Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Knitting along - plus forwarding a language survey

(The language survey is at the bottom, so if you're here for that instead of knitting, feel free to hop on down there!)

So, a post just about knitting, I think.  I am feeling the excitement of spring, which seems to lead me to want to find new projects and cast them on, even though I'm also trying very hard to finish the big sweater I have OTN.  So, without further ado...

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought yarn (cashmere!  how could I not?!) to make a cowl while I was in Massachusetts (because I was taken, through no fault of of my own, to WEBS, and, well, cashmere!).  I cast on right away, and had it finished in about a day.
That's how it started out.  The pattern, which was printed on the label attached to one end by a little ribbon, called for two stripes of each color, but I decided to do just one thicker stripe of each, and to change the color sequence a little bit.  I was delighted with the way it turned out, and wore it for the rest of my trip.  It's not a huge cowl, but because it's doubled (and cashmere!), it's tremendously warm.
The yarn is Lux Adorna DK weight cashmere (!).  I truly love the hand on this yarn - it's simultaneously crisp and buttery.  It was a pleasure to knit with, and the colors are rich; it goes with a lot of my winter clothes, and I'll get years of use out of this one, I think.  Of course, it's warmed up too much here for it right now, so it will be put away until winter.

I've also finished the mitts that I knitted as the first pattern in the Year of Techniques.  The helical stripe trick is a ton of fun, and I can see other ways to use it in the future.  Which was, of course, the whole point of doing the Year of Techniques (more on that in a moment).  I finished the mitts over the weekend, and Kivrin promptly snagged them and bore them away.  I managed to get her to let me take one photo before they disappeared again.
They would have been done much sooner, but I've been plugging away at Oa.
As you can see, I've got the sleeves finished and joined, and am working my way through the raglan decreases.  Gwilim is utterly convinced that I've knitted this as his personal cat bed.

 He is wrong.

Once I've finished the raglan decreases, I'm going to have to make a decision.  The original pattern is a hoodie.  But I'm not sure that I want a hood.  This is going to be a VERY warm sweater as it is, given the stranded colorwork.  I almost never actually pull a hood up, so I'm not sure I want it there on my back whenever I wear this.  I very much like the look of the neck, though, going into the hood - it looks almost cowllike.  So I need to figure out whether I can get that look by foregoing the steek and hood, and simply knitting the neckband once I've finished decreasing for the shoulders (input from all and sundry is very welcome on this question).  Soon, I'll know whether that is a good idea, or a catastrophe.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I got my email with the next pattern for the Year of Techniques, but at the same time, that dratted Ann posted about a sweater she's knitting, and I took one look at the stripes and just felt like I needed a happy stripey springy sweater of my own.  Then I looked at the yarn at the bottom of the page, got an eyeful of one of the colorways, and started lusting after a stripey sweater of my own.

Drat it.

But honestly - blues?  with a fun yellow for contrast?  I had to have it, right?  (So much for knitting each of the Year of Technique patterns as they come out - intarsia, I'll get to you later, baby!)

Of course, me being me, I decided that I really don't want a Carpino (which is the pattern Ann is using); something about the mesh front kind of bugs me.  So that led to hours (and hours) of time on Rav trying to find the perfect pattern for a striped sweater.  I finally decided on Poolside, which has the top-down raglan look I wanted, and some lace, but not lace on the whole front.  Unfortunately, since the yarn I have is fingering, and the pattern is written for sport weight yarn, I'll have to do some math and jiggering once I've knitted a swatch, but I'm thinking that once that's done, I'm home free.  I'm planning to plagiarize Ann's stripes, which I like quite a lot.  I'm hoping that this will be some relatively simple knitting to do while reading or going to meetings, as Oa really requires me to look at my hands quite a lot (I can knit with one strand of yarn in each hand, but I have to check in with myself not infrequently).

So, that's all that's on my needles (in any kind of active way, at least)!  How about you?

And, as promised up top, here is a language survey that is being conducted by some colleagues of mine - if you're interested in language and language use (you do not have to be multilingual), please give it a shot and feel free to pass it on!

"We are two researchers from California State University San Marcos, Nicoleta Bateman and Golnaz Nanbakhsh. We are conducting an anonymous survey to learn about how speakers in the US use languages other than English (be they heritage/home languages, or second languages) in different social contexts. The survey will take between approximately 2 and 7 minutes, depending on your answers/situation. Thank you so much for participating!"
(ETA: this is the correct link; the first one was missing a "t" at the end)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Little things (inevitably becoming bigger things)

I meant to post as soon as I got back from my recent trip, but immediately came down with an airplane cold (you know the kind I'm talking about - the one where you sit on a plane, listening to someone hacking up a lung two rows behind and caddycorner from you, and think, yep, here it comes, baby!), and have spent the last five days or so in sinus misery.  I can finally breathe through my nose again, and even though my head still feels kind of fuzzy and I frequently lose my train of thought, I figured I'd take my chances and try to compose something that makes sense.

