Friday, December 28, 2007

In which I recount

  1. your best FO of the year
    Without a doubt, my Mystery Stole (Charcoal Swan). I'm still somewhat amazed that I went from a laborious garter-stitch kitchen-cotton baby kimono (which I love, don't get me wrong) in June of 2006 to a six-foot lace-weight short-rowed stole in June (July...August...September...October...) of 2007
  2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to
    I don't link to any blogs (should I?) but the two knitters' accomplishments I most admire are: Deb Barnhill's 52-pair plunge and Toni's non-buying-stuff-for-a-month.
  3. best yarn you tried
    Winner: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I wish it were more affordable...
    Runners Up: Zephyr Wool Silk (laceweight) and Panda Wool (bamboo/wool sock yarn)
  4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007
    book: New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi. I just enjoy reading it for the way it makes me think about knitting. I have it on my bedside table.
    magazine: I bought my first issue of Interweave Knits in 2007, so that counts for me.
    pattern: Cat's Coriolis Sock. So simple, so beautiful, so adaptable.
  5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
    Cheap and genius: Using blue painters' tape to mark my place in a complex chart or pattern.
    Medium and genius: KnitPicks' Options Needles
    'Spensive and genius: Knitting.
  6. top 5 inspirations–what five things inspired you the most over the past year?
    ...A Cardigan for Arwen in the winter '06 IK...
    ...Elizabeth Zimmermann's writing voice and the way I imagine knitted items growing organically from the needles when I read her books...
    ...Designer Annie Modesitt's unflinching account of her family's trials (Annie, if you are reading this, I am in awe of your courage as a wife, mother, writer, knitter, and designer)...
    ...Alice Starmore. I read Aran Knitting and it changed my life--I'd buy it if I ever had a spare $150 hanging around (damn you, eBay)... own need to learn and grow as a knitter and thinker and writer...
  7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year
    Stefanie Japel. Ever since I saw this sweater in the spring 2007 IK, I was hooked on her simple and stylish top-down designs.
  8. knitting resolutions for 2008–what’s next for you and your blog?
    Well...a man-size sweater for hubby...a me-size sweater for me...socks from my new Noro! Sock! Yarn!...continuing to refine my own skills...possibly the next Mystery Stole? And I'd like to learn to knit either combination or continental. Blog resolution Numero Uno: Pictures must rejoin the Knitsmith-Wordpurl experience! And I'd like to get some of the articulate and thought-provoking posts that occur In My Head out onto my virtual page.

Monday, December 17, 2007

In which I make gifts

I was just reading this post from Posie Gets Cozy (is it weird that I want to move to Portland and beherbestfriend?) and laughing about men. Because men think they're so easy to buy for and they are so hard to buy for and it is almost Christmas and I have Not. One. Idea what to purchase for my everloving spouse.

That said, I am loving the slipperclogs I'm making for my parents. I know I'm late to the clog party (8 million pairs showcased on ravelry can't be wrong) but I'm amazed at how quickly they are working up. I started on Thursday night and, four days later, already have one (blue and green, mens M) done for Dad and one (red and brown, womens M) done for Mom. Since they won't be here until the 26th or 27th, I think this technically means that I am ahead in exactly one thing in my life. And, this week, I'll take it.

Deets: The ubiquitous Fibertrends clog pattern, size 13 Addi Turbo needle (ouch, that added to the bottom line of this gift), Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, colors Blue Flannel and Christmas Green for Dad, Red Hot Passion and Sable for Mom. Mr. D helped me pick the colors--he's such a champ. The pattern calls for double-stranding worsted weight, but my yarn store lady (Dee Dee at Apple Yarns, love her!) recommended the bulky. More Cost Effective. Half The Balls To Fuss With. Sign Me Up.

Gee, Santa, will you bring me a new computer so I can save some photos for the blog, please? And, while you're at it, bring a spare gift for M because I'm fresh out of romantic yet practical ideas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In which I pester Santa

Dear Santa,

I guess it's a bit late to be sending off my wish list, but, as you know, in my struggle to be a "good girl" this year I seem to be lacking one important commodity: time. Is it too late to write to you?

No? Thanks so much. Have I mentioned you seem to have lost a few pounds?

Anyway, Santa, what I really want this year is an extra 3 or 4 hours in the day. Or maybe just a bank of hours to use in a discretionary fashion. You decide. OK?

What will I do with these hours?

Well, I hadn't really thought in depth about how 'd spend them. And, Santa, to be perfectly honest, I'd like to say I'd use them for all sorts of responsible things like bill paying, bathroom cleaning, and flowerbed weeding. But you know me too well to believe that.

Mostly I think I'd use them for knitting, reading, playing with the kids, and hanging out with my husband. On days before posting grades I'd probably use them for emergency essay-reading time; on days before we have company there'd probably be some crazy housecleaning action.

Yes, I know that the list I e-mailed to my family was full of knitting books and DVDs. The problem is, Santa, that I don't have TIME for the DVDs or the knitting books without the hours. And you're the only supernatural person I know.

No you're right, God and Jesus count, too. And Christmas is still part of their jurisdiction, I know.

But somehow I suspect that Jesus would ask me to look at the mote in my own eye, first, before requesting a special beam from him. Jesus would probably say, Dana, my beloved daughter, those minutes that you spend on e-mail or Blogger or the New York Times--those are the minutes that you could use for this stuff that you say is your priority. And for every hour you lie awake discontented about your life, you could spend an hour getting your life in order. And for every hour you procrastinate on grading, my dear one, you could be grading for an hour and going home with a clear conscience. And every second that you walk past that mess could be a second you use to stop and clean it up.

I agree, Santa, I think Jesus gives great advice. It's just that it's a little harder to hear than a jolly Ho-Ho-Ho-here-you-go!, you know?

This is the problem with grown-up letters to you, Saint Nick...the things you bring don't scratch my itches any more. It seems like what will really help me this Christmas is to give myself a few gifts. And that's a lot more work than unwrapping a box.

But if you could tuck season 5 of Buffy into your big red bag--that'd be awesome.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

In which I rethink

Well, clearly daily blogging isn't for me this tim of year. There have been two days I haven't even come close to my home computer...and we are firewalled out of blogger at work (probably a good idea).

4x week?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

In which it snows

It was raining and pouring the other it's snowing.

28 degrees F is very cold for my area. Drivers do not know how to cope, unless they are very competent (like my spouse, who despite being a wet-sider does not seem to equate snow with imminent vehicular destruction and death) or grew up in a snowy climate, like myself or my mother-in-law. (We grew up in Spokane and Minnesota, respectively.)

I realize, though, when it snows here how much I miss actual winter. considering I no longer ski, it shouldn't make that big of a difference in my everyday life, but it does. I miss the serenity...the quitness...the remembrance that humans are not all-powerful...the fun, the cold, the boots, the wet mittens, the sledding, the snowmen, and the just plain everydayness of stomping your feet when you come inside, grateful for warmth.

So now the question is: will we have school tomorrow? After last school year's record seven snow days (due to major snows after thanksgiving then our big wind storms and power outages in December), the district made some scheduling changes. But we are still likely to go out at a moment's notice...

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In which it rains and pours

You've probably seen the news about all of the flooding here in Western Washington. It hasn't affected my area much, though I have seen some uncharacteristically horrendous downpours this past two weeks. We get a lot of steady and light rainfall here, usually accompanied by wind, but nothing like the torrential, soaking storms we used to see when we lived in Houston.

(Incidentally, Houston and Seattle get about the same amount of annual rainfall. It's true! The Internet says so!)

Along with the weather, this has been a week of extremes here in my household.

