Monday, December 22, 2008

Sorted, Mostly

Somehow, it's easier (and involves less time in transit) to fly to Amman, then go on to Jerusalem, than to go directly from Cairo to Jerusalem. So, that's what we're doing (there was a brief and happy period when we thought this would be nearly free, thanks to frequent flier miles, but with the fees and taxes, it's not. But it does mean we should get to see Petra, for about 47 seconds, so that's a plus.)

And, thanks to diligent effort yesterday, we're mostly packed (iPod cord!), most of the existing presents are wrapped, great progress has been made on last minute knitting (the knitting was completely under control till I added a sweater... which technically doesn't need to be done exactly on Christmas, so there's plenty of time, right? With all the passenger-ing I have coming up?), and I'm less than 50 minutes of rowing away from the higher of the 2 challenge distances. (I'm planning to do that at lunch, since I'm not sure about the erg situation at the hotel, and I need to finish by Christmas eve.)

Speaking of last minute knitting, you will be amazed to learn that some of it was socks! Pair 30 is finished (pictures once the recipient provides them), and pair 31 is underway (as long as I finish them by the end of December, I'll be on schedule so far). I have a zillion leftover bits of yarn, so it may be time to make baby socks, once I'm back home in January (baby socks seem like a bad travel project, since there's so much finishing relative to actual knitting). Speedy!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Do You Happen to Know...

I've finally stopped plotting what knitting to bring long enough to work on travel arrangements, and it's not pretty.

Well, mostly it's fine, but given the limited time we have, plus the fact that I need to do some actual work in the middle of the trip, and the fact that Kevin and I are basically unable to resist trying to fit an impossible number of activities into any given amount of time... remember that we got back from his Ironman less than 24 hours before I left for Sierra Leone (and that I spent most of the time I was home frantically washing my clothes in bug repellent, then trying to make then dry faster with the power of my mind, because bug repellent-treated clothes cannot be machine dried...) anyway, keeping all that in mind, it will come as no surprise that we are currently committed to being in Cairo (for a tour which looks really great!) on January 2, and then in Jerusalem (for work) on January 4.

This would be fine (they're only 264 miles apart), except that the buses from Cairo to the border are wacky/unreliable (but at least a bus is not a hovercraft, no matter what other problems it might have), and January 3 is a Saturday. (This becomes an issue once we get into Israel. Maybe. The bus company's website says there are buses late Saturday afternoon, so maybe the issue is all in my head?)

My new best friends on the internet (technically, we've never met, and their posts are months old) tell me (by way of those ancient posts) that this is all no problem, but I'd like a little more reassurance. Do you happen to know anyone who has successfully taken the bus from Cairo to Haba? And then from Eilat to Jerusalem? Or hired a cab? On a Saturday?

Monday, December 15, 2008


Not only did I manage to mail the scarves in, but I finished the socks! (I may have called them the Socks of Doom as I was kitchenering the last toe, but in fact they've quite nice).

I've already started another pair of basic socks (actually, I started them on Saturday night, at Peaceful Knitter's house), and have reached a decision point on the baby sweater for Schaefer Yarns. It's still resisting photography (although Kevin has suggested several times that Moppet might like to model it... and she thinks he's the nice one, who looks out for her and doesn't to cut her nails/claws or trim her fur... if only she knew!), but imagine the lower body of a bottom-up sweater, dark semi-solid blue, with a big cable panel in the center of the front and moss stitch with smaller cables the rest of the way around.

Got it? Ok.

I was originally going to split for the sleeves and work the upper body flat, making those overlapping shoulders that accommodate gigantic baby heads (you know the ones-- the kind that are often on baby t-shirts and onsies), then knit the sleeves down from the shoulders. Then I thought maybe I would knit the sleeves from the cuff up, and have a raglan yoke--but one that buttons along one of the raglan decrease lines, because of the gigantic head situation. Or maybe regular set-in sleeves, but with buttons on one shoulder?

And now I can't decide.

To distract myself, I'm starting to think about travel knitting. Coming up in the next month, there's the annual tour d'everywhere (CT, NY, PA, OH, WV, VA, NC, possibly SC if we follow the wacky GPS directions, VA again, DC, MD, DE or PA again, NJ, NY... ). But this time, we're going to Israel and Egypt (!!) before coming all the way home.

About that.. it looks like I'll be doing some consulting (for my previous employer) in Israel in January, and that to fit everything in, I'll be leaving at the end of December, right on the tail end of our holiday travels. Kevin's coming too, and hopefully we'll also get to visit Egypt, because I was obsessed with ancient Egypt when I was in middle school. The good news is that I don't think there will be any sinking hovercraft this time around, the bad news is that none of the details are settled yet... so naturally, I've been amusing myself while working out by contemplating just how much sock yarn I'll need for 3-4 days of driving, 2 transatlantic flights (a coworker reports that she's brought knitting needles on American planes to and from Tel Aviv, so I'm going to think positively), and 2 weeks' worth of knitting while waiting/before going to bed/after biking all day (because we're tying to coordinate a bunch of biking in Israel).

So far, my best guess is: a lot.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Don't Blame the Wine!

Because the pattern is not going significantly better on sock #2, through which I have been sustained almost entirely by hot chocolate and dried mango (although if you have seen how fast I ingest dried mango, you might argue that it's just as addictive and therefore probably as bad for knitting as wine!)

Yummy, yummy mango.

In other news, there was a dramatic development this morning in the saga of my red scarf collection (carefully accumulated, 1 scarf per year, by repeatedly missing the Red Scarf Project deadline): I finally put the scarves in a box, AND printed an address label! Now, if I can just make the long journey (2 blocks... ) to the post office, I can actually send them in!

And here they are:

I'm especially fond of the middle one, made from early handspun (possibly the second thing I knit from my handspun, although not the second yarn I spun) using the multidirectional diagonal scarf pattern. (Which I first found through the forums, back in the dark ages of knitting and the internet, when we walked to school through snowdrifts as high as our heads, uphill both ways. In June. And liked it. Technically, I've never seen that skit, so I may have it wrong.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There's a First Time for Everything

I'm working away on pair 29 (and also on a baby sweater for Schaefer, don't worry Laura!), and having a terrible time memorizing/reading/predicting the pattern.

Not that you can see the pattern here, but it's a knit/purl combo called broken chevron:

The individual rows are easy enough to work, once I get started, but I'm not yet able to tell which comes next, without looking at the chart. It's been a while since that happened, at least this far into the project, and now I remember how much it slows me down (especially for socks, which I like to have as my mindless knitting).

So weirdly, I'm working on the baby sweater (which defied photography this morning) as my easy project, despite the cables--at least I understand them, and can remember what's supposed to happen next.

I see stockinette socks in my future!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tanks: a Terrible Photo

Winter rowing started on Monday, and I already have blisters on 2 fingers and 1 thumb (my fault, because I thought it might be fun to try to row 200,000 meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas, for an indoor rowing challenge that Concept2 runs, so I also erged for an hour yesterday, even though there wasn't any practice--because I started out the challenge by not erging for 4 days). At practice, we partly erg and partly row in the tanks (we use the crew facilities in Large-University-in-New-Haven-Which-Shall-Remain-Nameless's gym). Sadly, any rowing in the tanks doesn't count towards the challenge... possibly because Concept2 makes ergs, not tanks?

And here's what the tanks look like (please excuse my cellphone picture--and it's worse than usual because I realized right as I took the picture that the guys might think I was taking a picture of them!).

You sit facing the back of the picture, so if you were actually on the water, the boat would be moving toward the camera. There's water on the sides (that's why the whole thing looks like an indoor pool--because it is), but the seats (which move on tracks, just like in a boat) are on a cement section that's part of the pool. Since the "boat" can't move, the water moves instead. It's circulated by gigantic pumps towards the back of the picture, so it's moving the same way relative to the rowers as it would be if they were in a moving boat, except that it's totally consistent--no wake, no waves, constant current.

