Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Knitting along - plus forwarding a language survey

(The language survey is at the bottom, so if you're here for that instead of knitting, feel free to hop on down there!)

So, a post just about knitting, I think.  I am feeling the excitement of spring, which seems to lead me to want to find new projects and cast them on, even though I'm also trying very hard to finish the big sweater I have OTN.  So, without further ado...

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought yarn (cashmere!  how could I not?!) to make a cowl while I was in Massachusetts (because I was taken, through no fault of of my own, to WEBS, and, well, cashmere!).  I cast on right away, and had it finished in about a day.
That's how it started out.  The pattern, which was printed on the label attached to one end by a little ribbon, called for two stripes of each color, but I decided to do just one thicker stripe of each, and to change the color sequence a little bit.  I was delighted with the way it turned out, and wore it for the rest of my trip.  It's not a huge cowl, but because it's doubled (and cashmere!), it's tremendously warm.
The yarn is Lux Adorna DK weight cashmere (!).  I truly love the hand on this yarn - it's simultaneously crisp and buttery.  It was a pleasure to knit with, and the colors are rich; it goes with a lot of my winter clothes, and I'll get years of use out of this one, I think.  Of course, it's warmed up too much here for it right now, so it will be put away until winter.

I've also finished the mitts that I knitted as the first pattern in the Year of Techniques.  The helical stripe trick is a ton of fun, and I can see other ways to use it in the future.  Which was, of course, the whole point of doing the Year of Techniques (more on that in a moment).  I finished the mitts over the weekend, and Kivrin promptly snagged them and bore them away.  I managed to get her to let me take one photo before they disappeared again.
They would have been done much sooner, but I've been plugging away at Oa.
As you can see, I've got the sleeves finished and joined, and am working my way through the raglan decreases.  Gwilim is utterly convinced that I've knitted this as his personal cat bed.

 He is wrong.

Once I've finished the raglan decreases, I'm going to have to make a decision.  The original pattern is a hoodie.  But I'm not sure that I want a hood.  This is going to be a VERY warm sweater as it is, given the stranded colorwork.  I almost never actually pull a hood up, so I'm not sure I want it there on my back whenever I wear this.  I very much like the look of the neck, though, going into the hood - it looks almost cowllike.  So I need to figure out whether I can get that look by foregoing the steek and hood, and simply knitting the neckband once I've finished decreasing for the shoulders (input from all and sundry is very welcome on this question).  Soon, I'll know whether that is a good idea, or a catastrophe.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I got my email with the next pattern for the Year of Techniques, but at the same time, that dratted Ann posted about a sweater she's knitting, and I took one look at the stripes and just felt like I needed a happy stripey springy sweater of my own.  Then I looked at the yarn at the bottom of the page, got an eyeful of one of the colorways, and started lusting after a stripey sweater of my own.

Drat it.

But honestly - blues?  with a fun yellow for contrast?  I had to have it, right?  (So much for knitting each of the Year of Technique patterns as they come out - intarsia, I'll get to you later, baby!)

Of course, me being me, I decided that I really don't want a Carpino (which is the pattern Ann is using); something about the mesh front kind of bugs me.  So that led to hours (and hours) of time on Rav trying to find the perfect pattern for a striped sweater.  I finally decided on Poolside, which has the top-down raglan look I wanted, and some lace, but not lace on the whole front.  Unfortunately, since the yarn I have is fingering, and the pattern is written for sport weight yarn, I'll have to do some math and jiggering once I've knitted a swatch, but I'm thinking that once that's done, I'm home free.  I'm planning to plagiarize Ann's stripes, which I like quite a lot.  I'm hoping that this will be some relatively simple knitting to do while reading or going to meetings, as Oa really requires me to look at my hands quite a lot (I can knit with one strand of yarn in each hand, but I have to check in with myself not infrequently).

So, that's all that's on my needles (in any kind of active way, at least)!  How about you?

And, as promised up top, here is a language survey that is being conducted by some colleagues of mine - if you're interested in language and language use (you do not have to be multilingual), please give it a shot and feel free to pass it on!

