Friday, December 16, 2011


Both my Sunday and Thursday knitting groups had their holiday parties last night--needing to scurry away from one party with cookies and yarn to get to a second party with cookies and yarn is just about my perfect evening.

Since I think of myself as an antisocial hermit (also, in my head I'm not athletic... and probably still in high school, when all those things were true!), it was lovely to see everyone, and acquire tasty cookies and new-to-me yarn. And I palmed off two sweaters which were ever so slightly too short in the arms on my friends, so now I don't have to feel guilty about neither wearing nor fixing them. Perfect!

I have plans for the new yarn already: Christmas socks, and a post-Christmas wrap. It's possible that the year when I knit a pair of socks per week made me over-confident, as there are other things besides the socks which I still need to knit. And I'm especially excited about the wrap, since I'm going to combine the new yarn (grey merino-tencel) with some handspun wool that's been problematic. I received the wool as part of a fiber club, and the colors (yellow, peach, light orange) aren't anything I would have picked. But striping them together with grey should make them look more like me!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fashion Blogger

When I've had enough of libraries and archives up, I'm going to be a fashion blogger:

Notice the turned in toes, and refusal to look at the camera... I will need to work on being less blurry though!

Or maybe a bull fighter:

My inherent blurriness will be less of a problem, since it will make it harder for the bulls to see me.

In the meantime, this is the Middlefield Pullover from New England Knits.

I used EXACTLY 5 skeins of Christ, from Schaefer Yarns, in the colorway pomegranate. So exactly that I have less than 10 yards left over.

I lengthened the body significantly, so it's no surprise that I needed more yarn. When I finished the body, I knit the neck, weighed my remaining yarn, then knit the first sleeve till I'd used half of the yarn. I figured I would make 3/4 sleeves if I needed to, but I had just enough for full length. I'm really happy with it--It was a speedy knit, and it seems to match my entire wardrobe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rhinebeck sweater in progress


On Thursday, I had to wait for a delivery for hours (away from home), and was sadly under prepared--I ran out of podcasts, and nearly ran out of books and yarn. This time, I have plenty of yarn, podcasts, and e-books... But no pen, scissors, or yarn needle.

This is troubling because I'm hoping to finish this:

In time to wear it to Rhinebeck this weekend. It still needs one shoulder, some trim, and a turtleneck/cowl. It's called Wallis, a Rowan pattern from 2005. I've wanted to knit it since I first saw it, but I held back because it's a little bit... poncho-y... But I finally caved.

I'll try to report back on the poncho quotient once it's done and worn!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I'm not sure where all my knitting time has gone. I'm back to working at work full time, I'm rowing a lot, and sewing some, but none of those things seem like they take up enough time to have eaten up all the knitting time I feel like I'm missing.

And that I empirically am missing, based on the dramatic drop in my yarn mileage consumption!

It doesn't help that my current projects are slogs: a laceweight clapotis and a blanket for Schaefer Yarn.

It especially doesn't help that this is my second attempt at a blanket from this yarn. Attempt #1 included big triangular blocks, and didn't work out. This time, I'm using the yarns in pairs (there are four different yarn bases, in three colors), to transition from nearly-solid green at one end to nearly solid purple at the other. I'm finally into the final purple section, and it looks like it worked out much better. As a bonus, this pattern will be much easier to write up!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weather Bubble

Weirdly, although we're less than a half from the sound, the hurricane was sort of a non-event at my house. Sure, it rained a little, and there was some wind, but we were really lucky--our power barely even flickered, no water went anywhere it wasn't supposed to (not even the street that usually fills with water as soon as it drizzles), and all of my mental berating of the construction company for not weather proofing their site across the street was wasted.

We thought the storm had skipped over us entirely, but when I went for a run in a park next to the water on Monday, it turned out that there had been a storm surge after all. Running along, I could see that the park itself had gotten narrower. There were a few spots where the sidewalk had washed away entirely, or sagged when the ground beneath it had washed out. And there was a layer of reeds and seaweed (and plastic bottles!) left behind when the water retreated.

There's a small nature preserve at one end of the park which did much better--except that there's a sailboat stranded in the middle of it, maybe 50 yards from any visible water. I'm not sure how they'll get it out--or how the owner will know to look for his or her boat there, since it says it's from East Lyme! (Are you looking for the Abba-Gale II? Leave a comment!)

Next time, knitting!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Kevin is out of town again, and I'm catching up on sewing again. This time, it's my niece's birthday presents--made mostly of glitter, sparkles, and tulle:

I love fancy fabric, but there's not much call for formal dresses in the archives, so it's been fun to actually use some... finding glitter everywhere for the next several years will be less fun. I think I may have eaten some glitter yesterday.

It's also been a nice break from my other activity: thinking about hurricanes.

My first job after grad school was at the Corning Museum of Glass, and the time I was there included the 30th anniversary of the flood of 1972 (caused by the remnants of Hurricane Agnes). The museum is right next to the Chemung River, and during the flood, the river came through the museum, filling it with muddy water more than 5 feet deep. At the time, the museum director was on his way to Turkey, and (according to the recollections of staff members), was greeted with a telegram when his plane landed: "Museum destroyed. Come home."

Thirty years later, there was still dried mud in the spines of some of the books, and the bottoms of some folders. In commemoration of the flood, they painted the flood line on all the interior walls... and I moved my favorite collections and documents to the top shelves, above the line.

I was there for a year, and for most of that year I worried about the museum flooding every time it rained. Then I'd start worrying about my bunny--who would take him somewhere safe if I was at the museum when my apartment started flooding? Where would he stay while my apartment was under water? (It was a basement apartment, just down the street from the museum, and was clearly doomed.) It seems silly, but as soon as I decided that I'd put his cage in my car, drive up one of the hills surrounding the town, then walk back down to help at the museum, I felt a million times better... and thanks to the magic powers of planning, I never needed to implement my plan.

