aswim in knits

Sunday, January 27, 2008

what a difference a day (or two) makes

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my long and rambling post on Friday. It felt quite good to get it all out of my head. Parts of that post had been knocking around for days.

I think it also helped that I slept for 14 hours last night. Overtired? Not me!

Today I spent the entire day (13 hours) doing homework, with the occasional break to eat, pee, do laundry, and check email. I don't feel like I got that much done, but I'm on the right track, at least. Now I'm going back to bed.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

the post in which I whine a lot and set forth several excuses and rants

I feel a long post coming on. You might want to fetch a beverage.

OK, settled down? Let's begin ...
(I've interspersed some knitting photos and updates along the way as a reward for your patience in reading the rest. Or at least pretending to read. )

• • •
(I'm adding some section headings, for the scanners out there...)

School started again last week. I'm taking classes #5 and #6 of the 8 I need to get my master's degree in Higher Education Administration. This semester seems like it will be more work than last, at least for the first several weeks. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

I really like one of the classes, an elective course on student affairs. The professor is more of a facilitator than a lecturer, which is exactly what I like. Lecturing has its place, but I learn so much more -- and have more fun -- in classes with a lot of discussion. In addition to the readings and papers, I'll be doing a semester "field research" project on service-learning and community service programs in local colleges and universities.

The other class ... eh. It also has a lot of discussion, but with a very different vibe. More of the "did you do the reading" kinds of discussion topics rather than "what do you think -- let's grapple with this question" kind of discussion.

In fairness to the professors -- and other students -- I must admit that I have high standards. I expect a lot of stimulation. I want to be challenged. And, not unreasonably I think, I expect that students seeking a degree in higher education should have some interest in the intellectual community of a campus, and should want to engage in the commerce of ideas. As opposed to the classmate from last semester who said "I think it's unfair that part of our grade includes class participation. Some of us just don't like to talk about stuff." Sorry, sweetie, but you're in the wrong line of work. Luckily, my student affairs class has a lot of student that I do like :)

• • •

I finished some knitting this week! Thom now has a fine pair of Manly Mitts to keep his hands warm. These are knit in Lamb's Pride Naturespun yarn. Stranded knitting, worsted weight, knit smaller than 6 sts/in. He should be toasty warm. He likes them and has worn them several times (and even surrendered them one day so that I could take a photo in the daylight hours).

Manly Mitts

Details on Ravelry

• • •


Work has been busy. Nothing out of the ordinary, though, just an annual project that involves coordinating a grant proposal and a grant report with over 30 different people on campus, including several faculty members, a handful of fundraisers, a dean or two, some department heads, and the provost. Coordinating with faculty? Its like herding cats. Cats who have egos.

Some interesting possible career directions have surfaced recently. A conversation or two, nothing concrete. But, it's thrown me into a tizzy of re-evaluating my career path. I am simultaneously ambitious and complacent. It makes for some strange conversations in my head. But mostly, I am hesitant about change. It's easy to stand still, though I know that it's better to move ahead. Must think further, but not tonight.

• • •


95% complete

My Bird in Hand mittens are almost done, just one thumb to go.

What's that? You wanted to see the bird? Oh, ok.

flippin' the bird

I might redo the eye. It seems a bit large. Not as cute as Maryse's birds, but I like him. (It's a male bird. Not sure why, just is.)

• • •


I've been gripped by a serious case of indecision for the past month or two. I just cannot seem to make up my mind about anything.

I have $35 to spend at (gift certificate $). I should buy something for myself, but I could also save it in case I need to buy any more books for school. I want to get the Knitters Book of Yarn, and it only costs $20. So, I have another $15 to spend, and I'll throw in a little more if needed. What to get? There are so many books I want, but I can't choose.

Help me! Any good suggestions? I lean towards books that are technique heavy, or maybe something about stranded knitting. Oh, I know -- I want an Elizabeth Zimmerman book. Not Knitting without Tears, but any other one. Maybe that. Which one should I get?

• • •

Subtitle: No shit, Sherlock.

hat for Ava

Ravelry, of course

A baby hat for Thom's cousin's new baby. I'll probably make booties or socks to match. I love baby hats. They're like the potato chips of the knitting world.

