Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Jumping the gun, maybe

I have to say that if I'd intended to shame myself publicly into finishing some projects before casting on new ones, y'all didn't help much with shame generation. There was, instead, a remarkable encouragement of project proliferation. Nevertheless, I felt a bit better about casting on for a new project once I'd finished those others.

Especially since this new project seems to be going exceedingly quickly. Behold, the first Kitten Mitten.
(Modelled by Younger Daughter.) These mittens are more fun than a barrel full of actual kittens. In knitting them, I'm beginning to get a handle on what kinds of stranded knitting I like. To wit: two-color stranded knitting. By this I mean not just two colors per row (although I admit to liking that quite a bit; three+ can get a bit overwhelming), but just two colors altogether. It's not a matter of how it looks - I really love the rich multi-color looks of turkish and fair isle knitting - it's more that with three colors there's fiddling to be done. I can't seem to get into a rhythm with three+ colors the way I can with two. It's very much like beaded knitting; I love the results enough that I will continue to do the knitting, but the knitting itself isn't soothing in the same way that other kinds of knitting (read: lace, and, apparently, two-color stranded knitting) are.
I love these cats (and I love the pin on my bag - another new one). I'm hoping that my niece will love them, too, as these are for her. In theory, they are a Christmas present. (Perhaps now the title of this post will convey some foreshadowing.) But here's the thing. I'm going to see her this week (and can I tell you how excited I am about that? I don't get to see my niece nearly enough for my taste), and I'm zipping right along with the second mitten. Maybe she needs to have them now? You know, just in case of sudden cold weather in Ohio prior to the holiday season? Wouldn't these be perfect Hallowe'en mittens, what with those cats and all?
And check out that fish skeleton! Very spooky, and Hallowe'en is my niece's favorite holiday.

I do realize that we're really nowhere near Hallowe'en, and that, in fact, most of the country is suffering a heat wave of epic proportions. I'll be honest, I'm just really hoping that she likes them as much as I do, and I'm selfish enough to want to give them to her in person. We'll see. I suppose it will depend in part on how much knitting I can get done tonight and tomorrow on the drive north. We certainly have some good audiobooks ready to go (I'm downloading them now); Lene just wrote a blog post today extolling Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, and was so convincing that I promptly went over to Audible to download it. I've got Younger Daughter convinced it'll be exciting - I'm pretty sure Older Daughter will be quickly won over.

This is our first trip north since Grandmom passed away, and we're heading up for her memorial. It will be wonderful to see everyone, and very strange not to see Grandmom. We get back on Monday and I start teaching on Tuesday, so I will probably be offline until the end of next week. I feel like there should be something better to say to end this post, but can't think of what it might be, so I'll just let it stand at that.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Veni, vidi, knitti

I either inspired or scared myself with my list the other day. The results?

Project details: Circle Socks (modified), Colinette Jitterbug, size 1 needles. For Younger Daughter, who danced around upon their receipt, singing, "I have fish on my feet! I have fish on my feet!"

Project details: Wool and Camel Down Ripple Scarf. Schaefer Nichole. Gifted to Older Daughter, who hasn't taken it off, even though it's pretty warm around here these days.

And done.
Project details forthcoming. This is a test knit of Anne's Pea Vines shawl, in the smallest size.
It has nupps, which charmed me to pieces, even though they're a bit fussy to knit.
I love this little shawl. And it was so much fun to knit! Because it's cast on at the long edge, every row gets shorter. I don't know about the rest of you, but shorter rows, coupled with charts that I get to cross off, makes for a very compelling knit.
(See the nupps there in the upper right quadrant? Aren't they fun?) And when the results are this wonderful, it's pretty hard to put down. I cast this on Thursday night. I would have finished last night, but I got tired, went too fast, and had to extricate myself from a small lace dilemma. So I finished this morning instead. It's drying now.
Modelling shots and project details to follow.

Now can I cast on something new?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Admitting the problem

Is the first step to recovery, right?

In the case of the proliferation of projects, I'm unconvinced. Maybe I need to sign a non-proliferation agreement with someone? But who would agree to something like that? All the knitters I know are busily encouraging me in my abandon.

I may have too many projects on the needles. And goodness knows I have too many more lined up to be knitted! I don't have a lot of pictures, so there will be more Rav linking than I usually do (so if you're going to follow along, you may want to log in right now), but it seems like it might be a good idea to come (marginally) clean before the semester starts, so I can see just how big the problem is.

