Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Crumpets and Crones

I harbor deep fantasies, well, delusions of owning my own business one day. Most of the time, I revel in owning a yarn store. I have no idea what the particulars would entail. No doubt I would be horrific at choosing yarn (how do you settle on which to stock?), too tight with the money and miserable with advertising. But you can be sure I'd come up with a snappy company name. To wit:

The Naked Sheep (yes, this store already exists, but I didn't know that when the name occurred to me). I see quite a few Wooly Sheep stores, which makes no sense since the sheep must get naked in order to stock the store.

Twist and Shout. A combination knitting store and karaoke bar.

Crones and Scones. Not a knitting store, this would be a bakery (another fantasy) that I'd open later in life.

What would you name your shop?

Monday, September 24, 2007

I have issues

Well, that should be obvious by now, but when I say issues, I mean knitting issues. Two, to be precise.

Issue the first:
Knitting with cotton - three strands of heavy worsted weight cotton - hurts. My wrists hurt, my fingers hurt. For such a simple project (Absorba, the great bathmat), there's a lot of pain involved. With just two 'strips' remaining, I'm confident that I can knit through the pain to a pleasant FO. No pain, no gain, right?
Bath Mat 1

Issue the second:
Row gauge. I swatched like a banshee for the Sunrise Circle Jacket. I got stitch gauge, but not row gauge. Fine. I can do math (even calculus, shh!), so I can futz my way through to an acceptable product. I cast-on the back, made some minimal calculations and modified the pattern accordingly. Back complete.

Sunrise Circle 2
I love the darts.

Sunrise Circle 3
So warm.

I went to cast-on the front left and hit a wall. I've got no clue how to modify this pattern to accommodate my row gauge. Further, I'm not sure how row gauge affects this pattern. See, the patterns asks you to cast on the cuff of the sleeve and knit the sleeve up through the raglan shaping. That's fine. I can do some fancy math and make the increases work out. But then, oh then. You continue into the shaping of the raglan and at the same time you begin work on the front. In this manner, you increase every single row to create a semi-circular left front. Understand? No? Check out the pattern. Will the front be too long, overlap too much? What's going to happen? Aieee! Can I modify the pattern and if so, how? Can I modify my row gauge and if so, how? Will I ever have a finished sweater that fits me, me, me?

Clearly, distractions are in order.

Distraction the first:
A very bad picture of my socks from Sockapalooza. Better pictures available from Yarn Thulu. These are beautiful socks, just the right height and they came with other sock-knitting goodies. Lucky for me, I got over the sock nausea, huh?

Distraction the second:
Cute kid. Clearly dressed by Daddy. Note the clashing pinks in the stockings and onesie, combined with the orange of the fleece vest. I love this outfit.

ETA: I found a somewhat useful link to row gauge issues. Basically, Kate says knit the fronts with your gauge (they will overlap more/less depending on row gauge) and make the back match. So I will sally forth on the left front and see where it takes me. It may mean ripping the back to ensure it matches the length of the front (but since my stitch gauge is spot on, who knows?).

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finished object, the first

As life settles back into a routine that doesn't include writing a dissertation, I hope to update my little world on some of the projects I've completed. First up, I offer an actual photo of the socks I knit for my sockpal.

Spiral Boot Socks

It's up on Ravelry, too (I'm Jeneric, for those interested). Specifics can be found there. I loved knitting these socks and will almost certainly knit a second pair to keep, perhaps in a pale pink to add a cheery touch to the cold winters coming my way.

I make no promises, but I will try to photograph several other completed projects and, if you're good and don't stick things in your mouth, I'll even show some in-progress things. Is it really that obvious that I live with a toddler?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I passed. Can I knit now?

It's been a while, hasn't it?

For those interested, there is a direct and negative correlation between dissertation writing and knitting production.

I valiantly tried to knit through the entire month leading up to my defense (which included a trip to a conference in California with a baby). It was not successful. My project of choice? The mystery shawl. Who was it who said complicated lace and dissertations don't mix? That would be me.

So to recap the knitting:
1. Mystery shawl. I got to the third chart and abandoned it. It wasn't for the mistakes (though there had been several). It wasn't for the complicated nature of the beast. Really, it was because it was a beast, a swan to be specific. When the theme was revealed, I lost all interest. It's sitting quietly in a bag, awaiting the frog pond and greener pastures.

2. Black socks for Eric. Good grief. I lost interest in these months ago.

3. Shedir hat. I cast on for this and frogged it the same night. Love the pattern. Love the yarn. Don't love them together.

4. Various other projects were cast on and I don't remember them now.

5. Sunrise circle jacket. It's on, baby. Love the yarn (Brooks Farm Solana). It's like knitting with cherry juice (and I said so on Ravelry user name: Jeneric). I ripped the back once, to tidy up my darts. I'm now chugging along at a slow but respectable speed. Fingers crossed that this jacket is both wearable and a pleasure to wear.

