Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bye Bye Birdie

There have been some setbacks: this was a complete hat, which looked too small--first just too short, then also too narrow (which it wasn't, but the cables pulled it together in a funny way).

So it's a different hat now--and on its way to the recipient.

Unfortunately, I'm officially distracted--I even fixed 2 of the 3 holey socks I'd set aside to work on Someday, in my effort to avoid the last few gifts. (I'm working on the last one--while not gifts, it will be nice to have those socks back.)

And I'm making good progress on the yoke of the purple sweater--I'm following the Elizabeth Zimmermann yoke decreases, which happen when the yoke reaches half of its final height, 2/3 of its final height, and just a smidge short of the final height. I'm ready to do the 2/3 decreases, and I'm not sure if I'll do the last set, since I'd like this to have a wide, scooped neck, not a crew neck. (Which raises the question: do I still need shaping at the back of the neck?) Did I write about the edge finishing yet? I've almost certainly decided on I cord, like on Manu. I'd like to make the same buttonholes, even though that will require another button hunt.

(Imagine a picture of a dark purple blob here, and you'll have a good idea of what the sweater looks like at this point!)

Friday, December 17, 2010


Once again, the holiday challenge on the Concept 2 site will come down to a race between me and the gym--will I finish before the gym closes/we leave town? Will I erg extra meters over the weekend to give myself a cushion in case I get lazy next Tuesday? (I feel pretty confident about Monday and Wednesday, since there's schedule practice.) Will I convince Kevin to speed all the way to my in-laws' house so I have extra time to erg at their fitness center? Stay tuned--I have about 60,000 m to go, and only 5 days before the gym closes (but 7 days till the challenge ends--so really, it's all a question of the gym).

In a related vein, I'm down to just a few things left to knit for Christmas. I can't say what they are, naturally, but it's about 650 yards of yarn. Since I'm not tied to the gym schedule, have 13-15 hours as a passenger coming up, and am significantly more excited about knitting that erging (how can that be?), that's totally doable... except that I'm losing focus and spent all of SnB yesterday working on the purple sweater yoke. Interesting, I unraveled enough fabric to cover the shoulders and upper chest plus a giant collar, and I'm re-knitting enough fabric to cover the shoulders and upper chest minus the gigantic collar, and it still seems like I might run out of yarn. Naturally, this makes me want to knit faster in order to find out the bad news as soon as possible. (It's Cascade 220, so I should be able to find more yarn that's meant to be the same color easily enough... but will the dye lots be even remotely similar?) Possibly I will try to finish up the yoke as well as the gifts, then have all new projects for the drive?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Years in the Making

I've wanted to make reusable fabric gift bags for years, but never did it--I didn't want to buy the fabric and never make them, which meant when I felt like some easy sewing, I didn't have the fabric...

Then this weekend I discovered I had some Christmas fabric lurking around, and I made a gift bag at last:

Then I made some reusable ribbons from long skinny scraps I'd saved for just such a purpose:

(I'm amazed that I actually did this, rather than saving the scraps for a while then tossing them. I'm pretty good about making the knitting projects I plan (or at least using the yarn for something else), but so, so, so (sew, sew, sew!) lazy about getting to sewing projects.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2 Things That May Never Happen Again

1. The front desk attendant at the gym asked me if I was on the track team. Clearly, he's never seen me run, throw, or jump. And my polo vaulting isn't so great either. (I've been trying to think of a track and field activity I might not be a disaster at, and I think I might be ok as a hurdle. That R is missing on purpose.)

2. I picked Kevin out of a crowd. Well, not a crowd, but a small pack. (If you're as bad at identifying your husband in a group as I am, you have to start small.) He's in Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Marathon, and I actually recognized him on the live finish cam. Go Kevin! I'm proud of you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everything But Knitting

I'm still knitting gifts I can't write about (although I did knit a red scarf for the Red Scarf Project that I could probably write about, as I don't think s/he reads my blog). I made great progress over Thanksgiving, since Kevin drove both ways when we visited my parents in Ithaca, NY, and I managed to stay mostly awake in the car. Now I just have a zillion socks left--which I have convinced/deluded myself is no problem at all, since I spent that year knitting a pair of socks a week. Tune in on December 24 to see if I've given myself a puncture wound in my right pointer finger.

In other news, rowing winter training has started, which is handy since I'm trying/doing the Concept 2 holiday challenge again this year--so, 200,000 m between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It shouldn't be a big deal--about 45 minutes on the erg most days from now till Christmas--but sometimes I want to run instead of (rather than in addition to) erging, and the ergs at the gym are not encouraging. I was pleasantly surprised to find a mostly functional erg at the gym yesterday--maybe they've tuned them up? Fortunately, any meters on the erg during practice also count, and those ergs are in good shape. But my poor log card (which has a chip to save your workout) has been acting up, so I keep having to remember what I've done With My Brain. Poor me.

Hmmm.... I've also done some sewing, which I can't talk about either. But wait! Here's something:

Months ago, I cut out the pieces for a cozy cube (a fabric-covered storage cube, from It Seams to Me). Weeks ago, I went to the fabric store for interfacing. After much searching and consultation, I found the right kind, grabbed a package, and went on my merry way. A couple of days later, when I finally opened the package, I discovered 1 (one) 14 x 18 inch piece of interfacing--nowhere near enough for the 5 (five) 9 x 9 squares I needed. So back I went to the fabric store over Thanksgiving for 2 more packages--then since the rest of the pieces were here, I couldn't finish it till Monday. I think it turned out ok--and would have been a fast project if I hadn't taken such long breaks between steps (and been so slow to get my supplies). And now I have enough interfacing left over for 2 smaller, shallower boxes too.

If you could peek inside the box (which would require me to take pictures...), you'd see that I've been crocheting! A little bathroom rug/bathmat from the bottoms of t-shirts, leftover when Kevin cut up his race shirts for a t-shirt quilt. Also fast, but I'm lazy about cutting up the shirts, because I end up covered in white fuzz. I think I'll still have shirt pieces left after I finish the mat, so I'm thinking about making some baskets next.

And I spun--3 oz of llama/wool/silk/mohair/? from Mocha's Fiber Designs, in a pretty grey/blue/green/gold colorway. I'm thinking a cowl... after Christmas.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Merry Christmas!

I hope you like stockinette stitch."

Isn't that how the traditional Christmas greeting goes?

Not sure how it happened, but nearly all the gifts I'm knitting are stockinette. Wait--one was garter stitch! It's a bad sign when you're excited about waist decreases (only 12 rows of 300+ stitches away!).

So I've been reading and listening to audio books to fend off boredom. Unfortunately for me, both my heroines are annoying me in the same way--Fanny Price of Mansfield Park and Esther Summerson of Bleak House. So selfless! So sure they're worthless! So irritating! (Or at least, so irritating that they're presented as perfect women.) Poor things, either of them on their own would probably have been fine. Or maybe I'm missing something?

Archiknist: the only person who ever preferred Moby Dick to Dickens and Austen (not all Dickens and Austen, of course, just these books).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Accidental Yarn Tour

Kevin and I went to New Hampshire this weekend for an archives conference, and a half marathon (just him--I spectated). But look what we discovered between the conference and the race!

Harrisville Designs required a detour of about 4 miles off our route,but was definitely worth it.

There's a big shop in a converted factory building, with lovely wood floors and big windows. For some reason, I was too embarrassed to take a real picture inside, but look how nice it is, even blurry.

The windows and the floors and the proximity of actual yarn production (or imagined proximity? Their yarn is spun in the US but I'm not sure exactly where) led to a yarn purchase--some lovely, woolly green wool--enough for a sweater, plus a skein of gold that will become some kind of stranded mittens, with the leftovers of the green.

Yarn shop #2, the Woolery, was a regular yarn shop, so I was able to restrain myself.

It really has been quite the month for yarn purchases--Rhinebeck (1 skein of sock yarn, 8 oz. roving), Knit New Haven (2 skeins of sock yarn), Stitches (3 skeins of sock yarn), plus this week's future sweater. Plus there was all that yarn in September for holiday presents... I've put all of the yarn intended for presents in one basket, to remind me what I should be working on, when I start thinking longingly about things for myself, and to give myself a sense of progress as the basket empties.

Unfortunately, I started with the present knit on the biggest needles first. Finishing it created an illusion of progress which makes it hard to remember that the basket also contains a mile of sock yarn!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I had all kinds of good ideas while I was running this morning, then forgot about them as soon as I got near a keyboard.