Extreme sickness: Baby E has the rotavirus, which has put us on a diarrhea carousel. (Sorry for the yucky metaphor there.) She missed daycare on Friday, Monday, a half day yesterday, and I'm home with her again today. It's nothing dangerous, we just have to watch for dehydration, and today she finally seems to have kicked it. (Cross your fingers.) On Monday I spent most of my afternoon and evening helping my sister-in-law who came down with some sort of horrible virus herself and needed to be put on an IV at the student health center and then at the emergency room. I am taking my vitamin C and hoping to make it through until December 21st when for two blessed weeks I can get as sick as I want to and not miss work. Which brings me to:

Extreme use of sick days: So for every day a baby can't go to day care, a mom or dad has to stay home. I'm burning through my sick days like a champ, going on 2.5 this week. (Um, why did I want to go back to work?) I think I'm averaging a half sick day per week for the school year, all but one of these for my kids. Thank goodness for a union job and 12 + 2 sick days! And thank goodness for my new sub I discovered who is actually an English teacher! Makes me feel better (slightly) about being gone. I'm trying to see the time as a blessing--how often do Baby E and I get time just to hang out and do girly stuff like go shopping? (Yes, I know, she's only 1. But it's still fun.) Today since she was feeling better we took care of some Christmas errands, heading out to my LYS and JoAnn. Where I experienced:

Extreme pattern and yarn overload: The winter Knitty came out today! And I bought the winter IK today whilst at Apple Yarns (my subscription lapsed). I was literally gasping over some of the designs. Wow. There are SO MANY I want to make! SO MANY...sigh...
I petted the yarn for a while at AY and ordered the Felted Clogs pattern (my folks want slippers for Christmas--will I make the deadline??) and then E and I wandered down to Footworx on a mission to get my Harley-riding father-in-law a pair of manly wool socks. And I experienced:

Extreme sticker shock: Um, SmartWool socks are expensive. I'm sure they're great and all, but if I'm going to pay $18 for a pair of socks, I at least want the pleasure of KNITTING them. Or they should be made of gold. But that's what he wants, and I don't realistically have time to knit him a manly-colored pair, so I ordered them and swallowed my knitterly pride. Maybe for his birthday.

All right, I am extremely behind on the household chores I thought I'd get done today, so here I go off to make the most of my unexpected day. The sun has come out for the first time in weeks and I am glad to see it...I'm thinking laundry, then vacuuming, then time out for some knitting and a movie.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In which I draft

I posted post #101 the other day. (Yes, I'm bad at marking significant dates.) That is, I THINK I did...but as I scrolled through my post manager, I noticed something odd: TONS of draft posts that never saw the light of day.

I'm a perfectionist, and as such have a hard time not being perfect at things. Knitblogging without hard drive space, for instance, is driving me nuts! No pictures, as I must have said a thousand times before on here, equals boring bad knitblog equals me not wanting to blog and then missing the blog and then feeling like a blog poseur for having a blog that gets updated approximately as often as my husband will relent and purchase new underwear. That is, not fricking often.

At the same time, I want this to be more than my knitblog. Because progress photos and lists of purchases, especially when time is tight so progress is geologically slow, and money is tight so purchases are nonexistent--well, that would be ONE BORING KNITBLOG.

So here's my end of 2007 resolution: post daily until the end of 2007, pictures or no. Try to make posts interesting (don't you hate those blogs that say things like, "There wasn't anything blogworthy this week" and then proceed to blah blah blah about minutae, but not in an interesting or thought-provoking way? Those disappear from my favorites pretty fast.)

So posts will be interesting, blogworthiness will be conjured from the depths of my most creative self.

And there are 2.5 weeks until winter break!!

Monday, December 03, 2007

In which I organize randomness

Jody tagged me for the "seven random things" meme. And I am blatantly diverting her tag and substituting another meme instead.

As Inigo would say, "Let me 'splain."

I just can't figure out anything INTERESTINGLY random! I haggle with myself and wrinkle my nose and say, "no, not random enough," and, really, the life of a 31-year old English teacher holds little randomness beyond the weird theories my students concoct as to who is actually the father of Hester Prynne's baby. (It's DIMMESDALE, people! Foreshadowing! Sheesh!) So, sorry, Jody, I just can't think of anything random. Well, I can think of Things Random, I just can't think of Interesting Things.

In college, my friend Jane and I used to say, being the J's we were (see Myers-Briggs) that we couldn't do spontaneity unless it was planned. So, in the spirit of Planned Spontaneity, I present to you Organized Randomness:

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Toy store salesclerk
2. Resident Advisor in a dorm
3. Marketing copywriter
4. English teacher and yearbook adviser (yes, "-er" is correct, check your AP stylebook)

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. When Harry Met Sally
2. Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle)
3. The Empire Strikes Back
4. Moulin Rouge

Four places I have lived:
1. Spokane, WA
2. Bellingham, WA
3. Houston, TX
4. Manhattan, KS

4. Four shows that I watch:
1. Lost
2. The Office
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. Anything on HGTV

Four places I have visited:
1. Vancouver, BC
2. New Orleans, LA
3. Prague, Czech Republic
4. Perdido, Alabama

People who e-mail me (regularly)
1. my mom
2. best friend Robbie
3. (how do they KNOW what I like to read?)
4. my sister Megan

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Pad Thai
2. Starbucks soy mocha
3. chicken and rice
4. lasagna

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. my family's cabin on Lake Pend Oreille in Idaho
2. in bed, sleeping, for 10-12 uninterrupted hours
3. New York City
4. in a comfy chair in a coffeeshop, drinking the aforementioned soy mocha and knitting

Things I am looking forward to in 2008:
1. Getting our VW camper spiffed up and taking a long road trip in July
2. having a bit more spending money now that I'm back at work, the car's almost paid off, and Christmas will be over
3. Knitting my husband a sweater
4.Reading Hamlet with my 10th graders

(side note: looking ahead to 2008 already? yipes!)
(side note 2: I have seen this meme before in various incarnations, but this particular list was inspired by Knits With Cats, which I randomly clicked to today. How fitting.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

In which I bemoan my hard drive

So: the good news: we have replaced the camera cable (only took us 3 months) and now have uploading capability once more. Huzzah!

The bad news: our hard drive is AT CAPACITY. We can't foer the life of us figure out how or why. We moved all of our iTunes and our iPhoto files to a peripheral hard drive last year...but this 8-year-old purple iMac with its itsy-bitsy 10 gig hard drive is simply stuffed.

Side note: remember when 1 gig was huge? Now one gig is a key chain, and I'm complaining to the guys at the Mac store on Friday night--I was dropping off three of my school lab computers, long story--that the new iPod touch, which I covet covet COVET is "too small to be practical."

Anyway, the Grape Ape here didn't even have enough memory to make a new FOLDER for me to put in my one knitting photo so's I could link it here. That's how dire the situation is. And it leaves me yet a photo-less knitblogger. I think the issue is that we're still running both OS X and OS 9, since much, ok, most, ok, ALL of our software is pre-21st century. Might be time to let go of a) the "Classic" environment or b) the computer itself.

Here's a list of works in progress:

  1. Celtic Cap, in black Cascade 220 superwash, for M. I'm making it on size 7s (my last one was on 6s) with a 1.25" hem instead of the rollbrim in the hopes it will fit his huge-ish noggin (24.5"). I'm a little nervous that I may not have enough yarn because the hem, of course, ate up a lot of real estate. (Should have used a different color on the inside of the hem. D'oh.) Worst comes to worst? I'll frog back to the halfway point and finish in a different color--I don't think I can match this yarn because I lost the ballband and the store where I bought it closed in August.
    I'm on row 28 of the 48-row chart; over halfway row-wise but (obviously) more like 3/4 yarn-wise since we're decreasing every 3-4 rows.
  2. Baby E's sweater: still on the left front.
  3. Panda Wool socks: riverbed architecture from New Pathways for Sock Knitters. Size 1s. For me! Moving up the leg on sock 1.
  4. two cabled baby hats in my school colors for colleauges with new babies. Hope they still fit by the time I finish. Another colleague just adopted a child from Ethiopia, so I need to get a child-sized one on the needles for him.
  5. NO LACE!
Happy Thanksgiving--I'm hoping to be thankful for some hard drive space.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

In which pandas mate with sheep

Reward yarn. Is there any better?

