Friday, November 03, 2006

Design challenge!

I have a very exciting knitting project to start, but I need help! My wonderful, Mac-loving brother has presented me with quite the knitting design challenge. He has lots of wires coming out of his computer, and he wants socks (tubes, really) to keep them looking nice and neat. Before everyone just says "So just knit him some ribbed tubes and be done with it!" let me show you the amazing diagram he drew for me (most measurements aren't shown, but I have them written down):

You'll probably want to click on the image to make it larger--and legible.

As you can probably guess, he set forth some fairly specific parameters for how he'd like them to be:

  1. The fabric should be as thin as possible (definitely no thicker than DK weight) because "I don't want to feel like I'm typing next to a pillow."*

  2. The finished product should be stretchy enough to fit around the odd shapes of the wires, but firm enough to control them somewhat

  3. The ends of the tubes nearest the computer would ideally be flush with the edge of the computer, so that the edge touches the computer, and the fabric itself lies flat across the tops of the plugs, and it so it won't slip back along the wires too much.

  4. Ideally there wouldn't be too much fabric bunched up at the "ankle" where the wires turn and head toward the back of the desk.

  5. The opening at the small ends should be big enough to allow one plug-end to pass through it at a time, but not too large either.

  6. Yarn color should be compatible with brushed aluminum finish of the computer--maybe slate gray?
So far, I'm thinking DK weight yarn because it will knit up faster, and because I think the ribbing will come out stretchier in slightly thicker fabric. And I will clearly have to do some sort of "heel" at the turn, but I'm not sure if it should be short-row or flap or what. At first glance, flap seems like it would leave the most room for flexibility, but I'm open to being convinced otherwise. Maybe start at the "small" end, knit straight for a while, increase a bit, then heel flap, and just a few gusset decreases?

Here is where you come in, dear readers! I need help figuring out if anything about my above plan makes sense, or if I'm totally off on my approach. What weight yarn should I use? Do I used 2x2 ribbing, or something else? Heel flap, short-row, neither? And how do I handle the large end of the tube that needs to be flush against the computer? Maybe a hem with something firm (cardboard, plastic?) sewn inside it? And how do I get it to stay flush against the computer? Any and all suggestions welcome!

*I didn't include that quote to make my brother sound like a demanding, cranky guy. I just thought it was a funny visual. He's actually one of the sweetest people in the world, and has by no means given me any sort of deadline for this project, if I even decide to take it on.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Now you know.

Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I usually avoid mentioning my work, and I rarely discuss politics. However, there are certain things that people just need to know about, regardless of what their politics are. This is one of those things.

I've signed the pledge. Have you?


I have been a terrible blogger this month, and I'm sorry for being so neglectful. I think part of my problem is that I always feel I need to post something substantive, with lots of pictures. Maybe if I just gave myself permission to write one-paragraph posts, I'd magically find the time to post more often. Anyway, thanks for checking to see if I still exist, Sangeeta. On with the post!

Socktoberfest is over, and I hardly posted about it at all. That's because I barely had time to knit this past month, let alone blog about it. And I didn't even manage to knit one whole pair of socks from start to finish during Socktoberfest. I did, however finally finish the Jaywalkers:

I also started another pair for myself with the Cherry Tree Hill yarn, using the PGR toe-up technique, and a pattern stitch from Knitting Vintage Socks:

Sorry the photo is so dark. It looked fine on the camera!

And last, but most certainly not least, I am swatching for a pair for Taz. These are definitely going to be toe-up as well, because I've never knit socks for big feet before, and I don't know how long the cuff will get before I run out of yarn:

So, that's really the whole knitting update from me. As much as I need to finish the two cardigans, and as much as I want to work on Hanging Vines, it seems like 99% of my knitting time lately is 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, during my commute. So socks are it. Good thing I love knitting them so much!

Oh, and you wanted a life update too? Well, that will have to wait, alas. Partly because there's not a ton to tell, and mostly because I've got tons of work to do and really shouldn't spend any more time today blogging.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

If this is second prize...

Then I can only imagine how awesome first prize must have been! I entered Sangeeta's "guess the baby animal" contest on Knit One, Wag Two. I didn't guess the right animal (turns out it was a zebu), but apparently I cam close enough to deserve a "runner-up" prize:

Clip stitch markers, a mini crocheted sweater keychain, Rowan Calmer
in off-white, "Soak" wool wash, and Nature Spun wool in dark red.
(Believe it or not, I took this pic with my regular camera, not my phone.
Obviously I still have a lot to learn about the correct settings for close-up

I can tell you right now that the red yarn is going to go toward a scarf for the Red Scarf Project. I'm also excited to try the Calmer, since I've heard good things about it. Thanks so much for the generous gift, Sangeeta! Now maybe I should come up with a good contest...

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I may have beaten my own personal record for Shortest Completion Time for a project. It feels even faster given how long most of my current WIPs have been on the needles. On Friday, I went with a work friend to Stitch DC, (which is about 3 blocks from my office) and picked up some yummy Karabella Aurora 8 (100% merino) for a baby hat. I cast on when I got home that night, knit a few rows and went to bed. By bedtime yesterday I was done:

What I always make: Umbilical Cord Hat from the
first Stitch'n'Bitch book.

