Lists give me the illusion of control.

Things are a little chaotic, but they always are and I’m not even going to try to play catch-up.  I have a toothache that goes to 11 (actually, its an 8) and a million things that I’m procrastinating about, so have a list.

1. Jason and I celebrate our 5 year anniversary on Friday.  We’re going to Cancun and staying here and I am really, really excited.

2. My brother and SIL are expecting another baby, and this time they were nice enough to make me a niece to knit darling, frilly things for.  I just finished her baby blanket and will bring it to the hospital when she arrives on Wednesday.  I want it to be a surprise for them, so I’m only sharing a tiny preview.

It is (in my completely biased opinion) wonderful and perfect, and, I think, the exact right balance between classic, elegant and functional.

3. I’ve knit lots of other things, and even taken pictures of a few.  (I kind of hate how Flickr has changed their system so that its so bloody hard to link to photos.   Why do sites insist on changing things that aren’t broken?  I’m looking at you, too, Gmail.)

There’s a laceweight alpaca shawl designed by my friend Trisha.

There’s also a sock designed by my friend Allison.  Its just the one, for now.  The second one is coming.  Eventually.  Probably.

4. I got an email today from Marie at Underground Crafter.  Among other things, she mentioned that she read about my Physical Wellness for Handcrafters classes in Yarn Market News.  I had no idea, so I was super grateful that she pointed it out!  I checked it out, and sure enough, the May issue has a blurb about how The Yarn Spot has been working with me to offer seated massage and self care classes, both geared towards knitters.  Hooray for nice surprises, and for feeling a tiny bit famous!

5. Kombucha brewing continues.  I’ve been through three or four batches now, and Sammy the SCOBY has grown from a thin, yeasty little guy to a Serious Business kombucha culture.

This is what he looked like when I started my first batch of tea.

And this is what he looks like now.

Actually, this is more like Sam IV, since its one if the babies that grew on top of Sammy as the fermentation process went on, but I still think its super cool to see how the SCOBYs are changing from batch to batch.  Each one has been a little less yeasty and a little more opaque.

Its the pictures that get me.

I spend a lot of time knitting, and then I compose blog posts about it in my head.  When it comes time to take pictures, though, I get hung up.  The light isn’t good.  The camera battery needs to be charged.  I can’t find the cable.  I’m not capturing the colors properly.  There is always an excuse, and a lack of pictures seems to be the reason that I can’t get fresh content onto the blog more than once a month.  So, with apologies for the bad photography, here are some things that have been keeping me busy:

This sweater (Green is the New Black) is nearly finished.  I need to do applied i-cord down the fronts and across the bottom (which means I first need to learn how to make applied i-cord), and seam the sleeves.  I might actually get to wear this a little before it gets to be too warm.

It seems counter-intuitive to call socks that are this brightly colored “plain vanilla,” but that’s really all they are.  The yarn is Scarlett O’Hara, a merino/bamboo blend from Yarn Love, and the colorway is Gala.  It was perfect for knitting during the dreary winter.

I’ve also finished knitting an Ishbel from Three Irish Girls Adorn sock yarn.  I could have easily made it larger with the single skein of yarn I was using, but I didn’t figure that out until it was too late.  I am always afraid I’ll run out of yarn.

The color here is much more accurate:

 

Elsewhere on the internet, I’ve been having lots of fun with the 30 Days of Lists project.  Making lists is much less intimidating than writing paragraphs, and lists seem like something that can be photographed with my cellphone.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I’m more than a little disturbed to find myself suddenly on this side of Labor Day, but the weather in DC is at least being a good sport, and allowing us a taste of fall weather.  The summer was crammed with a lot of work, three trips, and a lot of knitting.  I’m not quite ready to give it up, so the cool weather feels like a little bit of a consolation prize.

Since I blogged last–months ago!–I’ve been to Chicago and met Sue, the largest, most complete T-Rex.

I love the Smithsonian and feel really blessed to live someplace where there are so many free museums, but I enjoyed The Field Museum more than I’ve ever enjoyed our Museum of Natural History.

Later in the summer, Jason and I went to Seattle.  We spent a few days together visiting friends and exploring the city.  I really, really loved Seattle, but as soon as we got home, it rained for about a week to remind me that I couldn’t handle the Pacific Northwest’s weather.

