Friday, December 30, 2005

A quick update

We're here! We made it to Boulder on Wednesday night and are having a great time checking out our new hometown. So far we've discovered that two blocks away, there's a great pub, a lovely little tea house, a bakery, and a Wild Oats. It doesn't get much better than that. Unfortunately our DSL modem is giving us all kinds of trouble, but I'm hoping I'll be able to fix it after our stuff arrives tomorrow, assuming I can find the appropriate box amidst the chaos of unpacking. Once that's up and running I'll try to take some pictures of all my lovely new yarn (thanks to my parents and Beth!) and my new craft room, which is filled with sunlight and looks out toward the foothills.

I am totally thrilled to be living in this town and all I need for complete happiness is a job. Programmer for hire, right here!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Greetings from the farm

Greetings from everyone on the farm! We've been having a nice visit but we're looking forward to being in our new home by tomorrow night. We may even have the DSL set up there already, so I'll post again from there. But for now, pictures:

Martha and Shotgun, the elderly kitty and the squeaky young upstart.

Tessie, venerable and adorable West Highland terrier, and Trusty, stupid and noisy mutt but very good at catching rats and possums.

The goats are too busy eating to have their picture taken. Guy Noir, however, is always happy to pose. His lady friends, Blanche and the Blue Sisters, aren't supposed to sit on the porch rail and eat birdseed, but they do it anyway. They're not terribly bright.

Not pictured: ducks, geese, chickens, and Marmalade the orange tomcat.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


We're unplugging the wireless router tomorrow morning and hitting the road, so before we go, I'll say Happy Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and general festive merriment to all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Phase 1 complete

The movers have come and gone, and taken all of our stuff with them. We finished packing around midnight last night, and the truck showed up at 8 AM, so we're pretty wiped out. Now we just have to finish cleaning the apartment (I spent the afternoon hunting the mighty herds of dust buffalo) and run a few errands tomorrow, and then we'll hit the road on Friday morning!

I haven't been knitting much because I'm too tired to lift my arms. I need my elbows for scrubbing the bathtub. I packed plenty of projects and yarn for the trip, though. There's wireless internet at my parents' house, so I'll be able to post pictures of knitting progress, Yarn Barn purchases, and all the various farm animals. But first, about sixteen hours of sleep on the remarkably comfortable air mattress. Zzzzzz.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Birthday wishes

Happy Birthday Dad!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Boxes packed so far: 74
Cups of tea consumed today: 5
Days until we leave New Jersey: 4
Days until movers come: 2
Repeats finished on North Sea shawl: 2
Sore, sniffly noses: 1 (mine)

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Thanks to everyone for your input! I think Ruth is correct that the original pattern is some freakish hybrid of stranding and intarsia, and frankly, that's more than I want to deal with. So I've modified the pattern again, this time with a solid sense of what I can actually achieve, and this new design is the result. The colors I bought are slightly different than the original, so that's brick red, rose pink, and purple with a blue border. I've finished two rows of the stranded part since last night, and it's going slowly but steadily. Untangling the mess of skeins is maddening enough that I need to take frequent breaks. Fortunately, my lovely students gave me chocolates yesterday as a going-away present, so I can knit a row, have a chocolate, knit another row... you get the idea.

During yesterday's lecture, I managed to turn the heel of the second Koigu sock while simultaneously contemplating information theory and data compression algorithms. The sock seems none the worse for it and the heel gusset is growing slowly.

Moving update: the movers are coming on Wednesday. 51 boxes packed, an unknown number left to pack. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


I'm not sure how I missed this before.


I swatched, I measured, I re-calculated for my small size and a plain boxy hem rather than the shirt-tail style in the original. Excited to finally start this big warm woolly sweater, I cast on for the back and did a little garter-stitch edging. And then I got to the first row of colorwork.

Here's the part where I beg the internet for advice. What is this thing? Is the colorwork all intarsia? Or are there bits of intarsia alternating with some sort of stranded work with the white background color? (In case you can't tell, there are 4 colors plus the white: brick red, pink, lavender, and dark purple.) Further complicating matters, I've never done intarsia. Am I completely insane to even try this? I've already modified the color pattern to make it narrower and slightly less elaborate; should I just chuck it and design something that only requires two colors per row? Oh, and in case I thought the original pattern would help, um, it appears to be written for the more advanced knitter, because it just says "Begin working pattern 1 with right side facing" where pattern 1 is a hand-drawn chart. This is what I get for buying patterns in remote corners of Scotland.

