Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I survived last night. Not only did I survive, but I think that it even went well! It was the first meeting of my field methods class, which I've been fretting about. The fretting has been due to several factors: first, I've never actually taken a good field methods class, and therefore have nothing to model; second, because of this lack of modelling, I have long had the fear that even though I do field research, I've been doing it wrong all this time, and now people are going to see just how wrong I do it (ah, yes, that beloved impostor syndrome); third, a friend of mine has agreed to be the language consultant for this class, which means that I've been worried that she would hate the experience and nevertheless be stuck doing it for 13 more weeks, not to mention that not only will my students have the opportunity to see me do everything wrong, but so will a friend of mine (the potential embarrassment factor increases exponentially). There are more frets, but those have been the biggies. Well, last night went swimmingly. I won't go into the details, but she had fun, the students had fun, and I was relieved. Whew!

Meanwhile, and thanks to Anne's gentle reminders of my good intentions, I started a pair of Paris-Roubaix mitts for Rick (yes, yes, they have been on my list of Things To Knit -- I just got distracted, in that way that I have, by shinier objects). I knitted away on them Sunday evening, and got through most of the first one, to above the thumb. Last night, I was distracted by another small project I needed to work on (more about that tomorrow), but today I'm back on track. Here they are so far:
And here.
(Yes, those photos were taken with PhotoBooth, why do you ask?) This pattern is a complete kick in the pants, because it is so simple, and the results are so nubbly and complex-looking. I'm using Plymouth Yarns Baby Alpaca DK, which is soft soft soft. I may have to knit another pair for myself with this yarn someday. Meanwhile, Rick is excited about them, I think in large part because they're named for a bike race that he loves, and because he got to share with me all kinds of interesting (you may imagine little quotes around that word, if you like) details about just how many miles of pavee are involved in that race. We're considering going up to the mountains to play in the snow this weekend, so if I can finish them, they will be put to good use.

Today is a perfect day to work on them, as I have a meeting, then my knitting group is having our lunch meeting, then another meeting, then Kivrin's dance class, all of which are excellent knitting opportunities. And I can bask in the knowledge that there is almost a whole week between me and my next opportunity to publicly make an ass of myself in my field methods class. Yes, life is good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Rainy day

The rain has finally arrived. Or at least, it arrived late last night, gave us a little break this morning, and appears to be on its way back. Rick (who really wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up) has been heralding this rain for days, so yesterday we made the most of the non-wet weather and spent the day outdoors.

Oh, wait, before I talk about that, you want to hear about the knitting, right? Well, I stayed up late on Friday to finish the zigzag mitts, with which I have been completely obsessed. In fact, in spite of the fact that I officially gave up project monogamy after finishing my project for the Loopy Swap, I did not actually cast on for more than one new project, because I so very much wanted these mitts for myself. Mitts have to be the ultimate in instant-gratification knitting. I cast on for the second one around 7 on Friday evening, and was weaving in the ends by 11. During that time, I also played a game of Life (still officially the oddest game I can think of), got the kids to bed, and watched Monk (which flat-out makes me laugh out loud). Here they are:
Aren't they just the happiest thing you ever saw? (Don't I ask that about every project I knit? Clearly I am easily pleased.) I love this pattern. Love love love it. It was clear and simple, and it turned out so well. While it's true that the zigzags show up much better in a non-variegated yarn, these colors make me happy, so no complaining here.

To recap. These are the Zigzag Mitts, by Anne Hanson. I knit them in Fearless Fibers 55% mohair/45% wool yarn, in the Inspiration colorway, which has some of my very favorite colors in it (purples and sagey greens), and goes with all of the grays and greens and heathery browns I own. I started each mitt in size two dpns for the first pattern repeat, then sized up to 3s. While I was worried that they might be too tight, it turns out that I'm happy with them (thanks, btw, to all of you for weighing in on the issue; those of you who suggested wearing them around for a while were dead-on; the give in the pattern was plenty to keep them from feeling too tight).

So, yesterday's outdoors time gave me plenty of opportunities to wear them. First, I got up early to go for a nice long walk with a friend of mine. We try to go every Saturday, kids and weather and life in general permitting (read: we don't make it every Saturday, alas). Since it was early, it was chilly, so I got to wear my mitts, right up until our first full-speed uphill climb when mitts and sweater all came off.

Then we headed for the Wild Animal Park with Rick's cousin and her three kids; they've just moved into the area, and we know of nothing better to introduce a parent to than the WAP (as we affectionately call it) and the Zoo. We've had memberships there since we moved here (thanks to Rick's parents, who gave them to us the first year; as they are often travelling and generally busy, we immediately suggested to them that if they wanted to renew the memberships each year for Christmas and call it good, we'd be happy -- as this made them happy too, we've been members ever since). It was perfect weather for it, very unsettled and cool, which meant that the animals were out and about. The vultures were circling, and a docent told us that this is called a "kettle", when the vultures swirl about (like a boiling kettle), looking for the best place to wait out a storm. It's my new very favorite phrase: a kettle of vultures, how cool is that? The lions had just been given bones to chew on:
And there was a warthog meeting and greeting visitors.
Zoos in general inspire in me a batch of very mixed emotions. It bothers me to see animals locked up; it bothers me quite a bit, in fact. It really bothers me when people assume that just because an animal is locked up, it deserves to be tormented (we could talk about the tiger at the SF Zoo here, but we won't). Recently, the girls and I were at the SD Zoo, at the orangutan enclosure, and there was a woman standing there, "offering" an orang her sandwich through the fence, and then pulling it back. The orang finally reached down, picked up a piece of poop, and flung it almost straight up in the air, in a trajectory finely gauged to go over the fence and come down on our side. It only missed the woman by inches (ask me how bummed I was that it missed), and she was extremely upset. I so hope she heard me say, "You deserved that." I rarely opine at strangers, but really.

On the other hand, zoos to me are places of wonder. They seem to me to be the ultimate evidence of a world of infinite possibility. Any planet that can produce the armadillo (have you ever seen one walk?), the okapi, and the flamingo is a place that I want to live. Oh, wait, I do live there! How lucky is that? Any planet that can produce a talking ape is pretty impressive, too; what I love about zoos is that they are clear reminders, if we know how to look, that we are only one of an infinite variety of wonders, kin to them, and that they are as worthy of respect and vital to the future as we are.

