Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaKniSweMo Success!

No photos yet--but both my Charcoal Cables project and my third (or is it fourth?) Thanksgiving dinner as hostess went very well.

The sweater, like the turkey leftovers, has made an appearance every day since it was finished--with a skirt for thanksgiving dinner, out for a small wee bout of Black Friday shopping, driving to Tacoma to visit out-of-town relatives on Saturday, and home again home again today.

There were pros and cons to choosing Pullover #28 (as Vogue Knitting so creatively named it) as my NaKniSweMo project


  1. bulky yarn & large gauge--3 st per inch
  2. size 10.5 needles
  3. interesting but not overly challenging pattern (thank goodness for the designer's presence on Ravelry, though, or I would have been stuck in a few places due to impenetrable VK pattern-speak and a few outright errors)
  4. knitted completely in the round (sleeves, too) for minimal finishing
  1. 22-row cable pattern to read and (sort of) memorize
  2. reverse-stockinette sleeves in-the-round meant lots of purling.
  3. long sleeves and hood = more knitting than your average bulky pullover
  4. single crochet around the neckline; not hard, but I don't actually know how to crochet.
All cons aside, I was amazed at how quickly this went--cast on on Nov 5, finished the crochet trim on Nov. 26. Interestingly, the crochet trim was very elementary school I once took a "mini-class" in crochet and that muscle memory just came flooding back. Kind of eerie, that is.

The only other concern I'd had was about the Wool-Ease Chunky yarn. We'll see how it wears, but the charcoal color is quite nice, it feels warm without being very heavy, and it steam-blocked just fine.

Pictures soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cheating on NaKniSweMo

November is a busy month.

A big service project at school. The first yearbook deadline. Quarter grades. Thanksgiving coming up, plus a birthday or two to keep it spicy.

It also marks the anniversary of two not-so-great events for me--my back surgery in 1999, and--most importantly--my mother-in-law's death in 1998.

She was a quilter. A capital-q Quilter. An artist by training and avocation, she had more ideas for quilts in a day than most of us have ideas, period. On any topic.

When I joined the family, first as M's girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife, I used to joke that I married him so I could learn to quilt from her. You see, quilts were once my creative obsession. In 6th grade I subscribed to a quilting magazine. I made a yo-yo quilt in high school, sewing each gathered circle by hand. I don't know what it was about quilting, about patchwork that obsessed me, but like most things I am passionate about, I threw myself in headfirst and barely came up for air for years. The only thing that stopped me was lack of equipment.

I had a sewing machine, and my mom had taught me the basics of sewing. But quilting, a more specialized discipline, has as much stuff to it as does skiing, or mountain biking, or model railroads. Lots of gadgets and gizmos, and I as a high-schooler and then college student, just didn't have the wherewithal or resources.

R bought me my first (and, still, only) rotary cutter, fancy-pants ruler, and my first cutting mat. She let me "shop" through her boxes and boxes of fabrics, left over from when she owned a sewing/quilting shop.

And, more valuable than any of that stuff, she gave me the gift of several idyllic days working together on projects. She let me cut things apart and sew them together (badly, at first, of course). She initiated me into the art of chain piecing, and where you can (and can't ) cut corners. And when the pain from her treatments got too bad and she needed to lie down, she directed me and visited with me and forgave my bad seams from the couch.

I'm definitely a more persnickety quilter than she was--she loved the thrill of the chase, and I am a perfectionist (another reason why I like knitting better, but that's another essay). But one thing's for sure, these babies of mine would have blankets coming out of their ears by now, if their Grandma R were still with us.

So, in honor and to remember the ten years we've all had to do without her love, laughter, quilts, and wicked Turkey Tacos, my sister in law and I sat down last weekend and pieced this for my daughter; the dark blue fabric comes from Grandma R's fabrics:
(please forgive the yoga mat and bad cameraphone photo.)

I think she'd be proud.

And I'll post better photos once the whole thing is quilted. Then it'll be back to the sweater. I promise.

PS: all you ladies out there--is it time for your mammogram? Because if R had had one sooner, I might have pieced this in her presence rather than in her honor. I'm just saying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flight of the Skullcaps

In rather rapid succession...caught on digital "film" for the first time ever:

The moment of migration for the wild Cascadian Wool Hats (Capum Lanis).

Now you see them--so beautiful, so well-fitted, so covery-of-the-ears...

But wait! The first fuzzy wings take to the skies. In flight, the mature ones leave first, just like swans--

And then, they're gone.

Of course, shouldn't they be migrating NORTH this time of year? Must be global warming.

Pictured: M and Miss E, in Whistler B.C.. M's hat is Celtic Cap in Cascade 220 Superwash; Miss E sports a basic kids' beanie in Plymouth Encore Worsted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Food (and fitness) for thought

I'm not an extrovert. Although I'm very social, I do best in places I'm comfortable--work, with friends, in my classroom--and it takes me a while to feel comfortable in new settings or surrounded by strangers. Being at a party, no matter how much I ultimately enjoy myself, saps my energy and I need to reboot with time alone or with my family.

Recently, Lolly posted a link to The 8 Colors of Fitness. I must admit that I am a sucker for personality tests of any type. It's the Connector in me--I love to figure stuff out, to analyze it, to take it apart and put it together in a way that makes sense and that is usable in new situations.

