socks and shawls

Thanks to a Friday night spent watching movies — The Mummy Returns, Harlem Nights, and Why Did I Get Married if you’re curious — this guy now almost has a mate.

Almost.

toddler socks

I had to reknit the heel at least three times because of funky stitch counts, foggy memories of what I’d engineered the first time around, and margaritas.  But now I’m really, really good at the yarn-over short row.  (Quite a nice method, methinks.  I prefer the join it makes with the instep stitches — very smooth and invisible thanks to that extra yarn over just begging to be k2tog-ed or ssk-ed into oblivion.)

Anyway, as it turns out, toddler socks are quite a bit more knitting than baby socks.  Amazing how much more work 8 extra stitches and a quite a few extra inches adds.  I’m not complaining, just revising strategy: in the future older siblings will receive a book.

In other news, I’m trying to figure out some travel knitting.  I’ll be gone for a bit more than 5 weeks and am trying to pack as lightly as possible.  So lace seems like the right choice: I’ve already got plans to take along Ms. Beauregarde — currently stuck in an especially boring and repetitive section with about 358 gazillion rows to go — but what else?  Since this is a working trip, complex charts (or, boring charts) might not be the best choice for public transportation or tired evenings.

The current frontrunner is Veera’s Stripe Study because it is both awesome and relatively portable, meditative but hopefully not tediously mindless.  Here’s where I’m getting stuck: color choice.  At first, I thought of grey and yellow … it didn’t look quite right.  So I went for less contrast: yellow on yellow.

hmmm ...

What say you, internets?  Is this just going to make me look like I’m wrapped in a traffic cone?

I feel that there is potential for this to look either deeply awesome or deeply horrible.  The orange would be the contrast stripe on the ochre background, I think: would this be the good kind of obnoxious color overload that I love so much?

The more I look at it, the more I think it just might work.  It would certainly be eye catching …

Alice is not convinced.  Or maybe she is.

Alice agrees.

mash up

Or, the Inspector Clouseau Trousseau meets Vesna in Paris.

inspector clouseau

I don’t know why I’m so married to the French names at the moment — there is nothing actually French about this project.  It’s all feuled by the insistence on a rather silly Pink Panther reference, very far removed from any kind of intrinsic knitting logic.

But isn’t the yarn pretty?

inspector clouseau

At first, I was afraid it would be too too pink.  But I’m mellowing to it … after all, pink is the color of the heart and what is a wedding (or at least this one) if not a matter for hearts?

Besides, it is most certainly also lilac.  And lilacs are lovely.

inspector clouseau

Onto the modifications.

This is solely personal opinion, but I feel that a wedding shawl should have some flair.  It needs to go out with a bang.  Which, in knitting terms, I translate into some kind of fabulous border pattern.  Now, trousseau is a lovely, flowy shawl … without a great punch line.  It’s an all-rounder, not a show pony.

So, I decided to see if I couldn’t put it together with the fantasticly large and swooping border of vesna.  It took a little fancy footwork (and modification down to a 20-stitch repeat), but I think it might just work.

inspector clouseau

Considering that lately I’ve been in the throes of planning an all too last minute research trip (a whirlwind tour of some very nice libraries in very expensive cities), thinking about stitch counts — and not where in the world I’ll find a place to sleep in London — has been quite relaxing.  And now that the sleeping situation has been taken care of … I just have to get the knitting finished in time.

inspector clouseau

gloomy Tuesday

silky

Well, better than a gloomy Sunday, I guess.  And it’s just the rain lending a gloom to this particular Tuesday — a very stormy, humid start to spring here in Nashville.  I’m feeling cheery anyway, since yesterday was my last day of teaching: goodbye intermeidate German!  Hello, dissertation.

Honestly, I’m freaking out a little bit about the prospect of a rather unstructured summer — I still don’t know where I’ll be when, which means I can’t really make any plans — and the amount of work that needs to be done.

Instead of panicking, I’m concentrating on the wedding shawl.

silky

silky

Or, the Inspector Clouseau Trousseau, as I’ve dubbed it.  It’s kinda pink after all.  And according to one especially crushing internet application, one of my celebrity lookalikes is Peter Sellers.  In addition to Elvis Costello, Steven Soderbergh, Larry King, and Yves Saint Laurent.  Without the glasses, it’s Mikhail Baryshnikov.  A superfecta I was sure never to guess.