So: plan!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taking Indecision to a Whole New Level

I'm turning into that friend who only calls when she has a problem. Sorry.

But I have a problem (fortunately, only a knitting problem, so very minor in the scheme of things).

I made these gorgeous mittens--Clematis, and really the gorgeousness is all in the pattern, I just executed them without mishap--using green and gold wool (green for the background, gold for the flower). I have about a skein of green and a half skein of gold leftover, and I've been trying to make them into a hat since the beginning of time.

Here's attempt #3, which I think may be doomed:

First, I tried a picot-edged cloche from Knitscene, but the yarn was too fine and it seemed more floppy than I wanted. Sadly for the hat, I didn't decide about the floppiness till I was ready to start decreasing at the crown, and and I didn't love it enough to make it a second time, on smaller needles with a million stitches.

Then I tried the Rikke hat, with stripes to incorporate both yarns. It was also too floppy, and again, I didn't love it to reknit it on smaller needles (that time, I'd only gotten 4 inches knitted before the floppiness became apparent).

Since Iw as unwilling to knit a million stitches on small needles, I rewound both balls of yarn so they were doubled, then started the Noho Boho hat, which I've made before and enjoyed. My thinking was that it would be mostly green, with 2 gold stripes. But now the stripes seem kind of excessive. Like maybe I'm a Green Bay fan.

Since my Green Bay knowledge ends at the fact that I know their colors are green and gold, I'm wondering whether I might prefer to use the cuff pattern from the mittens for the brim of the hat, then have a solid green top once the yellow runs out.

Come back in a month when I will have forgotten all about this, and will write about something else entirely!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Orange You Glad?

I'm not sure how it happened, but it's been a while since I made a pair of socks!

I try not to have more than 3 projects on the needles at once, but finishing the pink cardigan opened up a slot, and I immediately cast on:

This is actually the second sock--I knit most of the first one on the way to and from a regatta in Delaware last weekend, knit the toe at home Sunday night, and started sock #2 immediately. It's Cookie A's Hedera pattern, from Knitty. This is actually the second time I've knit these socks--the first one turned out a little to narrow, so they became a gift. These are turning out just right though--I'm using a thicker yarn (Nichole, instead of Anne), and slightly larger needles (2.75 mm instead of 2.5 mm.... although I think the yarn is what's making the difference).

People who remember when gray was the brightest color I would wear: I might actually keep these socks for myself... although I will wear them mostly under tall boots, so they won't technically be visible.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cardi, Carding

So, I finished the pink cardigan, and I've carded more than a pound of the fleece.

... and I can suddenly see why people might think knit blogs are boring!

But really, the whole process was filled with excitement: I'd been half following a Garnstudio pattern for the cardi, but I knew I wanted to lengthen the sleeves (the original had cap sleeves). I'd planned to cast on enough stitches to fit around my lower arm, then increase to match up again with the pattern by the time I got to the shoulder, but when I read ahead, I discovered that I needed to cast on more stitches for the cuff than the pattern wanted for the shoulders. Naturally, I decided to wing it, following the Elizabeth Zimmermann yoke decreases, but making the yoke a little shallower and incorporating ruching.

I worked the sleeves, attached then, then worked even on those stitches (minus some stitches in each underarm which I set side to graft later) for about 3.5 inches. In Knitting without Tears, I believe EZ says to knit half of the desired yoke depth before the first decreases, but when I followed those directions my yoke seemed very deep. Instead, I decided to knit so half the width of the set-aside underarm stitches plus the height of the yoke I'd knit so far would be half the desired yoke depth (on the thinking that the underarm stitches would also contribute to the finished depth of the yoke). Thinking about it again, that may have been what she meant anyway, or maybe she sets aside fewer stitches at the underarm.

In any case, when I'd knit 3.5 inches of yoke, I decreased dramatically, knit a band of garter stitch, worked 2 bands of ruching, then realized I could combine my ruching decreases with my yoke shaping decreases to keep things simpler. The ruching called for K2tog across all sts, and the shaping called for K1, K2tog. After some math, I converted that to K3tog across, worked that, then the garter stitch band and ruching again. I also worked short rows in the ruched sections to build up the back of the sweater about an inch higher than the front--because of the gathers in the ruching, the turns were nearly invisible.

I worked on it while visiting my mom for the weekend (my dad was out of town), in connection with a conveniently located consulting job. (And I got to go to Wegmans!) It was the perfect lazy knitting--didn't require much attention, and the decrease rows gave me a nice sense of moving faster as I got closer to the end (even with the increases for the ruching).

I was briefly concerned about running out of yarn, but I had enough, and finished it when I got back home. Close calls with yarn supply--especially when I've changed a pattern and made a decision which really affect how much yardage I'll need--always make me wonder. It seems like I'm guessing about length based partly on other factors (flattering length, tolerance for the stitch pattern, etc.), but am I actually able to calculate how much yarn I'll need without being consciously aware of it? In this case, did I hear "Hey, these sleeves look like a good length!" when my brain was actually saying "STOP! STOP! You'll run out of yarn for the yoke and button bands if you keep going! Stop!" Wouldn't it be great if I could figure out how I'm doing that?

Carding, on the other hand, may actually be as uneventful as it seems. I don't think I skirted the fleece aggressively enough before I started washing it, so there are some patches with a lot of vegetable matter. I'd been picking it out, but it occurred to me that I could probably wait to see if I even need that fiber before I pick out a zillion snippets of grass. And for that, I'll have to spin it up and see what it wants to be. If I don't need the additional yardage, I can just use the grassy bits as stuffing. Liberation from picking out grass! What's next? The ability to buy yarn already spun? Machines that knit for you? Sweaters for sale in stores! Craziness!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just What I Needed

Kevin is away this week visiting his family, and I've been catching up on crafts which have the potential to be annoying when experienced up close.