6. Just last night, the yarn arrived for Absorba, the great bathmat. Those folks at Elmore Pigsah sure are quietly efficient. I ordered three cones of the Peaches and Cream Double Worsted Sunday evening and heard not a peep until Wednesday afternoon when a little e-mail alert notified me that it had arrived on my doorstep. I cast on PDQ (pretty darn quickly) and immediately noticed two things: (1) cotton is not wool nor does it pretend to be; (2) knitting with US 13 needles is gawd awful. I feel like I've lost the use of my thumbs or been stuck in a hoggy faze. Nevertheless, I love the resulting fabric and I will stick with this project until I have a bathmat. Or lose all feeling in my wrists, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Knitter's Nightmare

I woke last night in terror. I couldn't remember the date and I thought surely I had missed the Sockapalooza4 Mail date. My brain whirred. It was Monday, tomorrow was Tuesday. When was August 2nd? Let's work backwards. What was today? Today was, ah, well, Monday, yes I know, but the date? I couldn't remember. Think, McFly, think! Eventually I remembered that Monday was July 30th and July has 31 days which puts August 2nd on Thursday. Fantastic! Plenty of time to box up the socks that I finished a month ago. And didn't blog about.

Sigh. It's been busy around here. I'd show you what I've been working on, but it probably won't upload well and it's interesting only to Ecology geeks, like me. Yes, the thesis is written (150 or so pages. It's tought to keep track) and will be sent to the committee today or tomorrow. My attention is now on writing a presentation for ESA and my defense.

Cross your fingers and toes and if all goes well, I'll have some FO and WIP pictures soon.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gratuitous Garlic

Siskiyou Purple Garlic

I had to share. Isn't it lovely?

Monday, July 09, 2007


It's been a while my friends and boy, have I been busy. Not so much with the knitting, though. I've been told that this is a good thing. Finishing one's dissertation is important, especially if one hopes to get a job. Sigh.

The good news is that my defense is set for August 24th, which means I must be done writing by the end of July. Knitting time will still be limited as I prepare two presentations (one for a scholarly conference, the other for the big day), but you may notice that I am slightly more productive in those interim weeks.

And now for some gratuitous scenery. Yep, that's where I did my dissertation research. Pretty, eh? It's the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, located mere minutes from New York City. You should visit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wrong way

I think most of you who read this blog know exactly where I work. And if you don't, just imagine a one-way road that loops around a pond, in a complete circle. A circle, as in, if you've missed your exit, you can continue around the loop until you again reach the exit.

Now imagine an SUV tearing down said one-way loop, flying by his/her exit. Three seconds later, s/he hits the breaks, does an illegal u-turn and accelerates the wrong way back around the loop.

Horrific, I know. Even more upsetting when you learn that I recognized the driver as a long-standing citizen of this institution. There was no call for that behavior.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

We interrupt this silence

for a quick FAQ and update on the knitting.

Q. Have you been knitting?
A. Of course. Sadly, the knitting is not daily but I try very hard to squeak in at least 15 minutes of knitting when I can.

Q. What are you knitting?
A. Good question! I had good intentions to continue plowing through Eric's Na Craga, but when the temperatures starting topping 85, I cried uncle and cast aside the 100% wool sweater for smaller, portable, light-weight things.

Q. A wise decision, but you never answered the question.
A. Ahem. Yes. Well, you see, there's been a snafu. I have successfully completed one sock for Sockapaloooza. See?
Pattern: Spiral Boot Sock, by Veronik Avery from Summer 2007 IK
Yarn: Brooks Farm Acero, in blue
Modifications: Not a darn one!

I have cast-on for the second. See?

But alas, I know I will run out of yarn. I carefully divided my skein into two even balls. I knit feverishly while in several airports over the course of two days. As I turned the heal on the first sock, I knew with every fiber of my being that I would not have enough yarn. Brashly, I carried on, dipping into the second ball mere inches away from the toe.

I contacted Brooks Farm about purchasing more of this yarn. As I suspected, this dye lot sold out at Maryland Sheep & Wool. However, they are dying another batch soon. I intend to purchase one skein to complete my sock. I know it will not match and frankly my dears, I don't give a (beaver) dam. These socks will not be for my sock pal, I will keep them and love them as my own. I will knit my sock pal another pair - perhaps this very same pattern - in yarn that I have purchased sufficient quantities of.

Q. A good plan. Why were you in airports for two days?
A. Visiting East Lansing, Michigan where I was interviewing for a postdoc opportunity. Which I got. Which means I have to write, write, write and defend this summer. Hopefully by August. Which means few knitting posts.

Q. Ah, so really, it's not me, it's you?
A. Yes, it's me. My fault that I won't be writing much of anything knit-wise in the coming weeks. Take solace, however. It appears the sock-knitting nausea has passed. And that's a really fantastic thing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A first time for everything

(The onesie says: 'Mama is a yarn ho.')

