it’s not easy …

So I’m still kind of in hyperventilation mode with all of this work that needs to be done:
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especially for my humungous class of intermediate German-learners, not to mention the other stuff I’m supposed to be doing … the reading and writing about, um, you know, that thing I do [if you happen to have dissertation suggestions, please let me know].

And somehow it’s already time for Zimmermania to start.  Tomorrow.  I just realized that don’t know what I’m going to knit; this is my first knitalong and I don’t want to mess it up with a tardy start.  So I went to the stash:
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Remember this stuff?  It’s still gorgeous and springy and lofty — and all that I have on hand in sufficient quantities — not to mention colorful.  I really wanted to do something a bit more complex, like the fair isle yoke sweater (or cardigan) from Knitting Around.  Given my current work — and stress — load, such an ambitious project seems neither advisable nor feasible.  Instead, I think I’ll go for a simple seamless raglan sweater.  Baby steps.  Small goals.

Speaking of baby steps, the easy v-neck raglan is coming along, albeit slowly:

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I’ve finished the raglan increases, separated the sleeves from the body, and am now just knitting the body section.  I like my clothes big, so the raglan increases seemed to go on forever, but now I’ve reached ultimate reading knitting nirvana and can just knit for inches and inches.  The weather is starting to turn cool, too … good incentive to keep going.

coffee please

So. Much. To. Do.  Argh. 

I survived the first day of classes (no need for cat furniture in the end) — with 20 students, twice the acceptable number, none of whom recognized me as the teacher, but assumed I was another freshman aimlessly wandering about looking for the right room, and not enough chairs or photocopies — only to find myself confronted with the horrible reality that I have much too much to do in too little time (obviously).

It doesn’t seem like much on paper … but, take my word for it, writing a fellowship proposal and special topic questions, and finalizing a reading list do take time.  And remember the 20 students?  Who will be turning in short descriptions of Otto Dix’s "Metropolis" on Monday, as well as expecting some kind of "lesson plan" or "classroom activities" so they can "learn".  Whatever.

But look, presents!

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From the best crocheting sister in the world.  I like the potholders so much I’m afraid to use them, which kind of defeats the purpose.  Dsc00202The scarf is great, too.  I really like the colors … and the shiny soy (apparently it’s a soy / wool blend of some kind).

Despite everything, I’ve even managed a little knitting.  No mention of seaming, you’ll notice, but I’ll get that done some day when I have a bit more time and energy to devote to (for me) relatively finicky stitching.  Anyway, I’ve started the easy V-neck raglan from glampyre using the Rowan flaming (pain in my arse):

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So far, so good.  No catastrophes … I even joined the fronts successfully and am now blissfully knitting in the round. 

gah!

Gah!  School is starting on Thursday!?  How did this happen?   Where did the summer go?  Everyone is moving back and all of my social phobias are kicking into high gear.  Not good.  Especially considering I have to teach on Thursday.  And nothing is less fun than being the freaky grad student at the front of the room in your non-J.Crew clothing announcing that you don’t accept late work and want everyone to come to class on time and, oh yeah, you have to speak in German too.  And then we do those stupid introduce-yourself-to-the-class exercises that I always hated and I’m the most awkward one in the room even though I’m 26 and could so talk circles around my students in German. 

Because, really, this is what my life is like:

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I buy cat furniture.  And am then thwarted by the perverseness of felines.  If I can’t control my cat, how can I ever hope to bend a bunch of 18 year olds to my will?

I knit stuff, too.  And, trust me, freshmen do not think this is cool or authoritative or any of those things that could distract them from my nervousness and really make them believe that I mean what I say about the late work.

But I don’t just knit.  I often then pull it all apart and start over.  Or rewind the yarn and horde it in boxes that I stare at balefully and wonder what in the world I’m doing with all of this yarn when I have to teach on Thursday.   And take a big exam in October.  And pay my bills.

Regardless of these considerations, look what I started:

Dsc00193 Beautiful Kochoran, take me away!  Wool, silk, angora … it’s lovely!  Based on Crazy Aunt Purl’s magic scarf.  I was trying to figure out what in the world I needed another scarf for (basketweave this time!) until I remembered that my new apartment is basically uninsulated and unheated, so come December, I’ll be needing a lot of extra warmth. 

