back home | back to work

After a week in the Great Northwest (as we like to call it, or at least as the old Ford commercials used to), it’s back to Nashville for me.  And back to work.  That needs to happen really soon.


First off, how happy was I to be flying to Nashville and not Newark?  Really, really happy.  And that’s despite the five hours I spent in Houston, waiting on the flight crew.  Turns out, five hours in an airport means gossip magazines, beer at Chili’s, and plenty of knitting time.  It was a nice surprise: a few more hours of vacation.

Also, I confirmed that I am still absolutely useless at the Harper’s crossword.  Darn cryptic clues.


What you see here is actually my second attempt at the button band.  I didn’t have a tape measure handy in the airport and so I just kind of guess where I thought 2 1/4 inches might be … then got tired of knitting 2×2 ribbing over so many stitches, convinced myself that I was close enough, and bound off before we landed in Nashville.

I was close (only off about 1/2 inch), but I really do like a deep button band … so I ripped and reknit the last inch or so.  Much better.  Now to bind off and finish the sleeves: then it’s block and wear time.


I tried on the first version when I got home, before the minor frogging and expansion project: it fits! it’s cute! I can’t wait to wear it!  Needless to say, I’m all fired up to try some more cardigans.  This is the next one I’m thinking of tackling: Golden Wheat.  Though I do love the Twenty Ten … perfect for 2011, right?


Speaking of which: Happy New Year!  I hope 2011 brings everyone warmth, wool, happiness, silliness, and all manner of good things!  And new boots.  Those are also very important.


alice is kinda judgy


Just look at all this Hooray!  It’s just sailing along, and so I quick snapped a picture in the few minutes of morning sunshine that find a way through my window.

There was a brief flirtation this weekend with a beret — in some very lovely (and very neglected) Green Mountain Spinner mountain mohair in partridgeberry (otherwise known as bright cherry red) — but that just didn’t work out.  Gauge was wonky; not to mention that I always forget that a beret in worsted-weight yarn is not exactly a one-evening kind of project.  I was impatient.

So back to my main squeeze of the moment.


Cables!  My only worry is that I will become so mesmerized by the knitting that I will forget to make the cables at appropriate intervals.  It is not complicated.  And yet …


What’s that peeking out from behind?  The London Review of Books, of course — a habit I picked up from the ex, who always had it lying around — which I usually just let collect, unwrapped, into a rickety pile on the table.  Why don’t I read them?  It’s a puzzle I’m trying to put together.  In the meantime, I’m just trying to read some articles, and Jenny Diski is always a good place to start.

alice is kinda judgy

See what I mean?  She’s a little judgy.  And extra fluffy.

well on the way


Now that classes are over, grades are calculated, paper written, exam taken … I’ve been devoting quite a bit of time to my lovely Hooray! cardigan.  It’s growing at quite a rapid pace: the cable pattern is easy to memorize, the reverse stockinette a fun bit of texture that requires absolutely no extra effort, the Cascade 220 (golden something heather?) lovely to knit and a dream to spit splice.  Even my gauge is spot on.  Hello, fellow knitter with a wooly death grip.


In fact, I’m in love with all of Veera‘s cardigans: celery, golden wheat, honey, hay; twenty ten; still light (okay, not a cardigan but objectively a very good thing).  I want them all.  Actually, Veera inspires in me the urgent desire to return to the land of (half of) my ancestors.  Seriously, Finland looks like a mighty awesome place for handknits.



That’s all for now.  Today is the day I attempt to get back to work … but really, I’m thinking I might just go hang out at a coffeeshop and see if I can spot Taylor Swift.  (Two of my friends have seen her.  I’ve obviously got to get out more because I’m certainly not going to stop being an incredible dork.)

snow day!