I finished a dress which has been in pieces in the living room for weeks (possibly, the dress in pieces was just as annoying as the noise of the sewing machine, but let's attribute my procrastinating to being considerate about noise, not inconsiderate about piles, shall we?).

And I accidentally expanded my spinning into the area of raw fleece:

Here's what happened: Jennsquared and I were at spinning on Sunday, and one of the other women had 2 fleeces from her neighbor, for sale for $10 each. Picking a fleece has always sounded like an arcane process--and one where I could easily make an expensive mistake, either in selection or in overestimating my own interest in fiber prep--so I've stayed away from buying raw fleece. On the other hand, $10 seemed like a good way to test the whole process out, especially once Jensquared and I decided to share a fleece. I'm totally willing to throw away $5... I mean, invest $5 in a learning experience.

So we bought one of the fleeces (from a Finnsheep named Holly) and divided it in half. Unfolding it, it was immediately clear that I needed to get it at least partly clean before it alarmed Kevin, so I ended up washing it Sunday evening. I've never paid much attention to how one might wash a fleece, so I looked online and found some directions that seemed easy enough, even for me: I loosely filled mesh laundry bags with fleece, then soaked the bags in the hottest tap water I could get, to get out the worst of the dirt/lanolin/manure. (Hmm, maybe I should get new laundry bags?) I changed the water a couple of times for each batch, till the water seemed merely dirty, rather than completely gross.

I tried washing one batch with dish soap, but it still seemed greasy, so I googled some more, and found a site that recommended washing with laundry detergent in the washer--filling the washer with the hottest water possible, soaking for 20 minutes, the draining and spinning (without letting the washer agitate at all!), then filling the washer again, soaking for 5 minutes and draining/spinning (repeating the 5 minute rinse as needed till the water was clear).

I tried that, and found that the wool seemed nearly clean--so I did it a second time (including the 20 minute soak and 5 minute rinse), and was happy with the wool. Currently, it's spread out on towels in the living room, and it smells like laundered sheep, instead of sheep who've been camping. Progress!

When Jennsquared and I divided the fleece, we each got about 3 lbs. After washing and drying, I had about 2 lbs left (I also threw away some clumps that were especially full of vegetable matter).

I already had hand carders, so I've carded about 3 ounces of it, thanks to more googling and youtubing. So far, it's kind of fun--and a bit like blocking lace, since you start with a clumpy blob and end up with everything aligned and neat--but talk to me again in 29 more ounces!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When You Actually Knit

I'm not sure if I've mentioned that I've switched back to working full time. It's been good, except that I miss my mid-morning naps (do you think anyone would notice if I napped under my desk?), and my knitting time.

With less time to knit, it feels like I've been working on the same 3 projects forever.

1. Clapotis (for those keeping track at home, this is Clapotis #4, although it's been maybe 5 years since #3)

The yarn is a light (laceweight? light fingering? who knows!), single ply handspun--a mix of seasilk and wool, as I recall. It's the first yarn I ever left as a single, and seems balanced enough for a piece with a tendency to bias anyway. (I have 2 sweaters knit in the round from commercial yarn, and I'm convinced they bias. No one notices but me--I've asked, and let me point out that non-knitters think "Do you see the lines in my sweater? No, not that, that's lace. And that's garter stitch. The vertical lines. Here. All over. See? Do you think they twist? Well, do you think it looks different if I pull it like this?" is a very strange conversation--but it drives me crazy.) I waffled about leaving it as a single, because I didn't spin it meaning to make a single, but I'm glad I did, because I love the stripes!

2. A pink cotton cardigan (imagine a pink cotton rectangle in stockinette stitch, slightly squished by a circular needle). It's basically this sweater, but I think I'm going to add a tiny bit of sleeve, and possibly make the shirred sections a little narrower. There's something a little droopy about some of the versions of the sweaters on Ravelry, and I think it's the result of a tall yoke.

3. A lap blanket for Schaefer Yarns, using 4 different yarn bases in related colorways. After some waffling, it's going to be garter stitch wedges, knit together as you go, in different directions. You'd think it would go quickly--size 10 needles, correspondingly thick yarn--or at least feel like it was moving ahead (I get to change yarns pretty frequently), but because I expected it to feel quick, but haven't really been working on it, it feels slow.

I also have a lurking baby blanket, which I'm making with three friends, but I've decided not to count it, since having more than 3 projects makes me antsy. At the same time, I've been wondering whether the importance of having sock in progress might trump the antsiness of more than 3 projects, but given how little progress I'm already making, I suspect it wouldn't.

I brought the shawl and cardigan to Lake Placid this weekend for my triathlon club's annual training camp (in which people do as much or as little of the LP Ironman course as they want to, over the course of a weekend) and made all kinds of progress in between workouts and on the drive back. Amazing how knitting progresses when you actually knit!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I've been conducting a scientific study (sample size = 1), and it turns out that no matter how much you ignore it, your blog will not blog itself.

You, however, will generate a lot of content. Kevin and I went to the UK--the first time I've been there, outside of a layover at Heathrow (which predisposed me to like the entire country--there was air conditioning, potable tap water, and chocolate. What more does a country need?).

Kevin had a meeting at the University of Hull, so we flew to London, spent about 2 days there, then went to Hull for 3.5 days, then went to West Yorkshire (or possibly just western Yorkshire... given what a time we had navigating I don't want to make any firm statements about what might or might not be West Yorkshire) for 2 days, then drove up to Glasgow to fly home.