Now that Swan Lake is behind me (and never mind baby E's sweater) I craved a trip to the yarn store. And I wanted to reward myself with Cat Bordhi's new book. So down to Apple Yarns I went yesterday, snagging two balls of Crystal Palace Panda Wool (bamboo/wool blend) and New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I know I could have gotten New Pathways cheaper elsewhere (I paid $28.95), but I really want Apple Yarns to stick around for a while. So I'm choosing local.

Both purchases: fabu. The yarn is smooth and warm and swatches up well on size 1s. The colorway I chose is greens, yellows, and sort of browns and blues--I thought they could be my Friday school pride socks, since the primary colors, at least in the ball, are green and gold.

The book: ingenious. I've already done two of the basic coriolis pathway, from when Cat was on Knitty Gritty, so now I'm trying to decide whether I want to go toe-up or toe-down, and which pathway to explore. I usually think the word "genius" is overused, but in this case I can't think of a better descriptor. How else do you describe someone who has engineered eight revolutionary ways of creating socks? Plus 28 patterns? And made it understandable to someone with basic knitting skills?

Bless you, Cat!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

In which I fall, reluctantly, in love

Swan Lake is blocked, and I looooooooooove her.

Much has been said on the internets about the miracle that is blocking lace. I didn't do anything special--just a soaking-through in the bathroom sink with some Suave lavender shampoo, then a rolling-up in a towel to get out most of the moisture, then a stretching-out and pinning-down with plain old sewing pins on the hide-a-bed downstairs while watching "30 Rock" (my new favorite show).

And, lo and behold: Friday morning the wrinkly, crinkly, bubbly mass had transformed--spread its wings, as it were--into a soft, fluid, drapey charcoal-gray fabric punctuated by hematite gleams.

I'm ordering Romi's swan pin. Now. I crave wearing this stole like I crave a Diet Coke during fifth period (Oy! those sophomores have ENERGY TO BURN!) I NEED to wear it.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

In which the ugly duckling swims

I just cast off my Mystery Stole, aka Swan Lake. It's a bit of an ugly duckling still, pre-blocking, but it's off the needles and ready to go from duckling to swan. Hooray!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In which I still have no pictures

First it was the mysterious "loss" of the camera, which, of course, I found where I had stashed it, in the garage, in a pile. (That's pretty much where I find most things I've lost.)

Now it's the mysterious loss of the camera cord. I'm still pretty sure I left it at a workshop in August (August!!) but since I already e-mailed the person at the workshop location and thus discovered I had ALSO left the power supply for the school laptop there, and that's the cord she thought I was e-mailing about, and thankfully she returned it quickly so I didn't have to pay oodles for a new one, and so I'm sort of sheepish to ask for my camera cord, too.

But a knitblog is not a knitblog without pictures! So I plan on getting us a card reader--an eminently practical and helpful device, I'm finding at school--so if and when we upgrade our camera, the cost of replacing a cord won't be a waste. Because I would have not done so. If that makes sense.

(MOTTO: We meant to to post, but...)

  • the knitting has been sparse. Still slogging on MS3 (10 rows from the finish line, though, so perhaps this week!) and am bound and determined not to give in to start-itis until that damn stole is finished. Because I know myself, and the stole will be sitting forever. I still think it's pretty, and I'm still glad I did it, if only for the skillz I've learned, but as I knit on and on and on I came to the realization that I literally could have clothed my whole family in an EZ or Barbara Walker or Stefanie Japel seamless design in the time I've spent with the size 4s and the laceweight. Plus hats.
  • School. Essays. Yearbook. Translation: reality.
  • Blogger + my 2000 vintage iMac = trubs. This new "autosave" feature, well, it may be autosaving, but it is autoslow. I think each keystroke has to first travel transcontinental by pony then bounce back via trampoline to my screen. I make jillions of typos, and I get frustrated--it's like one of those typing tests in keyboarding class where you can't see what you're typing and then you get graded on speed and accuracy. Yes, i could be typing in Word or Text Edit and then cutting/pasting, but ...
  • ... I am lazy.
  • ... clarification: lazy about blogging. I am working at hyperspeed in everything else. (Except housework.)
  • I've also decided to branch out from knitting here. There's only so much I can say about my projects, much as I love them, and I have a lot of other stuff to say about things that are only tangentially related to knitting, i.e., they are part of my life, and I also knit. So...
Deep breath, plunge in--pictures soon, and thanks for reading.

Monday, September 17, 2007

In which school ate my brain

Two weeks into the school year, I remember what life used to be like. Up at the bumcrack of dawn, ready me, ready kiddos, drop off, plan plan, teach teach teach, yearbook yearbook, grade, copy, visit, pick up kids, home, dinner, baths, stories, grade some more (or maybe just procrastinate), to bed, lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm trying to keep my NEW favorite verb in there: knit.

MS3 update: I finally finished clue 6 and am about 10 rows into clue 7. Wahoo! I had to rip back about 20 or 30 long rows when the slip stitch at the short-rowed join slithered off the needles and wiggled down. Trying to hook it all back up proved to be just too confusing: p2togs, plus yos, plus the short rows? No can do. It was about 50 rows back to my nearest lifeline, unfortunately, but when I was ripping I was able to pick up -- carefully! -- a purl row without a lifeline. Thank goodness for the peace and quiet and good lighting of my new LYS.

I'm back to being excited about this project, after a long period of sour grapes following the Escaping Slip Stitch and the stole's Subsequent Incarceration ("I wouldn't have worn a stole, anyway; humph!") But now that I'm closer to completion and keep seeing the lovely stoles posted on the yahoo site, I am jonesing to be done.

That said, when I realized the other day that I probably could have knit both me AND M sweaters in the time it's taken to make a stole which will get sporadic use, if any, I think I may hang up my large-scale-lace spurs for good. Melanie's designs are gorgeous, but when all's said and done, I think I'd rather have an Aran sweater.

(Of course, never have I done so much knitting for so little moolah; lace and socks are truly the more-bang-for-your-buck options for us knitters of little budget.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

In which I steal a time-out

What is the etymology of "stole," I wonder? Does it have anything to do with the verb?

My stole, little thief that it is, has taken me for a joy ride. The kind of joy ride that ends with a white bronco pursued by police and helicopters at 10 mph on a freeway somewhere; the kind of joy ride that ends with a red Chevy Malibu on fire on the side of the road, teenage hoodlums fleeing the scene on foot. Rubberneckers beware!

Lace hubris has done me in. Zipping along (for me, that is) on clue 6, nearly halfway through, I thought about placing a lifeline. Next row, I thought. I'll just count this one and make sure I'm still on track. Maybe I don't need a lifeline at all. Breezily, I began to count the tidy line of purls I had just completed.

And, as I blissfully counted, humming a merry lace-expert sort of tune, the YO stitch at the end of the short row--so in the middle of my circular--surreptitiously hopped off and dropped about 15 rows down. It's hard to tell, because in trying to fix this error, I realized that I can read lace when I'm doing it, I can even fix small errors and tink back successfully, but I can't for the grace of sweet Horus figure out how to repair a line of dropped yarn overs. Just. Can't. Do. It.

I'm off to the yarn store this afternoon to beg help. And perhaps whiskey.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In which I trust too much, too soon

I have a habit of trusting. Trusting directions, trusting signs, trusting people. Over the years this has usually been a good habit, albeit one that has led to several bad haircuts (a spiral perm would look great on you!), a wild goose chase for the San Jacinto Monument near Houston (slough? what slough?), and a couple of spectacularly painful breakups.

This time it was not my hair, thank goodness, but something nearly as important to my current psyche: my camera cord. The umbilicus that transcends time and space to pour my photos into my hard drive.

And whom, you ask, did I trust? (Who? whom? You'd think I'd know that one but it's still frickin painful for me.)

My students.

Don't get me wrong--I make a business and a policy of trusting the fifteen-to-eighteen-year-olds with whom I spend my days. (I KNOW for a fact whom is correct in THAT sentence.) I don't think I could teach high school if I couldn't trust them. I just make very sure that they know the natural consequences that will arise should my trust prove to have been invested poorly. I'm sort of the mortgage broker of the trust world.