So I’ve got that goin’ for me, which is nice.

silky

silky

But to get to the knitting.

So far, so good.  The silky merino is knitting up like a silky dream and it looks like the variegated colors will add a bit of interest without overwhelming the lace pattern.  As for the pattern, it promises maximum effect with minimum effort: straightforward and easy to follow, just repetitive enough to memorize easily and just varied enough to keep it interesting.

“Yes, well, life is not all shoot-shoot, bang-bang, you know.”

silky

Time to get to work.  Kurosawa!

i finally bought some coffee.

That’s the good news.  It had been a very sad coffee-less existence around here … all because I was
alternately too busy or too lazy or too reluctant to sit in traffic to get to the grocery store.  So dining hall coffee it was.

Dining hall coffee is not happy coffee.

Rainbow baby sweaters, however, are very happy.

stripes are nice

Very happy, indeed.  I finished up the sleeves last weekend, and now it’s just waiting for blocking and buttons.  The rainbow Boku is so cheery — I just hope the weather doesn’t turn too warm too quickly for this to get at least a little bit of use.

So I should probably get on those buttons.

stripes are nice

stripes are nice

My other project at the moment is a wedding shawl.  I love knitting wedding shawls — and this one looks like it will be no exception.  For a while, I was thinking of going the Rock Island route, but then after some further consideration, I decided that Trousseau was just too perfect to pass up.  I mean, trousseau?  Perfect.

And this Sundara silky merino (in orchid) is beyond magical.  So soft and silky.  And I think the color — pinky lavender purple — will be a nice contrast to the bride’s blue shoes.  Practical lady that she is, the color is also just neutral enough to work with a lot of different wardrobe staples … at least, that’s my hope.

silky magic

silky magic

Finally, we’re obviously a wool-loving household around here.  It still tickles me that Alice loves her kitty Kureyon blanket.  Obviously the perfect spot for a morning bath.

Alice!

And now, time to get back to work.  The semester is almost over and I think I might just make it.  There’s a lot to be done this summer …

sigh.

Yesterday was one of those days.  Grey, rainy, and cold — I didn’t want to leave the house, let alone venture out to a coffee shop where I’d have a fighting chance of getting some work done.  So yesterday was devoted to internet television and baby knits.  It did kinda feel like giving up, though.

arms

I finished up the body and cast on for the sleeve.  As you might have noticed, I knit this in the round instead of “on two needles” as suggested by the pattern.  It just seemed like simpler way to go, especially since I wanted to avoid all that seaming up and matching stripes.  So far, the yarn has been cooperative, stipes have marched along in their appointed order … with only one more sleeve to go, I’m hoping the luck holds.

[ETA: oops!  I never did mention what pattern I'm knitting (it was obvious enough to me after all): EZ's superlative February baby sweater.  Since the stripes were providing quite enough interest, I went with plain stockinette over the gull pattern.  Modified to knit in the round -- instead of flat, which is more interesting from a construction point of view, but also requires more finishing -- with only 6 buttons (chubby tummies should be available for tickling at all times), it really flies off the needles.]

In other news, I’ve got a wedding shawl to plan.

purple!

Right now, Rock Island is the frontrunner.  At first, I was ready to make the plunge and almost bought some lovely madelinetosh to try out, but then … the cat fountain broke and Alice has been a Somewhat Unhappy Kitty, so … that’s where the yarn budget is going this month.  Luckily, the stash is expansive and varied.

This purple laceweight looks like it might just get the job done.  Cat foundtain included.

purple!

And now, back to work.  The sun is out and it’s time to get busy.

good grief.

Hey, how’s it going?  So, yeah, you might have noticed that I just up and disappeared again after telling you about all kinds of fun Nashville adventures, with very little knitting content.

