, to commemorate Walpole…. being Walpole.

The parade kicked off at 12:05, and was inaugurated by the fire trucks, sirens blaring as they rolled up the street.

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Sports are definitely in high profile in Walpole, and were well represented with school teams, cheerleaders, swimmers, dance groups, and martial arts schools.

Early in the parade, the young Walpole Lacrosse players showed their stuff by running the parade route. I thought this was very ambitious, since no other youth group ran the parade. Not even the two runners clubs.

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A variety of vehicles drove the route as well, from the old military Jeeps:

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To the even older horse-drawn carriages:

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Parade participants threw candy to the kids on the sidelines, politicians walked the route or handed out balloons, and the event ended with a big party and fair down the street behind the bank.

Grandma tells me that Norwood Day is in October. I may have to swing back down, just to see!

Hoodie Progress(ish)

I have knit 5 rows on the hoodie.

I realized partway into row 6 that I’m using the wrong needle. I’m using the gauge needle. I’m supposed to use the “one needle smaller than gauge” for this part of the sweater. I can either keep going on the wrong-gauge needle and accept a slightly looser garter stitch edging. Or I can rip it back, crying all the way.

I will probably cry as I frog the whole thing.

I will definitely cry if I can’t find my ball winder. Since I’m frogging the whole thing anyway, I thought I would re-wind the yarn into a ball. I have looked all morning for my ball winder, but have had absolutely no luck in finding it. The last place I remember using it was laying in bed, late at night, winding balls of yarn for this sweater before falling asleep. I have, in fact, looked all over the RV and carefully checked the bedcovers for it, but alas, it is completely missing. I’m getting suspicious and think someone sneaked in and stole it when I wasn’t here. Or that the cat ate it. Either is equally probable.

This is my washed and blocked gauge swatch, complete with a little cabling to practice/see what the cables do. Like the lighting? Go me with my mad iSight/PhotoBooth skillz.
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Also, in knitting these 5 rows, I have made so many mistakes. Half of them are Not My Fault, as the pattern has several typos in the cabling directions. The other half…. well, let’s just say I’m not the world’s most astute knitter and leave it at that.

I wasn’t even drinking, I swear.

TKGA Progress report 2

You’re just going to be wowed by my productivity this week (yes, I am trying to do these weekly).

I bought a purple binder and put the instructions into it:

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I found some downloadable knitting journal pages and printed them out:

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I put swatch #2 into a sleeve protector (it’s still unblocked!)

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No, really. It’s like a progress report. Except not much like. Maybe I should call this one a status report, since there’s so little progress.

Project Fear: Part II

Y’all are so great.

I swatched for the hooded sweater last night. This yarn is a single, which means it does something different when I knit with it– one side of the stitches is tighter than the other (I assume because of the way the yarn twists when making the stitches). The result is that I will have vertical texture on my hoodie. Making it the best sweater ever…..

I’m still working on some gauge issues, so still swatching. I may end up doing this one a bit out of gauge. No problem–I consider “within 1/2 a stitch” to be close enough gauge. Gauge and swatches are guidelines, not rules. Gauge changes during the making of a thing, so I try not to be enslaved by it.

Anyway, there you are. My wonderful friends. Building up my confidence and shit. I love you all. (Even if this sweater turns to hell.)

Project Fear

I have a project in my queue. It has, in fact, recently come to the top of the queue. It’s a sweater. For me.

It’s not just any sweater, though. It’s loverly, with cables on the edgings and cuffs, and it’s shaped to fit a plus-sized goddess like me. It has a hood. It will be knit of wool, making it the first wool sweater I will have owned since I was 15. It will replace my aging beige cotton cardigan, my go-to sweater when there’s a nip in the air, but it’s not cold enough for a fleece jacket.

Susie Hoodie from More Big Girl Knits

I have the yarn, a soft wool-silk-alpaca blend in a rich royal blue, all skeined up in a bag. (I suppose Step 1 is to wind the yarn into balls.)

Organik from The Fibre Company

I certainly have the needles.

But I also have…. fear.

I am afraid of starting this project. Since bringing the yarn out and mentally preparing myself for it, I have knit (from start to finish):

A pair of socks:

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A cabled hat:

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And a cute pink cardigan for my niece:

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I knit the socks because, well, socks! I knit the hat to practice some cables before embarking on a complicated cabled project. I knit the child’s sweater to practice sweater-making, since this is, after all, my second sweater (and also because the yarn is as scratchy as butter and my hands longed for it….)

The same day I bought the yarn for this sweater (and the pink sweater, incidentally…. and some laceweight alpaca), I bought some roving to spin into yarn for another sweater. I think this would be a good exercise for me, and I would enjoy making a significant thing from start to finish like that.

It’s a sign of my disturbed mind that I look at the roving and at the sweater yarn and I think I should spin that roving first, make that sweater before I make the Sweater That Calls to Me. I can see in my mind what that sweater will look like– a bit bumpy, perhaps, but the kind of sweater that you pull over and instantly start sweating, even if it’s 10 degrees below zero.

Is it that I’m not ready to make that sweater yet? Am I second-guessing my talents as a knitter? I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s a limited amount of space in my home, and I have an oft-broken rule that yarn should be able to be put away. Right now, there are two bags of unstored yarn in the house. One bag is going to charity, hopefully today. The other bag… is the sweater.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s geography. We’re summering in the north this year. Perhaps I will find the Adirondacks are the perfect sweater-knitting location.

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