"We are two researchers from California State University San Marcos, Nicoleta Bateman and Golnaz Nanbakhsh. We are conducting an anonymous survey to learn about how speakers in the US use languages other than English (be they heritage/home languages, or second languages) in different social contexts. The survey will take between approximately 2 and 7 minutes, depending on your answers/situation. Thank you so much for participating!"
(ETA: this is the correct link; the first one was missing a "t" at the end)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Little things (inevitably becoming bigger things)

I meant to post as soon as I got back from my recent trip, but immediately came down with an airplane cold (you know the kind I'm talking about - the one where you sit on a plane, listening to someone hacking up a lung two rows behind and caddycorner from you, and think, yep, here it comes, baby!), and have spent the last five days or so in sinus misery.  I can finally breathe through my nose again, and even though my head still feels kind of fuzzy and I frequently lose my train of thought, I figured I'd take my chances and try to compose something that makes sense.

What recent trip, you're probably asking?  Well, I managed to make time to go to Massachusetts to see my older daughter for her final riding competition of the year, and for her birthday.  Unfortunately, we were busy enough that I didn't also make time to see many loved friends and relatives while I was there - but not unfortunately, she and I had a lovely long weekend together, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I also didn't take work with me; I can't tell you how long that's been.  (So long, in fact, that I kept having to ask her: shouldn't I be doing something right now?  You know, other than eating and sleeping and knitting and reading and visiting?  Something like work?  No, mom, she kept reassuring me - no.)

She is one of the (once-)little things in my life (you know what I mean - not a little thing in my life, but she was once tiny) that is clearly (!!) not so little any more (and again, !!).
That's Tess.  (The girls are now old enough that I decided it was up to them whether I used their names or Older/Younger Daughter, and they have both given me permission to use their names.)  She just turned 19 last week.  That means it's been 19 years since I brought her home, a new mom, the first of my friends to have a child.  I so clearly remember sitting with my friend Leela at the kitchen table, the day after Rick went back to work, staring at Tess in her car seat then looking at each other and going, now what do we do with her?

Well, in spite/because of what we did with/to her, there she is, happily ensconced at college, halfway through the second semester of her sophomore year.  Majoring in Biology (which still comes as a bit of a shock - she was my unstoppable lit/social science person; just goes to show you what an excellent teacher can do to inspire a student, and boy did she have an excellent bio teacher in high school). While she was in class, I grabbed the opportunity to take my new camera for a walk around campus.
 It wasn't warm.  In fact, the lovely innkeepers at the place where we stayed referred to the weather as "raw", a word that I remember my mother using (it's not something you hear often from a Californian) to describe exactly the kind of chill, damp weather we had when I was there.
I found myself, as I often am, unreasonably charmed by the ice, encasing these leaves, and the lower lake. 
(Yes, I did manage to restrain myself from poking the ice with a stick. But only because the trees had already done it for me.)
 As I walked, I found myself near the greenhouse on campus, where I wandered into a fairy tale spring.
I took endless pictures of flowers, which I won't subject you to here.  It was so lush and beautiful, and they were able to grow such a huge range of plants in such a small place.  I wish I enjoyed gardening more, because I certainly love gardens!

And then, as it started to snow, I wandered around campus.  Yes, my daughter apparently attends Hogwarts.

 But our visit wasn't all classes and walks on campus!  There was much time spent with horses.

Including several brutally early mornings spent in astonishingly cold barns (the team riders call MHC's barn The Icebox - the name is well-earned).  Thank goodness horse blankets are warm and available (if you don't mind smelling of horses!).

I also got to see Tess compete with her team.
I never cease to be amazed at her courage and guts.  In these competitions, riders draw their horses by lot, and ride what they get.  Tess, like me, isn't naturally inclined towards public performance or competition, and yet there she is, quite literally getting back up on horses after falling off, getting thrown (last spring, getting a concussion), dealing with good moods, bad moods, squirrelly, calm, whatever she gets, and simultaneously having to think about her equitation.  I know that she didn't do as well in this competition as she'd hoped, but that doesn't change how I feel about her and who she is and what she does.

I'm still getting used to having a daughter who's living on her own, far away from home.  Getting to spend this time with her, in her space, was a real gift.  I mean, I know in my head that she has her own life, but there's something really lovely about getting to actually see her move confidently in a space that she has made her own, getting to meet and spend time with the fabulous, interesting, and funny women whom she's made her friends, seeing how she navigates a world that is entirely hers and never was mine.  This is exactly what we raise our children to do - to go out and be themselves in the world.  But it's not something that's easy to imagine before it actually happens.  And really, it happens again and again at different stages in their lives.  Each step that my girls take into themselves feels new and exciting, and, at the same time, exactly what I expected to have happen.  I found myself deeply touched by how willing she is to open the door and let me in for a while, sharing her time and her place with me.  Rick has business on the east coast at the end of the month, and will get to have his own visit with her (which makes me feel a bit less guilty about our snatched mother/daughter time).

