24 December 2007


Have you ever had one of those friends with the gifting gene? The one who nails it, every time, every birthday, every holiday. I have one of those friends.

The knitter ornament from Anthropologie.

Yep, so me it's scary.

Unfortunately, no time for much knitting as I'm prepping for those big scary job interviews at that big scary conference that I've been fretting about for oh, the past five years. It's here, and yep, I'm scared.

But... I also know that things will work out for the best. I'm working as hard as I possibly can work, doing all that I'm supposed to be doing and am happy to have gotten this far in the process.

And I gotta say, I'll be sooooo glad when this is all over. I have some glorious days planned with just me, my knitting needles, my sewing machine and good coffee... or more likely, good wine.

17 December 2007

Snowed In

Well, it looks like the weather folks were right. We got the white stuff. A lot of the white stuff.

Yesterday wasn’t bad. In the morning people were out and about, trying to shovel every few inches, attempting to stay ahead of the clouds. By afternoon, the skies had darkened and the winds picked up, making shoveling a fruitless endeavor.

I elected to stay safely and warmly protected with a novel, my laptop and a stack of quilts. Sometimes having to work all day isn’t such a bad thing at all.

I intended to be off to the library today but I elected to postpone for another day. Those old newspapers aren't going anywhere and I certainly have enough reading to do here.

Our blanket of snow served well as a backdrop for my latest finished objects.

Pattern: Le Slouch and a simple seed stitch scarf

Yarn: Mystery yarn - 2 skeins of black and 1 skein of variegated, I think this came from the $1 at A.C. Moore. Whatever it was, it was decent stuff with at least some wool content.

Needles: Addis Sz 8

Notes: I'm happy with the project (aside from the ends that I still need to weave in). I followed the hat pattern and started decreasing at 6", probably should've given it 7 or 7.5" as it's just not really slouchy enough. But for a first hat in the renewed perfect hat quest, I'm pleased and will get much wear out of this.

The scarf was one of those improved kind of things where I decided to finish up the black yarn, then use the skein of variegated on both ends. It made a short scarf, or at least shorter than I usually wear so I may add a bright button if I (a) can find one in my stash and (2) can muster the energy to sew it on.

Yes, I do believe I must go to the library tomorrow. Excessive hot chocolate consumption seems to have dulled my brain. Perhaps I shall look for red buttons to spruce up my new set in honor of my newspaper research, you know, being black, white and red/read all over.

And with that joke, I will pack my bags to definitely head to the library tomorrow. I think some human interaction might be a good thing before I spiral down into knock-knock jokes.

16 December 2007

Tacky Tinsel Trees

It’s a snowbound Sunday here in Buffalo. Luckily for me, this is the first day in what seems like a very long time where I don’t have to be anywhere or do anything aside from reading and writing, those things that I actually like to do so much. It’s a nice way to end a very busy week, working on an essay and contemplating a variety of changes that have taken place.

I kicked off the week with a mock interview on Monday morning. I honestly think I was more terrified of the mock interview than any real interviews which may be coming up in the next few weeks. If I’m interviewing with a room of strangers and it bombs, I can always pass the blame on them, just tell people that they were a bunch of weirdos that I wouldn’t want to work with anyway. Or shoot, I could always just lie and say that I performed brilliantly and they’d be a bunch of fools if they didn’t hire me on the spot. With a room of people you know and respect, well, if you look like an a$$, you can’t really hide it so much. Thankfully, it went well. There were some holes in my preparations but holes that I expected and that’s the point of these exercises really, to identify those holes and let them help you fix them before you face a real job committee. Overall, they were pleased and I was pleased and that little nightmare was behind me.

Personally, I’m just hoping that my mock interview success was in no way connected to my secret weapon… packing tape.

I am not a business-suit wearer. I don’t have to wear a suit on a regular basis. I’d actually look quite odd doing my classes in a suit as it’s simply not de rigueur for most academics to get that gussied up on a daily basis. However, for interviews, we pull out the ultra-conservative suits. Or we go buy them, in a mall full of Canadian bargain hunters that drive you nuts every time they shout “eh” across the dressing room. Anyway, don’t get me started on shopping with our neighbors to the north. I found a few suits at a good price with a decent fit… aside from the few inches that they needed to be lopped off the legs. Yes, I should have found a seamstress prior to wearing them out of the house or even just sucked it up and shortened them myself. But in panic mode you make priorities. I could galavant around town finding someone with scissors or I could prepare for the actual interview. I took my chances, stuck my nose in another book and the night before my interview I whipped out my handy dandy roll of packing tape to hem my pants. The morning of the interview I was then left with only two concerns: (1) hoping the tape didn’t crinkle as I walked, and (2) praying that the tape wouldn’t get wet and come loose as I was cleaning the snow off my car.

