Back in the Saddle (and generating links like crazy)

I’m thinking about doing the Clementine Shawlette from the spring issue of Interweave Knits. It’s a lovely thing, pretty, but not overly complicated. Here it is, knit up by the Local Needle. Here‘s another version from Whoopsy Daisy. And here a version from Ruthless Knitting. What I’m considering is is bumping up the yarn weight and needle size in hopes of generating a full-on shawl, rather than a shawlette. I have three balls of Malabrigo in a great fuschia/apple color combination (the colorway is Melilla, scroll down and you’ll find it). If I did this—particularly if I did it without swatching, which is of course what my itchy fingers are urging—I’d be risking producing something big enough for a giantess. (Or, perhaps, Janet Reno? Wait, no, that’s Will Ferrell…. Here she is! And here they are together.) But I’m still nursing my diasppointment that I cast off my Easy Triangle Shawl as soon as I did, so enormous seems like just the thing.

On another note, you may (or may not) remember that I’d started a felted knit tote version 2.0 quite a while ago. Because it’s 200 stitches around and all stockingette, it’s been languishing in the back seat of my car as the emergency-take-it-out-and-drag-it-along-to-meetings project. Well, yesterday during the weekly Committee on Educational Policy gathering, I got a vision of a way to alter the decreases that will, if I’m right, change the shape of the bag in a pleasing way, allow for a more attractive closure, and reduce some seaming I’d been dreading to a simple three-needle cast-off. Huzzah! I actually took the bag out of my car last night and worked on it while I watched Bill Moyers‘ latest on PBS.

Back Among the Living

Hooray!

I’m still coughing, still blowing my over-productive nose every few minutes, but—I. Can. Think. I no longer burst into tears when asked to do something more complicated than choose between TheraFlu and Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold and Sinus. Last Wednesday, determined to teach my Thursday classes, I drove myself to the office, only to discover that getting there wore me out so badly that I was incapable of doing any class planning. A friend gave me a ride home, I called Melissa, and she took the rest of the week off work and set about healing me up (which included walking up to campus to retrieve my car, which I’d left there when I got the ride home).

I’m being dutiful and putting teaching first at the moment, so I won’t have a real knitting post for a few more days, but I promise something good as soon as I’m capable of it. I didn’t knit for the better part of a week, but once my brain started to reemerge from the fog, I went back to the Tamalpais hat, which I’ve now worked up in five different variations (a perfect example of what happends when one starts asking “what if?” questions). More on that and other projects soon.

Sick Puppy

Sarah-Hope is one, that is; perhaps this is why she much prefers cats??
This is Melissa typing a quick post to let you know she’s alive, if not well, and is resting at home with cats on her lap, piles of quilts, and lots of hot tea and soup. She is slowly but surely winning the fight against mucous.
Snot funny!
(Please note this is not an actual photo of Sarah-Hope’s hand! We do have tissues….)

Cotton Rainbow

I’m a bit addled with a head cold, but have been knitting nonetheless. I finished the shawl and will post a picture tomorrow, once Melissa and I get new batteries for the digital camera. I polled the women at my LYS about whether it was big enough, and they assured me it was, so I bound off, but I actually wish I’d worked a few more pattern rounds. It’s nice for puttting over my shoulders while I sit in bed knitting or reading, but doesn’t wrap around me as generously as I’d like for going outside. I’m thinking I’ll get more of this yarn when I go visit my sister in June and knit a second one. It’s a simple pattern and works up fairly quickly. Thanks Catbookmom for recommending it!

I’m also at work on a new hat pattern that I’m very pleased with. I’m knitting it up in three different yarns and will post the pattern once the prototypes are done and photographed. It has a horizontal band of triangular motifs, so I named it “Tamalpais” after the local mountain.

Meanwhile, here are the washcloths I knit up in the various colors of Peaches & Creme I ordered.
Five lovely and colorful washcloths.
Starting at the top and going around clockwise the colors are Sea Mist (201), Pink Lemonaide (171), Sunrise (137), Mexicali (185), and Daisy Ombre (165). These colors have something so clean and fresh about them—I feel as if they could open my sinuses back up if I just looked at them long enough.

Melissa and I had planned to go hear SF Symphony play Symphony of Psalms by Stravinsky tonight, but are staying home because of my cold. We donated the tickets back to the Symphony, in hopes that they could profit further from them. (Clink on the link on this page in the “Program” section to hear an excerpt from an earlier performance of this work by SFS. It’s a magnificent piece that I’ve been enthusiastic about since I first heard a recording of it back in high school. Those were my classical ballet days, and I always imagined I’d choreograph it someday.) Melissa will keep plugging away at her taxes, and I’ll drift from knitting to staring vaguely at the walls during my conscious moments.

