Monday, December 31, 2007

Hey Brooke!

Your comment didn't include an email address, so I hope you'll see this! (Everyone else--I'll write about the rest of my trip, and all my knitting as soon as I recover a little more!).

Anyway... I didn't make any changes to the pattern for my azalea wedding shawl (except that I kept going to make it bigger). It looks like the picture to me, so I'm not quite sure what looks different to you. I used nearly 5 ounces of Zephyr's laceweight wool-silk blend in ivory on size 6 needles. The shawl is about 64 inches across.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Two Presents

The 2007 edition of the Kevin and Rebecca Christmas Tour is well underway. Friday after work we drove to Ithaca to see my parents, my sister and her husband for a speed Christmas, then on Saturday night we continued on to Ohio for Christmas with Kevin's parents and both sides of his extended family.

We won't open most of our presents till later this morning morning, but I've already unloaded two knitted gifts: Anna's sweater and the shawl from a few posts ago, which was secretly intended for Kevin's grandma.

Anna is also wearing presents from my mom: a hat and scarf my mom made, and matching gloves she bought. In person, the gloves look like she borrowed them from cookie monster's teal cousin--Anna gets to wear fun winter accessories because she lives in tropical Washington DC, not the wintry arctic of New Haven. (Also, she drives to work instead of trudging through the frozen, poorly shoveled tundra.)

And here's Kevin's grandma in her new shawl. One of my grandmas taught me to knit, but I never made anything for her (oddly, it did not occur to me to give her any knitted dresses for toy mice, which was what I mostly knit at first... Perhaps all her toy mice already had dresses?).

Grandma G. was completely surprised that the shawl was actually for her, and wore it for the rest of the evening--which is the perfect response to a knitted present.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Travel Knitting Undate

I'm not quite packed yet (even though we're planning to leave in 2 or 3 hours), but I'm sure you'll be relieved to know that I've sorted out my travel knitting. I finished my sister's sweater at SnB on Wednesday (between eating cookies--the world needs more cookie swaps!), and then Kevin's gloves last night, so I can go back to the projects I'd put on hold: my other sister's shawl and my marigold socks. So I packed those...

And then I went a little crazy. I'm bringing yarn for the chevron scarf (the Spunky Eclectic and Socks that Rock combo shown here). I wound them into yarn muffins which mixed the colors and now I'm even more excited to see how they knit up together.

But in case that doesn't work out I'm also bringing the yellow and tan yarn from the same post for socks, and some Brooks Farm Duet I've been hoarding for a while.

The Duet is the yarn that pooled in vertical stripes when I tried to knit a raglan in the round a while back (you remember this, right?) so I'm going to try a wrap cardi with it. I'll be knitting back and forth and over more stitches (because of the overlap for the wrapped front), so maybe that will combat the pooling. Or (more likely) I won't get to it at all, due to my insane knitting-related over-packing, and that will be fine too. We're driving so there's plenty of room, and it's not like a couple (or 5) extra skeins of yarn are going to slow down the car (we're renting a car, so the small hamster who powers our car won't have to exert himself--the additional yarn might have been too much for him!).

Also, I made a thingy and some other thingies, which I can't show till after Christmas. But they're really cute thingies! Yay internet and spinning guild for helping me find the thingies.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Still Mad

A mad hatter, I mean.

Scrap Hats

I'm a little concerned that these are hats only a knitter would appreciate and that whoever gets them will wish they were less colorful. On the other hand, Kevin did say he liked the middle one (which is the one I'm most worried about, since it's the most crazily colored--I stared out with a bunch of greens, and I tried to transition to blue/purple, but I'm not sure it was a success. Do you think the red stands out too much?)

I wound myself some new scrap balls for hats (and then forgot to take pictures). There's a yellow and brown one (less crazy than it sounds, because it will be tweedy), a blue/green one, and a red one. I think the reds need another strand to be thick enough, so I'm going to knit it up with black (or that's the plan, at least)... which will also make it tweedy and not quite so bright.

And since this is the last week before Kevin and I set off on our holiday travels, I've been thinking a lot about which projects to bring. I like to imagine that I'll finish Kevin's unphotogenic gloves and my sister's slightly more photogenic sweater before we go (and I actually think that's realistic: I have .5 fingers and 2 thumbs to go on the gloves, and 5 inches of body and 2 short sleeves to go on the sweater... And I only started last week... no seaming on the sweater because it's a top-down raglan, and I've been weaving in the ends as I go on the gloves).

I want to bring my other sister's shawl/stole, and the Marigold socks--I set them aside for x-mas knitting and I think they're getting lonely. But besides that, I'm not sure. I'm leaning towards another pair of socks (or maybe the chevron scarf... I'm leaning towards the purple too), because I'm likely to finish the current socks and I'll need another mindless project (which the shawl is not). But if I bring the scarf, do I also want socks? What kind of swatching am I likely to want to do? Is it worth it to try writing up patterns in the car? What if I save writing for when Kevin's driving?

Friday, December 14, 2007


So I've been wanting to make a 2-colored chevron scarf--like the one everyone makes from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, because I continue to be a lemming. (Plus, I really liked knitting the variegated plus solid feather and fan scarf I made as a freebie for the Garter Belt, and it's really similar.)

The two candidates in my sock yarn stash are:

Option 1

Socks that Rock in Lenore (from the STR club) plus Spunky Eclectic sock yarn in Irish Dreams (from the Woolgirl Sock Club... apparently, I should have joined a scarf club!)


Option 2

Same Spunky Eclectic plus Yarn Yard sock yarn from a trade

I'm leaning toward the STR because the purple/black color looks more like my gloves and hats and whatnot--the yellows and browns of the other would definitely be an exception in my knitter outerwear wardrobe. (Somehow, this isn't a problem for socks.)

Or maybe both options match too much? Some people have used completely non-matching colors, but maybe I want my colors to match better since my yarns are less similar? What do you think?

Not that this is really a pressing question--I have plenty of knitting to keep me amused for the next few weeks! But there's all that Christmas driving to plan for!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I'm trying to go to bed earlier, and it's not really working. I'm usually a good sleeper, but when I go to bed early I wake up REALLY early (so early it's late) and start obsessing about dumb things (last night/this morning a whole section of my brain could not let go of the idea that I needed to add applesauce to the shopping list... which I still have not done). I blame working out less because we aren't training for anything right now--the 5k we ran on Sunday was the furthest I'd run since Thanksgiving. Surely walking to work, yoga, spinning and a bit of running ought to be enough?

Anyway, the upside (and reason I refuse to think of this as insomnia) is that it means more knitting time. This morning I finished the sweater I've been designing for Schaefer (ends woven in and everything!). So now I just need to measure it, block it, and write up the directions--since it spend weeks as a body and 1.5 sleeves, this is great progress.

The sweater is made from Susan, Schaefer's sport weight cotton, in the Lillian Gilbreth colorway. So naturally, once I had a nap and got up for real, I wound a muffin of Laurel, the worsted weight cotton, also in Lillian Gilbreth. This one's going to be a sweater for my sister. It's possible I'll need a break from Lillian, but for the moment I'm just amazed at how chunky this yarn feels after the sport weight.