After a few days, I left Jason with Liz and Nate to continue romping around the city, and I headed out with a group of Ravelry friends for a knitting retreat in the mountains.  We spent the weekend in a cabin at St. John’s Pass, knitting and spinning and talking and laughing.  Its always great when online friends are just as amazing in person as they are on the internet.

I test knit a sock for Allison, which has since been published on Ravelry.  It uses some crazy New Pathways type construction that was a lot of fun to work with, even if it did require math.  A month later, it is still just a single sock.

I taught myself to Navajo ply (this is Targhee, dyed by A Verb for Keeping Warm):

And then tried again, and did a much better job:

(That one is BFL from Teresa Levite Studios.)

And, I made a few sweaters, which still need to be properly photographed and, in the case of the one at the top, properly finished.

Why I Never Get Anything Done

The first thing on my list of things to do this morning was to write up this marketing outline thing that I’ve been trying to put together for three days.  I was pretty sure it would take about 15 minutes once I actually started to work on it.  It was going to be the fastest thing in the world.  This is what happened:

Put coffee in French press.  Forget to set time.  Sit down at computer.  Open document.  Open Firefox.  Read a few blog posts.  Open email.  Reply to an email from a student.  Start to reply to another email.  Remember coffee.

Get up.  Go fix coffee.  Sit back down at computer.  Open Ravelry.  Read some forum posts.  Read more blogs.  Remember email-in-progress.  Finish writing email.  Read the three emails that came in while I was writing that email.  Reply to two of them.  Finish coffee.  Decide that I should get dressed and move to my desk and do Serious Work.

Go into the bedroom to get dressed.   Decide that it makes sense to shower first.  Go into the bathroom.  Get distracted by the mess on the counter.  Clear the counter.  Notice mildew on shower curtain.  Get distracted by cleaning the bathtub and shower.  Shower and get dressed.

Realize that I am hungry.  Pour a bowl of cereal.  Sit down at desk.  Reply to third email, and notice two more.  Start to reply to one.  Decide that I am really, SERIOUSLY going to work.  Open the document.  Type a few lines.  Decide it would look better with bullet points instead of numbers.  Play with formatting for ten minutes.  Forget what I had wanted to say.  Notice sock-in-progress on desk.  Knit a few rows while staring at the screen.

Remember that I need to check a client out from yesterday.  Check out client, look over schedule.  Click back over to email.  Notice a bill is due.  Open sticky notes to find the password to pay bill online, and spot the name of a song I’d made a note of.  Pay bill, then YouTube the song.

Go back to the document and actually finish it…..nearly three hours after I started.  Its really kind of ridiculous.  (But I did manage to finish a pair of socks!  Pattern is Froot Loops, yarn is Three Irish Girls Adorn in the colorway Mimosa.  I totally did not mean to knit these, but the colorway just kind of leaped off the shelf at me and demanded to be worked with RIGHT NOW.  When yarn gets that lippy, its generally a bad idea to say no.)

Summer in Fast Forward

It feels, as usual, like we’re careening through the year, and its moving too fast to keep up with.

My nephew turned one at the end of June…….

And enjoyed his birthday cake in the way that only babies can.

Never ones to do things half way, his parents gave him an entire ear of the cake–not because there was any danger of him eating much of it, but because it was more fun to play with.  Black icing maybe wasn’t the most charming idea, but he sure did have a good time!  (Shockingly little of the cake wound up on the floor, and probably about as little went in to his mouth.)

Jason and I celebrated our fourth anniversary at a Bed & Breakfast in Oxford, so that we could be in the area for Jerry’s birthday party.  The building was a Victorian mansion that dates to 1875, and it was just spectacular.  I wish I had made time to talk to the folks who run it and learn more about its history.

We went kayaking on the Tred Avon river, and explored Oxford and found the house where I lived when I was very young and my father was the foreman at one of the shipyards there.  We tromped around St. Michaels and were surprised by how much it is starting to change.  And we sat on the lawn and the porches and marveled at how lovely and peaceful it was.  (The rest of the photos are here.)

There has been lots and lots of knitting and spinning, but not a lot of my taking pictures of it.  I finished spinning a braid of alcapa sometime back in June.  In a way, this was a big victory.  The fiber had been sitting in my stash for a year because the first time I tried to spin it, it just pulled apart and turned in to a whole lot of nothing.  It was great to realize that I have enough experience to work with it now.  On the other hand, it made me realize how spoiled working with a wheel has made me.  This was spin on a drop spindle and plied on a wheel, and it felt like it took forever to spin.