What recent trip, you're probably asking?  Well, I managed to make time to go to Massachusetts to see my older daughter for her final riding competition of the year, and for her birthday.  Unfortunately, we were busy enough that I didn't also make time to see many loved friends and relatives while I was there - but not unfortunately, she and I had a lovely long weekend together, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  I also didn't take work with me; I can't tell you how long that's been.  (So long, in fact, that I kept having to ask her: shouldn't I be doing something right now?  You know, other than eating and sleeping and knitting and reading and visiting?  Something like work?  No, mom, she kept reassuring me - no.)

She is one of the (once-)little things in my life (you know what I mean - not a little thing in my life, but she was once tiny) that is clearly (!!) not so little any more (and again, !!).
That's Tess.  (The girls are now old enough that I decided it was up to them whether I used their names or Older/Younger Daughter, and they have both given me permission to use their names.)  She just turned 19 last week.  That means it's been 19 years since I brought her home, a new mom, the first of my friends to have a child.  I so clearly remember sitting with my friend Leela at the kitchen table, the day after Rick went back to work, staring at Tess in her car seat then looking at each other and going, now what do we do with her?

Well, in spite/because of what we did with/to her, there she is, happily ensconced at college, halfway through the second semester of her sophomore year.  Majoring in Biology (which still comes as a bit of a shock - she was my unstoppable lit/social science person; just goes to show you what an excellent teacher can do to inspire a student, and boy did she have an excellent bio teacher in high school). While she was in class, I grabbed the opportunity to take my new camera for a walk around campus.
 It wasn't warm.  In fact, the lovely innkeepers at the place where we stayed referred to the weather as "raw", a word that I remember my mother using (it's not something you hear often from a Californian) to describe exactly the kind of chill, damp weather we had when I was there.
I found myself, as I often am, unreasonably charmed by the ice, encasing these leaves, and the lower lake. 
(Yes, I did manage to restrain myself from poking the ice with a stick. But only because the trees had already done it for me.)
 As I walked, I found myself near the greenhouse on campus, where I wandered into a fairy tale spring.
I took endless pictures of flowers, which I won't subject you to here.  It was so lush and beautiful, and they were able to grow such a huge range of plants in such a small place.  I wish I enjoyed gardening more, because I certainly love gardens!

And then, as it started to snow, I wandered around campus.  Yes, my daughter apparently attends Hogwarts.

 But our visit wasn't all classes and walks on campus!  There was much time spent with horses.

Including several brutally early mornings spent in astonishingly cold barns (the team riders call MHC's barn The Icebox - the name is well-earned).  Thank goodness horse blankets are warm and available (if you don't mind smelling of horses!).

I also got to see Tess compete with her team.
I never cease to be amazed at her courage and guts.  In these competitions, riders draw their horses by lot, and ride what they get.  Tess, like me, isn't naturally inclined towards public performance or competition, and yet there she is, quite literally getting back up on horses after falling off, getting thrown (last spring, getting a concussion), dealing with good moods, bad moods, squirrelly, calm, whatever she gets, and simultaneously having to think about her equitation.  I know that she didn't do as well in this competition as she'd hoped, but that doesn't change how I feel about her and who she is and what she does.

I'm still getting used to having a daughter who's living on her own, far away from home.  Getting to spend this time with her, in her space, was a real gift.  I mean, I know in my head that she has her own life, but there's something really lovely about getting to actually see her move confidently in a space that she has made her own, getting to meet and spend time with the fabulous, interesting, and funny women whom she's made her friends, seeing how she navigates a world that is entirely hers and never was mine.  This is exactly what we raise our children to do - to go out and be themselves in the world.  But it's not something that's easy to imagine before it actually happens.  And really, it happens again and again at different stages in their lives.  Each step that my girls take into themselves feels new and exciting, and, at the same time, exactly what I expected to have happen.  I found myself deeply touched by how willing she is to open the door and let me in for a while, sharing her time and her place with me.  Rick has business on the east coast at the end of the month, and will get to have his own visit with her (which makes me feel a bit less guilty about our snatched mother/daughter time).

And it wasn't all horses and ice.  I was going to avoid WEBS, because honestly - I need more yarn like I need a hole in my head.  But Tess had finished the project that she started while she was here for the holidays, and (my hand to god - it was her idea, not mine) wanted to go to get yarn for projects to knit in lecture.
That's the lovely scarf (it's HUGE) that she knitted (she offered to knit me one if I got her the yarn, and I was SO tempted, but it turns out I live in, you know, San Diego, and it's already April, so it didn't seem practical).  Of course, once I was there, I succumbed, but!  You'll be impressed - I got one thing, for one project, and I knitted and wore it while I was there.  I'll post FO shots next time, but here's a teaser in the meantime - another small thing that got bigger (those are little mini-skeins of, get this, cashmere; how could I walk away from that?!).

Unfortunately, after all of that loveliness, I came home not only to a cold, but to two missing chickens.  Because that left us with one lone chicken, and because there's nothing sadder in the world than a lonely chicken, three more small things came to join us last week.
 They, too, are (thankfully) getting bigger!