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.]

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Just Checking In

Obviously, all kinds of important work things have been happening, but in between, I've been working on my Hanami stole--I've finished the lattice portion and worked the first eyelet row in the cherry blossom portion. For the first time in living memory, I didn't sleep non-stop on the plane, so I made all kinds of progress then. And since we arrived in Lima, I've been knitting madly in the evenings, resting my brain.

No blog-able pictures so far (although if you want pictures of servers, folders, VCRs, CDs, or archival boxes....) but I promise to take many, many, many pictures once we get to the vacation part of the trip.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Brief Interlude Between Trips

I'm back in New Haven for just about 12 hours before Kevin and I leave for Peru. So very quickly, here are my mom's pictures from Anna's wedding, which was lovely and incredibly well-organized (the hotel staff, photographers, and day of coordinator all commented on Anna's organizational skills--she really did an amazing job). My mom mostly took pictures when the official photographers weren't, so the pictures are mainly of us getting ready, and then of my aunts and uncles.

Buttoning Anna's Dress

What that means is that this is just about the best picture of Anna in her dress, at least till the official photos turn up. She looked beautiful though, and couldn't stop smiling.

And since this is a knitting blog...

Knitting takes the edge off

I kept offering my dad yarn before the ceremony (he's been nervous for months about walking Anna down the aisle), and suggesting that he think about wool, but I don't think he understood that I was completely serious. (Not that you can tell, but these are socks, following the coriolis master pattern from New Pathways for Socks Knitters. I used size 4 needles, and all but about 5 yards of the September yarn from the Woolgirl sock club.)

But knitting is the perfect pre-wedding activity... See?

Knitting Away

(I'm not sure what my internet access situation will be till I'm back in the US in 2 weeks, so I wouldn't hold my breath for posts if I were you! But I'll post about the trip once I'm back.)