Maryland Sheep & Wool was fantastic, overwhelming and satisfying. I didn't knit a stitch on the trip down or back, nor did I knit during 'down times' at the festival. Why? We drove mainly at night (and I did a lot of the driving) and when you have a 6-month old, there are no down times. Let's look at the haul, shall we?
First up, some wool in a blue (blue mist) that matches Baby Jeneric's eyes and will make a spectacular hooded jacket from Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby.
Next, we have Solana, a red Brooks Farm yarn that I coveted and tried not to buy. It's more than I usually spend on yarn, but the color and texture will make a fantastic Sunrise Circle Jacket. This marks the first first - buying the yarn I love and not skimping. Will it make a difference in the final object? We'll see.
Finally, Acero, more Brooks Farm yarn, this time a blue sock-weight yarn, destined for my Sockapalooza4 pal. I love the Spiral Boot Socks from Veronik Avery in the Summer 2007 IK and this yarn is going to make a fantastic pair.

I have to come clean, though. The patterns calls for 3 skeins of Reynolds Soft Sea yarn, which at 1 62 yard per skein, totals 485 yards. This skein of yarn is 420 yards, which is about 65 yards short. Will I make it? Will I have to rip back to shorten the leg? Should I have just purchased two skeins? (probably!)

The second first thing was that I actually admitted to being a blogger! Inadvertently, I encouraged a random knitter to purchase some of the same red yarn that I was purchasing. She got in line behind me and struck up a conversation. At one point, she asked if I had a blog and instead of lying (which I normally do!), I said yes. Of course, being the doofus that I am, I didn't say my name or the blog, but Kristy, of Eleven Stitches is a very put-together person and handed me a business card with her blog information. Go visit and check out that drop stitch sweater she knit. It's her own pattern and looked amazing in person. It's also thanks to Kristy that I picked up the sock yarn.

As Brenda Dayne would say, it's time to Cast-on.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


The 4th round of sockapalooza has begun! I signed up as a declaration of war against my sock nausea and I'm coming out fighting! I've surfed the usual suspects, including Knitty, MagKnits and the Interweave Knits website. While my decision isn't final, I am leaning towards the spiral boot socks by Veronik Avery in the yet-to-be-released Summer 2007 issue of IK. Yarn shopping/splurging will occur this Saturday at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

On the flip side, my sock pal has already sent me something - an e-postcard of Babs, the knitting obsessed chicken from Chicken Run (who else loves everything that comes out of Aardman Animation?). I can tell this knitter has good taste and will create a fantastic pair of socks to warm my feet this fall.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Does this count as breaking my self-imposed yarn diet?

Yeah, that's what I thought. But it was on sale (60% off!)! But it was souvenir yarn (Florida vacation)! But it was a gift (well, from Eric for being a great Mom)! But! But!

Sigh. Yeah, I didn't mean to buy it, but the colors were fantastic, it'll look great on Autumn (sweater?), and it was so cheap. I could have bought more, but I did show some restraint. And I didn't actually purchase it - I made Eric do my dirty work.

If anyone's looking to purchase a yarn store in Florida, I know where one's for sale!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Better late, eh?

Yes, as predicted in the last post, I completed the back of Na Craga. I know, all along I've been saying front, but in a hasty decision mediated by the discovery of a small mistake (fixable!), I've decided this will be the back. This sweater has not been knit in the traditional order. I began with the sleeves, then the back and now (well, tomorrow night) the front. Who thinks I can finish this in time for the county fair (in August)? I'm thinking yes!
Two notes: 1. Blocking will help even out those two sleeves - honest, they are the same length! 2. Yes, my husband really is that tall and skinny. I am knitting the smallest girth and longest length on this sweater.

In the meantime, I am questioning my travel knit project. Florida + white cardigan = sun glare and blindness. Might be a good time for those black socks, huh? Speaking of socks, I have decided to wage war against the sock nausea phenomenon. I joined Sockapalooza4. In this manner, I will be forced to knit an entire pair of socks, perhaps in a complicated pattern (perhaps not), perhaps knee-highs (perhaps not - although I am itching to try my hand at something like this), perhaps striped (perhaps not). You get the picture. Socks will be knit and maybe by the time I graft the 2nd toe, I'll actually be enjoying myself.

Did I mention Maryland enjoys all the sheep, llamas and alpacas. Maybe we can get a few photos of her with the animals (although her petting skills aren't top notch just yet). At the very least, we'll pick up some soap and a few skeins of yarn (but no lamb ? Can you tell I'm excited to go? I'm quietly hoping that Baby Jenericsandwich or sausage for me - blech!).

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Maybe some bran...

would help make this blog more regular.

I always have high hopes of updating twice a week. You can see how well that's worked. Maybe it's the new mom gig or the baby that doesn't take naps (but she sleeps through the night, so you know, no complaints), or the thesis writing that I'm cramming into most spare moments. Whatever the reason, knitting has been slow and blog posts have been scattered. Here's an abbreviated, photograph-free update.