While I was at Stitch DC, I also found I couldn't resist this gorgeous sock yarn, though I'm still not sure what kind of stitch pattern will work the best for it:

Claudia Handpainted fingering weight in the Walk in the Woods colorway.

I think I also forgot to mention that shortly after accepting my job down here, but before we moved away from CT, I decided to treat myself to some Cherry Tree Hill, since I'd heard so much about it:

Can't remember the colorway, but it made me think of autumn, with the
maple trees lit up with color, hot cider in my mug and a fire in the fireplace.

So before I do anything else as soon as I get my Jaywalkers off the needles (finally!), I'll be casting on for two or three more pairs of socks. I was really late in joining Socktoberfest, but it's obviously not due to a lack of interest in knitting socks!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Three generations

Over the weekend, we drove down to Charlottesville to visit my grandparents. They are 92 and 93, and I regret to say that I hadn't seen them in over two years. I was really happy to be able to make the trip now, and for them to meet my wonderful husband. My mom and brother were there too, and we all enjoyed a quiet afternoon of looking at pictures and chatting. Taz, my mom, and C put together a nice light dinner for all of us. I didn't help because I was still knitting madly away on Grandma's sock. It was down to the wire, but I did manage to finish it before we left:

Toe-up, using PGR's short-row technique. Cuff is 2x2 ribbing, and top
border is a few rows of 1x1 ribbing, with some stockinette and a couple
rows of eyelets in between.

Grandma was very emotional when I gave them to her, and she immediately put them on. She remarked that she used to knit socks once, and then Mom observed that life comes full circle. Grandma was the one who taught my mom to knit, and Mom was the one who taught me to knit, and now I was giving knitted socks to Grandma. So Taz asked us to pose for a Three Generations of Knitters picture:

Me, Grandma, Mom, and Grandma's sock.

It was really a perfect visit. And on the way home, Taz nearly made me cry when he said that he had really enjoyed meeting them and helping to brighten their day a little, and that anytime I want to go down to see them, he'd love to come along. Even though they're in relatively good health for their age, they're definitely getting on in years, and no one knows how much longer we'll be able to share moments with them like this past Saturday afternoon, so it really meant a lot to me to know that Taz understands that. I am so lucky.

Next in knitting: finishing at least one of the two cardigans I have on the needles, finishing my Jaywalkers, making some progress on Hanging Vines (so much for the Amazing Lace) and casting on for socks for Taz. Any suggestions for a manly pattern stitch to make the charcoal gray yarn more interesting to work with? That means no cables, lace, or eyelets of any kind. Don't ask me why cables on socks aren't manly, I just know that if I put cables on these socks, they won't be worn very much. Maybe it's the bulkiness?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Slippery When Wet

Things that I have learned are slippery when wet:

1. Mossy rocks
2. Fish
3. Noodles
4. Bon Jovi
5. Washington DC Metro escalators

How do I know that last one? I'll give you one guess. The other night it was raining, and I was in a hurry because I didn't want to miss the last metro train that would allow me to make my bus connection to get home at a reasonable hour. I hadn't expected it to rain, so I didn't have an umbrella. I was wearing white pants and suede shoes. I was soaking wet from having walked several blocks to get to the metro, and I was really looking forward to sitting in a warm, dry train for a little while. So I start jogging down the escalator steps at Foggy Bottom, and the next thing I know, not only are my feet no longer under me, but I've managed to skid down about 10 escalator steps. No damage to my clothing, but you should see the bruises! I'll spare you a picture of that. (Unlike some people). Anyway, it still really hurts, and I have decided that from now on, it's definitely better to get home half an hour later than to be black and blue for weeks.

Hopefully next post I'll have pictures for you of the finished socks on Grandma M's feet. That is of course assuming I finish them today. I have about 2 hours (max) to finish them starting now, and about 2 inches to go. On size zeros. Yes. Taz will be driving when we go down to see the grandparents today, even though I had promised him I would drive. OK, time to go. I must knit like the wind.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Today's theme is cuteness. A colleague is pregnant, and I just found out we're having a surprise baby shower for her at work in two weeks. Gifts aren't required, but I do actually collaborate with this woman quite a bit, and I'd like to show my appreciation by knitting something small for the baby. This is pretty much the only yarn I have to work with:

Lion Brand Microspun. Soft. Machine Washable.
Bright. (Not quite as blinding as it appears here, though)

I know I could go out and buy something else, but I really want to use this up, and I like bright non-pastel colors for babies anyway. So, what to make? I've done plenty of Umbilical Cord Hats, so that would be a simple option. But would it take longer than doing booties? If I do booties, what pattern should I use? I'd like to be able to use both colors, so perhaps opposite color booties with contrasting i-cords? Or is that too wacky? Help! Please! Advice!

Oh yeah, and I will also have to finish Grandma M's socks in that time, if not sooner (yes I have made progress, no I don't have a picture). And I can't necessarily count on getting time to knit every day.

ETA: I should also mention that I don't have any additional yardage of this yarn beyond what you see in the photo. That means baby blankets are out, alas.

The other part of the cuteness theme for today is simply a cuddly greeting from Ivy and Ben, who normally only get this close when they are trying to kill each other:

No, I am not above using gratuitous cat cuteness to get you to love me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A little red goes a long way

I'm finally almost done with Grandma M's socks, but I don't have a progress picture for you yet. What I really wanted to talk about today is this great new charity project I just found out about: the Red Scarf Project.

