Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slowly I turn, step by step: a post in which my reader can watch me go slowly insane.

Actually I think this blog is one protracted journey through mental instability. But that’s a prerequisite for grad school I think.

Well, blogger spent about a week arguing with me, so my post is waaay overdue. Here it is finally, with updates in parentheses for added excitement. I think I win the prize for most parenthetical statements in one post! An entire day’s worth (and two skeins of Zara) of knitting wasted. That’s what I spent last week on: the marley’s ghost. Yet Zara is superwash. Yay for ballbands! So no felting for me. I had to start over, with my own handspun (see last blog entry on this) so here is the new version of marley's ghost that I call "cadenas en fuego"-fiery chains. I’m very happy…now. It felted up beautifully, it’s long enough to wear, plus it’s sassy and fun. I think the boss will like it. (update: the boss loved it) Now if I can just spin enough of the merino and silk for the other boss’s scarf, wash it, knit it and then block it before Monday, I’ll be just fine (update: I did not, but it was ok and I did finish the other project noted below). Also, here are pics (FINALLY) of the Madiera Leaf Lace stole. This stitch is a traditional one, in most stitch dictionaries and is surprisingly easy. I LOVE the magic of blocking, have I mentioned this? I was really worried about how this stole would look, but it bloomed perfectly and opened up to show off the stitches just fine. I had never blocked anything this big before, so it definitely taxed the free space of our small apt. The cats helped. Blocking pins are apparently the most fascinating thing ever! Who knew? I had to fight with our Maine Coon for hours over this stole. I think she slept on it all night. Yay for lint rollers. I added the Willow Leaf border from Victorian Lace Today to each end (not perfectly…there are errors, but the recipient will never notice them and I was too tired to fix them) Have you ever woken up and found you were still knitting? That happened to me with the border of this stole and it shows.

Also I need to do a miniature knitting pin as a last-minute gift. A friend of mine told me about these. They’re small pieces of knitting in progress on miniature short needles mounted onto a pin back. I LOVED the idea and am experimenting with toothpicks and fimotm. I think I’m going to use some of the turquoise malabrigo laceweight, size 0s, the wandering vine pattern, and we’ll see what happens. I think she’ll love it. (update: I used leftover smooshy dream in color from Mom’s Hedera socks, and did a basket weave pattern because I was exhausted and it was 11:30 at night. So sue me. She still loved it. The needles were not toothpicks, but rather the sawed-off ends of those paper drink umbrellas, smoothed with sandpaper. They worked beautifully. Unfortunately no pics. Maybe I’ll take some when she wears it) So all this has to happen before Monday. In addition to cleaning the house, doing laundry, and actually getting some of MY work done. Oh, and throw in a holiday party or two and you’ve got a great recipe for nervous exhaustion, no? (Hey, I did most of it, had the parties, cleaned the house and didn’t collapse on the fainting couch. All is relatively well! Now I just have to finish the Weasley sweater—I’m done with the back and working on the front—and make a hat. And finish some lace. And re-block Kiri. Before Thursday night. YAY!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lacy goodness for all!

The wonders of technology and my inability to make the most of them never cease to amaze me. I finally have some images of kiri, some lace-weight spinning I'm working on, and sundry other things. However the amount of camera wrangling I went through to obtain these mediocre images is truly mind boggling. I haven't said much about kiri because I am a little shy about showing you my first big lace project. Especially since I need to re-block. But I love Polly's pattern, it's so easy and fun and provides a sophisticated shawl with minimal effort. Especially when you use DK weight and size 6 needles. If you've never tried a shawl before, I highly recommend kiri, as so many other ravelers and bloggers have noted. I am almost done with holiday knitting. Can you hear my wrists breathing a sigh of relief? But the big news, dear reader, the big news is I got my solstice present early. Yes, the gf read my mind and splurged. I am now the proud owner of a Strauch petite drum carder. I managed to card up the entire half-fleece I've been working on for weeks with hand cards in only a couple of hours. I have scratched knuckles, pricked fingers (mostly because I ignore directions printed on machinery with ridiculous abandon) and am deliriously happy. The gf told me she thought the real present would be letting me play with it for 2 weeks before we head home for the family holidays. I love her. She really gets it, even though there's not a single fiber lovin' bone in her body. I guess I should say she gets me. As you can see from this picture, one of our furry babies decided she would help me card. She's our little helper girl, this one. Sorry about that image, I took it at night and my best attempts at photoshopping it could not help the humungous glare issue. Kitty cuteness trumps bad glare any day!