All in all, the packing tape solution was quite Macgyver, held up through the interview and even impressed my colleagues in engineering. It worries me somewhat that my fashion choices impress my engineering cohorts but so long as I stay out of pocket protector land, I think I’m safe.

And speaking of engineering, the second big event of the week was leaving my job there. I’ve worked for three years as a writer for the engineering school and have grown close to the people in the Dean’s office. However, the time has come when I need to be able to focus solely on my research if I’m to finish my degree. I don’t really do so well with being the center of attention so thankfully, they let me say my good-byes quietly. I will still be around to check in on the office but it will be quite different than my schedule of being there a few days a week. I will miss everyone and will even miss the work that I did there, but I know it’s a necessary step for completing my degree and moving into my chosen profession.

It hasn’t entirely hit me that my life is changing, partially since so much is changing and everything is up in the air. I could be graduating and moving across the country in six months, or I may still be here doing pretty much the same thing while trying again to find a position. If I do get something, at this point there are still options all across the country so I don’t even know what direction I’d be taking the moving truck out of Buffalo. I could be going to a small school or a really large place, a huge city or a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that’s certain is the need to write and research for the next five months so I can easily assuage my anxieties and dampen my distracting daydreams with the pressures of work. Nothing like having 600 pages to read in a day to whip yourself into line.

Amidst all the events of the week I also managed to put up my Christmas trees. No live pine for this gal. It’s tacky tinsel in silver and gold with enough glittery garland to overwhelm a Vegas showgirl. Yep, I’m classy like that. Packing tape and tacky trees, all the best for me.

02 December 2007


Ah, winter descends. Our first heavy snow to hit the city started yesterday and is supposed to continue today. It's nothing record-breaking (thank goodness) and to be fair, Mother Nature gave us a nice reprieve, holding off her stormy ways until it was actually December. I'm personally pretty happy with the weather, although that's because I get to spend the day at home in my jammies writing about Anglo-Chinese relations in the nineteenth-century. I've been hearing via multiple unhappy text messages that there are others out there who must do nasty things like check planes after they've been de-iced and soothe angry, delayed passengers. I don't think they're so pleased with our winter wonderland.

The return of the fluffy white stuff always means you have to change your thinking a bit. Add extra time for brushing off/digging out the car, seriously debate how funny you look wearing long johns under all your clothes and decide warmth is more important than the appearance of your derriere, double check every event to be sure it hasn't been cancelled due to the weather, be sure to have extra clothes and food in the car in case you get stuck somewhere (or in case it takes you 6 hours to drive the usually 15 minute commute when you're so hungry you'd get out and walk if you thought you could get to a granola bar any faster), and always, always, always be sure there are essentials in the house in case you get snowed in. I'm a little rusty on these details so last night at midnight I had to make an emergency trip to the grocery store on the way home from a birthday party. You know, those things you can't live without on a snowy Sunday... espresso and pancake mix. A girl can't be snowed in without her caffeine and sugar. It's a sad, sad state of affairs when I remembered that I was low on espresso but forgot that I am equally low on toilet paper. Priorities, after all.

The return of winter also means the return of my hat quest. Last year I tried this pattern and that, this yarn and that, and ended up with a bubbly not-so-fair-fake-isle hat and the infamous penishead hat. I'm hoping for better returns on my investment this go-around. I'm planning on starting with a beret of some sort, possibly Le Slouch or the Belle Beret, just something to get on and off the needles fairly quickly so I can get it on my head. Then I see Shedir, maybe a felted bucket hat, Calorimetry, and a standard issue black thug beanie. Yeah, you won't hold me to those plans, will you?

In other random notes, I had a strange dream last night that I have to share for the lit types in the crowd. So being the helpful one, I'm counselling this person who is clearly struggling with something deeply emotional and troubling. My sage advice went something like this: "I'm telling you, you have to go to Zora Neale Hurston. Really, I promise she won't let you down. Zora Neale Hurston will help where Amy Tan just can't. Hurston is the way to go." I don't even remember how long it has been since I have read either Tan or Hurston. Um, I would totally get it if I suggested a little George Eliot to cure your ailments, but where'd I get Hurston? It's like I'm some sort of Tylenol ad bashing on Aleve or something.