All this should make it easier, but somehow, I've still managed to have embarrassing problems at both practices! The first day, I started rowing with my oar turned backwards (so it barely moved through the water when I wanted it to, and tried to take off on its own when I didn't). Then this morning it TWICE got stuck under water at the end of the stroke, so as I was starting to slide forwards (well--forwards for me, actually towards the stern), it kept coming backwards/towards the bow (right towards me). I ducked, untangled myself, and started rowing again, but it made a big commotion and since I'd rather be invisible, it was mortifying.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Oops, look how fast nearly 2 weeks can pass!

My excuse is Thanksgiving travel and family visits. See?

(Sadly, she's just modeling this hat, which is a present for another baby, who cannot possibly be quite as cute, along with the blue socks from 2 posts ago.)

Speaking of socks, I've finished 2, nearly 3, more pairs: one from New Pathways for Socks Knitters (I didn't like the lack of a gusset on them either, so I have finally accepted that NPSK and I were not meant to be, and given it away to avoid further relapses), a pair of anklets from the leftovers, and a pair for a gift (that's the pair that's nearly done--the second sock just needs ribs). So that's 27, nearly 28, pairs in 6 months.

On the afternoon of the 30th, with the end of pair 28 in sight, I was briefly excited about finishing them (before I got distracted by spinning), because wouldn't it be great to overachieve and knit more than my self-imposed goal of 9 pairs every 2 months (for a total of 27 pairs in 6 months)? Then I remembered that my self-imposed goal was already overachieving, since 26 (not, ahem, 27) is half of 52.

Phew. Mediocrity in personal knitting challenge avoided! Mediocrity in basic math skills? Still possible! (On the other hand, I had a grand time the other day using algebra to calculate different possible sizes for a trapezoidal entrelac wrap using a given amount of yarn, so all is not lost, math-wise.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

2.8 Years to Go

Erin, from A Dress A Day (the reason I've worn only dresses & skirts to work since February) linked to an article which says that the difference between being amazing, good and mediocre is how much you practice: it takes 10,000 hours to be great, 8,000 to be good, and 4,000 to be mediocre. (I think I've read those numbers somewhere before, but where?)

So, let's do a little math... say I've knit an hour a day since college (I knit in college too, but the combined effects of less money and more studying meant I didn't knit anywhere as much), and way more on weekends, vacations, and long plane rides... say my extra weekend and vacation knitting averages to an extra 4 hours per weekend day (which seems reasonable, since weekend days I didn't knit are balanced by marathon knitting sessions when traveling. Also, I'm trying to be conservative in this estimate, hard as that may be to believe!).

Regular daily knitting: 365(days/year) x 1(hours/day) = 365(hours/year)

Binge knitting: 52(weeks/year) x 2(days/weekend) x 4(hours/day) = 416(hours/year)

365 + 416 = 781 knitting hours/year

That's 7,810 hours over 10 years, leaving 190 hours to go to 8,000, and 2,190 to 10,000.

At 781 hours per year, that will take 2.8 years.

And I will need to buy more yarn, since I "only" have about a 6-month supply at my current rate of knitting (in my measured stash, at least).

Speaking of which, it occurs to me that I should probably start counting handspun, now that I've spun yarn on purpose to make a pre-selected project (the Montana Tunic) even if I did have to change the gauge.

So that's another reason to get knitting!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Knit a Cowl!

Hey, I have a pattern in the winter Knotions, which just went live. It's for these three cowls:

You also have my permission to knit other people's patterns. (This was not what my startitis needed!)

(Speaking of my startitis problem, I finished the socks...

...dashed off a pair of baby socks for a present...

...and knit about a foot of Montana Tunic...

No, I hardly did anything but knit this weekend. Why do you ask?)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Imaginary Startitis

(Non-knitters: startitis is when you start a bunch of things in a short space of time, and usually without making any real progress on anything before starting something else. Or not you, but knitters.)

There are approximately 800 things I want to knit immediately.

1. Montana Tunic. I think I'm leaning towards the teal handspun, because in my head I've alloted all the other possibilities to other sweaters. This decision subject to change without notice. (Especially since I'm trying to be good and make some progress on the things I'm already working on.)

2. Imogene. Maybe in the grey Miss Priss I just got?

3. Pullover something like 28thirty, but with a longer body, lower neck, and maybe it should be a cardigan after all. In some label-less tan-ish, hearther-y yarn that might or might not be from Green Mountain Spinnery, which came home with me from SnB.

4. Another red scarf for the Red Scarf Project . I made a malabrigo waffles scarf already, not from malabrigo, but I have some red malabrigo, and wouldn't it be nice to make another that lived up to its name? Except that the malabrigo might want to be a hat instead. Or possibly stripes with the might-be-Green-Mountain-Spinnery yarn.

5. Any sock that is not darknavypurplenearlyblack. (Yes, that's a real color.) Pair 24 is darknavypurplenearlyblack, which is somehow darker that actual black, and while it's incredibly beautiful, it is driving me crazy because it's hard to see (and "read") the stitches, so I keep having to stop to make sure I'm in the right place. The good news is that I'm about halfway through the leg on sock #2 (they're cuff-down, so that leaves the heel and foot left to knit). Any leftovers will be knit in stockinette, so there.

6. Brown cardigan that I've been designing in my head.

7. Baby sweater in Schaefer's new sock yarn. Gorgeous indigo-y blue that is nothing like darknavypurplenearlyblack, so I will be able to see what's going on.

8. Garter stitch wrap/scarf I blithered about when I finished the seamless hybrid--solid and handpainted yarn together for most of it, loose, deep ruffles out of just the handpainted to finish off.

9. Nearly every mitten/mitt/hat/glove I've ever seen a pattern for.

10. Top-down raglan or yoked sweater from multicolored pink/purple/grey merino (for the top of the yoke) and the silvery-grey yarn from Sarah and c=Coco that I showed on Wednesday (possibly Sarah and Coco are Corriedale sheep? Much check labels!).

I haven't actually cast on for any of these yet (even through I currently have 2 projects going, rather than my usual 3... maybe that's the problem?). But do you think this is the beginning of the end of knitting a pair of socks a week? 24 socks out of 52 is mile 12 of a marathon--just about the spot I start to think that the half marathon is really the perfect distance--long enough that I feel like I really ran somewhere, not so long as to become uncivilized.

Although on the other hand, I have been knitting other things at the same time as knitting the socks, so maybe there's hope, if I just cast on for the (apparently necessary for knitting balance) third thing?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And Another Option

(Blogger tries to suggest previously used post titles when you start typing--but I don't need that feature, because I naturally want to call all my posts the same thing--this is the third post I have titled "And Another [Something]")

Anyway, I uncovered another Montana Tunic yarn choice--silvery grey handspun from two sheep named Coco and Sarah (I think). Here it is with the teal.

Hmmm. (See what kind of waffling ensues when I don't write about my socks?)

And I had a wildly nerdy thought which I just nearly forgot, but remembered again (hurray!). So, my favorite high school math teacher, Mr. Bock (look, he's mentioned in the Wikipedia entry about my high school!) explained infinity by saying that if you had a hotel with an infinite number of rooms, and they were all filled, and another guest came, you could make room for the new guest by putting him in room one and having everyone else move up/over one room. (And in one of my favorite books, Smilla's Sense of Snow, Smilla admires the dedication to privacy that makes moving an infinite number of people seem like a reasonable thing to do so everyone would have their own room.)

So, in Excel, if you highlight a row (my clicking on the grey border area), then try to paste it one column over in another row (say, pasting row 3 in row 4, beginning in B2), Excel won't let you because the highlighted area and the spot you want to paste it aren't the same size. Ergo, Excel does not allow an infinite number of columns. (Or if it does, it misunderstands infinity and needs to speak to Mr. Bock about it.)

