Monday, January 6, 2014

Welcome, new year!

Like everyone does at this time of year (I assume - maybe I'm overgeneralizing), I have been contemplating The New Year Post.  Somehow it seems like, when posting at this time of year, one is meant to look over the last year, contemplating resolutions kept, and resolutions not-so-much kept (and why is it that that list always seems so much more front-and-center than the other?). 

You know:
Did not lose weight
Did not Achieve Enlightenment

Oops.

To be fair, I did some things this year that weren't so much resolution-oriented, as finally doing or trying things that have always been on the back burner.  I started horseback riding, racewalking, went to Turkey, was promoted to Full Professor, established an inconsistent but real sitting meditation practice, established a more-consistent home yoga practice.  All of those are desires that have been kicking around in the back of my head for a long time - some (like horseback riding) since childhood. 

Mostly, I tried to focus on the word I chose as a touchstone last year, instead of establishing resolutions: mindfulness.  That's been a word I've chosen a few times now, as something to keep me on track, and this year I feel like I made some pretty significant breakthroughs in finding that place of mindfulness more often.  Sometimes, it means being mindful of sad feelings like those I wrote about last time; sometimes, it means being open to being happy; sometimes, it means just sitting with the squirrel that apparently resides in my brain, flitting its tail and chittering at every insult.  It's a busy busy squirrel.

So instead of that list of future resolutions, I've been trying to decide whether I want to re-up on the mindfulness, or add something else.  In the end, mindfulness is the key to focusing on any concept that I'd like to bring into my life, so I decided to throw caution to the wind.

Abundance.

That's my word for the year.  Not seeking abundance, but seeing it where I already have it, which is in so very many places in my life.  Feeling a lack of abundance is something that drives me to grab opportunities when they come up, out of the fear that nothing like that will ever come again (not always a bad thing, but not good when I am overcommitted; this is something I have been working on), to buy things that I don't need, out of the fear that I'll never get the chance again (I have this SO much more under control than I have in the past; it is one of the reasons why I have passed up several interesting yarn and fiber clubs over the last few years, for example - I already have a STABLE stash), to eat things that I don't need or want, because I feel a need to reward myself, and fear that I won't have opportunities to "treat" myself in the future.  That one's a kicker for me.

I can't be the only one who feels that way about food, right?  There are so many times when so much of my life is utterly overwhelming, and I feel that I "deserve" some kind of treat, or reward for surviving.  And so many treats and rewards require time or money, and I don't feel like I have time or money (to get a massage, take a riding lesson, sit quietly and knit, read a book).  In the end, I have to eat anyway, right?  It's not like I'm not spending time and money on food in any case (my little squirrel brain says), so I may as well just indulge a little...

Is it just me?

So, abundance.  A good focus, and one which I think will remind me to be mindful of the things in my life that I have already: daughters, husband, friends, activities I love, opportunities that fulfill me instead of leaving me drained.

This past week has been one of quiet crafting and contemplation, which I think is exactly what I needed to come to the realization that I have this habit of living in a state of persistent fear of scarcity, even when surrounded by abundance.  It was good to give time over to being quietly creative.

I spun.
That's FiberOptics gradient, in the Midnight colorway.  I spun this one woolen, and chain-plied it, for a lovely round plump three-ply yarn.  I wasn't able to get the whole thing onto one bobbin, alas - which tells me just how much loft is added in the woolen spinning, compared to the worsted.  The last braid of FiberOptics gradient I spun, I spun worsted, and it all fit (barely) onto one bobbin, both the singles and the three-ply. 
The colors are a little darker and more saturated than you can see here, but this is close.  This is destined to become a Spectral cowl, which I saw and immediately fell in love with.  I started to go down the rabbithole of needing the yarn that it was knitted in, and then remembered that I already had this beautiful stuff in stash, and went this route instead.  I am glad that I did.

On New Year's eve, just before the ball went down at midnight New York time (as late as we manage to stay up these days), I finished a project that has long been hanging out in the WIP pile:
This is the second of the Bias Before-and-After scarves (Churchmouse Yarns pattern), which I started an appallingly long time ago.  But they're both done now, and I am looking forward to wearing them separately (I wear the purple one all the time) and together.
When I went out to photograph, I noticed an unexpected color theme here.
(The color of the second scarf is closer to the middle picture - you can see the similarity.)