1. The zigzag scarf. But that may not be such a problem, since I tried it on last night, and even though I haven't finished the ball of yarn, it really is long enough -- much longer, and it'll be out of control. I think I'll be casting that off sometime today, just for the satisfaction of it. I'm not even going to block it I don't think, so once I weave the ends in, I'm done.
2. The tropical fish socks. I've got the heel turned on the second one, and am working my way down the foot. That should go fairly quickly, and those may be the perfect project for Older Daughter's soccer game tomorrow (the first of the season). So those may be done soon, too.
3. The latest test knit for Anne. (AKA Pea Vines) I'm only just halfway done with the first chart on this, but I am in love. The yarn is fabulous, the pattern is fun -- it turns out that nupps really are addictive, and so cute when they're done that they're irresistible! I'll be posting more about this as I progress. The good news on this project is that it's bottom up, so the rows will get shorter rather than longer, and I will speed up as I go, rather than slowing down.
4. The cardi cozy. I started this forever and a day ago, and left it to languish. I recently picked it up again and figured out where the heck I was in the pattern, and where I needed to go next, and am now halfway down the first sleeve. It annoys me, so I'm having trouble sticking with it. But I'm not going to rip it out now, both because I think (although I'm not sure) that this will be something I'll wear quite a bit once it's done, and also because KidSilk Haze does not, in my experience, frog very well. Maybe if I hate it, it will be someone's Christmas present?
5. And speaking of Christmas presents, I just bought yarn to cast on for mittens for my neice. I saw these and fell utterly in love. I bought the pattern last night, and the yarn earlier this week, and I will be casting on soon (this is where the startitis is showing).
6. I am also considering a yarn purchase for this. I have the pattern, and all the cool kids at my LYS are making one, and I figure it'll be good soccer knitting once the socks are done, right? I considered getting some Noro Silk Garden for it (I've always wanted to try Noro), until I realized I'd need seven (7) balls, and a) my LYS only has two of each colorway (thank goodness, because) b) that would break my yarn budget for the next decade. I'm thinking Mini Mochi instead. That may be taken care of this afternoon.

The casting on wouldn't seem too bad, except for the languishing items in my list, to wit:
7. The sweater I started for Older Daughter ages and ages ago. I think, given her recent growth (she is now officially taller than I, to her everlasting -- and it will be everlasting, since it's not going to suddenly reverse itself -- delight), that it is probably already too small. Therefore, I decided this morning that I'll rip the part of the sleeve I've got and start again from the ground up. I need to rejigger the math. I really should make this my soccer knitting instead of Bermuda, since it's very plain. Maybe I'll be a grown-up and do that. (Who's taking bets on how this turns out?)
8. Complicated pair of socks the first. (AKA Bex) If you could put a picture next to the definition of "languish" in the dictionary, it would be a picture of these socks. I adore the results, but the chart and the knitting are both fiddly, and I haven't been in the mood for fiddly lately. They're fiddly in a way that lace isn't; I can knit most moves in lace pretty fast (barring nupps -- I dare anyone to knit those quickly -- and p3tog tbl, which I think I'm excused in being rather slow at), but these cables are a bit of a bear. So I'm being recalcitrant.
9. Complicated pair of socks the second. (AKA the Turkish socks) I feel a little bad about starting another colorwork project when I've already got these on the needles, especially since I adore them. The only reason they went into time out is because I decided to mess with the pattern (they were going to be too big for me), and I need to make sure I've got everything lined up to move on to the next section. I will definitely get back to these. And last but not least:
10. My lovely and much-adored beaded shawl. No reason for this to be languishing, except that it's got beads, so it can't travel, and I'm onto the bit where I repeat the same chart forever and ever until the end of time. I'm not really good about that (hence my love of triangles and faroese shawls; there's always something new to look forward to), but I will most definitely get back to this one, as it makes me happy.

There are two other projecs that are currently a twinkle in my eye:
1. The wine dark sea redux. I have the yarn, and I started swatching (a year ago, sigh). I need to start thinking about that, doing some math, and deciding for sure on the edging I want to do.
2. The silk road socks I have planned. I've charted out the pattern I made up based on something I saw at the Silk Road exhibit a few weeks ago, and I bought some yarn and paired it with yarn from my stash, but I absolutely will not (hear me now) cast on for a third colorwork project. I promise. Here's the yarn, though. What do you think about these colors together? They're close to those in the original weaving that I saw. I'll post a picture of my chart next time.
I'll let that one marinate a bit longer.

So there it is, eight on the needles, two about to start, and two in early planning stages. How does that compare with everyone else? Am I completely out of control? Do we need to stage an intervention?