But back to the yarn: I'd been vaguely thinking about the grey for the body and sleeves of a raglan sweater, with the yoke in another handspun (multi-colored, including grey). But I also might like it for this. Hmm.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


1. I was knitting in a talk at work just now, and the speaker was talking about blogs. He started to say "Does anyone knit?" but noticed me, said "oh, there you are," pointed out that there are knitting blogs, then distracted himself by asking what knitters' favorite programming language is (Perl, ha-ha). I wonder--does he have a knitblog/know how common knitting blogs are, or did he see one knitblog once and think "Wow! There are blogs about everything!"?

2. Would I have come up with Perl if I hadn't been thinking so hard about whether he meant that knitting directions are like a programming language, or that knitting is binary just like bits.

3. If I do decide to use the teal yarn for the Montana Tunic, will 650-700 yards be enough? (I plied about half of the yarn last night, and suddenly it seems like less yardage than I thought it would be--do I spin more densely than other people? Is that even possible?) I think I'm going to make the smallest size (38"), the size I usually make my sweaters (since it's semi-open on the sides, if anything it will seem to fit more loosely than it does, I think). The pattern calls for 3 skeins of 250 yards each for both the smallest size and the second smallest size--even if the whole third skein would be used up for the second smallest size, there would have been some left over when making the smallest size, right?

Monday, November 10, 2008


So, I've wanted to make a Montana Tunic (in two colors in the top pic here) since Gale brought her preview copy of Shear Spirit to SnB. Once the book actually came out, I started thinking about yarn--early on, I thought maybe a brown yarn, but I already have a brown vest, and since I only have 3 vests total (and 2 of them are already the same pattern in different colors...), maybe I should branch out color-wise?

So now I'm thinking either some teal-y, tweed-y handspun (technically, not quite finished--I still need to spin the last little bit, then ply it all...), or some semi-solid grey Miss Priss which appeared over the weekend. (And it brought 4 skeins of Schaefer Anne with it--sock yarn crisis averted! At least for the moment.)

Anyway, it's a quandary.

The tunic shape is already a little quirky (in the best possible way, naturally), so maybe it doesn't also need to be teal (even a very tweedy teal)? Also, the sleeves of my shirt will show when I wear it, and since teal is an unusual color for my wardrobe, maybe I'd be happier/wear it more not trying to match my sleeves to teal?

On the other hand... I really want to knit up the teal yarn. Once it's done, I mean.

Or maybe it's not a quandary, since wanting to knit the teal yarn is a reason to knit something with it, not a reason to knit the tunic with it.

(Also, do you think the tunic would be a disaster on me? I'm kind of pear-shaped. Not as noticeably as some, since I have fairly wide shoulders, but enough that there are some things I'm certain look terrible on me. I'm planning to shorten it/not lengthen it (I'm tall-ish, and can't remember how long it is as written) so it ends right at my hip bones.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

It Occurs to Me...

That maybe I'm not feeling bored with blogging, just with blogging about socks. (Also about blogging without pictures... a situation which will get worse now that it's dark at about 3:26 pm.)

And writing about socks would be more interesting if I'd just pick an interesting pattern--but my last 2 pairs have been stockinette, because I wanted to use up bits.

But hey, that reminds me! Would you have guessed that this:

And this:

Would look like this:

When knit together?

(That last one is Pair 22 out of 52--I just finished pair 23, so as long as I keep on schedule this month, I'll have 27 pairs done at the halfway point. I'm currently in possession of a mere 8 skeins of sock yarn, although some of them will be enough for more than 1 pair. CRISIS! IMPENDING SOCK YARN SHORTAGE!)

Anyway, looking at all three pairs together, I can see the first 2 colorways in the third, but looking at the first two, I wouldn't have predicted the third. Magic! Not my magic though--I think it works because the component colors are harmonious, and that's all the Schaefer Yarn Company's doing (this is their Anne yarn).

Look at that--when I think I'm bored of blogging about socks, I... blog about socks to mix things up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008



Monday, November 3, 2008

Sweater at Last

I made Kevin take a quick picture of the finished seamless hybrid yesterday (I nearly said "new" but since finishing it I've worn it at least once a weekend and some weeks during the week too, so calling it new feels funny). And here it is:

I'm mostly happy with it. I do think I should have made it slightly longer (but am too lazy to knit a new lower edge then graft it on... ), so I'm thinking about knitting a lower hem in a different but coordinating color and sewing it to the bottom--that way, the ribs wouldn't need to match. That would also have the benefit of adding a little weight around the bottom--right now, the length problem is compounded because the sweater is so light and floaty that it seems shorter than it is.

On the other hand, it's kind of pill-y (not surprising, since I knit it with yarn meant for lacy shawls, not sweaters). I can't tell if it's going to keep pilling till it vanishes in a little puff of fuzz, or if it's going to reach some kind of pill equilibrium and be OK for years (my first hourglass sweater, in Tahki Donegal Tweed, pilled like mad then stopped, maybe it's like that?). If it's going to vanish in a puff of fuzz, then I don't want to sink more yarn and knitting time at it... but on the other hand if it's about to reach pill equilibrium and last forever, I want it to be perfect.

I also should have remembered (or acted on, because I actually did remember but did nothing) that Elizabeth Zimmerman's percentage sweaters (where you figure out how many stitches you need for the body, then the rest of the directions are given as a percentage of that number) produce more tightly fitting sleeves than most people prefer these days. Other people adjust for this by starting the sleeves with a higher percentage of the body stitches that she suggests, but I didn't, so the body is looser than the sleeves. (Although now that I look at the picture, I think the sleeves have relaxed and fit just fine.)

In other news, Kevin and I went for a nice run in Look Park in Northampton on Saturday, after his class. Look Park is one of the many (many, many, many) benefits of nearly everywhere I've lived before now that I hardly took advantage of because I hardly exercised outside (in college I did step classes and stair-climbed, mostly. Hard to believe, given how much I hate stairs.).

There was a cyclocross race going on, which we thought we'd be able to watch--but the park was too woodsy for us to see the race from a distance, and the race course filled the roads/paths it was on, so we couldn't run next to the course. Plus I hate to run right next to bike races--even through I know I'm not going to leap in on to the course, there's no way for the cyclists to know that I won't.

The instructor of the road bike workshop we went to in May was very pro-cyclocross. He tried to convince us we should try it--but I think he may have misunderstood my personality (and inherent klutziness). Long bike rides: yes; courses "featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike whilst navigating the obstruction and remount in one motion" (according to the Wikipedia entry): no.

But I've been lazy about erging, which makes me feel like I'm being lazy overall. My excuse is that each of the 6 ergs in the regular (non-crew) area of the gym has at least 1 broken component, and it's a pain to use them. If the computer works, the foot stretchers are missing one or both straps. If the straps are there, the computer regularly hallucinates and displays stroke ratings (# of strokes per minute) that cannot possibly be right. And if both the straps and computer are in working order, the chain and wheel (which provide resistance in the absence of actual water) interact as though filled with gravel.

As a result, I cannot wait for December, when winter training starts and we'll get to use the crew room's ergs. And the tanks. In the mean time, I've been running, and staring at rowing vocab on Wikipedia, because there's no Ravelry for rowers. I was transfixed by this picture of an oarlock the other day. Pathetic!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I think I mentioned that I was making the Shetland Triangle Shawl from Wrap Style? Well, I finished it over the weekend, blocked it, and am wearing it now. I used 2 of my handspun yarns, which looked like they were essentially the same color (completely by chance--I bought one of them from an Etsy seller and one at Art Fibers in August).


