Cardigans and English lessons

I must admit that this third installment of recycle-knitting has proven to be the hardest yet.  The project I unraveled wasn’t a tacky scarf or an unwearable sweater.  On the contrary, it was actually a pretty decent blanket:

I mean, it wasn’t a great blanket; It was somewhat boring and simple, but it got the job done.  I put off taking this apart until the last minute hoping that I would change my mind.  But sadly (like Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs), every time I looked at it, all I could see was all the different ways I could use that material.  Also, the fact that this blanket only cost $5 made taking it apart a lot easier.  And so, I turned the blanket into the largest ball of yarn I’ve ever seen, and then turned that ball of yarn into a bunch of knitted panels:

And then after I made the panels, I stitched them together and made a raglan cardigan (“raglan”, I learned, means that the sleeves are attached directly from the collar and not from the shoulder).  My friend, Kirstie, came over for a photo shoot:

And then she left and the real photo shoot began:

Although this project took a lot longer than some of the other things I’ve made, I’m very pleased with the fruits my labor bore.  Firstly, the trellis pattern on the back and the cable seed stitches on the front look really complicated, but are actually very easy to learn and memorize, so I was able to knit most of this without looking at the pattern constantly.  Here’s a close-up of that seed stitch on the front panels:

It somewhat resembles the horseshoe cable, but is a bit more effeminate.  Also, the fact that this is basically a blanket in cardigan form ensures that this can keep you warm on a chilly night (It is essentially a Snuggie that you can wear without losing your dignity) and the white color gives it a more formal feel.  Lastly, blocking completely saved this project. Before blocking, the sleeves were incredibly skinny.  But after a night pinned to my broken piece of cardboard, this baby came out nice and normal fitting!  One more reason why you should always take the extra time to block your project.

Sadly, I did not make up this pattern myself.  It is available on Ravelry as a free download and is called “Aidez.”  Don’t be intimidated by the complex notation of the pattern.  It really is simple when you just sit down and read it through.  If Lam can knit, so can you!

As I said before, this cardigan took awhile to make, and the majority of work happened while studying magnetism and Faraday’s Law in my room, which I share with my roommate.  And for those of you who don’t know, my roommate for this semester is an international student from Korea who is studying for his TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).  Add this to the fact that I am a linguistics major who loves phonetics and phonology and you can just imagine the type of conversations we have.  Sometimes he will just recite to me different speeches he’s memorized, such as warnings against voice phishing, the consequences of bullying, the death of Kim Jong-il, and Ellen Degeneres’ commencement speech at Tulane University.  Other time’s he’ll ask me about specific words.  It usually starts at around midnight, with both of us at our respective desks.  I’m knitting and he’s watching K-Pop Star:

Roommate: Hey, Danier (Not racist because he actually says this), are you busy?

Me: No, what’s up?

Roommate: How do you say, um, goll.

Me: You mean “gall”?  It’s an “ah” sound. Ah.  G-ah-ll.

Roommate: Goll.

Me: Gall.

Roommate: Goll.

Me: Gall.

Roommate: Goll.

Me: Gall.  Gall.  Gall.  Gall.

Roomate: Goll.  Goll.  Goll.  Goll.

This goes on for five minutes until I learn that he is actually trying to say “girl,” and not “gall.”  Then the conversation looks like this:

Roommate: Goll.

Me: Girl.

Rooommate: Goll.

Me: Girl.

Roommate: Goll.

Me: Girl.  Girl.  Girl.

Roommate: Goll.  Goll.  Goll.

And after some time, I start to get really invested in his pronunciation and try to teach him some linguistics.  So much so that I’ll put a chopstick in his mouth to force his tongue into the right configuration for a bunched tongue r (rather than the one made on the alveolar ridge), which Korean and many other language do not have.  By the end of the night, we’ve pared down the problem to just a single sound, so our conversation sounds like this:

Me: Er.

Roommate: Ol.

Me: Er.

Roommate: Ol.

Me: No, I saw your tongue go up. Keep it down.

Roommate:  Ol.  Oaghlr (at this point I put a chopstick in his mouth to prevent his tongue from going up.  Gag reflex and gargling sounds ensue)

Finally, due to exhaustion or a bleeding mouth, we decide to call it a night.  I’m pretty sure after a week of this I will have scarred him for life, making him averse to all things rhotic, but I’ve made it my semester goal to make sure that he produces the perfect bunched tongue r.  Whether or not it’s done with my hand in his mouth is completely up to him.

***In 1986, Ellen Degeneres became the first woman to be asked to sit down with Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

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