I have also been plugging away at Green Wood, and I not only made it through the yoke, but the short rows as well.  I have set the sleeve stitches aside, and am now entering into the long slow stretch of the body.
This is very tiny yarn, knitted on size 1 needles (size 0 for the yoke; I could have knit the body on 0, and I think that that makes a nice fabric, too - but this is probably slightly more wearable here in San Diego).


Just in time for all of the meetings that I will be attending next week.  With luck, this will help me keep some of the happy break time glow, even in the face of politics and meanness.  I really appreciated all the words of support and wisdom that everyone shared in the wake of my (admittedly, not very happy) last post.  Thank you for the additional reminder of the abundance in my life.

Happy new year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post...

So, I was driving along to an appointment for my daughter, mulling over the blog post that I was planning to write while waiting for her (this post, in point of fact).  In the course of turning things over in my head, I was finally getting to what felt like an accurate and blog-appropriate description of what's been going on for me these last few weeks when I drove by the billboard of a local drinking water company.  They always put funny or thoughtful little sayings on their billboard (like "Education bridges the gap between your ears", and "Boycott shampoo, demand real poo"), and I read it by force of habit, as I did this time.  And what it said this time, rather freakily, resonated almost exactly with what I'd been thinking.

Lemme 'splain (to quote a famous movie character).

As I mentioned in my last post, during November, I got hit by a big ol' load of Overwhelmed, which came at the end of what has been, for me, in many ways a very difficult year or so.  I thought for sure that if I could just get through the end of November, the Overwhelmed would end, and things would get better.  But they didn't.  Instead, the overwhelm continued, and I also got slammed with a whack of Sad.

Part of my mulling (and part of the reason why I haven't posted lately) has been over why it is that I've been so sad, and once recognized, whether it's something that I can write about.  I try here on the blog to find that balance of sharing what I'm comfortable sharing about myself, without including things about other people that either aren't my business to write about, or that they might not be comfortable having out here in an open forum not of their choosing.  (As an aside, during this last year, I have had several friends who have suggested that I might want to try to write about some of the more personal challenges I've been dealing with, and all I can wonder is how autobiographers do it?  It's one thing to write about oneself, but one's life is inextricably bound up in other peoples' lives, and many of the difficult and challenging and compelling things that we survive happen with and because of other people, right?  So how to write about those other people?  Do authors get permission?  Figure that forgiveness is easier to ask for than permission?  Lose friends?  Does anyone else ever wonder about that?)

I realized that a lot of this bout of Sad has to do, frankly, with how very mean people are to one another sometimes, and how much of that meanness comes not out of a particular vicious desire to specifically hurt some other person, but out of the hurter's own pain - his or her deeply felt sense that they have been hurt, and maybe even that the world therefore owes them something.  And deeper than that, it's about fear - people respond to their fears and act on those fears, to protect themselves, or get other people before those people get them, or because they're so caught up in their fears that they can't even see that they're doing damage to the people around them - often people whom they love very much.  I think we've all been there - in that place where we're driven to act, beyond thought or reason, entirely in the grips of emotion.  And worse, have been in that space, being absolutely sure that, in fact, we're driven by reason.  Or is it just me?

Anyway, there's been a lot of that this year, and even more than usual in November and December, just people around me hurting other people around me, and I was just feeling very sad about it.  (It's worth saying here that I'm not saying this in a sympathy-needing kind of way - sometimes sad is an appropriate reaction, and it's OK to be sad.)  And as I was driving along, realizing that that's where the sad has been coming from, the billboard flashed by at 80 miles per hour, and it said, "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

Well, okey-dokey, then.

There are a couple of funny things about this, aside from having it appear right then (no sudden shining light or anything, thank goodness, or I would have wondered if Insanity was following hard on the heels of Overwhelmed and Sad; not unlike the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future - maybe these things come in threes?).  The first is that I actually agree with the sentiment, pretty strongly.  I am not always able to act on it, and I hadn't quite put it in those words, but it is a fairly clear summary of something that I think is really worth doing, and that I do try to achieve.  Alas, it is often called "idealism" by people who aren't happy about that kind of thing.  I think of it, instead, as a heartfelt attempt to grow into integrity (from the root "integrate") - a place where what I think and feel on my insides match what I do on my outsides.  And my insides have hopes.  They also have deep fears that when I act on my hopes, I open myself up to being hurt.

