Archive for the ‘real life’ Category
So I do still knit! It just takes me an extraordinarily long time to finish anything. This is the first year in five that I didn’t make myself a birthday sweater, but seeing as I’ve been giving away my sweaters instead of wearing them it didn’t seem like a priority this year. (I am not dedicated enough to hand wash sweaters every time I wear them, and I have observed there’s something about wool that invites spit up and other natural disasters. Thus my sweater collection is in hiding. Not to mention my mommy knockers, but if I told you that, it would be TMI, wouldn’t it?)
With that, here are the socks I made for my lovely sister-in-law. My swirl socks pattern adapted to fingering weight yarn, Lorna’s Laces because that’s my brother’s favorite, and a completion time that is downright embarrassing. I’ll give you a hint: these socks are older than my 5-month-old.
And then this pair is for my grandma. It’s just a spiraling rib-ish sort of thing because I got a little antsy.
When my grandfather was ill I used to make him a pair a month during the winter, or thereabouts. It was probably more for me than for him–the need to do SOMETHING when there is absolutely nothing anyone can do. One of the most touching moments of my life was when I went to visit him (at the time we lived 13 hours away), the first thing he did was wheel back to his sock drawer and slowly tell me that he thought about me every morning. We cried together (heck, I’m crying now) and I think that I was never so glad to be able to be a knitter. There are some people who do so much for you that there’s no way you could return all the goodness they’ve poured into you. My grandfather was one of those people, and my grandmother continues to be one too. So I do what I can. I knit socks.
Thanks for listening. Go forth, knit, and love.
I need to ask: where should go when I’m in Denver tomorrow and Boulder on Monday? I have a couple of hours to kill in the City Center area in Denver tomorrow afternoon and all Sunday evening and most of Monday in Boulder. Any suggestions–yarn, fabric, food, sights? Thanks!
I seem to have misplaced it. It is just a big blur of white.
Connecticut (it snowed twice):
tree at the New Haven green (Kara, I really was just like Rory!)
Combined with a small-scale Christmas of warmth and laughter with family and friends (and Wii Music handbell performances), it was an incredible end to 2008. And hey, at this point I’m only four days late in declaring myself ready for the New Year as far as the calendar is concerned!
Now it is time for the New Year pensive. DH always tells me I speak only in abstractions, but changing that is not one of my resolutions so feel free to skim on:
I’ve really enjoyed the year-end reviews splashing across various blogs these past few weeks. (An an especial congrats to those making big changes, like Nashville’s newest homeowner!) And as always, I was delighted to find peeps who expressed exactly what I’d been feeling. Erin (who tends to do this quite a bit) pretty much summed up my view of New Year’s a few days ago, writing that she loved the process of reevaluating her life and making changes for the better–even if the changes themselves can be an extended process (Erin, is that an apt paraphrase? Oh, and I dislike New Year’s Eve, too!).
2008 was the first year of my life that I’ve felt old (I’m 26, so I guess it is about time). I suppose that feeling came with the realization that my options are not as plentiful as they once were. That statement is not nearly as pessimistic as it might read–rather, I feel like I have explored lots of options, which requires accepting some things into my life and excluding others. Sometimes this process is a choice, sometimes not. I have always found it hard to live with the realization that I can’t be everything, so the exclusion is the trying part.
Yet it is intensely freeing to know that I have chosen to be this person, and, upon arrival at a rather arbitrary calendric marker that still somehow feels entirely right, to evaluate and lay out steps to be a better one. Nearly all of my resolutions fall into the category of increasing my sense of purpose–how I eat, how I move (note I did NOT say exercise! I haven’t changed that much!), how I talk to and about other people, how I prioritize my time. Most of all I want to get over this grad-school-induced isolation and talk to people again. I miss people, and having conversations that don’t rely on a display of intelligence but rather compassion (hint: one I have, the other not so much!!).