The Red Scarf Project, an initiative of the Orphan Foundation of America, helps college-age kids who have aged out of foster care by sending them a Valentine's Day care package that includes a red scarf to keep them feeling warm and cozy and loved.

What I love about scarves is that they give me total freedom as a knitter. As long as the finished product is basically in the shape of a very long rectangle, I can do pretty much whatever I want to get it to that point. Scarves are the perfect way to experiment with new yarn or new stitch patterns. It also just so happens that I have a cardigan I plan to knit with red yarn sometime this fall. Even if I don't have enough left over to make a whole scarf, I can combine it with some other red yarn and make good use of my leftovers for once.

So go visit Norma's page, grab some needles and some red yarn, and let your imagination take flight!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Washington, DC (and very little knitting)

OK, so I know I haven't posted in more than a month, and there's lots to catch up on, but first, I have to tell you how happy I am about the new Knitty. For once, not only are there patterns that I like, and think would be fun to knit, but there are actually things I myself would wear.

First of all, despite my poor record with long-term afghan projects (read: totaly failure in the perseverance department), I am really enamored of this afghan. It is way out of my budget right now, but since it's a long-term project, I figure I can just pick up a few skeins here and there, every once in a while, and eventually, I'll have an afghan. Think that'll work?

Then there's this man's cardi, which I really hope I can convince Taz to let me knit for him, even though he often shies away from cables. I also like these two pullovers, although the first one might need some waist-shaping added.

Finally, I am really drooling over Lucie. My only concern with it is the variegated yarn. It creates horizontal stripe-ish forms, and horizontal stripes are something that busty girls like me should usually try to avoid. So, beloved readers (if there are any of you left after my long hiatus), my question for you is, can I get away with it? Or should I use a solid color or tweedy yarn instead?

So what have I been up to since moving to DC and starting my new job? Here are the highlights:

  1. Traveling back and forth to CT at least three times in two weeks to get various loads of stuff, and paying twice as much for movers as we had planned (and our stuff took twice as long to arrive as they said it would, too).

  2. Meeting my co-workers and feeling deeply grateful that they are so willing to answer all my dumb questions and help me learn how to work with the tools that we all have to use to get stuff on the web and let our activists know what issues need their attention and how they can help.

  3. Unpacking, organizing, decorating, unpacking some more.

  4. Learning where the shops and restaurants are, including a yummy Afghani restaurant, and a great Indian grocery (whose owner has already offered to teach me how to cook dal makhani.

  5. Seeing my brother (who just came back from four years in Japan to start looking at grad schools) and his girlfriend (who took two weeks off of her doctoral work in Tokyo to come see us).

  6. Starting the new Eastern Market SnB around the corner from my work, since despite the plethora of local knitting groups, there weren't any that I could easily get to, at a time when I could attend.

  7. Discovering local sports. First, we went to a Nationals game, which, surprisingly, they won. Then a week or two later, at the same staduim, we saw DC United. As a lifelong soccer fan, I can't begin to describe to you how thrilled I am that I finally have a local professional team to cheer for. And the fans are just as enthusiastic as soccer fans should be, lighting firecrackers and colored smoke and throwing their beer in the air when the home team scored. The seating area where the "barra brava" sits jumps up and down is called the "black hole." I love the team colors:

As for my own knitting, I haven't been making tons of progress. Even though Grandma M's birthday was last week, I'm still not done with her socks, even though they're pretty much all I've been working on. My commute, though blissfully shorter than my CT to NYC commute, doesn't easily lend itself to knitting time, and when I get home, I have been trying really hard to be good about making a dent in the unpacking. Still, I have managed to finish the first sock and get almost to the heel on the second one. Unfortunately, you don't get pictures yet becuase the camera is out of batteries and I haven't unpacked the USB cable yet. (I know, excuses, excuses, but it's true).

So, if you have managed to stick with me through this long and rambly update, I would like to express my deepest awe and gratitude. Now that I finally have internet at home again, I have high hopes of getting back to some semblance of a regular blogging schedule. I have missed it! See you all again soon!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Happy (belated) Blogiversary to me!

It was August 8th. Yes, I'm even late when it comes to my own special days, nevermind everyone else's. This time I have a good excuse, though. We found a place to live near DC, I've already taken one load of stuff down, and I'm taking another lot tomorrow. Which is why this is also going to be a very short post. Sure, I had planned to write a long reflection on what I've gotten out of a year in the blogosphere, but there really is so much that I think the car would still be pretty empty by departure time tomorrow morning if I actually let myself loose on the keyboard. Let's just say I am deeply grateful that Taz encouraged me to do it, and I hope to gain even more new blog-friends in the coming year.

However, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Arguably, this picture is not, but it does very simply show what this post is about:

I am one year old in blog-years!