OK, enough of the soapbox. Suffice it to say that we spent the rest of the day at the WAP, even after Rick's cousin headed home so her kids (younger than ours) could have a nap. It was some wonderful family time, a nice antidote to going back to classes and feeling a bit overwhelmed (more about that another day). And when we got home, having picked up the third Harry Potter movie for movie night, there were two packages waiting for me! Since the first was from the Socks That Rock sock club, I won't post about it just yet (and I'll warn you when I do; no spoilers here). But the second was a lovely surprise from Wanda.
That green square there is her new DVD on spinning; a perfect gift for the rainy day that today is turning into. And on top of it? Silk, people. Silk. It's gorgeous. I can't wait to try it out. I'm so glad that I didn't start spinning this on my turkish spindle:
Because my high-whorl spindle is already taken up with this (now I know why I bought two!):
Yes, that is the Lovely Linguistics colorway from Janice. Do spinners usually have more than one thing going at once? Is this another frightening opportunity to be promiscuous with fiber? Because while I still only have one project on the needles at this moment, I'm looking to cast on the STR socks very soon. Oh, the one on my needles? Anne's first Little Nothings scarf, in laceweight Malabrigo. Life is good.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Making my day

So, there's been a thing going around blogland, in which people are asked to nominate the ten blogs that make them most happy. I've been so enjoying reading everyone's lists, and each time I have thought to myself, "Thank goodness no one's going to nominate me, because I haven't the faintest clue how I'd pick just ten blogs to nominate!"

Then Bea nominated me.

I can't tell you how touched I am that she put me on her list. I wouldn't have had the faintest clue that reading my blog could make anyone happy, except maybe me (clearly not Atticus, who has climbed up onto my arms and is attempting to keep me from typing). The rules of the nomination are these: “Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times.” This is not an easy thing to do, but I will try. I'm not going to post on folks' blogs, in no small part because at least a few of the people I've listed below are in full-blown overwork mode, so I don't want to put any pressure on them, but guys, if you want to play along, please do! I should say that another good thing about Bea nominating me is that I get an extra space on my list, since she would have been on it, but I know she'll understand me picking new people (if you don't know her blog, pretend she's on my list and check it out; not only is she a great knitter and seamstress, her dogs are about as cute as it gets).

Here's what I've got, in alphabetical order. I have tried to pick the blogs that I check in on each day, and if they haven't posted, I wonder how they're doing and can't wait to hear the news; these are some of the blogs that have led to me getting to know some wonderful people. (And yes, it's true, I do still check in with blogs through my browser; I haven't subscribed to any feeds, in no small part because I'm terrified of what it might do to my already-out-of-control inbox!)

Anne, at Knitting Sox Fan: A fellow teacher and mother, we met through our blogs. Anne has
encouraged me, talked me down from a few trees, and helped me to remember that I'm not
the only one juggling a little too much sometimes.
Anne, at Knitspot
: Anne does an amazing job of letting all of us in on her design process, which
is truly a gift. The fact that she's kind and funny on top of it is icing on the cake. And the
photos on her blog are amazing and totally drool-worthy.
Annie, at Sheepish Annie: Annie's blog always makes me laugh, and reminds me that as tough
as teaching college students can be, I've got nothing on grade-school teachers!
Gwen, at SmallScars: Gwen's up in the Bay Area, and she totally gets why I miss the beaches I
Helen, at Chronic Knitting Syndrome: Helen has excellent taste in knitting books, and
gorgeous projects, and she makes the most addictive online puzzles ever. (I swear, I spend
almost as much time playing with them as I do reading blogs!)
Janice, at Rabbitch
: Janice has inducted me to the Dark Side of spinning, and done it with
style. Any woman who has so much fun with words, dyes, and wine is a friend of mine. Not to
mention someone who is available for long and random email conversations at odd hours.
Rachael, at Cattywampus: I met Rachael when we both test-knitted Simurgh together, and she
never failed to check in to see how I was doing, and to be encouraging when I fretted; I love
seeing the projects that she knits.
Ryan, at Mossy Cottage Knits: Ryan's charity knitting is totally an inspiration to me. And her sense of humor invariably makes me laugh.
Stell, at Knit Knit Frog: Stell's a knitter and spinner in New Zealand, and I learn so much about
knitting as a process from reading her blog. I also get a great deal of s
upport in that
mother/work juggle I mentioned earlier, since she's doing the same thing. (And not a little spinning enabling, too!)

Wanda, at Fiberjoy: Reading Wanda's blog always makes me feel peaceful. She has also done a
huge amount to facilitate my smooth entry into the world of spinning.

This choosing thing just about killed me! I didn't put a few people down whose comments and emails mean so much to me, just because I know they don't always get to post to their blogs as often as they might like (hi, Marianne and Tracy!!). Then there's all of the folks whom I'm just starting to get to know through their blogs and their comments here; I'm loving that process (hi, Willow, and Courtney, and Ellen and Jan, and Arwen!). And of course, I haven't mentioned the blogs I love reading that everyone loves reading, whose authors wouldn't know me from a bump on a log (which is OK with me, btw; one should not be obliged to know everyone who reads one's blog, just because one is a good writer) (hi, Stephanie, Juno, Wendy, and Franklin!).

I guess what this boils down to is this: I have had an amazing experience with blogland, and the folks I'm listing here are a huge part of the reason why. When I started writing, I had no idea if anyone at all would read anything I wrote. But folks like Anne and Tracy and Wanda started leaving comments and promptly supported me through Grandmom's health crisis last summer. And so many people kept me company while I sat trapped in the house with the kids during the fires. And everyone has been so willing to cheer along with me when I try something new and difficult (steeks, anyone?), and to commiserate when it doesn't go so well, and not to assume that I'm a snotty little git when I celebrate my successes. Thanks, guys. All of you make my day!

In the interests of keeping this from getting much longer, I'm going to post just one picture of my zigzag mitt. It's knitted in Fearless Fibers merino (I'll give you the full info tomorrow), and I'm still dithering about whether it's too tight, so I really, really need everyone's opinions. What do you think? It doesn't constrict, but it is most definitely form-fitting, and there are places where the stretch between the stitches leaves a small gap when I'm wearing them. Given that I know that air between knit and skin is what traps warmth, I'm wondering whether form-fitting mitts is a bad thing. On the other hand, I live in San Diego, people -- do I need to worry?
The colors here aren't showing as well as they could (I took this last night), but it'll give you an idea of how it's fitting. So, here's the question for the poll: do I cast on for the second, or rip this out and start again?