And it wasn't all horses and ice.  I was going to avoid WEBS, because honestly - I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head.  But Tess had finished the project that she started while she was here for the holidays, and (my hand to god - it was her idea, not mine) wanted to go to get yarn for projects to knit in lecture.
That's the lovely scarf (it's HUGE) that she knitted (she offered to knit me one if I got her the yarn, and I was SO tempted, but it turns out I live in, you know, San Diego, and it's already April, so it didn't seem practical).  Of course, once I was there, I succumbed, but!  You'll be impressed - I got one thing, for one project, and I knitted and wore it while I was there.  I'll post FO shots next time, but here's a teaser in the meantime - another small thing that got bigger (those are little mini-skeins of, get this, cashmere; how could I walk away from that?!).

Unfortunately, after all of that loveliness, I came home not only to a cold, but to two missing chickens.  Because that left us with one lone chicken, and because there's nothing sadder in the world than a lonely chicken, three more small things came to join us last week.
 They, too, are (thankfully) getting bigger!

Friday, March 17, 2017

A funny thing happened on the way to the barn...

A post with musings about partisanship and conversations.

So, a funny thing did, indeed, happen at the barn a bit ago, and I've been mulling it over off and on ever since.  First, full disclosure:  I have bumper stickers on my car.  This is actually a fairly recent phenomenon (I was always a bumper stickerless sort of person until recently; I still wear my bumper stickered status kind of uncomfortably - it may change).  The bumper stickers on my car are: Coexist; A woman's place is everywhere; the Obama sticker that says "Hope over fear"; I'm with her; and 13.1.  My basic policy about bumper stickers is this: they must say what I stand for, not what I stand against.

So, I recently pulled into the ranch where Disco boards and drove (slowly! speed limit 5 mph!) over to the bathrooms to change.  As I did, I noticed a man walking in the same direction from the covered arena - I pegged him as a dad waiting for his daughter to finish her lesson, and smiled.  I tend to feel friendly towards people at the barn, assuming that, whatever else may be true, we share some interest in horses one way or another.  He seemed very occupied with examining my car (which I should also note, in the interests of full disclosure, is an old and very dirty Prius - I do a lot of driving, some of it on dirt, and it shows).  I headed into the bathroom to change, and when I came out, he was past my car and turning to look at it, again, over his shoulder. 

I got in, started up, and was pulling out when I saw he'd circled back.  I unrolled my window.  Looking back, I was still in the mode of assuming that our common element was horses, and I think my expectation was that he was going to ask whether I had a horse at the barn, or whether I worked with one of the trainers, or something along those lines. 

He said, "I couldn't help but notice your bumper stickers."

At which point, I wondered whether we were on the same page, in a social justicey kind of way.  Once in a while, people will comment on liking one of the bumper stickers.

He said, "We don't see eye to eye at all, politically."  Oh.

"Oh?"  (Because I wasn't quite sure where to go with that.)

"I voted for Trump, and I have to tell you, I am very happy right now."  (This was a few days after the first immigration ban.)

I made another semi-interested, noncommittal noise.  Mostly because I was taking it in, and trying to figure out exactly what was going on.  In the moment, my sincere feeling was that he'd never actually met anyone who thought the things I had on my bumper stickers, and he was checking out the liberal in the wild.  Friends later suggested that he was trying to pick a fight.  Maybe I was picking up on that, too.  But my strongest feeling was this: he was not seeing me as a person.  I don't know what he was seeing, but it really wasn't me.  He said,
"We really do not see eye to eye!"

And I, not knowing what else to do with that uncomfortable feeling that he wasn't seeing me, and I really would feel much better if he did, stuck my hand out the car window and said,
"Hi.  My name is Jocelyn.  It's really nice to meet you!"

He stopped short.  His hand was halfway out before, I think, he realized what he was doing (those social norms are strong, aren't they?), and he responded by introducing himself.  I told him it was nice to meet him, and he said again: "Well, we really don't see eye to eye."  I said, "That's one of the nice things about a democracy!", and he excused himself and wandered off.