I don’t know where you are, but I hope you have had one of those humbling moments of clarity sometime in your life when you realize how important certain decisions in your past were in the creation of who you are today. And I also hope that however hard those decisions were to make, and however difficult the repercussions of those choices were to live out, you are happy to be the person that resulted from them.
Oh, and I want to make a decent pair of pants. But more about that later…
More travel! If I were reading my blog I would begin to think I lived a rather charmed life. And I would be right in many regards, although the past year has been quite exceptional in the amount of the world I’ve seen. Not only did I get to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing Switzerland (and Ireland), but I also finally got to go to New England. Ok, who am I kidding? I’m in Maine right now!
And last week I was in New Hampshire and Vermont. I am thrilled to say that they were both as beautiful as I’d always hoped. I have never before felt as immediately comfortable in a town as I did when I was in Hanover, NH. Although I have spent the last eight years in cities, I remain devoted to the country and found New England to be an enchanting mix of both. This circumstance is especially fortunate, given the reason for our trip was for job interviews of a sort for DH.
on the road between Hanover, NH, and Burlington, VT
|From holidays 2008|
|From holidays 2008|
|From holidays 2008|
|From holidays 2008|
more Burlington, for good measure
Then there is the fact that the 14 inches of snow that dumped on Vermont while we were there confirmed to me that my decision to become a knitter was a prophetic move indeed (which reminds me: have I ever told you why I started knitting in the first place? DH loves football and loves watching football on TV, and I can’t even make it through a sitcom without a project. Makes me wonder about you all–what were the circumstances that led you down the dark alley of string addiction?).
I wanted to show you my proud display of knits–hat, scarf, gloves–in the holiday wonderland that is Church Street Market in Burlington, Vermont. I hope that you will please excuse the somewhat disturbing facelessness!
Another sighting in the wild–this Road to Golden was seen (on me) at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington, and that, my friends, is an apple and brie crepe. (I could describe it for you, but I hope you will get the chance to experience such goodness for yourself. Plus I am very full from another excellent meal at the moment and I don’t know that my senses can handle reliving this particular taste bud enchantment at the moment.)
These are the gloves I started for this trip. Thankfully one of the hotels had a sewing kit that included needles to sew in the ends, because these went much faster than I expected! The yarn is leftovers that I crock pot dyed with food coloring last winter. I’m quite pleased with these, except as you can see they are already heading down the path of pill after only a week of wear.
I do thoroughly enjoy commemorating days and events with knits like this. These will forever be my Vermont gloves. Does anyone else do this?
Today was a day that kindled equal amounts of dread and delight. I am grateful that some of the delight came in the midst of the dread, in the form of ridiculously endearing well-wishes from the person whose well-wishes mean the most.
PS Notice my reply in the bottom right hand corner. I is not so eloquent.
And just in case you were wondering, I did do good. And then I came home.*
Other delights of the day:
1) A Scr*bble board that I would like to suggest is the finest I’ve ever seen. There was only one instance of cheating, and really, if you could share an “i” with the arranger of the above message so he could spell “niece,” “dice,” and “id” at the same time and shamelessly defeat you at Scr*bble, wouldn’t you do it too?
2) Socks that made me feel immensely clever. After seeing Grumperina‘s post this summer about using leftover sock yarns I knew it would be easy and fun to do the same. So one evening in October I sorted sock yarns, and didn’t even need to refer to her directions the concept is so ridiculously simple. This is my first pair, of many. So easy! So fun! You should try it!
Yarns: Patons Kroy and Regia Silk (from Grandma socks) and Knitpicks Gloss (from my Thermal)
Toe ups, so I could just knit until I ran out of one yarn, then another. Then I quit.
3) Some real snow! In November! And then I put on this sweater I made last year and realized I never showed it to you guys, pardonez-moi! It’s Patons SWS, designed after I made that baby poncho sweater thing for my friend. As I was knitting that sweater I realized that the shape would be cool in a fitted sweater: add some waist shaping and a funnel neck and BOOM! a sweater with no babies required. What it does require is the Pythagorean theorem, or at least I convinced myself that it did in order to arrive at the proper amount of stitches to divide for body and sleeves. You can use the width of the stripes to get a closer look at my top-down construction, if you wish: notice how the sleeves suddenly switch to wide stripes after I divided. I love this sweater (even if neither of the s’s in SWS stands for soft) and its angled sleeves.