But remember ladies, as you go about your day, Zora Neale Hurston won't let you down. She'll be there when Amy Tan is just not sufficient.


I kinda missed the Thanksgiving post of beautiful food, wonderful company and a list of things I'm thankful for. The fact that this is my only picture from Turkey Day probably explains why.

So, whether you're hunkered down with pancakes or out enjoying a snow-free day, take two Zora Neale Hurstons and your own laundry basket o' booze and we'll meet back here tomorrow.

29 November 2007


This is one I'm proud of.

Pattern: Kiri Shawl

Yarn: Custom-dyed silk from Jill at Looped Back

Needles: Sz. 3 Knitpicks

Recipient: Donna

Time: August - November, 2007

Notes: I feel like I've entered the grown-up world now. It's not the most challenging lace pattern ever, nor was my take on it original or all that creative, but this one feels good.

A colleague asked me to knit a shawl to complete her mother-of-the-bride ensemble and I was happy to oblige. Jill looked at the beaded top once and nailed the color perfectly. The beads I happen to run across at JoAnn's were exactly the color of the decorations. I was even able to finish it with time to spare. Sometimes things just work.

I wish I had the opportunity to take this one out for a real photoshoot outside during our beautiful fall but for now, indoor pics will have to do until I can get a copy of something from the wedding.

And just because I'm selfish, I've got to say that one of the best parts of this project is that I have enough leftover yarn to make a little somethin' somethin' for myself.

25 November 2007

Two Little Sweaters for Two Little Boys

Pattern: LMKG Placket Neck Sweater

Yarn: Wool-Ease, 1980’s Vintage, 1 humungo skein for both sweaters

Needles: Sz. 7 Addis

Notions: Simple buttons from the stash.

Dates: September – November 2007

Recipients: Drew and Jalen, the cutest nephews in the world

Notes: What to say about this pattern that hasn’t been said? It’s a goodie, although I do wish it was in worsted weight so I wouldn’t have had to do any thinking. I used the stitch numbers for the smallest size for Jalen and the second-smallest for Drew but increased a size or two on the length measurements. I’m not sure they’ll fit, but I have more yarn and can always re-do if I need to.

The yarn wasn’t so bad to work with, although not a joy either. I like the tweed look with the primary colors and I’m sure my SIL will appreciate the easy-care factor of the acrylic. Seems just cruel to give a busy mom hand-wash items unless they’re requested. I’m not sure if Wool-Ease still makes the tweed as this came from a sewing/vacuum store-closing auction. I can see why the store didn’t make it considering some of their yarn is older than I am.
Anyway, I hereby promise to not be one to dress the boys in matching clothes the rest of their lives. I think I'm still trying to recover from the matching cowgirl dress episode from childhood. However, while the guys are little, I'm doing my part to create adorable, embarrassing pictures to be trotted out as often as possible.

18 November 2007


More like NaNotSoMuch. Oh well, I honestly didn’t have too much faith in my daily posting abilities, but so long as it gets me posting more often, it’s worth it to stick to it.

I actually wanted the post the day after I wrote that miserly gripe about the $12 pattern. I really do support the work of designers and don’t mind paying for their intellectual and artistic labor. I don’t expect everything to be a Knitty free pattern and if the bag pattern contains a large stencil, I imagine the printing costs are rather exorbitant. I do think some of the simpler Noni patterns are a bit over-priced, but again, for the large Medallion pattern, I absolutely agree that $8 is fair. My personal knitting choices at the moment, however, are ruled by my desire to knit from the stash… both yarn AND patterns so I’m hesitating to purchase any new tools, gadgets or books as well as no new yarn. I still may pick up the Noni pattern if I can find it locally but for now, I’m going to be content with trying things that I don’t have to bust out the wallet for. And we all know that there’s plenty in my crafty stash to keep me busy for a long, long, long time.

I also wanted to post to have a chuckle at the cosmic irony of having my fugly declaration followed up by the first sweater pattern that I’ve seen lately that I’m really, really dying to knit. I’ve been obsessing about Oblique since it was posted and I’m hoping that I can find something in said stash that will work. I’ve seen some versions on Ravelry using worsted wt. and I’m waiting to see how that turns out. I don’t want to do a lot of complicated re-sizing so I’m hopeful that the lace factor makes up for the lighter yarn. I’m hoping to try some swatching with Lamb’s Pride to see if the mohair content gives the wool a little bulkier feel with a bit of a halo. I used this yarn last year on Lara and it’s such a dense, warm sweater that I can only wear it once it gets really cold around here (which it does… often). Even then, I generally have to take it off when I’m sitting at my desk.

