A Texan Knits and Crochets in Italy

Go Team!

The Winter Olympic flame flared and faded, and with it my Olympic dream came and went (until next time, anyway). I knew that my trip to Italy and the mosaic workshop would cut seriously into my knitting time. How could I know that my classmates would be so genial? How could I predict that we would spend each evening relaxing over delicious Italian food and talking, talking, talking? How could I imagine that sitting around making mosaics and walking all over town in the fresh air would wear me out so much?

Eat First, then Knit

I hope I can make it up to Team Italy with my enthusiastic descriptions of the wonderful time I had in Ravenna and Venice. Maybe I should have joined the Mosaic Olympic Team! The gold would have been mine, for sure. Ah, hindsight is so clear.

back of Suzann's red poncho

In a serious bid to catch up on the knitting for my Olympic project, I knitted on the train to Venice and back. On my last day in Italy, I knitted on the train back to Bologna, looking up every once in a while to admire the neatly pruned orchards and vineyards, all ready for spring.

I spent all afternoon in my hotel in Bologna knitting and watching, or rather listening, to BBC World on the TV. Some comments by the newscasters made me fear that the Olympic flame was already out! But no, I flipped to an Italian station a little after 8 p.m. and found the closing ceremonies.

No supper for me, feverishly knitting the last few sections of my poncho. I was grafting the seam, when the Olympic committee president said, “Arrivederci, Torino!” Luckily, he went on to repeat his speech in English and French. And of course there were a few more speeches, and I kept my head down, working away.

Because the TV announcers spoke Italian, I didn’t know the exact moment the flame went out. Piecing together the events from a newspaper account, I realized that I was probably still grafting when the deadline passed.

Suzann and Ella's new ponchos

Even without the fabulous gold knitting Olympics medal, I am a winner, because the project is done. It’s a poncho, straight across the front, going down to a point in the back. I used less than 3.5 oz of Habu’s 100% linen shosenshi paper with viscose sizing, knitted on size 8 needles. To make the neck narrower than the hem, I used short row shaping.

Ella's new poncho--she loves it!

I started crocheting Ella’s international poncho at the Bologna Airport. I put it down to admire miles and miles of rugged Alps: snow-covered crags tinged with the faintest yellow by early morning sunlight, and casting long blue shadows.

At London’s Gatwick Airport, I picked up the poncho again and crocheted between meals and movies, over the northern Atlantic, and across snowy and icy north-eastern Canada. Just when I thought the landscape couldn’t look any more barren, I saw plowed fields. It will be a while before anything can sprout up there.

By the time we reached DFW, the poncho was all crocheted. We added fringe and a tie at home. Now all the girls of the family have a poncho.

* * *

How do you like our daffodils? They are very welcome after our cold, dry, brown winter. Here’s another reminder that spring is on its way: a bluebonnet seedling! The bluebonnets are very late coming up this year, because of the drought. Better late than never.

tiny bluebonnet seedling

More to come about Ravenna, its mosaics, and my finished mosaics.

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