What's funny is that they look almost the same in natural light (like in the picture), but seem completely different in artificial light, especially in my badly lit bedroom and office. I think it might be that they're close in actual color, but because they're different fibers, they catch the light differently--and in bright light, that distinction gets bleached out. Or something. In any case, I think it's fine--I used the color I had more of for the center and the smaller skein for the border.

Speaking of borders, I've started knitting the feather and fan shawl from Folk Shawls with the blue yarn I brought back from Peru.

This is the yarn that was wound together in three ply sections of maybe 10 yards each--the one that needed to be unwound, the three plies separated (they weren't plied, just slightly stuck together by fuzz), spit spliced together, then wound into one ball. I thought I'd done all 4 colors, but it turns out I still have one left (argh!).

This relates to borders because I'm going to use the darkest blue for the mostly garter stitch portion (in the center/top), then the three lighter blues for the feather and fan border. Except that my feather and fan sections won't exactly be a border, because I have approximately equal amounts of 4 colors, not 1 main color and half as much of 2 contrast colors. Who knows ow it will turn out! Can you stand the suspense?


Someone named Judie asked a question about the stitch count in the comments of the post about my Chevron Wrap pattern, but didn't leave an email address so I can't clarify where in the pattern she is. (And I can't figure out from the email addresses/user ids of people who bought that pattern who she might be.)

If you're Judie, please comment again here, and let me know exactly which row isn't working out for you, and how many stitches you have--Schaefer Yarns had the pattern test knit and tech edited, so it should be right... but you never know!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wait Wait...

Like all good crunchy vegetarian liberals, I give money to NPR, and about 1000 years ago, the incentive for donating was tickets to a live taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me at SCSU. It took most of Kevin's and my combined brain power to remember that it was last night, but we did, and we went, and it was lots of fun. (Now that we've freed up that space in our brains, think how productive we'll be!)

It was a little weird hearing everyone's voices and seeing them at the same time--it was hard to remember that those people on the stage were actually the talking, not lip-synching to the radio.

There was a reception after the taping, and at first I was worried that there would only be 8 people there and we'd have to make small talk with Peter, Carl, the panel and guest (the panel was Tom Bodett, Kyrie O'Connor, and Charles Pierce, and the guest was Christopher Buckley). After I few minutes, I realized there was nothing to worry about because our entire section had passes (Backstage passes! Laminated cards on lanyards! Which I refused to wear except while in the room where the reception was held, because I didn't want the other NPR listeners to think I was a dork. Apparently, I'm the dork who's too cool for whatever dorky thing I'm doing.), and the was no danger we'd have to talk. Or be able to, if we'd wanted.

But in those few minutes, I tried to think of things to chat with them about. Possible conversations went something like this:

1. Hi Peter. I listen to a podcast by someone who I think mentioned one time that she knew you. Maybe that she went to school with you? Anyway, she said you were funny in school too. So Heather, who doesn't know me, would say Hi if she knew I was talking to you.

2. Hi Christopher. My department has your father's papers. Everyone says Hi, by the way. Do you remember if you gave permission for Mr. Smith* to see the papers? Because he came in the day before yesterday and we couldn't find your email. Our filing system is a little... creative... so it's probably in there somewhere. Anyway, could you send that message to us again when you get a chance?

Perhaps it's just as well there were a lot of other people there. I will now segue into a semi-related story--Kevin, his parents, a friend from grad school and I were in Cleveland a few years ago for a Indians-Red Sox game. (Kevin's family is from Ohio and our friend is a big Sox fan.) We were in a food court near the ballpark eating lunch, when suddenly our friend was having a conversation with someone about the Red Sox's previous game. A real conversation--like he knew the guy, like they were friends who always talked about sports, like they always commiserated about unfair calls at away games. Except that the guy was a member of the Red Sox. I do not have that skill... not even with not-famous people. The end.

*Mr. Smith is not the researcher's real name.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sweater in Action

Much cuter on E than on arranged on a bench.

Speaking of benches (since I'm sure I'll arrange at least some of it on one), I should take pictures of my Rhinebeck fiber...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


1. Do you think the grey sweater in this Mason-Dixon Knitting post (scroll down a long way) is Saranac?

2. I bought Moppet 2 presents at Rhinebeck: clippers (for her claws) and a harness with leash. We've been practicing with the harness inside, just like the package suggested.

It's tricky to put on over all that fur, but she doesn't seem to mind it too much.

(I bought myself all kinds of spinning fiber, but no yarn. Now I just need to stop knitting long enough to spin it up.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

One and Two Halves

Look! I made a pair of socks!

Only, not quite.

It's a little weird having 2 pairs of socks underway--for all the socks I've been knitting, I usually knit them one pair at a time. But I wanted to get started with the blue pair (the one I'm designing for Schaefer, with their lovely new sock yarn--lovely, lovely, lovely, but not yet on their website), but not set aside the Waving Lace pattern (in Schaefer's Anne), so here I am.

(It's also occurred to me that the third project I have on the needles is a wrap from Schaefer's Nancy. At least they're different colors--in contrast to the time everything I was knitting was from Scahefer and in the Lillian Gilbreth colorway.)

Unexpectedly, I kind of miss the mostly mindless knitting of the sweater. I've been listening to a couple of podcasts that include book reviews and/or excerpts, and one of them (Forgotten Classics) included selections from Agatha Christie's autobiography a couple of weeks ago. Since I evidently did not learn my lesson about literary biographies when I slogged through the recent Edith Wharton biography last year (I suspect it was actually a good book, but that I am an uncultured heathen), I started Christie's autobiography last week.

It's going much better, since she's writing about things that happened, rather than endlessly discussing what her writing might or might not owe to various other mystery writers' books... which would be very difficult to do about yourself, come to think of it. So it's mostly interesting (and I'd love to be knitting and reading, which is why I miss my easy project. See how this relates to knitting?)

Except that every so often I work myself into a tizzy of annoyance because she writes about how much better things were for women, how much more free time they had, how they could do whatever they wanted, etc, before they convinced men that they should be allowed to work. And then I'm annoyed on two fronts: all that wonderful free time was only available to the middle to upper classes (in the golden period when women had all kinds of free time, Christie's family had servants, and it never seems to have crossed her mind that their female servants did not share in all the free time available to women!), and Christie only sees women as being able to do anything because the things she personally was interested in as she was growing up (art, music) and as an adult (writing) were things that women were already allowed to do. It never seems to occur to her that she would have had a completely different perspective if she'd been interested in something off limits.

It's not that I want her to write about how limited women's career options were, or how difficult servants' lives were--that's not the point of the book, after all. It's that since a big part of writing fiction is seeing things from other people's perspectives, it's interesting to me that she apparently doesn't in these cases, either at the time or in retrospect when she was writing. If she had, she would have described the same events/situations/experiences, but just skipped the few editorializing sentences about how perfect it was, or written that it suited her instead of suggesting that it was perfect.

OK, that was a digression! Maybe now I'll stop ranting to Kevin about it! What I meant to say was that I've been reading, would like to knit while I read, but need to finish a pair of socks before I start something mindless.

And I'm not sure what that mindless thing will be. I'm thinking about a couple of shawls/scarves that are mostly garter stitch or stockinette--the Wool Peddler's Shawl (sorry, these will all be Ravelry links... you should join Ravelry!), the Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl, or some kind of garter stitch wrap with ruffle, along these lines.

And there are several yarn options:

1. An unknown amount of single-ply cream wool which Rachel brought back from Peru (seems best suited to the Wool Peddler Shawl).

2. An unknown amount of four colors of blue wool I brought back from Peru (best for the Feather and Fan Shawl).

3. The remaining handpainted lace weight from the sweater plus some coordinating solid alpaca bend lace weight... but not the same coordinating solid I used for the sweater... it turns out that all my yarns coordinate... (this option seems best for the ruffled wrap).