I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but the colors are gorgeous — lots of purples, grays, and blues.  Just the ticket for cold weather.  Or cold apartments.

On a sad note, I’ve watched all the Inspector Lynley mysteries available from netflix.  And the Inspector Frost ones aren’t doing it for me. 

I haven’t attempted the seaming project yet; I don’t want to ruin it with messy finishing.  (But thanks for the encouragement and tips!)

Oh, happy cativersary to Alice and me!  I’ve had her for a whole year as of yesterday.  She must be healthy and well-adjusted to life at chez crazy, just look at that belly:

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Maybe I’ll get to be a happy house cat in my next life.  Or Kochoran.

finished!

… well, almost.  I still have all the seaming to do, but the Halfobi is all knitted up!

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(coffe monster)

I think I like it.  I’m worried now that the Noro striping might be a bit much.  It’s rather, um, pronounced, shall we say?  We’ll wait and see until the seaming is done.

Speaking of which, I’m nervous about that, too.  Since this was knit across from sleeve to sleeve in one piece, mattress stitch doesn’t appear to be an option — the stitches are facing the wrong direction, if that makes sense.  But the slip stitch edging seems like it will be easy enough to pick up and seam.  I started last night with the left over Noro, but that didn’t work at all … the Noro pulled apart something fierce.  I have some embroidery thread in a nice basic black that I thought I’d try instead.  I’ve never actually seamed up anything like this so I’m feeling quite intimidated by the whole process. 

To continue the seaming talk, I read through Knitting from the Top.  Rather hefty reading, I would say.  I don’t know if I’m quite ready to do away with patterns right now.  My brain cells really need to be saved for October 20 — the day of much reckoning and stress.  But it’s a great reference and very well and clearly written.  When I’m feeling reckless (read: smart enough to do basic math without messing up), this will be the place to turn. 

I’m still fighting the complicated bug.  I’d really love to do something from Knitting Nature.  Every design is just so freaking elegant and lovely.  I just don’t know if I have the focus for something like that right now.  Can’t really read and attempt, say, this:

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Not without much frustration and tears, anyway.  Besides, I’m reading a great book right now: Lust by my personal favorite Elfriede Jelinek.  She’s not for the faint of heart, but I love her profoundly pissed off prose.  (I’ll come up with something better for the specials, I promise.)

something complicated

I have an itching for a challenge.  Something complex: cables, counting, patterns, shaping … something of a challenge.  I really like the mindless stockinette I’ve been doing for Halfobi, it’s been just the ticket for 1) calming me the &*(^ down; 2) keeping my hands busy while I read and forcing me to sit down long enough to get anything done without freaking out; 3) practicing the knit stitch.  All very good — and very necessary — things.  But the Halfobi is rapidly approaching completion (or phase 2: seaming) and I’m starting to consider other projects.  I swatched the sonata last night:

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But I think this will be something rather more simple than I’m looking for at the moment because of the variegated yarn.  It’s busy enough as is.  (Not as ugly as I originally thought, either.)

Perhaps the Yarn Harlot has got to me with all of her complex gansey and shawl talk.  Perhaps inspiration will come soon.

September

I can’t believe it’s September already.  I was going to have so much more accomplished by now … it was going to be a whole new me.  Oh well.  Still two more weeks (eek!) until classes start and I have to put on my teacher disguise to enlighten young minds.  Maybe that new me will show up by then.

But progress on the Halfobi:

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That last sleeve is creeping up on finished.  I’ve never attempted a seaming project this large and I’m quite intimidated by the prospect of all that matress stitch.  But there’s at least 10” to go before that bridge.

In other knitting news, I purchased some lovely (and on sale) Debbie Bliss merino chunky from elann.com and now have visions of Nora Gaughan dancing in my head:

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I don’t think I’m experienced enough to tackle the pullover, but I really like the collar.  Perhaps paired with an easy top-down raglan?  I could handle that, I think.  The yarn is super yummy: light, lofty, and soft.  And I’ve got some nifty buttons from a discarded pair of Mr. B’s pants. 