Kia says, "Who cares, Mama! When are we going for a walk?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

And so it begins

Well, classes have officially started (this would explain the paucity of posts lately). I had two today, and my last one meets for the first time on Monday evening. I so appreciated everyone's supportive comments on Monday (thanks, Willow, for reminding me that writing a syllabus is class prep for the first day!). Everything seemed to go fine today, all the students fit into the classrooms that I was assigned (you have no idea how bad it gets when they don't; I have to think of ways to be scary and mean so they'll drop, and I generally prefer not to scare them this soon into the semester. I save that for after the add/drop period)(you may imagine evil laughter here), and they appeared to be paying attention. At least, they mostly laughed at the right times, and not at the wrong ones (again, you'd be surprised how disconcerting it can be to have them laugh when I didn't intend to be funny).

Our new on-campus knitting circle also met for the first time yesterday. Only three of us came, but there are at least three more in the offing who got caught up in first-week insanity and couldn't make it. It's amazing how hard it is to find a place to meet on such a small campus; most public spaces are devoted to eating or studying, and there aren't a lot of them. Since the campus is relatively new, it's still growing out, and it's at moments like these that it shows. However, we took over a table in the study room over the campus Starbucks (sigh), and I'm hoping we didn't disturb the students there too much (every single one of them had taken at least one class with me; this is another thing that happens frequently on such a small campus).

I had also intended to go to the Palomar Weaving Guild meeting last night; it was their first evening meeting ever, and as I've been thinking of joining, but can't make their daytime meetings, it seemed like a good idea. However, I went out on Monday night to do yoga (ow ow ow; after not going to yoga for quite some time, I went Saturday and Monday -- ow ow ow), and yesterday afternoon involved great deals of running around to get Younger Daughter to and from her Irish dance class, and Older Daughter from chess club, and by the time I got home, I was not feeling up to driving to Escondido for a 7-9 meeting. The matter was clinched when I said something about it and both Older and Younger Daughter exclaimed, "But you were gone last night!!" If I'd been dying to go, I might have been able to resist their blandishments, but as it was, I caved.

We ate Chinese food, and then sat on the rug and played Life (I'd forgotten what a very odd game Life is), and I finished my knitting for the Loopy Swap, and started the zigzag mitts for me (in spite of Rick's very loud sighs; he's waiting for the paris-roubaix mitts for himself -- he'll just need to wait a tiny bit longer). I'm using the yarn I got from Fearless Fibers in the inspiration colorway (you should really check it out, it's gorgeous), and while I haven't gotten very far, I find myself charmed by the whole thing. I'm knitting a size small, and I'm a bit worried about whether they'll be big enough, but I'll finish one pattern repeat and then see where we are. I'm hoping that since the yarn is a bit thicker than specified, it'll work (I could always go up to size 3 needles, but I'd have to go find them...).
(And yes, that bag in the background is a Bea Binney original.)

So, that's about it. Nothing exciting, but I've gotten through my first classes, and I'm going to call it good.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Exciting package

The other night, we came home late from dinner and errands and grabbed the mail on the way up the driveway (we live 700 feet up, and I do mean up, an easement, so we tend to grab the mail when we're going in or out, rather than to wander up and down the hill to get it, lazy Southern Californians that we are). Rick hopped out to get it and got back in the car, not handing me the mail as he usually does. And I knew instantly that my package had come. Of course, he had to draw it out, make it last, and generally torment me, since he knows I've been waiting for it. Given that all he has to do is to hold something over his head and it's far far out of my reach, even if I go in for undignified hopping up and down, I had to browbeat him into giving it up. Which he did when I threatened to "lose" his new bike light before he has a chance to charge the battery. Heh.

The package was from Janice, and look what was in it!
Sock yarn. Isn't it lovely? The colors are just so warm and gorgeous; I'm looking through all of my sock books to try to figure out what the best pattern would be to show them off. Maybe some kind of linen stitch? I can't wait to knit it up! Of course, I will be waiting, since the package also included this:
My roving! It's Corriedale, and she kindly put the colorway name as "Lovely Linguistics" on the band (clearly, I am being indulged in the best possible way). It's some of her Raised by Woolves spinning fibre, and I adore it. I wanted something in my very favorite blues and greens, and Janice came through for me in spades; the colors are a bit washed out in that photo, so imagine them as richer and deeper versions of what you see. Thank you, Janice!! (If you want, you can even read about the dyeing process in her December 28th post, to which I can't seem to link; it involved gobs of merlot, which is undoubtedly why it's so perfect.)

My only problem is that I don't want to ruin it. I keep patting it, and laying plans. At this moment, the plans involve splitting the roving in two lengthwise and spinning each half, then plying them. I'm hoping I can get something in a DK sort of weight once plied, and then we'll see what I knit with it (maybe matching scarves for me and the girls?). My spinning has gotten quite a bit finer (as in thinner in the singles, not better), as the lesson I took made me realize two things: a) it is not cheating to use thinner pieces of roving to get thinner singles (where do I get these ideas?); b) I was letting twist into the drafting zone, which was making it harder to draft thin, because the yarn was already twisted.

I have finished the first half of the project that I can't post about right now. With luck, I'll have the second half done sometime this week, and then I can start knitting something that I can post about (I'm going to wind the Fearless Fibers yarn into a ball today, just so I'm really, really ready). I got some good knitting time in last night, as Younger Daughter and her friend who was staying the night voluntarily went to bed early. At about 8:00, they went and put their pjs on (without being asked), then came out and asked to be tucked in. I swear, I kept expecting the world to come to a fiery end, or for them to wake up at 10:00 and refuse to go back to sleep, or something. But no, they slept until 5:00 this morning when the alarm on the clock in their room went off (someone who shall remain unnamed but who was probably Younger Daughter had been playing with it), and then they went back to sleep until 7:00. Not half bad for a sleep-over. Rick is out right now dropping the friend off and picking Older Daughter up from the slumber party she was at where I know from experience she did not sleep at all. We'll be lucky if we get through lunch without some kind of major melt-down. I do believe that naps are in order.

I have achieved syllabi, which feels like a minor miracle. Classes start for me on Wednesday (I'm teaching a Monday/Wednesday schedule this semester, and tomorrow the campus is closed for MLK). I still have a mess of prep to do, and all kinds of other service obligations to get in order before then, but having syllabi makes me feel more like I have a plan (hush, no bursting my bubble here). As with so many things, this will last right up until the moment when I step into the classroom, where things happen over which I have no immediate control, but it's a good start.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Enablers, the lot of you

If you read the comments on the last couple of posts, you'll notice that not one single person said anything resembling, "Oh, no! No, you don't want to spin. No fun at all. You'll hate owning a wheel. Yup, yup, hate it. Better to just quite while you're ahead." No one. Not one single soul.