So in terms of holiday knitting, I only (HA!) have a sweater, a hat, a marley's ghost scarf, and a shawl to finish. In two weeks. No problem. Did I mention I'm spinning the yarn for marley's ghost? And I have to give it to the recipient in two days? And I'm only about 1/3 of the way done. Because I ran out of yarn. And I haven't spun up more yet. Can you tell what I'll be doing tonight? Ok, enough angst...more yarn. I just bought this, probably one of my last yarn purchases for quite some time, mostly because I couldn't stand knowing there was malabrigo laceweight at the LYS and I didn't try to get some of it for my very own. So here, I give you 2 skeins of fabulous turquoise malabrigo lace. I'm doing the large rectangle with leaf pattern from VLT. I'm only two repeats in and I LOVE the pattern (I have since I bought the book, I just didn't feel ready to tackle it until now) and I am head over heels completely infatuated with this yarn. I won't discuss my thoughts about it on this blog, because they're just too racy. I'll leave it to your imagination. Maybe that's more dangerous....hey, yarn! This is black merino and silver silk spun into a lace-weight single. I'm lovin' this fiber combo. It's prepared rovings from Louet. I bought a whole pound. YUM!

The second image is some cinnamon-colored alpaca I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year. More lace-weight, although I think I'll ply this, would put it more at a fingering or DK weight...but since I like heavier shawls, that's not a problem!

ok, enough with the yarn pron, I'm off for now. I need to re-shoot the madiera lace, it keeps arguing with me about its closeups. Finicky thing!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow, blocking, and fun with dpns

My dear reader(s),

just a quick note to let you know there will be pics, lots of fos, and more fun than you can shake a circular at this weekend. When I actually have access to a camera. And time to upload images. But until then, I leave you with this thought: First snow!!!! The hush that settles as the flakes drift. The cruuuunch of your boots in it. That quick bite against your cheek before each petite miracle slowly melts with a kiss. Can you tell I love snow? That is until I have to dig my car out and I'm 20 minutes late for work....
And a bit of wisdom from my first big lace project: it needs to block longer than 4 hours. really. I learned that the hard way this morning (after staying up until 3 am to finish kiri) when I simply HAD to wear it to work. See first snow, above. I will have to soak and re-block tonight, but it was worth it to wear as I walked through the woods to the museum this morning (yes, I really am a lucky girl).
So look for kiri and cadenas en fuego this weekend and maybe one or two more. I'm rollin' rollin' rollin' out the knitted yummies. or maybe that should be "clickin'"? Or "blockin'"? But I digress.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

May I present?

Squatty v2.0. It felted quite well, in my humble opinion. I'm not sure about the button, but it will work. The gf has requested two more for her other sister and sister-in-law. We'll see, as I still have the Marley's Ghost scarf and the shawl and another present to finish in the next three weeks.
I really have been working on the diss, several whole paragraphs and three or four papers read today. That's progress in dissland, I assure you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