It was weird.  It was weird because I still don't really quite know what he was hoping for in that conversation.  I do think that, whatever it was, he didn't get it.  I think I went seriously off-script.  I'm just curious what the script was supposed to be. 

In a larger way, I also found it interesting that he approached me to tell me that he disagreed with me.  It's not something I would do.  I noticed the same thing yesterday, as I was standing outside my Representative's office with signs - some people would make a point of flipping us off or giving us a thumb's down.  It caught my attention because I regularly drive past a protest outside a health clinic - I don't agree at all with what the protesters stand for, but it wouldn't occur to me to flip them off; it doesn't seem like a conversation starter, you know?  On the other hand, maybe I'm just assuming that such a dialogue can't happen and avoiding engagement?  In other words, should it seem hopeful to me that someone would approach me about my bumper stickers - incipient conversation - or was it the verbal equivalent of the flip-off - no conversation, just an opportunity to say I don't agree with you?  Conversations seem so important, and yet so impossible, right now; I'm not sure what to do about that.  (Although a friend just sent me a link to a roundup of interesting articles about conversations and how to have them: here it is.)  What do you think?  How do you handle seeing visible signs of some stranger's non-alignment with your views in the world?

Meanwhile, the wisteria are blooming, and the leaves on the sycamores are coming out, and the branches on the oaks trees on my morning walk are tipped with new red leaves, almost like flowers.  I think it's spring.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Some knitting!

First, thank you all so much for reading my last post, and for participating in the survey.  If you haven't responded yet but are interested in participating, it's still live - here is the link again: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDTVNZ7.

Meanwhile, I did promise the occasional post about knitting, and I have, in fact, been knitting. Most of my time until this last week has been spent on one big project, but in the last couple of days, a few things came up and now I have three projects OTN.  It's starting to feel like old times around here.

First, the big project.  A month or so ago, I belatedly treated myself to a subscription to Kate Davies' latest project: Inspired by Islay.  Every week, Kate would send out a new pattern (on Wednesday)(also uploaded to my Rav library), and on Friday, an essay about the inspiration for the pattern, capped off by whiskey tasting suggestions and notes written by her partner.  And now that it's all done, hard copies of the whole collection of patterns and essays are being shipped out.  I love Kate's designs; one of my favorite sweaters (the Northmavine Hoodie) is her design, and I think it exemplifies her incredibly clean lines and well-thought-out design elements beautifully.  It's one of the sweaters that I'm most proud of (and that is most likely to get the amazed "you MADE that?!" - along with my Bohus).  (To my horror, I realize it's not on my Rav page - I really was out of things for a while there, wasn't I?  ETA:  Oh, wait, there it is!)

In any case, the Inspired by Islay collection has a number of patterns I'd like to knit, but the moment I saw the Oa, I absolutely had to have it - I treated myself to the yarn (Kate's own Buchaille) for my birthday.

I want this to be a good sweater so much that I swatched.  It's not that I don't usually swatch, but sometimes, I'll cast on for the sleeve and see how that goes (sleeves and swatches are about the same size, yes?).  Not this time.  This time, I knitted a swatch in the round (in two different needle sizes), cut it, and steam ironed it - exactly as called for in the pattern.  (Can you hear the proud tone in my voice?)
The only thing I did differently was to cast off in blue instead of white so that I could remember which side was done with the size three needle, and which with the size four.  I've been plugging away at the body devotedly since casting on.
That's probably a good seven inches or so of progress.  It's not speedy, but since it's only two colors per row, it's not too terribly slow, either.  I was planning to be monogamously devoted to this project, but, well...