See why I love all of you? Rick laughed when I told him how much fun I'd had trying out the Ashford Joy. I don't think he quite understood how serious I was. I tried a couple of places around here to see if they rent (thanks for the idea, Willow!), but so far, no luck. The shop up in Temecula will let me try their wheels, which I will do at some point.

However, in the meantime, I busted a move on The Stockinette Slot, and it's done! Just in time for the start of the semester next week. (In fact, some people might suggest that my time would have been better spent busting a move on my syllabi. Those people would not be knitters.) I wet-blocked it last night, and then as usual, spent the rest of the evening and early morning wandering by it chanting "dry dry dry". I continue to do this in spite of a rather convincing body of evidence that it makes no difference in the speed of drying. What does this say about me?
Not so many good pictures, as it's me, myself, and I with the camera, but here:
As you can see, it has 3/4 sleeves, and is open in the front except for the clasp. This is intended to mitigate the warming effects of the alpaca. As is the little ventilation lace insets at the raglan decrease lines.
I am very happy with the way this turned out. It's simple, and it fits well, and I think it's going to go with a lot of what I wear. I'm a bit worried about the 3/4 sleeves with short sleeved shirts; I'm wondering how I'll feel about having my forearms just hanging out there for all the world to see. Is that weird?

So, to recap. This is the Vines Cardigan by Amy King, from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, size medium. I used Kraemer Yarns Alpaca DK yarn on US size 5 needles (Addis for the body and wood dpns for the sleeves). I used all of four skeins, and perhaps half of a fifth. The color of the yarn was Dark Gray, although I have to say that it looks like more of a dark heathered brown to me. The clasp I got at Schoolhouse Press; it's pewter.

Meanwhile, I am well on my way to finishing the first half of the last of my monogamous projects. This one is for the Loopy Swap, so I won't be sharing pictures (no spoilers here!), but I'll try to get through it quickly, and then my next two projects are going to be all about me! Mitts and socks, here I come.

This brings me to a question. I was reading lately on someone's blog (I could have sworn it was Stell 's, but when I went back to verify, I couldn't find it; am I delusional? was this an email conversation?) that she often knits things for herself, and that she'd met up with a woman who (as I recall, correct me if I'm wrong) was in a knitting group with some Americans who seemed to think that knitting regularly for oneself was in some way selfish. I realized as I was reading what she wrote that there is some part of me that feels that I am supposed to alternate projects for me with projects for other people. I'm not saying I always do that, just that the sense is there. Is this just me? If it isn't just me, is this a backlash among American knitters against a consumption-oriented society? Or is it the fact that many knitters are women and women are so frequently socialized to think that doing things for themselves is bad? Is it something else entirely? So my question to you is, what percentage of your projects are for you (I'm asking in percentages in case there are any of you out there who are embarrassed by the number of projects currently on your needles)? If you do tend to knit for others, what's the motivation? I confess that, for me, at least some of the motivation is simply that I live in a very warm climate and it pays to spread the wool-wear around.

We're in for a busy weekend, full of social events. Tonight we're having dinner with Rick's cousins who just moved here from Indianapolis. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the farmer's market in the morning -- I heard that there's now a woman there selling and spinning fiber. Then I'm taking a free yoga class at a studio that just opened nearby, after which I'll head home and grab Older Daughter to take her to a roller-skating rink for a birthday party. She's staying the night afterwards, so her friend's mom will bring her home. Then, we're having the younger sister of another girl who's going to the party come to stay the night here (her mother was worried that she'd feel left out), so Younger Daughter is excited about that. On Sunday, we're off to another joint birthday party that some close friends are having for their daughters (turning 7 and 13). Whew! Time to haul out the espresso machine!

P.S. Pam: Another linguist! You've definitely got me thinking about the [ch] vs [t] word-initial consonant on words for tea. Time to hit the OED (as if I needed an excuse). Thanks for the stockinette-stitch amusement!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Moral turpitude

There is dissension among the ranks. I swore that there was to be no casting on of projects until The Stockinette Slog has ground to its conclusion. No messing about with other yarns. No affaires des coeurs. No fondling of fibers other than those of the alpaca. The ranks disagreed with me, and after a massive insurrection, succeeded in winding a ball of yarn.
Things have gotten so bad that the yarn even made it into a bag, with the pattern neatly arranged to show the chart, needles and notions included. At that stage, however, I managed to reassert control, and have retrenched. The troops and I have recommitted ourselves to The Stockinette Slog (I know, you thought that would end with "to the asylum", didn't you? I like to keep you guessing), and refuse all further distractions.

Except maybe spinning. Spinning doesn't count as an immoral distraction, does it? Inspired by Anne, I went today for a quick lesson with a local spinner named Lila. I've felt like I've been doing all right, but there's something about operating in a feedback vacuum that I find disturbing, and I figured it would be all too easy to fool myself into learning some really really bad habits without some kind of reality check. The very nice lady whom I went to see said that, in fact, my yarn (she actually used the word "yarn", can you believe?) was looking pretty good. Practice, she said, practice; my biggest problem is that I keep letting a bit of twist into the drafting area -- in essence I'm spinning faster than I'm drafting, which results in some overtwisting of the singles. And then she skeined up my first yarn, the one I did on the turkish spindle with the lovely roving that Wanda sent (Lila said that it was balanced, can you believe? Something in my life, balanced? Who would have suspected?), and suggested that I wash it to set the twist. Here it is skeined. It really does look much more yarnlike this way, no? It turned out to be about 25 yards.
And here's what I've got on the high-whorl spindle right now.
I'm going to ball this and spin some more at about the same weight (note the way that I am fooling myself here into thinking that I have some kind of "control" over the "weight" of my "yarn". You do not need to be fooled by this; you are wiser than I.), and ply it. Then I might try to see if I can get a bit finer. I generally don't like knitting on needles much bigger than a 6 or 7; what I've got here is going to be more in the 13-15 range once plied. Bulky doesn't quite cover it.

After we played about with this a bit, she asked, all casual in that way people are sometimes, whether maybe I'd like to try a spinning wheel?