Whichever one I've thought about most recently always seems like the best choice--any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hurrah! And a Mystery

I finished the sweater, and it's blocking as we speak! I have only the tiniest bit left (of the yarn I thought I'd run out of)--wound up, it's smaller than a golf ball, maybe more like a walnut.

Here's what's weird: I used a Zephyr Jaggerspun, a 50/50 wool silk blend, and Forever Lace, from Spunky Eclectic, that's labeled as 100% merino, with instructions to hand wash. Nothing there sounds like superwash, right? But when I wet-blocked it last night, it acted like superwash--stretched a good 4-5 inches in length, seemed floppy and kind of lifeless, etc. (wet-blocking in this case means I soaked it in cool water, rolled out the excess water in a towel, then patted it into shape on a towel and left it to dry.)

I thought about putting it in the dryer last night, when it acted like superwash (superwash wool often needs to be machine dried to bring it back to normal), but then I reminded myself that I was tired (and perhaps a little unhappy about my now too big sweater) and that I should just go to bed and see what it looked like it the morning.

It was the same too-big size this morning, so into the dryer it went. And whoosh, it came out the right size after about 10 minutes (I didn't let it dry completely, just got it from the drier side of soaked to slightly drier than damp). So, hurrah!

On the other hand, how weird! Could one of the yarns be superwash without me knowing (and despite the label)? Was it the silk (and if so, how? It was less than 25% of the yarn)? Gnomes who like to make you nervous but not actually ruin anything?

In any case, I can't wait to wear it to Rhinebeck (Where I will take pictures! And then write a proper project summary!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Naturally, getting space yarn from Jenn has caused my remaining yarn to last forever.

Whereas before I was knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and the yarn was being visibly used up at an alarming rate but the sweater was not getting any bigger, yesterday when I knit and knit and knit and knit, the yarn got used up at the same rate as the sweater got bigger.

So now, although you can't tell from this picture, I've finished the round portion of the yoke, all of one shoulder saddle, and about half of the other. I plan to finish the rest tonight, no matter how late I have to stay and how many granola bars I have to eat. I ate approximately 1.3 million candy bars last week, and am trying not to eat any this week... which seemed like a good idea, until I noticed that I'd replaced them all with granola bars. At least granola has some redeeming nutritional value, right? (My preferred granola bars have visible oats.) Too bad they also have less chocolate.

Although I don't think it should be too late--compared to the yoke, the saddles are tiny.

The especially good news about the whole thing is that before I put the stitches on this short needle, I tried it on, and it looks like it's going to fit. I've been worried because the body seemed wide compared to the sleeves, and then before the yoke was done everything seemed short.

Speaking of short needles, look how bent that needle is! I've been having very bad needle luck lately--there's the one I broke on the plane, and who knows how I mangled this one. I tried to bend it back, but it wouldn't budge--maybe I slammed it in a door?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Remembered

While running again, I remembered what I wanted to blog about last week--and it is THRILLING, let me tell you!

Kevin and I arranged our honeymoon travel in Iceland through a travel agent--an Icelandic woman living in the UK (since we don't speak Icelandic). She was very excited about our rental car, a Toyota Yaris. She told us it was a Yaris every time she mentioned it, and seemed to expect us to be thrilled too--except we didn't know what a Yaris was, since they weren't very popular in the US yet (and were too lazy to Google).

When we got there, the Yaris turned out to be fine--exactly the kind of car we might have bought ourselves... which isn't saying much, since we've collectively owned 1 Suzuki Swift and 2 Honda Civics. So I'm still not sure why she was so excited (maybe car rental companies in Iceland usually rent Pintos?).

So the Yaris has now arrived in the US, and I'm amused whenever I see one in the wild. This relates to running because there's often one parked on our route--but I only notice it on weekends because it's too dark/I'm too sleepy when we run in the morning.

See? Thrilling!

In knitting news, Jenn has given/loaned me some extra yarn for the purple-y laceweight sweater--I'm still not sure if I'm going to need it, but it's nice to know I'll have enough. (And it's nice that I won't have to buy a skein, then only need 10 yards). I'm making great progress--I finished the second sleeve yesterday, joined everything together, and am slogging through the longest rows in the world. If I'm focused, I should be able to finish it by next weekend... although perhaps not block it. But what are a few uneven stitches among friends?

And I'm plotting a new sock for Schaefer. I'm going to resurrect the eyelet lace from early in the summer, since I think it will work well with the yarn--and I can't stop stopping on that page when I flip through the stitch dictionary. This pair of socks will interrupt my current pair--the waving lace socks from the Summer 2004 (?) Interweave Knits--and the wrap I'm designing for them, since they'd like the pattern as soon as possible.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


It's the time of year again--the time when it's cold outside, so the (large, stone) building which contains my office cools down overnight. Naturally, the heat in this wing isn't on yet, and the stones helpfully release the cold they've saved up during the night over the course of the day, so it's colder inside than out and everyone freezes. (In the summer, the stones manage to release heat during the day, and there's no AC, so it's hotter inside than out. But the stones are pretty!)

As an aside, I have a vague recollection from Russian history class that some czar or another (Peter the Great?) tried to make the peasants build stone houses (so they wouldn't burn in case of fire), but the peasants resisted because of the cold too. I guess I can see how fire resistance might be an important thing when building a library, but gosh, it's chilly! It's not much better at my desk once the heat's on, actually, because my radiator is temperamental. AND inside a large stone wall, with only a small grill to let heat into the room.

Anyway, this means I've been wearing a lot of wool at work. Sweaters, wrist warmers, and shawls/scarves, mainly, although since I've been wearing skirts and dresses (instead of pants) to work lately, a blanket is starting to seem like a good idea. Or fuzzy slippers (so professional!). Maybe some kind of under the desk foot cozy.

Or I could just remind Kevin that he said he'd loan me his heated floor mat!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blogging While Running

I'm trying to be more consistent about what days I run (and to run more than 3 miles at a time, because in my head three miles is starting to see like a long way--I'm ready to be done, even though physically I could keep going--and that's kind of depressing), so I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I thought of all kinds of exciting things to blog about during that time, but once at the computer, here's what I remembered:

1. The way I mostly run from home starts in a non-residential, kind of unattractive neighborhood, so I'm always excited to see other people running there. On Saturday, there were two people, running together. That brings the total number of people (other than Kevin) who I've seen running on that street when not late for a bus to... three. I always figure when people run through that neighborhood that they must be doing a long run, because otherwise they would have stayed closer to home.

2. ???

Pretty thrilling, huh?

The rest of my weekend reminded me of another exciting fact: knitting projects progress faster when you actually work on them. I knit about 2/3 of a sleeve on the purple-y, 2-laceweight-yarns-together sweater, finished a pair of wrist warmers, and knit a whole tier of entrelac squares on a wide shawl. Unfortunately, it's the first sleeve, and it's still not exactly a fast knit, so I'll need to remember this "discovery" if I'm going to wear it at Rhinebeck as planned. (I will also need not to run out of yarn.)

And it works for spinning too: spurred into action by the approach of Rhinebeck, I finished some wool and silk blend roving I'd been dawdling over. It's plied and set and everything (not dry yet though), and it turned lovely when washed, so I'm much more excited about it now than I was while spinning.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sock Update

Just to be tricky, I used some light green Schaefer Heather that didn't make it into the photo session for 2 stripes and the ribs... I didn't mean to be contrary ("Ha! Of course you did!" says Kevin), but when I tried knitting option 4, it seemed too dark for the rest of the socks--and the light green matches just as well color-wise (meaning, only somewhat), and is a similar value to the sock yarn. (I think I mean value?)

I just have to knit a couple more rows of rib and cast off, so the striped socks should be done soon... (also, Must. Write. Up. Patterns!)