*Ok, the all-dread and partially delightful part, because one of my dearest friends and readers (Hello, Madame Librarian!) sent me an email just today asking about it. Today, friends, I took that small leap for me-kind and became a Ph.D. candidate. It only required a month of writing and a nerve-wracking oral defense, but I did it. I’ve been up and down about it all day, because of course you nearly always want to have done better than you actually did, but right now I think I’ve settled on being happy that I did it. About 3/4 of the credit goes to DH, who has picked up the slack around these parts for a long time. So I didn’t tell you all during the event, but preparing, executing, and panicking (I love that there is a “k” in that word. Makes it much more anxious) about this exam have been largely responsible for keeping me away from this warm and fuzzy blog world. Now I will have to blame my dissertation instead!
(I’d be much obliged if you will be distracted by the beautiful scenes of Ireland and Switzerland and ignore the fact that I have absolutely NO knitting to show for the past three months!)
Maybe not so much for you, but for me (and I’m guessing DH), this is pretty durn freaky.
In late November, a good friend and colleague of mine casually mentioned a need for a poncho that would fit over her bouncing babe in her baby carrier, the kind that can go on the front or the back. She’d found a few (pricey!) options in online stores, but me being me, I knew we could improve the general concept. I have an aversion to ponchos–drafty, and of limited access to arms, a fact that seems especially inconvenient for mothers)–and an aversion to shapeless and ugly garments, however functional.
I’d seen a poncho-ish sweater on the bias before (it’s here if you are interested), and since I’m fond of bias knitting and in this case I felt it would be both stretchy and yet slimming, I decided that’s what I needed to do (NOTE: I’ve been on the Ravelry forums enough to know that taking inspiration from a pattern and not buying it will tick some people off. For me, it’s the same as adding a lace panel to a basic sock pattern and calling it new. The idea is so brilliantly simple, that I have no qualms admitting I took inspiration & nothing else. I totally give props to the designer for her originality! Oh, and for the no purling thing. Still don’t quite get how she accomplished that, although I did change a lot about the pattern.).
So the above shot is the sweater in full-baby mode, frontways (I still can’t quite wrap my head around wearing your baby like a backpack, but my friend assures me it’s quite comfortable), and here is how it will look sans progeny. I’ve got a couple of closure options, but the recipient will decide exactly what she wants, so that’s why I’m holding it shut in this picture. I voted for a “baby on board” sign. I lost.
It was lots of fun to collaborate on a project: I sent her links to various online & local vendors for yarn choices, and she made the decisions and came up with the colors (K’picks WotA in bare and Wine, plus Twirl in rust). I have to say that it looks not so good on me, but my friend actually does have pigment in her skin and very dark hair, and the colors look good on her. Plus it fits her muuuuch better. That being said, as much as I enjoyed it, at times it was very stressful, knowing that she’d invested a bunch of money in my skillz. She’s had it on, however, and she loves it, her formerly dubious husband was much impressed, and… she wants to learn to knit! Happy ending!
In a land of people already accustomed to defending (or not) their choice of hobby to the rest of the world, I fear this confession will make me an outcast.
But out it comes: I enjoy deadline knitting.
Knitting for me has never really been about relaxation. Distraction, yes, relaxation, no. You see, I don’t handle the whole relaxing bit very well. I am most happy when I have a clear project, a clear time line (both of my own making, of course), and when both are related to knitting it sends the experience to a new level of joy.
Thus when my mother noted at Thanksgiving that most of the socks I’ve made for her have been too thick to wear with her normal shoes, I was delighted to add a pair of SP-McPhee’s “Earl Greys” to my non-existent list of Christmas knitting. They were completed shortly after the DH and Grandpa socks, and I thought, wow, that was easy.
