goodbye holiday knitting …

Yep.  It is time to bid a perhaps not-so-fond farewell to the crazed dash of holiday knitting that I attempted this year.  A couple of things still need to be finished: la madre’s cardigan is missing sleeves; Em’s Noro rainbow scarf is about half-way; her sweater no even started; Uncle B’s hat … troubled.  I wasn’t even going to make him anything, but then I discovered that everyone else had something, so …

By the way, Rustic Scarf?  A big hit. 

This happens every time I come home: without my usual knitting supplies and inventory, I start going to Michael’s and picking up random yarn … most of which I don’t end up using.  I’ve been home 6 days and have 6 balls of stuff with which I’ve attempted various hats.  And all I have to say for myself is: fair isle is hard.

Looking on the bright side: armpit-of-the-world, WA (where I’m currently celebrating the holidays) does have a schmancy new LYS.  My sister bought me some some *lovely* Cherry Tree Hill potluck [edited: bulky, not worsted.  oops.] (3 skeins in brights) there.  And the prices definitely beat those to be found at my snooty society hostess east coast LYS where they actually talk about "events" hosted by them or their acquaintances using such phrases as "And then Chief Justice Scalia didn’t know where to sit."  Right.

But moving on.

No knitting pictures; I’m using my parents’ computer right now. 

Instead, here’s Sophie (poodle) and Larry (asthmatic rescue cat) — my west-coast furry lovelies.  Alice is being lavished with attention by the best cat-sitter / Golden Age Spain scholar around.

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Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Best for the Winter Solstice!

my girl friday

Man, is my knitting going nowhere.  I just frogged the Cascade 220 + Filatura di Crosa fuzzy business Super-Easy Leg Warmers.  My stitches got off while watching His Girl Friday (talk about fun) and somehow I just haven’t been that into the project.  I’ve gotten a triffle obsessive about the gift-giving aspect of the knitting … too much pressure and not enough fun.  And while the leg warmers are certainly super-easy, they are also super-boring.  So back to square one.  Or rather, back to la madre’s cardigan.  The right fron is almost done, which just leaves sleeves!

I have nothing to show for myself.  Here’s Alice instead:

I really thought I could do it …

but no.  I bought more yarn.  It’s all nicely wound and zipped up.  But still.  More yarn.  Oh well.  The semester is almost over — only four more days of teaching! — so I guess this was an early celebration … or something.

I do, however, also have an FO … proof that I do occasionally use the yarn I buy.

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This is the Rustic Scarf from the wonderful Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.  I used the recommended (and much hoarded) Rowan yorkshire tweed chunky in Pecan (I think), Olive Oil, and Damp.  Turned out quite well, if I do say so myself.  And it is indeed a quick knit.

Speaking of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, that book has recently become my knitting bible.  All of my current projects (excepting la madre’s cardigan) are from the book.  It just has such nice, simple patterns that don’t take a ton of time (big surprise) but turn out well.

Which is why I’ve begun the Super-Easy Leg Warmers, again with the recommended yarn: Cascade 220.

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This is The Heathers in a lovely burgundy red; the fuzzy stuff isn’t the recommended Madil Kid Seta, but Filatura di Crosa Multicolor in a kind of variegated red with flecks of gold and purples.  The combination is quite nice; more importantly the leg warmers themselves are turning out small and stretchy: the perfect (non)size for someone with very delicate appendages (which would perfectly describe the recipient and her limbs). 

It’s very easy going, rounds upon rounds of K1, P1 ribbing.  The 12" circular is surprisingly difficult to knit with.  I don’t mind the 16" ones, but I guess those extra 4" really help with overall dexterity and freedom of movement. 

These will be accompanied by the Hand/Wrist Warmers, also in Cascade 220 and Filatura di Crosa Multicolor (this time purples). 

But that’s not all.  Guess what this is …

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Yep, the Child’s Rainbow Scarf from the above-mentioned and much-revered tome.  It’s fabulous!  I’ve promised this one to my sister — as compensation for the eyelet sweater that is not — but I see many more of these in my future.  This one is in two shades of Noro Silk Garden (I don’t remember the numbers, but with Noro, who really cares?  All the colors are lovely.)
The scarf is so easy and yet so pleasing with the subtly changing stripes and the unexpected color combinations.  So much fun.

Also, don’t forget to visit Shobhana’s site and help out with her Bejeweled scarf project.

what I do in my spare time

Life is pretty boring around here.  If you don’t count the stress.  I’ve really got to learn how to deal with the ups and downs of graduate student life.  Right now, the downs are two papers that need to get written so I can get on with my life.  The ups, well, I guess my cat counts, right?

Luckily, the knitting is much more rewarding.  La madre’s cardigan is progressing apace; I’ve finished the back and one front side.  It’s amazingly quit to knit if I just have a couple of hours to devote to it.  Since I don’t have that, it’s going rather slowly.