So… anyway, I have three FOs to show so maybe just maybe I can keep up the posting this week. But first, I want to show what’s on the needles because I’m having major project love. Although we’ve been weather-blessed of yet and still are snow-free, it’s been chilly and blustery. I’ve enjoyed busting out the scarf collection but am wanting something a little more… substantial. My Clapotis is earning its keep but a girl’s gotta have variety.

Enter Lady Eleanor…

Oh my, my, my… if you haven’t done a Lady Eleanor, get thee to some Silk Garden stat. The entrelac is completely addictive and fast, but consider yourself warned you that you’ll stay up past your bedtime just so you can polish off the first skein… and then you’ll start the second skein just to finish the tier… and then you’ll have to force yourself to put down the needles and go to sleep like a good girl who has to get up early the next morning and work. And then of course you’ll really want to go sit and knit rather than work, but be strong, o fair knitter, and stay at the computer… at least until noon.

I know this one has had a steady internet following since Scarf Style was published, but it really didn’t take off like Clapotis. I suppose the limited yarn adaptability makes it less appealing and I guess its style is not as universal, but personally, I’m finding this the perfect project. So far, the process is wonderful, the yarn is a pleasure to work with and I can’t wait for the product. We’ll see if this love holds up in about 10 skeins.

06 November 2007

Future Felting

I got the new Interweave yesterday. Gotta say, overall I'm pretty meh on it. Veronik Avery may be the darling of the knitting world at the moment, but that cat head sweater is just darn fugly. I honestly don't like the overall look and feel of the magazine. It seems less "timeless" and "classic" and more fitted sweaters with weird construction that were they published in Knitter's or one of the less hip 'zines, they'd be ripped right out of the blogosphere. I just don't see many that are very knit-able for most people. I thought the fall issue was great, but I didn't see much in this one to make me even check sizes and yarns for possibilities.

Well, except for a project that was in an ad. Did you see the lace bag from Tink Knits.com? It's called the Barcelona Bag and its designer did the amazing carpet bag with intarsia and embroidery a few years ago, the one that I've been dying to make as soon as I felt I could justify a big yarn splurge.

It was the first website I visited this morning, all ready to bust out the credit card for the pattern, planning to work it in the same blue/black combo in the ad. But wait, spray paint? Huh?

I guess it works since it's from a designer who knows what she's doing, but I don't know. I'm guessing you don't use regular ol' hardware store spray paint. And do you think that the pattern comes with the lace or would it be up to you to find a suitable piece to use as a stencil? I'm going to try Ravelry to see if anyone else has thought about this one. It's a $12 pattern so I'm not so sure I'll go for it. Seems like too much for my current budget considering how many other things I need to knit at the moment.

Since I'm in the mood for doing some colorwork and would like another big felted bag, I'm going to look around locally for the Noni pattern for the Medallion bag or order it this weekend. It'll fit the bill and I won't have to take my knitting to the back yard for ventillation or worry about getting carried away and tagging my living room floor.

Granted, I'm not starting anything until the shawl is blogged and there are two nephew sweaters in the mail.

05 November 2007


Tonight could mark the transition between fall and winter as we're due for our first dusting of the dreaded white stuff tomorrow.

Fitting that I spent part of my rainy afternoon binding off and blocking. I love the transformation of blocking lace but this one can't happen fast enough.

I just want to play with the finish product!

04 November 2007


Binding off just when I was I ready to give up ... finally.

Drying petals that did give up ... unfortunately.

Writing posts just because I don't want to give up on NaBloPoMo on the 4th ... pathetically.

03 November 2007

What I Want, What I Really, Really Want…

The academic job hunting process is daunting, exhausting, expensive and just downright depressing. I suppose any job hunt is, really, but in talking with friends and family, it seems like academics are quite talented at finding new and improved ways to make things unnecessarily complicated and stinky.

But… I’ve got to keep printing address labels and licking envelopes so I’ve been coming up with new daily strategies for motivation. Probably the best motivation is the daydreams about what I might be able to do were I to get one of these magical j-o-b-s. The reality is that if I get one of these j-o-b-s, I’ll be chained to a desk working on either my publications that need to be revised or exams that need to be graded, but oh the daydreams I’ve got lined up.

I’ve got places that I want to go and things that I want to do, but the easiest things to put in a list are, well, the things that I want in my new and improved post-graduation life.