We did squeeze a lot in though. In London, we went on a running tour along the Thames (alarmingly, I nearly just typed Seine), ending up in time to watch the start of the Bupa 10K race, which is the UK championship at that distance.

We also marveled at the view from our hotel window:

(It turned out that with some roads closed for the race, buses were diverted past our hotel.)

I managed not to take any pictures in Hull, but I visited some interesting museums while we were there (even though people kept saying "oh... Hull..." in much the same tone they say "oh... New Haven..."). Hull was a big center for fishing, so there was a retired trawler with tours by former fishermen (who told the story about identifying bodies that washed ashore based on the cable design in their sweaters). And there was an endearing city museum with a cool display of historic sketches of the city paired with new photos taken from the same spot. Since I work in a museum-adjacent field, and spend a fair amount of time working with staff and volunteers of local history collections, I'm easily amused by slightly threadbare local museums (sadly, this does not extend to art museums, because I'm an uncultured barbarian). Plus they were free.

I took a bus out into the countryside one day to visit Burton Constable Hall, an country estate that's now partially open to the public (the family still live in one wing).

The name Burton Constable had seemed vaguely familiar, and when I got there the guidebook reminded me why: there used to be a whale skeleton there which Herman Melville visited when he was researching Moby Dick. I was briefly excited to see the skeleton, but it's been moved. Indoors, I hope, as it was outside when Melville saw it.

Then we had a series of mishaps--beginning with needing to buy a GPS/sat nav because the rental car we'd reserved turned out not to have one, including a visit to the right street address in the wrong city in a failed attempt to visit a yarn and fiber store, and ending with managing to find our guesthouse, despite not being 100% sure what town it was in... but we knew it was near a school!--which took us to Grassington (or possibly Threshfield) for the Wharfedale Half Marathon. (The important thing to see there is the elevation map, especially that gentle uphill slope between miles 5 and 7. And remember how much I hate hills.)

I lived through the race and I bought some celebratory yarn (from unusual breeds of local sheep!), we had some dinner, then drove further north in the direction of Glasgow.

On the last morning, we stopped at Hadrian's Wall for an embarrassingly short time, and made it to the Glasgow Airport (with only one unplanned visit to the wrong airport, Glasgow-Prestwick International Airport... handy tip, if you're trying to figure out which airport to go to with no information: if the airport says "International" right in the name, do not overlook the possibility that the airport PR people are trying to make it sound more impressive than it is).

We flew on Iceland Air, and stopped in Reykjavik (ok, Keflavik) in both directions. On the way back I realized why getting married in Iceland was such a great idea:

Knitting magazines in the airport.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Woe is me--my hobbies/obsessions are all conflicting with each other.

A couple of weeks ago, it was biking and knitting, when I kept going on bike rides with Kevin instead of going to SnB. Last week and this week, it's rowing and knitting, since I have a boat safety class both Tuesday and Thursday nights both weeks when I'd rather be at SnB. That long run I did on Wednesday would have been much easier if I hadn't already rowed that morning. And over the weekend, I worked on our new dock instead of going to spinning. Then took a nap, watched TV and knit instead of biking... sometimes, my resolution fails me.

The boat safety class is funny--it's the most basic safety class for people who want to sail, use small powerboats, or ride personal watercraft (curse them!), and I'm taking it so I can learn to drive the small power launches the rowing club uses for officials during races. It's a bit like drivers' ed, in the sense that it's not really enough instruction to drive/sail without any other lessons (it's all taught in a classroom, for one thing, and reading the directions for docking is a bit like reading parallel parking directions... you need to actually do it to learn it--fortunately, after the safety class, there will be practice sessions with club members who can already drive a launch). It's also like drives' ed in that one of the main goals seems to be convincing us that boats can be dangerous, and we shouldn't do anything stupid or stop paying attention to what we're doing. So it's valuable, but not thrilling enough that I wouldn't rather be at SnB. Also, I think the class would be significantly improved if another goal were added: teaching everyone who plans to operate a powerboat or personal watercraft on the Housatonic, particularly between 7 and 9 on Saturday mornings, that speeding by the crews to make as much wake as possible isn't as funny as they think, or as impressive (engines are for wimps).

As a result of all these conflicts, my knitting is progressing slowly. I'm inching through a sock (possibly for you, R!) and a shawl, and trying to dash through a birthday gift for my niece. Fortunately, she's only turning one, so there's not much to dash through, because it's not very speedy dashing.

I did manage to dash through some Easter chicks, though, before my athletic hobbies staged a coup d'etat and overthrew my fuzzy hobbies.

(The pattern is called Lil Birdie. Very speedy--each one took an evening of not very focused knitting--and not very yarn intensive--I used scraps.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Just like knitting, running generates stories, most of which--let's be honest--are probably only interesting to other runners. Luckily for you, I've been thinking about those seven basic conflicts from high school English, and have handily broken down the saga of my run this morning into its component parts.

(Naturally, the story begins with rowing.) My rowing club is temporarily rowing out of another club's boathouse, and I'm responsible for my boat's cox box--bring it to practice, bringing it home, and charging it overnight. Should be easy enough, but I left it at the boathouse this morning, didn't remember till I got home, and had to go back for it... on 95 and the Merritt Parkway, during the beginning stages of rush hour. [Man vs. man... although until I looked it up just now, I was thinking of this as man vs. civilization, which makes more sense in this case.]

This meant that I got back to my house at 8:50, instead of 7:50. Which meant that instead of eating a leisurely breakfast, knitting/reading for a bit and starting my long run at 9:30, in order to finish by 11:30, get cleaned up, eat, and get to work at 1 (I only needed to be at work a half day today), I needed to get ready pretty fast.