You let me know. Meanwhile, I think I hear some nupps calling.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Once again, life has conspired to keep me away from the blog (not to mention my knitting and spinning!). Some things have been good, some more stressful, but that's kind of the way things go, no? Among the good things is the fact that I've had more time than usual lately to go hiking in the morning with Tilly, and, until today, mornings have all included a lovely marine layer, which makes for cool hiking. I've also gotten to spend some time with friends whom I haven't seen all summer, and that's been wonderful. And on Sunday, we took Younger Daughter up to Ventura for a feis, which she greatly enjoyed. I think it helped that she won first place in a reel special, and winning in a special entails a trophy. Her trophy was, shall we say, perhaps excessively large (trust me on this); she doesn't agree. I'm waiting on some photos from a friend who had a camera (all we had, alas, was a cell phone; what can I say? We weren't thinking clearly at 5:15 am when we left the house -- I wonder why...). I'll share when they come in.

So, with all of that, my knitting and spinning progress is slow, and not particularly blog-worthy. However, I have gotten some wonderful mail lately, so I'll share that instead.

First, and best of all, my new spindle bag came in the mail last week, courtesy of my dear friend over at Nana Sadie Rose. This bag is the result of a suggestion made by another of her customers who spins, and it's exactly what I've been waiting for, without even knowing it!
(I think that if you click to embiggen, you'll be able to read that pin; it makes me laugh.)

It matches my beloved needle case; I love the spirals in this fabric, so I decided to go with that again. I ordered the longest of the three potential strap lengths, with the idea that I'm going to be able to wear this across my chest, hanging on my left side in the perfect place to feed fiber from as I spin. My big hope is that if I keep this near the kitchen, I can sit at one of our bar stools and spin while chatting with Rick of an evening; right now, my spindles live in my fiber room, and they don't get as much use as I'd like.
I'm also hoping that this will make it easy to grab and go, when I want to take my spindle along to other places. There's plenty of room in there for fiber at the bottom of the bag (which means extra insulation for the spindle), and probably for another spindle, as well. You can see all the pockets on the sides -- there are more that you can't see, so there's lots of structure on the sides to protect the spindle (and room for necessary stuff).
I'm not sure if you can see it there, but the spindle is held in place with a loop, which makes for easy storage and easy access. I'm absolutely delighted with this, and so glad that I ordered one instantaneously upon hearing about them (and so glad that my dear friend made time to put it together so quickly, on top of everything else she's sewing right now!!). This is going to get a lot of use (and, I'm guessing, a lot of compliments).

My other big package came in the mail yesterday. I'd been starting to wonder if it might not be about the right time to be hearing something about that wonderful fleece I got lo these several months ago. You might remember my excitement?
Well, that giant bag of fleece has turned into several very large bumps of the most beautifully-prepared fiber, to the tune of about two pounds (I need to weigh them to get a more accurate count).
Isn't that lovely? It turned out a gorgeous browny-grey, once the many colors in the locks had been cleaned and blended. I'm so glad that I've been working on my woollen spinning, because I think that's exactly how this should be spun up, into a nice airy two-ply. I want to finish the singles from the bump of Briar Rose BFL I've been spinning as soon as I can, so I can get going with this, and to do that I need more bobbins. So I bit the bullet and ordered three more bobbins for my Lendrum; I figure that should set me up nicely to spin on the Lendrum, and then ply on the Ashford.

So, that's all the news that's fit to print. I have a few more ideas and projects cooking, so with luck I'll have something involving progress to share the next time I post. Meanwhile, summer is finally here (it's in the 90s today!), so I'm off to find somewhere cool to sit.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Lace, and ramping up

I mentioned lace in my last post, and that's because I actually finished something, and that something is lace. A whole object (not just the first half of a pair), yay! It feels like it's been a while since I've done that; this whole summer has been about trying things out and playing a bit here and a bit there, practicing my dillentantism, but the school year approaches, and I'm finding myself slowing working my way back into a more disciplined mindset. (Slowly, I said, slowly; so don't go expecting any imminent miracles of productivity.)
This is the Pear and Trellis scarf (one of Anne's patterns). I hadn't knitted this pattern yet, and goodness knows why, because it's completely addictive, and very intuitive, and the results are lovely. It seems to work nicely with this variegated yarn (not all lace does), but I'm betting it would be equally gorgeous in a more monochromatic yarn (a silk blend, mmm...).
The ends are pretty all on their own, which is nice. And the lace pattern was intuitive enough that I had no trouble tracking what I was doing -- I knitted most of this while watching the Tour, with its many exciting moments between Schleck and Contador, not to mention the need to watch Cav come out of nowhere to take sprint finish after sprint finish. I miss the Tour already...
So, to recap, this is the Pear and Trellis scarf (Rav project page here), knitted for my friend Vivienne's birthday (she doesn't read the blog, so no spoilers here). I used Punta Yarns Merisock Handpainted yarn, on a size four needle. It knitted up quickly and blocked beautifully. I loved the yarn, and am very happy that I bought a skein (in a different colorway) for myself.