And last night at SnB I made all kinds of progress on the unphotogenic gloves for Kevin--now I have 2 unphotogenic fingerless mitts awaiting fingers and thumbs, rather than 1 mitt and .5 cuffs. Sadly for Kevin this means I'm about to ask him to try them on every couple of rows, but at least he's getting gloves out of the deal.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Socks on The Garter Belt

Look! I actually wrote up a pattern I talked about writing up!

The pattern for these socks (creatively named the Lacy Cable Socks) is now available through The Garter Belt.

I think this picture shows the texture the best--although the color is completely off (not that that matters--it's a pattern, not a kit). It's a 2x2 mini cable, alternating with this nifty slip, psso, YO, knit thingy that looks like a mini cable with a eyelet in the center.

350 yards of Schaefer Anne
2.5 mm (1.5 US, if that's a real size) needles
Cuff-down, reinforced heel flap construction

The fabric is rib-like and stretchy without being boring to knit, and the pattern can be yours for a mere $4, right here!

(You know, I thought I posted this a couple of days ago, but I clearly didn't... here it is now, at least.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Picture Only a Knitter Would Love

I didn't go to MA again, so I had to some time on Saturday to try to take pictures of the new shawl.

I think I'm OK at the very close up arty ones--that drive knitters crazy actually, so I take back the title of this post--but my attempts to show the whole thing were a disaster, more or less.


It can't be entirely my fault (New Haven is not the most photogenic city in the world, after all, and the shawl was the same colors as the park), but I'm impatient, my fingers were getting chilly, and my models (tress, benches, fences) were acting like divas.

On the other hand, this might make a good Christmas card--you can just about see the pine tree beneath the shawl.

Is this distracting you from my lack of pictures of other projects? Because that was my goal... I'm also working on a sweater for Schaefer Yarns (except for the pictures, that's all I did on Saturday, so I'm suddenly halfway through the yoke, rather than partway up the second sleeve--it has bottom-up raglan construction), the shawl for my sister, the STR/marigold socks for me, and now gloves for Kevin.

This is one extra project than is usual for me (4 rather than 3), and I'm trying not to feel antsy about it. I've put the shawl and socks on hold till after I finish the sweater or gloves, because they're "due" later. (The gloves are for Kevin--once he offered to try them on constantly to be sure they fit, I couldn't let him keep wearing free gloves from road races, could I?) (Oh, and a sweater for my other sister I haven't started yet... but it's thicker yarn, and she wants elbow length sleeves, so that will be completely fine).

But they're black stockinette stitch, and the sweater is smushed by the needles, and as we all know, I'm lazy about taking pictures anyway---so just act like you're distracted by the shawl, OK?

Oh! Heidi and I went so spinning on Sunday for the first time since the summer, and I made all kinds of progress on the purply-blue wool from Rhinebeck. Hurray! I could take pictures of that too, huh?

Thursday, December 6, 2007


So, I was looking at Ravelry earlier, and realized that I've knit 10 of the top 20 most popular patterns.

See? (The ones in bold.)

1. Monkey by Cookie A.

2. Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
3. Clapotis by Kate Gilbert
4. Jaywalker by Grumperina
5. Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf
6. Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann
7. Ballband Dishcloth by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
8. Saartje's Bootees by Saartje de Bruijn
9. Branching Out by Susan Lawrence
10. Pomatomus by Cookie A.
11. My So Called Scarf by Stacey
12. Swan Lake / Mystery Stole 3 by Melanie Gibbons

13. Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
14. Basic Sock Recipe by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
15. Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt
16. Felted Clogs (AC-33) by Bev Galeskas
17. Odessa by Grumperina
18. One-Piece Baby Kimono by Christina Shiffman
19. Irish Hiking Scarf by Adrian Bizilia
20. Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Sock by Wendy Johnson

And I've thought about making Fetching, Jaywalkers, a Swallowtail Shawl, and Embossed Leaves. (Although I've heard that Jaywalkers don't fit high insteps very well, so maybe I'll skip that one.)

And some of them (Clapotis, Monkey, the Baby Surprise Jacket) I've made repeatedly--three times each, in fact.

On the other hand, I've only used 3 of the top 10 yarns: Cascade 220 (repeatedly), Lamb's Pride Worsted (a couple of times), and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (once). That one's thrown off by Schaefer--between designing, knitting a few samples, and getting paid in yarn, I use Schaefer yarns in an above average percentage of my knitting! (I know--poor me!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Before and After

I can't remember if I've written about it here, but I've been wanting to figure out how triangular, neck-down shawls work. I've only made one neck-down shawl (the flower basket shawl, like everyone else on the planet... or, um, every other knitter), and the interaction between the increases and the stitch pattern seemed like magic--where did the increases go, so the pattern wasn't messed up? (I knit it during a week of all-day training for my previous job... it's possible that I'd have understood if I'd been paying more attention).

So I bought Knitting Lace Triangles, and then a book-related miracle occurred, and my mom found Knitting Lace through her volunteer work as a book sorter for her local library book sale. (We nearly got it for $4, but my mom had a burst of honesty and told them it was too valuable to sell as a regular book, so they set it aside for the rare book room and I despaired. But, it turns out that they don't price even rare books at the full market price so it turned out to be moderately expensive, not crazy expensive, and she was able to buy it for me after all. Victory!)

Anyway... Knitting Lace pointed out that all you need to shape lace is an increase without a decrease or decrease without an increase (which meant I could use the increases that were already in the stitch pattern, but not work the corresponding decrease--you'd think this would have occurred to me before but it hadn't)... and suddenly I understood and picked a stitch pattern from Knitting Lace and drew pictures and knit like a maniac and ta-da!





I'm not sure how well they show up, but there are beads at the points--one orange and two green ones, since I didn't have enough of either color.

(The yarn about 350 yards of Anne from Schaefer, and I used a size 6 needle.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Hatting and Socking

For the first time in I'm not sure how long, I stayed home! all! day! on Saturday. I wasn't out of the country, and I didn't go with Kevin to Massachusetts for his class. (Let me just mention how weird it is that I'm sometimes cranky about leaving the house to go with Kevin to MA: the reason I want to stay home is to knit. But I knit in the car the whole way there, then meet up with my friend Annie to knit at Webs, then I knit all the way home. There's no knitting on the short drive from dropping Kevin off on campus to Webs (since I'm the one driving), but other than that? Entirely knitting. Yet I'm still cranky as I leave the house. I do the same thing about knitting group sometimes, even though I love it once I get there. I've missed my calling by not being a hermit.)

Anyway. Saturday, I stayed home! And knit! I finished a small shawl which is going to be a present (which I've just noticed I haven't blogged about at all, oops). And I worked on these socks.

They're the Marigold Socks, from Flint Knits (who also inspired me to make my Garnstudio jacket). I'm using STR from one of the summer club shipments--the one whose intended sock pattern had a lacy cuff. I've warmed to the idea of slightly lacy socks, but I'm not quite ready for lacy cuffs (or non lacy cuffs, for that matter--it's the folding over that I'm not sure about). Since the picture, I've turned the heel and gotten maybe half way up the leg.

But I've put it on hold to work on more hats for charity (I can't resist the excitement of using up tiny little pieces of yarn!). And I've restarted a sweater I started designing for Schaefer an embarrassingly long time ago--it was on hold because I wasn't sure about the sleeves, but I've stared at them some more and decided that I like them after all.