While the myriad effects of L-Tryptophan are well documented, this is the first year I have ever really experienced the lesser-known yet equally pernicious role Thanksgiving feasts play in the lives of knitters everywhere. Thanksgiving really cuts into your knitting time. I spent two days menu planning, shopping, baking, basting, snipping, sauteeing and serving. All for three people. Two days gone. My friends and family are fully cognizant of my feelings about this ersatz holiday. I celebrate the glorious two days off, guilt-free, from all responsibility save that of culinary origin. I REFUSE to acknowledge the purported reason for this day, given who I am and what I study. I do (somewhat shamefully) enjoy the turkey, pumpkin pie, greenbean casserole, homemade rolls, gravy, etc. etc that are a part of this created occasion for gluttony. I embrace the concept of being thankful for what we do have. Especially after watching things like the recent Frontline special on Darfur, I cannot help but be humbled by the plenty in which I wallow. My ample tummy and full cupboards are reminder enough that I have more goods, food, shelter, and power than most humans living in the world today or at any time before us. So it was in that spirit of humbled appreciation that I embraced our dear friend visiting from Connecticut, dished out the white meat and homemade cranberry sauce, and reveled in the thought that the gf would be doing the dishes. While I definitely missed having my sister and parents around the (metaphorical--we ate on the couch in the living room) table with me, I also savor the love that creates new definitions of family.
However, did I mention that it was more than two days of knitting time lost? Completely gone. Clearly I needed to amp up the energy level--enter the glory of "Black Friday" and my LYS. I love my LYS. They are friendly, warm, inviting and have fantastic sales. I dropped more on yarn and fiber in one day than I ever have before. Even at Maryland Sheep and Wool. It's really hard to resist 25% off everything in the store. So I loaded up on enough Lavold Silky Wool to make a Weasley sweater for the gf, some Zara in a perfect red that will probably be a scarf for my boss, some Claudia's handpaints that may just sit in the stash until the whisper to me, and did I mention spinning fiber? Oh yes. A full pound of a black merino/silver silk blend, and another half-pound of the Louet rovings in burning bush ( I fell in love with these after the MIL bag). More than enough fiber in my diet yesterday. Yummy goodness. Plus, left-over pumpkin pie and turkey shepherd's pie. What's not to love?
I have already cast-on and begun the Weasley sweater.... Boring isn't it? Nothing but miles and miles of stockinette. This sweater is about the easiest thing in the world to's two rectangles, two near rectangles, a bit of intarsia and a picked-up neck funnel in the round. Cute and what the gf wants, but phenomenally boring to knit. The yarn I chose, Elspeth Lavold Silky Wool in dark blue with a light blue for the letter, has to be doubled to make gauge and the desired "this sweater cannot cling to ANYTHING" requested by the gf. Snooooore. Good knitting to do while waiting the eleventy million days it takes for my images to upload. I LOVE dial-up. What blogger has dial-up, I ask you? Ok, ok, humility. Thanksgiving. I'm over it.
In the world of FOs, I'm finally done with the Archives Shrug. I couldn't stand it anymore and had to finish it. I'm not happy with it and will probably never wear it in public, but here it is. I had to rip out the arms and open the armscyes to re-knit them for more room. However, when I went back to the only yarn store (not my favorite LYS) that carries Malabrigo in the area, they no longer had the right colorway. of course. So rather than ordering the right color, or just waiting for more to come in, I bought a close match and took it home, re-knitted the arms, which involved inserting a plain stockinette panel underneath and attached to the lace panel that formed the top of the arm, wove in the ends and called it done. It's done, but not very pretty. The new yarn inserts are way too green and bright. They don't work with the softer apple green of the sweater at all. I may tea stain them to tone down their brightness. I creatively arranged the photo so they don't show.
I have also finished something so quickly I didn't even have time to blog about its progress. I knitted another squatty, this time in yarn I dyed at home with kool-aid; a really easy and very fun process. Again, it's a colorway I would never wear, carry, or own voluntarily but I think the recipient will love it. I will felt it this afternoon and post the final version later this week.
I'm also working on a mitt based on this pattern. I'm using Berroco's Ultimate Alpaca in my favorite leafy green. The yarn, for being ostensibly 50% Alpaca, is a little scratchy, which I'm not that happy with, but I love the pattern and the way they worked for mitts. I saw this on someone's Ravelry page (sorry, I'm not remembering who at the moment. mea maxima culpa) and fell in love with the idea. I should finish these this weekend and will post the final version then. I'm especially happy with the thumb gusset, as I made it fall just at the point of a leaf expansion, so the yo's bracket the thumb.
I also managed to turn in a revised version of the article, so hopefully that will go out for review soon.
Clearly I have innumerable reasons for thankfulness this year. I am one lucky girl.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What satisfaction I canst have