So, I have visions of a two-color thing happening:

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eucalyptus   Y5225570

cyclamen

Eucalyptus as the main color, cyclamen as an accent on the arms — not stripes at this stage, but maybe solid-color contrast from the elbows down or something.  We’ll see. 

And what is this?

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Why, yes, it is the beginnings of a sock.  A sock not yet frogged or funkified or otherwise messed up.  The yarn is some brand new Koigu — it is wonderful!  So soft!  Such colors!  Its slightly chunkier weight than my other sock yarns make it a bit easier to handle.  But I don’t want to get too cocky, I’ve only knit 4 rows in 2×2 rib.  It’s really only an ankle bracelet at this point. 

sweet, sweet misery

What is it with me and socks?  Theoretically, I think they’d be tons of fun to knit and wear.  Every other knitting blog I read seems to extoll the virtues of the sock.  (And, hey, I obviously have to jump off of that bridge too.)  Theoretically, I know how to use dpns and make various forms of ribbing.  In practice, I’ve even made a mini-sock.  And I have a lot of sock yarn and very fine needles.  Why, oh why does this never materialize into sock nirvana?

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Sweet, colorful yarn.  Winsome, lithe needles.  And yet, it is the bane of my existence.  I’m not going for anything too complicated.  Just a nice ribbed sock.  But I can’t get past the first row — things go wonky, the join stretches out in a very unbecoming manner, etc. 

And is it even possible to get the same gauge, using the same yarn on size 1, 2, and 3 needles?  I didn’t think so.  But it happened somehow, probably because it was 2 a.m. and I should have been in bed, not starting a pair of socks.

Maybe I just don’t have the mental concentration necessary to start a pair of socks right now.  Dpns with tiny fine yarn (neither of which I use regularly) does not make for the mindless, automatic reading-time knitting I’ve been specializing in lately.  But is it just a lack of commitment on my part?  To just sit down, focus on one task, and not quit until it’s done?  I have the same trouble with my reading and studying … the nagging, little scratchings of suspicion that perhaps this isn’t what I want to be doing with my life.  That knitting as escape from the ├╝ber-cerebral pursuits of grad school is not enough … that I shouldn’t be constantly searching for new means of egress from my daily life.  I don’t know. 

Maybe I just need to practice making socks.

$%#*! (Or, I do not have the strength of my convictions)

It’s just been one of those days.  I wasted yesterday being tired and mopy, watching too many Inspector Lynley silly mysteries from Netflix — because since I ran out of Morse episodes, it’s all been downhill on the British mystery front — eating frozen grocery store pizza, and reading celebrity gossip sites.  Silly Katie.  No reading; precious little knitting. 

And today was going to be better. 

Nope.  Woke up at noon to overcast skies, proceeded to drink too much coffee; the cat is asleep under the bed, leaving me all to my lonesome; Mr. B left yesterday for a few days, leaving me lonlier than I imagined; I’m supposed to be working; and after finding out that my remaining yummy muffin was moldy, I couldn’t even make toast without somehow dropping all of the bread — sans bag — on the floor.  My suspect, industrially-cleaned yet still dirty-seeming floor, right in the corner of my minute kitchen, which I am becoming convinced — along with the cat — is infested with, or at least visited by, some kind of vermin.  And I’m not even dressed. 

So instead of productively starting my day like a grown-up, I’ve decided to talk to myself in cyberspace.  Because, really, why do I kid myself that anyone reads this?

On a happier note: I received a "new wool winder" and "reeling machine" in the mail the other day.  Part of a spending spree I’d rather not discuss and of which I am feeling quite embarrassed.  Tons of fun — I wound every skein I could get my hands on and rewound my messy, inexpert hand-wound balls.  Alice, of course, was there to supervise:

Dsc00136 Because nothing can be accomplished successfully without the intervention of a cat.