I think I mostly thought about the purple sweater (plus it's the one thing I can write about). I took apart the shoulder and sleeve seams over the weekend, removed the collar and front facings, then unraveled down to the beginning of the sleeve cap and armscye shaping. I put all those live stitches on a circular needle, and plan to work a yoke of the Knitting Without Tears variety (except that I may cry if I work tucks in the yoke to match the hem and cuffs--I remember that working the tucks the first time drove me batty).

I'd decided all that before I started, so it was the trim I was thinking about while running. The original trim made the sweater very stiff (possible knitting Cascase 220 on size 7 needles didn't help either)--but I hadn't realized how stiff till I took the trim off--there were places where two layers of trim overlapped (plus the visible, outside layer, of course!), and a number of seams where three layers of fabric were sewn together. I think I'll make a turned hem around the neck to match the lower hem and sleeves--and because that's one place I actually do want some stability! But for the front edges, I think I'll work an attached I cord, like the front of Manu (possibly with similar buttonholes, since I really like them).

All this imaginary refashioning has me thinking about other sweaters which aren't quite right--like my Rapunzel...

I wore it happily for a couple of years, but it's is driving me crazy today (I decided to wear it to see if it continued to annoy me all day, and so far, it's going a great job).

I think it's just that the shoulders are too wide (also a problem for the purple sweater, and this kind of amazes me because my shoulders are fairly wide), which then makes it look too big overall, even though it's not really. Or at least not very much. And it's not helping that even after more than six years, it still has a temporary closure.

Behave yourself, Rapunzel, or you'll be next!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Because you've all been waiting with bated breath... The Head of the Charles went really well: we rowed well, and did well enough (9th out of 22! We passed 2 boats!) to qualify to race again next year!

And I discovered that I like head racing a million times more than sprint racing. There's my complete lack of sprinting ability, for one thing. (I am the only person in the world who runs a mile almost a slowly as I run a marathon. It's depressing.) Also, in sprints I'm really nervous right as we launch, and again as we're sitting ready at the start waiting for the official to say go (I'm getting slightly nervous now, thinking about it). In head racing, by the time you've rowed yourself to the start, it's feels like it's been hours since you launched, so that nervousness has worn off. And there's no sitting still at the start--you row towards the start line, getting gradually faster till you're going at race pace when you cross it.

And I made a hat. The university collects winter clothes each fall to give to international students who've never experienced a Connecticut winter before, and I've donated hats a few times (thinking each time of the mother of a friend of mine in Russia, who was alarmed that I was going out in December without covering my face--or maybe just my lips?--in goose fat, and offered me some of hers). So I'd planned to give it to that program, with a few others that I've accumulated. But when I brought my hats in yesterday, it turned out they stopped collecting them on Monday.

There's nothing else to say about my knitting... I'm being very good about this whole Christmas present thing, which makes for boring posts now--and later, when there will be less panic to write about. Sorry!

I'm still contemplating that dress, and the renovation of the purple sweater--maybe I could work on the purple sweater during gift-knitting breaks? (I've wanted to wear the imaginary new version a couple of times--probably a sign that I should just try it, huh?)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


1. Lurking on the last page of a notebook I use for design notes, I found the following shopping list:

Buttons/snaps for sweater
Photo pocket pages

I could have written that list any day of my entire life--I should probably be shopping for fasteners of some kind and photo pages right now. (I use the photo pages to organize my knitting notebook/journal--I save a snippet of each yarn I use, plus the tag, along with a card of notes, regardless of Ravelry. Notice that the archivist whose graduate assistantship focused on electronic records preservation keeps a paper backup of the information she really cares about).

2. Does anyone else just want to knit the same socks over and over again? It's very odd, but I just want to make Monkey socks (I know I'm not the only one there, at least), Spring Forward socks, Marigold socks, and boring 3 x 1 ribbed ones. I do not feel this way about sweaters, shawls, etc--just socks. Suggest another sock pattern you love, please! (Or just a stitch pattern you love for socks.)

3. I've held off on writing about this so as not to jinx myself, but it appears that I'm rowing in the Head of the Charles tomorrow (knock on wood, as there is still time for all kinds of injuries... yesterday I got a splinter in my thumb trying to pick up a hair elastic that had fallen on the floor, but I seem to be OK now).

4. In a burst of unaccustomed preparedness, I've started knitting holiday presents already. Actual presents for specific people, not a mass of socks that I knit all year and divided up at the last minute. Possibly this will prevent staying up all night on December 23, in order to finish the yoke and hood of an adult sweater. Good for me, less good for the blog.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I've been thinking about this sweater a lot lately.

I made it maybe 5 years ago, pre-Ravelry. It's meant to be knit from Rowan Calmer (as I recall), but I used Cascade 220 so it's more jacket-y. At the time, I liked that, but I haven't worn it much the last few winters, and I think it's partly to do with the shoulders, which are weirdly square when seen from the front. And the collar is overpowering--it's knit separately, then folded in half and sewn on. In the pattern book pictures, it folds down and stays down, but wool is perkier than Calmer, so my collar pops itself back up constantly. Also I'm not a very jacket-y person, as it turns out.

But I do really like purple, and the ridges around the waist (and there are similar ones around the cuffs). Although looking at them in this picture, they make me look very thick. Or possibly sweater photography on Thanksgiving was a bad idea?

Anyway, I'd like to get rid of the collar, at least, but then I'm not sure how to finish the neck--I'm worried that something more subtle might look unfinished. I've thought about taking off the arms and collar, then ripping back the tops of the sleeves and upper body, then joining all the parts and knitting a yoke in the round, possibly with the same ridges as on the lower hem. That would also let me eliminate the knitted-in button bands (very finished looking, but stiff), and replace them with something more flexible, since they need to come off anyway. And then I could get rid of the silly little buttons, which look like the afterthoughts they are.

On the other hand, I half remember hating the ridge construction process, and maybe I'd be better off giving the sweater away as is (as a wearable garment, I mean), rather than possibly turning it into a tangled mess, then looking for a victim... er... lucky recipient?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I've been working away on the cotton sweater from the last post, and also a silk shawl (both for Schaefer Yarn--good news, Laura: the shawl is done and blocked and the sweater is nearly done, and I should be able to send them this weekend), and hardly knitting any wool. But now that the shawl is done I've swapped in some wool socks as my portable/lunchtime knitting, and the world is back in balance again.

Wool, wool, wool, wool, wool, wool!

(Not really showing the socks as they're going to be a gift. But look at the cute bag I bought from Etsy last week--I've been wanting a box bag for a while and I finally took the plunge/pushed "add to cart.")

Also, it's that time of year again--my office is oddly chilly because the cold soaks into the stone overnight, then oozes back out during the day and the heat isn't on yet. I wore legwarmers on my walk to and from campus the other day. Wrist warmers! Sweaters! Shawls! Cowls! Hopefully not all at the same time (at least not the shawls and cowls).

Wool, wool, wool, wool, wool, wool!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fight the Pooling

Here's the sweater in progress for Schaefer Yarns--not that you can tell from this picture, but it's knit side to side.

I thought that would keep my useless superpower--casting on the perfect number of stitches for dramatic pooling (pooling=lining up the colors in hand-painted yarn to form weird blotches)--from engaging.

It wasn't, at least not for the body, so I've been knitting this alternating yarn from 2 skeins. It's easy enough, but it makes the project less portable. And the shawl isn't super portable either, thanks to the beads... especially since the tip broke off my smallest crochet hook, and the next smallest one is just slightly bigger--so it only fits in about half of the beads (all meant to be the same size, but not really).

But I was a good knitter, and brought them both with me to Mass this weekend. And to Kevin's race this morning (a half marathon at Rocky Neck State Park). They've both reached the home stretch, I think, if things keep going well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Very Little Knitting Content

Due to the tragic lack of pictures. I thought I was as bad a picture-taker as I could be last year, but I've gotten worse. Who knew that was possible?

On the other hand, I've accumulated an assortment of random thoughts--and what are blogs for if not to torture people with your probably boring random thoughts?

1. I wrote an imaginary post last week, about how much I was enjoying listening to Moby Dick (I really enjoyed reading Ahab's Wife, and it didn't seem fair to read the new, fun one without reading the old, boring one. But it turns out the old, boring one isn't boring. At least, not to listen to, when you can kind of zone out through what must be pages and pages about the history of whales and whaling since the beginning of time, every recorded mention of whales ever, etc.)