Completo! I have not one but two FOs for you today! 1st, Mom's hederas...soon to be blocked, wrapped and sent out to her for the big day; and the MIL bag...finished, felted, blocked and awaiting a button. This requires careful consideration but it's so close I'm calling it done. I'm busily working on Mom's shawl as well. Having a birthday and Christmas in the same month really makes gift knitting challenging. Of course I could just buy her a present, like I've done for the past [insert ridiculous # of years here] years but now that perhaps my knitting is decent enough to foist on, er I mean give to, others I feel the need to make her something. Of course many argue that handmade gifts should be reserved for anyone under the age of 12, but these people are CLEARLY not knitters. Honestly, which would you rather have, a handknitted pair of socks in your favorite color or an [insert ridiculously expensive and probably useless tchotchke]? As my sister and I remark annually, what's most important is the "tear" factor...will your gift be the one to make Mom cry? We have never actually wagered a sum on this event but the competition is nonetheless quite fierce. I'm hoping the socks make the grade. This is the first time I've actually sat down and knitted a project from start to finish with only minor dalliances with other objects on needles. Most of the time I'm what the Harlot calls a process knitter. I love to figure out how stitches and patterns work. I'll knit and re-knit the same design in swatches over and over again until I understand it. I must have about 20 UFOs in various states...most of which I haven't even put on ravelry. But this time I decided to just work through the boredom and just Granted, Cookie A.'s pattern is just different enough to keep me going, but I crave variety. It actually cost me some mental energy to concentrate long enough to get through second sock syndrome. But I made it. I did the happy know the one, you're just as guilty as I am...all around the apt. Of course I was wearing the socks on my hands so I didn't spoil them. To finish the MIL's bag I would love to use a vintage button but I haven't been collecting them *shame* so I will need to go on a vintage button hunt. Oh the tragedy.
We spent all day yesterday painting the gf's studio in preparation for her upcoming open studio so the fact that I finished anything at all this weekend is pretty amazing. I tried to cast on for a new lace project yesterday but I'm not happy with it. I'm using the traveling vine pattern from Norbury's Traditional Knitting Patterns (Dover reprint, 1973) but I think my needles are too big...size 2s for laceweight yarn. If I wanted the pattern to be very open it would be fine, but this pattern calls for a closer knit....sigh. I've been struggling with my next lace project for about a month now. Everything I cast on for doesn't feel right. I have Muir in my queue but I'm not sure I'll be interested enough in this to keep it going. Reaaaaallllly repetitive knitting. Beautiful, but maybe not for me...there's also Susan' Lawrence's Branching Out...sensing a theme here? But all my laceweight yarn is burgundy, not so much for the leafy bits. I'm still pondering, thoughts anyone?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