Because, let's be honest, that is what happens.  Sometimes the world responds beyond all expectation: when we offer our best selves, our hopes - the world comes to meet us in that place.  And sometimes, it smacks us right upside the head, in exactly the way that we feared it would, and the almost overwhelming urge is to say, Well - we're not doing THAT again!  That definitely happened to me over this last year.  I took a big step in my personal life, offered my truest self to some people about whom I care very deeply, and stated what that self needed.  The results were not what I had hoped.  There has been some reeling.  But in amongst the reeling, I have also been glad that my choice reflected my hopes.  Because it's a funny thing, when you think about it: people know us through our actions.  If our actions only ever reflect our fears, what a funny picture we send out into the world, and what a lopsided one, right?

I still believe, somewhere fundamental, that that kind of bad experience isn't always how it is, and maybe even that that isn't mostly how it is, and that we have to be open to the places where it's not, instead of curling up into our snail-shell selves.  I took other chances this year, on friendships, and trying new things, and being a more real me, and they were received with what I can only call grace.  Even my sad was received by my closest friends with love; they have responded with texts, shopping trips and lunches out, hugs, company on a 5k.

Our riding trainer gifted me with an opportunity to spend a couple of weeks caring for someone who needed it even more than I did:
That's Dubai.  He's a nine-year-old Arabian, whose owner was boarding him while she was pregnant with (and having) twins.  She went to check on him after a year and found him, shall we say, woefully neglected, probably a couple hundred pounds underweight, and very much in need of a new place to be.  Our trainer has ended up housing him for the last two weeks, and I have spent time with him every day; the girls have gone with me on the days they're out of school.  It's all we can talk about, actually (to what I am sure is the sorrow of the people around us) - we have learned a lot, and fallen a wee bit in love with this boy.  I wish he were a horse that we would be able to ride and learn on, but he isn't, so his owner is working to find him a new place.  But in the meantime, it's been a lovely way to spend several hours each day totally outside of myself.


I have also been knitting.  As one does this time of year.  First, birthday mitts for a dear friend:
These are Churchmouse Yarns' Welted Fingerless Gloves (my Rav project page), knitted out of Lotus Mimi mink yarn (yes mink, and no, not dead mink, hooray!).  It's a much lighter-weight yarn than called for in the pattern, so there were some adjustments, and I added a few welts to ensure wrist warmth.  The buttons came from Grandmom's button box.  My friend seemed delighted, and she appears to be wearing them a lot, so I think they are a success.  (And, selfishly, it is additionally delightful that half the yarn was left, so I might end up with a pair of these for myself!!)

I also knitted socks for Rick for Christmas (while I don't generally do scads of holiday knitting, I do try to end up giving something to Rick and each of the girls, which I managed to do this year).
It was time and past time for him to get a new pair of socks, so I dug up some Vintage Purls sock yarn from a sock club kit I hadn't knitted, modified Cookie A's Cauchy pattern for toe-up knitting (so I could use as much of the yarn as possible), and ended up with these.  The heel is my reverse heel flap heel (so that the flap goes on the bottom of the foot, which, when knitted in eye-of-partridge, means a nice durable cushy heel).
They fit beautifully, so I'm happy with those.

Younger Daughter also got socks.
Given that mismatched socks are her idiom (she deliberately mismatches them, even when she actually has mates), Noro socks work out perfectly.  These are basic toe-up socks, with Cat Bordhi's sweet tomato heel.

And finally, the piece de resistance (if I do say so myself), for Older Daughter (and at her request), the TARDIS mitts I mentioned in an earlier post:
I'm calling them Bigger on the Inside Mitts, and I'm planning to write this pattern up.  My knitting and racewalking and research buddy (yes, just one person - so many roles!) also wants a pair, so I'm giving her the rest of the white yarn, and a pattern to test knit, and then we'll see where we're at.  It needs to be written first, but they're not hard, so I'm hoping it won't take long.  Older Daughter hasn't taken them off since filching them from me as soon as the ends were woven in, so they haven't been blocked.  If they were, you might find it easier to see that the backs read "POLICE BOX" across the top, and the fronts, "RUN!"
I'd demand them for blocking, but she seems so happy, it's hard to remove them from her.

And last, for you, our new favorite salad, which I made up on the fly a few months ago, and which the girls have demanded weekly since.
For the salad:
On top of a bed of lettuce, put 1 roughly chopped Asian pear, the seeds from 1 pomegranate*, crumbled blue cheese, and chopped toasted walnuts.