I made the mistake of reading Mason-Dixon, and saw that they are partnering with Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford to create a Year of Techniques, with a new pattern showcasing a new technique coming out each month (and uploaded to my Rav library - I really love that!).  Since I'm trying to create opportunities for myself to feel more inspired, I signed on.  I figured I'd knit the patterns as I have time (read: after I finish Oa), but then I saw the first project, which uses helical stripes, and I kind of had to try it.  Right away.  I hied myself straight to my LYS to get a Zauberball of mine own, but the only ones they had, while lovely, just didn't have quite enough long striping contrast, so I went off-script and got myself a cake of Alexandra's Crafts Sister, and cast on with that.
I have to say, these helical stripes are a giggle.  Once I really got it into my head that I'm knitting two rows at a time, it got much easier to see what's happening here - the upshot of the technique is stripes with no jog at all.
I'll take better pictures once I'm further along, but trust me - no jog.  No carrying yarns up the inside.  Just two balls of yarn, chasing one another around the armwarmer.  The pattern (which comes with a link to a video tutorial) offers a discussion of how to do this on circular needles or on dpns, which is what I'm using.  I have to say that I think this is probably easier on dpns, since I can drop the yarn at the end of one dpn, without having to move stitches around on the needles.  They say that you can do this with two-row stripes (up to four, even), but I can't quite get my head around that.  I kind of what to try it, though...  These are the Hyacinthus Armwarmers, and I'm kind of thinking I'll make more than one pair.  (In fact, maybe I'll order myself a Zauberball right now so it's here when I need it.  Hmmm....)

But not yet!  Because I'm on serious pink yarn duty.  I'm involved with a group of friends and colleagues who are politically active, and at our last meeting, one of them said she'd gladly pay me for yarn if I'd just knit her a pussyhat (she also offered to pay for my time, which is silly); everyone else in the room asked to go on the list, too.  I said yes.  Then I went home, talked to a knitting friend of mine who was there, and dithered.  I want to knit Oa!  And that's a lot of pink hats!  And I knew if I wrote to everyone and said that my love for them had overwhelmed my good sense, they'd all understand.

But (and here's my dark secret), I want to be the kind of person who knits for other people.  And I am not.  I mean, it's not that I never knit for other people - I spent all last fall knitting sweaters for the girls and my niece; I spent a year knitting a blanket for Older Daughter to take to college.  But you know what I mean - the kind of open-hearted person willing to say, yes!  I'll knit nine pussyhats!

Of course, because life is complex and I am of two minds about nearly everything, I also aspire to be a person who knows when to say no.  Because knitting for people notwithstanding, I definitely find it hard sometimes to say no.  So I decided this was an opportunity to sit with myself and figure out what I want, in this instance, at this time.  I thought carefully about the whole thing and realized that, honestly, by the time I finish Oa, it'll probably be too warm to wear it anyway (alternatively, we'll have a nice bout of May Gray and June Gloom, and I'll have it done for that).  And once Oa's done, I'll be harrassing my daughters to tell me what I can knit for them.  So, really, why not knit nine hats?  But I also knew in my heart that I really didn't want to spend hours knitting with, say, cheap acrylic yarn (shudder).  The upshot is that I realized I honestly was willing to put off Oa, and to knit nine hats (if that's what it turns out to be), if and only if I was doing it with yarn that I really, REALLY enjoy.  Read: it's not gonna be cheap.

So I wrote to everyone with the honest statement that I'd rather buy nice yarn from my LYS, and saying that I completely understood if people didn't want expensive pink pussyhats.  So far, most of them do, and I have cast on for the first one.
The yarn is Fibre Co Tundra (alpaca, wool, silk).  It's soft and puffy like baby ducks, the pink is a nice rich raspberry, and I'm knitting this up on a size nine needle - a bit smaller than called for, but I think the fabric is turning out well.  And I'm enjoying it.  I'm glad I spent some time teasing out what I wanted to do and what it would look like, and being honest about it.  I do worry that I'm committing people to spending money on hats that may not in the end, be what they visualized (too bulky, too hot, I don't know - just not what they thought they were getting), but I'm trying to let that go and enjoy the process of knitting them, now that I've gone through the process of figuring out what I want knitting them to be about.

All right.  I'll stop there.  I have a few fun stories to tell about my last couple of weeks, but I'll save those for next time.  What do you have OTN these days?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Pussyhats - the interactive edition (survey link included)

(Note: if you want to just go to the survey - which is for everyone, whether or not you knitted a pussyhat - you can skip below to where it says Here is the link.)

I think a lot of you may know that a knitting friend/colleague and I (hi, Marie!) have been researching the knitting community for a while now.  It started with a survey that I posted on Ravelry and advertised at the first Sock Summit (remember those?).  The response was pretty overwhelming - not only did I get over 2,000 responses in a very short time, but people wrote screeds in response to the open-ended questions.  We have also interviewed knitters individually and in focus groups.  My colleague and I are still (!!) coding the data; you people have a lot to say, all of it rich and thick.  I've gotten a paper out, and she and I are giving a presentation on more of the data in June, so we're starting to get a handle on it.  The goal is something larger, when all put together.