Hot damn, baby. Now that was some fun. I'm in very serious trouble. Somebody come save me before I start impulse-buying spinning wheels. See how weak the moral fiber is around here? Clearly, it needs to be spun and plied.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The carrot and the stick

Well, we all know what the stick is here (as opposed to the schtick, which I haven't quite settled on yet). Miles and miles of stockinette. (Thanks, btw, to Carrie for pointing out that listening to World Without End whilst knitting miles and miles of stockinette is a bit too coincidental; I think I'm cursing myself.) I didn't even take pictures of it all on one needle (although it is, it is!), because it looks like nothing so much as a giant heap of stockinette. Probably because it is a giant heap of stockinette. Each row is now taking about 15 minutes, and my shoulder is hurting, but they're a bit less boring since, four times each row, I get to do a bit of work on the lace panels, and on each RS row, I get to decrease four stitches (yes, Helen, I am a bit of devil, aren't I?; I'm just living the high life here, I tell you!). In another several inches, I will get to not only do the raglan decreases, but also (hold on to your hats here) the neck decreases! Excitement! Drama! High jinks!

Or not.

So, given that I have this giant stick, it seems that I need more of a carrot than just my desire to have this done so I can wear it. I thought I'd show you some recent acquisitions. These have not come all at once (lest you think I've gone completely crazy with the credit card and tattle on me to Rick), but I haven't had a chance to show them to you. I have taken them out and keep them nearby for fondling and drooling purposes, and because as soon as I'm done with this sweater, I get to play with some of them!

First, I got several sets of clasps from Schoolhouse Press. The top one is for The Stockinette Slog, the middle one is for the sweater I finished recently for Younger Daughter, and the bottom one is for the Cardigan for Arwen I knitted for Older Daughter last year at about this time. (All of these photos are crappy and blurry; by the time the girls and I got home and took Kia out for a little stroll, the light wasn't so good, but we can work with it, right?)
Aren't they lovely? And honestly, well worth the price, especially since I'll take them off of the girls' sweaters as they grow out of them and repurpose them for other knitwear.

Also, contrary to my usual tremendously bad luck with drawings and raffles of all sorts, I won Rachael's Heifer donation raffle! Me! And what I won was a gift certificate to Briar Rose! It just doesn't get better than that (what a generous thing to give to support the raffle, too). And I won it because the girls and I went shopping with their charity money for the year and bought a brace of rabbits and a flock of geese for some people who really need them more than we needed our charity money (1/3 of the girls' weekly allowance goes into a charity jar, and at the end of the year, they get to choose the recipient of their donation, and Rick and I match it; the last couple of years it's been Heifer. I will someday wax poetic about all of the reasons why I like this organization, but today you are spared). It really seems unfair to win something for doing something that a) is important anyway, and b) we would have done in any case, and I appreciate Rachael setting the whole thing up. So, what did I get, you ask (assuming you haven't gone to sleep by now; you there, in the back, wake up!)? Why, this, I answer!
It's hard to tell, but this yarn is all lovely deep rose pinks with darker purples. It's gorgeous, and while I'm not sure yet what I will make of it, for the moment I'm happy just looking at it. I also got this:
I'm considering using it for the lotus bag, but I'm not sure yet. Thanks Rachael and Briar Rose!

There's some lovely sock yarn all in blues and greys whose picture was so bad I'm not going to share it right now, and another skein that makes me think of spring:
People, I do not understand my love for this yarn. I would never wear pink and green together in real clothes (as opposed to socks), but I see this yarn and it makes me happy. I have been drooling over it at the Loopy Ewe for months and months and months, and when I ordered the yarn for my Loopy Ewe Swap buddy, it somehow slipped into my basket and I didn't have the heart to tell it to go home. Doesn't it just scream spring? In a tulipy kind of way?

Finally, there's this:
This has a purpose. It is going to be ZigZag Mitts, yes indeedy; just as soon as I'm done with The Stockinette Slog, and my Loopy Ewe swap knitting, this lovely skein is going to become mitts for me. Nice, small, portable knitting, with an end in sight, to keep my hands warm on chilly nights. Yup, there's my carrot.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

EZ rides again

Where did the weekend go? No, wait, don't answer that. I don't know that I want to know, because then I'd have to acknowledge all of the chances I had to actually get something done that I didn't take. Ah, well.

The concert was great fun last night. Lavay Smith has a gorgeous voice, in a sort of Ella Fitzgeraldish way. And her backup band was amazing, particularly the piano and trombone players, who pretty much blew me out of the water. And, better yet, the pub we went to for dinner before the concert was willing to make me a corned beef sandwich the way I really like it without laughing at me to my face, so all in all, it was a good night.

Other than that, it's been a quiet weekend. I had a lovely walk with my dear friend Kathleen yesterday morning, and then she and her son hung out with us for a couple of hours to eat lunch and relax. Today, the girls and I met up with another good friend and her two daughters to go see National Treasure (I have a secret love of ridiculous actions flicks of this sort), which was good fun. But that's about all that's happened.

Mostly I've been knitting. The body of the sweater was finished to the armpits on Friday, and as of today I have a second sleeve. As soon as I'm done posting, I'll be putting everything on to one needle, and the knitting of the yoke will commence. So, why the reference to our beloved EZ in the post title? I'll tell you.

I've been reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman lately. While my parents were here, I dragged them to La Jolla, ostensibly to buy coffee (it's the closest Peet's), but really there was an ulterior motive, in the form of this yarn store, which carries a lovely selection of knitting books. I'd been wanting The Opinionated Knitter for ages and ages, and it seemed that the time had come to acquire it. While I was there, I saw, as I have in many places, The Knitter's Almanac. I've never bought it, in large part because I didn't think that I'd follow the plan to knit any of those things in any of those months. However, it is by Elizabeth Zimmerman, and I do so enjoy reading her writing (it actually, in a nice bit of synchronicity, reminds me of Betchen Barber's writing a bit; very practical and down-to-earth, and imbued with a tremendous sense of wonder and adventure, even when regarding small things). So I got it. And I am loving it. While it is true that I don't know that I'll ever actually knit any particular thing in it, her writing is wonderful, and her explorations of knitting as a craft are an education in themselves.