For the dressing:
Dice a couple of tablespoons of shallots**, and mix with equal parts olive oil and red wine vinegar (adjust the acidity balance to taste), along with a dash of balsamic vinegar, some dijon mustard, and sea salt.  Whisk or shake well, and toss with the salad.

* Re pomegranates.  I have read about many ways to get the seeds out, and until now, was a fan of the underwater school of seed removal.  But then the pomegranate man at the farmer's market (he's the avocado man in the summer) told me his way, and I'm a convert.  Core out the blossom end of the pomegranate (you don't have to cut into where the seeds are).  Then score along the ridges around the pomegranate from top to bottom (there are about six).  Pull the pomegranate apart like you're pulling apart the sections of an orange.  The seeds will come out easily.

** We usually serve this with a popover and wild mushrooms sauteed in butter with shallots and parsley, so I use some of those.

The solstice has passed, so, before we usher the old year out and the new year in, I will say that I hope that you are all feeling that turn to the light - brighter days are assuredly coming, as they always do.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I've done

Other than posting on the blog, because clearly that hasn't been on the Giant List o' Things To Do Yesterday (or, Preferably, Last Week).  During this past semester, I have:

- Prepped a completely new class, entirely out of my area of expertise (it's a class about public education, and I am, as noted previously, a linguist), as a hybrid course (meaning I can't BS my way through class when I haven't prepped ahead of time half of it is taught online)
- Written two letters of support for faculty sabbaticals
- Reviewed one tenure file and written a letter in support of that
- Written one letter nominating a faculty member for an award
  (it's worth mentioning that doing those letters takes WAY more time than you might think)
- Written student letters of recommendation
- Written (and I SO wish I were kidding about this) 2500+ email messages
- Finished the endless rounds of editing on a peer-reviewed article
- Prepared a conference presentation (I kind of overworked that one, and wrote 15 single-spaced pages for a 15-minute presentation - oops)
- Edited a conference presentation into something that could be done in 15 minutes
- Prepared comments as a discussant on a conference panel
- Written my last (!!) program chair report for my annual conference
ETA:  And I forgot the 10-year plan for my department, and the five-page single-spaced hiring memo I had to write.  Man, I have written more memos this semester than you can shake a stick at!

And none of that includes the usual round of grading, meeting with students, going to meetings (endless, endless meetings), running meetings (which I don't get to knit during - bitter, bitter, bitter).  Etc.  Etc.

Et - frickin' - cetera. *

Note that on that list one does not see, oh, you know: knitting or spinning or weaving.  I have, to my great pleasure, mostly managed to keep up my workouts, which now include regular yoga and meditation.  And I've shaved a minute off my best mile time, so that's also good.

But honestly.

I have managed to squeeze some knitting in - my conference in Chicago, long and exhausting (and cold!!) as it was, did give me some solid knitting time for once.  So while I don't have a lot to show, I do have a couple of FOs to present.  First, Song of the Sea (the long version):
This is a lovely cowl, which I knitted out of SeaSilk (which I adore).  I think that, in wearing, the pattern might show more clearly in something that slouches less, but I do love the weight of it around my neck.
The colors here aren't showing too well, so I'll try to get some pictures of this being used around my neck, in better light.  It's a beautiful sea-grey, which we all know is one of my favorite all-time colors.

The other thing I finished (largely because of the aforementioned conference knitting time) is Viajante, which I started way back in May.  It's (as a local knitting friend commented) a lot of stockinette.  But in laceweight, that makes it excellent travel knitting, and now that it's done, I think I"ll wear this a LOT.  It's knitted out of Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace Multi, in a colorway that I like to think of as "Kestrel" - some of you may remember my ongoing fascination with those lovely little birds of prey - and stretched out to block, it really kind of does look like a bird's wing:
You can see the colors much more accurately here:
This is a fun little pattern (for those of you who haven't jumped on board with it yet) that can be worn both as a shawl:
And as a poncho.
They are equally delightful and cozy - hence the predicted wearability of this one.

And that's about it.  My Green Wood sweater languishes in the basket next to the couch, because I haven't had the brain space for colorwork.  The TARDIS mitts, ditto.  I have cast on for a pair of socks for Rick; I have some small hope of finishing those before Christmas, we'll see.  As usual, I do not have major holiday-knitting ambitions: the socks for Rick, the TARDIS mitts for Older Daughter (I think if I can get the stitch count right, they'll go quickly), and socks for Younger Daughter.  That's it.

