Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A finished object! (Two, in fact!)

I thought I'd try to write one more quick post this week.  I have the best intentions to post on Sundays and Wednesdays (if you hadn't figured out that this was my plan, it's because I so rarely manage to make it happen), and it's Wednesday - this is good.  But I won't be posting on Sunday (at least probably not), because (theoretically) I will be in Yosemite, sans internet.  Why all the hedges, you ask?  Well, it's because as of right now, the condo where we're supposed to be staying has no water.  I can do without many things, but I admit to liking it when toilets flush.  So we'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I have finished Leaving!  Hooray!
I've even worn it in public.  I can never tell whether the lack of comments means that the non-knitters with whom I spend most of my time think that it's just a sweater that one might buy in a store (in which case, a good thing), or think it looks kind of homemade and don't want to say anything (not so good).  I'm happy enough with the way this one turned out - look, it fits! - that I'm going with the former interpretation.
I love the lace motif on this.  Twisted stitches do such nice things to lace, don't they?
And look at that back!  Pretty, like wings, no?
There's even one on each of the sleeves.

To recap, this is Anne Hanson's Leaving (link above), knitted in Woolen Rabbit Oasis, colorway Forever in Denim.  I knitted mine on size five and size three needles.  The camel/silk blend of the yarn means that this is a very light, but very warm, sweater.

There's another sweater that I just got some modeling shots of.  Look!  It's my mom!
There she is, in her Moonstruck.  She says it's warm and it fits well.  She might just be saying that because she's my mom, but she certainly looks good in it!
The sleeves are a titch long, hmph.  I'll have to look at it on her when I see her this weekend.

Meanwhile, I'll post again with snow pictures when we get back!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy birthday, baby

Thirteen years ago this morning (at 3:46 am precisely, but who's counting), Older Daughter was born, and then there were three.  She was a long drink of water back then - 7 pounds, eight ounces and 21 inches - and she's still not exactly short (OK, she's taller than me; I think she may be hitting 5'5" soon - I am 5'2'ish not 5'5").  She gave us a run for our money, that one - colic, night terrors, sleep-walking.  You name it, and if it meant less sleep for us, she had it.  She didn't like to sleep because the world went and changed while she was sleeping, and she missed things.  One friend described her as Ivan the Terrible after babysitting her (note: that friend babysat her many times after that; it wasn't a criticism so much as an observation) - charming as can be, right up until the moment when she WASN'T.  I always knew, though, that the hard stuff was the flip side of the coin that made her one of the most observant and interested and just generally engaged kids I knew, even as a toddler.  (This was the child who recognized the street I needed to turn on to go to Peet's for an extra cup of coffee on the way to daycare.  At eighteen months.  If I didn't turn that way, she'd ask "Copy shot?  Copy shot?" - the f's in coffee were a bit tough back then, poor kid, but she knew what she was saying.)  She was always on, if you know what I mean, and the price of that level of openness to the world was some tears.  Rick and I always figured that our biggest job was going to be to give her the tools she needed to survive her own full-force interest in every. single. thing that was happening around her, all. the. time. 

So we worked on that, and she worked on that (learning to read helped tremendously), and in watching her I came to realize that a lot of my own alternating sense of feeling deep joy in the world around me and feeling completely overwhelmed by the world around me was, essentially, the same thing.  I, too, like to read a lot.  (Escapism?  Indeed.  Knitting has been a big benefit for me, in that it takes the edge off without being quite as anti-social as reading.)  The more she became able to do on her own, the more at peace she was with her world.  She developed quite a sense of humor, and if there is one thing I can say about my daughter, it's that she retains the ability to laugh, even at herself, through almost anything.  It seems to be taking the edge off the pre-teen years, and I can only hope, on this day she turns 13, that it continues through the teenage years. 

What else to say about my older daughter?  She is kind, and thoughtful, and empathetic.  She is beautiful, and doesn't care.  She is still willing to tell me (and her younger sister!) that she loves us when we drop her off in the morning.  She just started her middle school's first newspaper.  She stuck with orchestra even when it wasn't what she really wanted, but is now happy because we found her a fiddle teacher.  She's willing to try almost anything once, even raw oysters, and see it through (although she did almost spit that oyster back out).  She took the commuter train out to my campus today - by herself! - so I could buy her a birthday sandwich.  She loves to travel (she and her best friend have already planned - and priced out - a summer in Greece between high school and college; it may not happen, but she's got a plan!), rolls with the punches, and carries a book (or three) everywhere she goes.

