Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's that light I see?

I do believe it's the onrushing train of a new semester!

Classes start a week from today.  This week is report-back week, so I'm wading through my usual pre-semester List O' Things To Do As Of Yesterday.  Last semester, the list was organized into Soon, Sooner, and Soonest; we'll see how long I can go before I'm at that stage again.  I appear to have syllabi for my classes, though, and as I've taught them both before, I have lectures and assignments prepared, so I oughtn't to make a complete fool of myself during the first week.  In fact, I'd be sitting pretty, really, except that one of these classes I've only taught twice before, and once was during the furloughs, so I keep wondering whether I should change it around.

Part of the reason why I'm feeling a bit like I don't have my feet under me yet is because the last week or so has been nutty.  Last week I had two all-day meetings, Rick had two all-day meetings (overlapping on one of those days), we had out of town guests who came an unexpected day early (which was wonderful in a lot of ways, as it gave us far more time to visit than I'd thought we'd get!), and then as soon as we both finished our all-day meetings on Friday, we packed up the car and headed for Mammoth.  Traffic wasn't too pretty, and we didn't get in until about midnight, but then we got two absolutely perfect ski days - warm and sunny and almost no wind, great snow, and the lines weren't long!  The fact that Mammoth is such an absolutely huge mountain (one might even say - wait for it - mammoth) means that there's always some run, somewhere, that doesn't have a lot of people on it.  And the best bit?  I was skiing on my brand-new skis - a Christmas present courtesy of my beloved husband, who remembered how much I'd enjoyed them when I demo'd them last year, and hunted them out, as Nordica isn't making these anymore.  The new skis with the deep side cuts are so much fun to ski on the steeps that it almost feels like I'm not working at all (barring that high-altitude panting - 11,000 feet makes for thin air)!

We got home yesterday and here I am today, having some trouble committing to the whole work thing.  It's this time of the semester that it really hits me how much work eats into my knitting time. Of course, I'm bound to be singing a different tune after my first day of back-to-back meetings.  In anticipation of that day (February 2, to be precise), I have already begun to line up projects, winding yarn and finding needles and patterns and packaging them all up together in knitting bags.  I wouldn't want to be caught short, right?

I did finish one big project just before we left.  I don't have pictures of the whole thing yet, but I do have a few of the pretty part:
This is the Wintersweet Scarf from IK Holiday Knits.  I used Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool and I completely rejiggered the edging.  It was supposed to be a pretty little colorwork scarf knitted widthwise, but that meant purling the WS rows in colorwork for 60 inches or some such (further complicated by the fact that I wanted three colors, intead of the pattern's two, which would have meant long floats across the WS rows), so I had another idea (imagine some kind of drum beat indicating incipient doom here): I decided that I would cast on somewhere around 80 billion stitches, then knit the scarf part from its long edge (casting the middle bit off and then on again to create the spot where the hood is inserted) in (get this) linen stitch.  With a seed stitch border.


The colors are gorgeous, and I was right about the linen stitch - it's given the whole thing a lovely subtle woven look.  I also didn't have to carry any floats at all, and (I realized halfway through) I was essentially doing intarsia when I knitted the end seed stitch border, so there's a new skill learned.  But honestly, each and every row took about a half an hour.  I was like to die.  It took forEVer.

And now that it's done, I'm not sure that it's as charming as I'd hoped it would be.  Rick used a phrase that might have been "old Russian woman" when I first put it on.  I need to get some opinions, so you can bet there'll be photos at some point.

Meanwhile, I'm working on the second of my third pair of Noro socks.
These are addictive in their simplicity.  I've been knitting them toe-up (not my usual style, but for some reason, that's how I tend to start short-row heel socks - short-row heels are also not my usual style, but with the self-striping yarn, it just seems like the way to go), so I cast on and off I go, mindlessly watching the colors appear and disappear.  I'm almost ready to turn the heel on the second sock, so that'll go quickly.

I have also started (more) mitts for the girls.
That's the first of them.  It's more Classic Elite Waterlily.  I love this yarn perhaps more than I ought.  I want a pair of these mitts for myself.  I love this yarn so much that I also knitted a hat out of it, for Rick.
It's a much nicer mossy green color than it looks there.  This is Anne's latest hat, David's Toque (I don't think that the pattern's out yet), and Rick wore it all weekend in the mountains, nice and cozy and warm.

I also have a pair of socks on the needles for my aunt (she requested a pair of the Lenore socks that I knitted for myself while I was in New Orleans - just like mine, she said, so I ordered the yarn and waited - it didn't come in time for the holidays, but they'll go to her as soon as they're done, a belated Christmas present).  So, that seems like a reasonable set of knitting to get me set up for the start of a new semester, doesn't it?  Just in case it's not, I also wound up the yarn to start a new project:
Tucked away in there are the makings of another Babushka.  You may note the needles that are sitting right there on top?  Those are a gift from my lovely SIL (along with the bag, actually) and her family - Signature needles, size five, with the medium tips - they have become my new favorite needles in the whole world.  The join between the needles and the cable is amazing - truly, it's smooth as can be, and the join actually turns so that the needle rotates relative to the cable.  No kinking, no twisting, no getting sort of rucked up the way cables sometimes do.  Just smooth smooth smooth, with the signature (ha!) Signature needles, grippy in the right ways; even the medium tips are plenty pointy.  I think I'm going to suggest to some of those who love me that a set of the size sixes might be a nice birthday present.