Being home also meant that I fixed the waistband on a skirt that's been bugging me since last spring, and finally replaced the buttons on my winter coat (which spent 100% of last winter with 50% of its buttons missing).

It wasn't the most exciting weekend ever, but I definitely needed it. And now my coat will stay closed!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


While I was in Sierra Leone, the second project I worked on (besides some socks) was a shawl for my sister. It's her Christmas present, but she's going to be in Peru till January so it doesn't need to be done at Christmas. She's never seemed like a shawl person, but she said she'd like one, so of course I sprung into action!

She definitely seems like a geometric pattern person (rather than a leaf-y or flowery pattern person), so I'm making the faux Russian Stole from A Gathering of Lace. (It's faux because instead of knitting the center then adding the border, you knit the border as you go.) I've liked the pattern for a while, and Rachel provided the perfect excuse to make it.

Naturally, since I don't need to be finished till sometime in January (and my family is so laid back about presents that that's not really a firm deadline either), it's zipping along. (I'm about half done, and I'm not trying that hard.)

I'm using one of the skeins of Zephyr wool & silk from the group order the SnBers placed a while back, and I love it. It's the third (I think) time I've used this yarn, and it's lovely--you know how there are some yarns that are just quietly wonderful, without having any one amazing thing (say, being hand-dyed or made of cashmere) you can put your finger on? That's how I feel about Zephyr. Clearly, the merino and silk have everything to do with the wonderful-ness, but it doesn't scream Merino! And! Silk!

(I decided it was okay to write about the shawl, even though it's a present, because she picked it, I warned her it might be grey, and besides her internet time is somewhat limited--she's mostly emailing, not scouring the knitting blogs for hints about Christmas presents. Although speak up now if you're reading this, Rachel, and I won't post a post-blocking picture till after you've received the real thing.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mad Hatter

I'm going to use Katy's question about the hats as an excuse to write more about them, since I find the whole color thing completely amusing (although sadly, this set of hats isn't the greatest example).

So, here's the yarn I started with:

I'm terrible at estimating yarn requirements, so I figured I'd use #3 for my main color (it's Knitpicks Alpaca something, and I had nearly a full skien), double stranding it with the rest one at a time, going from dark to light starting at the brim (2, 1, 4, 5, 7, 6)

As it turned out, I only needed 1, 2 and part of 4 (plus most of 3).

I cast of 72 sts, knit in 2x2 rib for 4 or 5 rows, switched to stockinette and knit straight till the hat was tall enough that the opening was a little bit smaller than my hand when the brim covered my ears (this is clearly not at exact process), the started decreasing every other row.

Since there were 72 sts, I worked the decrease rows as k7, K2tog all around, then a plain row, then k6, k2 tog, all around, then a plain row, then K5... etc. Once I for to K3, K2tog I stopped knitting the plain rows between and decreased every row till I was just K2toging the while time. Then I broke the yarn, threaded it back it through the live stitches and pulled it tight.

Then I did it several more times:

Those last 2 hats really are different--see the variegated purple/blue/pink strip?

Monday, November 26, 2007


A picture of the Garnstudio jacket, which I love (although the angora sheds) and have to make an effort not to wear daily.

I was actually outside during daylight hours while my parents were here last week, and we took pictures.

I can't remember if I mentioned when I knit it (in about a week, because the gauge is so big, and the Schaefer Martha was so squishy that I couldn't help myself), but the directions for the sleeve cap shaping were a little wonky--either wrong or unclear, I'm not sure which. So in case you've found this post because you're about to knit the Garnstudio/Drops 103-1 Jacket, here's what I did instead:

At the length specified in pattern (between 34 and 49 cm, depending on size), I bound off 3 sts at the beginning of the next 2 rows, then 2 sts at the beginning of the next 2 rows (that part is in the pattern) Then I decreased 1 st at each end of every other right side row 6 times, then bound off 2 sts at the beginning of the next 2 sts, then bound off the remaining sts.

I was knitting the smallest size, and that made the sleeve cap tall enough that it fit the armhole.

And a semi-related story: my father went to a conference in Norway one summer while I was in college. My mother, one sister, and I went over afterwards to meet him. This was in the dark ages, pre-widespread internet, so I had no way to look up yarn stores before I went (technically, that's not true...a big enough library would have had phone books from major Norwegian cities). So I had to rely on my yarn radar (yarn-dar?), and one night on the way to dinner I spotted a yarn store. It was closed, but we came back the next day so I could poke around.

I stared at yarn and pattern books for as long as my family could stand, then bought 2 Drops books and several skeins of boucle yarn (also from Garnstudio, although evidently discontinued by now). The books were in Norwegian (as well as Finnish and Swedish), but I was certain I could figure them out based on 2 weeks of puzzling out Norwegian signs, plus my understanding of how patterns are written. I suspect the shop owner thought I was crazy--she told me specifically that the patterns weren't in English, in case I hadn't been able to tell. Having puzzled out patterns in various languages since then, I think that would have gone fine, although I never got around to it (and now the same patterns are online, for free, in English).

I hadn't been knitting long enough to estimate yardage requirements very well (and the whole meters to yards thing may have confused me as well), so it turned out when I got home that I only had enough yarn for a vest. I'd never seen the yarn in the US (remember: pre-internet!), so I made the vest, even though I didn't really wear vests at the time. After a couple of years of not wearing it, I gave it to charity.

And speaking of charity--I was going to post pictures of my charity hats and scrap yarn for Katy, but the pictures are apparently still in my camera, so that will have to wait.

Friday, November 23, 2007

More Socks

Clearly, the part of my brain that comes up with titles has not recovered from Thanksgiving yet.

Lacy Cable Socks

Anyway... I finished these socks last weekend (I think), and finally took a half-hearted picture. The yarn is Anne, from Schaefer. I made them up, using a stitch pattern from a Japanese stitch dictionary I bought when Kevin had a meeting in Singapore in 2006 (and I tagged along). It's a combination of little 2-stitch cables and 3-stitch slipped stitch thingies that look a little bit like cables and have an eyelet in the center. Clearly, I need to learn to read Japanese so I can call the stitch by its real name! Once I write it up, the pattern will be available from Schaefer Yarns, and if I'm super-coordinated, The Garter Belt too.

My parents have been visiting for Thanksgiving (happy turkey-day yesterday, by the way--I had stuffed squash), and there's been lots of knitting while talking. So I wouldn't mess up my sister's shawl, I've been making stockinette stitch hats out doubled-stranded scrap yarn for charity.

I like to use up scrap yarn on hats--I find a bunch of colors that match, then knit with 2 colors held together to make tweedy fabric. Ideally, I have enough of one color for the whole hat, and the other color changes to make subtle tweedy stripes, but sometimes that doesn't quite work out. Then I have to change both colors (ideally, not at the the same time) and the stripes are more noticeable. I feel guilty for not making mittens, but then I'd have to plan ahead a little better, to have enough of each color to make matching mittens.