Partly, I enjoyed it because there was rowing in it, kind of--when they hunt the whales in long boats. And the "cox" (actually the captain of each long boat) calls them rapscallions, a word all coxes should use more often.

As a result, I was thinking to myself that rowing improves every book... other people have had this thought too, because when I was looking for erg workouts online a couple of days ago, I found Twilight/rowing fanfic instead (in which all of the characters from Twilight book are rowers). I haven't read the books, but on the surface, rowing seems like the perfect sport for vampires--this time of year, you're practicing in the dark anyway.

2. I made (sewed) a capelet for myself a couple of weekends ago--not quite sure what came over me, but I've been coveting the capelet from Chic & Simple Sewing for a while, then suddenly I was cutting it out. Then I was too lazy to get out my sewing machine, so I sewed it all by hand--it's mostly hemming and edgings, so I should have done that anyway, but if my sewing machine had been set up my laziness would have worked the other way, and I'd have machine-sewed the hems. As garments go, it's nearly useless: the temperature will only be right to wear it for about 20 minutes all year (possibly I'll be inside during those minutes, and miss them entirely), and I can't really move my arms, or carry anything, and the neck is really wide so I need to wear it with a big scarf or shawl around my neck to avoid drafts. But it's cute. And I used material I'd been hoarding: dramatically on sale wool fabric that I felted a couple of years ago, just to see what would happen (answer: nice fabric, but the edges didn't felt as well as the middle so it was a little wonky), and scraps from a thrift store sweater I felted to make blankets.

Naturally, I haven't taken a picture of it either--the perfect 20 minutes haven't arrived yet.

3. Kevin and I are trying CrossFit (because otherwise we'd never do any strength training). After the first day, he couldn't lift his arms and I couldn't use my legs. After the second day, I couldn't raise my arms either. But it's going better now--except that it's a huge pain to get there in the evenings, so probably we won't continue after the set of beginning classes we already signed up for.

4. I managed to get a bee sting on my wrist on the way to CrossFit yesterday (I ran into the bee as it was flying above the sidewalk). So now my wrist is just swollen enough to look weird in a way you can't quite pinpoint. And I bet it's going to itch like crazy later.

5. Four of us from the New Haven Rowing Club, with a borrowed cox, won the open Mixed Four on Sunday at the Coastweeks Regatta in Mystic. The cox was really great--but she may have been a little alarmed when (on the way to the start line, after it was too late for her to get away), we told her we'd never rowed together before. Which sounded worse that it really was--the bow and stern pairs had both rowed together a lot--just not both ends of the boat together.

6. Rowing with guys is fun. NHRC mostly puts out separate men's boats and women's boats, so I forget.

7. I really want to knit a dress--possibly out of the leftover alpaca laceweight from the shawl. (Don't worry Laura, I'll finish my designs first!) I was thinking it would be fun to double the yarn for the bodice and most of the skirt to make the fabric solid, then use a single strand for the sleeves and lower skirt, where it can be sheer.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I still haven't taken any picture of the shawl. But my friends and I rowed our marathon. The water was much, much, much (how many times can I say that before it gets redundant? Imagine that it's repeated enough to fill the screen, at least) rougher than we're used to--there were white caps at one point, and because the river is much wider than our river, the motorized boats were bigger, which means bigger wake. So it took longer than we expected--but we did it!

And we came in second in the doubles overall and first in the women's doubles. (There were four to start with, two stopped at the half-marathon, and we beat the other one. Hurray!) The friend who rowed a single came in second in singles.

I meant to work on my current shawl design on the drive, but left my pattern notes at home. So I knit a sock instead--started in the car as we left, finished as we got close to home on the way back. No pictures of that either.

And I started a cardigan, Eilonwy (I think that link will work for everyone), which I found in Ravelry. Actually, that was a week or two ago, now that I think about it.

Anyway, I love it so far--I've gotten to just below the waist--but I think I'm going to knit an adaptation. The original was knit in wool, but I subbed soft linen, a wool and alpaca blend. Because my yarn is less elastic, the pattern around the yoke wants to pull in. That's fine at the yoke--it makes the neckline a little v-shaped, which is cute--but less good around the hips. So I think I'll just continue the stripes (actually garter stitch plus stripes), with a wider band of garter stitch stripes for the lower hem instead of garter stitch in the contrast color. And I might do the same stripes on the button band.

Hey, late-breaking addition: pictures from the marathon!

I know the water looks smooth in those pictures, but they were mostly taken in a protected area behind an island. And it got choppier as the day went on. We're laughing because we survived the Culvert of Doom (it turns out we're not very good at rowing through culverts), and because it's still the first lap. By about that point in the second lap, I thought I might be dying of sunscreen in the eye.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hey, Look What I Finished!

The never-ending shawl border!

(Once day, I will take better pictures!)

And I discovered several things:

1. I had way more yarn than I thought. Remember how I worried about running out, then felt like the cone wasn't getting any less full? When I finished the shawl, I wound the remaining yarn off the cone, then weighed the yarn and the shawl. I still have enough yarn left to make Firmaments twice more--about 3200 yards. Guess I had enough yarn originally to make the shawl that required 2200 yards, huh?

2. I miss it. Even the border which lasted forever.

3. It makes a good blanket (fanciest TV/napping blanket of all time!), but it may be a little bit much as a shawl--it's between 5 and 6 feet across, and that's a lot of shawl, even for me. On the plus side, we've had a few days of cooler weather, so I've actually been able to use it as a blanket. And I've been taking some very good naps: on Sunday, my double partner and I did our last long row before our marathon--in a torrential downpour, so we were very proud of ourselves afterwards--then yesterday I ran 10 miles, including up East Rock because I've decided I need to be less wimpy about hills. This resolution will last about 10 minutes, so it's important to take advantage of it.

But back to the yarn: I'm not sure I want to make more shawls out of the rest of the yarn--maybe a lace-weight sweater? There have been some really cute ones recently, and it would keep me from becoming that woman who wears gigantic maroon shawls (TWWWGMS), which would be a good thing. (Or maybe one gigantic maroon shawl is already enough to become TWWWGMS? It's very large. Possibly it shouldn't be allowed out of the house.)

On the other hand, I really miss knitting it, so maybe it's worth it to make more gigantic shawls, even if I never wear them? Maybe a square, just for some variety.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I've been doing a lot of proofreading (and it's been hot!), so I've made great progress on small, simple projects:

The socks from the race (the second one is finished too)...

... and a matching hat.

The yarn is one of Blue Moon Fiber Arts' sheep to sock (or shoe?) kits--8 ounces of their roving, which I spun and plied as a three-ply. I split carefully and kept the colors in order, in hopes that they'd line up. They didn't, but I like the heathered stripes it makes--more, I think, than I would have liked solid stripes.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Passing, barely

First things first: my eight won its race on Saturday! And we all got beer steins! (I don't really drink, but I used it for a smoothie yesterday.)

I started a sock with the yarn from last time on the way down, then tried to turn the heel in the dark on the way home, which went badly. But I finished it on Sunday, and I'm working on the second one now, and swatching for a new shawl for Schaefer Yarns. And I'm still slogging away on the Firmament shawl--65% done as of yesterday! I can't want to see it off the needles and blocked, because by now there's way too much of it to see while it's on the needles. Too bad that's still weeks away.

Actually, it's not too bad at all, because this project is exactly what I hoped it would be. Now that I'm through the section that I never understood, I can pick it up and set it down whenever. I like the yarn, I like the needles, and I'm using my favorite stitch marker. (It's a good thing I like the yarn, because I'm pretty sure the cone is still just as full as when I started!)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Already Ready Already

We have a race tomorrow in Philadelphia, and here's what I've done so far to get ready:

Kevin is amused, but it makes sense to me--Philly is at least 3 and a half hours away, and I'm not driving. And there's a lot of waiting at races.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Out of Season

Confession: I've never knit with Noro, because I suspected trying to match the colors (and deal with that one color that seems out of place) would drive me crazy. But Knit New Haven had some Silk Garden Sock on sale a while back, and I couldn't resist. But not for socks (who thought hand wash-only socks with silk content would be a good idea?)

So I'm making wristwarmers, just in time to keep my wrists toasty in a heat wave (although it's a little better today).

I meant to just let the colors happen, but I couldn't resist--when there was a knot and resulting abrupt color change in the middle of my bind off row, I skipped ahead in the skein till the right color appeared again and finished the row with that. Then I used some of the yarn I'd pulled out to finish the thumb in the same color it began with.