There has been some knitting progress (almost done with sock #1 of the pair for Grandma M), but unfortunately the only pic you get today is of that cake. Because the camera and its cable (yes, they are together for once) are both packed already. Here's hoping I manage to get internet access set up at the new place next week.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Progress Report

I am very excited about this post because I'm writing it on my brand new MacBook. I chose the white version because even with the exact same specs as the black one, it's $150 less, and I like the look a little better anyway. One of the main things that makes me happy about my new computer is the fact that I don't have to install any extra software for my camera to work with it. And I don't have to go hunting in hidden "shared" folders to find the pictures that I want to upload to the blog. Oh yeah, and it's just blazing fast overall.

Anyway, moving along to actual knitting content, I am extremely proud of myself for finally starting my first official Summer of Socks project, and I'm even more proud for finally (after about six tries) conquering the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts short-row toe technique:

Grandma M's sock, almost ready for the heel.

This was not without help. I found the instructions in the book to be a little vague in spots, so I wrote to my SnB group, and I googled the technique. I finally found a wonderful, picture-filled blog entry at Purly Whites that really helped me. In the end, my sock compromised between what the blog entry recommended and what PGR said to do. I followed the instructions in the blog entry faithfully except that on my way down the second half of the toe, I did the k3togs and the p3togs the way PGR says to, rather than according to the blog. I felt that the SSSP gave a smoother "seam" than just doing p3tog.

Speaking of socks, because the Jaywalkers don't count as a legitimate SoS project (and because Grandma M's 93rd birthday is in early September), they have been languishing somewhat. However, there has still been a bit of progress:

One and one-third Jaywalkers. Let's hope that I won't
get another ticket when I finish the second sock!

I love them, and I can't wait to finish them so I can wear them, but other things are higher on my list right now (we're not going to mention the four other on-the-needles projects that aren't even going to be pictured in this post for want of progress).

Then, there's Hanging Vines. I have now completed 13 out of the 34 pattern repeats, and I am not at all sick of it. If lace were a knit-anywhere kind of thing, and if I didn't have a deadline for Grandma's socks, I would work on Hanging Vines all the time. Possibly to the detriment of my health. I loveitloveitloveit!

Hanging Vines stole at 13 pattern repeats. This color is actually much
more accurate than what you might have seen in past entries.

And even though I missed the deadline for Challenge #4 of the Amazing Lace, I offer you the world's most luxurious placemat:

Very gentle on your good china...

Yes, I would do severe bodily harm to anyone who actually tried to use Hanging Vines this way.

And last, but most certainly not least, there has also been some non-knitting progress. On Monday, I am going to make a phone call to DC, and I am going to accept the job I was offered by the wonderful people at a well-known human rights organization. It is a six-month position, but it is a foot in the door, and I am very happy about it. I also really need to say that I am the luckiest wife in the world. Taz has been truly amazing through this loooong job search of mine. I don't know what I would have done without his unwavering support (and cajoling when I needed it). And the fact that he is willing to move to a whole new city so that I can try to advance my career? Well, no wonder I married him!

Monday, July 24, 2006

USB cable to the rescue! (about time for some Grand Canyon pictures, don't you think?)

I finally found it!!! Of course now I'm about to rush out the door to catch a train, but I wanted to take a minute to post a few pics of all those trips I've been telling you about. Just in case you didn't believe me about the Grand Canyon (and I would understand if you didn't given how long it's taken me to get these pics up).

ETA: I should note that by "how long" I mean months. This trip was for Taz's birthday in the first week of May. I have nothing to say in my own defense. Just get over it and look at the pics.

So anyway, here we go:

The first evening we got there, we drove to one of the lookouts on the
South Rim and took some early evening pictures.

Our first full day there, we took a hike partway down the most
popular trail. This cool tunnel was fairly near the top.

When stopping for lunch, we looked back and were
amazed at what we'd come down.

Taz and I thought this rock looked like a heart.

The next day we hiked down a different trail, which was much longer
and more challenging. Aside from the Camelback that Taz is wearing here,
we carried several more liters of water with us, as well as energy bars
and (an new discovery for us)
engergy gel.

If you're wondering why we carried so much fluid and electrolytes with us, it's because we had read a lot of horror stories of people dying in the canyon from dehydration and heat exhaustion. And we did in fact drink and eat pretty much everything we carried. At the trailhead, there was this warning sign about it. The headline said "Could you run the Boston Marathon? Well, she could, and she died in the Grand Canyon." Point taken.

My face barely begins to express how exhausted I am in this picture.
Especially after running the last 100 yards to the top after spotting a

And finally, I offer you:

Sunset at the Grand Canyon.

After posting all of those pictures, I have to say, even the best photographers have trouble doing justice to the beauty of this place. There is a reason it is one of the wonders of the world. If you ever have the chance, GO.

I had planned to give you some pics of the Philly trip too, but now I'm out of time, so those will have to wait for another post. There ought to be some decent knitting progress on this train ride, so look for update pics soon. OK, I'm outta here!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random Monday

Because Random Wednesday just isn't random enough anymore. Here's what I've been up to since the knitting adventures with Marisa:

1. On Friday, Taz and I infiltrated enemy territory to watch the last half of a game against the White Sox. We were too afraid of the fans to do anything that might reveal our true loyalties. But we were secretly rooting for the White Sox. Because, you know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Home of the Evil Empire

See? I really was there!