musing and WIPS

I've been thinking about choices. Right now I'm choosing to sit here and type out random nerve firings straight from my brain to the keyboard rather than work on my article or my dissertation or knit. It's a very odd process for me to choose to blog about knitting rather than to knit, yet here I am. I made significant progress on the hedera socks for mom--I'm almost to the toe of the second sock..progress pics this weekend..and I'm working on the handle of Rusty's bag. Progress in casa de spinningleaves!
I am desperately awaiting the arrival of a new battery for my ipod, an absolute necessity for my work. I depend on this little gadget more than just about any other piece of technology except for the computer and the car. and the stove. and the refrigerator. ok, so we live in a world where moving off-grid or living without tech is not really an option unless you want to make it a full-time job. While I think I would sincerely enjoy that, it would only last about a week, then I would want my vacuum and my coffeemaker. I think studying the 16th and 17th centuries makes me value these amazing gizmos all the more. Back to the ipod. I have (aside from the requisite music) stored my entire dissertation on there; all my references, categorized by a wonderful little program called zotero--check it out, it's worth it!; all my linked notes; even pdfs of articles I'm reading. I LOVE this little thing. But the battery is shot, which makes working with it rather challenging. So I'm sitting here knitting, smelling the pumpkin bread baking, and working on this post rather than writing.
Many people, from my advisor to my father (himself a PhD), have told me that the dissertation is a marathon. I'm beginning to think it's more like making cookies. This may have been inspired by the harlot's latest post, so bear with me. I am always really excited about eating the gooey warm cookies fresh from the oven. The thought of them melting on my tongue is what sends me scurrying for the flour, eggs, and vanilla. I faithfully measure, beat, scoop, and pre-heat. I'm proud of my attention to detail, knowing that it will affect the end product. Yet by the time I'm greasing the sheet and scooping the dough out, I'm already cramming bites of it into my mouth. Usually only about half of it makes it in the oven. By the time the cookies are ready I don't even really want one. And that's kind of where I stand with the diss right now. I'm cramming enormous and fascinating quantities of data down my gullet. I'm so full of data I don't even want to write. Apparently what I'm revealing to all 1 of my readers is that I have low impulse control and I may never finish the diss. Goddess only knows how I actually knit anything, let alone wait through the process of spinning the yarn I'm knitting. I think that's enough soul-baring and metaphors for one day. Look for pics this weekend!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Oh for knits sake

Finally, finally I actually have pictures to share of works in progress! It required an entire day of wheedling and general buffoonery (and total albeit temporary neglect of the diss) but I have things to share....Like Hedera socks in progress...These are a birthday gift for my mother in her all-time favorite color. I'm definitely not a fan of pink in any shade (unless it's for breast cancer awareness) but I'm enjoying this knit immensely. It has just enough complexity to remain interesting (i.e. to keep me from drifting off into lala land as I'm knitting) but was really easy to memorize. I know everyone and their sister's aunt has already knit these but I wanted to add my little "brava" to Cookie A. I'm a big big fan! This is my second pair of socks using one of her patterns and I love her designs. I can't wait to start of my fav poets and fav stitch patterns all in one place. It's perfection.
This was my first knitting photo shoot and it was oh so grandly staged in the *front* yard of my apartment complex. I was the recipient of many an interested stare from dog walkers, drivers, runners and other denizens of our little corner of the world. We are lucky enough to live in a very leafy, very liberal community so it probably was not all that shocking for residents to see someone outside posing a sock for candid closeups. Nevertheless, I was a bit self conscious.
I spent most of the day today playing on Ravelry rather than working. I knew Ravelry would be addictive but I really think it should come with a warning label such as "Caution, you are about to join a friendly, open community that will suck you in and enable endless hours of procrastination, all in the name of fiber love. " I mean really. How is one knitter supposed to stand alone against the onslaught of fabulous patterns, excellent designs, potential new friends, and delicious UGHs! (yes, I have one in there too)? How, I ask you? I cannot. I must succumb.