Sorry.  mea culpa.  Or, rather, I blame the semester.  There have been conferences (yes, plural), prospective students, classes to teach, classes to attend, meeting upon meeting upon meeting, a trip to Vancouver (awesome) for a conference presentation of my own (phew.), work to grade, grants to apply for, a mindfulness-based stress reduction class (oh, the irony) … did I mention that I’m also supposed to be writing my first chapter right about now?  It’s been hectic and harried in that way all semesters become hectic and harried.  I’m not complaining — there has been some really great stuff going on, like meeting with an academic press about my project (!?!), winning an essay prize for a paper on embroidery (!) * — but I am worn out.

february baby sweater

Anyhoo, the last couple of evenings — despite all the nagging little things to be done — I’ve come home and knit.  Some friends just had their second baby, and since the first received a few woolly knits, I thought: what better excuse?  That baby needs a sweater.  Despite the fact that it’s summer in the south.

Considering the likelihood that spring is pretty much over, I started with some Lion Brand cotton.  Unfortunately, that version was pretty darn unattractive.  And who needs an ugly baby sweater?  So I moved onto some Plymouth Boku from the stash in lovely, bright rainbow colors.

february baby sweater

Maybe there will be a few cool evenings?  Maybe this will still fit in the fall (I really have no idea about relative baby sizes …)?

baby sock

I also whipped up one, lonely baby sock (in Koigu) …

index!

In other news, remember last year when I was complaining about all of that indexing?  Well, here it is!  My copies arrived — and, boy, is that a lot of books (the index is in vol. 6).  My part was very, very small — compared, you know, to the 25 years my advisor spent editing the edition — but it’s still exciting to see the finished project.

happiness

Happiness is handknit socks on the feet of very dear friends.  Perfect spring breaks should always be commemorated with wool.

Okay, it’s off to campus for me … but I promise not to stay away so long!  I’ve missed you guys!

____________________________

* I don’t mean to toot my own horn (well, only a little), but I’m so excited to finally have figured out what I’m doing with my life …  Mostly, it’s nothing more than an index of perverse perseverance, stubbornness, and the power of friendship to keep one going … it’s weird because people in Nashville really only see that I appear to know what I’m doing, without access to all of the years spent slogging through desperate unhappiness that got me here.  It’s like the hidden iceberg …

howdy stranger

So it’s been a while.  How about we start there?  March has been crazy busy in all kinds of good ways, few of which have had much to do with knitting … let’s recap:

I finished physical therapy, defended my dissertation proposal (!!), and then, as if by divine design, spring break appeared; I did nothing but watch Law & Order and knit until: friends!  Three very special ladies descended upon Nashville — and my apartment — for a seriously good time.  (They are now all bona-fide PhD professional ladies, so … I’ve kept the discretion to a maximum.)

First, there was hot chicken at the hot chicken shack:

pickle button!

Oh yeah, I finished my cardigan (Shalom in EcoWool) — just in time to add pickle buttons.

The next night there were fancy drinks downtown …

fancy cocktails

… followed by some honky tonking on Broadway.

Broadway

Robert's!

The Stage

It was one of the best night’s out ever: we bought cowboy boots from someone named “Brad Butter” (it was embroidered on his shirt), put on our best clubwear, and danced till the honky tonks closed.

After that, we pretty much decided to concentrate on eating as many fried/ butter-positive foods as possible.  Luckily, Nashville is that kind of town.

There was pickle tempura …

pickle tempura

… and, the next morning, delicious biscuits to go with country ham, plenty of bacon, hashbrown casserole, and other assorted side-dish staples for breakfast (at 3 in the afternoon).

biscuits!

Finally, I met my Waterloo: the sidecar.

sidecars; or, my Waterloo

The ingredients might look innocent, but don’t be fooled.  We toasted, we lounged, we watched It’s Complicated, I gave away almost all of my handknit socks to very deserving recipients …  And then it was time for everyone to get back to their real lives.

It was a wonderful, tiring, just-right long weekend.  Such reunions are made possible, and so much sweeter, by distance … but how I do miss easy proximity and that casual by-chance glass of wine on someone’s couch in the evening.  And how lucky I am to have had a weekend of nothing but laughter and fun and friendship.

[thanks to M. and B. for all the fabulous photos]

a tale of two sleeves

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

sleeves!

I should really save the title for when I have a pair of sleeves with a story (preferably set during the French Revolution), but sleeves — even when going well — do tend to feel like the best and worst of (knitting) times: close enough for sleeves/ the sleeves still to knit.

sleeves!

