Friday, March 15, 2019

Welfare Check

When a musher gets stopped out on the trail and the GPS tracker doesn't move or moves in circles...they try to find someone in the area who can get out to them and do what's called a welfare check to make sure everyone is okay.  

One of the mushers I am following this year is Blair Braverman.  She appeared to be having trouble at a creek, or was maybe trying to get back to a cabin, or...  Her gazillion Twitter fans were all panicked.  I felt bad as well because I, too, feared the worst.  Turns out her GPS unit was  just malfunctioning and she was still on the trail.  

No such luck here.  I left "Unalakleet" in good spirits, knitting on strong.  I did my short rows, divided for the sleeves, added 8 or 9 inches to the body...started second guessing how it was going, hesitantly knit another inch or two...and stalled out.  

I needed a break anyway.  I'd knit to where my hands were sore.  Bill was in town so I was helping with shearing at Final Frontier Farm on Monday and then we sheared here Wednesday.  The Wool House Crafters met on Tuesday and I asked a couple folks for their opinion on the fabric I was getting and I think we all agreed that it was okay, but could be better.  

I ended up ripping it all back to "Unalakleet".  I figured if I was going to get stuck out on the trail making some necessary sled repairs, there'd be no better place than to hang out with fellow Iknitaroder knitski and eat sourdough pancakes ;-).  20 caught up with us there.

20:  Glad you've made it back here to Unalakleet and everything is okay.  Sounds like you've had some trouble this year.  What can you tell us about that?

TCSL: Well, the theme this year so far seems to be gauge.  Gauge too tight, gauge too loose, gauge not making sense, gauge inconsistencies due to sloppy or inattentive knitting on my part...  

20:  Why is gauge so important?

TCSL: Gauge affects how the fabric feels and how a garment fits.  If you knit it too loose it's "sleazy".  If you knit it too tight, it's feels stiff and harsh.  If your gauge doesn't work with the pattern size you've chosen, your sweater won't fit.  There are frequently gauge issues with stranded knitting versus straight stockinette as well.

20:  I thought you did some gauge samples before the race though.  Shouldn't that have helped?

TCSL:  Yes, absolutely.  My mistake was only swatching the plain knitting, not the colorful patterning as well.  I lost two days right off the bat because I didn't do that and had to restart 2-3 times.  After I finally felt like I was on the right track and finished the top section, I started down the body and all was okay for awhile and then I started knitting tighter for some reason and the fabric started feeling "off".

20:  So what are you going to do about that?

TCSL:  I did what Stella always says "Take it back out and do it right."  I unraveled it all the way back to the bottom of the yoke last night and I am going to go up a needle size which will make the stitches bigger and the fabric softer and smushy-er and I'm going to pay more attention this time.

20:  That sounds like a good plan.  So other than the sled runner issues, how have you enjoyed the trail so far?

TCSL:  Honestly, the trail this year has been one of the prettier ones.  We got all sorts of beautiful snow early on and Pip and I really enjoyed that.  I took a bunch of pictures of that and all the sheep and even did some videos that I just haven't had time to edit together.  

20:  I've noticed you've been knitting in the Wool House more this race.  What changed to encourage that?

TCSL:  I loved that cute little tan couch, but it wasn't the most comfortable sled ;-).

20:  It's been fun catching up on all the Iditarod race videos and interviews up there with you as well.  

TCSL: Yes!  I've really liked being able to run my iPad up there this year.  It's been fun to keep up with the race a little better while I'm knitting.  I've listened to some good books and podcasts as well and I like that better than trying to knit watching tv in the house.

20:  What's been your favorite? 

TCSL:  Ooh, hard to pick.  I really enjoyed Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod and Dogsong both by Gary Paulson.  I listened to Call of the Wild by Jack London as well.  I liked it...I mean it's a classic, but some of it was hard to listen to.  I'm going to look for another sled dog or Iditarod story to keep us company as we get back out on the trail.  I also have a few episodes of the Iditapod to listen to.  That's a really fun podcast.  And you know, the race isn't over so there will still be more race updates from the Iditarod Insider :-).

20:  Do you think there is any chance you could still get finished before the Red Lantern?

TCSL:  Not really.  I'd have to think we are mathematically out at this point, but I'm basically okay with that.  It's disappointing for sure, but I'd rather be disappointed by not finishing quickly than disappointed in the finished sweater.   My sheep team worked hard to get us all here and I want them to be happy and proud.  Sometimes what you learn out on the trail is more important than the race itself.  I'll come off this race a much more skilled knitter...and that will help me for next year!

Mushing on!


JaneJMtl said...

A fascinating and informative interview. Mush on!

Linda said...

Great interview 20!

Bummed you had to rip back but I agree with 'rather be disappointed by not finishing quickly than disappointed in the finished sweater'

Mush on!

Michelle said...

And we learn so much from YOU!

ElaineChicago said...

Mush on. Sounds great!! That's really interesting because the one (of 3) sweaters I'm knitting now (Hamnafield by Hazel Tindall) calls for different size needles for body and yoke.

Unknown said...

Stella is is always right! darn it, LOL That was a great post, thank you for taking the time. All is well and all will be well.

Gloria said...

Thanks 20 for a great interview. You ask really good questions.
Sorry the sweater did not go as planned but it would appear you will be much happier with it after the do-over.
You should know that this year I got totally hooked on the race. I did not buy the Insider because I thought I would spend too much time on it. HA! Next year I will buy it.
Mush on. You have a while to go.

sophy0075 said...

Keep on mushing! Better to finish after the Red Lantern and to be happy with your knitting than to complete a sweater that’s a hot mess and will be shoved in a drawer to be forgotten. Muffin, Biscuit, and Mrs Pepperpot deserve better than the latter.

MarmePurl said...

20 is the best interviewer I have seen in a long time.

knitski said...

Good post and frogging well it happens. I always wonder why I wait so long to frog when no matter what deep down inside you know it has to be done.

Anchor Cottage said...

Ha Ha! The story teller in you! What a good story!

Shirley said...

Love the interview- and, great attitude! Can't wait to see the finished sweater from Team Punkin Patch.


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