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.