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?

oh my.

I think my knitting is starting to stress me out.  You know how I claimed to be *so* monogamous, knitting only one project at a time, faithful to my yarn until the very end.  Yeah.  Well, I think I was lying.  Or dreaming.  Or something.  Because it’s certainly not true.

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It’s not like I meant for this to happen.  But somehow I have three projects going and yarn for many, many more.  I just bought the lovely Blue Skies alpaca and the Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran.  The aran-weight is intended for an EZ ganomy hat.  The GGH soft kid is for the much-hated, much-frogged eyelet sweater from Rebecca.  I will not be defeated by mohair.  The back of la madre’s cardigan is peaking out from under all that wool and alpaca.  The Tami scarf is stalled at a ball-and-a-half length.

And guess what arrived as I was typing?  Yup.  More yarn.  Really beautiful yarn.

Dsc00341 From Yarn Botanika, the Element scarf kit at the Garter Belt.  Pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.  Who knows when I’ll actually get around to knitting said scarf.  Oh well.

And break is almost over.  I had such grandiose plans.  I would get up, get busy, get stuff done.  Nope.  Vacation is too much to resist.  But still.  I’ve got to get busy.  Midterm grades are calling … as is my own set of deadlines.  Yuck.  Yarn.  I will concentrate on the yarn.  Beautiful, lovely, happy yarn.

What a great surprise … fall back day!  Not that that has anything to do with knitting — except providing one an extra hour with which to do it.  And things have been busy here chez furball. 

Look!  A finished scarf … a really, really long; very, very fuzzy scarf:

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The Noro Kochoran is really a dream.  The angora makes it so nice and furry.  And my inability to stop knitting until all the yarn is gone makes it very, very long.

Perfect for the fall.  And happiness in general. 

The mistake rib stitch is my new favorite — it makes such a squooshy, stretchy fabric, perfect for warm scarves.

As you can see:

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Both scarves are based on the Tami ribbed scarf in Yarnplay; this one using the recommended Filatura di Crosa 127 Print.  The yarn is quite nice and I like the turquoise color quite a bit; more importantly, I think the recipient will like the turquoise. 

Yes, this scarf marks the official beginning of Christmas gift knitting.  I am no where near as prolific in this endeavor as, say, Carolyn (how does she knit so much?!), but a person’s got to start somewhere.  This friend is quite picky, so I hope she likes the finished product.

Last year I restricted myself to family-only gifts; much less pressure.  I’d really like my friends to actually want to wear the stuff I make for them, not just tell me how "interesting" my knitting is.  You know.  And then throw it into a deep, dark corner of the closet, never to be seen again.

Which is why I’m hoping this cardigan isn’t going to go belly-up on me:

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It’s for my mom, but still.  I’d like to think she’ll wear it even when I’m not around.  The yarn (Online Ravenna) — a great deal at elann.com — is knitting up very nicely.  It’s a cotton / acrylic blend; I was skeptical, but it has a nice feel: very soft and lofty.

But that only scratches the surface of plans.  The rest is still just in the dream-phase.  I doubt the half of it will get done.  But since it’s fall break week (no teaching!) I might be able to make a dent in my plans.  If all of that work doesn’t interfere. 

guess what?

I’m done!  No more exams … ever!

I did the ritual clearing of the books this morning.  Look what I’ll be taking back to the library:

Dsc00297In stages.  I don’t know if this many books will even fit in my car.  I certainly know that I can’t carry them all at once.

And this isn’t even counting the ones still on campus.

Or the ones I actually bought.

So now that all this test business is done, I finally have time to concentrate on what’s really important in life.

First off:

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the smelling of the congratulatory roses.

To be followed by some quality time with my new knitting books, bought in aDsc00303_1
fit of pre-exam stress and hysteria.  They are quite wonderful, though.  Yarnplay, especially, has lots of great colors and ideas … I’m very tempted to try some stripes.  Wild, outrageous stripes.

I think Elizabeth Zimmermann would approve.

Speaking of which, I am *so* going to give her fair isle yoke sweater a try sometime.  After I deal with this:

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Oh yes, Lady Stash-a-Lot has been busy.  Nothing like stress to make you think you need lots and lots of yarn.  To be fair, or at least to rationalize a bit, a lot of this was 1) cheap and 2) for Christmas gifts or 3) made me feel really good and carefree.

So this is my next project.  Christmas stash reduction.  I’ve never finished a sweater; yet, I’m thinking thoughts of sweaters (improbably) presented as gifts to various family members. 

Or a lot of IOUs.

hide-n-seek

Look what I’ve been hiding …

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Well, not really hiding, just working on quietly.  It’s a perfect in-between project; or watching tv project; or just a few minutes of relaxation project.  The mistake rib gives it a great squishy texture … and the angora makes it so soft and fuzzy — it’s like knitting a bunny.

The Noro Kochoran, you might remember, started life as a basket weave scarf, but the texture just wasn’t right.  I’m glad I kept fiddling until I found Mr. Right.   Now that the weather has turned cool, I can’t wait to finish up and wear it.  I’m contemplating matching glovelettes. 