Yesterday, she told us that for her birthday, she wanted to go on the Flightline at the Wild Animal Park.  So we went.  I ended up being the parent to go with the girls, and we all loved it (so much more than I'd thought I would, in fact).  Especially the birthday girl, who was just happy as could be that we were willing to go on this adventure with her.

Carefree and happy after her practice run.
And in the truck, as they took us far, far, up the valley to a platform 45 feet above a hillside that dropped steeply away.
If you click to embiggen, you'll see that those three little dots are us.  The guy who sent us off explained to the girls, very clearly, that shrieking upset the rhinos and was not a good idea.  They did not shriek.  Neither, to my surprise, did I.
Getting our "survival shot" taken by the Park employee.
And by Rick.  She looks pretty happy there, doesn't she?

Happy birthday, baby girl.  I can't tell you how glad we are that you're here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring break? We don't need no stinking spring break!

Well, we do.  But I think this one is mostly going to be catching up and getting ready for the next several weeks so I can go to Yosemite with a clean conscience.  (Where I think there'll be more snow than I'd expected, after the storm that just came in and dumped feet of snow everywhere, including on our local mountains.  Beverly - how's it going out there?)  The ever-growing to-do list does mean, though, that I'm probably not going to get the quiet day of just sitting and knitting and spinning that I'd dreamed of.  Ah, well.  Such is life, right?

I am making progress on the Leaving sweater, though.  I finished both fronts and the back and blocked them, and last night I finished the first sleeve.  That leaves one more sleeve then button bands and collar to go.  The sleeves can block while I knit the bands and collar, and with luck I'll have it done very soon.
I decided to block these pieces to be absolutely sure that I was getting the measurements I was supposed to.  I swatched, and got gauge (as one does) with the size four needle that is used for the body (rather than the hems), but then as I was knitting the back it just seemed like it was going to be WAY too big.  Instead of doing what I usually do and ignoring my gut until I've already knitted the whole sweater, I stopped about six inches into the back, took stock, and ripped back to the hem to start over with a size three needle.  And then, of course, I fretted that the whole thing was going to be too small.  However, I don't think it will.  It blocked out to the measurements that I'm aiming for (it is still an open question whether I've chosen the right measurements, but that's another issue entirely), so I'm declaring myself happy.
The first picture is truer to the color of the yarn, but this is what I love about this sweater - it's almost sculptural, isn't it?  Such clean-cut lines in this motif.  It makes me very happy.
And for some reason, I'm even more charmed by the way the motif is split in half along the button band (which will go right in the middle there).  It's why I'm knitting the cardigan instead of the pullover for now - I love the way this bit looks!  I may have to knit another one as a pullover someday.  This is exactly my kind of sweater, and I love the weight of it in this yarn - very light, with a lovely drape, and I bet it'll be warmer than the weight seems, with the silk and cashmere in it.

Meanwhile, this is waiting for me when I'm finished.
I don't know if I'll get there this week, but it's a powerful motivation.

On another topic completely, I'm dithering about whether to go to Sock Summit this summer.  I'd thought I'd be going to the Golden Gate Fiber Institute, and I've been saving my pennies for that, but I'm not sure that's going to happen now, and I'd hate to miss both events.  Is anyone else going?

Monday, March 14, 2011

I can stop anytime I want

No, really.

I am apparently not quite done posting about the hats I've been knitting.  But there are only two more, and they're both for me!
This is one I've been wanting to knit for ages.  I grabbed up the yarn a couple of months ago when I found out that my LYS might not be carrying the fingering weight anymore, and I've been staring at the yarn and the pattern, sitting all ready to go in my knitting basket, for some time.  The yarn is the same Frog Tree alpaca that I used to make my niece's mittens last fall.  And the pattern is Selbu Modern; I absolutely adore this particular motif.  I have high hopes of wearing this and the next hat when we go to Yosemite in a few weeks (where it should still be plenty cold).  Because I'm telling you - unless something changes around here, hat season is over in SoCal; the wisteria are blooming, the whole neighborhood smells like orange blossoms, and the sweet peas are out at the farmer's market.  It's spring!

But I still knitted one more hat that I've been lusting after ever since Anne started knitting it.  The cables in this hat are so sculptural, it makes me happy just looking at it.
Of course, you can't really see it here (no-one around to take pictures for me, so you're stuck with what I can do myself), but this will give you the idea.
The yarn is the same yarn that I used for my Congressional hats; see, they really were something I'd wear myself!  I really like this yarn (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) for hats - it has a lovely hand, and it's a great weight for knitting on size seven needles, pretty quickly (at least, it certainly feels quick after colorwork on size twos!).  The pattern is Anne's Monkeybread Hat, which she has just released (she includes a scarf pattern, too).  You know how much I love her patterns, and this is no exception.  Clear and concise, and the results are to dye die for.  (Obviously, I have color on the brain right now!)