Anyway--I've made four hats since yesterday morning, and I think I'm all hatted out for the moment. Since I finished the socks from Schaefer and then started knitting insta-hats (which go so fast they hardly count as projects), I'd gotten down to one "real" project on the needles (my sister's shawl), and it felt weird! Once last year I didn't have any project on my needles for nine hours (eight of which I was asleep...), and it felt unnatural. To make sure that doesn't happen again, I've cast on a sock and started plotting a sweater. Much better!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'm a member of the Socks Knitters Anonymous group on Ravelry, which is having a sock-a-month knit-along with monthly themes. For most of the months, there's actually a choice of themes, plus a mystery sock (same idea as the Mystery Stole, with a new section of the pattern released each week) that fits one of the themes. I'm signed up to design the mystery socks for July, when the theme is microgauge (that is, an even smaller gauge than is usual for socks).

I told Laura about the knit-along when we met at Rhinebeck (that would be Laura from Schaefer Yarns), so the package she sent a couple of weeks ago included some Heather yarn for that project.

This one is definitely slated for socks. They've asked the designers to have someone test knit the pattern, so I'm going to use another of the skeins for that.

I just can't decide which one, because I'm suddenly very excited about knitting fair isle (mittens or a hat, nothing gigantic) from monochromatic handpainted yarn, and I think the blue/green and one of these browns would be great for that! What I can't tell (since I've only knitted fair isle once before, and that was with solid yarn), is whether I want the 2 colors to have the same amount of internal variation or not.

I mean, since the blue/green skein is both blue and green, would the pattern read better if I used the the brown on the left (actually brown and a very brown kind of pumpkin), or the one on the right (shades of the same brown)? Clearly, I will need to swatch. Maybe I will even take pictures of my swatches, as well as the (now finished) socks I designed and the shawl/blob I'm working on for my sister.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Speaking of the Pig

Evidently, I need to look at the Schaefer Yarn site more often, because the pig is there already!


See? Procrastinate long enough, and items will disappear from your to-do list!

New Patterns from The Garter Belt

I may have written about this before, but about this time last year I contacted the designers at The Garter Belt about joining the design team. They said yes, but then went on hiatus before I actually submitted any designs.

Well, we've un-hiatus-ed, and have just put out a new newsletter, with new designs and another new designer, Cindy. I've added "add TGB info to blog!!" to my mental list of the millions of things I'm going to get done this coming weekend (I am so productive in advance), but in the meantime, you can find everyone's designs through TGB site.

In related news, it turns out that I can distribute the patterns I've designed for Schaefer (the fish! the pig!) on my own as well, so setting that up is also on my to-do list. And I need to add all the patterns to Ravelry, take a million pictures, and knit through my alarming large stash of sock yarn. That last one may take a while--in the meantime, visit The Garter Belt!

Monday, November 19, 2007

'Tis the Season...

... of unbloggable knitting.

I usually give people a mix of bought and handmade gifts, depending on the person and how speedily I've been crafting (since not all the handmade presents are knitted). One of my sisters always used to get handmade socks, but then she moved to a warmer climate and I had to start keeping my socks. This year, she's asked for a shawl, but left all the details up to me. So I'm working on that (I made a lot of progress on the plane and in Sierra Leone). She knows about it, and her internet access is intermittent, so I could probably write about it, but it's not very photogenic. (To make matters worse, it's garter stitch lace, so it's doubly squished.)

Kevin has asked for gloves to match a sweater he wears as a jacket, so once I get started on those I'll be able to write about them... of course, they'll be mostly black, and unphotogenic.

Other than those 2 presents, I'm just starting to think about what I might knit for which giftee. I'd like to make another shawl (I do, after all, have TWO sisters, not just one! Hi Sibbies!), but I'm not sure I have a shawl and two-thirds worth of knitting time between now and Christmas (naturally, I started with the present for the sister I won't see till January!).

The trouble is that except for my dad, everyone I'd knit for either lives in a warm climate or knits themselves. I like giving knitters knitted presents, but it does mean I need to pick a bit more carefully--ideally, I'd like to make them things they like but either can't or wouldn't make for themselves, not projects they've already bought the yarn for. [New Haven SnBers, do not panic! The knitters I am thinking about knitting for are not you. No need to add me to your holiday knitting list. Unless you want to, in which case tell me so I can add you to mine! I like fine gauge sweaters but would never knit one myself.]

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Market Basket

On Sunday afternoon, I realized I was in danger of leaving Sierra Leone without a single souvenir, so I walked down the hill from the hotel to a little market area, where I'd seen some baskets from the car window. The gentleman working there was just about to pack up for the evening (I may have spent a couple of hours trying to decide if I wanted to go down or not... not that I would every agonize over anything!), but he brought out his baskets and I picked one.

Note: Yarn Not Included!

I bought it, carried it back to the hotel and immediately decided it had been a silly thing to buy. What was I going to do with a basket? I have many baskets already. How was I going to carry it home on the plane? etc.

But it turns out, I have plenty to put in it! I did not have anywhere near this much sock yarn 3 weeks ago--80% of this is the package from Schaefer Yarns that I was so sad to leave behind when I went to Florida and then to Sierra Leone. And during that same time, I receive a Woolgirl sock club shipment and a STR sock club shipment. Then for good measure, I traded with another SnBer this week and she gave me some extra sock yarn as a present!

Blue Annes

These lovelies, for example, are 3 skeins of Anne (wool, mohair and nylon... I love, love, love this yarn. And not just because it was free! I think I've given away all the full size socks I've made from it, but I have 3 pairs of footlets I've made from scraps, and they make me happy every time I put them on. Note to self: don't give away so many socks!).

It's hard to tell from the picture, but one's purples, one's blues, and one's a mix of blue, purple and green (that one has a fraternal twin who didn't want her picture taken). I'm thinking about combining them all into some kind of shawl (or maybe the fraternal twins plus the semi-solid blue or purple into a sweater? How crazy am I?). Otherwise, 2008 will have to be the year of the sock!

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Good Parts

Before I write anything else dire about Sierra Leone, I should point out that some parts were wonderful. Everyone was amazingly nice and friendly--so much so that it was hard to believe how violent, awful and recent the civil war was, even though the whole reason I was there relates to the war. And now I'm accidentally writing about terrible things again (I'm going to go back to my original point, but in case you want to read more about the war, here's a BBC special report from 1999, just as the peace agreement was signed).

From My Hotel Balcony

Anyway, Saturday afternoon I was feeling really alone. I'd originally planned to leave Saturday night, but work decided I should stay a bit longer to meet with someone else, who turned out to be unavailable. I had been trying to make a phone call all afternoon, but the phone which hotel guests are supposed to use to make local calls wasn't working (when it still wasn't working on Sunday, I bought a cell phone).

Since I kept walking through the lobby, one of the employees kept saying hi, and eventually we started talking. It was nice to talk to someone about something other than work--he told me how the Christian Children's Fund paid for his education, how he'd like to move to Australia (where a friend has gone already) so he can send money back to his family, and we commiserated about Bush. He was very concerned that my husband might be jealous that we were talking, and offered to email him to make sure it was OK.

Also on the plus side, if you look beyond the ramshackle buildings (and the sock obstructing the view!), Freetown is beautiful--on the ocean, surrounded by hills, with beautiful beaches. Right now, the coast isn't very built up, so it's available to anyone. The majority of buildings near the water are beach bars (mostly without wall, so you're essentially on the beach), and there's plenty of open land between them.