But classes are over.  I have three more piles of grading to get through in the next week and a half.  I am NOT prepping a brand-new class for spring.  So, while I'm afraid to say this out loud: maybe, just maybe, I'll get a break during this holiday break.

Meanwhile, by way of a peace offering, this is a virtual ensemble, created by 31 musicians around the world, playing separately, and then having their music aggregated into one lovely piece.  Older Daughter is one of those musicians (as is her fiddle teacher Diane) - you can see her early on in the video, under her real name, Tess.  I think she's pretty neat.

* This is an example of the only infix in English.  We have plenty of suffixes and prefixes, no circumfixes (affixes with two pieces which go on either side of the root), but just the one infix (an affix which goes into the middle of the root), and that's the f-word (although in British English, "bloody" and its euphemisms can also be used in this way).  In other languages with infixes, they are just normal parts of the grammar, not naughty words.  But we're special.  So now you know that you're doing cool morphological stuff when you stick the f-word into the middle of another word.  You're welcome.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I do knit, it turns out

 I just don't have as much time for it as I wish I did!

As you can see, though, I did finish the Side Impact Sweater this weekend.  Or, at least, I finished it once. Then I finished it again.  And wearing it to work today, I realize that I need to finish it one more time.  (I can't be the only knitter who needs to fuss with things after "finishing" them, right?)

So, you may remember that I saw this sweater at the Yarnover Truck during the San Diego Yarn Crawl, and fell instantly in love with it.  Then I saw this yarn (Indigodragonfly in the 20,000 Lawyers Under the Sea colorway), and fell in love with it, too, and decided that the two were meant to be together.  The only problem (because there always is one) is that this is a fingering weight yarn, and the pattern calls for something more like DK.  But I fussed around, and got something just a bit tighter than the gauge called for, which made a fabric that I liked, so I did some maths and decided that if I knitted it one size up from my planned size, everything would work out fine.  And, from a size perspective, it did, indeed.
(Bad photos, I know - but it's this or nothing right now.)

I knitted it several inches longer than called for, because I knew I wanted a fitted sweater that wouldn't ride up.  It took a whole skein (plus a bit of the swatch) to finish the body (whew!), but I got the sleeves and funnel neck done with plenty to spare from the second skein.

Then I realized that the real problem with knitting a sweater that was designed for DK weight with a fingering weight yarn is that fingering weight knit at a looseish gauge isn't going to have the body that a DK weight yarn knit at a tight gauge is going to have.  That doesn't matter for the body of the sweater (and, in fact, I like it), but for a funnel neck...

You can see in the first picture that I knitted the neck just a titch longer than the 2.5 inches called for in the pattern; I also decreased about 12 stitches over those three inches, to try to help the neck stand up a bit.  Well, it just rolled up like a roller shade and left me with nothing.  So, I took out the cast-off edge, picked up the stitches again with a needle a size smaller (three, instead of four), and set off again.  I knitted it to 8 inches, and I have this.
It's only sitting like that (which I consider to be medium-nicely) because I fussed with it.  It's not doing that generally speaking.  That still isn't quite what I'd hoped for.  (I was wanting something like the cowl neck on the Easy Folded Poncho, with which I am lately obsessed - thanks, Ellen.)  So I think the plan for tonight is to pick up the stitches from the cast-off, and create an i-cord edging.  That messes a bit with the raw edge of the lace, which is part of the charm of the sleeves and bottom hem, but since those edges aren't currently showing (what with the rolling up of the edge and all), I would rather see if I can give it some structure so it will slump becomingly, rather than rolling up.  We'll see, and any thoughts and suggestions are welcome.
Other than that, I am very happy with the whole thing (barring one glitch in the arm lace on the side you can't see here that I only noticed today.  But as I'd have to rip the entire sweater apart to get to it, I'm going to decide that the fact that I didn't see it before now means that it's not glaringly obvious.).  I love the color (which is truer in the blocking photo than the others - a very nice seafoam green), and the lace makes me happy.  It's also a lovely light weight while still being warm (hooray for that touch of cashmere!), and I think I'll wear it a lot here in San Diego.  I would knit another one (and may keep an eye out for some yarn to do it in; come to think of it, I have two skeins of Malabrigo sock that might work, hmmm...), especially if I can get this neck thing figured out.