I do, however, almost have a completed Rustic Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.  I was thinking sidewinder thoughts, but I saw this pattern, remembered the oodles of yorkshire tweed chunky that I have in my closet and decided to cast on.  Almost complete:

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I ended up with 10 row repeats instead of the recommended "modern" 9, but I somehow got confused while watching Pillow Talk, or maybe it was Second Sight, and didn’t bother to look at the pattern.  Anyway, my dad’s really not a modern kind of guy.  The colors aren’t quite so garish as they appear here — thank goodness.  A very satisfying project.

After my organizing extravaganza I vowed to put a stop to unnecessary yarn purchases.  And since unnecessary is such a subjective term, I thought I should just try not buying any yarn for a while.  I held fast … until yesterday.

Behold:

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The Koigu is for a pair of armwarmers (the yarn was obviously the trouble in the previous failed attempts) and the Blue Sky Alpaca is to stripe with my other two skeins, recently frogged.  Yummy!

Tami!

Look, an FO:

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Filatura di Crosa 127 Print (#36), 3 balls

Tami pattern from Yarnplay

The LYS only had 3 balls of the 127 Print and the scarf turned out a bit shorter than I would have liked, but I think it will be a nice addition to my friend’s winter wardrobe anyway.  (She even has a green coat that I don’t think will clash!)  Besides, I like my scarves ridiculously long, so this one is probably normal.

blah.

Things here are kind of wobbly lately.  Nothing seems to be going … well, anywhere.  My work is stalled (by anxiety and fear and failure and you know); my knitting is suffering a similar fate; my life in general just seems to have, um, quit. 

I want a challenge.  Or something.   I’m so tired of just doing the same old stuff, in the same old rut, getting the same old nothing done.  There are so many adventurous, talented knitters whom I admire and wish I could bring just a bit of the same spark to my own … everything.  In response to a comment I posted on her blog, Anna sent such a sweet message:

"… don’t be intimidated by techniques or designs – an intrepid attitude yields wonders. after
all, it’s only yarn ; )"

So I bought the Jess pattern, determined to be intrepid.  To that end, I’ve also dug out my nemesis: the wrap sweater with eyelets from Rebecca #29.

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My sister recently lost her very special Mr. Dewey to old age and failing health; I decided that the least I could do is provide her with something fuzzy and soft.

This will be my "thinking" project.  All of my other holiday knitting, I’ve decided, will have to be less complicated (read: no counting) so that I can work on it while reading the oh-so-many pages that need to be read. 

And since I’m focusing mainly on scarves and stockinette stitch cardigans, I think this should work.

I’m almost done with the Tami scarf …

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I was utterly defeated by the previously mentioned armwarmers, so it feels nice to be approaching completion on a project that has actually been a pleasure.  And I’m planning many more Yarnplay projects for the future …

’round about 11:30

… this wasn’t looking like such a good idea anymore.

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Um.  I am dumbfounded by the abundance of my yarn.  When did I get so much?  How do I still have any money for food / clothing / shelter / cat supplies?  Will I be forced to knit and felt a yurt just so I can support my (obviously out of control) habit?  Do I even have enough quarters to felt a yurt in the University laundry room?

These and many other questions were going through my mind as I surveyed the damage.  (i.e., how can I explain this to anyone?! )  But out of sight, out of mind, right? 

After only an hour, many ziploc bags, and much use and abuse of under-bed storage, look what I have to show for myself:

Dsc00406 A respectable(-seeming) stash-ette.  Only three projects on the go: la madre’s cardi (big bag); Tami scarf (blue bag); la madre’s cotton wonder scarf (German bag).  The profusion of my needle bouquet might potentially lead someone to believe that my stash is a misleading representation (I like to think of it as a selection) of my fiber fetish.  And if they were to take a gander under the bed, they would find their suspicions confirmed.  Because most of what was on the bed is now under the bed.

Look at how organized it all is:

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Only the yarn for projects that I could foresee myself working on in the near future earned a place in the pretty bin.  Everything else was pursuaded into a much more utiliarian (read: ugly) container under the you-know-where.   If this actually works, it will be genius.

And now to bed, feeling — quite without justification that would hold up in the real world — that I have accomplished much and spent my time very wisely.

 

Lots to report around here. 

First off, I learned the tubular cast-on.  Not that it’s spectacularly difficult, but it’s certainly handy for ribbing (as I’ve always heard tell).  I feel so accomplished, bringing my cast-on knowledge up to a whopping three different techniques. 

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of my own tubular cast-on attempts; the project has been frogged many a time attempting to get the correct size.  Ultimately, I hope to have armwarmers to match the marionberry scarf.  The recipient, though, has such tiny arms, I’m having a hard time getting the sizing.  But check out the tutorials on knitty and my fashionable life.  Very helpful and clear.