I'm just meeting this current set of students, most of whom (there it is again!) I have not had in class due to my Year Of The Bambinos. And they borrowed my camera cord. And it did not return. Alas. Note to self: trust teenagers, but always double-check the camera case.

So no photos until I can get/find a replacement--which is probably a good thing considering that MS3 seems to have stalled even though I swear I'm doing a good 10 rows a day...and Baby E's sweater is a back and a couple of hems, and everything else is only in my head...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

In which I see with fresh eyes

This is Isabella. She is a Jordana Paige design, found in the spring 2007 Knitty.

I know I must have seen her before. After all, I obsessively read Knitty, virtual cover to cover. But I guess I never truly saw her until today. Suddenly I must have her. She is my everything. Never mind the Cascade Pastaza waiting patiently downstairs to be wound and knitted into a kick-ass Stefanie Japel design. never mind the mystery stole, languishing away in the middle of clue 5. never mind the slippers I promised my dad for his birthday (in May).

She's all I can think about.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In which the magic happens

Socks are magical.

I made my first pair last fall and was immediately hooked. It seems I'm not alone, judging by the number of sock-making books I've seen reviewed lately.

Cat Bordhi's Coriolis design is especially genius. (And free, even better, though I know I'm going to buy the new book as soon as possible.) The yarn is held doubled, so the result is a thick, squishy pair of warm socks.

Yarn: 2 balls of KnitPicks Memories in Geranium. (no longer available?) I used all but about 2.5 yards of the 440--pretty proud of my efficiency!
Needles: one size 5 Addi Turbo 24", one size 5 KnitPicks Options 24" (The pattern calls for sixes, but my Austermann Step pair turned out just a touch large, so I went down a needle size)
Modifications: I changed the bindoff. The pattern calls for 5 rows of seed stitch, then a normal bindoff using 4 strands of yarn--I couldn't figure out how to do that, plus didn't want to have extra ends to weave in. Instead, I did: 4 rows of seed stitch then: k2 in pattern, return these 2 to left needle, k2tog tbl (results in one st on right needle); *k1 in pattern (2 sts on right needle), sl 2 sts to left needle, k2tog tbl. Repeat from * until all sts bound off.

Monday, August 06, 2007

In which a swallowtail takes flight

In current news, I got my Ravelry invite! Username Wordpurler--come say hi!

I'm slowly catching up my knitblogging to my actual knitting. I just love knitting so much...and we've had such a busy summer...and so much of my computer time has been taken up with MS3 e-mails...that even though I've had so much to say, not much of it has actually ended up here. That's the irony. I have a lot to say this summer...thoughts, ideas, commentary on other blogs, the purpose of blogging, courtesy on the internet, books I've read...when I started blogging, tentative as it was, I wondered if I'd have enough to say. I stressed about it being PUBLIC (as though the knitting community would be knocking down doors to find my little site, just one among the hordes, a fledgling flying with the flock). Now I wonder if I can ever stop having things to say.

Two weeks ago, we dressed up as HP characters and headed off to our local bookstore's Deathly Hallows release party. M was Professor Lupin--he really looked like him! Got double-takes all night--I was Molly Weasley, and Mr. D was Harry in his Invisibility Cloak. There were approximately 1857 kids dressed as Harry that night, but none in Invisibility Cloaks...nice.

My Molly costume looked pretty good, I thought; I bought an oversized wool cardigan at Goodwill and embroidered old knitting swatches with "M" and "W", then sewed them onto the sweater. I teased out my hair and wore bright earrings, shirt, socks, and shoes. At the last minute I decided to wear my Swallowtail shawl--I know Molly doesn't probably have much time for knitting for herself, what with all those Christmas sweaters, but if she did knit for herself, a bright red shawl seems just the ticket. I draped it over my shoulders and we set off.

It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night, and most of the festivities were outdoors on the Village Green. Fire contests...butterbeer--thank goodness for natural fibers, because my (wool) sweater and (wool) socks kept me warm and semi-dry until the craziness had ended.

There was more excitement in store for me than just finishing the saga I've been reading since 1999, though.

- to be continued -

Sunday, August 05, 2007

In which I wing it

The Mystery Stole entitled Swan Lake.

I finished Clue 4, just two days "behind", and will be continuing with the Clue 5 pattern as written, even though it now includes a WING. (Or maybe because it contains a wing!)

Being on this group has been an education in internet manners and mores, that's for sure. I have only posted a few times, but have read nearly every one of the thousands of posts/e-mails. Most are supportive, humorous, and kind...some are clueless and ungrammatical...but some folks are just plain rude, intentionally or otherwise. (Just like in real life, I guess.)

Friday, after clue 5 and the theme were announced, someone posted that they were very disappointed and that the project had been a "waste of time and materials." The poster was immediately flamed in a rally-the-troops, knitterly kind of way. I wanted to post, but I didn't want to do it in a flaming, emotional way. Because--at first I was disappointed, too. I don't know anything about ballet--I have no emotional attachment to Swan Lake--and I had really hoped the theme would be Theseus and Ariadne. But these were MY issues, not Melanie's. There was also that bit of letdown in discovering the "answer" to a mystery. No more speculation, no more suspense; it is what it is, and it is Swan Lake.

I thought about it for a day, and then this is what I posted:

I have to admit that I, too, had a moment of thinking of setting it down...but then I thought of all I've learned so far, the fun I'm having seeing the lace grow on my needles, and of being a part of this neat community of knitters with all our varied and various backgrounds, and I decided to keep on. I've never worn a stole before, ever, and what's the difference if it has a wing or not? I can pretend to be Louis from The Trumpet of the Swan (another favorite childhood story, along with the fairy tale of the girl spinning flax for her swan brothers to break the spell). And I may become entranced with stoles and thank Melanie my whole knitting life for creating an accessible and challenging project that started me off!

I've also been doing a lot of thinking about the conversations about and around the "Disappointed" post.

I didn't want to flame the writer, because she was clearly speaking from the heart. But what bothered me, and it's taken until today for the thought to gel in a way I could express it clearly, was what seemed to be anger at Melanie, as though the design was meant to be a trick or a "gotcha!". Anyone who has been reading Melanie's posts can see she is a thoughtful, capable, creative designer who cares very much about the experience that "her knitters" are having. But even our favorite designers don't always create items we would want to knit or wear. Hanami, Scheherezade, and Leda's Dream are each lovely, and each very different, and "Swan Lake" is different still!

We need to keep providing Melanie with feedback on how the project is going for us and how we feel about this design. After all, we're a huge pool of test knitters! Constructive criticism is an artist's most valuable information.

That said, there's a big difference between providing constructive criticism and being just plain critical. Every comment we make or question we bring up as we work our way through this project is helpful to Melanie in creating her final pattern, and the vast majority of comments and questions have been helpful, interesting, and stated with kindness.

In reading the "Disappointed" post, I wasn't upset that there was a knitter who decided to set the project aside--I was upset that it was stated in a way that *seemed* like a personal attack on Melanie; it bothered me because it *seemed* discourteous, not because I thought the author should lock-step-knit her way to a stole she's not crazy about.

Aside from the tips and tricks for creating wonderful/airy/warm/winged lace, the funny/heartwarming/exciting/amazing stories (Matilda danced with both Nureyev AND Baryshnikov? I'm trembling), my most valuable takeaway from this is the 30% Nicer rule of thumb on internet communications.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In which it's a small world, after all

Got my e-mail from Amy Singer today: two new patterns for summer up on

I checked out the everlasting bagstopper--great idea, and I, too, always forget my reusable bags. OK, I think, this one might go on the list as long as hemp yarn isn't too expensive.

Then, even though I am SO not in the market for another top, I checked out Emerald Seas. Cute! I'd like to knit it, I think, and it's cool that the person is from the Pacific Northwest, like me, and I'm looking at the photos and I think: huh. That water? That looks like my bay. Those islands in the background? Those look like my background islands, the San Juans. That path winding through the waterside park? Looks like my path winding through a waterside park, in fact, wasn't I just chasing a four-year-old on a bike on that path??

