Much Better

Today being at work doesn’t feel nearly as burdensome as it did Friday. The office re-do courtesy of my friend Ellen certainly helps. I also dug out a crystal that had been given to me by a friend years (about 23!) ago and hung that in the window, so I can give it a spin and watch the wild dance of spectra.

Saturday was the memorial service for a dear friend of mine who died unexpectedly last month. This is the first friend I’ve had who has died of more-or-less natural causes, and I am simply not ready to accept that someone in my peer group has been around long enough that it’s appropriate for her to be leaving. She was a good match for me—we shared all sorts of semi-obscure interests, including a fascination with space exploration, an enthusiasm for ballroom dance, and an occasionally eye-rolling appreciation for the choreography of Michael Smuin. It only takes one good connection to make a friendship, but she and I had all sorts of connections, so there have been and will be many moments when I come across something I want to share with her, then realize that opportunity has passed. The service, which we held at the local Quaker church, was surprisingly comforting: I’d been resenting the need to mourn and to mark her death in such a definite way, but I loved getting to meet her different circles of friends and getting to see the affection and appreciation others had for her.

Sunday, I felt able to step a bit more solidly back into my own life. Melissa helped me get a start on the week’s cooking, including several good recipes from the latest issue of Vegetarian Times (definitely worth checking out, even if—like me—you’re not a vegetarian). And heedless of the number of projects I currently have on the needles, I cast on for something new—
Lacy Capelet
one of the “Grand-Plan Capelets” from Wrap Style. I’m knitting it in (surprise, surprise!) Malabrigo, the creamed carrot colorway, which glows like a spring sunrise.

Now that I’m properly caffeinated and have indulged in a perusal of the new patterns on Ravelry, I’ll settle down to my “real” work. I have class enrollments to check and a syllabus to finalize, but I’m hoping I can plow through those quickly enough for a bit of backyard knitting while the sun’s still out.

Saving Me from Myself

I think I’ve just been interventioned (intervened?).

I’d gotten to my office with intentions of doing a few small tasks and writing up my blog and, within seconds of checking my email, found myself in a drowning-no-land-in-sight-can’t-breathe sort of a panic. You know that feeling, don’t you? You have three or four little things you need to deal with, but in the process of dealing you suddenly find yourself facing additional chores that seem to spring up like skeleton warriors from hydra’s teeth or weeds in a newly tilled garden (take your pick of the metaphors—it’s feeling a bit more like the skeleton warriors to me just now).
A typical day at the office

In my desperation, I phoned my friend Ellen, whose office is just around the corner from mine. “Sarah-Hope,” she said, “we have got to make your office a place you like to be.” Moments later, she showed up at my door with posters, postcards, even a bobble-head, and started pointing at things. “What’s that? Is that recycling?” “What’s in those boxes?” “Is that box empty?” “If this says March 8, why do you still have it?”

I confess, my office has been a bit disorganized. At one point several years ago after shallow, but repeated flooding, I finally got the university to take action by contacting the occupational safety folks. For the most part, the results were great—new floor, repainted walls, and the added benefit of no more standing water under my desk. But one unfortunate side effect was that everything in my office got tossed into boxes willy-nilly that I have never have never been unpacked. (If any of my students are reading this, note how the use of passive voice allows me to avoid responsibility for a mess of my own making: it’s not that I haven’t unpacked; it’s just that the unpacking hasn’t happened. Pay attention and you’ll find politicians and CEOs using this trick all the time.) Then I got this new job, which brought with it an entire file cabinet and half a dozen boxes of densely packed files.

When Ellen showed up and started asking questions and unrolling posters, my first impulse was to curl up in a fetal position and sob, “No, no, no, no, no, not one more thing.” But she didn’t give me a chance to. And only a half-hour or so later, things looked much improved.

I still have a stack of boxes, but I’m down from twelve to eight. All the recycling has been taken out. Sitting at my desk, I now look across the room at a poster of Randy Winn. To my right, I see Noah Lowry in mid-hurl. On my left a Benito Santiago bobble-head crouches near a postcard of Oscar Wilde. The whole arrangement may lack thematic unity, but it’s quite comforting.
Benito SantiagoOscar Wilde
Definitely not candidates for a “separated at birth” spread.

So the skeletons warriors (aka: work-related tasks) are still taking swings at me, but I’m feeling much calmer now.

In knitting news…

I’ve knit up Coco out of the Fleece Artist Marina I got at Stitches West.
Yarn from Stitches West
The marina is the one in the middle.

This is a fast knit—and a clever pattern. My one disappointment was that the yarn, which is two-ply, had six or eight spots with split plies, so I’m worried about the longevity of the finished piece. I’ve never heard anything but good about Fleece Artist yarns, so I’m wondering if I got an atypical skein. Has anyone else used this yarn? Did you have similar problems?


Let me just say that I am back from Washington, D.C., I had a lovely time, and I am now wading through all sorts of work that piled up in my absence. There are some very pressing deadlines today—but the flip side of that is that once I’ve made it through today I can breathe again for a bit before classes start up next week. I promise more extended, more thoughtful blog entries soon, perhaps with some travel stories included. Meanwhile, wish me the proper blend of judiciousness and compassion as I determine winter quarter grades.

Tuesday Mewsday: Button, Button

I’ve been holding back on one goodie from Stitches West: these hand-painted cat buttons.
Kitten buttons from Stitches West
While I was going ga-ga over the fiber blends and colors at the Argosy Yarns booth, Melissa picked these up for me. Rather than using them on a garment, I’m thinking of designing a sampler to embroider around them.