Melissa’s Bloofer Hike (Semi-Guest Blog)

[Here are a few pix from Melissa’s latest hike. She sent them to me via the draft feature of my blog program, and I thought I would share them with you. (Bloofer, for those of you who don’t know, is a dialect form of beautiful used in Bram Stoker’s Dracula—we do get literary in sometimes silly ways. On-line text available here. Who knew?)]

Featuring things that begin with “B”
I am indulging myself. You do not need to post this….

In order:
Bunny
A not-very-shy little bunny on the side of the trail.

Bloofer rolling hills:
Picturesque rolling hills.

Blue Butterfly:
A butterfly indulges me by sitting still for a few minutes.

Bay View:
Looking out over San Francisco Bay.

Hamster Wheel

Yep, that’s what life feels like at the start of spring quarter—I’m running and running and out of breath and not always tactful and composing to-do lists in my head and still mucking about with work chores too far into the evening when I should just be listening to the ballgame and knitting, yet I never seem to really make any forward progress. (Heck, I’m lucky I’m not making backwards progress.)

I teach required first-year writing, of which we never have enough sections, so at the start of the quarter I’m besieged by importuning students who can all elaborately explain why I should admit them to my already-full classes. (And the official maximum class size has increased by 25% in the time I’ve taught at UCSC, so “full” has been growing steadily more exhausting over the years.) They think of themselves as “just one more” and don’t see what the problem is. I see them as an extra 50 pages of careful paper-reading on my weekends and as one more source sucking all the oxygen out of our CO2-heavy classroom air supply and say “no.” Some of them go away peacefully. Others throw tantrums, either via email or just outside the classroom door. This quarter, key terms directed my way have included f*ck, b*tch, and lame. So I find myself taking many a deep breath and trying to focus on the students who are in my class and who I need to regard with respect and a certain fondness, if we’re to work together productively—but this is not always easy to do when I’m being interrupted regularly by folks who think of themselves as special cases and who treat me like the hired help.

Enrollment will settle soon—and the students I do have in my classes have approached the work willingly and thoughtfully so far.

Anway, at the moment I’m chugging along on my shawl (12.5 pattern reps done; I’m estimating another 5.5 to go) and waiting for more sock yarn, but I’m not cooking up any original patterns or being particularly “creative.” This is one of those times when I need my knitting to be a comfort, not a challenge.

Thank you for bearing with me. I’m off to knit now.

Carnival of Fun—and Knitting, Too!

Driving up to Melissa’s this afternoon, I passed a small, parking-lot style carnival at the local community college. It brought back all sorts of memories: going to the county fair with my family when I was a kid; my first time on various rides; the time I wanted to ride the ferris wheel and stood in line by myself only to be told I was too short when I got to the front, and the young couple on a date who invited me to sit between them so I could go; the evening at the high school carnival with a boy I had a crush on who offered to let me choose a ride, and I was too shy and too afraid of making the wrong choice and couldn’t pick anything, leaving him bewildered and with a handful of unused tickets.

I mentioned the carnival to Melissa, and she responded, “I saw it too the other night. The lights were on, and the freeway traffic was slowing down while people drove past it. Want to go?” Having long ago recovered from my high school shyness (the worst of it, at least), I was all for going.

We paid $3 each to get in the gate, then strolled the little bit of a midway and checked out the rides. I suggested we go on the Yo-Yo. Melissa countered with the Himalaya, noting that we’d be able to sit together. That convinced me.
Whee! The Himalaya, ride of champions!
(Note that this is not the Himalaya we rode on. We downloaded this picture from a web site that features used carnival rides for sale. Now that’s something interesting one could do with a few extra hundred grand.)

We had a lovely wild ride. We sat in a pink car and squealed and shouted “Himalaya!” over and over again, as if that explained everything. Melissa had been gallant and took the outside seat, so I was smashed up against her the whole while—I won’t be surprised if her hip is bruised in the morning.

After that, Melissa treated me to pink popcorn from the “Big Bopper” food trailer.
Pink Popcorn: the favorite radioactive food of children everywhere!
We did take it home with us to save for after dinner, but I confess I ended my Lenten no-desserts vow a day early in order to indulge.

Afterwards, we contented ourselve with walking another, slower lap, watching the little kids and families.