1. Na Craga. I'm a mere 10 rows away from completing the back. I estimate this will be complete next Monday, during knit-night. Maybe I can work up the front in less time?
2. Hat & scarf set. Did you know about this? I'm knitting these in exchange for an illustration. The scarf is nearing completion and the hat has been started, but is currently mired in fears of sizing and pattern choice.
3. Sweater for Baby Jeneric. Yarn purchased, pattern chosen. No knitting, not even a swatch.

See? Boring all around these parts. I can guarantee a bit of excitement in the not-too-distant future. The Wily Jeneric family will be taking a week to vacation in Florida (oooo - tanned knitting time!) and will, in early May, be traversing the east coast to the wilds of Maryland for the annual Sheep & Wool festival (can you say yarn binge??).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Veni, Vidi, Blogged

I am compulsive about avoiding lines, so Priscilla and I caught a 3:30 train to NYC and arrived in time to see the Yarn Harlot's slide show. Twice.

There were a lot of people - the auditorium holds about 800 and it was darn near full.

Ooh, there she is, in all her knitted glory. The photo is crummy, but perhaps you can make out her speech, camera and sock. She didn't knit as she spoke, but she did whip out the sock during the Q & A portion.

Just after she took this photo, she took the time to thank the many people who helped make her a success. As she wrapped up her acknowledgements, she began to share the story of how her mother-in-law had come to NYC this afternoon as a surprise. She hadn't gotten two sentences into the story when she looked over and saw Joe, her husband, who was supposed to be in Montreal. Sad to say, I didn't get her reaction on film, but it was clearly true love. Aww.

The Yarn Harlot does not disappoint. She is an amazing speaker, full of wit and humour. I really wanted to take her home with me, to show her off to all my friends and family, to have her explain to them this knitting thing. This particular speech was brushed with inspiration, not just about knitting, but about standing up, being who you are (a knitter, a mom, etc) and, most importantly, not letting others tell you who you are or should be. Brava to Stephanie, may her words whisper among us all and continue to change the world for good.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


In late January, we broke down and purchased a Wii*. If you've played the Wii, you know there's an "Everybody Votes" channel where questions are posed nationally and internationally. A few days back, one of the questions was "Do you belong to any fan clubs?" Both Eric and I thought for a moment and then answered no, as did the majority of Americans. Late last night, as I was pondering today's schedule, Eric turned to me and said, "not in a fan club, huh?"

Yeah, I'm giddy in anticipation. I have signed copies of every one of her books, I've seen her in Maryland and Atlantic City, NJ. But I've never heard her speak. I can't wait. Knitters, it's time to represent.

*I encourage the playing of Wii. Where else can I beat up my husband without having the police show up?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Where are they now?

It seems like forever since I’ve mentioned any knitting progress. And I’m so woefully limited on photographs lately. Could it be because Baby Jeneric has her first cold? Or could it be because she thoughtfully shared that cold with Mom?
Na Craga slowly marches on. There is a scant 10 cm left to the front (doesn’t it already look long enough?). One would have thought I could finish that in short order, but alas, I have flung away the interesting knitting in favor of simple ribbing.

May I present ’42,’ a ridiculously simple scarf (k2, p2 ribbing) in a fantastic forest green with a spasm of bark brown. There will be a matching hat, where the main color will be the bark brown (due to limited quantities of the forest green).

Did I mention I was knitting socks for my husband (the other half of Wily Jeneric)? I started these last year. They are the Gentleman’s Socks from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks.
Needless to say, these socks haven’t progressed very far for two specific reasons:
1. I generally knit at night. Knitting black in dim lighting is difficult (for me, at least).
2. The last pair of socks I knit was during the first trimester of my pregnancy when I experienced morning sickness like nothing I’ve ever felt before (even water was too difficult to keep down). Many thanks to the makers of Zofran. Ahem. This experience has tainted sock knitting for me. My stomach still gets a little queezy when I pick up the tiny dpns. What’s a knitter to do? In my case, I now knit baby hats.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

2007 Knitting Resolutions: March Update

Well, we’re two months into 2007. Let’s look at how well I’ve been keeping the promises I made to myself.

1. Knit from my stash.
Busted with the purchase of enough cotton yarn to knit Baby Jeneric a sweater. This uses my get-out-of-jail-free card. Can I make it to May and Maryland?

2. Projects in the Queue:
a. Na Craga. Baby steps, baby steps! Every day, I’m one pattern repeat (or half a repeat) closer to being done. As of today, I’m about halfway through the sweater front. My goal is do have this completed by July so I can enter it into our urban county fair.
b. Baby sweater with NZ wool. Rethinking the use of this wool for a sweater. Some knitted toys or pillows might be better.
c. Kittiwake. No progress.
d. Sunrise circle jacket. No progress.

4. Spin more. Lots more. Oh yes, I’ve been spinning! Just this past week, I tired of spinning the ‘cheap, dull’ pencil roving I’d purchased for practice. I pulled off the bobbin, set it on a shelf, and unearthed the beautiful merino/silk roving I’d purchased nearly 2 years ago at Rhinebeck. A wise spinner once said, “spin with the best you can afford.”