In addition to the sock, I worked on a Christmas present for one of my sisters, and read 2 entire books in gigantic bites. I've been listening to the Forgotten Classics podcast, which just finished The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer, so I brought An Infamous Army. And I've been wanting to read The Historian for a while, so I bought that to bring as well. Luckily, I realized a vampire story might not be the best idea in a country where the lights might go out at any moment, so I read with a flashlight handy!

And I got important investment advice from a minister! You know those email scams, where the family of a deposed rules needs your credit card and bank information in order to get their money out of the country? The State Department website warns about these scams on their Counsular Information Sheet about Sierra Leone. That always struck me as funny because wouldn't you be safer from email scams in a country where you can barely access your email? (No joke--I had the business center at the hotel, but the national commission I was meeting with had to go to an internet cafe around the corner in order to send emails! Only half of their offices had electricity.)

But, it turns out that you can be email scammed in person! Right after my nice conversation with the hotel employee, I fell into the clutches of Joseph (in the hotel lobby, so I wasn't in any danger). He wanted 2 things: for me to wire money to him so he could take an online class to further his religious education, and for me to tell everyone I know that if they wanted to invest in diamonds, they should email him. Apparently, you can get an export license for only $5000, which will allow you and 7 of your closest friends to export diamonds legally. If you are interested, he will arrange for you to visit the diamond mines, and take care of all your security needs. You don't need to bring any money, since it's so risky to travel with money, he can just take your credit card information.

It was fascinating! He went on and on and on, while I just murmured encouraging things. He never actually asked me to invest in diamonds, just to tell my friends about the investment opportunity. So: let me know if you want his email address!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Jumping Ahead to the End

This is completely out of order, but before the link expires, I need to tell the story of my return trip:

My flight to London was scheduled to leave at 1:30 AM on Tuesday, so (after much discussion, in which I tried to explain to the travel agency that I needed them to tell me the hovercraft schedule, not make me guess what time there might be one) I decided to catch the hovercraft to the airport on Monday at 9 PM. Since I was already checked out of my hotel, I ate dinner as slowly as I could, but still arrived at the hovercraft station at 7:30 PM. Fine, I'm good at waiting, so I bought my ticket and started knitting.

As 9:00 approached, there was no sign of the incoming hovercraft (there's just one), so I figured it might be a little late. No problem--I'd left myself plenty of time. When 10:00 came and went without a hovercraft, people started to worry. There's apparently no way for the hovercraft to communicate with the stations, so there was no way to know where it was, if it was coming, etc, but there wasn't anything to do but wait. The hovercraft finally appeared at 10:30, and a rumor spread through the waiting room that the crossing had taken 2 hours (instead of 30-45 minutes).

I had been chatting with 2 women, an American originally from SL who had returned to visit her family and a European consultant who had been working there for the previous week, and they flew into a panic at this news. We'd miss the plane! Maybe we should stay in Freetown! What should we do!? I was pretty worried (and nearly cried when Kevin called my cell phone--more about phones later--to check on my progress) but I didn't have any choice about what to do: I'd checked out of the hotel, didn't have enough money to pay for the hotel even if I could check back in, and didn't know anyone to stay with: I was going to the airport, and I was going to stay there till I got on a plane, no matter how long it took. (I'm not sure what I was planning to eat during that time, since there's no city near the airport, and no food for sale in it.)

One of the women started asking random passengers what she should do, how long the trip to the airport would take, etc., as though they'd have a better idea than she did. She also spent some time yelling at the men unloading baggage from the hovercraft to hurry up, then some more time yelling at them to hurry up as they loaded our bags on. Finally, she cornered a member of the hovercraft crew, who told her that a fan belt had broken, but that the return trip would only take 45 minutes, no problem, and she'd catch her plane, so she quieted down for a while.

We hurried onto the hovercraft and set off. Things went well for about 45 minutes, till it because clear we were nowhere near land. Kevin called periodically and I moaned about how there weren't any more flights, I didn't have enough for a hotel (or a return hovercraft trip to Freetown, for that matter), etc. [I just need to defend my financial situation for a minute here: I sound really irresponsible for not having brought extra cash, but the literature I read beforehand was very clear about not carrying extra money, because of the risk of theft. I can definitely see why: the annual per capita GDP in in SL is something like $210... my hotel room cost $118 per night, and the hovercraft is $50 each way. One roundtrip hovercraft ride plus one night in the hotel = more than the per capita GDP. I'd have robbed me too.]

We finally reached the other side after 2 hours, just when the plane was scheduled to take off. With the broken fan belt, the hovercraft didn't have enough power to land, so it stopped a few feet out into the water and the crew carried everyone to land, piggyback or fireman's carry. The women who had been worried earlier screamed some more.

When we got to the airport (after a bumpy, pitch black return trip on the bus), it turned out that the plane was waiting for us (in fact, someone was waiting on the front steps of the airport to point us in the right direction and tell us to hurry). We rushed through check in (the gentleman checking passports took a picture of each one with a digital camera), security (no x-ray machines or functional metal detectors, they just riffled through the upper layers of our carry on luggage and patted us down), and onto the plane (incredibly clean, bright and air conditioned).

Back in London, on the shuttle bus from the airplane to the terminal, one of the other passengers called a friend or relative back in SL and we learned that the hovercraft had sunk on the trip back to Freetown. No one was hurt, and apparently they were able to raise it quickly, because yesterday, while looking for information about the sinking, Kevin discovered that later Tuesday morning the hovercraft ran out of fuel in the middle of the water. When another boat went out to refuel it, itcaught on fire! Luckily, everyone was evacuated safely. (I swear, I'm not making this up! OK, maybe I am--the link has expired already.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back from Sierra Leone

I'm back... I've been in Freetown, Sierra Leone for the past week, for a project at work. (This is the same trip I wrote about right after I started blogging, which didn't happen. I didn't want to write much about it this time, in case it didn't happen again. But it did.)

And Kevin's reminded me that I did a terrible job blogging about the trip to Peru, so I'm going to do better this time. Really.

So, I left last Tuesday, about 20 hours after we got back from Florida. Those 20 hours were spent scurrying around trying to get ready: all the normal packing stuff, plus the heath center had recommended that I treat all my clothes with insect repellent (or buy clothes that were already repellent--I mean, treated with repellent), to reduce the possibility of contracting malaria via mosquito bite (yes, I also took anti-malarial medicine, but it's not 100% effective, so it's better not to get bitten!).

So, that was already an adventure: the repellent is highly toxic and very smelly, and you're supposed to let it air-dry (outside), and I didn't really have enough time for that. So we let my treated clothes dry as much as possible, then I put them in the drier (on no heat), and stared at the drier in case it burst into flames. It didn't, and I was able to finish packing.

Sierra Leone is just coming out of the rainy season, but it's still very hot. Nonetheless, the health center also recommended that I cover as much skin as possible (to avoid mosquito bites), so I packed only long-sleeved shirts and pants--the other Americans I met there were mostly wearing less covering clothes, so maybe I would have been ok in capri pants (or skirts... skirts would have been nice), and 3/4 sleeve shirts. But I'm mosquito-bite prone, so it's probably better that I was extra careful.