And then came January, and the pink pussyhats and the Women's March.  My first real exposure to the pussyhat discussion came before the march when I saw a response that someone posted on Facebook to a Washington Post article.  The article, entitled: "The Women's March needs passion and purpose, not pink pussycat hats", fascinated me.  Especially when the author referred to the proposed pink hats (this came out before the march) as "well-intentioned, she-power frippery".  Wow.

Knitters (including the one who posted on Facebook) responded in ways that I didn't find at all surprising, given what we've seen in our data, and what I know of my fellow knitters.  Like: “We are going to protest on our own terms. We don’t have to do it in the way that the patriarchy deems serious or correct.”  And: "Knitters can walk and chew gum at the  same time. We can knit while we call our representatives, wait on hold while trying to get through to congress, we can put down our needles and make donations to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU and sign endless petitions. We can knit while we attend PTA meetings and community organize." Both of these quotes capture sentiments that we see in our data; they also capture the sense of having to explain things about knitting that knitters know and non-knitters don't.

Other articles discussed not only the issues with pink, and craftiness (as an index of non-feminist femininity), but also with the word itself: "pussy".  People don't like it.  At all. 

In fact, the pussyhats are interesting in no small part, I think, because of the uncomfortable mixing of (assumed) prefeminist (maybe even antifeminist) knitting - and don't forget that color! - and the reclaiming of that impolite, raucous, uncomfortable word (the one we all had to hear our now-President saying on a hot mike): pussy.

Words for female genitalia are marked.  By which I mean, we notice them in conversation.  They are more derogatory, more shocking, more offensive, than similar words for male genitalia.  Calling someone a dick just doesn't have the same sting as calling someone a pussy - let alone calling them that other word for female genitalia that I don't say in class without a warning that it's coming.  (It's one of two words that I treat that way.)

Note: I'm a linguist - this is all data.  We have to be able to talk about these words; they both mean and do something in the public sphere.

So, what did these hats, in all their knitted, offensively-named, pinkness do in the public sphere?

The answer to that, I think, is emblematic of knitting and knitters in some very interesting ways.  They were aggressive without being mean; they were noticeable and visually arresting, and lighthearted at the same time.  My experience of them was that they were bonding; they created a tribe out of a disparate group of people.  When we finally crammed onto a trolley to go to the San Diego march (after letting two trains go by because they were too full of people to fit any more in), while there wasn't a sea of pink, the hats were definitely in evidence:

The women who created the Pussyhat Project offered a few reasons for their inspiration.  One that particularly caught my attention was the goal of letting people who could not go to the march nevertheless participate by knitting hats to send to Washington for people who could not knit their own.  That, right there, captures something that we see again and again in our data: knitters' desire to use their knitting to create community, and to show connection and caring for other people.   Recipients of the hats talked about how much it meant to them to get the gift of a handknitted hat from a stranger; it created circles of connection that went far beyond the day and location of the main march.  This, too, is something that knitters celebrate and work to create.

The pride in making something by hand, in the activism that many knitters participate in (whatever end of the political spectrum they may inhabit), and the surprise (re)realization that not everyone understands/participates in/experiences the joy of making something by hand - these also showed up in articles discussing the hats and the march.  I also appreciated this author's point that the hats (along with signs and clear backpacks) and the organization that they represent are a clear link to the kinds of (often unacknowledged) work that women do every day: tedious, detail-oriented, repetitive but necessary tasks (dishes, laundry, changing diapers - I'm looking at all of you).

All of this is to say that the pussyhat phenomenon strikes me as quintessentially knitting in action.  I know that by no means all knitters (or even the majority of knitters) agree with or support the politics of the march, or knitted a hat (or hats); but I still think that that this is a moment that captures the essence of how knitters see their craft in relationship to their lives more broadly writ.

So, Marie and I have put together a short survey on pussyhats.  It offers questions both for those who did knit pussyhats, and for those who did not.  We'd like to hear from everybody.  It's truly short - probably only five or ten minutes to fill out.  And we'd love to see it distributed as widely as possible.  So please, feel free to post it (if you let me know where you've posted it, I'd love to drop by and say thanks!), email it out, FB it, tweet it, whatever you want to do to get it out to your own community of knitters (again, whether they were pussyhat knitters or not).