But before I can do that, I have a few other things to get to.  Whilst in the Yarnover Truck, I also picked up a skein of Indigodragonfly in the Tardis colorway, for my Dr. Who-obsessed older daughter.  She wanted Tardis mitts.  I poked around online and wasn't really happy with any of the options.  I wanted to do a cable and lace version of the Tardis, but she was charmed by some of the colorwork versions, and I happened to remember a stray skein of white sock yarn in the stash, so I spent some time looking at pictures of the Tardis and playing with my knitting notebook, and came up with this for the backs of the mitts:
(The darker bits will be the white, actually, and the slashes are 1x1 cables.)  Older Daughter thought she might like a Dalek on the palm, so I fiddled around:
But she decided that simplest was best, so it looks like the final palm will be this, with some white flecks.


I'll be casting on for these as soon as I finish fiddling with my sweater neck.

I also have become a fan of cowls, out of the clear blue, and recently saw a pattern for one that I must have: Song of the Sea.  It turns out that the long version needs exactly as much yarn as is in a skein of SeaSilk, and that I have a skein of lovely gray SeaSilk that's been sitting in stash, calling to me, for quite some time.  Some things are meant to be...

ETA: And this is why it is so lovely to have knitting friends.  One such friend who works here as well popped up to my office to admire the sweater.  She suggested turning the neck under, and lo and behold:
It is exactly as I had wanted it!  I am still going to put the icord edging on, to help it stay where I want it, but I am now content.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Drive-by

This is a quick drive-by post, because I actually have two (!!) finished objects to show, and because after this bit of time, the rest of the weekend is going to be a bit busy (play this afternoon, followed by office party in San Diego; tomorrow, Younger Daughter has a feis in Burbank, which is a schlep away).

First, the finished projects.  I got the rest of the Jade Sapphire Sylph cowl finished, ends woven in, and blocked.  The longest part of the finishing was actually the one thing the pattern didn't call for - grafting the two ends together.  But I just couldn't see seaming it, so I altered the pattern a little by using a provisional cast-on, then grafting to finish.  I blocked it, and it turned into a lovely little piece that I think I'll use a lot once it cools off (again - more on that). 
  This is an interesting yarn, being a linen cashmere blend.  It is fairly loosely spun, with the linen forming a strong strand around the fluffier cashmere.  The linen also picks up the dye differently (almost not at all), which makes for a subtle tonality in the yarn.  All in all, I quite liked it, and would knit with it again (of course, the price point makes it a special treat kind of yarn, rather than a regular go-to yarn, as is true of all the Jade Sapphire yarns I've seen). 

The weather was, for a while, on a cooling trend, cool enough that I could see Tilly's breath on our morning walk last week; cool enough that the hills are heading towards sepias and reds (that's 7:30 am at one of my two happy trails).
And cool enough that, with the sun setting earlier, it's starting to be downright chilly by the end of our Thursday evening riding lessons.  So I decided that our fabulous trainer, Heather, needs mitts to keep her hands warm (we, after all, have the horse).  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had begun a pair of mitts some time ago, and then stopped, not knowing quite whom they were for.  Knowing now, I dug them out.  I was right - one all the way done except for the thumb, hooray!  So I cast on for mitt #2 Thursday night and banged away at it.  Last night, I looked at mitt #2, and compared it to mitt #1, and realized that I must have used smaller needles than the pattern called for on the first mitt, because they were not the same size at all.  Upon careful consideration, I liked the second one better, so I ended up knitting a third to match.  There is now a finished pair (and a little ball of frogged yarn), and I am reminded of why it is so useful to take notes, when one changes something about a pattern (doh). 
These are the One Cable Mitts, knitted out of Classic Elite Waterlily (a truly fabulous yarn that I have heard has been discontinued - if that's true, it's tragic).  I used size nine needles (for the record), and followed the pattern as written.  So these will go to their new owner on Thursday.

Of course, now that there are new warm things to wear, a Santa Ana has blown through.  Humidity is in single digits, and it is warm warm warm.  (Except when the sun goes down and it gets cold, since there's no moisture in the air to hold the heat.) (Please think flame retardant thoughts for us - this is fire weather here.)
The chickens think it's a little hot, too.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

San Diego Yarn Crawl 2013

The plan was to post last Sunday, but life (in the form of a car key lost down the toilet at De Anza Cove at 6:50 am just prior to an 8-mile racewalk workout, necessitating a long train ride home - after the eight miles - and a return trip to fetch the car with an actual key) got in the way.  Weeks right now are so crazed (in no small part because Older Daughter - at 15 still licenseless, but with her permit test scheduled for a week from tommorrow - is currently taking French two nights a week at the local community college, and is participating in a project to build and send a micro-lab to the International Space Station one night at week at UCSD; there is much driving these days), so there's no squeezing blog space out of the week.  And this weekend was San Diego's first Yarn Crawl!  