5. Think about knitting fair isle. Yep, about once a week, I look at Eunny’s Anemoi’s mittens (which, in my head, I call anemone).

Not too bad, eh?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Heads up (Seven up!)*

Pattern: Miss Dashwood, Winter 2004 Knitty.com
Size: 6-12 months
Modifications: Omitted bobble border, earflaps and ties
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft DK, 142 yards/50 g; 1 skein
Needles: US 6
New techniques: Learned a new picot cast-on.
Final Thoughts: An adorable and quick knit; definitely a hat I will make again. The cast-on directions were somewhat confusing, but I cobbled together a nice little hat.

*Anyone remember playing that game in elementary school? It was one of my favorites, probably because I always cheated.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Better!

It was bound to happen. I’ve made some small cabling mistakes on Na Craga, never large enough to warrant rash measures. Until today.

As is my habit (well, now it’s my habit), I was scrutinizing the last pattern repeat for errors and there it was, smugly sitting in the middle of the large, bold, center motif. This was not a mistake to be ignored. This was a mistake that needed the smirk wiped from its face. Lucky for me, Baby Jeneric was fast asleep, giving me time to spank those stitches back into shape using the Yarn Harlot’s fantabulous tutorial.

I was too eager to get started to remember to take a before shot, but I did take a during shot:

Here, I’ve ripped back to the offending row. The stitches are isolated and trust me, they are feeling the shame. Using dpns (smaller than what I’m using for the project), I crossed the cable correctly, reknit the frogged rows and slid it all back onto a straight needle.

I won’t lie. There was a rush of adrenalin as I ripped back those six stitches, recrossed and reknit them. It was a good, short-lived high. I shall sally forth without fear of mussing-up a cable cross.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Rage Outlet

Courtesy of Ry4an, I now know of another way to vent my rage at crazed NJ drivers: PlateWire. If only I'd know about this on Saturday when I watched an SUV perform an illegal U-turn mere feet from a large intersection OVER a concrete median. I suppose the driver was at least using the car for it's intended purpose - after all, they were going off-road.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What would Jesus do?

He’d use his turn signals, that’s what.

Dear people of New Jersey:

If you are turning off a major or minor road, please, for the love of all things wooly, use a turn signal. On that same note, if you are not turning off the road, please turn off your turn signal. A little bit of common courtesy, now and again, won’t kill you (I think).

As you might guess, I was burned this morning by a non-signaling passenger vehicle (nspv). Pulling on to Route 1 means a quick acceleration (at any time of the day). I was dutifully pressing the pedal when I was cut-off by a slow-to-accelerate nspv. Fine. I can take one insult. But! Less than a half a mile later, the nspv hits the breaks and careens into a right hand turn for the local ‘adult’ boutique. At 9 am. I guess some urges can make you forget what you learned in driver’s ed.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

And the Na Craga Continues

Never fear, I have not abandoned Na Craga. Despite a minor set back in forgetting the pattern one knit-night, I have forged ahead, casting-on the front and working 5 pattern repeats.
Worried that I’d bitten off more than I could chew, I began Na Craga with the sleeves. I reasoned that sleeves were small, with 2 fewer cable motifs and 6 fewer cable blocks. Clearly, I shouldn’t have worried. Yes, there’s a lot more cabling going on, but none of it is tricky and it all follows very logically (at least to my brain. I’ve met a number of knitters who don’t seem to be able to memorize patterns at all, no matter how simple or straight forward. I know I use a pneumonic here and there, but knitting is so mathematical that it just seems to flow. Am I alone in this?). Now just because I’ve said the knitting is easy doesn’t mean (1) I won’t screw up. In fact, I have already, but it’s not noticeable; or (2) I’ll finish any more quickly. My goal is 1 pattern repeat a day and if you knew my life these days, you’d know that’s a pretty ambitious goal (if you’ve got tricks for convincing a 3-month old the merits of napping, I’d be forever greatful).

(ps Is it me or does that center motif look a bit like a nose?)

Twist and Turns: For Lovers of Cable Knitting

If you hadn’t already noticed, this winter is the season of the cable. Take a quick walk through your local mall or around the internet – cables are everywhere. As a knitter obsessed with texture (see Kittiwake, the Irish Hiking Scarf and Na Craga for proof), I’m quite pleased by this trend.

Knitters have long been obsessed with cables. Alice Starmore’s had several tomes on the subject. Recent additions to the cable knitting frenzy include Cables Untangled, by Melissa Leapman and
Inspired Cable Knits by Fiona Ellis. Both books are fantastic, filled to the brim with inspiration.

In my quest for cables, I stumbled across a newsletter, Twist and Turns, dedicated to cable knitting. I subscribed instantly. My first issue, Winter 2006, appeared in my mailbox less than a week later. The four projects in this issue range from a basic raglan sweater to socks to a brioche möebius. While it’s unlikely that I’d wear the möebius, the challenge of knitting one might just egg me into knitting it. Maybe I am a bit of a process knitter after all.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Little FO

Pattern: Multidirectional scarf
Modifications: None
Yarn: Fleece Artist, 2-ply Cashmere
Needles: US 2
Final Thought: Despite the utter simplicity of the scarf, the knitting never got old. A perfect combination of yarn and pattern.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Eager Beavers

Today is that venerable of non-holidays, Super Bowl Sunday. What better way to celebrate than with a yarn sale?