I have uploaded images of most of my WIPS and some of my FOs. Some are simply too embarrassing to publish. Since I've only been knitting for about a year and a half, I don't have too much to show yet but I'm working on it! Here are some of my better objects for your viewing pleasure...including some yarn pron. yummy.
This is my version of Sowerby's Syrian Shawl pattern, but on size 15 US needles using Rowan's Little Big Wool. This yarn was a lovely gift from my sister for Christmas last year and I only had enough to do a small shawl, no border. I may buy another 2-3 skeins to knit a border at some point in the future. Right now it's enough to keep my shoulders warm in the archives during the summer...hence it's fabulously original name: the Archives shawl. And now, as promised, the said yarn pron...I spun this up as fat worsted singles from a beautifully prepared Louet pencil roving in the burning bush colorway. I loved loved loved spinning this. I didn't want it to end! These singles are, even as we speak, becoming a "squatty sidekick" for my adored mother-in-lawless. This pattern is so easy and so cute but I really wish it had another name. "Squatty" is something I would prefer to avoid typing, let alone saying out loud. The gf insisted that I use handspun to make this purse for her mother and I am happy to do so. I just wish that I didn't have to lose all my hard work in spinning even (or as even as I could get them) singles. Felting will make it all disappear. I'm a bit brokenhearted about it. But it is for a worthy cause...the MIL loves it when I give her handmade gifts. In fact she demands them.
In other WIP news, I'm so close to being done with the archives shrug, but the holiday and birthday gifts have to take precedence. I have been designing and redesigning this shrug for months now and I'm only sort of happy with it. I LOVE the yarn--Malabrigo kettle dyed in my favorite shades of green--and I finally found a stitch pattern I like, but I kept underestimating how much yarn I would need to finish the damn thing. I have gone back to the LYS three times for more yarn. Only twice have I been lucky enough to score the same colourway. I'm having to use a close color complement under the arms. Hopefully it won't be that noticeable. If you see me around town in this tell me you can't tell. Please.
I am simply dying to cast on for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan but I cannot until I finish at least two or three more WIPS and all of my holiday knitting. Then I can reward myself. Maybe I'll get some yummy tweedy yarn or rovings for a present....hint hint hint...
alright, enough lolly gagging, I'm off to edit an article. TTFN!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

tech difficulties update

Clearly I am doomed. doomed to purile pics. doomed to irritating images. doomed I say. Apparently our protohistoric digital does not play well with others. Namely Windows XP. So all of you *chuckle* will have to bear with me and deal with ugly scanned pics until I can afford a new camera. A brand-new blogger without images. Yeah, you'll flock to my site. In droves.

Technical Difficulties

Welcome back to fall!
For the thousands reading this blog, please bear with me while I attempt to make my ancient digital camera talk to the new computer. I think we ditched the software long ago in favor of the new camera. Unfortunately yours truly dropped said device in a cheerfully burbling brook while we were hiking this summer. I have yet to make this up to the gf. Hence the technical difficulties. I hope to actually post WIPs soon! keep those stylishly gloved fingers crossed. This weekend was a big one for us. We re-arranged and cleaned the entire apt. which seriously cut into my knitting and spinning time. Nevertheless I managed to cast on and get half-way down the leg of one Hedera sock, using Dreaming in Color's ruby river colorway. yummy. These are a present for a certain special someone, so no pics yet (again, see above). In the mean time, please enjoy this blurry, bad image of my endpaper mitts. These were my first stranded work and my first work in the round. I learned (too late) that I knit using what Annie Modesitt calls the combination method, so all the stitches are twisted. Rather appropos for me. Needless to say I have since learned my lesson. I also learned my lesson about using wool given to me by friends who claim it really is merino. I should have trusted my instincts--it felt like acrylic--and so it was (in part). So much work on a project I'm not entirely happy with. But they remain one of my few FOs.
I managed to wash about a pound and a half of lovely Jacob wool gifted to me two years ago yesterday. I know. Two YEARS. It's a miracle that when I opened the bag there was nothing but some frass and generations of carpet beetle carcasses inside. I think it may be enough to make a sweater for the gf. I'm thinking gansey, with the wool carded and spun into heathered grey/brown worsted weight... So many plans, so little time. And how, you ask, did the dissertation progress this weekend? why not at all! I did do some work on an article I'm submitting for publication, but other than some random thoughts, I did not write at all. Bad historian. Wish me luck with camera mojo!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

spinning leaves first post

Greetings to all two of you who might read this! I'm up and, well, not really running...more like barely shuffling my feet. But I'm here! woo hoo!