And her idea for a handy use for hair elastics (which we call "ponies" in my house; you should see the look on people's faces when one of the girls runs up to me at soccer and asks, "Mama, can I have a pony?") is more than worth the price of admission. While camping, she came up with the lovely idea of using an elastic to put around her knitting when it's on three dpns, to keep the stitches from leaking off the edges of the needles. In knitting the first sleeve of my sweater, I had to switch to four dpns plus one to knit from, instead of my usual three plus one, simply because the stitches were starting to fall of the ends of the needles. With the second sleeve, however, I did this:
Will ya check that out? Pure genius, I tell you, pure genius. Nary an escaped stitch, and that's saying something, because not only were there a lot of stitches on those (sock-length) dpns by the end, but this alpaca is slippery as all get out. Stitches were positively leaping off of my Addis during the knitting of the body; I was considering the purchase of wood-tipped circulars to finish the sweater, but I will persevere. Nevertheless, this is an idea that's worth passing on. Thanks, Elizabeth!

I hope you've all had relaxing and knit-ful weekends. I will try very hard to do something more interesting before my next post. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stockinette slog

Wow! I can't believe how many people had either read that book, or knew of Betchen. Thanks for all of the comments. I'm most of the way through it now, and am loving it as much as I did before. She does say one thing in talking about high-whorl drop spindles, though, which has me confused (or in awe, take your pick). She says that really expert spinners don't have to reach down to grab the spindle to wind on their yarn; they can just give the spindle a yank, and it rolls right up the yarn like a yo-yo. Seriously? You can do that? What about unhooking the yarn at the top? Does anyone know how this works?

I am in Stockinette Hell. (Why, oh why, did I choose to try serial project monogamy on two projects that are almost all stockinette?) The body of this sweater is not knit in the round, and the purl rows in particular are killing me. It's taking me about ten minutes to finish a row, on average (why yes, I am having trouble getting through this, why do you ask?). I spent a good period of time yesterday listening to Word Without End (Ken Follett), and knitting. At this point, I'm about an inch shy of the body, which means six more rows, which means an hour. I'm hoping to pound it out before I pick the kids up from school at noon (although a glance at my watch suggests that this hope is futile). The photos are boring, but I figure I should offer some kind of concrete proof that I'm not just griping for the sake of griping (well, a little bit, but mostly this is gripeworthy).
It's getting heavy. If this weren't going to be distributed across a whole sweater, I'd be worried about the total weight of yarn going into this thing (if I use all the yarn I bought, it'll be about a pound of alpaca). Once I'm through the body, the next sleeve is going to feel great (knitting in the round, and I get to M1 twice every seventh row; you know knitting is monotonous when that just makes your day). In order to make up for the boring stockinette pictures, here:
A rare photo of Gwilim and Atticus sharing a chair (they'd rather we all think that they are too cool for cuddling with one another, but I know better). (BTW, you can blame this on Bea; she said that more cat photos were called for. Hi, Bea!)

Rick just found out that the band who played at our wedding, and since got much better known, is playing in Escondido tomorrow night, and got us tickets. He also arranged for the girls to spend the night at a friend's house (good Rick). The band is Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. I love that name. I love that I had a band named that at my wedding (my father is still holding it against me; he wanted a classical quartet). Think Brian Setzer Band, and you've got a sense of their music. A date! We're going on a date, like real people. Who knew?

Tomorrow, exciting plans for the spring. I am insane, and I will prove it to you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

In which I provide further evidence of my unmitigated dorkiness

Or: I think I've finally figured out why I took up knitting

Dork: N., a foolish person
Dorky: Adj., having the attributes of a dork; unfashionable
Dorkiness: N., the quality or condition of being dorky

How I do love linguistics. Not only for the fun of morphological analysis (see above), but also because I have just realized that it is a big part of why I am a fiber junkie. To wit:

As I was waiting impatiently for my spindles and roving to arrive, I had to do something to take the edge off, and I did what I so often do in times of stress and turned to reading. I mean, if you can't do something, at least you can read about it, right? I read the two spinning books I had laid in for just that eventuality, but it wasn't quite enough. So I turned to one of my very favorite all-time academic books, which I hereby recommend to all of you. Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years: Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. And therein lies the latest evidence of my status as a geek.

This book is fun for so many reasons, but I should tell you first that Betchen Barber (as she was called by her students) is the reason why I am a linguist. I don't think I've told this story yet, so here goes (if I have, skip down a bit). I was an English and Comparative Literature major in college, with plans to go to law school after graduation, practice for a bit, and then see if I couldn't become a judge. (Ah, yes, the idealistic plans of youth.) I minored in French, but it was mostly because it's my mother's first language, and I wanted an excuse to study abroad somewhere for a semester my junior year. For that minor I had to take a linguistics class, which I did in the winter of my junior year, and from that moment on, the jig was up. I was hooked. It turned out I had always been a linguist, I just didn't know there was a name for it. I completed my major while applying to graduate schools in linguistics (to the screams of "You're going to be a what?! We want a refund of your college tuition. Now." from my parents)(they now think that this was all their idea and insist they're very proud of me).

I realize now that my conversion was due in no small part to the professor I had for that class; it's not that linguistics isn't a great field in its own right, but it can be ruined by the wrong prof (ask me how I know), and if I'd had that wrong professor I might be a lawyer today. But I didn't. I had Betchen, who always came into class looking as if she were having the most fun ever, as if she knew some secret that we didn't know yet, but she was going to let us in on it. She clearly loved what she was doing, both the field, and the teaching of it. Her presence was quite a gift. She was always moving, and moving fast. Her braid was askew each day, as if she'd started it neatly down the back of her head, and then had grown impatient and pulled it hurriedly over one shoulder to finish it off. She had intense blue eyes, and a marvelous smile. She had originally trained as an archaeologist, and her specialization was and is textiles. She is one of the experts they call in to evaluate the clothing of bog bodies and mummies, to see where and when and how it was made. She also taught folk dancing, had many looms in her house, and spun. I still want to be her when I grow up (isn't it nice to have a role model?).

So she wrote this wonderful book about textile technology in Europe and the Fertile Crescent. She traces how the tools change from place to place and over time, and the words that are used in different languages to talk about these tools. Her argument is that while the textiles themselves don't last, and so much of women's work is perishable, we can glimpse what they did by their tools. It's wonderful. And when I read it, lo these many years ago, it clinched a long-standing desire I had had to learn how to spin. (I contend that it is impossible to grow up, as I did, with a fascination with Greek and Celtic mythology and not want to learn how to spin.)

But there is this annoying practical side to me (this is the side that would have done just fine as a lawyer, the side that was raised by a surgeon and an ER nurse), and I kept asking myself why I would learn to make fiber for which I would have no use (weaving seemed like quite a big leap at the time; still does, really). So I shelved the idea. But I wandered regularly into yarn stores, wandered back out, tried to learn to knit from a book and failed, got a friend to teach me, knit for a while and stopped, took it up again and stopped, hit my stride.