And speaking of the Babushka, I will leave you with a knitter story.  On Sunday night, after our second day of skiing, we bundled up and headed out to Angel's for dinner - our favorite spot for our last night in Mammoth Lakes.  I was wearing my Babushka, because it really is the scarf I wear the most.  Suddenly the woman at the table behind me leaned over and said, "Excuse me.  Are you a knitter?"  I said yes, how did she know? But of course I knew, and I had to laugh when she asked for the pattern name, complimented the seed stitch (I love knitters!), and immediately recognized the cashmere content of the yarn when I handed it over.  Am I the only one who always feels just a bit warmer when recognized out there in the world by a fellow knitter?


Mary Lou said...

One day I was waiting for a bus, and a woman sidled over and said quietly: Is that an Addi Turbo sticking out of your bag? Instant connection. Glad your ski trip was, well, mammoth. I just bought myself a set of signature dpns size 1 with stiletto point. I'm not thrilled right now but I will make a pair of socks that need pointy needles and see what I think. Maybe I should have gone for the circular.

Gwen said...

Ski weekend sounds great! I'm giggling at the scarf that makes you look like an old Russian woman and later the Babushka scarf, which aren't the same thing.

AlisonH said...

I love it! I once recognized the yarn someone's scarf had been made out of, and we were instant friends.

Anonymous said...

Other Passenger: "Oh, you're one of those compulsive sock knitters! My sister-in-law is like that. She ... has lots of socks."

Me: "Ha-ha, no. I can stop any time I want." (ahem) "Really."

Gwyndolyn O'Shaughnessy

Willow said...

Because I often (read:always) am knitting in public, I regularly get asked about my project and other knitters just gravitate to me. I love it!

Jane said...

I must say, those socks are a wonderful colour, and I'm sure you don't look like an old Russian woman at all!

Anonymous said...

pesky work, it really does eat into our knitting time. :) that made me laugh. stay on the side of the tracks so you don't get hit by that train please. i depend on your notes from the front.

Gina said...

It could be worse. You could work at a CSU on the quarter system. Our first day back after winter break was also the first day of classes. Very painful, especially for students with registration problems that couldn't be resolved because the university was closed for nearly two weeks.

Oh, I miss Mammoth so much. When I was a student at Cal, the parents of one of my closest friends managed the Mammoth Mountain Inn. I was a bad child and spent the least amount of time possible with my parents in LA before I headed up to the mountains. Now we're lucky if we make it up to Tahoe a couple times a year - and it's only a 4 hour drive.

Another Joan said...

Speaking of knittting projects, have you seen what Alison is up to over at www.spindyeknit.com? A couple of hats would be good in the queue!

EGunn said...

Oh, dear. I was hoping that that light was at the end of a tunnel, not on the front of a train! It is that time again, isn't it? The undergrads are back in force this week. At least it looks like you're well settled with the knitting plan, and really, everything else will fall into place. It's the "non-essential" things like knitting that get brushed aside when the deadlines begin, so better to start with them planned and trust that everything else will manage to get done somehow.

I love linen stitch, but I've never worked up the courage to work with it. Its endlessness might be the end of me, you know?

Nana Sadie said...

You mean to tell me you didn't have a copy of your survey to hand the knitter in Angels?
I LOVE this post...you're just flowing here. Can't wait for the modeling of your recreation.

Amanda said...

Love the colors of that scarf and the cables on the house are gorgeous!

twinsetellen said...

So much good stuff in this post! So many good projects, for one. I really started getting worried - I thought we'd hit double digits. :-)

I love recognizing another knitter or being recognized because of a particular yarn or pattern. Instant bond. And I can't agree more about the Signatures. They're going to have to change that iconic bumper sticker to "She who dies with the most Signature needles wins."

Kim said...

Yeah! I'm getting somewhere with the knitting. I recognized the Noro right away. Does that count?

In solidarity for our first nutty week back starting tomorrow, Kim

Rachael said...

I love the noro socks, yarn that does the work for you!

I also notice other knitters, I saw a woman in a gorgeous cardigan that was in some sort of hand-dyed yarn out at a restaurant last week but she was with a whole group of friends so I didn't bother her, would've been nice to chat tho...next time I'll be braver.

Alwen said...

I haven't paged forward to see pictures yet, but I do love the subtle colors I'm seeing on my monitor!

Helen said...

The thing is that when you stop working you discover that washing and dressing and cooking eat into your knitting time. It's endless.

And I think there's some sad correlation between things being interesting to knit and not being interesting to wear. I don't worry about it as much as I used to and just try to keep the interesting-to-knit things small, but it's a bit late for you to try that here :) But the colours are beautiful.