1. Stainless steel sink with a garbage disposal.

2. Nice back porch furniture, not necessarily fancy, just comfy and preferably without rust and broken springs that make sitting for too long an exercise in living on the edge. Of course, this furniture will be sitting on a great back porch attached to a cute little house.

3. A new office chair… I’m not sure if my chair is contributing to my physical demise or giving me really strong gluts. I know it’s doing a number on my lower back, as my trainer and multiple ice-pack a day habit will attest, but since it doesn’t stay raised at the full height for more than an hour, it’s also helping my daily squat count as I have to stand up and pull on the lever every few minutes.

4. A new mattress. Potential contribution to back pain #2? Guess it’s a good thing I’ll be exhausted until June so I won’t notice how mushed and smushed my current mattress is getting.

5. Huh… so I kept this open for hours, ready to add my fifth object of desire and I actually can’t come up with something. I guess that’s a good thing since it’s not like I’m applying for jobs that will make me millions but strange that I don’t have more material wants. Maybe some new clothes? A new camera? Good thing I’ll have awhile before I need to do any shopping!

Just realized that two of my top desires are for sitting devices. Good grief, that’s pathetic. Can you tell what I’ve been doing with my time?

02 November 2007

Old Boots

With the return of the morning frost-scraping ritual comes the semi-annual closet switcharoo. Corduroys and heavy sweaters are emerging for another year of duty, some a little rusty and bedragled.

The past few years I've been trying to minimize my shopping, only splurging for the essentials while trying to wear out the gems in my over-stuffed dresser drawers. It's somewhat sad to say that I've had to go through several years of restraint to even start to see the effects.

Today I pulled out two pairs of black boots that should never have been stored in the first place, heels worn down and toes scuffed beyond the repair of polish. I really debated if they should be cleaned up, made to suffer through one more winter, just a few more snowstorms. I'm not sure what lessons my depression-era grandmother gave me or how she got them to stick so well, but I pretty much have to be able to see through clothes before I feel justified in getting rid of them. And honestly, even then I prefer to have a hole or two just for safe measure.

Were they nice boots, I would've had them repaired, but one was an $8 pair I scored on a Target clearance rack years ago and the other came from a discount shoe store that sold mismatched pairs so long as the size was only off by a little bit. Yet, I still debated most of the afternoon while I caught up on laundry and gradually mixed the winter gear in with my year-long standards. The kicker was that once I did finally choose to give them up, I realized that they were so bad I don't think Goodwill would even want them.

The whole experience got me thinking about where we draw the line between hoarding and just being a packrat and how our definitions of rational behaviors change over time and in different cultural and economic settings. I'm fortunate to have several other pairs of black boots still waiting in the closet and so by our standards I was being irrational by holding onto boots that looked bad and were quite worn down. Yet, in other circumstances, it would've been irrational to toss them because they weren't entirely useless.

Anyway, I guess I'm probably a little off that I'm so interested in how we react to our own "stuff." But I doubt my obsession will be as easy to toss as my old boots.

01 November 2007


Well, let's try this again. I signed up last year and pretty much flaked. Kinda like how I flaked tonight on the meeting I'm supposed to be at this very moment.

Yeah, that's pretty much how I roll...

But you've got to be optimistic so I'm giving it another shot. One month... a post a day...

I thought about trying the novel in a month challenge but realized that if I struggle getting a sentence on the blog, I might really struggle with an average of 1600+ words a day. And you know, I am supposed to be spending my words on my dissertation rather than my memoir or a feeble attempt at the Great American Novel(la).

So, who knows what little juicy tidbits I'll invent to have something to write about, but at least I've taken the first step and thrown up a post to kick this off.

Happy November!

20 October 2007

Happy Things

Flowers from someone special... just because.

Lace in pure silk (and prettier colors than my camera captured).

New patterns waiting to become rewards for too many hours of work.

15 October 2007

What can be prettier than Spangles?

His wardrobe was extensive - very extensive - not strictly classical perhaps, nor quite new, nor did it contain any one garment made precisely after the fashion of any age or time, but every thing was more or less spangled; and what can be prettier than spangles? It may be objected that they are not adapted to the daylight, but everybody knows that they would glitter if there were lamps; and nothing can be clearer than that if people give fancy balls in the day-time , and the dresses do not show quite as well as they would by night, the fault lies solely with the people who give the fancy balls, and is in no wise chargeable on the spangles. - Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

My great-grandmother was a crafter, specifically a sequin crafter. She made all of us those felt Christmas stockings that feature cute little scenes of Santa and his elves decorated with beads and sequins. I used to buy them whenever I saw them on sale at the craft store, thinking I’d be clever and make them for the next generation of the family. The next generation is nine now and still no sequin stocking. Lots of kits in the closet, but not a stocking to stuff.