2. On Saturday evening, we went to a concert at the Meadows, which is now called the Dodge Music Center. But everyone who's lived in Connecticut for more than a year still calls it the Meadows. I tried to take a picture of the stage, so that I could post it and have you guess who we went to see, but all that my camera phone could see were big lights shining directly in its sensitive little eyes lens, so sorry, but no soup for you. You can still guess if you want, though. Because I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to admit that I went to this particular concert. It was a lot of fun, though (even though they weren't selling any beer--and yes, that is a hint).

3. I was in a really crappy mood on Thursday, and when Taz arrived home, he came bearing a copy of this book, which was super sweet of him. I'm so lucky. I started reading it last night before bed, and I'm already done with it. Despite being such a quick read, and not exactly requiring deep soul-searching thought to get through, I enjoyed it quite a bit. And it definitely made me want to get going on some more sock knitting.

4. Speaking of sock knitting, I took Claudia's recommendation to heart, and bought myself a copy of a great little sock book. I have been checking the front step obsessively ever since I clicked "buy now" on Amazon. I also added another one to my wish list.

5. I have no knitting pictures, because although I knit on my Jaywalkers all the way to the Bronx on Friday, and have been making decent progress on Hanging Vines as well, they don't really look all that different from the last time I posted pictures of them. Hopefully next time I will have another pair of socks started. And no, I still haven't found my camera's USB cable.

6. Taz has been working really hard for the past month or two, and it seems to be paying off. He got a lot of praise from his boss last week, and an actual promotion looks very likely. I am so proud of him. He really deserves it. And it's even sweeter to realize that the same amount of professional advancement would have taken him at least six years at his old company.

7. I joined a gym today. Normally, I'm all about taking advantage of the great outdoors, but lately it has just been too hot to do anything more outside than stand still on the deck while watering the plants. That doesn't burn too many calories, I'm sorry to say. So the plan is to get up at a reasonably early hour tomorrow and hit the treadmill. With my feet, hopefully, not my head.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hey, this is actually relaxing!

That was Marisa's verdict on knitting by the time I left her today. Phew! As I'm sure you can imagine, though, it was preceded by plenty of frustration and confusion. Here's a bit of a timeline:

2:00pm-4:00pm Pick out yarn and needles at LYS. Say hi to J and her daughter who are enjoying the AC and chatting with the owner. Pet absolutely every type of yarn in the shop. Laugh hysterically at the price of the 100% cashmere that initially attracts us. Decide instead on a much cheaper perfectly respectable alpaca in deep red. Briefly consider buying a swift, but then realize it's probably available at half the price online.

4:30pm-5:00pm After arriving home, wind hanks into yummy yarn cakes center-pull balls, using only a ball winder and Marisa's hands. Her triceps are totally ripped now.

5:00pm-6:00pm Practice the long-tail cast on. Rip out. Practice some more.

6:00pm-7:30pm The knit stitch. And the accidental yo. And the k2tog. Time for me to tink a little. More knit stitch. More accidental yos. OK, now we're finally starting to get some even rows. Wait, how many stitches did we cast on?

Marisa, all alone at home, decides that all those unintentional yos and k2togs are driving her crazy and frogs the whole thing. Then she very impressively manages to remember how to cast on and starts all over again. By the end of the day, there is about an inch and a half of scarf.

10:00am-11:00am Upon further inspection, it is decided that there really are a few too many oopsies in Scarf 2.0 as well (including an adorable little foot shape that sticks out to the side), and that if she leaves it as is, Marisa will be too embarrassed to ever wear her first scarf. And she's gonna need it in the frigid Connecticut winter after six years in balmy New Mexico. Frog it!

11:00am-12:00 Marisa casts on for a third time, all by herself and quite quickly. Practice definitely makes perfect. Making sure to count stitches often and catch herself before doing any more accidental yos, she knits a glorious inch-plus of beautiful, even garter stitch rows:

Scarf 3.0. Isn't it just gorgeous?

Congratulations, my dear sweet friend! You are now officially on the road to perdition. Bwah ha ha haaaaa!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer of socks! Help!

OK, so I'm sure many of you are signed up for the Summer of Socks KAL hosted by Zarzuela. Based on recent posts (and let's not talk about the meaning of "recent" here), one would never know that I'm signed up for it as well, but I am. I would love to say that I'm more than halfway done with my first pair, but to be honest, the Jaywalkers shown in the last post were cast on way back in late April, looong before the June 21 cast-on date for SoS. This means that I'd better get going on a new pair if I actually want to follow the rules (granted, rule-following is optional and even discouraged in many aspects of my life, but I don't want to get in trouble with Zarzuela).

Anyway, I need help deciding what to do. I am thinking of making a pair for my grandmother, who is reported to have made covetous remarks about the socks I gave my Mom for x-mas. This is the sock yarn that I currently have available:

Annell superwash wool-polamide (is that nylon?)

Aznar Plassard 100% Peruvian Alpaca

Artyarns Ultramerino in color #110

To be disgustingly selfish honest, I'd like to save the pink stuff for myself, even though I haven't yet decided on what pattern to make. Perhaps Pomatomus? Anyway, assuming I do choose to be selfish, that leaves the two blue ones. I think the alpaca is really soft and lovely, and my grandma would love the color. I'm just not sure if it would be too inelastic to work well as socks. Any expert opinions?