I love snow in Nashville.  In New Jersey, it was just something that happened and everyone went about their lives, with a few more layers, some boots, a snow shovel, and a bit of grumbling when it started to turn grey and dingy.  Here, it feels like a great adventure, like something that’s not supposed to happen.  No one quite knows what to do with: people go out without hats or mittens, drive too fast, slip around on the unshovelled sidewalks.  Everything seems to shut down.

It’s only flurries, but I’m sure the radio will keep me updated on any threatened accumulation.


Until then, it’s perfect weather for writing.  Which is pretty great: I have a paper to finish for tomorrow.  One of those “so close, yet so far” affairs where 5 more pages and tying up the loose ends seems like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.  I would like to get this version turned in, so I can start revising it into something closer to what I had in mind.

Actually, I’d been feeling a little low, reading this absolutely spot-on essay by a former professor of mine (something about that “former” still makes me cringe inside) … how does she manage to write so clearly?  how does she get all of her ideas so forcefully formulated? how does she find a way to show me something I didn’t see, and make it seem so intuitively right?  Well, a footnote trail led to an important revelation: the article was at least a couple of years in the making.  So yeah.  I started to feel more confident in the power of revision and time.

Can I tell you how excited I am to have more of both next semester?  No more coursework!  (Again!  Five years later, it is much more bittersweet.)  ABD!  (This will be a first for me.)  Time to work on my dissertation!  (Again! Missing piece: I’m coming for you.)  I can’t wait to get started.

I wish I’d managed to do things in a different order — like getting ABD in there five years ago, where it belonged — but, well, sometimes things are messy.  I’m trying to be okay with that.


On that note, here’s my minimal, but decidedly un-messy, collar progress, done mostly during breaks, while watching Gilmore Girls (so good!) and Showgirls (I know).  I really want to knit more cardigans … mostly because I really want to wear more handknit cardigans.  Everyone wins.

In celebration of another weekend, with hopes that your Sunday is worth this word, I give you a favorite poem.  Alan Dugan, On A Seven-Day Diary.*


* In the spirit of my footnote revelation, I offer you one.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with knitting, the snow just makes me think of other winters in other places.  Feel free to skip right on over.

One of my most treasured, and most dearly missed, Princeton memories is the tradition of Friday-night dinner with friends: we sat around a big table in a tiny apartment, ate, talked, laughed, drank red wine … at a certain advanced point in the evening, S. would sometimes call (loudly, having to make himself heard over the din and the customary Dan Bern accompaniment) for this poem to be read.  All I remember is the joy of the moment when R. — our intrepid host — would oblige.  We laughed and cheered and nodded our heads in agreement.  At least that’s how I remember it.  It was probably totally different.

almost there.


The collar on the Hooray! cardigan is moving right along.  (I don’t think the official pattern adds the exclamation point, but it’s really hard not to.  And besides, why not have a celebratory cardigan at the end of the semester?)

It’s a folded affair, so I’ve got another side to knit.  Once I get this one to four inches, that it is.


The good news?  A wonderous, miraculous surprise yesterday after my last seminar ever (again): a take-home essay final (only 3 pages, but still … 3 pages) was turned into an oral discussion final over beer and burgers.  Infinitely better.  Two hours later I was fed, finished, and home with a few minutes to knit before bed.  Also, the discussion was good.


Now I’ve got to get busy on this paper that is quite stubbornly refusing to write itself.  It’s a part of my dissertation — or at least, I think it will be at this point, but who knows? — and I’m putting a lot of stupid, unproductive pressure on myself to make this draft not just a completed seminar paper (which, goodness knows is already hard enough), but also a good chapter draft.  Thing is, I’ve got the feeling I’m missing something … there’s a piece to my approach out there somewhere that would make the whole thing come together, and I’m not sure how to get to it or even what it might be.  It’s just that my conclusions seem kind of empty, obvious, and uncompelling at the moment.  But, really,  I should really just be focusing on finished by Monday.