I read the bio, and only says "Washington State." (Because, pet peeve, when we Washingtonians are out of town and self-identifying, we always have to say we're from Washington STATE otherwise people think we're from Washington D. C., and I think it sounds dorky.) So I do some quick clicking and it turns out that the designer is an instructor at my local community college.

Small world. (Good thing I'm not a stalker; I now know her e-mail, office location, and what classes she's teaching next quarter. Kinda cool, kinda creepy.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

In which I unravel

I read on a MS3-er's blog (don't remember whose, sorry!) that ravelry now has a feature where you can look up your position in the queue.

If they're inviting about 1200 people/week, I should be in by the end of the month, possibly mid-August:

  • You signed up on June 8, 2007
  • You are #7745 on the list.
  • 1681 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 10827 people are behind you in line.
  • 32% of the list has been invited so far
I have mixed feelings about this. I think ravelry is extremely well organized and a fantabulous tool for the serious knitter/fiber artist. However, I need another knitting-related time-suck like I need a hole in the head, especially since I'll soon be returning from my Year of Knitting Bliss (aka maternity leave) to the year of Oh Hell I Have 120 Essays to Grade By Tomorrow Not To Mention A Forty-Eight-Page Yearbook Deadline.

If I don't start a knitting group at school, I may never knit again.

In which I admit my addiction(s)

I said I wouldn't do it. I said I'd pace myself. The knitting world needs this pattern to be shared in a step-by-step fashion, so knitters everywhere can rejoice in its freshness, revel in its genius, relax into its rhythm.

But I couldn't help myself.

No, I'm not talking about Melanie's gorgeous lace (look, see, wow!: clue 3 done before clue four comes out tomorrow!), though of course I could be.

I'm talking about this pattern:

The start of my second pair of Coriolis socks. (Cat, when is this book coming out anyway?????)

I finished the MS3 Clue 3 chart on Tuesday night and immediately went into withdrawals. So, Wednesday, I dug this KnitPicks Memories (Geranium colorway, reds and pinks and greens, I don't think it's available any more) out of my stashette, and cast on again, this time using size 5s because the Austermann Step pair on size 6s came out a leetle bit big--just a skosh, as my mom would say. (Long o, as in most.)

The genius of this pattern is such that I, and I'm not a super fast knitter, have finished AN ENTIRE FOOT OF A SOCK in only a few knitting hours. It's some plain stockinette, some ingenious shaping, and just plain really cool. I feel like Cara on her monkey/jaywalker streaks.

So I promise to do my best to be a better blogger and record the process on Geranium Coriolis #2. But if I get the shakes and the cravings and I've already finished clue 4, and if Micah's hogging Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows (ay yi yi, so many addictions in play this week!) I reserve the right to cast on with impunity.

I bet I'll be knitting this again. And you should too.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

In which I play catch-up

I haven't posted a photo since May 29th. Of course, I've hardly blogged since then--it's not as fun without photos, right?--but I HAVE been knitting. A Lot. So it's back to the joy of writing on a nearly-daily basis. I have essays in my mind and on my mind (having just returned from AP training) and the itch to write is in my fingers. More on that another day; today is all about What's On (And Off) The Needles.

As I caught up on my documentation of Works Progressing, I noticed that, by accident, I am following the June/July colors for Project Spectrum: red, black, and metallics.

First, the Red: my lovely swallowtail shawl, which for now is gracing the back of the couch:

I finished this one up a couple of weeks ago--told myself it had to be completed before I started the Mystery Stole. I couldn't be prouder. The color, the nupps, the bindoff, the blocking--all went just so so so well. Though it matches the couch well, I do plan on wearing it; I have my eyes on this tee to go under. First day of school, anyone? (Am I the only teacher who carefully plans her first day of school outfit?)

On to the black/metallic:

Here is my Mystery Stole through the middle of the second clue, about 135 rows in. (I'm up to row 179 now, in clue 3, but haven't taken photos of it yet.) The color is a charcoal grey, but looks washed out here; the beads are a metallic mix with a variety of sheens; some look like silvery hematite, others coppery, others golden, others almost black. I'll try to get a better closeup and post my theme guesses soon.

And, finally, the redANDblack project: Cat Bordhi's Coriolis sock:
This project also deserves a post of its own; to understand the genius that is this design, just take a gander at this--it's the toe.

Intrigued? More soon!

Friday, July 06, 2007

In which I return!

I'm back! And the camera has returned! Someone, likely me, set it inside a box under a box in the garage. Yay! Only took a month for us to find it...

So--photos soon!

Friday, June 22, 2007

In which my soul finds me?

In which the excitement mounts

The mystery shawl listserv is heating the tune of thousands of participants and the resulting hundreds of emails a day (yipe!). Lots of folks have chosen Zephyr in the Ebony, Vanilla, and Pewter colorways; I haven't seen anyone else with the Charcoal. Marilyn's didn't have Pewter, just Steel and Charcoal, cool and warm; now I'm having a teensy bit of buyer's remorse. Is Pewter the color of my dreams? I really like the warm grey of the Charcoal, though, so I just need to stand strong. Now the question is: to bead, or not to bead?

I actually have some prepwork to do before I go off to my AP English training next week; choosing a variety of essays from the 19th and 20th centuries and deciding what knitting project(s) to bring to the hotel (a hotel! for 4 days! with only sporadic children! And a laptop!)--these are the kind of decisions I like to make.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In which a mystery finds me

I am insane. Officially.

Haven't finished the swallowtail shawl, but saw Kay's post on the Mystery Stole 3 project and, impulsively, joined. My inbox is now brimming with lacy goodness, two balls of Jaggerspun Zephyr, charcoal colorway, now sit in my yarn bin, and I'm contemplating seed beads. No joke.

I love this community, I love this feeling of being a part of something big and creative and international and overwhelming and challenging, and I can't wait to start the stole.

That said, I am heading out of town for an indeterminate amount of time because my grandpa is sick. I hope to finish the swallowtail soon, but who knows? With two kids and lots of hospital time...they sort of balance each other out in terms of knitting time. Which stinks, because when I am upset and nervous I can really use something to put my hands to use.

Oh, and I forgot to say that a big factor for me in signing up for MS3 was that the designer, Melanie, is allowing an extra week around the Harry Potter book release. We get our clue early, and we get two weeks until the next clue (i.e. portion of the pattern). A woman after my own heart.

Friday, June 15, 2007

In which I mourn my camera

The camera is...most likely...a casualty of my casual relationship with possessions.

Hence the week-long lapse in's not that fun to read a knitblog without photos, is it?

I did finish the Stefanie Japel shrug, and wore it out and about on Wednesday. I kept wanting people to stop and say, "Did you KNIT that?!" as though it were obvious; had to keep remind myself of my mom's rule--handed down from Aunt Iva, of course--that one strives to make clothing that DOESN'T look homemade.

The shrug turned out really well (imagine photo here!), but I'm not sure that I'm crazy about the Cascade 220 superwash. After washing and blocking, the fabric has a sort of floppy quality that seems rather un-wooly. There's a good review of it here--it's always nice to find a link that expresses my opinion for me. If I were to make this again I think I'd go with plain old Cascade 220.

Next projects? Well, I still need to finish my swallowtail shawl...I have the gorgeous yarn for another sweater out of Fitted Knits...and some sock yarn that's calling my name. I'm ready to tackle Cat Bordhi's Coriolis sock.

Friday, June 08, 2007

In which I (almost) panic

It's been a week and we still can't find the camera. This is pretty typical for me; I lose stuff ALL THE TIME and I'm usually zen about it: if you love it, set it free and it will come back to you. I once found a gold ring in the dryer that I'd lost two years previously.

That said, I don't have any idea where the camera could be hiding.

This really stinks, because not only did I have some good knitting pictures on it that hadn't yet been downloaded, I also had some shots of the TRIPLET fawns that have been visiting us in the mornings, as well as a golden hummingbird who stopped by to take a bath in our sprinkler the other evening.