Eh, such is life…

She also made bedazzelled ornaments. I seem to remember that she really pulled out all the stops on those. Rich jewel tones, velvet ribbons, luxurious satin balls that were heavy enough to pull down the tree branch when they were hung. They were like magical sea urchins with all the beads and pins sticking out everywhere. I was always afraid to touch them because they looked so fragile when they’d catch the light and sparkle.

A few years ago on one of my craft kit clearance aisle forays, I found boxes of these ornaments. Simple and rather plain compared to the ones she’d made, but right there in craft kit form with a clearance sticker which meant I could buy them without any guilt. I wasn’t really getting into a new craft, just carrying on the family tradition. Anything on clearance is a good purchase, right? I’ll just put the stockings away and work on them next year because right now, there’s this shiny, sequiny, beady thing that I want to do. I’d have made a good magpie.

I intended to give these to the girls in the family last year, even had the touching moment all planned. Everyone would open their little gift bag with a note about carrying on Mimi’s tradition and we’d hang my grandmother’s on the tree immediately and… well, my grandmother was the only one who actually received an ornament and I think in the chaos of the holiday, we never got it on the tree. Everyone else just got a note about how Mimi was always on top of things but we seem to have lost that family trait so gifts would be coming… sometime. I don’t even give myself a timeline anymore since I’ve been promising that stocking for nine years and I certainly don’t see it happening this year either.

Last weekend I had one of those evenings where I wanted to do something crafty, but nothing that I had out was appealing. You know when you have the munchies and you just stand there in front of the fridge, hoping that the Chinese leftovers are going to be appealing this time and they’re not so you go to the cabinet and yeah, oatmeal isn’t going to cut it either? Those nights where you just keep smacking your lips hoping that you’ll divine if you want salty or sweety, crunchy or creamy but all you figure out is that you want something and gosh darnit, you want it now. As sad as it, my craft room is actually more stocked than my kitchen so it’s pretty easy to go wandering in there and come out with a winner. Crunchy to creamy and everything in between, I’ve got it covered. So in I wandered, wanting something, anything that wasn’t lace knitting or clothes mending that I didn’t want to face. My crafty modus operandi of late has been to grab the first box I see and pull something out. Kinda makes craft night a little more of an adventure when you don’t know if you’ll be busting out the hot glue gun or the hammer.

Pretty sure this was not the way of my great-grandmother.

In fact, from what I remember, her sequins were all pretty neatly arranged and only pulled out at night, when there wasn’t a chance that any of us annoying kids would make her spill the bugle beads all over the floor. Well, it only takes a few generations for a classy family to lose all that class. Now I just tell people to wear shoes in the house because not only have I spilled beads all over, but they’re probably mixing with the needles I’ve broken and blocking pins that are likely under the table.
Eh, such is life...

The whole point being that I spent some time reviving a family craft. I got it. I see why she enjoyed doing it. I see why she used velvet ribbon and bright colors and probably told us not to touch them when they were sparkling on the tree. For now, I’m resisting the urge to run out and pick up pins and beads. Shoot, knowing our family, someone probably has Mimi’s sequin stash somewhere just waiting to be unearthed. I’ll just send these out and be proud of finishing a few more of last year’s Christmas gifts. There are many, many more new crafts awaiting me in the messy, messy room so who knows what project may be discovered next. Macrame, anyone?
Only if it has spangles...

14 October 2007

Mmm... mmm... good

I just had to mark the date. Today I finally got to bust out the fall handknits. O Clapotis, how I have missed you.

A good day for some baking.

Scrumptious coconut bread, warm from the oven with a little butter and a latte. Oh yes, it really is that good. (I upped the cinnamon to a heaping tablespoon. Me likey cinnamon.)

13 October 2007

Like a Turtle

Lately, I’ve been feeling quite hen-pecked. Every time I walk into my office or open my email or answer the telephone, someone seems to be there, hand out, waiting for something I should’ve given them weeks ago. It’s not that I blame them, really, as I do honestly owe all these people all these things. Many of these things I actually want to provide, like gifts for people I care about or the fun treats I get to put in the mail this week as a thanks for stopping by my corner of the internet. Don’t let this secret get out, but I don’t even mind writing and completing work despite my never-ending complaints. It’s just all the asking for it, the reminders of things I haven’t accomplished, the little notices that oh yes, we caught you with your proverbial pants down and we know you’re behind on life and let this serve as an email of shame for your ineptitude.