And then--since I was already messing with the colors--I went a little bit ahead to (what I think is) the same color as the first cuff in order to cast on the second one. And then when that band was starting to look a little wide I edited some length out of that section too.

But I'm done editing, really. Now I'm just going to let things happen (unless there's another knot!).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I finally stopped waffling and started a big shawl--my Thursday SnB is doing a shawl-along, with everyone knitting whatever pattern they want, although at the rate I'm knitting, mine will be a shawl-later. I even started late, because I was still in China

Anyway, I picked the Firmaments shawl, from Webs--it's a round shawl, following EZ's pi shaping, which means you cast on at the center and double the number of stitches every time the diameter doubles. So suppose you cast on 9, you'd knit a row, double the stitch count to 18, knit 4 rows, double the stitch count to 36, knit 4 rows, double to 72, knit 8 rows, double to 144, knit 16 rows, double to 288, knit 32 rows, double to 576, knit 64 rows... there's something wonky about my math there, because I'm in the 576 stitch section, which will have 90 rows--possibly the early increases were bunched together more?

The point is, lots of rows with lots of stitches, and then a knitted on border. I'm enjoying it now (after living through a stitch pattern that just would. not. solidify in my brain, so I had to read the chart the entire time... have I complained about this before? It was a pain, because usually I understand how lace patterns work and can read what's going on in the fabric, but that just wouldn't happen this time. And the yarn is... not slippery, since it's alpaca... let's go with demonically possessed... so twice when I didn't catch the third stitch in a triple decrease and didn't notice for a few rows, the loose stitch had slipped down and I had to ravel back 30 or 40 stitch sections over multiple rows because I couldn't read the lace to know where just that stitch should go. But because of the demonic nature of the yarn, it seemed like I might not get all the stitches back on. Because that's usually not a problem, I wanted to be sure Kevin knew how tenuous my control over the knitting was. So whenever he got within 10 feet of me I barked that he should stand back! Don't touch! Stay over there! Try not to breathe! In my defense, he does think it's fun to grab the loose outside ends of my needles and wiggle them around like he's pretending to knit... and since I would have had to kill him if he'd done that with this project, I was only trying to help him avoid death by keeping him away.)

The point of all this is that the construction of this shawl means that rows in the center of the shawl uses less yarn than rows at the the outer edges. Even taking this into account, when I reached the half-way point in the rows and it seemed like the cone was just as full as it had been when I started, I began feeling I wasn't making any progress at all. This, naturally, led to wondering just how much of the shawl I'd finished anyway. I know there are online shawl progress calculators, but I decided to do it the old fashioned way... which is how I now know there will be 86,661 stitches in my shawl, including the border, and that when I finish the next repeat of the pattern (a mere 10 rows of 576 stitches each, although now I'm a few rows in) I'll finally be half done.

Friday, July 2, 2010



I've been knitting, I swear--both in China and since I've been home.

For the trip, I bought a half-completed pair of socks for Kevin, plus enough yarn for another pair of socks, a shawl, and a hat. I finished up the partial socks (they were nearly done by the time we got to Nanjing), then started on the shawl and the second pair of socks. When I finished the shawl (Merope), I used the rest of that yarn for a cowl (mostly stockinette, with rows of eyelets). I didn't even touch the hat yarn... black, sock weight... not very inspiring.

Here are the socks:

Which have turned out to be fraternal rather than identical twins--the color difference isn't as clear here, but the cuffs are REALLY different.

The shawl has been sitting in a blob since we got home, because I keep forgetting to block it. The pattern was really fun--I never did memorize it completely, but I internalized the rhythm well enough that I didn't need to look at the pattern too closely. Maybe I'll remember to block it this weekend? (In between all the other chores and writing stuff I've been saving up, of course.)

Speaking of saving up things to do, Kevin cut 1-foot squares from the fronts of all his old race t-shirts (with the idea that they'll eventually become a quilt), then turned the rest of the shirts over to me. I cut a few of them into strips, which I plan to knit--maybe into a bathroom rug of some kind?--but I still have 20 or so shirts to go. It's slow going. I'd planned to cut up one shirt each day, but I keep skipping days... at this rate, I'll never finish. (How is it that I can work out very nearly every day--sometimes twice a day--but I can't manage to sit on the couch and cut up a t-shirt?)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


On the 12th (Worldwide Knit In Public Day, in case you're not a knitter), we were in Kunming to meet our guide. Our hotel was near a famous park called Green Lake Park, and we spent the afternoon walking around there.

You can't exactly tell from our pictures how crowded it was, but the park was pretty busy. It was really relaxing just to walk around, people watching and listening to all the musicians.

We spotted some knitters, but our attempts to explain WWKIP day and take a picture with them met with failure. (Oddly, the guide wasn't interested in trying to explain it to them...)

We saw one knitter a half hour or so after we'd accosted her, when she'd caught up with her friends and was sitting down to knit with them. We waved at each other--and then I suspect she told her friends all about the crazy Americans who'd wanted her to look at their knitting!

So I had to knit alone on WWKIP Day:

Biking in the Rain

We're back at home. Technically, we got back nearly four days ago, but I managed to race in a regatta in NJ during that time, so I still feel discombobulated!

The biking part of the trip was mostly great--although it rained every time we got near the bike, which was a pain.

From Nanjing, we flew to Kunming to meet up with our guide, then on to Shangri-La (formerly Zhongdian, renamed in 2001 for marketing reasons, according to Wikipedia... I thought it was weird that somewhere was really called Shangri-La). I've been describing where we were as "Western China" for weeks now, but now that I look at a map, it's not really west at all. More central. Between Myanmar, Vietnam and Tibet. Good thing I wasn't flying the plane.

Anyway, the first order of business in Shangri-La was assembling the bike. After much work, we turned these...

Back into a bike. It took long enough that we didn't bike much the first day--just few km out of town in two different directions to see a village and a Buddhist monastery.

Biking started in earnest the second day--a planned 105 km/64 mile ride to a town called Baishuitai. Over three mountains. We biked diligently till lunch time (50 km over Mountain #1), but by then it had started to rain and we ended up riding in the truck (which followed along in case of bike crisis and to carry the suitcases) over Mountain #2. We got back on the bike in the valley and rode over Mountain #3--a total of 70 km, rather than 105.

Luckily for Kevin, the guide didn't tell us till we got to Baishuitai that no one in any of his tour groups has every ridden that entire ride...and that he's only done it himself a couple of times. If I'd known, my contrariness would have kicked in, and we'd still be biking up those mountains, if necessary!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We interrupt our regularly scheduled knit-blogging for some travel posts, unfortunately without pictures because blogger is blocked in you-know-where. (Although do you think they'd post if I emailed them to the same address I send posts to?)

(Actually, a quick knitting thought first: I'm still waffling about the pockets. The combined suggestion that I add buttons first, then think about it, was very good--and them my mom emailed that maybe I could make and sew on just one pocket, then decide, which appeals to my waffle-y nature. Waffling about pockets will recommence when I get home.)

Anyway, the trip: getting out of town was little uncoordinated--my rowing club hosted a race the day before we left, so we both spent all day there instead of packing. Then the plane was late leaving NYC, which made it late to Beijing, which meant that we missed the flight to Nanjing (where the work part of the trip is). So Air China put us up in a hotel overnight, and we got to Nanjing about 12 hours later than planned. It was fine for us (and we were very glad to be at ground level for a while, after the 13 hour flight to Beijing), but the poor conference organizers had to juggle a packed schedule to fit Kevin in later than originally planned.

I'm so glad we're (mostly) calm travelers. There was a pair of passengers on the plane who also missed their flight due to the delay, and one of them ranted at the ticket counter people (who had nothing to do with the delay!), thought the air line should have held their connection, thought the bus to the hotel smelled, was cranky checking in, and is probably still complaining. It rarely helps, and just makes things more stressful.

So at this point, we've conferenced for 2 days, eaten enough for a month, and are about to set out for a couple of days of sightseeing in this region with the hosts and the other participants. On Saturday, we (and our gigantic suitcases of bicycle) fly west, for the biking portion of the trip. I suspect there won't be much email access in the hotels once we leave this area, although who knows?