Unlike my friend Marie, I knew I wouldn't be able to visit all of the stores on the list, but we did manage to skip out early on Friday to make the 40+-mile drive to Ramona to go to an alpaca farm (you can't go wrong with alpaca, I say, even if you have to do some washboard dirt driving to get there).  
This guy had the best topknot ever.

And - to my very great excitement, the Yarnover Truck was there!
I was amazed at how much yarn they pack into such a small space (if you find them on FB or Instagram, they've got great photos).  And as you can see, they were totally accomodating about little things like trying the yarn on to see what colors are best (as my friend Marie is doing here).  Can you tell I look happy?
I got some lovely yarn there - two skeins of IndigoFirefly (in the colorway 20,000 Lawyers Under The Sea) to make the Side Impact Sweater, and one skein in the colorway Tardis to make socks for Dr. Who-obsessed Older Daughter (OK, I admit it, she's got me hooked, too - just made it through Season 1 of the most recent seasons, and now think Christopher Eccleston is even hotter than Daniel Craig).

The Side Impact Sweater is excitingly fabulous, and I have already swatched.
That's not the best representation of the color, which is more in the seafoam green range, but it has a lovely hand. I just need to decide which needle size I like best for it (the range there is from 6-4, top to bottom), and then do the math to make sure I choose the right size.

On Saturday, I wove for four hours at my very own LYS, Yarning For You, and got to talk to an amazing array of weavers and spinners, as well as knitters, from as far away as San Fernando - that's several hours of driving each way, for you non-SoCal folks.  Then Deb (YFY's fabulous owner) and I were sheep together.
Today was the last day, and on the way home from meeting up with the racewalking group for walking and kayaking (more on that momentarily), I swung by Black Sheep and Common Threads, both in Encinitas.  While I did get some yarn in both places (that's for another post), I also made a donation:
Those two bags have been sitting in my den since the Great Yarn Stash Toss of 2013, waiting for me to figure out where to donate them.  Black Sheep was collecting yarn for several charities, among them a shelter for women leaving violent situations, and that's where those two bags are going.

And then home again, to work on a project that I'd like to get off the needles before casting on any more (not least because I could use those size six needles).  And, less happily, to ice my calf, which I appear to have strained pretty badly.  Not walking, but (get this), by jogging to my car to grab something I'd forgotten before starting out.  Can you believe?  Going along, pushed off with my right foot to jump off the curb, and then, pop - and really not nice pain.  Sigh.  I got through the walk (slowly), and kayaking afterwards was fine, but I'm hurting pretty badly when I try to walk, so, as you can see, it's ice and elevation and knitting for me.
(That's the Jade Sapphire Sylph Cowl, out of Jade Sapphire Sylph - naturally.  Boring, but I think I'm going to like wearing it when it's done.)

So that's where my weekend went!  Next week (I hope), an update on Bohus knitting, which proceeds, and maybe some FOs.  I've also been hitting the trail, and admiring the sepia shades of fall - I probably won't be wallking much this week, but we'll see...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coming off hiatus

Wow.  It's been almost exactly four months since I posted.  On the one hand, it feels like it's been forever, so four months makes sense; on the other hand, it just doesn't feel that long, somehow, probably because the time has been very full. 

To give you a brief idea.  We travelled.
Yes, that's looking across the Golden Horn to Sultanahmet.  In Istanbul.  Yes, we were in Turkey during the unrest.  No, we didn't run into any trouble.  Yes, we ended up driving down into the southeast of Turkey, into Mesopotamia (!!), to about fifty miles north of Syria (yes, driving in Turkey is quite an adventure).  No, still didn't run into any trouble.  Yes, it was an amazing experience.  Yes, I'll definitely write more about it in a post that isn't of the catch-up sort - it's worth some discussion.
The Blue Mosque. I absolutely fell in love with the muscular grace of mosque architecture.  There is something about the overlapping layers of domes that appeals to me deeply. 
We visited very old underground cities in Cappadocia (clearly people were not as tall as Rick back then; actually, in Turkey, they mostly still aren't).
And even older Neolithic ruins (that's Catal Huyuk, 10,000 years old); you could see the scorch marks from people's cooking fires.  That absolutely floored me.
Ephesus.  Where I had a revelation when it suddenly hit me who those Ephesians were that Paul was always writing to.  Dude.
We saw very old Turkish spindle whorls (these are from early Troy).
And less-old ones (this one's about fifty years old, and still in use, which is why it didn't come home with me).