(Dramatic much?)

Anyway, all that whining was just to say that I’ve been hiding from the world as much as possible, retreating like a turtle into a tiny corner of the couch where I can just knit in silence and pretend like I don’t have to deal with all these problems. Well, until the guilt kicks in and I run around trying to check things off the list.

Of course, checking things off the list means that new things are stealthily waiting, just anticipating their chance to jump back onto your list…

…which is why I’ve taken to sending emails very late at night, so there’s little chance to get an immediate reply that asks you to do it again or change this or take on some new project. It’s like a game, really. Hit the send button and turn the computer off really fast so for a few hours at least, you get to breathe easier, knowing that you’ve put something on someone else’s list and until they read it, you’re safe and free.

It’s also why I’m extraordinarily happy to visit the post office lately. When the cheerful postal worker calls me up to the register, she has no idea how much she really is helping me by taking the package or envelope out of my hands. Or why I almost let out a little cheer when I was able to drop off SIX very large shopping bags at Goodwill. Here, take a bit of guilt and oppression with my ugly sweater stash. No really, thank you. We probably shouldn’t get into the depraved thrill I get when I take out the trash and recycling. Every piece of paper that I can add to the pile is one less piece of paper for me to think about. And that is a very beautiful thing. Oh yes, garbage man, I did wink at you and thank my lucky stars for sanitation engineers everywhere.

Ahem, but back to that checking things off the list…

Wedding was in June…

Gift was mailed in October…

I know I read somewhere that you get a full year after the “I do’s” to get the gift to the newlyweds. Please don’t ask me to cite this as I’m a little put out on the whole footnote concept at the moment, but trust me, I get a year. And most of the time, I’m a gonna use all 365 days of that year before I stick a bow on anything. You can thank me for this knowledge later when you too need a year to complete a gift or even find the time to run by Williams Sonoma for a gift card.

Anyway, the details…

Pattern: Turning Twenty
Fabric: Flannel from JoAnn’s
Quilter: Terry M., I think

Now to make sure I don’t take a full year to send Christina her prize from the blog contest! Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment. These are the emails that make me keep opening the account! Back to hiding on the couch. Don’t tell anyone that you saw me emerge.

29 September 2007

Fancy Schmancy

Sometimes you make something that just makes you smile. Perhaps it has no purpose and you have absolutely no idea where or when you're going to wear it, but you're proud of just doing it. This is one of those projects.

Pattern: Spring Things Shawl

Yarn: Karabella Lace Mohair, 1 skein

Needles: Crystal Palace Bamboos Sz 6

24 September 2007

The Big Finish

*Insert SIGH heard round the blog*

The day I felt would never come, the Chevron Scarf is ready to make her debut.

This really wasn't my longest project by any stretch of the imagination, but this one felt like slogging. Perhaps it was that whole trick of the book title, "Last Minute Knitted Gifts." Last minute my arse... and nobody better be thinking they're getting this one wrapped up under the Christmas tree. We've traveled around the country together all summer, so she's mine, all mine.

Pattern: Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Yarn: Lorna's Laces, Happy Valley and Lakeview

Needles: Addis Sz 5

Notes: Love the finished product. I'm really happy with the way these colors came together and I think it will get a lot of wear this winter. It turned out quite long so you may not need to use the entire skein of each color. I was determined to knit to the bitter end and let me tell you , I was staring down those balls and hoping with all my might that they'd get smaller faster.

I should probably confess that I committed knitting sin with this one. When it was finished and crinkling up around the chevrons, I sprayed it down with water and iron the bejeebus out of it. Full heat, no protective covering, nothing, just stretched it out and went to town. I suppose the stitches flattened a degree but since this yarn is on the thinner side anyway (at least for my taste), I don't think it matters one bit. I actually like the flatter look as the colors blend together a bit better. Blocking may have worked but it was so long and unwieldy, I didn't mess around.

Would I knit this again? Probably. It's a great scarf and were I not such an old scrooge, it would make a good gift. I'd use a yarn that I loved and go in knowing that it wasn't going to be a quick project.

23 September 2007

Wrap Up

I’ve been busy trying to wrap up a few loose ends in life.