Speaking of eating enough for a month, most of the meals (not breakfast) have been fancy banquets. We all sit around a big table and the waitstaff brings course after course of tapas-size portions. But those little portions add up when you can eat them all (we told them I'm a vegetarian, and all of the restaurants have brought out a vegetarian option for each of the courses without raising an eyebrow--sometimes it's just more of the veggie part of the regular dish, sometimes something completely different. I was especially excited to finally try soup topped with puff-pastry. I love puff pastry!) Last night, someone thought we were almost finished.... but it turned out the meal was only half over (you can tell the end is near because all the meals so far have ended with greens, then sweet melons and other fruit, then rice or noodle soup).

Anyway... must pack!

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I finally have a whole day at home to write. And technically, I guess this is writing, but not the writing I should be doing. Opps.

But while I'm here, do you think I should add pockets to my Manu cardigan?

They're really cute pockets, see? (You'll need to scroll down.) But someone commented on Ravelry that the cardigan really highlighted her pear shape, and I'm not sure I want that--and I think the pockets would make that effect stronger--they're a little poofy, and right at hip level. I already shortened the sleeves so they wouldn't end right at my hips (and because I was concerned that fullness at the wrist would look funny, since my fabric is less drape-y than the original).

But it would be really nice to have pockets!

I'm definitely going to add buttons, just as soon as I find some good ones (I have wooden buttons that I really like, but they're brown, and I'm concerned that I'll get weird about wearing brown with black).

The other change I made was to the pleats--as the pattern was written, they folded in the same direction all the way around, but I wanted mine to mirror each other on the right and left. To make that happen, I needed to add a pleat (so there would be an even number of them), but there weren't enough stitches for that. So I made 6 of my pleats 2 sts smaller (in the folded under section, not the part that shows), which saves enough stitches to add another pleat.

(Is that really how pleats is spelled? Weird!)

Here it is:

Although you can't tell here that it's symmetrical, I promise that it is!

Anyway--pockets? no pockets? One pocket? Special detachable pockets so I don't have to make a commitment either way?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Not as Bad as Expected

(This post has been carefully designed to bore everyone--knitting to bore my family, rowing to bore the knitters... and probably my family too. And I'm going to talk about cupcakes again, now that you've finally stopped craving them. I'd recommend just skipping ahead to the end for a link to Baby M photos on the photographer's blog. Although, there's a cupcake hat there too, sorry about that.)

I'd been dreading the finishing work on Manu ever since I read the pattern--it's all i-cord, and I abhor i-cord (this is a sub-component of my hatred of knitting-on edgings... even though they turn out to be not so bad once I'm actually working on them). But by Friday, I'd finished up all of the other knitting (well, not the pockets, which I may leave off), and it was time to i-cord. And it wasn't really so bad--I finished it last night (Sunday), without ever feeling like it was consuming my weekend.

Which it wasn't: in between working on the i-cord, my boat went to its first race of the year, which also turned out to be not as bad as we'd expected. We spent all week almost bailing out (ha!) and thinking of reasons why we should just skip the whole thing, but the handy thing about racing as a team (it was a 4+, so there were four of us plus the cox) is that probably you won't all want to stay home at once, so you can talk each other back into going.

My least favorite moment is pushing away from the dock--it all seems kind of unreal till then--as though maybe you're just hanging out with some nice people (all dressed the same for some reason), and the water is pretty and I don't really like the beach but parks next to the water are nice and the grass is green and the sky is blue and clearly I didn't row in college because the weather in the early spring in New England is really gross, but masters race in the summer and fall, so the sky really is blue... and then you're carrying a boat down to the water but I don't really connect that with racing because I'm thinking about not tripping or running the boat into anything (like the side of a building). And then suddenly it's too late to back out, because you've shoved off from the dock (it would be too embarrassing to stand up and dive overboard!).

Anyway... we came in second, and now we can be less nervous next week.

At the race, I worked on a sock, then a bunch of the afternoon was also lost (at least from the perspective of the i-cord) because Kevin and I went on a bike ride. We're going to China in a week (remember, if you mention any previous trips which might or might not have been to China or somewhere near by in the comments, I will have to kill you... I will say that we're going because Kevin is giving a talk, and we told everyone--all 1,330,141,295 people!--that I'm a vegetarian), and after the work part of the trip we're going to bike in the western part of the country. Anyway--we upgraded our tandem to one that comes apart and packs in 2 suitcases, so we needed to break in the new bike.

Then on Sunday, Sunflowerfairy and I went up to the MA Sheep and Wool Festival, and I worked on the sock on the way--so that was more time away from the i-cord. But it's done anyway (except I suspect that the pockets, if I make them, will be be-corded), and the moral of the story is that i-cord isn't as bad as I think.

If you lived though that, look: a baby in a cupcake hat!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bad Auntie

Thanks for all the happy birthdays. I spent half of my actual birthday on the train (not so bad, I finished a sock and took several nice naps), but for my birthday, I went to DC to see my new niece:

(Photographic proof that yes, M does fall asleep on everyone but my sister/her mother, just as A suspected.)

A finished her WIP as planned (a week ago last Thursday), but I was less efficient--she requested knit hats and I only started the first one, a cupcake hat, on the train on the way down. Which meant I was finishing it up all the way there:

And then it was laughably huge (even though I used a pattern intended for a newborn, got gauge, and followed the directions exactly.... although now that I think about it, the pattern didn't give any finished measurements, so possibly the designer has as vague an idea of the size of newborns' heads as I do?). So I knit a second smaller one while I was there, which will just barely fit till mid-afternoon today, as long as M's hair doesn't grow too fast.

But the cupcake hat served its purpose--M wore it for her official newborn pictures (with a professional photographer--I'll link when the photographer posts them on her blog) yesterday morning, M's big sister E spent the whole weekend saying "cupcape," and we had cupcakes for my birthday.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Growing On Me

Still writing madly. And reading madly, which has at least let me work stockinette. I've knit the body and half of one sleeve of Manu (a cardigan--imagine a maroon rectangle, with some barely perceptible shaping, please), and one and a half socks.

The yarn is handspun, a superwash BFL and sparkle mix, and it's growing on me--I liked it as roving, liked the single, like the 2-ply, then disliked the knit fabric through most of the first foot (something about the contrast between the solid sections where both plies were the same color and the heathered parts where they were different colors bothered me...). I'm feeling more kindly towards it now--and I can always give it to someone as a present (hopefully someone with a short memory, so they won't remember reading that I decided to give the socks away when I didn't like them!).

I'm also feeling conflicted about Manu, but I need to take pictures of the partial sleeve to explain why, so that will have to wait.

Hey, Kevin and I finally got our acts together this year in time to register for the Five Boro Bike Tour (thanks to a rowing friend with a better memory than us!), and did it last weekend. It was mostly fun (and the weather was just about perfect--a little warm, but not too bad with the breeze from biking), but crowded. The city closes down 40+ miles of streets for the ride, so it was neat to see the streets filled with bikes, but all those bikes meant everyone basically had to stop for every hill, and almost every turn, for the first 6 or 7 miles (which took us an hour--that's just about the speed I could have run that distance!). I had a depressing moment when I realized the whole thing would take 6-7 hours at that rate, and then things opened up enough that the experienced/fit cyclists could speed up. Further back in the mass of riders, I believe you end up biking slowly the whole way.

And I've been rowing a lot, although I'm not sure it's doing any good. I had a dream the other night that I followed the coach around (to the gym, to the grocery store, when she tried to pick up her child at school... I don't even know if she has any children), wanting to know what the point of rowing with your feet out of the shoes is, anyway? Dream-me kept sitting down on the floor and pretending to row, pulling my feet in because it's hard to slide your seat forward when you're just sitting on the ground and waving my arms around like they were oars. She finally got away while I was sitting down and couldn't jump up fast enough to catch her.

Awake, I feel like I'm rowing weirdly. I'm trying to believe that it feels strange because I'm more conscious of what I'm doing and apparent weirdness is the first step to some kind of improvement... but it's just as likely I'm over-thinking and making things worse. Big shock that I'd over-think, huh?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Slippery Slope

It's happened:

I wore my legwarmers outside (and off my property) with a skirt and without boots. It's just a short jump from here to thinking pajamas are pants.

(I did take them off when I got to work, at least.)

Monday, April 26, 2010


I took the weekend off from writing, which was lovely. On Saturday, I rowed (an hour later than during the week--it was like sleeping in! Except that we were all an hour hungrier during the workout, which wasn't so great), ate breakfast with everyone at the boathouse, then met up with Jen and Jenn to go to the CT Sheep and Wool Festival.