So, yes, I’ve reached the sleeves on my latest attempt at OWLS.  They might be dragging.

sleeves!

Here’s yesterday’s progress: I finished up sleeve the first, quickly abandoning — yet again — the extra-long, extra-cozy version I thought I wanted for a three-quarter/ bracelet length.  Really, it’s just so much more pratical in the south.  Especially with spring almost here.  (No, really.)

So I’m rushing to get the sleeves done, move onto the yoke and all of those owls.  If only school work weren’t interfering.  As usual.

A.W.O.L.

A.W.O.L. indeed.  I took the week off — most certainly without leave — and it was glorious.  I passed the oral exam on Monday morning, then quickly proceeded to realize just how much of a relief it was to be finished.  Again.

That “again” was causing a lot of anxiety, but now … I get to write “with distinction” on my C.V. and, well, that feels really good.  Really, really good.

Wool-buying good, in fact.

hoot.

I picked up this lovely EcoWool in the hopes of some kind of wooly, neutral cardigan.  This was my inspiration, but in the end I went with another try at OWLS, this time in my size.  The Mawrtyr in me is very partial to the idea of sporting a parliament of wooly owls.

hoot.

This might all end in disaster, of course, since my gauge is all kinds of off.  And I’m attempting to fashion this as a cardigan … because Nashville and pullovers just don’t seem to work.  Despite the current cold weather and snow, this is a “humid subtropical climate” — with BBQ and fried chicken — so, you know, layers of wool aren’t all that necessary most of the time.

hoot.

It’s a modest start, but today’s schedule of reading just might be the perfect opportunity to make a dent in the waist shaping.  If it turns out even half as flattering and easy-to-wear as twenty eleven, I’ll be a very happy camper.

selbu slow

More to remind myself that anything, here’s selbu two … languishing.  I really need to finish this.

Alice loves EcoWool

The other evening, I made Alice a wooly yarn ball, just to see … and, yep, she’s a cat.  It’s pretty darn adorable watching her bat this around the house.

Alice loves EcoWool

action shot!

I feel behind on life right now.  Certainly on blogging and commenting and responding … after I finished up all the writing for the exam (done! passed! oral on Monday!), my brain just gave up the ghost.  If it didn’t involve trashy televsion or a detective story, I really wasn’t interested.  Books?  Pshah.  Thinking?  No, thank you.  Fair isle?  Nope.

So in lieu of any real content, I give you some knits in the wild.  Inspired by the Rooster’s woolly fashion show, I decided to get on the photography.

twenty eleven in the wild

(New bookshelf in the living room: hello, prized collection of used detective fiction!  The bedroom got reorganized and this oldy but goody from an unknown housemate past had to find a new home.)

Twenty eleven!  I love, love, LOVE this cardigan.  It’s super sheepy and warm, but still not too warm to be worn indoors without suffocating.  The collar is super fun, the buttons are bright just like I wanted, and the fit is very, um, fitted.  Perfect.  The pattern itself was easy to follow, easy to knit … highly recommended.  Especially with some waist shaping if that’s your thing.  (I’m attempting to embrace my tendency toward the pear shaped.)

It took about 8.5 skeins of Ísex Létt-Lopi (color 0005) on size US7/4.5mm needles, size xs/s for about an inch of negative ease.  I’ve already worn this a lot … and will be wearing it for as long as the cold weather lasts.

Also: finally, Idlewood gets a day out!

idlewood in the wild

I wasn’t sure how to wear this sweater, to be honest.  It seems to hit me at a slightly awkward place: I’d always question my choice of pants/ skirt/ whatever and end up changing before leaving the house.  Also, that cowl is very, very warm.  The recent cold snap and some sweater tights helped, as did my determination to wear this at least once before summer arrived.  In practice, it’s a very cozy layer.  Though I’m still not sure about the length.

(Here it is with jeans …

idlewood in action

… which did not make it out of the living room.  Odd.  I like the sweater in theory, yet somehow when I put it on it feels awkward.)

In other knitting news, I’ve got nothing.  A new cardigan project went spectacularly awry … more on that later …