Chapter 1:
I get ready, but am very slow to leave the house because I feel deprived of the knitting time I thought I'd have and I want to finish my book. I convince myself to go, but not until 9:50. Once I start though, it's not so bad, and I decide to run the long way (6 miles) almost to campus, then out and back on the trail for 6 more miles. This means I'll go over a hill I could otherwise avoid, and I feel virtuous. [Man vs. himself.]

Chapter 2:
It starts to rain at about 10:05. [Man vs. nature.] At first, it's not too heavy, but pretty soon, I'm thinking of ways to shorten my route from 12 miles to 6 miles to 3 miles... maybe I could just run directly to the gym? Maybe if I went directly to the gym, a miracle would occur and I'd run on the track, instead of getting cleaned up and reading a book on my phone and knitting? Maybe I shouldn't run 12 miles today anyway, because I ran 10 miles on Sunday, and rest is also important. Hey, going to work early is starting to seem attractive! [Man vs. himself.]

Chapter 3:
OK, now I'm wet to the skin, but I'm kind of getting used to it (I did bring a rain jacket, but it was too warm to wear it), and it's not too bad. I'll do the first 6 miles of my original plan, then see how I feel. [Man vs. himself.]

Chapter 4:
How can it possibly be both misting--so I run into little drops which fog my glasses--and raining big, cold, wet drops? The weather should pick one way to be unpleasant and stick with it. [Man vs. nature.] When I get to the trail, I'll turn directly back to campus and stop at 6 miles. Definitely better to do my long run tomorrow... Wednesday is only 2 days after Sunday, and rest is important. [Man vs. himself.]

Chapter 5:
Hey, now that I'm going towards campus, it's stopped raining (or lightened enough that it seems like it's stopped...), and it's not so bad again. I should turn around and do the out and back I planned. I've started already, and probably I wouldn't really do a long run tomorrow. And I don't feel that tired. Look, I'm going faster! OK, turning around. [Man vs. himself.]

Chapter 6:
Curses, it's raining harder again. OK, I was going to run out 2.5 miles, then back for 3.5 and then that would be 11 total, and 11 is practically 12, but maybe I should turn at 2--10 isn't so much less than 12. Or maybe at 1.5--9 is good too. And rest is important! [Man vs. himself.]

Amazingly, I didn't turn back till I'd gone 2 miles out on the trail, so I ended up running 10 miles total. I put on my jacket at some stage, and when I took it off a puddle of water fell out of the hood (which I hadn't been wearing--it had just hung down my back like a bucket). And I needed to spin my entire outfit in the bathing suit spinner so it would stop dripping.

On the other hand, I don't have to run so far tomorrow!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spring Difficulty

So, here's the problem: it's getting warmer, but I love my wool sweaters and don't want to stop wearing them--so much so that I want to wear several of them constantly (all at the same time, if necessary), because I don't have that much time left with them this year. Simultaneously, I also want to start wearing my spring sweaters immediately. As someone who's always in danger of swathing herself in acres of knitted fabric and thinking she's dressed appropriately for work, this is a challenge.

In other news, an acre of knitted fabric:

(Note that I am not actually wearing this, just holding it up in front of myself for scale.)

I've finished the knitting portion of my impending knitted bag. Knit New Haven didn't have the pattern I wanted, and I didn't want to wait for them to order it like a reasonable person, so after some more rav-stalking and pondering, I decided to wing it. It seems gigantic, so possibly this will be more of a tote than a purse.

(Spoiler alert: I felted it last night and it's still huge. Almost certainly a tote, although there are some handle and closure possibilities that might move it back from tote to very large purse. Either way, it's taken the edge off my need to felt, at least for the moment. Although on the other hand, look how cute the handle on this clutch is (scroll down). Do you think it would be possible to felt knitted fabric enough that it would support itself like this?)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another Obsession...

All of a sudden, I want to make a felted bag--specifically, the Bedouin Bag from Noni Designs. I've identified the yarn, plotted alternatives to the $68 handles and $20 snap shown in the sample, and now I just have to wait till tomorrow to see if Knit New Haven carries the pattern. They have Noni Designs patterns, but will they have that one?!?? The suspense is killing me! And we all know how patient I was last time I needed to knit something that second! I've nearly finished the back of that sweater, by the way--I did the fronts first, so that will just leave the (short) sleeves... and, in true Rowan fashion, a bunch of edgings and sewing up.

If Knit New Haven doesn't have it, some waffling will ensue... the pattern is kind of on the more expensive side, and I'm pretty sure I can fake it from the picture online. The wrinkle with felting is that if I think I've gotten it close enough, felt it, and discover I haven't, there's no going back. On the other hand, will I be able to wait for shipping? Stay tuned!

Not related at all, but Kevin and I finally reassembled the tandem--still in pieces from our trip to China last summer (mortifyingly, we'd left it in its suitcases all this time). The reassembly process didn't end in divorce or murder (as I feared it might, based on how badly I wanted to kill Kevin, the guide, and the driver when we packed it up in China), so we're hoping to bike tomorrow, and possibly over the weekend if it ever stops raining. Kevin did the Bronx Biathlon (actually a duathlon, but alliteration trumps accuracy) last weekend, biking outside for the first time since we got back from China (excepting a few 1 mile commutes on a folding bike), and his tribike outside for the first time in possibly 18 months (he's been riding it on an indoor trainer). New training plan: don't actually do the thing you're training for.

By that logic, I should make the national rowing team any second now, since I've stopped erging and haven't been out on the water yet (our dock washed away, so things are a little disorganized). I've been running more than I did last year, but I miss rowing. Ont he other hand, I've been getting all kinds of sleep--6:30 is practically afternoon compared to 4:40!