Anyway. The flight to SL (from NYC via London and Dakar, Senegal--where I didn't actually get off the plane), takes about 20 hours. The flight itself was fine--I knit and napped and read. Unfortunately, the airport is across a large body of water from the city. IF the roads around the water were passable, it would be about a 150 mile drive, but the road around the bay is terrible to non-existent, so the three choices are hovercraft, ferry, or helicopter.

The ferry isn't recommended (I've forgotten exactly why, but whatever it was was bad enough that none of the other travelers I talked to had taken it, ever), but neither the helicopter or the hovercraft is perfect either. The helicopters are Soviet-made, are decades old, badly repaired, and prone to crashing. The hovercraft is slower, decades old, also in bad repair, and prone to sinking. On the grounds that I can swim but not fly, I picked the hovercraft.

When I made my hotel reservations (which I actually made online, though a London-based company that billed me via Paypal--which was important because none of the hotels in SL take credit cards, but I didn't want to carry that much extra cash), I made arrangements for someone to meet me at the airport and help me buy a ticket to the hovercraft. That was helpful, since there weren't any signs. So I bought my ticket, then took a bus to the hovercraft terminal.

I arrived after dark, and there's very little electricity in SL (the power grid was damaged by the war, but was doing ok till this summer, when a vital piece of equipment broke. Since then, there's just been power for a couple of hours each month. People and businesses that can afford it have generators.), so the bus ride was through pitch blackness--every so often I caught a glimpse of bushes or tall grasses by the side of the road, from the lights inside the bus, or from the headlights of oncoming traffic.

Then onto the hovercraft--which was old and noisy, but which did not sink. I was relieved, because I'd devoted all my worrying to the possibility of catching bloodworms when the hovercraft sank and dumped us into the water (no idea what bloodworms are, but they sound awful, and the health center was very sterm about not submerging myself in fresh water, because there might be bloodworms). It turns out though, that that that worry was unnecessary, because the hovercraft crosses salt water, which can't give you bloodworms. Hurray!

So, I made it across in about 30 minutes, then went to the hotel in a car that the travel agency sent. I got checked in, and went to my room. It was basic, and a little run down, but very clean. There was a small air conditioning unit in the room which meant that mosquitoes weren't really a worry, and I didn't need to sleep under a mosquito met. I did fend off a gigantic cricket-like insect--caught him under a glass (which I did not use again), and threw him in the toilet. I didn't want to squish him because the squished bugs I'd seen on way to my room were covered in millions of ants, and I didn't want to attract any ants! I flushed, but when I checked the next morning, he was still there, wiggling his legs! Flushing again got rid of him at last.

Ok... I think this is long enough for one entry--and probably kind of boring, without any pictures! I don't have may pictures of the city (I feel rude taking pictures of people's normal lives and surroundings... like I'm basically telling them I think their lives are weird), but I do have a picture of my sock in progress admiring the view from my hotel window, plus exciting stories about the flicker-y power supply, the difficulty of sending an email, buying a cell phone, and my adventures on the way home (now with more piggy-back rides and sinking hovercrafts!).

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hurray for Kevin

This is another speed post, between trips. We just got back yesterday from Kevin's full Ironman Tri in Florida, and this afternoon I'm leaving for Sierra Leone for work. I may be back this weekend, or I may be back next week. I'm trying not to worry about the up in the air-ness of the whole thing.

Kevin with IM Medal

I'm really proud of Kevin for finishing (14 hours and 10 minutes! That's a LONG time to keep going!). And he can still walk!

As usual, I lost him immediately in the crowd of swimmers at the start, took terrible pictures during the bike (mostly of his back wheel, with someone else in the center of the shot), and could barely operate the camera during the run. But he finished!

[Also, I got tons of gorgeous yarn from Schaefer right before we left for Florida. I barely got to look at it before we left, and now I have to leave it behind again. Woe is me.]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Birthday Yesterday

So, I mostly finished the emergency knitting for Kevin's birthday (yesterday): a scarf from yarn I spun (the pattern is the Yarn Harlot's one row handspun pattern... I think, because this is the second one I've made but I didn't actually look at the directions this time so it's possible that it's an interpretation).

Birthday Scarf

He claims to like it more that it looks like he does in this picture.

I did wrap it on the needles with a small ball of yarn attached, but that's probably just as well because I would have kept knitting till the yarn ran out, but it turns out that would have been too long. So I have a little bit of yarn left.

Here's the fabric up close.

Scarf in Sun

And here's the wool before I spun it:

Yes, It Really Was This Orange

Anyway, happy birthday yesterday, Kevin!

[Speaking of the Yarn Harlot, someone I didn't know addressed me as Stephanie (as in, "Stephanie?") at Rhinebeck two weekends ago. It took me a second, but I realized who she meant, and said no. I thought it was funny, since Stephanie describes herself as short, and I'm pretty tall--but I was sitting down, and my head was bent down, so all she had to go one was the top of my head and upper rim of my glasses. Then at the Fiber Twist, a woman looked at me hard, then told me that I probably get this all the time, but I wasn't Stephanie, was I? Maybe I could become a niche market celebrity impersonator, if the whole archives thing gets boring? Except for the height problem, of course.]

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Weekend

My friend Molly and I (Hi Molly!) met up in Massachusetts this weekend for the Fiber Twist and a nostalgic wander around the Smith campus.

Trying Not to Squint or Roll Down the Hill

Saturday was a little rainy (but not so bad that we couldn't look at yarn and wool and shiny things--I bought some wool at Winterberry Farm, and then some batting from Sojourner Designs at the Fiber Twist Marketplace, and Molly bought some Angelina). And I made plans to move to the fantasy farm in my head, where there is nothing to do but drink tea and play with fiber. I had a crush on a dairy farmer the year after I graduated from college, and I liked to hang out with him during the overnight (10 PM to 4, 5 or 6 AM) milking shift, so I know real farms are not like my fantasy sheep farm... although on the bright side, sheep don't need to be milked).

Then Sunday was gorgeous. I went for a wandering run which ended up on a trail in the woods, then we wandered around campus looking at all the changes and all the things which haven't changed.

Or at least that's what Molly did--I have some kind of selective amnesia and can barely remember Smith at all (and not because I was drinking either, but because I apparently haven't thought about Smith in years, so my brain is out of practice). So we wandered around, and Molly told me things I ought to remember (for goodness sake, I forgot the place in town we used to eat ice cream!! Not Herrell's, which I do remember, but Bart's, which closed).

I haven't taken pictures of my new wool (although it was all I could do not to buy a spindle at the marketplace so I could start spinning immediately, but I was trying to knit an emergency gift for Kevin's birthday. It was an emergency gift because, while I remembered the date, I didn't figure out till Friday that that meant it was today.).

But I did take a picture of my finished (and blocked, although you can't tell!) Hanami while we walked around.

Slightly Wrinkled Hanami

I even wore it for a little while, with my Garnstudio jacket (not sure if they're recognizable in the top picture, but they're there!).

Saturday, October 27, 2007


One of the things I had a hard time explaining to Kevin and our guide when we were in Peru was that I wasn't just looking for yarn--I was looking for yarn I wouldn't be able to find at home (although that broke down in the face of the amazing deal on the alpaca laceweight I found at the end of the trip... but at least I tried!).