And I took pictures of Pair 18 (the lovely Spring Forward Socks, knit on size 2 needles with Cuaran yarn from Ancient Threads.

I'm amazed at how stretchy these are--the pattern said they'd stretch up to 11-12 inches, and they do.

I've decided the way to take pictures (without annoying Kevin) is to sit on a bench, lean over, and rest the camera on the ground. Of course, I can't actually see what I'm taking a picture of, but it's easy to delete the ones where it turns out that I've missed my feet. So there will be lots of feet-under-bench pictures (some with an arm or finger along one side, like this one...), till I get bored and make Kevin help again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Decisions, Decisons

I started a pair of socks with a partial skein, knowing I wouldn't have enough to make a full pair, and now I can't decide what to do. Make anklets? Stripe in another yarn on the cuffs? And if so, which yarn?

So I took pictures!

Here they are by themselves. I'm trying two at a time again, and while it's less of a pain, I'm still not crazy about the technique. If I use up the rest of the skein without adding in anything else, the cuffs will be about 2 inches high.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

I keep waffling about which one I like. I tried option 1 on the foot, and wasn't crazy about it (it made the whole sock seem tan, and kind of boring), but maybe that would be OK on the cuff? I like the idea of 2 or 4, since they're partial skeins I have to use up somehow anyway, but I don't want the lure of using up remnants to make me choose an option I don't really like. Maybe they're all terrible and I need another color entirely?

Or maybe I just need to get out more?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Secret FOs

I went to DC/VA to visit my new niece (and my sisters too, I guess) on Thursday. She's alarmingly adorable, and looks like a seal (or perhaps a sea lion?) when she yawns. And I delivered another present--the February baby sweater, knit while I was at that work conference at the end of August.

You've seen a million of these (if you're keeping up with your knit blog reading--and if not, why not?), and mine's pretty standard, although as you can just barely see, I made all the garter stitch sections pink, and the lace parts white (with tiny bits of intarsia to keep the pink borders all along the fronts). I did add buttons before I turned it over--little square pearl-y ones. (I used 1 skein of each color of Cotton Bab Boo from Classic Elite, and size 6 needles.)

And belatedly, the socks I gave my sister for her birthday--with matching mini ones.

The big socks were pair 7, and the smaller ones pair 15 (the latter also made at the conference). The baby socks don't stay on very well--I should have made a ribbed cuff, but I wanted them to match the picot trim of the big ones.

And non-secret FOs too:

The grey socks for Kevin! Schaefer Anne, knit on size 1.5 needles, with a kind of garter stitch rib--the rib stitch is knit through the back loop, so it stands out more.

These were pair 16, I wrote about pair 17 last time, and I've also knit up pair 18 already--the Spring Forward socks from the summer Knitty. They were very speedy. I just started them on Sunday (or Monday?), and finished them up on Friday, while also making good progress on my sweater (the purpl-y one from a few weeks ago). I'll try to remember to take pictures!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ariel Shawl

I've written up the shawl pattern, and added it to my Ravelry store...


Difficulty: Intermediate

Finished Measurements:
Width (across the longest side): 68 inches
Length (from center to point): 34 inches

About 500 yards lace weight yarn. Sample is knit from 2 skeins of Ariel from the Natural Dye Studio (100% silk; 250 yds per 35 g/1.23 oz. skein). Ariel has been discontinued, but most lace weight yarns would substitute well.
US size 4/3.5 mm 24-inch circular needle
Tapestry needle
Stitch markers
105 small beads (if desired)
crochet hook (small enough to fit through hole in beads, if desired)

Not crucial for lace; select a needle which produces fabric you like, and creates good contrast between YOs and stitches.

Price: $4.00, from Ravelry, or my Etsy shop.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


(I've finished the grey socks too, but let's just skip ahead for a second, okay?)

I've been wanting to try Elizabeth Zimmerman's moccasin socks for a while now, and finally cast on for a pair earlier this week, using my handspun (and size 4 needles--speedy!). In case you haven't been thinking about moccasin socks for weeks, they're worked from the cuff down (worked flat, in EZ's case, but I decided to knit mine in the round), then at the back of the heel, you decrease at the sides, so you're just knitting the top of the foot. When it's long enough to cover most of the top of the foot, you knit the upper side of the toes, then pick up stitches around the opening, and knit around to form the sole. At the end, you graft the stitches together along the center of the sole.

The directions definitely produced a socks, but with a shorter foot than I expected. In retrospect, that's because when you pick up stitches for the sole, you pick up 1 stitch for every 2 rows (in each of the slipped stitches you slipped when you were knitting the upper foot).* But that produces a sole that's smaller than the upper foot (because 1 stitch is narrower than 2 rows of knitting are tall) which makes the whole sock smaller than it seemed like it would be.

I'm a bit perplexed by this--did EZ find that the sock was stretchy enough that this didn't matter? If not, why didn't the directions tell you how to size them properly? (Particularly since her other directions tell you how to fit things to yourself.) And, if I make another pair and want it to fit me, would it be better to knit the upper foot too long, so it will fit when the sole pulls it in (and in that case, how too long should I make it?), or to pick up more stitches (say, 2 sts for every 3 rows, as I usually do for sleeves and neckbands)?

* I did wonder as I picked up the sts whether 1 st/2 rows was enough, but I told myself that EZ wouldn't steer me wrong...

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The sweater was just as speedy as I'd hoped--here it is, blocked and dry already (I finished knitting on Thursday, at SnB).

The stitches along the decrease lines are a little weird--the gauge is a little loose, and I haven't yet figured out where to knit more tightly to prevent it (on the bright side, I've eliminated all of the obvious places--they didn't help). But they got better with blocking, so I suspect that they'll eventually even up. And I think I really like the shaping, so I'm tentatively planning to use this shaping on the sweater for me.

I've finished the mittens for Schaefer, but no pictures yet. I'm really happy with them--but I need to sort out whether the top shaping is as straight forward as I think it is, or if it's secretly more complex. Both of mine worked out perfectly without any fussing, but it's possible that I just got lucky.

And a rowing FO:

My boat won! Not the whole thing, of course, but our event: mixed open fours with coxes. Admittedly, there were only 2 boats total... but on the other hand, we're very new rowers (but with an experienced cox, fortunately!). And we went faster than our practice race pieces, and didn't collapse too much at the end.

And hey, here's the sweater I've started for me:

Feels like it's taking forever, but I think that's because I'm mostly working on socks. (I've just turned the heel on the second of the current pair for Kevin, and started another pair for charity.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I have a feeling that I'm writing more about knitting (and therefore less about everything else) than usual (and also generally less, because I feel busier. I'm not sure what it is, but rowing seems to generate fewer stories than biking. Possibly because I don't fall out of the boat nearly as often. That's probably a great relief to my boat-mates, since they'd pretty much have to fall out too. Although it's apparently possible to be thrown out of the boat by the force of your oar (in which case, I'd be the only one in the water), I don't think we've rowing hard enough yet.

But we may find out on Sunday, as we're racing in the Coastweeks Regatta (whose website is not very informative at all), near Mystic CT. The race is 2000m, and my boat is in the mixed open 4+ event (mixed because there are both men and women, open because one of us is under 27, 4 because there are four of us, and + because there's a cox). It should be interesting--my boat is rowing much better than we were even last week (when you've only been doing something for about 31 hours total--plus 22 hours sculling at camp--you're still improving dramatically from one hour to the next), but that's mostly made it clear how much we still have to learn. As someone pointed out last night, we'll have 5 or 6 good strokes in a row, think "hey, we might be real rowers someday!" and immediately mess up.