I hoisted my bum out of bed at the unconscionable hour of 5:30 (okay, I didn't have to get up that early, but a little monster I know was hungry). At 7 am, I hit the road, stopping briefly to pick up a co-conspirator. By our calculations, we'd arrive at Knit-a-bit by 7:30, with a half hour to spare before the doors opened. Yes, there'd be a line, but it would probably be short.

(The sign behind us lists the rules of engagement for the sale - no pushing, shoving or tackling, no yarn winding, pattern drafting and the like. Please excuse the more-than-usual terribleness of the photo. It was a camera phone.)

Turns out the line was very short. In years past, the sale began at 8 am. This year, however, the sale began at 9 am (actually, the doors ended up opening at 8:35, and they allowed 10 customers in at a time). Good thing we brought our knitting.

As the first ones in, we were awarded a 2007 Pattern-a-day calendar and the opportunity to fondle the yarn first. I yearned for much of the yarn, but showed great restraint.

That's 7 skeins of Zara, earmarked as a hat/scarf set for a friend; 5 skeins of Cotton Classic, for a wee sweater; and 1 skein of Zarella Baby for a wee hat. You must know that I did not purchase the Zarella Baby - it was a gift in return for opening a door on Tuesday. But I did purchase the cotton yarn and have used up my 1 free binge.

I managed to pass up Lush at 40% off, some baby wool at 30% off, Rowan Cashsoft at 30% off, and so much more, it boggles even my mind.

My co-conspirator, on the other hand? Well, let's just say yarn kept jumping into her bag.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Mission Accomplished

And by mission, I mean the knitting of two Na Craga sleeves that match each other in length, width and knitting tension. I’ve been knitting just shy of three years (which classifies me as a newby when compared to some knitters) and I am still challenged to have a consistent tension. This skill is one I firmly believe comes with time and knitting practice.

The sleeves have actually been completed for three weeks. I had planned to cast-on for the front at knitting night (every Monday at a local library), but came up short when I realized I’d left the pattern at home. My needles are forlorn and cold.

Don’t fret that I was bored through an entire knitting night. No indeed! I had cleverly brought along a second project – a scarf!

I love this project simply for the yarn. It’s Fleece Artist, 2-ply cashmere (does this make me a yarn snob?). There’s no color listed on the tag, but it reminds me of an ocean just after a storm – the deep blue water broken by greens from the storm with the occasional white-cap still present. Handling the yarn is soothing in the way that waves crashing against rocks can lull you to sleep. In fact, I often do fall asleep working on this scarf (that I am knitting late in the evening has no bearing on the sleep).

Resolution Update

But first, a very happy Groundhog day to everyone. Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning, which means we’ll have an early spring. Of course, this assumes we’ve had a winter and except for a few cold days, we’ve had a very mild season.

On this festive day (and for my first post in February), I thought I’d see how well I’d done with my Knitting Resolutions.
1. No yarn purchases. You can check my credit card statements and ask my family. I have purchased no yarn this month.
2. Projects in the queue. I’ve only had time to work on Na Craga and startitis has only manifested in the form of one scarf and some socks, both knit from well-marinated stash yarn.
3. Finish documenting FOs from 2006. I believe this is done, although they are not yet available for your viewing pleasure. I need to set up a Flickr gallery.
4. Spin more. Yep, I’ve failed on this as the wheel has sat idle for the entire month. On quiet days, I can hear the wheel weeping.
5. Think about fair isle. I’m happy to report that I have done this, mostly because I find these mittens irresistible. Eunny notes that this pattern is ideal for knitters comfortable knitting two colors in the round or adventurous novices comfortable reading charts. I definitely fall into the latter category. Should I take the jump?
6. Walk 100 miles. If you do the math, that means I needed to have walked 33 miles in January. I managed to walk 24.1 miles (these miles are in addition to the miles I already walk around campus). I’m short about 9 miles and I don’t see myself making up the difference in February (it’s a short month after all). I do have plenty of excuses, though! I’m a new mom (to a nearly 3-month old), trying to keep house, finish a PhD and do a little work on the side (you know, to earn money to feed the aforementioned 3-month old). Even though I didn’t reach the goal, and likely won’t by April 1, I’m still getting into better shape (as opposed to my pregnancy, I-ate-a-beach-ball shape).

Potential Resolution Conflicts
1. I do not have yarn to knit fair isle. Does this indicate how small my stash really is? Or does this reveal my fear of color knitting?
2. There is a family wedding in June. I’ve got a little monkey who will need a cotton sweater (Did I mention the wedding is in Minnesota?). I have no cotton in the stash (that’s a lie. There is one ball of Sugar & Cream, but that’s inappropriate for frilly sweaters). Can I count this sweater as a gift, both to the baby and the bride & groom to be (after all, cold babies howl and can ruin the loveliest of moments)? Do I con someone into purchasing the yarn for me? Do I use up my exception already?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Broken Resolutions?