I'd been thinking about buying a fleece (because a good response to having less time to knit is to make your fiber-y pursuits more time-intensive, right?), but I didn't. In addition to the time thing, I'm still not sure what I like and what I don't, fiber-wise, and I didn't want to commit to spending that much time with something that I might not like. Instead, I bought a skein of sock yarn from Ball and Skein and a couple of ounces of an alpaca/llama/silk blend called llamalicious from Mocha's Fiber Collection.

It was a perfect Rebecca day--rowing, knitting friends, fiber, and then Kevin and I thought briefly about biking when I got home, but in the end we just watched tv and ate dinner. And I finally finished up the roving I've been spinning (on my spindle) for something like 18 months! (It's plied and everything, although I used my wheel for that--otherwise it would have taken another 18 months!)

Isn't it pretty?

Sunday, I got up and knit and spun and napped and went to knitting and didn't even run (which meant I ran 10 miles today right after rowing... and now want to nap again when I should be writing... but not running yesterday was nice at the time!).

Speaking of writing... I'd better get going!

Friday, April 16, 2010


I finished some socks (at last... I think I may be knitting the amount "normal" knitters usually knit, and it feels like I've been knitting this same pair of socks for months). I was slightly late to work because I wanted to sew up the last toe, so I could take pictures during lunch.

What could be better than blue, brown and green socks with purple tights, photographed in a cafeteria on a rainy day? Also, I was going to take the pictures myself, since Kevin is at a conference. It would have been wonderful!

I very carefully packed the socks, plus the yarn I'm planning to start a shawl with (also wound this morning... possibly Kevin shouldn't go out of town, since I can't be trusted to get myself out the door on time. While we're on the subject, I also took a nap, made bread, and tried on most of my clothes in an effort to dress myself, all by 8 AM. Oh, and ran the dishwasher.) But then I left my phone/camera on the couch where I'd been sitting, so no pictures after all.

This is not the epic shawl project I keep blithering about, by the way--I'm going to wait till I'm back to my normal knitting time to start that. Instead, I'm going to make something Mara-ish, but I may make the ruffle/ribs rufflier. Also, I really like these modifications, so I think I'll make it wider. I'm going to use some Audrey yarn from Schaefer (a wool/silk blend, single ply), in a sage green color. I haven't kept anything I've made from Audrey so far, but blends like this can be pill-y (and being a single ply won't help), but I think it'll be fine in a shawl. And it's so soft and shimmery I can't resist.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Study Break

All this writing is reminding me of college and grad school... it wasn't that I worked all the time, but whenever I wasn't, I felt like I should be.

Back in the halcyon days (2 weeks ago) when I was reading blogs without a vague sense of guilt, I'd gotten into reading fashion blogs--mainly written by female profs and grad students, trying to express themselves while still being taken seriously as academics.

It's gotten me to try combining my own clothes in more interesting ways, to be braver about the colors I wear together. My idea of brave may not be your idea of brave though...

This, for example:

Dark and light brown with... yellow! (Previously, I think I'd only worn this dress with a dark brown sweater, or on its own. Living on the edge!)

However minor my color bravery may be, I'm happy to have thought of this--I really like my Citron, but I'd only worn it once because yellow isn't really in my palette. But now that I've tried it with brown, who knows what will happen!

(Speaking of brown, I finished my brown sweater! There's just the smallest chance that it will be cool enough to wear it tomorrow, when I'm helping out at university crew race. Standing around next to the river at dawn--actually 7:30 AM, which is almost mid-afternoon for rowers--in April has got to be cool enough for wool, right?)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Archiknist Can't Come to the Blog Right Now

Because she's typing frantically. But she did make me, so that's something. (Why she suddenly wanted to make a sock puppet, I do not know. I'm only a week old, so there are lots of things I don't know yet.)

But she wanted to tell you that you're welcome for the nice weather this weekend (at least in the northeast--she's not sure how far her powers reach), because she's working on that cozy wool sweater again: she joined the body and sleeves, knit the yoke, cut the steek, and is now working on the collar. It might seem like someone who has time for all that knitting also has time to blog, but she knit while reading about building requirements for archives and watching a DVD about cold storage of film-based materials. Doesn't that sound fun?

Young and naive as I am, I'm not sure I buy this "too busy working to blog" thing. Archiknist did manage to bike, row (twice!), run, and visit Northampton this weekend (also New York City, but that was for work, she claims). Possibly she's just lazy about working on the computer?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

View from my Desk

What does it say about me that I like to write with knitting to look at?

(That's the oh-so-seasonal wool sweater in front... actually, it would be seasonal if it was done now, but probably the fact that it's not is the reason the whether has been so abysmal... sorry! And some handspun I'm thinking about making into Harmonia's Rings Cowl, because that's also seasonally appropriate. They are different colors, I promise.)

I'm still plotting my large shawl project with the alpaca I bought in Peru (but not actually knitting, see: writing, above). I'm currently leaning towards the Firmaments Shawl. I'm also partial to the Spring Leaves Shawl, or possibly the Anthemion Wrap--but yardage-wise, either of the latter two would be a better match for my gray Trenna (a gray wool-silk blend from Schaefer), than the alpaca.

And hey, guess what? I finished my 25 days of erging in March, and there's still one more day of March left. Hurray for me!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Laziest Blogger

I actually have been knitting and spinning, believe it or not, but I have more consulting work right now than usual (which is good for me, but not so good for the blog), and I just want to knit in the evenings, not write about it.

Just in time for spring, I'm knitting up the dark brown wool and mohair I spun last fall into a cozy, long-sleeved sweater (it's going to have extra long sleeves with thumb holes and a shawl collar... so springy!). The sweater itself will be simple enough, but it turns out that I'm going to steek the neck opening. (This is slightly interesting because it will be the first time I've steeked anything.)

While I understand steeking in theory, I haven't ever done it because I don't tend to knit or wear colorwork, I don't mind purling, and I occasionally change my mind entirely about a sweater, rip it out, and knit a different sweater from the same yarn--and you'd REALLY need to love your yarn to do that after you'd cut it in pieces by steeking. However, in this case I'd knit myself into a problem, and steeking seemed like the best way out.

I'm knitting the sweater in the round, with a simple, all-over 2-row pattern--row 1: knit all stitches; row 2: knit 2, purl 1. When I was ready to divide for the neck opening and start knitting flat, I realized that the beginning of the round (in terms of the pattern) would fall in the middle of the row if I started knitting flat (with the result that within each row some of my stitches would be on row 1 while the rest were on row 2)--and I thought keeping track of that would be a pain.

Instead, I bound off the neck stitches, cast on 6 new stitches over the opening (the ones I'll cut when it's time to steek), and kept knitting in the round. Easy, at least for now.

Now I just need to not change my mind!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Historical Miscellany

1. Hurray, we got to row on actual water tomorrow!

2. In an eight! (Clearly, the best boat ever, no matter what insane nonsense people may talk about how quads are so much fun and how they like fours. They. Are. Wrong.)

3. I have already set my phone alarm, in case I somehow forget to set my alarm clock at bedtime tonight.

4. For 4:45.

6. AM.

5. I am so excited I can't number correctly.

7. Wanna bet I wake up several times in the night, sure that I've overslept?

8. This does put a possible crimp in my plan to erg a half marathon tomorrow (part of the erg marathon training plan), because I'm running a half on Sunday and wouldn't it be fun to erg and run half marathons in the same week? The danger here is that I won't want to erg tomorrow, and that this will be the final straw that convinces me of my other "wouldn't it be fun?" idea... that it would be even more fun to do both on the same day (and by fun, I mean, fun in retrospect).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yes, it's Done


(Please ignore the odd wrinkle across my lap--I'd just been at the gym, which meant my poor sweater had just been folded up in my locker.)

Let's review: Summer Solstice sweater, knit on size 7 needles (size 6 for the collar), with Sheep Shop Yarn Co. Sheep 3 yarn. I used a bit more than 4 skeins, then I made a hat with part of the remaining skein and I was going to make matching mitts with the rest... but now that I look at the picture, maybe I should make a belt instead. Or possibly some kind of invisible button system. I actually like it open as well, but this dress is voluminous on its own, and without the belt my waist was entirely lost--like wearing a blanket over a tent.

Speaking of the gym, it's March, which means it's time for the Concept2 March Madness Challenge--erg 5 or 10K for 25 days in March. And we all know I love a nice C2 challenge, with things to check off and downloadable certificates!