Mailing long-overdue gifts to recipients who’ve (hopefully) long forgotten that I was even making them something…

…Compiling packets of my work to demonstrate just what I’ve been up to during my graduate career, well, aside from the knitting and sewing that is…

…Rewarding myself with quick bursts at the sewing machine to return to projects that only lacked one tiny seam to move from “UFO-weighing-on-your-conscience-and-cluttering-up-your-apartment-by-bursting-out-of-the-project-basket” to immediately usable objects.

I’ve been a little disturbed at the number of things I’ve pulled out lately that literally lacked one seam or maybe one evening of weaving ends or sometimes even just a darn button replaced. Seems that “almost done” means “give up and start something new” in my crafty lexicon.

And you know what’s completely amazing? When you actually work on these almost-finished projects, they get finished. I know, truly shocking. I’m holding out hope that perhaps the same may be true of my dissertation. Could spending hours, days, and weeks actually writing lead to a finished document? Please say it’s so! (Unfortunately, this project is lacking more than a seam and a button, but I’m trying to convince myself that this isn’t the case.) So, what I’m trying to say is that I have a whole backlog of finished objects to post.

But before I get to those, there’s another UFO that I need to tackle.

Way back in the sweltering days of summer, I realized that I needed to celebrate my blogiversary so I set up a contest. And then I promptly forgot to carry through with it. Talk about being a blog-jerk. I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since. So, I’m going to try this again. My intention was to do something that reflected how I was spending my summer. Originally, I planned to do four prizes. And that’s where I got myself into trouble. I’m one of those over-achievers that lacks the gumption to actually be an over-achiever. I feel like I should do x, y, and z, but really, I’ve only got about an x in me. So, here’s my compromise with my conscience and you out there in blogland.

For now, I’m going to do one prize that reflects my summer of reading/writing, traveling, crafting and working out: a journal with some nifty pens, a tote bag (still to be made) for your journeys, yarn to keep your needles busy (Mountain Colors Bearfoot) and a handy dandy new water bottle to keep you hydrated. Yes, the water bottle is about as present as my summer workout routine was but it’ll be there before this goes in the mail, along with some little gifties like candy and stitch markers and such.

Everyone who leaves a comment by Sunday, September 30 at midnight EST will be entered. Those who left comments in the earlier contest will be entered twice for good measure.

I intend to follow this up with more contests more often, but as they say about intentions… I intend to blog every day and really get serious about my running again and clean out my closet and publish an essay or two in the near future. I’m not holding my breath either!

12 September 2007

Mmm... Fall...

I'm saying this with a bit of trepidation and fear of summer's return, but I think we've turned the corner and are now thankfully free of sweaty and steamy days. Today there was just that feeling in the air, you know, that feeling where the air smells different, the breeze has a hint of bite and you really do need that sweatshirt you've been dying to wear.

Ah, my favorite time of year...

I'm kicking off my fall knitting with this amazing silk yarn dyed by Jill at Looped Back. I still can't believe I'm going to be paid to knit a shawl with this gorgeous stuff. Granted, I don't get to keep the shawl and when I have to package her up and give her away, it'll probably hit me, but for the next few weeks/months, I'm going to pretend that she's mine, all mine. (Don't worry, Donna, I'll try not to get attached... too much.)

The picture taken with artificial light on a cloudy day doesn't do the yarn justice. It matches much more closely than it appears and really plays up the colors of the beading and embroidery on the top.

I'm going to have fun with this one.

09 September 2007

The Scarf That Just Won't Die

Scene: Local knitting guild meeting, first gathering after a summer off.

Enter Leslie, late as ever, rushing to get to her seat before the meeting starts, thankful that Hipster Knitter saved her a seat.

Hipster Knitter: So, I'm starting to plan my Christmas knitting for friends. I'm thinking scarves. So, um,... would you recommend... the pattern that you've been, um,... working on?

Leslie: You mean this one, the chevron scarf that I've been knitting on since MARCH?!?! Guess it depends if we're talking this Christmas or holiday season 2012.

Hipster Knitter: Well, yeah, I've noticed that you've been working on that scarf at lots of meetings.... [trying to save face and make a slow knitter feel better] But it's pretty.

Still chugging away on the scarf that's taking for freakin' ever. It's pretty, but wow am I ready for it to be finished.

* Breaking news edit: This post was started earlier in the weekend. Thankfully, a strong case of insomnia has since allowed me ample wee morning hours to finish this albatross. I'm hoping to block, model and post soon so it's really, really finished!