A while back, I posted my knitting resolutions for 2007. In the comments, Teresa brought up a potential threat to my resolve: the annual Knit-a-Bit sale. Held on Super Bowl Sunday (the store owners are marketing geniuses), the sale used to be 40% off everything in the store. Yes, everything. In the past year, however, they have implemented the ‘yard line’ policy. Some items are on the 20 yard line, and thus are 20% off; there is a 30 yard line and a 40 yard line – you get the idea. Not as great a sale as before, but still pretty darn good for a yarn store.

This will be my third year attending this sale and I don’t believe I will be breaking any resolutions. To wit:
1. I said nothing about books, needles or notions. Since I have a major cable addiction these days, I’ll be checking out Melissa Leapman’s Cables Untangled. I’m also in need of some stitch markers and I really ought to peruse my needle collection and see if I shouldn’t augment it in some way.
2. Gift yarn is an exception and wouldn’t you know it? I have a gift I need to knit! Granted, it’s a simple hat and scarf combo, but I am looking forward to picking out yarn for this project. This ought to fill my need to purchase yarn. Anyone want to take bets on whether I fall off the wagon?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Scarf Attack!

My near zealous love for knitting is a bit of a mystery to me. Wool generally makes me itch. Hand knit items tend to be too thick or heavy for this girl who loves thin and trim clothes. Add the two together and you get someone who doesn’t wear many knitted garments. Until now.

Last winter I knit two hats that I fell in love with – Kittiwake,
by Alice Starmore, knit in alpaca (mmm, alpaca)

and Odessa, by Grumperina, in Rowan Cashshoft.

Neither of these hats promotes excessive itching and both are cute. Result: two hand knit items that I wear daily, weather permitting (and sometimes when there’s really no call).

I thought that would be the end of the knits I would love to wear. Who could have predicted the metabolic change that accompanies pregnancy and makes me constantly cold? Probably most mothers, but I digress. Last week, I found myself freezing and unable to turn up the heat (pinching pennies on heating oil means you can buy more yarn). In frustration, I wrapped a scarf around my neck.

Why has no one told me about the warming powers of scarves? I was toasty in no time and quickly lamenting my lack of hand knit scarves. I’ve got only two: the one pictured above and a second scarf, knit by a good friend, which is much too warm to wear around the house.

My quest for fun and warm scarf patterns has begun. I’m considering:
Branching Out
Shifting Sands
Double Helix Scarf

And as a bonus: lots of stash usage!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

To fix or not to fix

That is no longer the question.

I took the Na Craga sleeve to my Monday night knitting group and asked the opinion of the venerable members. I was shocked that not only did they not endorse dropping those eight stitches down (they claim such effort will lead me to drink and since I’m currently breast feeding, well, you see the problem) they also didn’t endorse the duplicate stitch fix. The overwhelming response was to leave the mistake.

What’s a perfectionist to do under all of that peer pressure? Buckle, of course. I gleefully picked up my pointy sticks and continued knitting like nothing was the matter. I cruised through a full pattern repeat and charged into another. After nearly four weeks of ignoring the sleeve (punishing an inanimate object is very effective), I was happy to be cabling again. I’m cruising through this second sleeve and hope to be starting the body in the very, very near future.

And honestly? The mistake doesn’t bother me so much. Yeah, I know it’s there, but in the grand scheme of the sweater, it’s a small error. I’ve got too much to do, in life and the sweater, to spend this much time fretting over such a small mistake. I don’t even think of it as a mistake any more – after all, the sweater will still be wearable, it doesn’t offend anyone and it’s really difficult to see.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Road Rage in Slow Motion

Oh, my. I’m still in awe at the alarming display of rage I witnessed today. It occurred mid-morning between a very old station wagon and a very new Cadillac. Both were driven by retired men.

The wagon pulls onto a major roadway, causing the Cadillac to decelerate. The Cadillac gets huffy, pulls around the wagon and returns to the right lane in front of the wagon. Mr. Cadi then hits the breaks and comes to a complete stop. On a major highway. Where there are many cars going 60+ miles an hour.

Thankfully, the wagon was able to stop, as were all the cars behind him in the right lane. I have no idea if either man got out of the car or whether a verbal fight ensued.

No matter how old or wise you get, sometimes the ideas we learned in kindergarten still prove to be the hardest to remember.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Mind takes on the Heart

I am a perfectionist, a trait well-suited to graduate studies in ecology but not so useful for knitting. Yes, I am that knitter who will rip out rows or drop stitches to fix a purl that should be a knit. I hate mistakes and take great strides to avoid them.

Alas, new-mother brain means that my error radar is a bit erratic. In my latest knit, Na Craga (an Alice Starmore Aran) I miss-crossed a cable in an early pattern repeat on the sleeve.