And then I got my spindles and am trying to learn how to spin, and I had a great big ah-ha moment as I re-read Betchen's book, and remembered how much I wanted to learn eighteen years ago when I first read it. I learned to knit so that I would have a reason to spin. Doh. Now, don't get me wrong, there are other reasons why it was knitting and not, say, weaving that I took up, reasons which I won't go into right now but which fit right in with why spinning appeals to me (I could briefly mention portability, that long shadowy line of women standing behind me when I make a humble pair of socks, or any one of a number of things, but I won't now), but I realize that there is this other reason which I hid even from myself.

Joke's on me.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A post that isnt quite so short as I thought it would be

My parents have safely and happily come and gone. We had a lovely weekend, about which more in another post, in which much was accomplished. However, as I woke up on Thursday morning with a stunningly horrific head cold, and spent a great deal of energy during the weekend ignoring it, I am pretty washed up right now. This is why I haven't been quite so diligent as usual in replying to everyone's comments -- I'll get back on track, I promise!

Knitting did, in spite of all of this, occur. I finished the strap for the Calla Lily bag on Thursday evening, and felted it on Friday morning before we left for the zoo. It felted amazingly quickly, and turned out, if I do say so myself, quite well.
I don't know how well you can see there. It's been raining cats and dogs and it's still extremely overcast. The whole state has been deluged (Mammoth got 10 feet of snow; can I tell you how much I want to pack up and head out?). The upshot is bad natural light for photos, alas. (It also made for slow drying time on the bag. My impatience got the better of me and I used it on Saturday when it was still outgassing, and everything inside it was a bit damp and limp by the end of the day.) However, here's one with flash of all of the lovely folds and openings that the construction of the bag makes possible.
Three compartments! How fun is that? And look at the wonderfully subtle variegation in the malabrigo. I have a serious love on for this yarn. I could sleep in it, it's so soft.

So, to recap. This is the Calla Lily Bag by Cat Bordhi, from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, made with Malabrigo Merino worsted weight on size 11 needles (Addis, if you're wondering).

I have entered into a period of serial project monogamy (a nod to Stell, here, who just went through the same thing, with great success). In the case of this bag and the project I'm working on now, it's because I really really want the FO; moreover, I'd really like to have them done when classes start, in a mere two weeks (no panic here, though, nosiree bob), which means some dedication. The one which will come after my current project is the knitting for the Loopy Ewe swap, which comes to a close in early February, so I'll need to bust a move on that. I must be missing my usual promiscuous ways, though, as I dreamed last night that I'd accidentally knitted a sock for myself when I wasn't paying attention (knee-high, too -- how come that never happens in real life?), and I felt pretty bad about not focusing on this next project.

One thing that is making all of this much easier is the love I bear for the yarn in these two projects. You've already heard how I feel about malabrigo, but this next yarn is It. My love for the malabrigo is as nothing compared to how I feel about this yarn (just finished re-reading the Princess Bride, can you tell?). I bought it when I visited the Temecula Yarn Company the other week, as you may remember. I only bought one skein, figuring (for reasons which will soon become apparent) that I'd make something small from it, like a pair of mitts. I took it home, and rubbed it on my face and neck and thought about it some, and petted it some more, and thought some more, and figured too warm be damned, I'm making me a sweater.

See, it's alpaca. One hundred percent pure North American undyed happy-making alpaca. And alpaca is warm. And weighty. However, once again The Knitter's Book of Yarn came to my rescue. Some words about this book before I go on. I bought it a few months ago when I was starting to think about maybe getting into this spinning thing, and thought that knowing about fiber might be nice. And boy howdy, is it ever. (I'm starting to feel like this post should be entitled "Love Fest", but who knows what kinds of hits I'd get then?) This book is well worth the price of hardback admission. The fiber information alone is amazing. The detail and clarity of explanations are excellent. I'm a slow learner, but I'm starting to understand little by little why some fibers work as they do, and what they can be used for (notice it actually occurred to me to worry about the possibility that an alpaca sweater might be a bit much; this is major progress, even if I have gone ahead with the project -- at least I know what I'm getting into). And then it's got all of those lovely patterns, including the bag above, and this sweater that I've just started.

I have only one minor critique regarding the patterns, and honestly, it's very very small, and should in no way deter anyone from getting this book (no, I am not being paid to say this), since the fiber information is worth every penny, even without the patterns. The small critique has to do with the somewhat telegraphic nature of the patterns. I think that this brevity is an understandable reflection of the fact that this book is not meant to be a pattern book, it's a fiber book, and the patterns are just there to give an idea of what can be done with different weights and plies of fibers. I don't usually mind really telegraphic instructions (a la EZ), but it is nice to have one of those merry little diagrams that shows all the pieces with all of their top and bottom and lengthwise measurements; makes it easier when fudging yarns and construction. That's all.

In spite of this, though, it is this book which inspired me to go forward with the all alpaca all the time sweater. Mostly because of the all-angora sweater that they have in there, which has construction details geared towards mitigating the heat factor of particularly warm fibers. To wit: 3/4 sleeves, an open cardigan front with just a clasp, and lovely little lacework detailing up the raglan decreases. The gauge of the yarn they used was exactly the gauge on the label of the alpaca yarn I'd bought, which pretty much clinched the deal (when I really want to do something, I am inclined to see Signs from the Universe all over the place; thank goodness the Universe thinks as I do about these matters). So I called the store and asked them to send over four more skeins, and busted a move on the bag so I'd be done when they arrived.

I was, and I cast on immediately, and I have now completed the first sleeve.
Yup, all stockinette all the time. The only fiddly bits are picking up the hems at the beginning, and later when I do the raglan and neck decreases whilst knitting the little lace pattern. Something to look forward to. In fact, I'm thinking that the body is going to be so painful that I'm going to do it next, and save the relatively quick-moving second arm for a reward. Isn't this yarn lovely, though?
That, my friends, is alpaca-colored (one of many, as I understand it). Isn't it beautiful? The label says grey, but it's a browny, heathery grey and, as I may have mentioned, I love it. It's heavy in the hand, almost oiled, and feels a bit like a silk blend. I can see why my friend who ordered the Kauni yarn with me had so much trouble going from the project she'd been working on with alpaca-blend yarn to the Kauni yarn, which is admittedly rather rough. It's far rougher by comparison to this beauty. So this is by way of saying that project monogamy isn't quite so bad when each of the projects involves such luscious yarn. (Is this an excuse to buy something equally luscious for the Loopy Ewe exchange project? Why yes, I do believe it is.)