Here is the link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HDTVNZ7.  You can copy and paste it, or just click on it from here.  Thank you in advance for your input and help.

As a rather ironic addendum, I was so intrigued by the whole movement and how it relates to what we've learned about the knitting community that I utterly failed to knit any of my own, for me or for my girls (who marched with us).
I have since made up for it:
And I've been informed that I have a whole list of hats to knit before April 15.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A snowy long weekend

As you may know, California's drought appears decidedly to be on hiatus.  Read: we've been getting some serious precipitation. 

Here's a funny thing about that.  I love rain.  I love cold, wet winters.  (Among other things, cold wet winters means snow in the mountains - we'll get to that soon.)  But since getting a horse, I have become decidedly less enamored of rain.  Rain means no turn-outs and no lunging.  And no turn-outs and no lunging means a fresh and frisky horse.  Which means I don't ride.  It's interesting how adding a new activity to my life has completely changed my outlook on weather.
(I got a new camera, about which I am tremendously excited.  Among other things, it is much smaller and lighter than our old good digital camera, with better resolution.  And I can take close-ups again!  Say hi, Disco.)

Our local flora and fauna, however, feel no such ambivalence towards the rain.  Everything around here is bursting out with whatever growth it can muster. 

 Even some of my favorite old trees are looking happier with their feet wet.

Of course, all this rain also means snow!  Rick has been watching the snow reports at Mammoth like a hawk.  When the base got to 15 feet, he started giggling like a child on Christmas eve.  So, for the long weekend, it was pretty obvious where we were going to go.  We got out of town on Thursday afternoon and beat the storm to Mammoth.  Which was a good thing, because by the time we got down the mountain after skiing on Friday, it was hard to find the car.
Glad we didn't drive through all that snow to get there!  The skiing did get a bit hairy here and there, when the mountain was enveloped in clouds and whiteout conditions...
(That's Rick and Younger Daughter, just upslope of me.)  And the top of the mountain didn't open all weekend long - I think it's the first time ever that we've been there and not been able to ski the whole mountain.  When the sun peeked through the clouds, though, the view down into the valley was stunning.
And there was always some Mammoth Brew Co goodness at the end of the day to take away the aches and pains.
The knitting got some run time, too.
(If you look closely, you'll see that's a Bohus reproduction Wild Apple on my head - toasty warm and good-looking to boot!  Those Swedes know a thing or two about keeping warm in the winter.  And what you can't see is that my handspun, handknit cowl is tucked into my coat, keeping my chin and neck toasty warm even in the worst of the wind on the chairlift.)

On the way home, we were treated to stunning views of the eastern Sierra
And the western White Mountains peeking through the clearing storm.
I didn't neglect my knitting, either, although pictures will have to wait for next time.  I finished a hat for Younger Daughter (Ysolda Teague's Snapdragon Tam), and on the drive home, I cast on for my Oa, which I am very excited about.

And I think that's enough for now!  What did you all do for the long weekend?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A few projects on and off the needles

One nice thing about a long holiday break (which has been over for a while now, but still), coupled with no longer being chair of my department (the email load dropped off almost instantaneously with me handing the chairship over in the fall - I can't tell you what a relief that was), is that I finally had time to get excited about knitting again.

It's not that I haven't been knitting all along - last fall, in fact, I knitted a sweater for each my girls, and then one for my niece for Christmas.  It's more that I wasn't engaged in the joy and fun of thinking about new projects, weighing the options, looking at yarn; and I definitely wasn't anywhere close to thinking about playing around with designing anything.  One thing I know about myself is that I absolutely loathe last-minute pressure; I hate being late.  So, as chair, I realized pretty quickly that the only way to be ready for the inevitable late-notice, oh-my-gosh-oops-we-forgot-to-tell-you-this-is-due-tomorrow stuff, was to be veryvery on top of everything else, so that I'd have room for the last-minute things when they arrived on my plate.  I got into the habit of keeping an ongoing list of big-ticket items (the kinds of things that I know I need some serious time to get through: curriculum, meeting agendas, personnel reviews, etc etc), and the smaller things that I could knock off in five minutes here, ten minutes there (email, email, email).  Which meant that any time I had five or ten minutes, I was trying to get through those things so that I'd have longer chunks of time for the bigger stuff, and at the end of a day of getting through all of that, I really just wanted to read something mindless or knit something mindless or go to bed.  The nice thing about that strategy is that I did get enough sleep every night (no last-minute all-nighters to get something done), and I did get to walk my dog on a trail almost every day, and I had dinner with my family, and I spent time with my horse.  So, it wasn't the worst survival strategy in the world.