While ordering, I’d obviously forgotten my pledge to spend no more money.  Ah well.  Guilt was off-set (temporarily) by the pleasure in my first wound ball.  (Let’s no kid ourselves, the recriminations are already flowing freely — a wound ball of yarn can only distract you from your upcoming credit card bill for so long.)

Unless, of course, you’re a cat and don’t have credit cards. 

More yarn-meddling courtesy of Miss Alice:

Dsc00142_3 Yes, that is the Rowan flaming (pain in my arse) being inspected, (re)wound after featuring in its fourth abandoned project.  I have just enough of that stuff for it to be an annoyingly space-hogging presence in the stash, without really enough to do anything interesting.  Which is how I prefer to buy all of my yarn.

Whinge, whinge, whinge.

I promise better spirits soon.

It.

I’ve finally realized that I’m pretty much a one project gal.  Every time I attempt more than one project at a time I begin worrying about neglecting the original project or playing favorites or get so caught up in the exhilaration of starting something new that I fear nothing will ever be completed and my apartment will be swallowed up by the lonely, dusty beginnings of things. 

See, I’m working on the Halfobi and I’ve got a couple of pairs of socks I’d like to make and then there are a couple of cardigans I have my eye on … but it’s just too much.  I don’t have that much knitting time — and what time I do have right now has to be reading time as well.   So no complicated patterns, stitches, counting.  Basically, anything beyond stockinette and the simplest of rib patterns is a no-no.  Anyway, with too many projects, I get distracted from the reading (very, very bad) and start to worry about all of the unfinished, barely started but yet already neglected piles of wool around the house.  Just collecting cat hair. 

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Because who else could be my faithful knitting companion, if not Miss Alice P.?  And although she is many things, she is above all else shedding

She supervised — and blessed with drifts of fuzzy tortie hair — today’s Halfobi progress and reading.  I finally sucked it up and knit on the necessary 75 stitches (adjusted for gauge) for the other front of the body — I’d been putting it off out of sheer laziness and unwillingness to devote non-reading time to the task.  Instead, I knit gauge swatches for socks, began socks that were destined only to be frogged, etc.  Obviously, a much better use of my time.  But today a good couple of inches of progress:

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The color is funky, but it’s dark and that’s the best I could do.  I’m not much of a photographer.  But progress!  I’m looking forward to wearing this when the weather will again tolerate wool. 

And in other news, I think I might have found IT.  You know, that special dissertation-worthy topic that just might be worth devoting a couple of years of your life (nay, your best years) to.  We’ll see.  Too early to tell.  Or to awaken the wrath of the dissertation Gods.

Patience.

I tried …

I really did.  I tried to make la madre’s house socks with acrylic yarn.  I even swatched the Red Heart soft yarn.   A nice big swatch.  But I just couldn’t do it.  It’s so shiny and slippery and weird.  So I packed it up and put it away with the rest of the cheap-o yarn that I hide around the house.  (Well, okay, in a closet.)  This disheartening setback totally interrupted my new sock-yarn-swatch project. 

And then this came today:

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Yay!  My very first purchase from elann.com.  Which was followed very promptly by my second order from elann.com when I realized I didn’t buy enough of the sonata.  And at $1.98 how could I not make up the difference immediately?  Anyway, two shades of sonata (sweaters for la madre), four shades of esprit (two solids, two prints) for socks. 

I have to say, the esprit seems great.  I’ve never knit with an elasticized yarn; it took me a couple of rows to figure out tension — I was way too tight at first — but once that was straightened out, it was smooth swatch sailing.

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The yarn has great give and knit up nicely on #2 needles: 7 spi.   Grumperina was right, though, the needles do need to be slippery (Addi turbo were fine), the elastic is very grabby.  Should make for a nice pair of socks — glad I didn’t waste any more time with that Red Heart.  It was not making me happy.

And since today was a day of much exciting mail (including the new Rebecca and a couple of the German back issues), I’ll share one of my first academic purchases of the coming school year:

Dsc00132Brand new!  And I didn’t have to order it from Germany!  Anyway, it’s a nice anthology of texts, which are, if not exactly hard, then challenging, to find.  Nice to save on the shipping and photocopying.