Part of the reason for that is that I've just finished spinning the fiber I was hoping to have done in February - two more hours would have seen it done, but it came down to mom's sweater or the spinning, and we all know where that went (with good reason; you should see how great it looks on her!  She's going to send some pictures I can share).  In any case, I now have 330 or so yards of a lovely fingering-weight (I think - I haven't done the wpis yet, but that's what it looks like to me) three-ply sock yarn, spun out of superwash BFL that I bought from the Sincere Sheep booth at the Dixon Fiber Festival last October.
That doesn't really do the color justice at all - it is a lovely spring green with bits of yellow, just exactly what I wanted to be spinning in February.  I think I have enough yardage to knit myself a pair of the Rivendell socks that I've been wanting (I think I even got enough twist in there to make the stitches show up as they ought; those of you who are spinners should be able to click to embiggen and give me your opinions).  With luck, those can go on the needles either over spring break (next week! next week! next week!) or while we're in Yosemite. 

Meanwhile, I have finally gotten the yarn that I have spent the last several months waiting for with bated breath (through no fault of the dyer - customs apparently likes yarn as much as the rest of us, and held this lot back for petting before she could get it).  Kim was so nice about my emails harrassing her checking up on the yarn (her patience was amazing, actually), and let me tell you, now that it is here, it is everything I could have hoped for and more.  The color is exactly what I wanted it to be, which isn't always the case.  There are actually several more colorways in this yarn that I would gladly knit - someday... And what am I knitting with it, you ask?  Well, the sweater pattern that I bought the minute I saw it, and have been carrying about with me ever since, waiting to cast on.  (Sorry, that's a Rav link; I can't get Twist to load, but it's the Leaving sweater - one of Anne's lovelies - from Twist Collective.)  I have this little hope that maybe, just maybe, it will be done in time to wear to Yosemite.  We'll see.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hat, but for another reason

I don't know how it got to be Thursday.  All I know is that I just finished my last pile of grading (for the nonce; the gradeless state never lasts long around here), and I have ten minutes I didn't think I'd have, so I thought I'd better take this chance to share my latest hat.  (Actually, not my latest; I've got two more to show off this weekend, but this is the one for which I have pictures.)

This hat is not knitted for Warm Hats Not Hot Heads (although that project is continuing and even expanding its scope - check it out, there's something for everyone!).  Instead, it's for a friend of mine, with whom I work in Tehachapi (in fact, she's the fabulously talented grantwriter who keeps language revitalization projects going across the state).  She puts me up in her home (puts up with me, perhaps?) whenever I'm able to stay the night up there, and spoils me with good beer, good pizza, and excellent company.  (Not to mention lovely hikes in the morning.)  Someone like that most definitely deserves a hat, don't you think?

This yen to knit her a hat coincided with my desire to try to knit a version of a California basket cap; Native Californians traditionally wove wonderful baskets to wear as hats - very different versions exist all across the state.  The ones from the region where I am working now tend to be twined (rather than coiled), and to have a conical shape (rather than a flat top and not very deep sides).  So I went through a wonderful book that I have, sketched and drew and dithered, and finally came up with something I liked (not to mention the several other ideas that I now want to try).  I headed off to the store and got some yarn (the name of which I canNOT for the life of me remember right now, which is sad, because I love this yarn so very much that I bought enough to make more hats plus a little sweater for myself - oops)(edited to add: it's Plymouth Vita - such a gorgeous yarn, it's 85% recycled cotton, 15% recycled cashmere, and 100% wonderful), took the beads that my friend had given me to experiment with, and cast on.  The results?  Well, I like them.
That's fairly true to the colors, there.  Those beads are red, and they're placed around the rim the way a lot of basket caps put dark stretches in the final rows of a basket.
Here it is on my head.  It fits very much like a cloche, which is different from Northern California caps (although just about right for the Owens Valley, which is what I was aiming for), and I like it enough that I'm thinking I might need one myself...
My friend graciously agreed to model it for me.  There were requests from others at our work session, too - I may be slowly knitting a cap a month for quite some time.
I'll end with a picture of the amazing clouds that were boiling up over the hills on my way into Tehachapi on Sunday morning (those are clouds there, not snow-covered hills behind the front hills).
And I'm off and running to get the next pile of papers!