The other way you can tell that I might be a real rower someday is that I have a track bite (a scraped spot on the back of my calf, from hitting the end of the track every time I straightened my legs... the reason there's a track, remember, is that the seats (and upper bodies of the rowers) move forwards and backwards while the feet are attached and the oars pivot around a fixed point). Actually, it's more of a track nibble, because it's pretty small--and almost entirely overshadowed by a large mosquito bite right next to it. But I know it's there, and I'm inordinately proud of it (but also glad we'll be using a different boat on Sunday, which isn't quite so pointy in that spot).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I'm deviating from my self-imposed three at a time project rule... the socks are kind of getting to me (I'm making Kevin another pair, since I had another skein in Kevin-friendly colors--grey, with occasional black bits--and it seemed a waste to keep it for myself. But gosh, does that extra bit of length seem interminable!). So, naturally, I thought I'd try something quick. Like a sweater!

On the bright side, it's a kid's sweater for Afghans for Afghans. Backstory: I started a sweater for me a few weeks back (not yet blogged or photographed, since there's only a couple of inches of it so far), a bottom-up seamless one, following one of the Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns from Knitting Without Tears. I'm not sure which one yet, and since they all start out the same way, I don't really need to decide till I've made the lower body and sleeves, and it's time to join them up. So I'm trying out the seamless hybrid construction.

I won't be able to try the kid's sweater on, of course, and I don't need to confirm that the directions work, but the one I'm going to make for me is knit with 2 strands of laceweight, on size 6 needles... so I want to be sure I'll like how the decreases look before I commit to it. I'm especially worried about the saddle portions, across the tops of the chest, since I've knit bands like that before, and not been crazy about them.

So to test that out, I'm making this kid's sweater. And compared to the socks, it's zipping along--I'm using Shepherd Classic 100% Wool, on size 8 needles. Practically chunky, compared to sock yarn on 1.5s. I knit the body on Saturday, started the sleeves Sunday, finished them and joined the parts yesterday, and worked some of the longest yoke rows just now.

Also speedy: the mitten I'm designing for Schaefer Yarns--they asked for cables, and after perusing my stitch libraries, I settled on adapting and reversing the cable-to-seed stitch sections from the sleeves of Rapunzel. The first one's just about done, and I think I'll have enough for a hat or ear warming headband thingy of some kind. What are those called, anyway... earwarmers?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Many Socks

I was at a conference last week, and got all kinds of knitting done (and I got to shop at Artfibers, with other archivist-knitters... but I'll save my purchases for another post).

Most excitingly, I finished the shawl I've been working on forever.

(There are a million more pictures on flickr, if you click on that photo... I may have gone a little overboard when I took pictures on Monday).

I'm going to write up the pattern to sell, I think, although the actual yarn I used has been discontinued (I think almost any laceweight yarn would work fine). The yarn I used is called Ariel, from the Natural Dye Studio--100% silk, 250 yards to 35 grams. I used almost all of 2 skeins--there was a fair bit of mathing to be sure I used as much of the yarn as possible, without going over and needing to rip back. The lace pattern is adapted from the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls (I took out a row to make it fit the shaping), and I added beads along the lower edge.

In my picture-taking excitement, I also got caught up on sock pictures (although I can't show my most recent pair here, as they're a present), and took pictures of a design I'm submitting for publication. Which of course I can't show either.

But here are the socks I can show:

This is pair 12 (they've been done for a couple of weeks). They're for Kevin, made from Anne. Even though his feet are bigger than mine, I still have enough of the skein left over to make socks (or at least anklets) for me, since the skeins are gigantic.

And pair 13:

Charlie's Wiggle Socks from New Pathways for Socks Knitters (finally, a pair whose fit I haven't complained about!) for new baby E. Since she was actually born, I've gone crazy making pink things, but these should help balance that out.

Finally, pair 14:

Last seen as a sock and a toe-warmer, now 2 socks.

I meant to take a break from socks while I was conferencing, but I had a little crisis on the plane there, and ended up making socks after all.

I'd started the shawl using a hand-me-down plastic circular needle from my grandma. Somewhere between Cincinnati and San Francisco, I was playing with the non-working end and it snapped! Of course the stitches slid off the break, and I worried that they'd start unraveling. But I remained calm (it helped that I didn't want my seat-mates to think I'd lost my mind... not after they'd just commented on how peaceful I seemed with my knitting... little do they know!).

I knit the stitches that had remained on the broken-off tip, then I used spare socks needles to carefully pick up the loose stitches. They'd only unraveled one row, so I reknit that section of that row, then knit the row I was on, then knit the stitches that hadn't fallen off from the broken tip to the intact one. Then I put the shawl away, and worked on socks.

The needle crisis meant that the first thing I did in San Francisco was drag Kevin to ArtFibers for a new needle. They only had bamboo, and I was worried it would be too sticky and the tip too blunt for lace--but they let me knit a bit with a similar needle before buying (great, huh?), and it turned out fine.

Speaking of Kevin, he did a crazy swimming and running thing last weekend (while I was calmly knitting at home, and trying not to think about sharks or currents!). He went to San Francisco early, to swim from Alcatraz (to Golden Gate Park, I believe) then run across the Golden Gate Bridge (and back). Look how tired he is! But he says it was fun. (That was at the end of the swim.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Just in Time

Hey, I'm an aunt! My sister and her husband had their baby yesterday--a little girl. Everyone is doing well. Oddly, their number one priority was not telling me what I can and cannot tell the internets about their baby/my knitwear model, so I may or may not tell you more later. (People I actually know: I'll send pictures and details in a second.)

My sister had asked me to make a boppy cover for her a few weeks ago, and I finally sprung into action yesterday morning. When she first asked me to make it, I was feeling guilty about how much driving I've been doing to get to rowing practice, so I thought I'd go to Ikea to buy the fabric. (Ikea is in walking distance.) I wasn't crazy about the actual fabric, but I found some fun curtains with a great border:

The borders were wide enough to make the whole cover (I used this pattern), but it turned out I had to go to the fabric store anyway for a zipper. While I was there, I got over-excited and bought fabric to make some baby clothes, got home, sewed them up, and realized I needed another zipper. So I went back, got the zipper, and some other fabric, and somehow in the course of wandering around and having my fabric cut, lost the zipper. Naturally, I didn't realize it till I got home... so I'm going to have to go back. If you're keeping track at home, making this boppy cover has also produced 1 trip to Ikea, 2 trips to the fabric store (with another one to come), 1 new baby outfit, 2 new dresses for me (just as soon as I hem them), 1 knitting magazine, 1 package of M and Ms, and very little knitting time yesterday.

At least I managed to knit at knitting yesterday (and a great deal on Saturday), with the result that this... now almost 2 socks (just a few more rows of sock 2 to go). I've been hit by another bout of picots, so they're plain stockinette stitch socks with a picot hem. I tried a bunch of stitch patterns at first, but I didn't like any of them as much as I like the stockinette stitch sole, so stockinette stitch it was.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Good Idea

Someone named Audrey (hi Audrey!) asked in the comments of an earlier post whether the rainbow fish could be knit in the round to avoid seaming.

It can, although there would be a little jog in each ruffle/fin on the fish's belly (just like stripes knit in the round have a jog in them). However, I think that's the kind of issue that only a knitter would care about! (And not even all of them!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Pictures (as usual!)

I feel like I'm working on a bunch of things that I either can't photograph, or which don't photograph well... and that, coupled with overall laziness, is enough to eliminate pictures entirely.

Wait, that's not true! There are the anklets I made the week before last, in preparation for socks for Kevin that I expected would take longer more than a week (they did). Of course, the anklets took longer than expected too. (The first part of this story will make sense only to knitters... sorry.)

There's this yarn from Schaefer that I love, Anne, which is a mohair/wool/nylon blend, 560 yards in a 4 ounce skein. I can easily make a pair of socks plus a pair of anklets from one skein--and given that I like slightly shorter cuffs than usual, one skein is probably enough for 2 complete pairs.

