Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Knitting and Beer, What Could Be Better?

I was recently asked, by a very young reporter, how long it takes to make something if you start by spinning the yarn. There are of course 2 answers to the question. There is the answer in hours, and there is the answer in years. Interestingly, these 2 answers do not work out to the same amount of time.

Case in point: I have finally finished my purple sweater set. Upon our third summer together, my friend Rachel looked at me working at my spinning wheel and said "Isn't that the yarn you've been spinning the entire time I've known you?" Lucky for her, I wasn't at a good point to let go
and throw my niddy noddy at her.

finished sweater set!

How many hours did this set take? Well, I started with white roving: 2 pounds of wool and 9 ounces of silk. I spent a day dying the wool in 4 separate shades of purple and painting the silk
in the 4 shades sequentially. The most time consuming part was that I then hand carded the 4 shades of wool into heathered rolags before spinning them. The combination of carding and spinning may have taken as much as 200 hours. It felt like longer. Then I knit 2 sweaters, that probably took about 100 hours (these are hugely estimated numbers). I think I spent about 10 hours making the lovely dorset buttons. So all told that would be 310 hours and a day.

dorset button

How many years did this sweater set take? Well, as best as I can remember I started in the summer of 2002 or 2003 when I bought the wool in Delphi NY. I finished this past June. That's 7 or 8 years to complete a sweater set. Over those years I had 3 different "school year" jobs. We went through 4 costume directors at the Opera. I lived in 4 different cities/towns, had 4 apartments, got married, and bought a house. That's way more than 310 hours and a day.

After finishing in June, I figured I would put the set away until December, but we had such a weird summer that I wore it on July 1st and was quite happy to have it. Since that day it's been over 80 every day.

There have, of course been other projects during that time. In fact, anything on this blog or on
my Ravelry page was made during that time. Plus there's all the other hobbies.

I love when my very different interests in some way intersect, overlap, or inform each other. Like how the garden feeds the rabbits and the rabbits supply the compost that feeds the garden. And the spent grains from brewing feed the compost feeds the hop vine makes beer. Or when Queen sings about relativistic time dilation. Or how when a math/science student takes costume construction I can point out that the balance points on a sleeve head are the 2 points on the curve where the second derivative equals zero. And now I have a new one: a knitted beer label.
This goes way past drinking and reading while knitting for relevant hobby interaction. Check it out:

I'm quite pleased with the result, although I had to save it from an unfortunate earlier stage where the lemon looked like a cupcake. Some of my labels fall flat, but I've made a few in the past year or so that I'm really pleased with. The beer was good too.

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