• • •


I need to buy some yarn at Webs. I promised my dad a sweater as a father's day gift last year. He's asked for a gray cardigan, so I'm buying some Cascade 220.

I also need to buy some Ultra Alpaca for a winter accessories set -- scarf, hat, mittens. I told Lucia that I would test knit a scarf she's designing, and it will look fabulous in the subtle colors of Ultra Alpaca. I just can't decide which color!

ultra alpaca colors
Turquoise, Yucca, and Lavender

I'm leaning towards Lavender. What do you think?

• • •


I'm knitting some squares for a blanket for Elisa's dad. Washable wool. Started at lunch today.

square for Elisa's dad

Leftover yarn from my Thujas. Less pink, more red, than the photo shows. Square is also on Ravelry.

• • •


The indecision has crept further into my knitting life. I can't settle on a project. In addition to the square above, and a second ball of plain gray yarn for another square, I also found the following items in my knitting bag while at work today.

toting around

In the top left corner, we have the baby hat shown above, plus yarn to make matching booties. Plus yarn in other colors. You know, just in case.

Next, the Bird in Hand mittens. Because nothing says "mindless lunch knitting" like two-color mitten thumb in a non-repeating pattern, complete with embroidered detail.

Next to that, a skein of Manos. As if I had a skein winder in my back pocket.

On the bottom, starting at the left ... some ShiBui sock yarn. For which I have not yet picked a pattern. Then, some handspun. I've not swatched, or picked a pattern. I think these are my security blanket. When in doubt, hug the yarn.

Finally, in the 6th position, a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy, which has started its transition to becoming a pair of Vinnland socks. Except that I don't like them. The pattern is great, the yarn fantastic, not a speck of pooling. But, even at 9 sts/in, I want a firmer fabric. So, I think they will get ripped. But I'm just not sure. They could be fabulous. Should I knit just a little more before I decide?

I have enough yarn with me at work to survive the Armageddon. Or at least a blizzard.

• • •


I wish I did a better job leaving comments on all your posts. I am reading them, I just don't have the time to write much. I wish I wrote back to all of my nice commenters. I wish I could be more like Carole or Bertha or Chris or Phoe who all reply to every comment I leave for them! I wish I blogged more. See the School and Work section above for why I don't.

In the interests of maintaining sanity, I can only do so much. Know that I am reading when I can, and writing when I can. But, since this post has taken over an hour to write, I must now turn my attention to homework.

Thanks for listening, yo. It's been cathartic.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

an impromptu stitch and bitch

This was the scene over the weekend.

Me and the Manly Mitts on the left, Alison and a sweater project on the right.

Oh, and that hand with the hospital bracelet belongs to the Mafia. (Her project? Mittens, Cascade 220 and Ella Rae Palermo, for those who want to know.)

She's home resting now, after a nasty virus knocked her on her ass. Go send her some love, ok?

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Friday, January 18, 2008

you know she's a knitter when ...

... your mother-in-law sends you the following email about a cousin's new baby:

She arrived on 1/15. She, Mom and Dad and Grandpa and Grandma are all doing fine. She arrived 2 sleeves too early. The sweater is really cute.

Needless to say, I cast on for a hat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Remember my Bird in Hand mittens? They are one and a half thumbs from completion. I stopped working on them when Thom, who never asks me to knit anything for him, told me that his Lopi mittens are not warm enough. (Technically, Lite Lopi. Still, though, not warm enough??)

So I cast on for some Manly Mitts for him in black and dark gray -- sedate enough for him to wear to work (state gov't, suit and tie every day). In addition to what you see below, I've also started the second one. They're pretty fast. And worsted weight stranded knitting at 6+ sts/in had better be warm enough for him. If not, I might take Kellee's suggestion and throw a pair of thin fleece running gloves inside for an extra layer of warmth.

Manly Mitts for Thom

Did I mention that I also cast on for some socks for me? No? Well then ... I cast on for a pair of socks on New Year's Day and finished them about a week later. Thujas, worsted weight :) Yummy, squooshy Artyarns Supermerino.

Thujas for me

On Ravelry.
(I'm not going to post the project specs on the blog anymore. It was mostly for my own record-keeping anyways. If anyone wants more info, just email or comment. Or sign up for a Ravelry account ... only 7000 on the waiting list!)