We also went to Michigan, where we got to spend some wonderful time with family: my sister- and brother-in-law, and our niece.  I really treasure this time each summer that we've done it; I feel very lucky in my siblings-in-law.  This year, it was all about searching for waterfalls.
The cousins got to spend a lot of time together on the trail.
So did the grown-ups.
There was time for Uncle Geoff to try to teach the girls (and, I confess, me) how to skip stones.
And, you know, the family that goes into underground mines together, stays together!





My last trip took me to Seattle, where I got to spend the weekend with a fabulous group of women, including Erica, and Ellen and Jan (the others are, sadly, blogless, but no less wonderful and amazing and inspiring to me in so many ways), under the tutelage of Susanna Hansson, studying Bohus sweaters.  That, too, is fodder for another post (especially as I am now the proud owner of one of the three Bohus sweater kits that I would like to own, and am getting ready to cast on the yoke; you will undoubtedly hear more about that in the coming weeks and months - and, one fears, years - than you might like), but meanwhile, a taste:
(I fell in love with the one in the foreground there; alas that it is not available as a kit.)


I did knit, among all of that, mostly things which involved a lot of stockinette, and about which I will post next time.  I also came to realize that this seems to be a pattern with me - this avoidance of the computer and, largely, the interwebs, during the summer.  My watchword for this summer has been "mindfulness", for many reasons, and one of the things that I was trying to do was to be mindful of what was going on with me, vis-a-vis the computer.  I have come to realize that, as I am sure is true of many people, there are some things that I find it easier to be disciplined about than others.  Being an introvert, most of those things, for me, involve tasks that do not include engagement with other people.  For example, I can almost always, no matter how tired I am, make myself do background reading for articles I'm writing, or reading for prepping my classes.  I am pretty good, in the realm of knitting, at, say, starting second socks/mittens/sleeves.  I'm even not awful at plugging away at projects until they're finished. 

Among the things that require huge discipline for me to get to is the dreaded email.  I really, REALLY have a hard time with email (I'm even worse about answering the phone, though, and making return calls; I don't like the phone at all).  However, I have come to realize that letting my inbox pile up, especially during the school year, is just a recipe for a sick stomach and disaster.  Especially since becoming chair, I have had to be very disciplined about staying on top of email, about not shunting things I don't want to deal with to the bottom of the pile, never to emerge again - it just doesn't work out well if I want to get the job done with any modicum of success.  So I'm really (pretty) good about it during the year.  And then June comes, and the email rush becomes much less, and everyone knows that academics are "off" during the summer (hahahaha - note I did not list all the academic stuff I did in the last few months), so I kind of let it go, and I find that my natural aversion to the computer comes rising to the top again.

I really have a love/hate relationship with the internet.  On the hate side, it involves things like email (see above), and it really can be a huge time-suck.  I hate walking away from an hour in front of the screen, wondering where the heck the time went and what I had to show for it.  On the love side, I have some really good friends on the other side of that screen, whom I never would have met without being online, and I do miss them when I fall off the face of the internet.  This summer, I definitely erred on the side of falling off.  I think I got a lot of really important work done on and for myself as a result of it, but I also hope that people know that it isn't any kind of statement about how much I value the friendships whose interface is largely online.  I know that I need to find some kind of way to balance both the intensity of my screen time during the academic year (not helped right now by teaching my first-ever hybrid - half online, half in-person - class), and the total avoidance of it during my time off.

So that's it, in brief.  I do have knitting to show in my next post (one new sweater, the Northmavine hoody actually on my body, a wrap, and some socks, plus a few things in progress), and some spinning (my first ever gradient-roving yarn).  Horseback riding continues, and the chickens are (mostly) still with us.  Irish dance continues for Younger Daughter, and Older Daughter is getting ready to take the test for her driver's permit (how did that happen?).  Life continues.