Thank you all in advance for any help... I love this yarn and am looking forward to the fancy cables, and what you can't see is that there's a small cable running all down the sleeve, which looks supremely cool, and the collar has a multi-colored lining. It's gorgeous - I just wish I knew how to knit it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Very tired tonight, but not from packing... we went to see Narnia last night and it was wonderful, and then I had the LAST LAB EVER today, and then I went to stitch&bitch with Gretchen and Rupa and spent a fair bit of time toting seven-month-old Edith around because she is just too cute to put down. But I did get some knitting done too:

The North Sea Shawl, in Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, color 175 "Twilight." It's 100+ stitches wide but the lace pattern is the simplest thing in the world and I'm enjoying it greatly. It helps that the color is stunning (it doesn't photograph well but it's pale blue with hints of gray and rose) and it's going to be a warm, thick, satisfying wrap when it's done.

To avoid any accusations of ignoring old projects to focus on the new, I'm halfway through the heel flap on the second Koigu sock. But it's not really interesting enough to photograph. Perhaps soon there will be Two Socks and I can actually wear them on my little feet.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Quantum Tea asked for some spinning tips, and there are so many good sites that I thought I'd just link to a few here. I'm a complete beginner, but I've found these resources to be helpful:

As for which spindle to buy, my main advice is to get one with a notch in the side that you can feed the yarn through, because my Louet with the cute sheep printed on it doesn't have this feature and it's kind of a pain for a beginner. I love my new Bosworth spindle but they're expensive; you can get a fine basic spindle for $15 and try it out before dropping $50 on a handmade exotic-wood one. I think I read somewhere that bottom-whorl spindles are easier but I managed to get started on the top-whorl without too much trouble.

And one more piece of advice: Start with good fiber. I bought about $7 worth of simple undyed Corriedale roving and, while it's not quite as light and floaty as something like a merino-silk blend, it's still quite nice and drafts easily. Mmm. Enough blogging - back to the spindle!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Surprise project #2 is finished! I wove in all the ends this morning and spent most of the afternoon putting books into boxes... but I did find time to spin some more Corriedale singles and do a little knitting on my newest project. What is it? Just a little something in a heathered blue wool... here's a hint:

Friday, December 09, 2005


I finished one of the Surprise Projects! And I managed a fair bit of work on the other during this morning's class, so I have high hopes that it'll be done by the end of the weekend. My problem is that finishing one project makes me feel entitled to start five more. This is not a terribly helpful ratio. I've been looking at Folk Shawls and picking through my stash all evening. Also, today as I left work, I remembered why I shouldn't wear my hair up in the wintertime, at least not while walking across the frozen tundra that stretches between the lab and the car. My poor little ears need something to cover them up. Therefore, I am faced with several decisions:

1. North Sea or Bird's Nest? I have three skeins of navy blue laceweight alpaca that would only need to be supplemented by three more skeins for the Bird's Nest. But I could also wait (what a concept) and buy something new for North Sea, which calls for Scottish Campion aka Shetland Spindrift. Not as floaty as the alpaca, but it comes in lovely tweedy colors, and I'm all sentimental about Scotland since that's where we spent our honeymoon.

2. Which hat should I make? There are a lot out there. Earlier I mentioned the Bea Ellis originals and I'm still leaning in that direction, because the two layers look so much warmer than anything else. For this, I just have to get past the window-shopping and actually place an order. But if I stall too long it'll have to be shipped to our new address. Which leads me to the next problem:

3. How much of my stash should come in the car with me to Colorado? We're starting in on the real packing this weekend, so I should probably decide how many projects I can fit in the car and reasonably work on before the movers bring our stuff. Before you say, "you'll be too busy with moving to knit," let me remind you that I can knit in the car, and we're spending a few days at my parents' house out in the country, where there isn't much to do in the evenings after the baby ducks have gone to sleep. There will be plenty of knitting time. I'm thinking, four pairs of socks, a sweater, a scarf, and the spindle. And a few books, and my needle case. That's not too much, right?