The FO parade might have to slow down a bit over the next couple of months. Classes for spring semester started yesterday. I already have 2 book reviews to write and a group project due in the first month.* Yech. Plus, my blogging venue of choice work is busy. Oh, and did I mention that I turn 30 in the middle of the month? Feb 1, for those who want to send gifts! There might be a blog contest (with prizes) around that time. Yeah, I screw around online as a way to avoid homework

*Have I ever mentioned that while in theory I think group projects are the way to go, in practice I despise them? Yeah, it's a control issue thing. However, once we give our presentation on Feb 6, I am DONE with group work for the semester!!

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Friday, January 11, 2008

on the bobbins

As I proved last week, I can follow a crowd. In addition to the Bird in Hand craze, I also got on board with the NaSpiMoMo fun. (Side note: I always want to say "Nasty Momo." Call me juvenile ...)

I'm working on 12 oz of merino that I bought at Rhinebeck this year, in shades of green, blue, and purple.

(Pardon the flash. Winter days -- and the lack of daylight -- really suck.)

I'm spinning it thin enough to chain-ply into a worsted weight yarn that I will knit into a Clapotis. At least, that's the plan. I did some sampling and got pretty much what I wanted. Let's just see if I can stay consistent through all 12 ounces. Remember, I'm still pretty new at this!

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Friday, January 04, 2008

if everyone else jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge ...

So, I've hopped right up on the bandwagon and am working on a pair of Bird in Hand mittens. I love Kate's pattern -- it is beautiful and very well written.
bird in hand.JPG

I cast on for these on Christmas Eve at my in-laws. The photo above is from a few days ago. I'm almost up to the top flower on the second mitten now. Once I finish both, I'll do the thumbs. Mitten #1 already has all of its other ends woven in, though.

Alison gave me a good tip -- she said that she did the embroidery on the thumb before finishing the last few thumb rounds, and it made it easier to maneuver. If you're not familiar with this pattern then stop hiding under that rock you might not know that there is a little bird on the tip of the thumb, and you embroider his eye, beak, and wing onto the mitten.

I'm knitting these from stash -- Paton's Classic Merino (dark green) and Cascade 220 (white). Both of these were acquired in Ravelry trades earlier this year. Very good aquisitions, I would say!

I'm loving the stranded knitting. Should be nice and warm. I think I'll whip up a pair of Manly Mitts next. Thom said that the Lite Lopi mittens I made for him aren't warm enough. And, umm, he can't find them anyways. He's been wearing a pathetic little pair of cotton gloves, a freebie from an event during my college years (1999 to be exact). What's that about the cobbler's daughter having no shoes ...?

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

silver lining

Do you remember my Nantucket Jacket? The one I started in 2006? It's finally finished.
Nantucket Jacket
(As always, click to Flickr-ize and embiggen.)

It fits exactly as I intended. However, it does not fit right, which is why there are no photos of it on me.

Bear with me while I explain ...
This is the cover sweater from the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits. I loved the pattern, but I knew I wanted to make some modifications.

  1. I wanted long sleeves. It's an aran weight jacket, after all.
  2. I changed the triangular gussets. In the larger sizes, the gussets don't make those nice triangles with a column of lace above. Instead, they decrease into large panels of seed stitch (see this example on Ravelry or on Flickr). But, I was drawn to the pattern because of the gusset/lace column detail. So, I knit the smaller size gusset but added additional cables to make up the width.
  3. I then had to change the armhole shaping because of this. I'm a little fuzzy now on what I exactly did, although I have detailed notes in a notebook somewhere.
  4. I made it a little longer than the pattern called for ... I'm not particularly tall, but I wanted it to cover the waistband of my pants so that I could wear it to work.
  5. I grafted the seed stitch collar rather than three-needle bind off. I thought it would look more finished that way.

I swatched and calculated and worked out the maths to figure out exactly what size I wanted to make, and how to get that size. And, I got exactly what I calculated for. (Come on, did you expect anything less? I was on the math team in high school, for chrissake.)