Monday, April 11, 2011

And Another One

I think I mentioned having knit a cowl a while back--I unraveled an elderly sweater (which had been getting ever so slightly shorter each time I washed it, till it was definitively too short) and knit a long cowl:

Then I unraveled a previous Malabrigo cowl and reknit it in the same stitch pattern:

And now I've knit it a third time, using my handspun and slightly smaller needles:

You'd think I'd be finished... but I may not be.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Christmas in April

Look what I've remembered that I forgot:

I didn't forget my nieces, of course, but their dresses, which comprised a large part of the secret stockinette knitting I did in the fall. The dresses are from Adorable Knits for Tots, but I changed the gauge to match my yarn, and thought I'd save myself the trouble of sewing up the sides by knitting them in the round.

If I'd thought a little harder, I would have realized that meant intarsia in the round... but I didn't think that hard. So I found a tutorial online and figured it out. It was fiddly, and a bit of a pain, but I've only done flat intarsia a couple of times, so it's not as though I would have liked knitting the flowers flat much better.

And aren't they cute?

The nieces too, of course!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little Known Signs

..that you're at the gym too much:

1. You make cookies to bring to knitting, but don't want to bring the extra cookies home. Naturally, you put them in your gym locker, so they'll be there for you to bring to work in the morning.

2. You think the locker room is a perfectly good backdrop for outfit photos.

(I know this is the same sweater as last week, but I'm excited because I finally wore this skirt--bought deeply on sale a couple of years ago, and irritating me ever since--and felt like myself. Big surprise--what it needed was more purple and more knitting.)

3. You wash your bath towels and realize a week later that you still haven't used them... because you haven't showered at home for a week. (Not all my showers have been at the gym: I was away this weekend--to Providence on Saturday for an archives conference, the highlight of which was white chocolate stuffed French toast with roasted almonds and bananas... because I'm a good little archivist, I didn't eat it near any records--and then to DC to see Kevin, my sister, and her husband run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler on Sunday. Tasty food in DC too.)

What's funny about this, is that I'd suddenly had enough erging for a while about 3 weeks ago, and we're not yet rowing on the water because our dock washed away, so I've only been running... so really, I'm not at the gym much at all, comparatively.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not Our Biggest Problem

In the summer, I like to buy milk at the local farmers market. It comes in reusable bottles, and you get a discount if you bring them back. Less throwaway packaging, local cows, hurray!

But the bottles clank together alarmingly in my bag (sounding like they might break, even though I used to climb a glass staircase and walk on a glass floor every day at work), and water condenses on them, and gets everything else wet, and it's just Not Good.

Obviously, they needed cozies:

Even though this was not our biggest problem (according to Kevin... but what does he know? he barely even drinks milk!), I'm disproportionately amused by them.

What's especially good is that I solved several (OK, very minor) problems at once: I made the cozies, obviously, but I also used part of an unevenly felted sweater from a previous craft project, and eliminated my own slight guilt that I hadn't knit the darn things already. (It's embarrassing, really, how long I'd been thinking about cozies for the milk bottles.)

And now they remind me of a really neat sculpture I saw when I worked at the Corning Museum of Glass (Quick! Guess which previous employer might have had that glass floor and staircase! Hint: not the non-profit in the converted factory building, or the weekly local newspaper.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

No Coat

For the first time forever, it was warm enough yesterday that I went to work without a coat! What you can't see here is that I'm still wearing books and tights--but the tights are light grey and lacy--so it's clearly spring in New England.

Most springily, I didn't die of exposure vesp-ing home without a coat (the weirdness on top of/beside my head is my helmet--notice that I'm only wearing the helmet, not helmet plus hat! And Kevin didn't wear his balaclava or bar mitts...).

And at long last, here's the revamped purple cardigan. (To review: it was originally a Rowan pattern, meant for Calmer, knit in Cascade 220. I ripped out the collar and bodice, then worked a yoke according to EZ's instructions, with the same welt pattern from the lower hem.)

I think the yoke came out ok--the last yoke I made was a little shallow, so this one's a little deep. Maybe the next one will be just right! The upper body was a little wide to begin with, which I didn't change, but I think that's not as obvious with a yoked sweater as it was with the set in sleeves. I'm still thinking about unfolding the hems on the sleeves to make them a little longer, and looking at this picture, I think I should. Also, someone should follow me around with a steamer, smoothing out my sleeves every so often. How do they get so smooshed? That same person should also block the bodice a little better, and keep the front hems from rolling--possibly I should add some ribbon to the front edges?

Niggling imperfections aside, the most important thing is that now I actually wear it!

Friday, March 11, 2011

All Cowls, All the Time

And here's Idlewood:

Except for lengthening the sleeves, I basically followed the pattern as written--I may also have worked a few more hip increases than called for, since I'm kind of pear-y.

There's a lot of cowl:

If I were holding my head fully upright, and had gotten the cowl entirely unrolled, my head would be completely covered. I was worry about the rolling in theory (although not till it was too late to widen the garter stitch border, of course), but it turns out that I like it in practice. And it helps that I still think all of my handspun is the most beautiful yarn in the world, no matter how wonky it really it.

I lied--it's not all cowls, all the time--I'm making another pair of socks:

The Angee Socks from Sock Innovation. Since taking the picture, I've finished this one, and knit about 5 rows on sock 2. I'm really enjoying the stitch pattern--for the first rep, I checked the chart every pattern row, but now I've internalized it enough that I only need to peek at it occassionally, to be sure things haven't derailed.

There's one correction to the leg chart listed on the publisher's website, but I think there's actually another typo that hasn't been corrected--an ssk that should be a k2tog, or vice versa. I haven't read through the comments on Ravelry to see if anyone else thinks so--I'm just working it the way I think it should be, and it's working out fine.