In not unrelated news, I’ve also discovered an awesome gallery/ coffeeshop near campus that is spacious, light, really cool, quiet, and … really empty.  Well, discovered is a bit of an overstatement: someone had told me about it a while ago; I finally overcame my incredible inertia and walked over yesterday.  It’s fabulous.  And near campus.

MHG bump

Finally, my bump was no match for Der “Original-Taschenlexer”: I knew that Middle High German dictionary would come in handy again.

update; or, procrastination

So, it’s the end of the semester and I should really be reading or writing something.  I’m resisting that at the moment, and have been for most of the week.  This is not a good plan.  Papers do not write themselves; exams will not be graded by the cat; Derrida is not comprehensible without a little effort on my part; a complete Faust essay will not spring Venus-like from my head unaided.  Sigh.

Thing is, I’m having a bit of a crisis of academic voice.  I’m not writing the way I’d like to — it’s gotten convoluted and tentative and way too fuzzy somewhere along the way — and I can’t quite seem to spit my thoughts out.  I am frustrated.

All that to say, I thought I’d update my knitting progress before getting the (academic) day underway.  It might be time to get out of my pajamas and get to the crappy Starbucks with the Christmas music (though, as is the way of the close-to-campus coffee shop, I tend to run into people I’d otherwise avoid there).

1. Lizard Ridge.



I finally admitted (to myself) that this blanket was never getting any bigger and finished it off.  Two colors of Kuryeon, lots of picked up stitches and garter stitch later, viola! clean edges!  At first, I was highly sceptical of the pepto-pink bind off, but now … I love it.  To me, it adds the perfect folkart touch.

2. Miss Violet Beauregarde



This got a lot of attention while I was in California: turns out, endless episodes of Say Yes to the Dress really facilitate a lot of knitting.  I’ve almost finished (or, really, am about halfway through) the first set of repeats on the last chart … yeah, it’s going to be a while.

3. Albers shawl


I’m still not convinced that this is a good idea, but I’ve decided that I need some simple knitting to accompany all that exam reading that I’ll have to start over break.  Garter stitch seemed like a good idea.  The mohair is debatable.

4. Hooray cardigan


Again, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  The cardigan is super cute and looks totally wearable … but when, oh when, will I find time to actually finish it?  The Nashville winter is cold but short — and mine is already pretty well booked with academic obligations.

The real problem, however, is not the knitting.  It’s this:

not good.

Yeah, that bump isn’t supposed to be there.  It’s almost certainly from all of the knitting.  Argh.  I am not amused, yet not really willing to give up the knitting either.  I am currently seeking a compromise and hoping it will go away.

Now, to work!

i make mountains.

micro mountains

Can you tell I’ve got about a thousand other things to do?  Yeah,  that’s why I decided yesterday was the day I would knit many, many micro mountains.  And pretend I could make the semester go away.

micro mountains

It didn’t work.  The semester is still here, but now I’ve got some happy little mountains to line up on my bookcase.

I experimented a bit with different sock yarns and different needle sizes (from US0 to US2) and have to say: the recommended yarn (koigu) really works best.  It probably wouldn’t have to be koigu; I imagine any tightly spun fingering weight would do (I also liked the cherry tree hill supersock).  Other, less tightly spun yarns sometimes produced a slightly floppy mountain.  Never good.

Super cute, super fast, super fun.  What more could you want from a pattern?  They are highly addicitive.  Also, you bet I’ll be passing these out as gifts.

In other knitting news, I finally sewed on the pockets:


Idlewood is done!  Thanks to Finishing Techniques for Hand Knitters, I figured out how to do it correctly (guide threads! who knew?), sat down one evening and finished it up.  It was a lot of mattress stitch, but well worth it: neat, secure, and completely cute.  It snowed this morning (scattered flurries predicted for today) and tomorrow is supposed to be wintry, which sounds like a perfect recipe for some wooly handknits.

Which might be why I’m dreaming of a new handknit cardigan?  Ah, to have more time.