Then there's the issue of a pattern. If I use the alpaca, I will want something with an interesting texture (since there won't be any color changes to add interest). However, my grandma, who is in her late 90s, gets cold very easily and won't want any drafty lacework in her socks. I had a few thoughts about some of the patterns in this book, but I'm not sure how I would adapt the size, since most of the ones that have caught my eye are written for men's size 10 feet. I've also been looking at these two patterns from the new knitty. If anyone has other suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Next time: my adventures while teaching knitting basics to a friend who describes herself as "really impatient" and admits to "having anger issues."

And if I can find my camera's USB cable hopefully there will aso be some pics from the 4th of July trip to Philly. And maybe someday there will even be Grand Canyon pics (but apparently you shouldn't be holding your breath for that last one).

Friday, June 23, 2006

What is this? Mayberry? Or, a knitter learns the true meaning of "Jaywalker"

Does my pride show even when I'm innocently walking down the street? Could that be it? I'm not sure how he found out, but the policeman must have known that I finally did it. Right before I left for DC, I finished the first sock in my pair of Jaywalkers:

It's a little tight (no, I didn't swatch), but I can
get it on my foot (with a minor struggle) and I
far prefer snug to slouchy when it comes to socks.

Next thing I know, I'm coming out of my second job interview in two days (more on that later), walking through the stifling heat near Dupont Circle, looking desperately for a coffee shop where I can get some iced tea and air conditioning while I wait for the informational interview I had scheduled, and I see some movement out of the corner of my eye. I glance over, and realize there's a police car parked on the side of the street, and the policeman inside it is gesturing for me to come over. I can't imagine what on earth he could want, but I figure he must be bored and wants to chat up my gorgeous young self (don't laugh, it really was the only thing I could think he might want). So I saunter over to the car, and he rolls down the window. The following conversation ensues:

Me: "Yes?"
Policeman: "I'm going to have to write you a citation."
Me: "What for? I don't understand."
PM: "You just crossed S Street, against the Don't Walk signal."
Me: "I'm sorry, Officer, I honestly didn't notice that I did that. I didn't see any cars coming, so I crossed."
PM: "Well, you did, so I'm going to have to write you a citation. Please spell your last name for me."
Me: [goody-two-shoes that I am, spelling my real name for him] "I can't believe this is happening!"
PM: [with a threatening glance] "What's that?"
Me: "I'm sorry, it's just that I've had a really tough day."
PM: "Here's your ticket. Payment instructions are on the back."
Me: [still incredulous] "Uh, thank you?"

You think I'm joking, don't you? In weather as hot as we're having, I'm sorry, but my creativity is just not that good. You can't make this up (incidentally, that phrase is the name of a hilarious blog). As proof, I offer you:

Official District of Columbia Notice of Infraction

Where it should have my driver's license number, he wrote "pedestrian," and filled in the blank for "other" under the category for Moving Violation. Now I know I'd better not loiter around that corner either, or I might get a Parking Violation, too. Two whole days have passed and I still cannot get over the ridiculousness of this episode. I mean, since when did DC turn into Mayberry?

On the train ride home yesterday, I had the good fortune of sitting next to a fellow knitter (who, alas, had not brought her knitting with her). We chatted almost all the way to NYC, and I managed to make really good progress on the Hanging Vines Stole that I'm knitting for this summer's Amazing Lace. The color's not so great in this shot, but I don't have the energy to look for my real camera:

Nine out of 34 pattern repeats completed.
Yay! I'm more than a quarter of the way there!

I'm quite proud of my first real attempt at lace. It's a gorgeous pattern, and as long as I don't try to work on it in places or situations when concentration is a challenge, I haven't had to rip out too many rows. Still feels good to know I have that lifeline in there, though.

And now, a quick list of reasons that I have not blogged in more than a month:

1. Job interviews, informational interviews, and lots of traveling to and from them. It never rains but it pours. After more than two months without a peep from anyone, I suddenly got three job interviews in two weeks, and scheduled a bunch of informational interviews around them. I am going to be superstitious and avoid going into detail until I actually get an offer (or two), but I would rate my mood on this front as "cautiously optimistic."

2. The FIFA World Cup. If you have never played soccer or lived in a soccer-loving country (i.e., anywhere outside the US), you might not understand. Imagine that you could only go to the yarn store once every four years, and in between you could only read about knitting online, but not buy anything. It's like that. I don't even care that the US has played like a bunch of crap-eating zombies (OK, so maybe I care a teensy bit), or that Chile didn't even qualify this year. I can still root for Brazil (since I speak Portuguese and have friends from there and can't help but love a team with a player who can dribble a ball with his head), or I can show the love to the underdogs and root for Ghana. Anyway, just ask Taz. I have entered every single match into my google calendar, and I have watched or recorded most of them. Even when I'm sitting alone in my living room at 11am, I cheer out loud and complain to the cats about the stupid referees.

3. The weather. Lately it has been too hot to do anything other than lie flat on my back on the coolest surface I can find, and dream of cool waterfalls and ice cream.