Despite this, I am showing some personal growth in the area of following directions rather than doing it my way no matter what. The reason I noticed the first error (and the possible second error, for that matter) is that the stitch pattern is charted out three times--the transition from ribs to pattern, then separately for the leg and the foot--and the stitches in question should be the same in all three charts, but aren't. When I noticed the first difference between the charts, I compared them and picked the one that seemed most logical to me--which turned out not to be what the corrected chart said. It was a moment of high drama--would I follow the corrected chart? Would I do my own thing? Would following one direction I disagreed with make up for a lifetime of only following directions that I thought were right? Would anyone even notice the difference between right- and left-slanting decreases on a sock?

Or maybe i haven't grown that much... it doesn't show much improvement in ability to follow directions that conflict with the way you would have done it, if you only follow them when you think it won't show, does it?

Monday, March 7, 2011


I have gone from "hey, I wonder what new knitting books have come out lately?" to "leaving immediately to see if Knit New Haven has a copy, must cast on. right. now." in just over 24 hours. The book in question is Fresh Fashion Knits (hush, it's not the book's fault), and I'm obsessed with Martha. I also have minor, lesser obsessions with other patterns.

If my obsession can overcome my inertia (it's a work from home day, and I'm going to be at KNH tomorrow... but on the other hand, if I go today and they don't have it, then I could get it at B&N tomorrow, but if I don't go today and they don't have it, I would need to wait till Wednesday to get it at B&N! Disaster! Crisis! So minor in the grand scheme of things!), I'm going to use my Harrisville Designs New England Shetland--which has reminded me of Felted Tweed ever since I bought it.

Adrift At Last

Hey, I finally took pictures! (or made Kevin take them... whatever.)

Here's Adrift, in its lazy weekend incarnation.

When necessary, Adrift will also go to work, giving me the illusion that I'm wearing a cozy blanket.

It's pretty similar to Summer Solstice (since I made the extended front version), but contrary to what you'd think, having more fabric in the fronts seems to make them behave themselves better. (If Solstice were spread out like this, there'd be missing sections in the upper corners.) Of course, that may also be the fabric--laceweight alpaca for Adrift, wool/silk sport weight for Solstice.

In any case, I really like it... but I think making it twice was enough.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Ok Jules

Since Moby Dick is really about rowing, why couldn't you have followed Herman's example? The Mysterious Island could so easily have been about knitting... Stranded on an island with (long, boring, cold) winters, with SHEEP! How hard would it have been to make a spindle and knitting needles? They made a felting machine, for crying out loud. (And a telegraph...)

I, on the other hand, have done quite a lot of knitting while reading about the castaways not knitting. My current socks (Twisted) aren't the best knitting for reading, so I started the Stripe Study Shawl, which is much more compatible: garter stitch, with lots of long rows. I'm using some slightly mysterious yarn which the very sweet Peaceful Knitter gave me for my birthday. Mysterious because the tag says only "Baby Camel Lace by School Products," which is all good as far as it goes... there are 2 skeins, one cream, and one with one cream ply and one tan ply, and I estimated that each has about 400 yards, so I should be all set for the shawl.

I wore both new sweaters last week, but still no pictures... one day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ready for Spring

I managed to run outside yesterday, only climbing over a few snowdrifts (people who STILL haven't shoveled your sidewalks... I am not impressed). Naturally, it's snowed again, but in that second of spring, I finally took off my coat outside!

Meet Shadow[]box:

I feel like I've said all of this already, but I knit it on size 10 needles, with a strand of Miss Priss and one of Baby Kid Extra. Cozy, but a little bit molt-y. Fortunately, the fuzz is white, so it blends in with the bunny fur. I mostly wear it like this, with the shawl pin, but it's also good open, as long as I don't think too hard about the invisible asymmetry situation.

And I'm looking back on it fondly as I slog through socks and mittens on teeny needles. I took a break last weekend to make an bulky infinity scarf, and then yesterday to make a bulky cowl. Same stitch pattern, which looks like plaid. They were fun and speedy to knit, so I'd like to pull them together into a pattern--just in time for spring!

(Maybe I'll save them for next year?)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Foiled Again

I've been wearing the purple sweater every week or so (sorry, coworkers! Hope you're not bored... at least I'm not there every day), in the hopes that I'll be willing to take off my coat outside long enough to get a picture... but no luck.

Same with the wine colored Adrift (which I've also been wearing at home on my work from home days, with the idea that I might somehow take a picture of myself). And I'm wearing Shadow[]box at this very moment.

I can report though that Shadow[]box is quite cozy and convenient, and that if you can get over the knowledge that it's asymmetrical but doesn't look asymmetrical when worn, the shaping is quite good at keeping the whole thing in place, but still letting the neck drape. I'm not sure why knowing that the sides are different but that you can't tell bothers me, but there you have it. I've had to tell myself several times not to worry about it. (Oddly, I have no problem with actual, visible asymmetry.)

Given my recent obsession with keeping my neck warm, it should come as no surprise that I've started Idlewood with this handspun:

But I may lengthen the sleeves if I have enough yarn.

I really love the yarn. It's partly mohair, and very silky and light. When I was spinning it, I was worried that the mohair wasn't more evenly dispersed--sometimes the single seemed to be entirely mohair, sometimes it seemed like there wasn't any for a long time--but plying seems to have evened things up.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Despite having plenty of new yarn in sweater quantities, fixing the purple sweater (note to self: take pictures!) has inspired me to fix other sweaters which aren't quite right.