I knit pair 10, Embossed Leaves, out of a yarn called Leili. Leili is heavier/thicker than Anne (270 yard to 4 ounces) but has a similar composition, so by the time I'd finished knitting, I'd decided they were the same yarn (and crucially, completely lost track of the differences in yardage). When I finished the socks, I had about 1/3 of a skein of Leili left over. Since 1/3 of a skein of Anne is enough for a pair of anklets, and I'd decided Anne and Leili were identical, I was also sure 1/3 of a skein of Leili was enough for anklets. (Note that 1/3 of 270 is not even slightly equal to 1/3 of 560!)

So I knit cheerfully away, ignoring the alarming rate at which I was using up yarn, through the first anklet. I must have known something was wrong though, because I did finally weigh anklet #1 before binding off, and noticed that I'd used well more than half of the yarn I had left. So I ripped back the cuff (I was knitting toe-up) till the sock only used half of the yarn, knit the second sock to the same point, then knit both cuffs with coordinating scraps.

Then I decided I wanted slightly longer feet, so I snipped a strand of yarn near the toe, separated the toe, unraveled it, knit the foot longer using the reclaimed yarn, and knit a new toe from the same scrap yarn.


I think the colors worked out OK, don't you?

Since then, I've made the socks for Kevin (which took 10 days--not so bad). They'll never be photographed in action because it turns out that while Kevin is comfortable taking pictures of me making a fool of myself modeling knitwear, he's oddly unwilling to model knitwear himself. (Strangely, he also didn't want to try on partially completed socks in public. Is he suggesting that's not a normal thing to do?) Then I made a pair of baby socks, and now I'm working on another pair of socks for me. Which I could photograph. As well as a couple of designs which I can't. And the lace shawl from last month, which just looks like a shiny blue and purple blob.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Over the course of last week, I became convinced that Moppet's fur was on the verge of matting, and that she wasn't going to sit still for me to pluck it. And (since the loose hair doesn't shoot off in all directions like a fuzzy porcupine) I wasn't sure I'd be able to tell when I'd plucked off all of the loose/detached hair.

So Moppet got a little haircut.



Obviously, I still need to work on symmetry. Although some of the fluff on that side could actually be feet.

She didn't seem to mind too much, and I think it was definitely the right thing to do--after I clipped the fur off her lower back, she started cleaning that area like mad. I think the skin there must have been itchy, but she wasn't able to get to it with all the fur in the way (fortunately, the skin there looks normal, so I much have clipped her before the itchiness turned into anything else).

I'll still be able to spin the cut fiber, although the Angora bunny book says the fiber will need to be sorted (by length). She does look a little funny, but she doesn't seem to mind. And look how tiny she is! I was starting to think maybe she was getting fat (I couldn't feel any bones!), but it turns out it was mostly fur.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ice, Ice, Baby

This doesn't look like much, but it's a major victory!

While we were in New Hampshire/DC/North Carolina, our ice machine's water line started leaking into the neighbor's condo. The management company broke in (they don't have keys) to deal with it, and turned off the water. (In a side story, they drilled through the deadbolt, and the regular lock wasn't working properly at the time, so when they "locked" it, it didn't actually lock--the handle wouldn't turn, but it didn't latch, so the door was open for a bit--although the building was still locked, so things were only semi-insecure. So I spent my first day back here having that fixed!).

Anyway, moving on: I don't use much ice, so I didn't mind that there wasn't any (naturally, when we got this fridge, we got rid of all our ice cube trays). Once Kevin got home, he wanted ice, so after ignoring the problem for a week, we bought a new water line and swapped it in. But when we tried to turn the valve back on, nothing happened--no water made it into the line, so no ice. So we googled ice machines, and learned what kind of valve it was, and ignored the lack of ice for another week.

But yesterday morning we had a flurry of cleaning and home improvement in preparation for an influx of spinners. I trooped out to Home Depot again, bought another valve, took off the original valve (turning off the water to do so), and discovered that part of it had broken off and gotten wedged in the main pipe, blocking the water--no wonder the ice machine never got any. So I swapped in the new one, but it didn't work either. So, in a moment of desperation, I cut the head off a pin, temporarily stuck it on place of the broken-off piece (which I'd determined wasn't required for the valve to work, but which I needed to get everything lined up properly). I couldn't stick the original piece back in place because when it detached (I was using poster putty, not a very permanent adhesive!), it would have blocked the water again--but the pin was thin enough that it wouldn't block the water.

And it worked!

And now we have ice!

(You have no idea how sad Kevin has been without ice!)

Monday, August 4, 2008


So, last week was the last week of the first part of my learn to row program, and we had a short race on the last night. (We will not speak about how annoyed I am about several terrible strokes---I "caught a crab" (or more than one), which means my oar was pulled way under the water and kind of got stuck (because I didn't square the blade soon enough). I have no idea why it's called a crab, but my current theory is that it's because it makes me crabby.)

Anyway, the video is naturally on youtube, right here.

I'm in the bow (front, in the direction of motion) of the right-most boat, but fortunately you can only see me for a couple of seconds (towards the end).

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pair 10

Hey, I finished the 10th pair of socks! It's been 2 weeks since I finished my last pair, but it's still just the end of the 9th week, so amazingly, I'm still on schedule with the whole 52 pair thing. This is much longer that I figured I'd be on schedule--I was sure I'd be sick of socks the instant the challenge started, but somehow I'm still excited about deciding what yarn to use next!

And here they are:

To sum up, the pattern is Embossed Leaves from a winter issue of Interweave knits (2005?). I used a 2.5 mm needle, and about 200 yards of Leili from the Unique Sheep. I think I still have enough yarn to make a pair of anklets, but I'm going to take a little break from the yarn first!

My other projects are coming along too. I knit the dragon scarf in a flurry over 2 days after I blogged about it. I bound off after dinner, rushing into the closet to try it on in front of a mirror, and discovered that it just made me look deranged, and somewhat unraveled--probably because of the tabbed edge. (Even though I still think it looks cute on other people!) I have pictures, but I keep forgetting to upload them.

I liked the ribs through, and wanted to keep them, so I removed the tabs (quite a project since I'd started with them, and knit them perpendicularly to the rest of the scarf--I snipped one thread and picked out each stitch one at a time, pulling the cut yarn back through the stitches--it got longer and longer, but I didn't want to cut off the extra because I hadn't had much yarn to start with). Then I put the live sts from the ribbed section back on my needles, and started knitting a sweater out from there. I knit a strip about 20 sts wide from the center of the live sts (forming a Y), then knit out from the sides of the Y (formed by the sides of the Y and the live sts) to form the bodice of a sweater. Then I joined up the sides (partly--I left armholes, which may or may not become sleeves, depending how much yarn I have), and started knitting down from the lower edge. I waffled for a bit about making a cardigan or a pullover (which included knitting a couple of inches in the round, ripping, knitting a couple of inches flat, ripping, knitting a couple of inches in the round, ripping... ), but I think I've settled on a cardigan.

Obviously, I need to draw some pictures, to make up for not having taken photos!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Spiral Socks

I'm still catching up on designs I made for Schaefer Yarns and never posted, here, so here's another one:

Difficulty: Intermediate

Finished Measurements:
Sock circumference, relaxed: 7" (Note: the stitch pattern is very stretchy, and easily fits a 9" inch circumference foot)
Sock length and cuff height are easily adjusted

About 300 yards light fingering weight yarn. Sample knit from less than 1
skein Anne from Schaefer Yarn (60% merino wool SUPERWASH, 25% mohair, 15% nylon; 4 oz. / 560 yds)
Size 1 (2.5 mm) US circular needle (or size needed to obtain gauge), at least
40” long with flexible cord,
Tapestry needle

Gauge: 40 sts / 44 rows = 4 inches in pattern, relaxed

Price: $4.00

(Through Ravelry, although you don't need to be a member.)