I've erged both days so far and am off to a good start--but I'm about to miss a bunch of days with a work trip (no need to get excited--just to New York City). The 5K version is meant to be easier, but my problem isn't erging 10K, it's that hotel fitness centers are very often erg-less. And there's no way to make it up--extra 10Ks one day do not count for previously missed 10ks.

And speaking of challenges, I'm trying to decide what to knit with the alpaca laceweight I bought in Peru. I think I have about 1800 yards, or possibly meters, and I'd like to use as much of it as possible--but not run out since there's no way to get more. Also, I worry that I wouldn't wear something gigantic very often.

(Maybe I should just make something I know I'll wear, then use the rest for another project?)

What's your favorite gigantic shawl? Would/do you actually wear it?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Maybe Done

The Solstice Sweater is possibly finished, and blocking as we speak. Or as I type, at least.

Possibly because I may want to add a little bit of edging to the the front edges (clear as mud, right?), and the length may not be quite right--all that talk of knitting the neckband before I bound off to be sure I had the length right, but really the issue was the the edge curled, and stuck away from my body (because I kept trying it on while it was still on the needles--what did I expect?). I'm hoping the blocking will fix both those problems.

Here's the thing--I'm not sure what to knit next. I have a sock in progress (Monkey socks, int he yarn that only wanted to be Monkeys), but I still want a big project, since I sprinted through the Solstice Sweater.

On the other hand, I'm distracted by the rest of the last skein from Solstice. I have about 300 yards left, and I'd kind of like to use it up (maybe a hat?), but I shouldn't use it till I'm sure about the edges and length of the sweater.

Maybe it's time for some spinning?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Here's where the sweater was this morning, but since Thursday is one of the days I'm not at work-work, I've made all kind of progress since then.

Depressingly, it hasn't gotten much longer because I worked nearly all day on the collar. (I did go to the gym, and because it's been raining so much I also stopped by one of my consulting projects, to make sure there wasn't any flooding--the fact that there were gigantic puddles on all the storm drains nearby seemed like a bad sign, but it turned out to be ok. Free Archives Preservation Tip: do not put your records in your weird, semi-finished basement--especially if said basement is located at the bottom of an outside staircase, protected only by an insufficient, clogged-looking drain--because it makes me nervous. Very, very, very nervous.)

Anyway... I worked on the collar because I'm still trying to decide how long to make the body, and I suspected the collar would make the whole sweater sit higher on my shoulders. It does, so I'm glad I knit the collar before finishing off the lower edge--it would be irksome to have knit the sweater exactly the length I want (whatever that turns out to be), then have it shorten up in the finishing.

So imagine a collar on there, ok? Stockinette stitch, with a slightly rolled edge.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

3 days, 2 sleeves, 1 long run

I made all kinds of progress on my I'm-too-good-for-the-Olympics Olympic sweater over the weekend--I'd swatched Thursday night (I think I mentioned that last time?), so after dinner on Friday I cast on and knit as fast as I could all weekend. By Monday morning, I'd finished the upper back/yoke and both sleeves (Summer Solstice is worked from the center back out to the sleeves to make a kind of shrug, then from the shrug down to whatever length you want).

Things have slowed down since then--I have that pesky job for one thing, and besides, now that I've picked up the body stitches, there are about a million stitches per row. That's how it looked this morning. I've knit about 6 inches of the body, although it's still mostly made of sleeve.

We're not training for the Boston marathon (you need to qualify, and my fastest marathon time isn't be fast enough to qualify unless I can run that time again when I'm 55), but Kevin and I been doing a series of races intended as a buildup for Boston. I've been doing pretty well for me, for my general runner-ish-ness and the amount of training I've been doing (especially the amount of speedwork: none), but since I'm not actually training for a marathon, each of the longer races is the furthest I've run since 2008.

The races get 5K (3.1 miles) longer each time, and in non-race weeks I've been making Kevin run an intermediate distance with me so I feel more ready. Since this coming weekend is 25K (15.5 miles), last weekend Kevin and I set out to run 14 miles. I'm hoping it was the bad run of the season (there's always one--and hopefully only one), because it went kind of terribly. We didn't really decide where to go ahead of time, so we ended up running over East Rock, down to meet up with the canal trail, then along the trail till we got to 7 miles.

Kevin was planning to go home the same way, till I announced that there was absolutely no way I had enough hoppity to run back up the hills we'd just run down (although I may have phrased it more crankily than that--not enough hoppity makes one think of bunnies, doesn't it? I sounded like a bunny whose treats were threatened). So we tried to run back along the trail to campus, then home, but parts of the trial were covered with icy snow (and there's construction on the campus end anyway), so we detoured onto the roads. Kevin thought that had made the run too long, but it turned out to be exactly right--fortunately, because only under the best of circumstances do I have enough hoppity to run further than I'd planned.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I didn't cast on (or even choose) an Olympic project because of the trip to Mexico. I've been wanting to knit a sweater but hadn't picked one by the time we left, and grabbing yarn and needles at the last minute seemed like a recipe for indecision--a sweater's worth of yarn takes up a lot of room, and I didn't want to change my mind and have to lug around a sweater's worth of the wrong yarn.

But now maybe I do want to knit one--I have five skeins of Sheep 3 from the Sheep Shop Yarn Company in a light green that would look springy but be warm--perfect for New England. (Honestly, I am a little perplexed by the color. It's pretty but doesn't look like me. I think the Webs warehouse must have confused me.) After some waffling, I'm leaning towards Summer Solstice, but adding these modifications to the front.

I swatched yesterday and if I cast on tonight, I'll only be starting a week late. Possibly I am one of those athletes who thinks she's better than everyone else and can barely be bothered to attend the Olympics--I'll refuse to live in the athletes' village, get on TV for staying out late the night before my event, then a.) do wonderfully or b.) do terribly.

In this case, terribly would involve getting bogged down in those acres of stockinette stitch. Even more acres than the original, thanks to my plan of modifying the front. Possibly I shouldn't call this my Olympic sweater, just to be on the safe side?

I've just noticed that I'm about a half dozen projects behind entering things into Ravelry, as well as writing about them here. I've made 2 pairs of socks (Shur'tugal and some basic socks with a garter stitch rib), a shawl (Damson), and 2 hats (yet another Wurm and a 2x2 ribbed hat for charity) without writing about them (plus 2 projects I can't post about). Bad knitblogger!

Except for the Shur'tugal socks (which took forever for no apparent reason--when I buckled down to work on them, I finished the second sock in a couple of days, after it had been stalled at the cuff for weeks), everything else has been speedy, like little knitting snacks. I knit Damson in 2 days--one day of concentrated knitting on the way back from Mexico, then one day of scattered knitting to finish up the border. (Must take pictures!) I think that's why I want to knit a sweater. But, due to my late arrival/tendency to stay out late at the Knitting Olympics, the sweater will have to be speedy too.

Speaking of knitting snacks, I started another pair of Monkey socks yesterday. I bought some very pink and purple sock yarn (which doesn't look like me either) at a sheep and wool festival last year. I tried it in a couple of other patterns, but it just wants to be Monkeys.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Like Riding a Bike

So, you know how people say whatever is like riding (or falling off...) a bike, when they mean it comes right back to you even though you haven't done it in a while?

Well. Sculling exactly like riding (falling off) a bike.

It's not even been three months since I sculled last, but even so I spent the first day of rowing camp (last Thursday) capsizing. Often from a complete standstill, in much the same way as I tip over on the bike.

In my defense (I'm a competent rower, I swear!), I was in a skinny little racing single, instead of a nice, stable quad (a sculling shell for 4 people) like I rowed in all fall, or the wide, training wheels-type single I rowed at Craftsbury two summer ago. (I just looked at the boat companies' websites--the boat I learned in was 19 inches wide at the waterline, and the one I rowed last week was--unless Vespoli has changed the size dramatically--between 10 and 11 inches.) And it was windy!

It got much better--I didn't tip at all on the other 3 days, took some nice-ish strokes that might have been 60%-70% pressure, and steered my way through skinny little canals--but as a result of that first day, I have some impressive bruises.

The thing about falling out of a boat is that you land in the water. If you're going slowly enough, water is soft, so my bruises aren't from falling out of the boat. Instead, they're from getting back in--because when you fall into the water, you sink up to your neck, while your boat (hopefully) continues to float--which means that when you go to get back in, it's inconveniently located at shoulder/head height. On the plus side, you're somewhat buoyant, so you don't have to lift your full weight to start with--but the more of you gets above the water (and eventually you have to get entirely out of the water), the heavier you get.