Apropos of armwarmers, a new list has appeared: my holiday knitting.  I find it rather intimidating right now; I’m not at all sure what, if any, of it will actually be completed by the holidays.  Well, perhaps Flag Day. 

But this is just one of my attempts to get organized, knitting-wise.  A trip to Shop-Rite with Mr. B this afternoon resulted in these harbingers of much organization and preservation of fine fibers:

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The stash doesn’t stand a chance against my superior zipping power.  Plastic will rule the land, Lady Stash-a-lot has decreed.  But really.  It’s kind of necessary:

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It’s getting a bit out of hand.  The yarn is slowly and insidiously moving out of its corner, taking over more bedroom territory. 

Not to mention how seeing all of that unused yarn stresses me out.  And makes me think of my impending bankruptcy. 

The power of sheep.  It must be mind control.  Clever sheep.

marionberry

Ah, the delicious marionberry.  That’s what my new scarf reminds me of … yummy jam, a delightful shade of deep, dark purple.  Ooooh. 

My latest FO (and stash-buster!):

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It’s really just a plain seed stitch scarf in Debbie Bliss cashmerino superchunky: 2 balls lilac, 1 purple.

I made the decision to frog my very first scarf (and very first FO ever) and put the yarn to use with the lilac (picked up on sale).  The lilac alone didn’t really do it for me, but the purple gave it a bit of extra not-so-girlie zing that made me feel I might be able to pull it off.  Because at a 25% discount I obviously couldn’t say no, whatever the color. 

And I won’t even start about how much I love the cashmerino superchunky.  I would knit sheets out of this stuff if I could afford it.  But alas I must make do. 

This scarf will definitely be what gets me through teaching tomorrow.  Vocab quiz day!  Yay!

Everything else about school still pretty much sucks the life out of me right now.  Which is why I distract myself with the lovely marionberry:

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I was sceptical about the color-blocking, but I really like the finished product. 

The recipe couldn’t be easier:
co an even number of stitches.
seed stitch
(row 1: *K1, P1; rep. from *
row 2: *P1, K1; rep. from *)
color sequence: one ball color A – one ball color B – one ball color A.   (Or whatever strikes your fancy.)
bind off loosely.

Viola!  Marionberry!

qué será, será

Things have been a little slow around here lately.  Actually, it’s been a completely awful week, for my self-confidence, anyway.  The discussion of the Big Exam was quite a bit worse than the exam itself; the conversations were often puncuated by the words: "Maybe you should think about if grad school is right for you." or "You need to consider if this profession is right for you."  Um.  So I spent a good portion of the time feeling like … well, you can guess. 

I’ve also forgotten how to speak German, rather disheartening, since I’m supposed to be teaching the language.  As a part of my professional training, which is, apparently, not taking.

All of this should have lead to lots of therapeutic knitting.  Nope.  The stress has just messed up my back so terribly that I often can’t stand up in the morning.  Picking up the needles doesn’t, somehow, seem like the best of ideas most days. 

Despite these self-pitying setbacks, I have gotten a bit accomplished.  Knitting-wise, that is. 

Behold:

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The softest cotton ever.  From Blue Sky Alpacas.  I picked up four colors: Thistle, Graphite, Cumin, and Expresso.  Two more are on their way: Aloe and Indigo.

All of this fleecy wonderful-ness is in the service of scarves for my parents: la madre’s is started (Thistle, Graphie, Aloe) using the Element scarf pattern from The Garter Belt.  I’ve modified it a bit — casting on only 33 stitches (two pattern repeats) instead of the suggested 49 — because it seemed the scarf might be too wide otherwise.  I want to try some kind of Fibonacci stripe sequence, but I might have already messed that up with the first installment of Graphite.  I haven’t yet been able to face up to counting the first rows.

I’m not yet sure what I’ll be doing for my dad (Cumin, Expresso, Indigo), but I’m thinking along the lines of the Sidetracked scarf in Yarnplay (what a great book!).

I’ve also started the left front of la madre’s Yarn Girls’ basic Dsc00373
cardi:

Okay, not much to show, but it’s coming along.  I’ve also got an urge to again attempt the Bane of My Existence.  Yep, the eyelet wrap sweater from Rebecca #29.  I will not be defeated by mohair.  It’s become a point of pride.

But I’m restraining myself until this one is completed.  One project at a time, remember fidelity.  And sanity.

This, for instance, is what happens when I’ve got too many projects going at once:

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The ill-fated seed stitch scarf in lovely, lofty Blue Sky bulky … so sad.  It just wasn’t right somehow.  And I figured I’d spent way too much on the yarn to have on a so-so FO at the end of it all.  So we will begin anew.  It also doesn’t help that it’s decided to be summer instead of fall around here.  Who wants alpaca draped around one’s neck when the sun is shining?