wine bar.

I think that’s where I’d like to be spending my time.

Summer is always a weird transition in grad school: it feels both endless and always almost over; the list of books to read is preposterous, and yet, one holds out hope of making a dent somehow; there is so much work to be done, but it still seems possible to combine that with new adventures and hobbies.  See above: apparent (illusory) endlessness.

I’m a person who needs a schedule.  Otherwise, I end up reverting back to my hermit-like ways and spending a lot of time hanging out with my cat.  Whom I love, but this is a scenario which leads me to announcing — in public — that I sometimes think about dressing her up.  Ironically, of course.  But still.

So that’s why I’d like to spend more time at a wine bar.  It would get me out of the house, the library, or the coffee shop, and seems like a classy kind of destination for reading.  Until that masterplan goes into action, though, I’m working on learning to sew in a straight line (not easy), making many a wonky skirt (all meeting the minimum requirements for wearable if one isn’t too picky), and knitting some stripes.

stripey!

stripey!

I’m following the Ishbel pattern, just adding stripes every 2 rows.  I’d like to do something different in the border/lace sections, but I haven’t figured that out yet.  Right now, I think I’d like a big, striking motif that is a little bit lacey and leaning towards delicate to contrast with the worsted-weight yarn (cascade 220), large needles (US9/5.5mm), and dense stripes.  We shall see.  Luckily, the Nashville Public Library has most of the Barbara Walker treasuries.

In other knitting news, I showed off my girasole (at a wine bar, incidentally) the other evening to much acclaim.  I love how lace on this scale looks impressive in a way that is totally out of proportion with its actual difficulty.  Sure, it’s not easy, but it’s also surprisingly rhythmic and pleasurable once you get the patterns down.

penguin!

Anyway, in the process of showing off, I discovered that I’d knit an old-style Penguin mystery-and-crime shawl.  I love the green Penguin mysteries (this was an especially good find: both a green Penguin and an elusive Cambridge murder) and was even more pleased to find out that I’d managed to recreate the color scheme in wool.

Without a big project on the needles — I’m still dragging my feet on the EZ saddle shoulder aran — I’m feeling slightly lost.  Maybe it’s time for another ginormous circular shawl?  Hmmm.  Malabrigo lace?  In a flashy color?  Must put on pants and investigate.  And then get to the wine bar.

30!

30!

Here I am at 30.  I embraced the Emmms philosophy of red lipstick with gusto, drank wine with bubbles, and ate lots of spicy tuna.  It was a very good day.

I also bought a sewing machine.  New adventures await!

2-fer!

Two big projects off my summer list: girasole and lizard ridge.  That’s right, both of them.

Let’s start with girasole.

girasole

girasole

girasole

Almost exactly 11 months (many of them spent in my craft closet of purgatory doom), close to 1400 yards of jumper-weight wool, and one move to Tennessee later, I’m amazed that I actually finished this shawl.  It’s beautiful.

Yesterday I was a bit lost without this shawl to work on.  It had definitely become a part of my routine.

how do i wear this?

how do i wear this?

Though I’m still not a 100% sure how to wear it.

Lizard Ridge is, without a doubt, my oldest WIP: I started it in April 2007.  Wow.  Since then I’ve:

1. moved to Germany

2. broken up with one boyfriend

3. left one graduate program

4. moved back to New Jersey

5. found a new graduate program

6. got some health problems resolved after many years

7. moved to Tennessee

8. finished my first year in the new program

It was time to shut it down.

Even after all of those years, I still only had 10 of the 24 required squares.  Yeah, not looking too promising.  I sat down to start square no. 11 last night — while watching Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (creepy) — and realized that I just didn’t want to knit this anymore.  Maybe I could have finished up one or two squares, but I needed 14.  And so I decided to stop.

This morning, I laid out all of my squares for a lap blanket.  Then I thought, I don’t really need a tiny blanket.  How about another shawl?

Now I have a shawl.  Well, now after a couple hours of stitching pieces together and weaving in ends.

Making this up was no joke.

scraps!

It’s just 10 squares, arranged in an L-shape: one long row of six squares sewn together side-to-side, topped by a block of 4 squares.  For the moment, I decided to leave the edges raw and curly.  We’ll see.

lizard ridge, modified

lizard ridge, modified

All in all, I like it.  But mostly, I’m happy to have put the Lizard Ridge to bed.  It was time.

so close. (edging : day 4)

So very, very close.

so close

Getting this far (50 more rows!) has taken me lots of World Cup games; one ridiculous movie, featuring Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman, and — wait for it — Goldie Hawn (who knew such a thing existed?!); and a full season (4) of Say Yes to the Dress, which was lots of fun until it got kinda creepy.  Apparently, happiness can be bought and it starts at $1800.

Anyhoo, [dismounting high horse] I’m very pleased that this project — already almost a year in progress — is nearing completion.  I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about all of the projects I have going at the moment: socks, scarf, shawl, and afghan.  Admittedly, not exactly a slide into knitterly decadence, but it bugs me and I’ve decided to work at clearing out the knitting basket this summer.  While also making a start on the EZ saddle shoulder aran.

Yeah, something tells me these goals might be mutually exclusive.

So to distract us all from that, here’s my adorable Alice doing what she does best: being very cute.

very helpy

very helpy

very helpy

guacamole for breakfast

guacamole for breakfast

I’m a person who gets stuck.  On people, on ideas, in routines.  Needless to say, I also have a lot of rules.  All of them are designed to protect, a few of them are productive, most of them are wrong or unhelpful, but there you are.

