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.)