The two-tone shrug is progressing well; I've reached row 10 of the ribbing (of 24-ish rows). And I LOVE LOVE LOVE my KP options needles with a burning love not matched since John Campbell in ninth grade (and I cruised the hallways for hours just to catch a glimpse of his hot curly head). I love being able to trade and try and switch and swatch and keep them all in their cute little organized binder. Those KnitPicksers have really got it going on; just what I'd expect for a business based in my home state (Go Washington!).

Monday, June 04, 2007

In which I receive my birthday present

My birthday present; my preciousss.

It arrived today--so small, yet containing so much power. With its contents, I will unlock the very fiber of the knitting universe; I will hold the key to spot-on gauge from fingering to bulky. I'll crook my finger; the fabric will respond, under the spell of my nickel-plated instruments.

I have invested in the KnitPicks Options needle set.

(I'd love to post pictures of my precious, but the camera has gone on walkabout. Both M and I remember setting it out to take to a wedding on Saturday, but for the life of us we can't lay hands on the little bugger.)

Mr D helped me unwrap everything and get my notebook of needles set up. I love the ingeniousness of it all. I haven't actually knit any stitches with them yet but hope to do so tonight. I'm about halfway through the ribbing on one sleeve of my shrug (using an Addi Turbo, that $12.95 whore) and I don't want to change horses midstream. I plan on using the Options on the other sleeve's ribbing and really be able to compare the feel of the two types of needles.

I have already used the cables and the cable caps to replace the circulars that I repurposed as stitch holders for the shrug's back and other sleeve--convenient, easy, and really solid.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

In which I nupp

For the most part, I don't mind acronyms. They can be overwhelming, as when my sister joined the Air Force and suddenly, in her zeal, spoke a language only she could comprehend, peppered with three- and four-letter it-stands-for-something-but-you-won't-care-what phrases. Sometimes acronyms are unnecessary; saying VW for Volkswagen actually has more syllables than the full name. But, most acronyms are helpful to simplify the bureaucracy of everyday life.

So as I've navigated this new knitters' world over the past year, I've learned about the KAL, my LYS, EZ, and the like.

But some knitters' lingo doesn't seem to be an acronym for anything except confusion and pain. Take "nupp," for instance, which I think might possibly mean "Repetitive Stress Injury" in Gaelic.

I've been learning about nupps this week as I've progressed on my Swallowtail Shawl. Make five stitches out of one on the front, then purl five together on the back side. These little bastards will make the bobbly little lily of the valley blossoms in the borders. Pretty! And pretty tough. (That's them in the blurry photo, the globby parts in the middle above the YOs; I need to work on my macro skills.)

The shawl is coming along--still difficult to photograph well, so I'll wait until it's blocking--and I am proud to say that, after all the swearing and the poking and the feeling desperate, I discovered a method for nupping that is less painful and more efficient, for me at least. Each time I come to the p5tog, I carefully slip the five stitches onto a metal tapestry needle and hold it to the front, sort of like using a cable needle. I then purl the stitches together from the tapestry needle rather than the left knitting needle. The smaller diameter of the tapestry needle gives me the wiggle room I need to clear all five stitches, wrap the working yarn, and purl it through. It's still really fiddly, but the nupps look great. There are a couple I could have done better, but even my perfectionism balks at ripping back to my lifeline--six loooong rows back--unless I really have to.

Nupp said.

Monday, May 28, 2007

In which I leap in, Lara Croft style, brandishing Addi Turbos

Once upon a time in North Dakota, a woman was born, just this side of the turn of the (last) century. Her name was Iva.

Among many things, she was:
a college graduate in the 1920s...
a home economist who worked for a time convincing rural Idahoans to "electrify" their homes...
surrogate mother to her orphaned younger siblings...
an Army officer during WWII...
a strict martinet in the kitchen...
a seamstress extraordinaire...
an opera aficionado...
the keeper of the cleanest, smallest, most organized lake cottage in the universe...
surrogate co-mother to her half-orphaned nieces and nephews...
a weaver...
scariest, most imposing little Norwegian lady ever to stand 5'1" in her tan hush puppies...
and my great-aunt.

She died when I was in college. I came home to help my mother and grandmother clean out her house. My grandmother, her sister, said, "Take what you can use." I gleaned kitchen utensils, pots and pans, an antique rocker, a needlepoint pillow, and an aqua cardigan.

Knit from the top down Barbara-Walker style (I now know), I wore this cardigan through college and beyond. Whenever I'd wear it, people would say, Wow, your eyes! Its aqua wool nearly matched my greeny-blue eyes exactly. I replaced its buttons, cheap and plastic, with Norwegian-patterned pewter circlets.

Wearing it kept me close to my aunt Iva, a woman I was never close to in real life. Her legacy is one of teaching--she taught my mom to sew, who taught me to sew (though she hates it, mostly because Aunt Iva was such a taskmaster), and I of all my cousins am the only one who does handwork with passion. (My sister is the keeper of the baking legacy.)

The sweater met with a tragic laundry accident when I was first married, the victim of a well-meaning but wool-illiterate young husband. I cried when I saw it shrunken and felted, and put it aside, unable to throw it out or give it away.

Now that I'm knitting, I appreciate the sweater more, and--amazingly--I now have the skills to craft a replacement. I'm starting with a pullover in almost exactly the same shade of aqua, the cozy v-neck pullover with deep ribbing from Stefanie Japel's book Fitted Knits.
I hope Aunt Iva would be proud.

And here's a teaser for another project from the same book...more to come!

Friday, May 25, 2007

In which I lament RED. LACE.

You know how lace looks like ass when you photograph it pre-blocking? And how red is the hardest color to photograph accurately?

Well, guess what I've been working on?


A few days ago, I cast on again for Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl from Winter '06 IK. I started this shawl at the end of April, then got sidetracked by other projects, then screwed up and bound off, and now I'm a healthy distance into it again. I think I've done about 10 of the 14 repeats of the body. I've been surfing the Knit-along for tips, and am reasonably sure that if I keep counting carefully and keep threading a lifeline every so many rows (right now I'm doing it at the end of each 6-row repeat) I should be able to finish just fine.

I've decided that lace and socks appeal to me for reasons of economy. For about the same price as one sweater sleeve (give or take) I can work for weeks on tiny-ish needles. More knitting for my money, more bang for my buck, plus the pleasure of creating something intricate and useful.

That said, my knitting budget is experiencing a surplus right now! I have some more birthday money to spend on knitting stuff--a KnitPicks gift certificate (thanks, mom!), a gift certificate to one of my awesome local yarn stores (thanks, Robbie!), and a $10 credit at another one of my lovely locals (thanks, self, for spending so much there already!)--and am pondering the possibilities. Stephanie Japel's book Fitted Knits, my bedtime reading of choice, is calling to me.

So since I don't have a photo of my RED. LACE. (yet) I will post another lacy, red photo, from a recent outing through the neighborhood:

Japanese maple, from below.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In which I list random things

Random is certainly a word that I love. I love random. I probably overuse random. How random is that?

It's also a word that easily, when overused, ceases to sound or look like a word. Random!

Anyway, Katie tagged her commenters for Seven Random Things. This is much less pressure than Six Weird Things, for which I mentally catalogued everything about myself, concluded that even my weirdnesses are pretty pedestrian, felt embarrassed that I had no fascinating weirdnesses, and ended up writing about how much I love my dishwasher. (It's a Kenmore. LOVE it.)

But RANDOM facts? That I can do, that I can embrace...

1. I got married when I was 21. No, I am not Mormon.

2. I have slept in the back of a pickup truck in a parking lot in the rain in Lincoln Beach, Oregon. (It sucked.)

3. I am a terminal clutz. I regularly fell UP the stairs when I was in sixth grade. I also grew six inches that year, so maybe that contributed?

4. Until three months before I left for college, I was going to go pre-med and even had early acceptance to USC with this proposed major. I took a u-turn and pursued English education; I have been an English teacher on and off since 1999. I think, occasionally, about going back to school to become a nurse-midwife or physician's assistant but I guess I don't think too hard about it, because I just finished my master's in English/journalism ed.