Each of the villages we stayed in had an open air market in the center of town, sometimes with both food and things for sale (that was the distinction we made between the markets when I studied in Russia--neither of the big markets seemed to have a name, so we called them the Thing Market and the Food Market... maybe we would have been more articulate if we had had larger Russian vocabularies?), and sometimes just things--local crafts, alpaca sweaters, wool rugs, t-shirts, etc. We saw yarn a couple of times, but on closer inspection it turned out to be alpaca and acrylic, and failed the "can't get at home" test. One of our hotels had some gift shops on the first floor, and I spotted Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grand, which failed the "can't get at home" test with flying colors. (Isn't Plymouth based in Massachusetts?)

Can't Get This At Home

Anyway--eventually, I spotted some yarn I definitely couldn't get at home--handspun wool, naturally dyed (I'm not sure with what). So I bought 4 small balls (about the size of oranges), and 1 larger ball (not pictured, but it's the same color as the darkest of the little ones).

The woman selling it said the four colors were dyed using the same plant, in different concentrations. She had sets of other colors too--same dye, but different shades--browns, reds, purples and greens. They were gorgeous all together (but as usual, I felt weird taking a picture...).

For the moment, the yarn is art (in a bowl over the fireplace). It reminds me of the triangular Icelandic shawls, with bands of different (usually natural) colors along the lower edges. But it seems funny to turn Peruvian wool into an Icelandic shawl, so I'm still thinking. (Or, maybe not funny--we did get married in Iceland, and the vacation part of the trip to Peru was our first anniversary present to ourselves. Hmm.) Also, it would probably be an outer shawl, because the yarn is a smidge scratchy--fine on my hands or over a shirt, probably not so good on my neck.

The fact that I think it's a bit scratchy may mean it's totally unfit for normal (non-knitting) human use. I have a very high tolerance for scratchy... One pointless story, and then I swear I will quite babbling: I wanted to make mittens for my dad, who has a very low scratchy tolerance. I went to the yarn store, where I fondling yarn with a perplexed expression as I tried to imagine whether I would think the yarn was scratchy, assuming I thought wool was scratchy at all. The store owner came over, and asked if she could help. I explained that whole knitting-for-dad-with-low-scratchy-tolerance issue, and she said, "it's not scratchy, it's textural." So: the yarn is a bit textural.

Ok. Must go.

Wait! I finished Garnstudio 103-1, except I'm undecided about the buttons (I may want to use a pin, instead). Pictures soon, since I'm planning to wear it today or tomorrow, even buttonless.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In the Mail

In an unusal burst of coordination, not only did I finish these booties for our friends' new baby, but we bought a card and got the whole thing it the mail. Amazing.


And aren't they cute? (What you can't see is how tiny they are! But stretchy, and really--it's not like the baby will have to go bootie-less if these only fit for 15 seconds.)

They're Saartje's bootees, knit on 2.5 mm needles with scraps of Lola.

In other news, I'm going to meet up with a friend of mine from college (who also knits, just not obsessively... yet!) to go to the Fiber Twist this Saturday. Maybe this time (if we make it to the farms, I mean), I'll manage to take pictures of some fiber critters?

Although on the other hand, why start being a diligent photographer now? Maybe I could just substitute critter pictures from the Peru trip?

Rebecca with Llamas in Machu Picchu

Don't you think? This could be Deerfield, right? A llama is a llama, New England is known for its stone walls, and I'm likely to be wearing the same coat, if it's rainy on Saturday. No one will ever know the difference.

(There's a small herd of llamas living in Machu Picchu, looking picturesque and keeping the grass short... )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monkey Socks

Of course, there was also knitting at Rhinebeck--I finished the Monkey socks I started as my portable project for the trip to Peru.

Monkey Socks

I was really worried about having enough yarn, because Jitterbug (this is Colinette Jitterbug, by the way) comes in 290-ish yard skeins, so I made the cuffs 1 repeat shorter than my other Monkey socks.

But I probably would have had enough to do slightly longer cuffs, since my leftovers are about the size of a golf ball. I thought briefly about detaching the cuffs, knitting another repeat of the pattern, then grafting the cuffs back on, but then I regained my senses. I'll just use the leftovers for booties or contrasting toes or heels or something.

I wore the socks to work on Monday (including a 1+ mile walk to get there), and they survived contact with shoes just fine. I haven't washed them yet, but Jitterbug is supposed to be superwash.

Speaking of Peru, I should post more about the trip, huh? I've promised to write an article about the trip for The Garter Belt (I'd just been accepted as a designer at the end of last year, when they kind of went on a new pattern hiatus, but the site is going to be active again soon), so I feel like any urge to write about the trip should be channeled into my article.

Rhinebeck Report

Like every other knitter in the northeast, I went to Rhinebeck for the weekend with with a horde of New Haven Snbers (Alice, Emily, Heidi, and Katy, Suzy, plus people who just came for one day or the other).

First, the shopping: I was remarkably restrained. Yarn-wise, I only bought one skein of sock yarn (superwash merino & nylon from Ellen's Half Pint Farm).

Oooohh... Denim-y

And it even fits with my new scheme to try to buy sock yarn that looks like my clothes! (In this case, jeans and earth tones.)

And some buttons from Moving Mud, for the lovely Garnstudio 103-1 jacket I've started, using doubled Martha in the greenjeans color way from Schaefer.

Even More Beautiful in Person!

What's funny about these is that I used to live in Corning, NY and work at the glass museum (in the library), and did not acquire a single glass button during that time (in retrospect, I could clobber myself for not working out some kind of knitting for glass exchange with a coworker... everyone but me made beautiful glass). Now, however, I'm really drawn to glass, and these match the yarn beautifully.

And some fiber--this is a wool and mohair blend from.... someone very nice... which I'm hoping will coordinate with the purple-y yarn I made from wool I bought in Maryland.

New Fiber-Rhinebeck

I saw a cozy-looking pullover with deep ribs (they'd probably end right under the bust, and at the elbow) in one color and the rest of the sweater in another, and I'd like to make this into something like that, with the Maryland yarn as the other color. The purples are similar, but I have no idea how/if that will translate into compatibility once this is yarn. It will be a surprise.

And finally this, 100% wool, just a quarter pound or so, because it was pretty.

Not so bright in real life!

It was lovely to walk around and think yarn-y, knitting-ish thoughts all weekend. I do wish it had been cooler, so more people would have worn stuff they'd made, but otherwise, it was just about perfect.

In addition to hanging out with my knitties, I got to meet Debby, and Laura from Schaefer Yarns, who I've emailed and mailed projects to, but hadn't ever met. I love meeting people in person who I kind of know already--it gets over my least favorite part of meeting new people--the part where no one acts like themselves because they're trying to make a good impression. (Not that I want people to try to make bad impressions, but everyone turns out to be more interesting that they originally seemed, once they start saying what they really think!)

And I had apple pie with ice cream for breakfast on Sunday. (Hey, waffles with apple topping and whipped cream are a breakfast food... is ice cream really that much worse?)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Maybe it's me, not the hat?