4. I am a bad person, or at least a bad, lazy blogger. At first I was going to wait until I uploaded the pictures from the Grand Canyon trip, but that is obviously going to take me a very very long time to get around to. Then I just kept putting it off. But I'm hoping you'll still love me anyway. *flashes winning smile and bats eyelashes* Right?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A tale of two friends

Holly and I technically met in 8th grade, but it was in 10th grade, when we were actually at the same school, that we became friends. It was an autumn day, during soccer season, and the night before one of the girls on the soccer team had had a birthday party. The talk in the student lounge that day was all about who got drunk and what crazy things they did while intoxicated. Of the whole soccer team (which didn't have tryouts or cuts, so most of us were on it), we were among the approximately four girls not invited to said party. So, amid the din of the gossip, I asked her if she'd like to get together that weekend. Not to drink or dance naked on tables in front of boys, just to hang out.

She came over, and the highlights of the afternoon and evening included a very enthusiastic leaf fight, my cat puking under Holly's chair at the dinner table, and me laughing so hard I wet my pants. After those last two, I thought for sure she was no longer wondering why I hadn't been invited to that birthday party. I wouldn't have been surprised if she had asked the headmaster to change her class schedule around just to avoid being near me. But instead, she invited me to her house.

The two pals on top of East Rock, with Long Island Sound in the background.

Since then, we have written thousands of pages of notes to each other, discovered the laughing position,* gone camping, discovered Yorkshire together, been known to devour a whole box of Girl Scout cookies in 10 minutes when stressed, made a really weird joint art project, somehow made it through college and grad school, gotten married to two wonderful men (I swear, when I first met her husband, I thought I was suddenly discovering I had an extra brother), and had lots of leaf fights. It's been much harder for us to meet up since we finished high school, and before this weekend, it had been nearly two years since our last visit together, but each time we talk on the phone or see each other in person, it's as if no time has passed. I wish everyone could have the kind of lasting and deep a friendship we do.

The short version? It was a great visit, and an awesome weekend. And I'm so glad that she and her husband finally met Taz! Oh, and she wants to (re)learn to knit...

*No, this is nothing dirty. We just realized one day that if you start laughing while lying on your back with your knees folded and your feet in the air, it's really really hard to stop. Pants wetting may ensue. Or at the very least, shortness of breath.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A strange kind of camping

On Thursday, I have to get up way before the crack of dawn to drive to the airport. I will then fly to Phoenix, Arizona (a state I've never visited before) to meet up with my husband (that's so fun to say!), and we'll fly together to Flagstaff (With all the flying time I'll be logging this week, maybe I'll actually finish those Samus sleeves). So, why are we going to Flagstaff? Because it's the closest airport to Grand Canyon National Park and we plan to spend the weekend camping, hiking, and celebrating Taz's birthday. I am sooooo excited!!!

Photo thanks to this site.

My parents took me on my first camping trip when I was four years old. I have owned my own tent, sleeping bag, backpack, and cook kit for years. I have had to scare black bears away from my campsite, I've canoed against my fair share of headwinds, and I've been to parts of Canada that many Canadians don't even know are there (Pickle Lake, anyone?). I like to think I know a thing or two about camping. And this trip is just three nights of car camping, in a campground with hot showers.

However, I am feeling strangely baffled when I confront the idea of packing for this trip. I am completely at home in the woods of the North, but high desert plateau is a climate utterly unfamiliar to me. I checked the weather forecast, and it's supposed to be sunny and low humidity everyday. Highs in the mid 70s. Sounds awesome, right? Well, there's one little issue: The lows at night will only be in the high 30s!!! That's just a few degrees above freezing! I'll want shorts and tank tops, but we'll also need long underwear, wool socks, and probably extra bedding for inside the tent (This is only Taz's second trip, and I don't want him to be put off camping forever because of three nights of frostbitten toes!!!). If this were a normal car camping trip, I wouldn't have to worry about doing a good packing job, because whatever didn't fit in the trunk could be crammed into the back seat, or even tied to the roof. But since I have to fly there first, I have to fit a tent, two sleeping bags, extra bedding, pots and pans, and oh yeah, clothes, into two suitcases and/or large backpacks and a carry-on. I can't begin to tell you how strange it feels to be packing for a camping trip using a regular suitcase.

OK, so maybe knitting's not the only thing I get obsessive about...

Anyway, that's my big excuse for not having any knitting- or book-related content for you today, and for the fact that I haven't yet gotten around to uploading the pictures from our wonderful weekend with H and her husband.

Now, to close, I offer you some gratuitous cat photos:

A slightly dark shot of Ivy chilling on the bookshelf.

Ben wrestling with his favorite chair.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Knitting as a subculture

So on Wednesday night, we had an out-of-town visitor at our SnB. Her name is Carrie, and she's writing a book on knitting as a subculture, for a series her publisher is doing on different American subcultures. It really got us talking about how there's a language that non-knitters really wouldn't understand. Like if I said, "So the other day, I was KIPing, and the pattern said to do a yo followed by a k2tog. It's just not working, so if I don't frog it, I'm just going to end up with another UFO," you'd know exactly what I meant. A muggle? Not so much. Since Carrie's a knitter too, we didn't feel too much like we were being looked at as weird mutants under scientific observation. Instead, we talked to her so much I think she started to feel overwhelmed. But she was a good sport about it:

Jessica, Carrie, and Joanne

Meanwhile, I got tips from Joanne on sponsoring green card applications through marriage, and managed to finish the heel gussets on my Jaywalker:

Please excuse the flash, but it was the only way to get anything near accurate color.