(Clearly, reading the Yarn Harlot's chapter on Stash has seriously afflicted my brain.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005


First of all, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes! I get introspective on my birthday in the same way that people make resolutions on New Year's, and I'm really happy with where I am at this point in my life. It's nice to be able to share that with the wide world.

Today I got all sorts of things done, none of which are terribly interesting (dishes washed! new toothbrush! clean desk!). It helped that I had to come home from work quite early in order to meet the moving company appraisers, who gave us wildly differing estimates of how much stuff we have and promised to charge us lots of money. Fortunately, since we're not actually paying for it ourselves, I could be nice and relaxed after they left, and I got some spinning done! I finished the tiny bit of dreamy blue fluff, except for a bit which I saved so I can try to find more like it. Then I tried out the new spindle with the more hefty Corriedale, and... it worked like a dream. My drafting has vastly improved and I can actually spin for a while without having to stop and hold the spindle between my knees while I draft more. The Corriedale singles are an almost-consistent fingering/DK sort of weight rather than the worsted-to-bulky I was achieving before. I feel enormously accomplished.

All this means that my shopping list for the trip to Yarn Barn is growing rapidly. The Douceur et Soie for the lace wrap, maybe some yarn for one of the Folk Shawls, a mini niddy noddy to wind my small skeins, much more roving, and, most dangerously, anything that really catches my eye. Because, you know, I'll be on vacation.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


It's my birthday!

The age of the author is left as an exercise for the student.

So many wonderful knitting-related presents! The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, which is terribly useful; Folk Shawls, nearly all of which I want to make; the Yarn Harlot's latest hilarious offering, and then this:

It's a Bosworth midi spindle, in tulipwood. It is a thing of beauty and it spins forever. It even came with that scrap of dreamy blue-purple roving half-spun, so I could try it out as soon as I opened the package. It's smooth and shiny and my spinning has already vastly improved. I need more practice. I need more roving. I need another slice of chocolate cake.

Monday, December 05, 2005


I was looking at the Rock Creek socks, which were a very uneventful top-down 2x2 rib, and then I posted something over on Rachel's blog about how nice it is that socks let you do fancy patterning in a small space, and before I knew it, I had Elfine's socks.

(Okay, so I cast on the toe three times before getting it right. Figure-8 cast-on is tricky.)

And I couldn't be happier with them. I worked on them for ages yesterday and had to tear myself away by looking hard at the calendar and reminding myself about unfinished holiday knitting. In a fit of virtue I even wound the Paloma yarn. Doesn't it look appealing all together like that? But it doesn't hold a candle to the lovely, lovely sock... I charted up the pattern and it's so pretty, and really not hard at all, though the double central decreases in such a tight gauge require some negotiating. I can't wait to see what it looks like when there's a bit more of it.

But right now, I'm working on the surprise projects while watching The Nutcracker on PBS, the same Baryshnikov/Kirkland version that I watched every single year when I was growing up. I was also in at least six performances of the ballet (mouse, snowflake, sugarplum, Mirliton) and the music still gets me. Fortunately my husband has gone out in search of birthday presents and so no one is here to watch me doing pique turns around the living room.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Photo update!

It's been a while since I took any pictures of my projects! So, here we have them all... (Note: I do know that things look so much better photographed in natural light, but if I waited for that you wouldn't see updates until May.)

The Koigu socks are progressing slowly, as are the new Rock Creek socks.

Paloma is still just a pile of yarn on my desk, but at least it's newly-washed yarn, and I swear I'll wind it all into balls soon. There are about a zillion more of the off-white skeins in the bag under my desk.

I've been working on Mystery Projects One and Two all week.

And this evening, I pulled out the sewing machine instead of the knitting, and ran up this cute little bag for myself. It's still knitting-related, because I love having these mini-totes for small knitting projects, so the socks and gloves don't get tangled up with the other projects in my larger bag, and so I can more easily pick which project to take with me on any given day.

Cold ears

I realized the other day that I have a nice coat, and a nice scarf, and even some lovely warm mittens (which are slightly too big but I can fix that), but I don't have a warm hat. If I'm waiting for the bus in 30-degree weather I need a warm hat. I'm thinking of knitting a Norwegian hat, maybe the "Traditional." But what colors? Gray and blue, to match the scarf, or gray and red, to match the coat and mittens? Suggestions and advice are welcome!