Till Thursday, this was a bottom up raglan cardi with asymmetrical buttons, lower edge, and neck. I liked the hem and the moss stitch trim (especially on the cuffs), but I wasn't crazy about the rest of it: the neck was a little big, the body was a little short, and the sleeves a little long. I thought about knitting it again to fix the problems, but I didn't think I'd have had enough yarn from shortening the sleeves to lengthen the body and sort out the neck.

So, rip!

(I warmed up for ripping on Monday, unraveling the sweater I made from the very first yarn I ever bought online! I loved the sweater for years, but each time I washed it it got imperceptibly shorter--and eventually, that added up to too short. I think it wants to be a gigantic infinity scarf now).

I've been obsessed with gigantic neckwear lately (could it be because my desk at work is cold, and my desk at home is cold, and the walk between them is also cold?), so I'm putting the grey yarn (Schaefer's Miss Priss, in the ash colorway) together with Filatura di Crosa Baby Kid Extra to make a Shadow[]box, a big cowl that's bog enough to cover the upper body to the elbow, with extra drape-y fabric at the neckline. The fabric is awfully cozy--I can't wait till it's finished.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I acquired 2 new things in the last week that I'd been resisting forever: interchangeable needles and my very own rowing machine.

As it turns out, they're lovely. Even though the front hall is just about the most boring place ever, erging is so much more pleasant when the erg isn't broken. The ergs at the gym face the wall anyway--at least the wall at home is clean. (And as long as the erg can hang from the bike hooks in the winter when the bikes can go in the storage unit, we won't have to move!)

The needles are great too--I haven't really taken advantage of the interchangeable-ness yet, but Knit Picks is a significant improvement over whatever random needles I'd been using (Susan Bates?). A couple of years after the rest of the knitting world, I've just discovered that KP needles are really pointy and smooth! The join doesn't catch! The cord is flexible! Hurray!

I'm like a Soviet gymnast who's just discovered that the rest of the world has been tumbling on springy floors for decades. Imagine how excited I'll be when I finally see the shampoo aisle in a capitalist grocery store!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I made Adrift (a top-down raglan sweater with extended, drape-y fronts) for my sister for Christmas. Possibly you remember me complaining about the long rows of stockinette stitch in laceweight?

Well, I clearly don't--

Because I'm making one for myself. My sister's was sage green superwash wool from Madeline Tosh, this one is the rest of the alpaca from Peru--I'm going to keep knitting till it's all gone, no matter how many times I fall asleep. Since it's colder here, and my yarn is finer, I'm using it doubled and I think I'm going to make long sleeves (good thing, or I'd have to knit myself a bathrobe to use it all up!).

In other news, I'm knitting some black socks--also endless--and thinking about other socks I'd rather be working on. And other sweaters I'd rather be working on, for that matter. Somehow, I've ended up with enough yarn for four sweaters (plus the current WIP)--which is odd, since there have been times in the past couple of years when I haven't even had enough for one--so at least I have plenty to think about.

Friday, January 7, 2011


After I finished Kevin's socks on Christmas Eve, I was really ready to make something for myself. Alarmingly, although I hadn't planned on this project at all, I had enough yarn and the right needles to make these mittens (the Portland Mittens, from New England Knits) with me (the book itself was a present from my sister). I cast on after we finished opening our presents, and finished them on the 26th--speedy!

I had to wait till we got home to make Hedgie (also known as Ysolda Teague's Smith), since I didn't have the pattern (and hadn't put it in my Ravelry library... that'll teach me!)

The gray and cream yarns are both Berroco's Ultra Alpaca (yum!), but I found the brown at the fair we go to every August. It wasn't a fiber event at all, but there were a few dozen skeins of yarn at one booth, and I found them. (I'm pretty impressed that my ability to sniff out the only yarn from miles around wasn't affected by all that fair food!)

It's lucky I included those gray sections in the mittens (there are 2 on the other hand), and even so I ran out of the brown and had to shorten Hedge by 2 rows of spikes. Poor thing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sew Secret

Amongst all the secret knitting before Christmas, there was some secret sewing:

I managed to make this quilt for Kevin (and it's not small--those blocks are about 11" square, plus the sashing (?) and border), without him noticing. Months ago, he cut up a bunch of his race t-shirts to make a quilt. We weren't sure what to do next (and mostly wanted someone else to do the rest), so we just put the squares in a pile and ignored them. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I got the idea of finishing them for him--and figured that as long as the pile kept looking about the same, and I only worked on it when he wasn't home, he wouldn't notice (fortunately, he'd cut out a bunch of extra squares which acted as a decoy once I'd taken the real squares).

So I spent a few frenzied days buying fabric, cutting everything up, and piecing it back together (I spent most of a Saturday ironing on interfacing, and did all the sewing the Monday before Thanksgiving). When we went to Ithaca at Thanksgiving, I left the top, batting, and backing fabric there to be machine quilted, then my mom mailed it to my in-laws' house the Monday before Christmas, and it was there when we arrived.

I think keeping Kevin's quilt a surprise makes up for knitting his socks in front of him in the car on December 23 (telling him every few minutes that he might get a sock and a half a skein of yarn, and would that be ok?), don't you? Hey, I finished on the 24th, without even staying up late--plenty of time!

(Too bad I still need to sew a binding on the quilt, huh?)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year!

Kevin and I invited ourselves along on my sisters' plan to spend New Year's Eve in New York--they took the train up, we took the train down (having just driven home from NC), and we met for dinner, met up with sister R's friends, then went towards Times Square.

This is about as far as we got, which meant that we couldn't actually see the ball. There was a reflection on the side of a building which might have been it--but we forgot to watch the reflection at midnight, so we're still not sure. But it was fun to see my sisters.

And borrow their glasses!

(And steal their photos--at least someone uses a real camera!)