As for the rest of my knitting projects, well, let's just say that a quick organization of the closet has revealed that they are all languishing, neglected thanks to my infatuation with Jaywalker (partly due to the fact that it's a very portable project). Let's review. First, there are the Samus sleeves, which should have been finished, blocked, and sewn onto the rest of the sweater ages ago, considering this was my Knitting Olympics project:

Color is actually much greener than this (see what I mean about the
flash?). And the two sleeves at once idea to avoid second-sleeve-itis?
Achieved the opposite of the desired effect.

Then we have the Merino Lace Shawl, which I forced myself to start before attempting Hanging Vines, so that I could get some "practice" with simple knitted lace. This, however, seems to be a little too simple to hold my interest very well. I'm sure it will look better once it's blocked:

Color is much more blue-grey than this.

And remember the famous Merino Lace Cardigan? The one that took me forever to do the shoulder increases? The one that's miles and miles of stockinette? Yeah, I couldn't even bring myself to photograph it. Let's just say it still looks a hell of a lot like it did in this post. Don't look at the date on that.

On top of all that guilt, I now find myself faced with two more frivolous distractions urgent projects: A baby hat for Cari's soon-to-be-born Thumper, and a top-down (pattern TBD) sweater from Blue Sky Alpaca "orgasmic" cotton. I have Lauren to thank for that last one. Too bad I'm neither as tiny nor as fast a knitter as she is. But what I really want to do is magically finish all my current projects (to heck with process for now--sorry, Margene) so that I can start Hanging Vines (which, incidentally, Margene inspired me to knit). Every time I look at the yarn for it, which I bought from Judy, I want to cry. It is so soft and beautiful. But it must wait at least until the needles are freed up. Which means I'd better get knitting on all these other things.

However, that's unlikely to happen today, unless my vacuum decides not to be a wimp like it was two weeks ago. I have to clean house and do a bunch of errands because tonight my best friend* from high school and her husband are coming for the weekend. Any ideas on how I can convince her that learning to knit will help her stress levels?

*That link tells you nothing about her personality, but at least you can see a picture of her. Though, really, even the picture is a bit odd. Anyway, she's awesome!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Heel pooling

I've gotten in quite a bit of good knitting time this week, especially on Wednesday when I hung out with Lauren, Joanne and Lauren's friend Stephanie (formerly of everyone's favorite yarn company) for an "unemployment pizza dinner" at a famous local pizza joint*. So between that and SnB, I'm nearly done with the heel flap on my first Jaywalker, and it looks like this:

The classic sl1, k1, repeat to end/sl1, p to end heel flap.

I don't mind the pooling too much, since it has happened on every single heel flap I've ever knit with variegated yarn. And this yarn is so soft (no nylon content at all) that I guess it's best to have a thicker fabric at the heel. However, I can't help but feel that on Jaywalker in particular, the pooling takes away a bit from the zigzag effect. I'm not going to rip back now, but I'd love to hear if anyone has suggestions for a good basic short row heel I can try on the next pair. Ideas?

*For New Haven pizza afficionados, I should note that we all agreed that we prefer various other places over Pepe's for pizza flavor and topping options. However, Pepe's does win on friendliness. If you have no idea why this deserves a footnote, you're obviously not from New Haven, and you should read up on The Great Debate.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"The Case of the Disappearing Blogger" or, What the *heck* has this woman been up to for the past several weeks???

Well, for starters, I was cleaning the guest room. That might not sound like much, but it actually took the better part of three days, and involved so much vacuuming that the poor thing kept overheating and shutting itself down. It also involved buying better yarn storage:

Sorted by weight (Lopi on the bottom)

Then my parents came for a visit, which involved a lot of good eating. I also helped my mom start her first sock. OK, actually it was really just moral support. She is the one who taught me everything I know about knitting, after all. Isn't it a beauty so far, though?

Lorna's Laces on US #1's

Not to be outdone, and to do my part for someone's Spring KAL (even though I seem to be the only one doing it), I started my own Jaywalkers:

Artyarns Ultramerino on US #1's

After my folks left, I did a little of this and a little of that, topping off the week with some more yummy food and a day in NYC. After brunch with some dear friends, Taz and I got some exercise wandering around Central Park, finally ending up here to cool off with the penguins. I like the backdrop in this pic:

In front of the sea lion exhibit

The next day we also biked to the bookstore and made a valiant effort at planning ahead, despite the fact that we don't know where we'll be living two months from now, thus making most planning somewhat futile at this point. Still, getting these made us feel a little more in control:

Selected from among a dizzying plethora of
books on the subject

Oh yeah. And speaking of all that, on Friday the 7th, while my folks were visiting, we thought it might be a good idea to get me some health insurance (ah, the joys of unemployment!) and start making some progress with Taz's green card application. So we swung by City Hall and made it legal:

Please note that Taz is wearing the "boyfriend sweater"
I knit him! (I cast on for it just two months after we started
dating, and it was the first sweater I ever knit). His wearing
it shows two things: (1) It seems I have successfully broken
the curse" (knock on wood) and (2) Taz is the sweetest,
most amazing man alive.

I admit it, even though it was a very simple affair, and it was "only" the legal part, I cried while saying "I will." Sigh... I am so happy.