I conducted a public survey (n=1) and found that the average person could not find the error. However, any knitter would immediately see the mistake and would shun me as a careless knitter (although it's difficult to see the error in the photos - I'd strive for better photos, but I need to feed a wee one).

The old me (she who had loads of free time and was not tied to a baby nor trying to finish a PhD) would have ripped back all 9 pattern repeats to fix the miss-crossed cable. Alas, the old me has been buried deep beneath a pile of dirty cloth diapers and the new me frantically searched the internet for a better solution.

A better blogger would have before and after pictures. Alas, there are no after pictures. While my mind has firmly settled on the easy way out, my heart still wants me to rip back all the way to the offending row, fix the cable and carry on with my head held high, knowing my work was free of such an egregious error. Since I have no intention of doing this, it’s just a matter of time before my heart throws in the towel and lets my mind have it’s way. I’ll keep you posted.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Reaction Time

Undoubtedly you’ve experienced a phenomenon known in physics as reaction time (in ecology, we call it lag time). This is the time it takes to respond to a change in one’s environment. For example: you are stopped at a red light. The light changes green. You cannot instantly accelerate because you must first process the change in the environment (light changes from red to green) and then properly react (step on the gas). Oddly enough, the nanoseconds it takes for your brain to process this information and send a signal to your right leg results in a one or two second delay in your acceleration.

In geological time, this is not worth mentioning. In New Jersey time, this is a crime against humanity. I offer today’s example of road rage where a truck driver, fifth in line from the front laid on his horn the instant the light changed. He continued to honk his horn until he began accelerating, and then proceeded to run the red light. Our raging truck driver demonstrates how most New Jersey-ans do not understand reaction time*.

*The exception to this rule is when you are the first car in line. When in that position, a Jersey driver has a perfect understanding of reaction time and will demonstrate their knowledge by politely giving the finger to horn honkers.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 Knitting Resolutions

I’ve recently accepted that I love to make lists (like other knitters). To do lists, don’t do lists, lists of things to buy, places to go, things to do. It seems only natural then, for me to share my 2007 Knitting to do/don’t do list.

1. Knit from my stash. This has been going ‘round and while my stash is meager by many standards, I’m not comfortable with its size. Since I’ve a new baby to tend, I don’t have much spare time or money to shop for yarn, so it makes sense.
R1. No yarn purchases for 9 months, January 1 – September 30.
R2. Exceptions:
a. Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
b. Yarn for gifts may be purchased if I have nothing suitable.
c. If, in the course of a project, I run out of yarn I must purchase yarn to finish the project.
d. I am allowed to receive gift yarn (not that this happens often, but occasionally a kind friend visits New Zealand and sends me yarn).
e. I am allowed to binge just once in the next nine months.
R3. Should the stash be exhausted before September 30, I am allowed to resume yarn purchasing on a project-by-project basis.

2. Projects in the Queue (don’t you just love that word?):
  • Na Craga. This is an Alice Starmore Aran that I am knitting for my 6’ 4” husband. It may get done for Christmas 2007.
  • Baby sweater. No pattern determined, but I have a great deal of New Zealand wool in need of a project.
  • Kittiwake. Another Starmore pattern, this time a hat. I’ve got one hat already, but I have yarn enough for a second (and maybe a third) and a few relatives who’d look good in this hat.
  • Sunrise circle jacket. I don’t have yarn for this project, so it might need to wait until I’ve exhausted the stash, September 30 or MD Sheep and Wool.
3. Finish documenting FOs from 2006. Ahem. This means taking pictures and trying to remember project specifications. I’m hoping this blog thing will help me stay on top of this for 2007.

4. Spin more. Lots more. Now that my ankles have returned to a normal size (gotta love the pregnant woman’s water retention), pushing the treadle should no longer cause pain.

5. Think about knitting fair isle.

6. Walk 100 miles by April 1. As of today, I’m at 3.5 miles, with a 1.5 mile walk scheduled for this evening.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Exit 10

It’s a bad time to begin a blog. The internet is flooded with knitting blogs, I am a brand-new mother and, oh yes, I am in the last months of a PhD. It’s clear the odds are piled high and deep against me. However, for eons I have been obsessed with two things: New Jersey traffic and knitting (okay, not eons, but I work at large temporal scales, so I tend to exaggerate). My commute to school is approximately 5 miles and on a typical day takes no more than 10 minutes – in New Jersey, where the average commute is 30 minutes each way, I am lucky to have such a short ‘commute.’ Despite my limited time on the road, at least once (if not five times) a week, I will witness some flagrant and stupid act of driving. Road Rage – it’s alive and well in the Garden State.

How can a lowly graduate student combat the stupidity of her fellow drivers? She knits, sometimes voraciously, sometimes not, but always with the knitting.

So by way of a long and rambling introduction (can you guess my degree is in science and not comparative literature?), here’s my blog, a place where I will dutifully collect instances of road rage and temper them with pictures and tales of my knitting. Fasten your seat belts, grab the chicken bar and don’t forget your knitting.