But what I almost never had was several unscheduled hours with nothing planned, and no to-do list that I felt strongly about getting to (to avoid emergencies later down the road).  And another thing that I seem to be learning about myself is that I need that kind of time - that kind of I could almost be bored here so what could I do that's interesting kind of time - to feel that there's enough space to poke at a new and exciting project, or a new craft, or a new instrument.  I'll also admit that things like Facebook, the New York Times crossword puzzle, solitaire, and Instagram all make it really easy to fritter away the smaller chunks of time that could become bigger pieces for sinking (in the sense of slipping into a lovely warm bath) into the creative.  As I write this, it occurs to me that I need to use time the way I did as chair - except, instead of getting the little work done in small chunks of time so I could create big chunks of time for the hard projects, I need to stop spending my small chunks of free time on little relaxingish things, so that I can create for myself the space, and spaciousness, to settle into a creating place.  Something to mull over.

The fall didn't really give me room for that - the chair transition and a few other things got in the way. But knowing that I had a sabbatical this spring, once I finished teaching an online intersession class (my first fully online class, and one of the "other things" whose preparation was on my mind during the fall), I was able to take a few weeks to not-work, and to start to get my legs back under me.

I knitted cowls for me and the girls:
That's me and Older Daughter; Younger Daughter has one, too.  These are all knitted out of Baah Sequoia, a super-chunky and super-soft and lofty yarn dyed by a friend and local dyer.  I have discovered recently the pleasure of cowls, in that they never fall off, and you don't have to deal with ends flying about or not staying put.  Of course, there is also great pleasure in a lovely neck-warming small shawl, so I knitted one of those, too (and used it, in progress, as a header shot for an article that was just published on knitting and food in socialization).
The yarn for this is a lovely little skein I picked up from the Yarnover Truck during the Vista Fiber Festival.
I don't have any pictures of me wearing it yet; I'll have to get some.  I'm surprised I've managed to hang on to this one - a lot of people have threatened to steal it.  The yarn is Apple Tree Knits Plush Gradient, and the pattern is Imagine When.

I also (finally) finished Rick's winter socks:
These are just a plain pair of socks, knitted out of Candy Skein Delicious Fingering, in the Sour Apple colorway.  My only complaint about this particular skein of this yarn (which I've used before and love) is that it stained my fingers blue-green every time I worked on these socks.  They are therefore due a good soaking before Rick actually wears them out and about, lest they turn his feet and shoes irreparably green.

One funny thing about these is the heel, which I knitted in my usual eye-of-partridge stitch.  (I knit these from the toe up, with a heel flap on the bottom of the foot.)  On one sock, the eye-of-partridge turned out beautifully visible.  On the other, not.  I can't figure out what the difference is between the two - same needles, same stitch, same everything, different outcome.  It's weird.

And for my birthday, I treated myself to a sweater that I've been admiring: Evelyn.  This was a fun and easy knit, and the yarn is soft and plush; I'm a bit worried that it's looking a titch fuzzy already, so we'll see whether this turns out to be something I can wear constantly (which I'd hoped - it's good-looking AND cuddly, which is a winning combination, in my book), or whether I need to be more careful of it. 
This was a fun knit, for the most part.  The cable up there at the top of the back felt a bit fussy (mostly because that much cabling in that small of a space tends to lead to tight stitches when I knit), but boy does it look nice:
The sleeves are more of the same, but narrower...
As is the button band.  (A snap will eventually go in there at the top.)
The only part of this whole sweater that kind of annoys me is the collar, which would not lie flat for love or money.
I have since tacked it down.  (That'll teach it to be contrary.)

There are a few other small things I could post, but I think I'll save them for another day.  I'm wrapping one of them up today (I hope), and, if all goes well, the yarn for my next sweater will arrive in the mail.  (Arrive, yarn, dang it!)  If not, Younger Daughter has mentioned that she'd like another hat, so perhaps that'll go OTN instead.

And that's all the knitting news that's fit to report.  What are you all working on?