This 8 Colors thing is based on Meyers-Briggs personality types, and connects your personality to what will work for you in fitness. And, though some of it doesn't fit exactly--like the fact it says I'm an extrovert (borderline, however) I found this part of the description really interesting and fitting for me:

"...Silvers...find exercise success by keeping activities uncomplicated, unremarkable, and easy to accomplish. The Keep it Simple Silvers might even become rigid in their program, in contrast to the flexible approach they apply to the rest of their lives, convinced that if they deviate from their routine—or try to improve on it and change it—it might fall apart. For Silvers whose interests often pull them in so many directions, many report that regular exercise makes them feel more balanced and in control of their lives....Convenience is a must. The more decision points Silvers must navigate, the less appealing exercise becomes. Whether they belong to a fitness center, practice yoga, Tai Chi, or run in the park, Silvers don’t want to spend too much time in transition. Their schedules are tight and time is valuable. Convenience, after all, relates to flow—moving from one activity to another with little effort—much the way Silvers connect ideas....With their busy lives, many Silvers also enjoy exercising alone, finding satisfaction and balance in reflection. A walk at night, a run along the bike path, or solo time at the gym provides an opportunity to be with their thoughts and clear their busy minds."

Last summer, I started running again. I didn't make a big deal of it, because when I do that then I self-sabotage. But I did. Short runs, nearly every morning, starting in July. I continued through the start of the school year and, now, the whole first quarter of the school year. I'm averaging 2-3 miles a run, 3-4 times a week, and I completed an 8K fun run two weeks ago.

I had to come to the decision that:

  1. exercise wouldn't happen on its own
  2. I couldn't depend on anyone else (e.g. my family) to accompany me
  3. I needed to do it in the morning, first thing. This is the whole efficiency thing--I hate showering and dressing multiple times a day. It bugs me. Plus, if I wait until the afternoons and evenings, there is too much I can use as an excuse (kids, grading, cooking, exhausted, etc.) Morning provides no excuses.
  4. I had to give myself permission to be slow.
  5. I needed to do it by myself. I tried running with my neighbor the year I was home on leave; it was a terrible failure. I don't like having to converse; I don't like having to go at a certain time (unless I set it for myself); I don't like worrying that I'm slowing someone down or keeping them from their own goals. And--as you can see above--I like the solitude and the introspection!
  6. Running is the simplest and most time-effective cardio for me
  7. I needed to have some goals (time, distance, events) that were low-pressure but hovering over the horizon
  8. My exercise needed to be no excuses. The running clothes hang on the back of the bathroom door, the iPod is by the stairs, the shoes are by the front door unlaced and ready to go. After the alarm goes off at 5:05, I can be hitting the street by 5:10 and back before M's alarm goes off at 5:45.
There's no wrong way to get your exercise. For me, this is what's working. And I think it's interesting that the "8 Colors" description matches so well what I had already decided on my own. Maybe they're on to something?

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Word Wonders

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? school
Your hair colour? coffee
Your mother? phoenix
Your father? renaissance
Your favourite thing? anticipation
Your dream last night? ephemeral
Your dream goal? flight
The room you're in? cluttered
Your hobby? knitting
Your fear? obsolescence
Where do you want to be in 6 years? abroad
Where were you last night? dreamland
What you're not? disciplined
One of your wish-list items? peace
Where you grew up? college
The last thing you did? read
What are you wearing? cotton
Your TV? companion
Your pet? marginalized
Your computer? elderly
Your mood? reflective
Missing someone? Roxie
Your car? practical
Something you're not wearing? jewelry
Favourite shop? Target
Your summer? whirlwind
Love someone? integrally
Your favourite colour? scarlet
When is the last time you laughed? "Office"
When is the last time you cried? Friday

Saturday, November 08, 2008

After the mods + NaKniSweMo

Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
I realized I never posted photos of the finished, modified aquatic raglan. So here you go. For Before shots, see the ravelry project page.

I have been wearing this sweater at least once a week since I finished it. I get unsolicited compliments every time I wear it, even from people who don't know I knit. To me, that's the mark of a well-fitting garment--when people say "You look nice!" rather than "Nice sweater."

So, yay for sucking it up and re-knitting it. I know I wouldn't be wearing version 1.0 once a week. It'd probably be the cat's bed or something.

Finishing this has inspired me to join in the NaKniSweMo madness. I have the yarn for two sweaters: Ingenue, by Wendy Bernard (love her new book, btw) and Green Gable/#28 by Mari Muinonen. Apparently this pattern was first published by Mari on her blog/website and available for free, but then purchased and re-published by Vogue Knitting in the fall 2008 issue.

I decided on the hoodie for NaKniSweMo because it's in a chunky/almost-bulky yarn and so I think it'll go a bit faster, even with the cable. Total impulse decision.

It'll be my first VK pattern, and thank goodness for Ravelry because there are some HUGE ERRORS in the instructions. Mari is a Raveler and she has posted a great thread in the group explaining some of the parts of the pattern that VK made more confusing, and fixing some of the issues.

The pattern calls for Wool-Ease chunky, which I got at Jo-Ann...I really hope that the amount of yarn will really be enough...The color selection was pretty slim, and I needed 7 balls for my size, which narrowed it down to just the Charcoal colorway--there weren't 7 balls of any of the other colors, and I didn't want to wait for an online order since November is rapidly ticking away...1/3 over on Monday! Yikes!

I'm going to a conference next week so I should have some travel/hotel time for working on the sleeves, and I'm already about 3 inches up the ribbing. Charcoal may not be an exciting color, but it'll be practical.

So, yay for sweaters, modifications, owning one's knitting, and rainy sweater weather.