5. I was taught how to knit by a guy--my neighbor, Joe. The first thing I ever knit was a roll-brim hat. It was supposed to be for M; it came out sized for a preemie. We call it the Christmas Yarmulke (no offense to any Jewish readers) and our stuffed Santa wears it every year. The second thing I knit was also a roll-brim hat. It came out large enough for a sweater. I gave up knitting until last spring. I now understand gauge.

6. I was runner-up for Lilac Princess at my high school. I tripped and fell during the "pageant". (See # 3.) I'm really glad I didn't win, though at the time I was crushed. I skipped school for the first time that day--us candidates took our escorts out to lunch. None of us girls got in trouble; all the guys got detention. (When Sexism Works For You, by Dana Smith.) I made them cookies.

7. My daughter's name was inspired by The Lord of the Rings. (No, it's not Arwen, Eowyn, or Galadriel. I want her to survive middle school.) My husband and I both adore these books; I have read them upwards of ten times. I bet no one can figure out what her name is...

Friday, May 18, 2007

In which Harry and Harvey resurface

Yes, Harvey and Harry are still in progress. Still.

My husband does not have big feet, but he does have long legs. He requested socks that went all the way up to the belly of his calf muscle. No problem, said I.

Next time, I'll know better.

I got this far (my legs for photo purposes):

and had this much yarn left:
Yep. (Toe-up next time.) Luckily my LYS still had the same dye lot in stock, so it was another $15 and I'm still working. Just started the toes today.

The things we do for love...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

In which I list the possibilities

Process vs. Product. Which are you? Is it the thrill of the chase that keeps you going, or the medal at the finish line? Is it the journey or the destination?

I keep thinking about this with myself as a knitter. I'm just not sure yet--maybe time will tell. I've definitely taken on a lot of challenges in the past year, and I try to learn something new from each project, so that points toward being a process knitter...that said, I am on too limited a budget with too much sweater lust to be all about the process--i want to wear some of this stuff, people!

I borrowed this meme from Alianne as a way of exploring my knitterly brain right now, and setting some goals:

Bold for stuff you've done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you're not planning on doing.

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns

Knitting with bananafiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffitti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit

American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting

Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone elses handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art (because Beth said so)
Knitting two socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Entrelac Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with selfpatterning/selfstriping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Friday, May 11, 2007

In which reach a milestone

My birthdays kind of freak me out. Not in an oh-mi-gosh-i'm-getting-old kind of way, because I'm such a nerd that I'm only now catching up to the age I've been acting since I was born...but because I tend to set goals around them and get all introspective and want them to be, you know, SPECIAL.

So I usually can't sleep the night before.

Thursday night was no different. I'd like to say I stayed up rewriting my personal mission statement, or maybe scrapbooking this past year, but the truth is I just read blogs--yarnharlot archives, anyone?--and drank a glass of wine and thought...hmmm...When I was 18, is this where I thought I'd be when I was 31? Am I happy?

The answers, in order: no, and yes.

Some things are what I thought. I'm married; I have children; I have a career I love; I own a house. In other ways, I'm not where I expected. I am a teacher--the one career I swore (in all my high school wisdom) I'd never pursue, and the career that continues to challenge me every day. I thought I would have traveled more.

But there are unexpectednesses to this introspection. Some things are surprising simply because, at 18, I had no idea who I could become or what would end up being the things that would change and mature.

Surprising things at 31:

1. I am still best friends with my high school best friend. Like, we e-mail every day, talk on the phone a couple times a month (we're busy, hey), see each other not enough but several times a year. We have been best friends for almost half my life.

2. I care less about what other people think of me regarding things like my body and my interests. I used to really hide the fact that I love science fiction, for instance. And I have given up on having cool hair and am settling for "not crazy." And though I want, for myself, to shed this baby weight and be strong and healthy (OK, and a size 8/10, which is, really, where my body wants to be! I swear!)

3. I still care what other people think of me, but about different things: my professional reputation, for instance; my follow-through on commitments; my parenting.

4. I am more likely to want to use swear words (something I did rarely in my teens and twenties) but less likely to actually USE swear words (because I have little kids). Though sometimes I do spell them out. Holy S-H-I-T that's nerdy.

4.5. I don't care if people think I'm nerdy. This has taken me 31 years to achieve.

5. I am getting better at having conversations about uncomfortable subjects with those I love. I am getting better about finding the middle ground between passive-aggressive and shouting-match, my previous two examples of communication between family members.

6. I don't attend church regularly, and I am not involved in music of any kind right now. These items bug me, and I want to change them by 32.

7. I have a blog, where people can read what I write and this only scares me a little bit. Even though I love writing, even though I write all the time in my mind and in my redjournalbooks, I am still not (very) comfortable putting myself out here like this. Maybe one my surprising things for 32 will be that I actually TELL someone I KNOW that I have this blog.

8. I don't feel the need to engage in intellectual one-upsmanship. (Very often.)

9. I am a knitter. Not, "I knit"--I AM A KNITTER. This has been the best surprise of the past year. (edited: the best surprise not counting the baby. Sheesh! I must really love knitting.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

In which I stop and smell the lilacs

Forget roses, give me a lilac any day.

The frilly blossoms, the tiny petals, the perfume that permeates and pleases...

Maybe it's because I'm from Spokane--The Lilac City, in case you didn't know--but there is something about these flowers that speaks peace and pleasure to my soul.

Mr. D, Baby E and I wandered the neighborhood this afternoon, searching for purple. Purple lilacs with which to compare my Lilac yarn.

You be the judge:

The KnitPicksers did a decent job...they definitely captured the gray that lurks in the lighter blossoms, but the undertone is still too blue to truly be lilac.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

In which Baby E wows me

My daughter pulled herself up to standing for the first time today.

Slick as a whistle, she crawled over to the couch, grabbed the edge of the cushion, and pulled up to her feet.

What was she reaching for?

My knitting, of course.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In which I (re)meet a knitbot

I vowed to post daily until my birthday, May 11. I'm nearly there. "But, Dana," you exclaim, "You didn't post yesterday."

Well, technically you're correct. But I wrote this current post IN MY HEAD yesterday while shuttling children, chasing cats, running around lakes, and avoiding my daughter's bedroom whilst she was sleeping because the poor morsel has a horrible cold and sounds like Big Bird sleeping and needed me not to be clickety clacking in the background while she tosses in her snuffly mucus-filled crib.

So I'll post this one this morning, another one--with pictures, I promise--this afternoon, and I'll be caught up to my own goal.

I love how life works, that whole six-degrees-0f-separation thing. I am a pattern finder, a weaver together, a looker-for-the-meaning-in-the-chaos kind of person. Maybe that's why I like knitting and quilting--because they bring order and beauty from seeming waste? So I'm always pleasantly surprised when life brings me one of those "Small world!" kind of jewels. Like when we met a guy from my husband's home town when we were living in Texas. Like when I found out that our school's police officer had my dad as his junior high wrestling coach. Like when one of my colleagues turned out to be my college ex-boyfriend's best friend from high school. (OK, that one was a little uncomfortable.)

On Sunday we were grocery shopping, the four of us, when I heard a familiar voice say, "Dana?"

It was my friend Janet, once my best friend from about eighth through tenth grade. Although our friendship waned in the final years of high school, we ended up going to the same college and would see each other just often enough to sort of reconnect, but not really. Our lives, our choices, were different, and we could never get past the "This is who you USED to be" in order to see the "This is who you ARE." But this time there was a different vibe. As we stood in the produce section and quickly updated each other on lives and loves, there was just something different--two women, two friends, both happy with their lives and ready to reconnect. And as we exchanged e-mail addresses, I saw her username: knitbot.

"Are you knitting?" I asked. Yes, was the answer, and spinning, too. (and blogging, too, I just found out, but not sure if I'm ready to share knitsmith-wordpurl with anyone I know in real life yet.)

A knitter now. That explains it.