Other people are probably more graceful, but I needed the coach (in a launch) to hold the boat steady while I pushed myself up high enough that I could swing one leg up and over the boat (as though I was getting on a horse), landing on the gunnel with all my wight concentrated on the inside of one leg just above the knee. That leg is covered with little bruises, but the one I'm most proud of is a lovely shade of reddish purple (with stripes--why?), larger than the palm of my hand.

It's quite attractive.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On Vacation

Kevin and I have been on vacation--a couple of days in Mexico City, then 4 days of rowing camp near the 1968 Olympic rowing facility. (Kevin didn't row--he ran, lifted, and did his first sit ups in months.)

It's been gorgeous:

Apparently, that warmth and light comes from this thing in the sky called the sun.

Clicking on the pictures will take you to Kevin's Flickr photostream, with more pictures. I'll write more when we're the rest of the way home.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Just Do It

I've wanted to knit myself legwarmers for a couple of years. Mainly the ones on the back of Last Minute Knitted Gifts, because apparently I spend all my time standing carefully on chairs, so it doesn't matter if my legwarmers come down almost to my toes.


Anyway, I didn't make them, because I'd convinced myself that the 1x1 ribs would take forever, and that if I ever finished the darn things I'd end up wearing them constantly, despite my theory that athletic calves and legwarmers don't mix.

Then all of a sudden Friday night, I couldn't stand it any more. My calves were cold, darn it, and legwarmers would keep them warm. If my legwarmer/athletic calf theory turned out to be correct, I'd wear them under pants and boots so they wouldn't show. So there.

The ribs took the opposite of forever. I cast on before dinner on Friday, finished the first one Saturday morning, wore it (under jeans) all day while I knit the second one, and had a pair by bedtime Saturday. And now my calves are warm.

I used a twisted rib instead of a regular rib, since my regular 1x1 rib tends to be loose and weird. The original pattern calls for Cascade 220 and Kidsilk Haze (I think), but I used my my own handspun, held double. The wool came from two sheep of slightly different colors (Sarah and Coco, according to the label)--I spun up one ply from each sheep, then plied them together. And I went up a needle size partway through, to accommodate my calves.

(Note: rabbits--even mysterious ghost rabbits--aren't the panacea for bad legwarmer photos that you might have thought they were.)

Friday, January 29, 2010


I was looking at my stash spreadsheet this morning (the Stash feature of Ravelry just isn't enough for me... how would I survive if I couldn't track miles knit per month, or calculate average miles knit per month over the course of a year?), and decided to include my handspun for the first time.

I'd been leaving it out because some of it might be folk art, instead of will-someday-be-knitted yarn--and I didn't want to see the effect adding it would have on my total stash mileage. Lately though, I've knit more than I've bought, so my total mileage had crept downwards--so it felt like there was some room for a big jump up, without pushing the whole thing into the range where I get antsy about over-consumption and/or hoarding.

But I'm getting (slightly) more able to spin (approximately) the yarn I mean to spin (sometimes), and it was starting to feel like cheating not to count it in my stash (especially since I've always counted it in the "knitted up" yardage).

Speaking of which, I think I've mentioned this yarn before--it's the merino/seacell blend which I was going to ply but decided to keep as a single because it looked like it might stripe. (It's much stripy-er as a yarn cake.) I was planning to knit it in stripes with a neutral (like the Noro striped scarf--although that's actually 2 multicolored yarns striped together), but I have more than 800 yards just of the handspun, so it's enough for a good-sized wrap or shawl on its own.

I was thinking about another Clapotis, or something along those lines---essentially a large stockinette stitch rectangle without much texture or shaping which might compete with the yarn. (Maybe.)

I'd also like to make a couple of sweaters for myself, especially now that I've added a sweater's worth of handspun to my stash spreadsheet!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I took Gale's photography for knitters class at Knit New Haven yesterday.

Clearly, I needed that class badly...

(Wurm hat)

(Ice Queen)

...since I'm willing to post FO pictures taken inside, with my camera phone, when my photographer and I were too lazy to stand up (actually, he may have been standing when he took the first one), and where the emergency exit door is a central feature.

The class was great--a good balance of listening/looking and hands-on, and exactly geared towards the photos knitbloggers/Ravelry users want to take. I noticed at the end of the day that I haven't quite internalized the fact that pixels are free, as I took a grand total of 82 pictures--other people took between 200 and 300. (Archivist-me likes to mutter that pixels AREN'T free, since long-term preservation costs can add up quickly... perhaps archivist-me needs to put a sock in it?)

Of course it was grey and pouring today, so I didn't put all my new-found determination to stop being satisfied with abysmal pictures to work. But I will, as soon as it stops raining.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


With both bread and yogurt!

First the bread--I started it Thursday evening, moved it to the fridge, then woke up a little early on Friday so I could bake it in time for breakfast. I even did a little yoga while it cooked (it's every crunchy vegetarian's fantasy!). Of course, I forgot to start it till nearly bedtime on Thursday, then was too impatient to wait till Friday, so I had to get up the the middle of the night to move it into the fridge. How is it that even though the bread and yogurt each take 5 total minutes of work, I did 20% of it between midnight and 6 am? Twice?

The trouble is that we keep eating it before I can take a picture. Yesterday, Kevin sliced up loaf #2 when I left the room to get the camera--so that's half of it up there.

And then yesterday I tried again on the yogurt. It worked this time, but I'm a bad scientist and changed everything at once so I can't tell why.

Last time I:

-used skim milk
-probably never got the milk to 180 degrees
-let it cool by itself over 3 hours
-added 4 oz of yogurt
-wrapped it in cotton towels
-let it ferment overnight, when the house is chilly

This time I:
-used 1% milk
-added an indeterminate amount of powdered milk
-accidentally boiled the milk (just for a few minutes--when I realized low wasn't getting the milk warm enough I turned the crock pot to high... and then forgot about it till I heard it bubbling)
-stirred it to cool it down to 120
-added 6 oz of yogurt
-wrapped it in a wool shawl and sweater
-let it ferment during the day, when then house is warmer

I think it was the wool, don't you? Cotton kills.

Whatever it was, it's tasty.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Win Some, Lose Some

The yogurt... isn't. It smells like yogurt, but even after cooling overnight (in case yogurt is like Jello), it was still the texture of milk with yogurt mixed in.

After Kevin learned that I was leaving a dairy product out on the counter all day to ferment, he wanted to know how I was planning to tell the difference between yogurt and food poisoning. Since I'd been planning to distingish them by texture, the fact that my "yogurt" was still liquid seemed like a bad sign. (Ok, I did dip the tip of one finger in and taste the tiniest bit--and it did taste like yogurt. But I'm not willing to possibly poison myself for the cost of a new quart of milk!)

So I'm going to try again with a candy thermometer.

On the other hand, I taught a 30 minute class about sock heels at the FiberCamp Boston on Saturday and survived. Gale's post about the camp convinced two of us from the New Haven SnB to go up with her, and then the camp website/philosophy made me feel guilty... I mean... inspired me to teach something.

Talking in front of people is my least favorite thing ever, nearly, but this was the least stressful way to do it--it was really informal, and much more like a discussion than talking in front of people because the whole point of the camp was that everyone should speak up if they had something to add.

Then my spinning group met on Sunday (Kevin spent the whole weekend napping and watching football--don't feel bad for him), and I finished up 4 ounces of a merino and seacell blend that I bought at Rhinebeck. (In 2009--impressive, huh?) I'd been planning to ply it with itself, but when I wound it off the bobbin it looked like it might self stripe with long color repeats. So--since I keep favoriting shawl patterns meant for self striping yarns with long color repeats recently--I may leave it as-is.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bandwagon Christmas

Like every other self-respecting knitblogger, I want to bake bread in five minutes a day and make yogurt in my crock pot. Unfortunately, I didn't have the bread book or a crock pot.

Fortunately, Santa takes requests, and I'm making yogurt as we speak.

Maybe this process would be more exciting with close-up, time-lapse video of the milk?

I was home nearly all day, but I forgot to start the yogurt till just a few minutes ago... with the result that I'll have to get up in the middle of the night to mix in the starter (yogurt). I could have waited till Monday, when I should be home most of the day too--but what fun would that be?

Maybe I won't be able to get back to sleep, and then I can knit! (Sadly for my knitting, I'm a very good sleeper... )