In other news, I'm ramping up for the school year, which starts for Older Daughter on Tuesday (an ungodly early date to start school, if you ask me; we're just starting to get our first beach-worthy days around here!). Although Younger Daughter and I don't go back until the end of the month, I put my syllabi together last week, just so I could see how all the dates work out, and I typed up all the end-of-chapter exercises from the new edition of one of my textbooks, so I could see how they go, and post them online for easy access. Of course, the posting part has been delayed by the fact that we are switching our online class support program again. This makes the third time since I started here. I always wonder whether our administration realizes how much time that takes; it certainly isn't something for which there's a code in our workload reporting -- just one more time sink that no-one acknowledges (like the difference between teaching the same class to 35 vs 45 students; no-one wants to admit that it takes more time to do that, even though it seems eminently obvious to me). Ah, well. I have a few more weeks to wrap my brain around that, and to build my containers before classes start.

We are also still hanging fire with regard to Older Daughter's orchestra, although it looks like the superintendent has succeeded in entirely gutting the middle school music program, as well as the majority of the high school music program. He has also cancelled the technology class (it's supposed to get folded into science; one wonders if those teachers are getting paid more for their increased workload), and he combined (get this) foreign language and PE (so students spend half of the period time during the week doing one, and the other half doing the other). He insists that it's to allow students to spend more time on the basics (because it's all about the test scores, doncha know). Furthermore, they've put Older Daughter into algebra again (the usual eighth grade math) even though she took that class last year and passed it. I've asked Rick to do battle on that one; there's only so many windmills at which I can tilt at a time. When did we become a nation with no regard for education? (Nota bene: I don't consider passing standardized tests to be "education"; I freely admit that this is a personal bias.)

I will defer the full-fledged rant for another day, I think, and go and spin some lovely BFL instead.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Verbal knitting

I went north, and I have returned. (Go north, not-so-young woman, go north!)

(It doesn't have the same ring, does it?)

It was a wonderful weekend. I learned not only the ten assigned verbs plus three endings (more aspectual endings than tense, I think, even though everyone persists in understanding them as tense)(and if that interests anyone, I would happily do the brief tense/mood/aspect discussion with regard to verbs some time; always willing, always willing), but two more verbs to boot! And one of them I even intuited based on the data provided during the learning of the first eleven. Man, did I feel good.

But even better was the fact that everyone else seemed to learn them, too. (One should expect that a linguist could learn a few verb endings if push really came to shove; the real test of a good set of immersion lessons is whether they can capture and hold anyone's attention, and whether people walk away with useful and useable language. People did.) This was a three-day language camp for a language that currently has three native speakers (native in the sense of growing up speaking the language as a first language; they also happen to be Native), as well as a couple of pretty fluent second language speakers. There were a good fifteen or so of us at the camp, across at least three generations, and we all declared it a success.
On the two mornings that I was there, I even got to go on a quick hike with Laura, the amazing woman who not only hosted this event, but who also finds all the grants that keep this project (and several others like it) going. I have absolutely NO idea how she does it, since I am a grant anti-magnet, but she writes them and manages them beautifully, and we are all grateful beyond belief. She's also wonderful company (and enjoys a good beer at the end of a long and language-filled day), and she takes me on good hikes with her dogs.
It is the sepia season here in California. I wish I could paint...

Our walk took us up a drainage (long since dammed, alas), near which there are grinding stones, very likely used by the Kawaiisu people who were the forebears of the folks in that first picture up there.
I can imagine women looking out at the view from that rock on a morning like this, watching the light come through the trees.
There are still a myriad of oaks in the valley.

It turns out that language camps are also good for knitting. I finished the first of the pair of socks I'm working on for Younger Daughter. She is delighted.
I was inspired to knit these after seeing Lori's. (I can't find the exact post, for some reason, but here's her Rav project.) They're the Circle Socks, and since I was rather winging the pattern from some scribbled notes I'd made, these are a little different from the actual pattern. Younger Daughter is pretty happy with them, though; she says they look like fish, and they really do, don't they? Lovely bright tropical fish. They are very "her".
I have knitted mine out of Jitterbug, on size one needles. Had I had all of my needles with me, I might optimally have gone up a needle size, but this worked out well enough. I knitted them over 56 stitches, and made the foot a bit wider than the leg (62 stitches). The heel is eye of partridge. I broke my cardinal rule, though, and did not cast on for the second sock as soon as I'd cast off the first, so I must go tonight and remedy that, lest I neglect to get these done.

Next time, lace.