But, I failed to take several things into account.
  1. The fit of the garment. I thought that an aran weight jacket (i.e. that I could layer over other shirts) should have about 3-4" of ease. With 20-20 hindsight, I realize that the model is probably wearing a sweater with little or no ease, or perhaps even negative ease. (Side note: I wish that Knitting Daily would post one of its fit galleries for all of IK's sweaters! So useful to see how the same size sweater looks at different ranges of ease.)
  2. The cabling details of the sweater. There are purl stitch columns between all of the cable details, which makes the overall design act a little like a ribbed fabric. I don't think I stretched it enough while measuring gauge. So, the edge of the armhole is about an inch or two down my arm instead of where it should be. And the whole sweater is wider than I planned. It's just a smidge big when it is laying flat to block, but it grows a lot when I put it on due to #3, below.
  3. The sproing factor of the yarn -- Berroco Pure Merino. This is some seriously bouncy, springy, stretchy yarn. If typical wool yarn has the bounce of a tennis ball, this stuff acts like one of those crazy super bouncy balls that we played with as kids. You would think that this makes for a good garment -- and it does -- but it also means that the yarn stretches easily. It bounces back, but acts like a slinky -- stretches and springs back, stretches and springs back. Not quite what I expected.
  4. Most importantly, I didn't think enough about how this design would look on my body. As Maryse and the Mafia and I discussed recently, I'm an apple. My waist is almost as large as my hips are. Because of the gussets, this jacket flares out along the bottom. So, on me, there is extra fabric at the bottom and it just hangs there. It almost looks ruffled. NOT the look I was going for! Waist shaping = good, but ruffles = bad.
But, every cloud has a silver lining, right? My mother-in-law -- the one who taught me to knit! whose LYS is Webs! -- tried it on. It looks like it was made for her!! I'll try to get a photo later -- she was sick when she was at our house last, so I couldn't inflict a photo shoot upon her at the time.

I'm going to give her the sweater. In return, she offered to buy me a sweater worth of a comparable quality yarn. Sounds like a good trade to me! And it works nicely with my Knit From the Stash 2008 rules!

But, before I give her the sweater, I might enter it in some fairs. It think it's one of my best pieces of work. I paid a lot of attention to the seaming and finishing. I crocheted that damn edging no less than 4 times before I liked how it looked. I also learned how to graft seed stitch for the collar. I found just the right buttons, and I very carefully wove in all the ends. Superwash wool + large sweater with large collar + 92 yard skeins = lots of ends!

While the sweater isn't what I hoped for, I learned a lot from the experience. I'm glad that it will go to someone who will love it.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I did it!! And I'm doing it again.

Does anyone remember last year when I said that I was going to knit from my stash in 2007? I made a couple of exceptions to the rules at the outset. (1) Sock yarn was OK to buy. (2) I could also buy yarn to make gifts if I didn't have anything appropriate in the stash. (3) Yarn given to me wasn't counted.

Well, I DID IT!!! 12 months with no buying anything other than sock yarn. And only 8 pairs of sock yarn stashed. I did buy a few things to make gifts with -- a baby sweater and a pair of Sockapalooza socks -- but most of the gifts even came out of the stash.

I also sold some of the stash to buy a spinning wheel, or traded stuff I wouldn't likely use for things I could make gifts with. And, I did buy some fiber for the wheel -- plenty to keep me busy at least until the spring fiber festivals.

But, I still have a lot of stash. Apparently, I stashed at a rate far exceeding my ability to knit. So, 2008 will be another year of "KNIT (and spin) FROM YOUR STASH" for me.

Here are the slightly revised rules:

1) sock yarn is still an exception. However, as of right now, I have yarn for 18 pairs in the stash, 19 if you count the worsted weight that I have earmarked for another pair of Thujas, and 20 if you count the large ball of yarn that I have remaining from a pair of itty bitty leg warmers. I will get the sock stash down to 10 pairs before buying any more sock yarn.

2) Yarn to make gifts with is still OK. I love knitting for others, and I want to make sure that they love their knitted gifts, so the appropriate yarn is a must.

3) Souvenir yarn is OK. If I am on vacation or otherwise out of town, and I want to buy a special yarn that I can't get locally, that's souvenir yarn.

4) Yarn needed to finish a project is also OK. However, I always overbuy, so that's not likely to be an issue for me.

5) More spinning fiber is OK, once I spin at least half of what I have currently.

6) Yarn/fiber received as a gift is also OK.

I am really hoping that I can make it to the bottom of the stash, or at least close to it, sometime this year. Wish me luck!!