There are serious examples, of course, places where I’ve been stuck that have been very dire and sad — but that’s not for a knitting blog.  Today, it’s about guacamole.

guacamole for breakfast

Which is not to say I’ve tipped into frivolty.  It’s been a hard adjustment, coming back to Nashville from Switzerland.  My trip east and across the Atlantic was a confrontation with some serious nostalgia and I don’t quite know what to do with it all yet.  It was fun, but it was hard.

And in the midst of feeling a bit unsettled, a bit mopey and sad, I lost track of my summer project.  Indeed, I made guacamole last night, not so much because I wanted to, but because the avacadoes were about to go bad.  It was sad guacamole, the guacamole of necessity.  Not what I wanted.

guacamole for breakfast

Now I have all of this guacamole.  And I wasn’t sure what in the world I was going to do with it all.  Then I thought, I could put it on toast.  Who says you can’t eat guacamole for breakfast?  So that’s what I did.  And I feel better.

It was delicious.

guacamole for breakfast

Now I’m going to the public library to track down some Alice Starmore.

edging : day 3

It would be a blatant untruth if I said that knitting this edging was anything other than hugely boring.  I’ve crept past the half-way point (no turning back now) and am into 400-stitch range.  The end is in sight, but just barely.

edging : day 3

The good news: I really like the ghilie green edging and really want to wear this soon.  I’ve been wrapping myself up and running to the bathroom mirror — dangling yarn, needle cable, and all — just to occasionally check progress, and so far it’s lovely.  There were moments of doubt, when I thought that perhaps I would end up looking like a version Miss Hughes in her “beige woollen shroud,” but now I can’t believe that I actually *made* this.
Air conditioning in Nashville is aggressive and I’ve often wished for a shawl that is basically a socially-acceptable blanket to wrap up in.  I think this just might be it.  It is huge.

edging : day 3

edging : day 3

mail!

Like just about everyone, I love getting mail.  Especially packages full of surprises.

mail!

The barefootrooster very generously offered to pass along her copy of How to Knit a Love Song, and it arrived in Nashville not long after I did.  So far, it’s the perfect summer reading.

mail!

But the rooster didn’t stop there: she included a surprise birthday skein of her lovely handspun!  It’s merino and beautiful and I can’t wait to knit it up into something soft and wonderful.

Thanks, Amy!

ghilie green

ghilie green

All in all, I think the ghilie green was a good decision.  I was afraid that the contrast edging would end up looking like what it is: a last-minute substitution, the product of necessity and not invention.  But it actually kind of works.

ghilie green

The contrast gives the shawl a little pizzazz around the edges and frames the lace patterns nicely; the barberpole-like stripes where the edging joins the body ease the transition.  It looks funky in a good way, I think.  (I hope.)

ghilie green

I’ve still got a long way to go, though.

Luckily, a 6-row repeat over a maximum of 7 stitches practically knits itself.  Practically.

happiness is …

happiness is

… a wall of hand-knit shawls.

I did the math today and realized that I have moved six times in six years.  That’s a lot of packing and unpacking.  This year, though, I’m staying put.  And taking advantage of the chance to do some organizational fine-tuning around the apartment, the kind of stuff you just don’t get to if you’re always on the way to a new place.

Closets are organized, containers are planted, and now the shawls are out for all to see (well, me, anyway).  In the exhaustion of moving in, and then the exhaustion of the semester (which started soon after), I never got around to taking the shawls out of the closet or off the back of the chair.  Target to the rescue!  (And my dad, who believes in independence through power tools.)  A few minutes of work and voilà!: instant hand-knit heaven.

This display makes me quite happy.  And quite wishful for more shawls.

finally, some knitting

Here I am, back at home in Nashville: drinking coffee, eating cherries for breakfast, and watching soccer.  Along the way I might’ve also watered the new container garden (veggies and herbs, yippee!!), knit some through the last repeat of chart g on girasole, and cuddled with the kitteh.

i did my best

I did my best, but it wasn’t enough this time.  The temporary tattoos obviously have to come back for the next game.  (Honestly, soccer isn’t a big thing in my life, but it’s fun to get caught up in the spirit of it all.)

But to the knitting!

1) girasole

girasole

I’m almost finished with the last repeat of chart g.  That means only the knit-on edging remains, and knit-on edging is no joke over 640 stitches.  Unfortunately, that last skein of yarn you see above is my last one.  Not even the most generous of estimates nor the most incorrigible of optimists could predict anything but a yarn shortage at a tragic moment  … and Schoolhouse is sold out of this particular shade of JS Shetland jumper-weight.

girasole

So I’ve decided to break out the contrast color.  That’s right, contrast color.  This jumper-weight has been haunting my stash since I bought the kit for a Swedish Dubbelmössa way back when.  I decided on ghilie green (fc46) and honey (fc43) for reasons that now elude me, as I don’t usually pick dark greens.  In any case, now it’s time for ghilie green to hop out of the stash purgatory, onto my needles, and save the day.  I’ve got three skeins and I’m hoping that’s enough to get through the edging.

I’m also hoping that a contrast edging won’t look wonky.

2) regentag

regentag

As you can see, not much knitting happened in Germany and Switzerland.  We were busy, busy, busy and somehow, at the end of the day, all I could do was go to bed.  These socks got some attention — there were a couple of quiet evenings — but it’s been slow going.

3) EZ saddle shoulder aran

swatch!

This is my tortoise project.  By nature, I’m something of a ponderer — not to say slow poke — and I’m taking my sweet time to work out all the fiddly details of this sweater before casting on.  So another swatch.  Now I’ve got to work on the cables.

4) souvenir yarn

You didn’t think I’d forget that, did you?