Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ravelympics After-the-Fact, Part I: Vancouver Frost & Snow

[[ Special thanks go out to zzwhitejd, the Raveler who holds the Creative Commons license for this lovely official Ravelympics 2010 banner and was gracious enough to allow others like me to use it free of charge, with appropriate attribution, of course. ]]

I realize that at this point any blog suddenly showing up with an Olympics motif, of all things, is going to seem more than "a day late and a dollar short." For by now the XXI Winter Games in Vancouver are old news, having come and gone weeks ago, along with their delightfully exuberant Ravelry counterpart. But meanwhile there has been a corresponding BIG GAP in my reportage as well, due to the fact that I was so busy participating in the Ravelympics that I had no time left over to document my activities as I went. I must therefore update this chronicle retroactively, and readers will simply have to bear with me.

True confessions: I am a hard-core Olympics junkie and have been all my life. Every time the games roll around, in other words, be it summer or winter, I basically put everything else on hold as long as the torch is lit, in order to devote myself as much as possible to watching the competition and reveling in the spirit of it all. For me, then, the Ravelympics held out the joyous prospect of evenings blissfully spent knitting in front of the TV and blogging about about my progress day-by-day.

I thought I would have plenty of time on my hands, because the final weekend of the games coincided with the start of winter break at the college. But then my chosen projects turned out to be more time-consuming than I had imagined, and realistically I could only keep up with two out of the three, i.e. watching, knitting, and/or blogging. So as the impending deadline loomed closer and closer (midnight PST = 3 AM EST, after the closing ceremonies on Sunday, February 28th), I just kept knitting, on the assumption that I could always blog about it later.

A whole *LOT* later, in point of fact. But now let's get down to business...

I took on three Ravelympics knitting projects and successfully completed them all within the allotted time-frame (woohoo!!), although the third one came right down to the wire, as we shall see in "Ravelympics After-the-Fact, Part II" (coming soon to a web-browser near you). I intend to deal with the first two here. These make a natural pairing, because they are both smaller projects by one of my favorite designers, Anne Hanson of KnitSpot. They had also both been in my queue for a while, so that the Ravelympics simply gave me an excuse.

First came the Hoarfrost cowl, which I tagged for "Team Little Needle Lovers (LNL)." I chose KnitPicks Bare, a natural, un-dyed fingering weight Peruvian Highland wool and christened this project Vancouver Frost, in keeping with the pattern name, the colorway, and the Olympics theme. It was a straightforward and very pleasurable knit, especially because the stitches fit perfectly on a 16" circular needle (3.25 mm = US size 3) for no-fuss handling. Here is a series of photos showing both the work in progress and the finished product, including one picture that my husband took afterward to show how the cowl looks when worn, nestled up cozily around the neck and throat.

The blend of lace and cable-work in the main snowflake pattern makes for a remarkable depth of texture in this pattern, and the delicate edging gives it the perfect finishing touch. I put on the cowl right away, as soon as it was done, and proceeded to wear it more or less continually for the rest of the Olympic games. It is snuggly and warm and yet unobtrusive and feminine at the same time. I have received quite a few compliments on it, both on Ravelry and in person.

Then came the Snow on Cedars Mitts, which I tagged for "Team Fingerless Glove Fanatics". I chose a KnitPicks yarn for this one too: Shadow Kettle-Dyed lace weight wool in a discontinued dark green colorway called "Wilderness" that I had acquired over the summer in connection with the Christmas 2010 project. I went down to 2.5 mm (US size 1+) dpn's in order to ensure a snug fit on my admittedly small hands. I also paired the yarn with some sparkly 8/0 silver-lined transparent teal beads and decided to go all-out for a glamorous end result that I dubbed Vancouver Snow, carrying on with the Ravelympics winter-weather theme from the cowl project. Each mitt required three sessions of approximately two hours: the first two for the trees, and the third to complete the upper portion and the thumb. Here are some pictures, including one of how these elegant mitts look on the hand.

I am thrilled to pieces with how these mitts turned out. They not only stylish and classy-looking but surprisingly warm as well. I followed the approach with the beads that I learned from Sivia Harding's Harbour Lights Shawl: using a crochet hook to add beads to the pattern stitches in a given round after they have been worked, so that the next row of plain knitting will hold them neatly in place. All that extra detailing made for a LOT of painstaking work, especially in the wrist section of each mitt (those TREES!!!), but it was entirely worth it. I think that the beads look just like glistening snowflakes and Christmas lights twinkling in the trees — and the designer agrees. She left me a wonderful compliment on Ravelry. :-)

By the way, check out the following statistics that "code-monkey" Casey compiled for the 2010 Ravelympics world-wide:

  • total # of projects tagged with "ravelympics2010": 24,284
  • total # of projects tagged with "ravelympics2010" and finished: 12,878
  • total # of Ravelers that finished: 6,296 (out of 9,538 participating)
  • total # of countries participating: 65
  • total # of people posting into a Finish Line: 5,186
  • total yardage used: 8,068,000 (yes…this is 8+ million!)
  • total yardage spun/dyed: 448,000

Pretty amazing, n'est-ce pas? :-)

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