Speaking of cooler weather, I’ve been wearing this quite a bit:

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My very first scarf.  The yarn shop lady talked me into some very expensive Debbie Bliss cashmerino chunky (I didn’t know any better, I hadn’t yet discovered Lion Brand), which I quickly riddled with improbable mistakes.  It’s got a bunch of strange holes and twisted stitches and messy edges and was knit in stockinette, but, you know, I still like it a lot.  Not only is it soft and warm … it’s a nice reminder that it doesn’t really matter how many mistakes you make if the final product works for you.  I like that it looks handmade by a beginner — exactly what I was.  I thought about frogging it and making something else, but I think I’ll keep it.  With The Big Exam coming up, it’s nice to have a reminder that sometimes just doing something imperfect is okay.

finito

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The Halfobi from chiagu (finally) all seamed up.  The seaming was actually quite fun — thanks for the encouragement and tips! — and once I got the hang of it, went quite quickly.  The single crochet border around the body was a nice finishing touch.

what to do?

So I did a lot of knitting yesterday while watching baseball with Mr. B.  His team won; all is well.  Except, perhaps, with my knitting.  Yep, the easy v-neck raglan is turning mutinous.  It’s my fault, really.  I got impatient with the ribbing around the body and quit a bit early, even though I wanted a nice wide band of 2 x 2 ribbing around the bottom.  I was just so excited to almost have a sweater … and I didn’t want a really long sweater since I knew it was already w – i – d – e.  And I was basing my measurements not so much on the pattern as on one of my very favorite sweaters.  So this one is a bit short, not bad, just a tiny bit shorter than I might have wanted in an ideal world.  But okay.  Just a little short.  The gauge gods were obviously against me, though, because my sleeves have to be much wider than suggested in the pattern — okay, a lot wider — as row gauge turned out to be important.  Okay.  Wide sleeves, a bit short.  I can deal.  It’s my first sweater.  Flaming pain in my arse, indeed. 

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Doesn’t it look innocent?  Nope.  A cobra coiled to strike.

But I kept on knitting.  It was a slow game and I certainly didn’t want to correct any tests.  So here I am at the cuff ribbing.  And things are a bit funky.  Not as funky as the ribbing that led to my twisted stitches discovery, but decidedly amateurish. 
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I thought about ripping back and re-knitting the cuff and hem ribbing, but I just don’t know if I’m up for that.  I thought perhaps switching to a smaller needle would help, but I don’t want the ribbing to hug too much, if that makes sense.  I think I’ll end up just keeping it as is; a monument to my growing pains or some such. 

According to Montse Stanley’s ginormous Knitter’s Handbook [wonderful!] — which I bought today in hopes of finding a solution to my ugly ribbing — it’s a problem of control.  And I have noticed that I stretch the yarn too much when switching from knit to purl.

[Speaking of knitting books, where did all of the new ones come from?!  I placed a mammoth order this afternoon ... so much fun stuff to look at.]

I think I’m just going to let the sweater alone for a day or two, maybe start something quick and simple, and think out what I want to do.  It’s probably just exam-paranoia talking.

Ful-on done

So I turned in my first fellowship application today and am feeling pretty great.  One more thing off the list of stress-inducing-activities! 

On to the knitting.  The knitting has been sorely neglected in the last couple of weeks — as has my housekeeping and general fashion consciousness (of which I have precious little to begin with).  But there is miniscule progress to report.

Behold:

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A completed easy v-neck body and the beginnings of the first arm!  Really quite fun on stubby little circular needles.  Unfortunately, the project isn’t portable at all … so it doesn’t get to travel.  Not that I have that many opportunities to knit on campus … I imagine my students would take it amiss if I wipped out the needles and went to town while they did some more or less dismal group work.

The Zimmermania project is stalled at "barely started."  My whole one-project-at-a-time fetish is slowing down the knitting there; I really thought I’d be done with Mr. V-Neck in no time.  Ha.  Here’s my pathetic "progress":

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It’s more of a headband than anything.  But it’s super soft thanks to the Debbie Bliss merino chunky.

Oooh, I got goodies in the mail too.  Because obviously two projects aren’t enough. 

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I’m almost certain this was a stress purchase, pure and simple.  It’s intended for a cardigan for la madre, she who cannot bear wool.  A lovely cotton / acrylic blend that’s super soft and relatively light.  The color is a nice sage green — not as gray as the picture makes it seem. 

Here’s what I have in mind:

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If it gets finished, it would be a nice Christmans present.  We’ll see. 

Perhaps Mother’s Day?

an almost finished …

… sweater!  Yay! 

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This is the easy v-neck raglan over at the fabulous glampyre — my first real sweater.  I had to fudge a bit and increase two stitches in the body to get the ribbing to come out evenly.  Always forget to calculate something.  But no matter how I tried, 158 stitches was not divisible by 4.  Or any other number convenient for ribbing; just to be difficult I wasn’t digging the 1×1 option.

My knitting binge was fueled by bad British television (Netflix!) and a burning desire not to think about work.  If it weren’t already 2 a.m. I’d try to finish the body section — only the ribbing left to do.  I’m mighty tempted, but I do have to be functional tomorrow to rewrite the dreaded grant proposal of much failure and low self-esteem.

No real progress to report on the Zimmermania sweater; I’ve decided to wait until I’m finished with the flaming v-neck.