Because there's all kinds of extra room--it's just hard to keep it on top of my head.

Maybe I need remedial hat lessons?

And to have the memory of the berets the sousaphone/tuba players wore in marching band expunged from my brain, so I don't worry that I look like them? (Nothing against sousaphones, of course.... just that marching band uniforms are not as stylish as band directors would have one believe).


So, I've been working on and off on a pig for Schaefer Yarn Co--they loved the fish, but wanted more mammals. Till I sewed on the ears last night, I was pretty sure it would be a disaster, but now I think it actually looks like a pig!

Not Pictured: Curly Tail

The eyes are not (as far as I can tell) uneven in real life. The flash must have made him squint.

And in unrelated news... Do you think this hat looks funny?

Urchin hat

On me, I mean--the the hat (Urchin, from Knitty) is in no way inherently funny looking, and is stunning on many people... I just think I look funny in many hats. Kevin is no help (probably smart of him, actually). His standard response to "Do I look funny in this?" is "No funnier than usual."

I made it last night as a pre-sewing reward for sewing up the pig (which, incredibly, did not prevent me from actually sewing up the pig!). I'd looked through Knitty repeatedly without noticing it, till yesterday when I finally saw it and decided I needed one immediately, if not sooner. Mainly because one of the samples was knit with not very much thick and think yarn, so the pattern seemed like a good match for my first handspun (from this time last year).

I think the yarn and pattern combo worked out well--my yarn looks artistic rather than wacky. Which is surprising, because I made it before I understood how to ply with a spindle, so I basically unwound the single from the spindle, folded it in half on my apartment floor, and let it twist back on itself. Like when you let a little bit of single twist on itself, to see what a 2-ply yarn would look like, but on a larger scale. It went about as well as you're imagining, but with more tangling and carpet fuzz.

What I'm not so sure about it how the hat looks on me, so I'm counting on all of you to say something useful ("No funnier than usual" is not useful). I only used half the yarn, and people I know who look good in berets need holiday presents, so I will not be at all insulted if you think I look much funnier than usual!

(PS: More funny is technically correct... but funnier is more funny. So there.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Catch Up Socks

I think I mentioned that I had finished these before I went to Peru, but didn't post a picture.

Coriolis Socks

To review, they're toe-up Coriolis Socks, from the master pattern in New Pathways for Socks Knitters, and the yarn is Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sport.

I was a little worried about running out of yarn (there's a turned under hem at the cuff, which you can't see, and I thought about using a different color yarn for the inside), but I have a smidge left.

Here's the thing: I really appreciate the brilliance of Cat Bordhi's realization that you can put the increases anywhere around the foot when you make a socks, but I'm kind of used to the way heel gusset increases look, so these look like they're missing something. So it's possible that I'll use the master heels and toes in her book (which are explained very clearly--and I love having a selection to toes and heels to pick from), but position my gusset increases like usual. Or maybe I'll get used to the new way, and stop thinking the side of my heel looks oddly naked and undefined? Or maybe I'll just stop obsessing over socks, which go in shoes and wear out?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seqe System Shawl

On the first day of the vacation portion of our trip, we went to several museums in Cusco, then had a quick tour of the principal ruins in the area (we went back the next day on our run to see them in more detail).

One of the museums, originally an Inca temple which was converted into a monastary when the Spanish arrived, had a small gallery with modern Peruvian art, including this representation of the seqe system in the region. I can't find a good explanation of seqes online, and I'm not sure I understood entirely what the guide told us about them, but evidently they're lines of energy that connect sacred places to each other (with the most sacred place at the center, where all the lines in the picture originate).

Seqe System of Cusco

Seqe System of Cusco

(Sorry about the pictures--the room was very narrow!)

I think this painting wants to be a shawl--begun where the lines start and worked in the round (all in one color, with beads or eyelets to form the lines), till the diameter of the circle is the width of the shawl. Then there will be some kind of crazy binding off/casting on thing to turn the circle into a rectangle... I'm not quite sure how that will work, but there are a couple of sweaters (the sunrise circle jacket, and starburst sweater, both from IK, and I'm sure there are more I'm forgetting) where a similar thing happens. Or are there shawls that do this already?

What's interesting about the sweaters, as compared to the painting and my shawl idea, is that circular construction of rectangles forms the central design element of the sweaters, whereas the radiating lines are the dominant feature of the painting (and actually, there's nothing inherently circular about the painting--it's a by-product of how I thought it could be knit). It seems more organic that the alternative (just knitting a rectangle, positioning the beads or eyelets to form lines), but maybe it would add too much circular-ness (circularity?) that wasn't in the painting?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I feel like I've forgotten how to blog (and boy, is going to work going to be a shock tomorrow morning!), but here we are, back in New Haven. The trip was amazing!

After the work part, we traveled around the Sacred Valley, staying in small towns at the base of mountains and running up the mountains in the mornings to see Inca ruins. Although running is kind of overstating things--Kevin ran, and I trudged, breaking into a slow jog from time to time. Not till the last day, when we ran from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes is the town at the base of the mountain where most people stay when they visit Machu Picchu) did I actually manage to run most of the run. And then we climbed up to the top of Huayna Picchu (the mountain looming in the back of every picture of Machu Picchu you've ever seen), which is where we took this picture.

See all the Switchbacks?

It turns out that I'm not very good at high elevations--not till the last day (and MP is at a lower elevation than most of the other Inca sites) could I run without my hands and/or feet getting slightly numb, never mind being completely out of breath. But it was definitely worth it--there's nothing like looking ahead to a challenge, thinking it looks impossible, and then discovering several hours later than you've done it after all.

Plus, then we got to do yoga at the top!

Finally Catching my Breath!

We (Kevin) are still working on organizing our pictures in Flickr, and I have all kind of knitting to report (I finished Hanami, and started yet another pair of Monkeys), and some fiber-y pictures (and purchases), but I'm going to spread that out over the next bunch of days.

There's more yarniness than there might otherwise be because we absolutely lucked out with our tour guide--we picked Inca Runners as a tour company because of the running, but Hanny turned out to be a vegetarian, and she used to work with a group of knitters, dyeing yarn using natural dyes and then selling the sweaters they made, and she didn't mind that Kevin and I are kind of non-chatty, except when we forget we're meant to be on vacation and start babbling about archives, so she was really a perfect match for us. Non-chatty, vegetarian knitting runners should definitely ask for Hanny when they visit the Sacred Valley.

Anyway... it turns out that I want to write about everything at once, right this second, so I'll stop now before this gets out of hand, and save some for later.

[In less good news, someone stole Vespy while we were gone. I'm pretty upset about it--they left the cover so poor Vespy is now getting rained on! and for some reason, it's making me sad about the death of my pet rabbit (fully 18 months ago) all over again--so I'm trying my best not to think about it. The thief needed to saw through a gigantic lock, then must have had a truck to take it away (the front wheel locks when it's parked so it can't be rolled away without the key), plus friends to help lift it, so the amount of planning makes me sick. We probably won't get another one, because there's nothing to stop it from happening again, and our insurance company probably does not want to keep buying Vespas for thieves. Anyway: not thinking about it, except to remind myself that I'm lucky to have "theft of Vespa while on 2-week trip to Peru" as a problem.]