I’ve finished sock number two, and I’m working on a shawl now, while I wait for the additiomal sock yarn I’ve ordered to arrive. (The Trampoline Stretch is so nice to work with, given its bounce, that I want to do another pair or two in it before I try anything else.) The shawl pattern is from Lion Brand Yarns and was recommended by CatBookMom as a pattern she’s used multiple times.
The shawl in progress.
I’m knitting mine in my favorite acrylic—Soft Delight Extremes. I’m using size 9 needles, so will have to work more repeats than called for in the pattern, but that’s no problem, since my wonderful sister sent me (at my request) a whole box of that yarn this past winter. (I know, I know… it’s cheap acrylic, but I love the colors, and it is wonderfully soft. This is going to be a very cozy shawl.) This is a great pattern for self-striping yarns with long runs of colors, the pattern is simple to follow, and working it is giving me a solid, practical understanding of how shawls knit out from the top-center work. Once this shawl is done, I’ll be able to go to my stitch dictionaries and develop my own, more elaborate patterns.

Yarn in a Box!

Up until a month or two ago, I hadn’t given cotton dishrag yarn a thought. But then Joann had a sale right about the same time that I picked up my copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting again, and suddenly the universe seemed to want me to start thinking about just this fiber. The Joann sale was Sugar ‘n Cream; Mason-Dixon touts Peaches & Creme. The debate over the relative merits of these two yarns had a file folder in full flame at Knitter’s Review. I had questions! I don’t know if it’s a west-coast thing, but suddenly I was seeing Sugar ‘n Cream everywhere—and realizing that no-one seemed to carry Peaches & Creme.

I bought a few balls of the Sugar ‘n Cream while it was on sale, and you’ve seen my work with that yarn. Well, I gave in to temptation a little while ago and ordered five one-pound cones of Peaches & Creme from the manufacturer. (Even with the shipping, the price is unbeatable when you order by the cone.) So, last week I came home to this on my doorstep—
Peaches and Cream on the doorstep.
Moving clockwise from the far left, these colors are Sunrise (137), Pink Lemonade (171), Sea Mist (201), Mexicali (185), and Daisy Ombre (165).

In between my little bursts of sock knitting (yesterday I took care of the heel flap, heel turn, and gusset shaping on sock number two), I’ve been working up a simple washcloth in each of the yarns, just to see what the colors do as they’re knit. I’m on the last one now, and will post a photo this weekend.

If I had to weigh in on the great Sugar ‘n Cream v. Peaches & Creme debate, I would probably go with Peaches & Creme. I think it’s the softer of the two yarns, so a bit more comfortable to work with. However, I actually don’t think the difference is big enough to be significant—I’ll be choosing whichever one a) is on sale and/or b) has the color I’m looking for. (And, given that I have to mail-order Peaches & Creme by the pound, I may buy it less often, even though I like it a bit better.)

Here’s my big question that I’m hoping one of you can answer: What does the Sunflower (196) colorway of Peaches & Creme really look like? In the on-line color samples it’s a hideous peach and blue-green blend that looks like third-rate, faux-southwestern architecture. But in the print catalogue that came with my order, it’s a lovely orange-yellow-bright green mix that really does remind me of a field of sunflowers. Do you see my dilemma? If it’s the former, I don’t want any of it—certainly not a full pound, and not a full pound plus shipping. On the other hand, if it’s the latter, my life could be unbearably tragic without a full, one-pound cone smiling at me from my stash. If you live where Peaches & Creme can be found on store shelves, will you please give it a good look for me when you have a chance and let me know what you think of the Sunflower colorway? I’ve posted this question on Knitter’s Review, but no-one’s answered—and being the obsessive knitter I am, I actually find myself wondering about this in the middle of the night.

First Sock

Thanks to all of you for your kind words about Woody. It still doesn’t quite feel real, and it certainly doesn’t make sense. Sparky has been sticking close by, and we are comforting each other. I think he’s a little uncertain what to do without his sidekick.

Here’s a photo of my first sock.
My first sock! A thing of beauty and a joy forever.
Number two is on the sticks. I’ve finished the leg and need to get going on the heel. I love the amount of texture in this pattern (Retro Rib Socks from Favorite Knitted Socks)—and, wow!, is that rib ever elastic. I could fit Sparky in that sock with room to spare, if he were willing to sit still through the indignity of it all.

As I’ve noted before, I’m just wild about this particular yarn and this particular colorway. Skacel is discontinuing it, and Little Knits is selling it for half price. So, I went all knitter-looney and ordered a dozen skeins (but at least I’m paying directly for it and not charging).