I have also been spinning, although less than I would like. I'm alternating between my two spindles, trying to get a feel for them both. Here's my latest attempt on the high-whorl spindle (I don't have pics right now of the turkish one's results).
Sorry about the flash-bright picture there; the ones without flash were much prettier, but made the actual spinning impossible to see. It's still in no way even, and I am still having great fun. In fact, the plan for this day is to wade through my inbox to beat it into something resembling submission, to get through one chapter of the reading I'm thinking of assigning in my new class, and to order some books for that class on interlibrary loan. Then I will cast on for the body of the sweater and maybe take a nap. This is the last day I will tolerate this cold, so fair warning, oh cold, you'll be gone by tomorrow.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A quickie

My parents are on their way from the airport now, so this is just a quick update, as I probably won't be able to post over the weekend. Pictures of the Endless Blue Blob were demanded (I am nothing if not obliging), and it is true that malabrigo in and of itself is worthy of a picture, so here it is:
It's huge. And the knitting is endless. As is the purling, now that I'm no longer working in rounds. However, I am close to finishing this second point, and then it's a strap, and that's all she wrote! Maybe by the end of the weekend I can felt it? One can only hope. As a reminder, this is the Calla Lily bag from The Knitter's Book of Yarn, and the pattern is by Cat Bordhi.

I have also embarked upon another, much-needed crafty fabric-oriented project. Here's why it's much-needed:
Do you see that seat cover? These were Grandmom's chairs (some of you may remember Grandmom from our trip to the Bay Area this summer), and when she finally gave up her home, she gave them to us. We love having them, as they are a wonderful connection to many happy meals shared at her home. But they haven't been re-covered in ages, and the need is dire. See the batting in there?
Under that (get this) is straw. I kid you not, straw. I have no idea how long it's been since these were redone, but it's time.

So yesterday I hit the local fabric store and managed to find (on the remainder table, go me!) seat fabric, fabric for the backing, and batting, all for a grand total of $25. I love sales. I got through two chairs last night, which was a pretty painful job, as Grandmom had done a lovely job of stapling the living heck out of the seats when she re-covered them, lo these many years ago. So I pried out all of the staples with a screwdriver, threw away the old batting and the straw (still in shock about that one), and recovered them. The results?
Here's the seat.
If I were a more anal person, I would have unstapled the webbing under the seat and tightened it to, but I'm not.

So, my folks are here, and I am going to enjoy my weekend and keep trying to fight this cold. I'll take lots of pictures and try to post on Sunday. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Three sets of eight

Being new to this blogging thing (only started late last spring, which I know seems like an endless amount of time to those of you kind enough to read these ramblings, but is really quite short in geological terms), I have checked out the blogs of others to see what it is that one does on New Year's Day as a blogger. Because you know me, always concerned with doing What Is Done. And it appears that the done thing to do is to be somewhat retrospective and somewhat prospective. So, I hereby present you with three lists of eight (three because it seems like a nicely balanced number, representing past, present, and future, or some such thing, and eight because it is now 2008; there is always a method to my madness).

List One: Odd and Quirky Things About Me That You May Not Know, And That You May Be Glad You Don't Know, But Now You Will Know Them
1. I sometimes dream in text. As in, I read my dreams (character descriptions, dialogue in quotes, the whole nine yards).
2. (probably related to #1) I have a great deal of trouble getting puns. Particularly if they're written. Because I have this completely unconscious habit of linking words to their written representation, if two words are spelled differently, they're different words, even if they sound entirely alike. For example, I used to eat at wonderful bagel shop in Berkeley, where the motto was, "Protect your bagel, put lox on it." You're all laughing now, but for years, I imagined that I should protect my bagel by putting a condom-like layer of thin smoked fish on it, rather than that I should lock it up. Rick finds this utterly amusing, and now makes me read puns out loud to ensure that I really get them, and that I'm not just laughing to keep from being mocked.
3. While I will try almost anything once, there is a certain class of foods that I prefer not to eat unless I have to, based entirely on texture. This includes: pudding, flan, creme brulee, tapioca, etc. Congealed snail snot, all of it. Except the tapioca, which is congealed snail snot with eyeballs in it.
4. I am tremendously shy and introverted. While I very much enjoy the company of people I know, walking into a room full of strangers is a painful experience. This makes the first week of classes every semester difficult at best.
5. My very first job, at the age of 16, was as a piano teacher. Who knew?
6. I am left-handed.
7. I am terrified -- truly, weak-kneed terrified -- of exposed heights.
8. I can drive anything with four wheels, under almost any conditions, and do a pretty good job of it (this falls under the category of Strange, Undeserved and Unworked-at Talents). This includes driving on the left-hand side of the road on one-land roads inhabited by sheep, as well as on the left-hand side of the road in London, and it includes driving on the right-hand side of the car on the right-hand side of the road, which let me tell you makes passing large trucks quite hair-raising.

List Two: Things That I Am Fairly Proud of Accomplishing In This Past Year, Or That I Am Glad That I Tried
1. Tenure (fooled them)
2. Kauni (a whole adult-sized sweater, with steeks)
3. Test-knitting a pattern
4. Going back to yoga after having back surgery. And doing a back bend without a) crying from sheer terror, or b) having titanium pop out of my back.
5. Really starting to work on figuring out what it is that I want in a given situation, and how to keep my eye on that. This has meant learning to try to say "no" a whole lot more often to things that I do not want.
6. Knitting a sweater without a pattern.
7. Taking the leap into the whole spinning thing.
8. Starting a blog. For me, this was a scary, putting-myself-out-there thing, but I'm so very glad that I did it. I never would have met some folks whom I now consider to be good friends, and that would have been a real loss.

List Three: Things That I Didn't Get to Do This Year That I Wish I Had, Or That I Would Like To Try To Do In The New Year
1. Sea kayaking in the Pacific;
2. Surfing;
3. Try spinning on a wheel;
4. Move my body, preferably outdoors, at least a little every day;
5. Keep writing regularly on the blog;
6. Work more on that "no" thing;
7. Spend less time doing things just to fill time, and more time either doing what I really want to do, or in just paying attention to where and when I am;
8. Be grateful for the abundance in my life, and try to find a way to share that abundance in little ways each day.

I truly am grateful to and for all of you, for the abundance of friendship and support and laughter I have received from you this year. Thank you! And welcome to 2008 -- it's going to be a good year.