Thursday, 13 March 2014

Shetland Deathmarch or, with needles to hollow victory

Day 1 

What fun! I have three different colours of genuine Shetland Yarn and a lovely Hap Scarf pattern in mind. I have carefully assessed the lie of the land, and ascertained that 3mm needles will be best for the task ahead.

Although the pattern does call for quite a lot of the same lace stitch, with only a two-row repeat over long distances, I have trained for this and I feel that my experience with long hikes through the Norwegian Fjords, public school rugby matches, and top-down lace triangles from the estimable Mrs A Clarke will sustain me.

Captain Oates has decided to accompany me, as an advanced lace knitter wanting a short rest before a ring shawl in the Canadian Arctic.

Day 2 

Captain Oates and I have now cast on and are waved off at the shore by our cats, mothers, wives, Sherpa, baggage handlers, etc.

We look forward to a brisk twenty rows in cream, before starting with the colour banding. I have chosen to use pale green in two slightly differing shades on a  cream background. Captain Oates, a braver person than I, has decided to work the scarf entirely in fawn.

I reminded myself that Captain Oates was Head Boy and knows what he is doing.

Day 14

I am now well used to the pattern, and picking up the needles whilst I make the tea in the evenings on return to camp is a familiar routine. I feel I can now say I am definitely at home with the two-row lace pattern, and have completed several banded sections to my satisfaction.

Captain Oates does well, although progressing slower than I am. he has decided on a fawn shade that is easy on the eyes and will match most reindeer-skin outfits during the long winter ahead.

Day 18

I have broken another pair of needles and do not understand why. My hands, accustomed to their task by now, must have gripped too tightly during a k3tog.

Captain Oates complains that the fawn colour is not as warm as he would like it to be, and is contemplating ripping back. I am worried about him - he has done so much, although there is much yet to do.

Day 25

It seems very dark outside now. Last night Captain Oates woke me to say that I was chanting the stitch repeat in my sleep. I confess I do not feel well. Every time I open my eyes the green bands seem to swim before me.

Day 32

It does not progress as I would wish. I fear that I have chosen two shades that are too close to one another and, in the dim light, I risk confusing them for one another. God, I wish I had chosen a more decided shade as that Norwegian fellow in the knitting shop advised!

Captain Oates has only managed four rows today and looks deathly.

Day 39

This evening I found Oates had sneaked into my bag and was knitting two rows of mint-green into his otherwise fawn scarf, and I had to use very strong language to get him to undo the rows. When he had done it though he could not restrain himself and ripped back row after row! I only recovered the last forty rows before he collapsed weeping into the sleeping bag.

I have wound the fawn yarn as best I can, and placed the stitches on the needles.

Day 41

I have completed the last colour band and I can see that I am going to make it with sufficient yarn. Poor Oates looks done in, and has not the spirit to knit any more. I have cast off for him, and he claims it will make a cowl although I fear it is not enough. Perhaps some nice contrasting buttons will cheer him.

Day 45

Dear God this is a dreadful lace.

I cast off the final rows, and laid the scarf to rest on Baffin Island. I shall never look at it again.

My needles are bent all to hell, and I fear I may never wish to knit with cream yarn again.

We returned to Ravelry a proud but dim-eyed team, with the sure and certain knowledge that, although we had a rather tight-fitting fawn cowl and a scarf that I cannot help think of toothpaste when looking at, we did conquer and return home.

But ah - the cost. I shall ne'er do another k3tog.

PS Amundson says he will knit a top-down plain-coloured Lopi sweater next year. What a jape! I shall begin recruiting immediately.