Its dyed by Sanguine Gryphon, and the color is Walden.  About 200 yards, maybe a little less, spun at something that averages out to worsted weight, although its pretty inconsistent.

I finally got around to blocking a baby sweater, and its just darling.

Its a short sleeved variation of Helena, knit in Three Irish Girls Kells sport merino, in the colorway Georgia Peach.

I finished a mini-Clapotis and I love it.  Everyone involved in the online knitting community has at least glimpsed Kate Gilbert’s pattern, and after knitting one, I understand why it went viral.  Its a great pattern–just enough variety to keep it interesting, but simple enough that you aren’t constantly referencing a pattern, and the finished product looks great.  There is a least one more, larger version in my future.  Maybe more.  I think the pattern is just perfect for handpainted yarns.

The yarn is Three Irish Girls Springvale Sport (which feels thinner than sport weight to me, but that’s probably just because the twist is so firm that it doesn’t squoosh down the way other sport weight yarns I’ve used have done), in the Cherry Blossom colorway.  It really does remind me of DC in the spring.

There is more–vests and sweaters and socks that I didn’t mean to be knitting, but I think I’ll save them for their own post.

The Past Few Weeks…

…(mostly) in pictures.

I finished socks.  Pyroclastic, on Three Irish Girls Glenhaven Cashmerino in Rhubarb.  I love the color.  I love the yarn.  I love the shaped arch.  I modified the oattern to have one less cable repeat and therefore be smaller, and I don’t love that I didn’t realize it would make the point of the top of the foot happen between two cables instead of at the center of one.

I discovered Burnt Mills park and the wonderful boulders and creek there.  Can’t wait to go back and spend more time, and to explore further down the trail.

I spun yarn.  This is silk and merino from a Sanguine Gryphon batt that Christine gave me for Christmas a few years ago.  The color is called Blanche Fleur.  Its far from perfect, but it was the first time I had spun from a batt, the first time I spun silk, and the first time I made anything so lightweight.  (This is something like a sport weight.)  There is about 350 yards here, and I think it might want to be a shawlette when it grown up.

And, I visited Glen Echo for the first time in several years.  We rode the carousel (an original 1921 Dentzel).  It is magical.

FO: Umbrous

My Ravelry friends are amazing.  They can get their brains around knitterly concepts that I could never suss out on my own.  A month or so ago, in between being sick, raising kids, looking for a new house to buy, and being more that a little pregnant, Crystal designed a lace shawl.  I still don’t know how she managed it, but it was beautiful and when she put out a call for test knitters, I jumped on it.

I’m kind of a slow knitter, especially where lace that I have to rip out three times is concerned, so by the time I finished knitting she already had the shawl for sale on Ravelry.  And you should knit it because its just lovely.

The pattern is designed to be knit with any weight of yarn, and I understand that the edging can be knit with any number of repeats, which means that the final product can be as large as you like.  I knit mine in Three Irish Girls McClellan Lace in a colorway called Topaz, which The Backwards Loop carried for about a minute.

It reminds me of leaves in the fall.

Its been said that the pattern isn’t really suited to beginning lace/shawl knitters, but I’m not sure I agree.  It definitely takes attention, but the darling little leaves become clear pretty quickly, and its fairly simple to catch mistakes almost right away and fix them before they create a disaster.  After the first few pattern repeats, I stopped using lifelines, and the only place that really tripped me up was beginning the edging, but that was just because I can’t count.

The shawl is pretty big.  It blocked out to be 42″ from tip to tip, across the long top edge.  That’s nearly wide enough to be a proper shawl, and if I really wanted it to be, I could probably get it there by blocking more severely.  Its 29″ from the top edge to the bottom point, which makes it too long for someone as short as me to wear as a shawlette with the point in the front and the sides wrapped around.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but for now it makes me happy just sitting in the living room where I can see it.

Can’t type. Busy knitting.

Really, I am.  Despite radio silence, there are things happening with yarn.

There was my Ravelympics shawl, which I finished back at the end of February.  Its still a little curled at the top edge and the bottom isn’t as open as it should be.  I need to block it, but I haven’t managed to take it off long enough to do that.

The pattern is Little Colonnade by Stephen West.  The yarn is Kells Sport Merino from Three Irish Girls, in Sheepn…, a colorway dyed specially for the 3IG Ravelympics team, inspired by a picture of a big, shaggy sheep.