Susan Clarke Originals has a wonderful web site, replete with cats and bunnies and dogs and berries and birds and needlework motifs (including knitting, of course). Warning: visits to this site can be hazardous to one’s bank balance.


I’ve gotten some good suggestions for using my Korall Fancy (see the previous post and comments). I’ve also spent a bit of time browsing Ravelry (no surprise there, hmmm?) to look for possibilities. I love the fact that I can limit a search to a particular yarn weight and particular types of garments.

I’ve found two patterns (both free!) that I thought were worth pointing out.

The first is Star-Cross’d Love by Kristina Sutherland. This is a Ravelry download, so you need to belong to get it—but joining Ravelry is free, and if you haven’t joined yet, you’re loooooooong overdue. Trust me.

Look at the way this pattern uses cables in multiple directions. Nifty, huh? I think I’d go for three-quarter-length sleeves if were to knit it for myself, and I’d probably try to size it up for a slightly roomier fit.

My other find is the Kaya Cabled Jacket from Crystal Palace Yarns.

The big, complicated front cables look like they’d make for an interesting (but not frustrating) knit, and I can imagine turning up the thick collar to take the edge off a winter wind.

I’m not committed to anything yet and would love more of your suggestions. Just leave them in the comments section of yesterday’s post. I’ll send out the reward pdfs this weekend.

Any Suggestions? (There’s Something in It for You)

Somehow, I managed to order this yarn not once, but twice, from Little Knits.

Not that I am upset about my confusion. The yarn is lovely. But I am left with the question—what can I make with 1,260 yards of this bulky-weight yarn? The listed gauge is 3.5-4 stitches per inch on 10-10.5 needles.

Any suggestions? To reward your efforts, I’ll send pdfs of two of my scarf patterns to everyone who provides a comment with a link to (or email address for) a possible project in the next week.

Reward Pattern #1 is River of Gold, a simply but flashy knit.
River of Gold scarf

Reward Pattern #2 is Frost Fairy, which features knit-on angled ruffles.
Frost Fairy scarf

Let me know what knit-worthy projects you come up with. I’m counting on you for some inspiration!

Let’s Take a Moment

Street art of soldiers and bankers
Street art in Oakland of soldiers and businessmen.

Today is the 5-year anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
Let’s take a moment to remember the nearly 4,000 US soldiers who have given their lives in this war– and the uncounted thousands of Iraqis.
Let’s take a moment to think of the families whose loved ones have been deployed and re-deployed to Iraq, while the rest of us fight terrorism by going to the mall.
Let’s take a moment to consider the ways 5 trillion dollars could have been used instead: health care, education, repair of a crumbling infrastructure, retirement security.
Let’s take a moment to take responsiblity for our complacency in the face the US’s use of extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, and other forms of torture.
Let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of the America we learned about in school, where our votes count, our speech is free, where any man –or woman–could become president (not commander-in-chief), and vow to work to make it so again, for the first time.

[Note from Sarah-Hope: I’m still in DC. Meissa wrote this yesterday, then left the choice of publishing it up to me. Given where I am, both physically and in my heart, I wanted to make it public. There’s more I would like to say, but I am limited to fifteen minutes on this hotel computer, and the words don’t come easily. To put it overly simply, I don’t think the war money is five trillion we could have spent on healthcare or education. As a nation we’re willing to run ourselves deeply into debt to pay for war, but we wouldn’t do the same to heal the sick or feed the hungry. It’s too hard for Halibuton et al to profit off of that.]

Tuesday Mewsday: Cats with a Mission

Two weekends ago, I attended the annual gathering of American Pilgrims on the Camino, the US advocacy group for the Camino de Santiago, held at Mission Santa Barbara. On the way home, I decided to make a small tour of some of the other California missions. I stopped at La Purisima, San Luis Obispo, Soledad, and San Miguel. My favorite, however, was Mission San Antonio, because it had cats.
Mission San Antonio

This fluffy black cat was soaking up the sun on the front porch of the mission.
Feline friars

These two find old gravestones to be a fine place for a rest. (There were two identical fluffy black cats. Twins?)
Feline friars

This tortoiseshell was shy, and thought my presence disturbed the peacefulness of the inner courtyard.
Feline friars

My favorite was this little calico. When I bent down to pet her, she leaped up onto my leg and then clambered onto my shoulder, purring like a diesel engine all the while. We had a nice little lovefest until it was time for me to go.
Feline friars

(Another guest post by Melissa. SH is not the only crazy cat lady in the family!)

Nothing Succeeds Like Excess

Sarah-Hope and I were on our way to breakfast and a knitting photo-shoot (our favorite way to spend a morning) when suddenly Sarah-Hope cried, “Get your camera! Get your camera!”
Yes, we were passed by a giant RV, towing for their around-town car….. a Hummer!
Giant RV towing giant Hummer

What more can one say?
(Guest post by Melissa, while SH is on vacation)

FO on My Way Out the Door

Here’s my finished Ruffles and Ridges shawl worked in a combination of Miracle and Baby Alpine as per Miss Sparkles’ suggestion.
The ruffles and ridges shawl, front view
My niece was right about using both yarns, don’t you think?

The ruffles and ridges shawl, back view

Michelle of InsanKnitty kindly loaned me her copy of the pattern—and I have to confess that I plan to knit up one more shawl before I mail it back to her. This is a wonderfully quick knit (and heartening, as the rows get shorter as your progress, so there’s no slog at the end) and very cozy too. I’m hooked!