So I'm hoping for a get-together, a couple bottles of beer and a knitting project or two to share, and maybe, just maybe, the rekindling of an old bond?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

In which I create middle-earthy swatches

The swatching has commenced!
I absolutely adore these fiddly little cable swatches. I started the red one, on right, last week before my box from Knit Picks arrived with the lilac Andean Treasure yarn I'll actually be using for the sweater. I wanted to refresh my cabling skills (skillz?).

The Knit Picks box arrived in Friday's mail...just in time for my sister, who had lugged her Lagoon yarn all the way from Spokane, to have left two hours earlier. So it'll be swatching on separate sides of the Cascades.

I've never knit with alpaca before. What a change from the springy Cascade 220 I used for the red swatch; what a change to be cabling on size 3 needles! (I used 7s and then 8s for the 220, hence the strange parallelogram shape of the swatch.) The alpaca is silken, heathered, and hairy, like a box full of Tribbles. Because it's less--I don't know the right word; maybe defined?--I was worried about the cable's stitch definition at first, but now that I've knit a couple of repeats I like the way the alpaca halo blurs the edges while keeping the pattern intact. (It also, conveniently, hides any wonky-ish stitches.)

I am in awe of the genius of Kate Gilbert, who designed this reversible cable panel for "A Cardigan for Arwen" in the winter 2006 Interweave Knits. Wow. The color in this last photo is really horrendous (the yarn is a lovely deep red, almost garnet red, not the garish stoplight orange it appears here), but it shows the depth and intricacy of the pattern:
I think I'm about ready to cast on for the sweater! New skills commencing...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

In which I ponder the knittery significance of .25 mm

My sister and I are going to start knitting "A Cardigan for Merry" by annypurls.

She chose Lagoon for her daughter G, I chose Lilac for Baby E. These colors...I can, and probably will, go into the symbolic significance at great length (BUT not tonight; I need more wine).

The pattern calls for 3mm needles. US 2s are 2.75; US 3s are 3.25. I guess I could probably get Addis right at 3mm or any other non-American-sized needle, but I'm feeling wild. How much difference can .25 mm possibly make?

(I add the last sentence to my file of famous last words, which include: "I'll never wear bell-bottoms," "I wish Jon would ask me to the prom," and "How much trouble can an infant be, really? I'm sure I'll have lots of time to take classes.")

I've decided to go with the 3s, for kicks and giggles...also because with a child's sweater I'd rather err on the side of too large than too small.

Swatching of the LOVELY cable pattern has commenced; photos to follow!

Friday, May 04, 2007

In which I make up for lost time

Swatching sure FEELS like a waste of time--can I get an Amen?

That said, I know IN THEORY that it is an absolutely essential part of making handmade, not homemade, knits. "Use your head to save your feet," as my grandpa would say, or in this case, to save your hands. "Take time to save time," as Melissa Leapman says, IN ALL CAPS, in Cables Untangled.

So I'm choosing to act the part of the virtuous, organized, paced knitter, and am demonstrating for you here the SWATCH I INTENTIONALLY KNITTED for the Swallowtail Shawl.


I learned two things--and that's what this is all about, right, learning? Having fun?

First: I like lace. I really really like it.

Second: Threading a lifeline is a good idea.

If Baby E is allowed to play with Barbies (for one) and is interested in Barbies (for two), Barbie is sure going to have one heck of a purty shawl.

The color is very red. This is my absolute favorite color in all the world, though I don't own many true red clothing items. I'm already imagining wearing it with a 3/4-length-sleeved black ballet tee. Drool.

In which I show off my cute kids

As a rule, I object to gratuitous cute kid pictures. My children are people, dammit, not sweatshop workers toiling to provide fodder for my blog, to be digested and spit out by the voracious knitblog community!

(For the record, I disapprove of gratuitous cat pictures, too.)

That said, I just HAD to show you how cute my daughter and niece look in their Easter dresses. That's baby E on the left, niece G on the right. G just turned 10 months, E will be 10 months on the 19th.

(And, oh, that guy in the middle's pretty cute, too...just no handknits.)

Beyond the kiddo ogling, there was Scrabble. There were trail walks. There were trips to the mall. There were glasses of wine and bowls of gelato. There was sushi. A lovely visit!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

In which I write yesterday's post (again)

It's the little things.

Like...not having enough stitches at the end of a row of lace knitting.

Like...not having any idea how you lost a stitch and then realizing you're not even sure which row you're on.

Like...not having threaded a lifeline.

Like...not having a problem with frogging, since you've only done 3 or 4 repeats. (It's a swatch! am I right?)

Like...not having batteries in the camera.

The little things.

Monday, April 30, 2007

In which I write yesterday's post

Yoga for Knitters led by Maureen Braun. The ad in our community college's flyer caught my eye, and I asked for the class as an early birthday present. Headed off at 10:45 on Sunday morning for 5 hours of "me time." Just being kidless for five hours, much as I love them, was a gift in itself...and getting to knit AND do restorative yoga AND have a leisurely lunch? Bliss.

Being a chicken blogger, I didn't take any photos during the class, but here's a still life from the day...the start of my tea cosy, in rice stitch; the patterns; my notepad from The Chrysalis Inn & Spa, a great location for this class; and Maureen's Yoga For Knitters book.

Here's how the day went:

INTRODUCTIONS: There were about 14 people, all women, in the class. Some were experienced knitters--one woman had supported herself knitting for 22 years, knitting commissions and garment samples and owning a retail store--while others were pretty raw newbies. Yay for the newbies! I'd say I was on the low end of total time knitting, but the middle-to-upper end of skill.

Maureen, the teacher, talked about the similarities she sees between knitting and yoga: ritual, repetition, and rhythm. She shared some stories about herself as a knitter and how she came to change from a product to a process knitter after giving herself a repetitive stress injury in her shoulder trying to finish a shawl.

This story really made me think about how I've been so focused on finishing M's chevron socks that I've neglected my health...knitting with a sore shoulder & elbow, etc.

We then wrote our own centering thought for the day, and Maureen had us couch them as "how can I" questions rather than "I must/need" statements. You can see mine in the photo above.


We made a little i-cord, which was, surprisingly, a new skill for at least half of the knitters, and then started off with the cable cast-on, also a new skill for many. I started visiting with the woman next to me, who had just moved here from Juneau, Alaska, where she taught in an alternative high school. That particularly focused buzz of knitting and voices in conversation filled the room.

The project I chose, of the two options, was a tea cosy in rice stitch. The original pattern (used with permission) is in One-Skein Wonders and calls for cashmere. (Um, why would I dress my teapot in cashmere?) I brought Paton's Classic Wool, which has been on sale at JoAnn this week, two for $8!

(The other project option was a dishcloth with a knit/purl pattern of hearts and I'm sort of dishclothed out right now. And why would I want anything other than my favorite Mason-Dixon pattern?)

Here's a bad macro shot of the rice stitch used for the cosy:

It's a super easy stitch that comes out looking like long johns. Love it!
Worked over an odd number of stitches (45, in this case):
Row 1 (RS): (P1, K1 tbl) until last stitch, P1
Row 2: K
(I'm pretty sure this is an old and common pattern found in lots of stitch dictionaries, so I don't think I'm breaking any copyright law by posting it here. Anyone know otherwise?)

We knitted until lunch, then took a 90-minute break. My friend & neighbor Analisa and I walked about a third of a mile into Fairhaven and lunched at the Colophon Cafe, one of my all-time favorite Bellingham places.

We returned to class, did an hour of restorative yoga using Maureen's cool book containing all her original drawings, and then closed with reflections.

The yoga was almost all chair yoga, I guess because one knits, typically, sitting? We did a little bit on the floor at the very end. As we stretched, I reflected on how I tend to rush through stretching when I do it on my own. Focusing on the sensations, the breathing, and really being present for your body...that's what I like about yoga--it forces me to stop and both think deeply and not think at all.

My only beef with the day--and it's a tiny one--is I wish they had just raised the class price $10 and given us the books instead of having to purchase them there. It was optional, of course, but I felt it added a little unnecessary commercialism to the day, and I also felt I needed to buy the book because I otherwise wouldn't remember much of the series of stretches we did. Again, a small thing.