There is also a nearly finished baby sweater, but it is a gift and sort of a secret, so I’m not going to show it off here.

I’m modifying the Pyroclastic pattern from Knitty to be a smaller size with fewer repeats, but haven’t taken pictures of the single finished sock.

I’m also test knitting an fantastic leafy lace shawl for a Ravelry friend in some wool/bamboo laceweight yarn.  Its been bumpy going but I’m finally halfway through the set-up chart and it looks like it should work out this time.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time and made a cuddly Cthulhu for a friend’s birthday.

He isn’t perfect, but for my first crocheted critter and something made on a whim, I think he’s pretty great.  I love his wee wings, and the fact that the pattern had instructions labeled “tentacle round!”  The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino, left over from a hat and scarf set I made for a friend, and Jason chose the button eyes from my grandmother’s button box.  I probably would have gone with black or navy blue, but the glowing red adds a nice touch.  If I made another Cthulhu, I’d crochet at a tighter gauge (I knew that going in, but didn’t have any hooks between this size and lace size) and weight the bottom so that he stands more easily on his own.

Lastly, this unimpressive pile of orange stockinette……

…has become an even larger pile of unimpressive stockinette, including the bottom third of a sweater body and two three-quarter length sleeves, all of which will soon be joined together so that I can knit the smocked top and finally be finished with the stockinette death march.  The next time I decide to knit an adult sized sweater on 2.75 mm needles, someone please suggest that maybe its not a good idea.  I’m excited to see how it comes together, though!  Pity I’ll be finishing it just in time for warm weather.

A Year In FOs: The 2009 Edition

A year ago, I sorted through all my FOs (thanks, Ravelry!) and looked over what I had finished in a year.  There were 18 finished projects, and I said that this year I was going to complete 20.  I forgot all about that goal until I went back to look at last years post.  I really had no idea whether or not I had met it, and rather thought I hadn’t.  Turns out, I did.  Look–my full grid of twenty projects!

1. 9/365: (FO) Koolhaas, 2. 16/365: Finally!, 3. FO: Mittens, 4. Mismatched, 5. FO: Opulent Raglan, 6. FO: Barrow, 7. Waterfall, 8. FO: A Scarf for Ariel, 9. Baby Sweater, 10. FO: Ulmus, 11. FO: Striped Socks, 12. FO: Bellatrix, 13. FO: Transatlantic Socks, 14. FO: Aiden Socks, 15. FO: Multnomah, 16. Charade, 17. FO: Mystery Socks 2009, 18. FO: Botanic Hat, 19. FO: Katinka, 20. Christmas Sweater

That doesn’t count the small projects I knit, like dishclothes, single blanket squares, and chapstick holders.  And, in addition to the knitting, I spun up about 8 ounces of some pretty decent yarn.

Some Falklands, dyed by A Verb For Keeping Warm in a color that my camera never did capture correctly called The Silent Undergrowth:

And some bright and happy (superwash?) merino from Yarn Love in a colorway called Maiden.  I love it.

I did some pretty cool knitting things this year.  I knit at a pub in Dublin and at the Colosseum.  I made my first and second sweater (then proceeded to screw up half of a third).  I learned how not to purl yarn overs, how to knit socks from the toe up and that I hate no-wrap short row heels moderately less than the “normal” sort.  I made my first and second shawls, one of which was a receiving blanket for my first nephew that became a swaddling blanket until he outgrew it.  I tried colorwork for the first time.  For the second year, I had great fun with my friends in the Three Irish Girls’ yarn clubs, and got to host a meetup for some club members and Sharon, and had lovely women come from much, much further than I expected.

This year, I want to knit at least two more sweaters and shawls, work through some of my sock yarn stash, avoid the lure of weaving, and actually spend enough time spinning to be able to be the boss of my fiber, rather than just letting it do what it seems to want.  (Although, I do rather enjoy that zen approach to knitting.)

I also made one of those 101 things in 1001 days lists.  Because I like lists a little more than I should.  Has anyone else made one?  Even if I never get through it, it was a lot of fun to think about.

Happy New Year!

Happy Christmas.

I finished sewing the cutest little buttons on the last Christmas knitting project this afternoon, and am now hunkered down at my parent’s house, waiting to celebrate my nephew’s very first Christmas.

I hope that whatever holiday you celebrate, you are cozy and happy and surrounded by love.  Every year, I read the same thing on Christmas Eve, and this year is no exception.

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor–I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 West Ninety-fifth Street

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