Then when my brother (probably not realizing the gift he was giving me, he being quite accustomed to enjoying relaxation) called last Monday–two weeks before Christmas–and could not stop talking about how much he loved the socks I gave him last January, and gave me the line that he wore them EVERY NIGHT without washing them because they were the ONLY ONES that kept his feet warm, I was thrilled (not with the lack of hygiene I was apparently encouraging, but with the opportunity to knit for my bro. And another funny thing? The other person to use that exact same line on me…was my MIL!!).
I was even further delighted when he oh-so-casually mentioned that his dear girlfriend likes blue. Actually, he thinks the color she likes looks like green, but she insists it is blue–you know, THAT color.
Ah, happiness! Two pairs of socks to make, AND a trip to the yarn store because I was fresh out of sock yarn in the colorway blue-but-looks-green!
My delight was compounded when I realized that with these new additions to the gift list, everyone with whom I’d be spending Christmas would be getting handknit socks from me except for my dad. And you may or may not know this, but my dad is the best person you could ever hope to meet (being in elite company with DH and my mom). He probably wouldn’t even think twice about not getting socks, being delighted with the Alison Kraus/Robert Plant duet CD he’s getting. But of course I would know about the lack, and that would never do.
Moral of the story? Two weeks, three pairs of fingering weight socks…sign me up! Gives a whole new meaning to, “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care”!
(Plus I mentioned the situation to DH and he responded, “I fail to see the problem. You can do that no sweat, right?” I’m afraid my loved ones are sadly misled as to my abilities…and I am more than happy to continue the delusion).
*It’s the Twilight Zone theme song, of course! I am also a firm believer that onomatopoeia enhances every conversation…as long as one is required to spell only the sound and not the term itself.
P.S. The pictures are from my Christmas decorations, providing a bit of playful commentary on the text at times. There are two, um, unique family traditions shown here: L*g* Santa, who is one of those traditions that has no reason for being but having been for so long, and the Christmas pickle, well, enough said, right (actually in my family whoever finds the pickle gets to open the first present. Except I always get to open the present, but that’s another enough said now isn’t it?).
First off, I love Christmas. Consider yourself warned.
I have a friend, of the sort that will know me for the rest of our days. I am so thankful for her–friends since kindergarten, the most fun, the best listener, the most wise, the most caring, my Mary Kay lady, need I go on? She mentioned she needed gloves, and I was thrilled to have the chance to do something for her (Then she accidentally expressed an interest in learning to knit. I’m sure the next thing she remembers is getting out from the yarn I’d piled around her with four or five rows of a scarf on the needles…).
A swirl, anyone? I didn’t intend to do it, but when I got to the end of the ribbing I knew I had to put a little something extra into these, because honestly? My friend just sparkles. And she mentioned that she, like me, feels like she looks awful in hats, so as a bonus I was happy to try this Drops design for her. Can’t wait to see how it looks, but thus far the pattern is highly recommended!
(specs: stashed Lion brand Wool Ease in seafoam, size 4 Bryspun DPNs, gloves= no pattern, ear warmer= see link)
Merry Christmas to Jess, and to all people whose very presence makes you feel like the best version of yourself!
I’d like to thank you all so sincerely for your encouragement, lauds, and general good cheer, especially about my past few projects! I have to go deep into the real world for a few weeks, and am thus on blogging (and knitting. No, seriously. Not a stitch in three days) hiatus.
Happy October to all of you!
(If you’re wondering what’s going on, there is no book or baby, ha ha. I’m giving my thesis as a lecture to my department, which is a moderately large deal in the real world front, and I’m a research assistant to a prof who is giving a lecture to her entire society two weeks after that. She’s a little, um, behind, and it is my job to catch her up. Heaven help us all! Plus there is a choir concert and a wedding in the midst of that. And class. There is always class, there always will be class.)