Tuesday, February 28, 2006

At My Hearth

You are a king by your own fireside,
as much as any monarch on his throne.
-Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

As "Antje, Katja's mom" (one of my favorite commenters, by the way) has pointed out, Am Kamin means "at the hearth" or "at the fireside" in German. We're all a little perplexed as to how this came to be in a Japanese pattern book, subtitled "New Style of Heirloom Knitting" (in English), came up with a German title for the pattern. Nevertheless, it adds to the international flavor of my Olympics.

Pay no attention to the windswept, trying to keep from shivering form on your left. It was really really cold when we were taking these photos.

And now, all the knitterly details you've been waiting for:

Am Kamin
Pattern: Am Kamin from New Style of Heirloom Knitting, details of how to order the Japanese book on the Crossed in Translation KAL blog
Yarn: Cascade 220, color 4007, approx 7 1/2 skeins
Needles: US 7 Addi Naturas
Notes: (Of particular interest to others knitting this sweater.)
  • Reading Japanese patterns is so easy! Seriously! I've gotten a lot of emails and comments from people who look at it with fear, but as soon as you sit down with it, it's no different than any other charted knitting pattern with great schematics. In many ways, it was easier than a lot of English patterns.
  • Along those lines, this is a great pattern for reading your knitting. I didn't do any extra charting or spreadsheeting or anything - I just knit from the pattern. To maintain the delightful mirror-image symetry, just start knitting the row from the other direction. I thought of every cross as "towards the center" or "away from the center."
  • The raglan shaping at the shoulder (sleeve on top, and the seam is straighter in real life):

  • I had serious row gauge issues that necessitated me knitting more rows than called for in the pattern. The downside? Takes longer. The equivocal side? Heavier sweater. The silver lining? More lovely patterning.
  • The K2tog yo buttonholes are quite stretchy. If they stretch too much, I'll reinforce them.
  • I left all the stitches at the collar line live rather than binding them off and used them for the collar.
  • I notice that my right slanting lines of twisted stitches are more pronounced than my left slanting lines. Is this technique? I've recently heard of twisting stitches in both directions, which might account for the difference. Something to explore later.
  • The tubular cast on is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen, and the tubular (aka Kitchener) bind off is similarly worth the extra time. Check it out on the collar.
Best Thing About This Project: I love the sweater, but it can't hold a candle to Team College Hill and the Knitting Olympic spirit.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Crowding the Podium

The greatest memory for me of the 1984 [2006] Olympics
was not the individual honors, but standing on the podium

with my teammates to receive our team gold medal.
-Mitch Gaylord

Rachel already beat me to a full-scale description of the Team College Hill medals ceremony - check it out here. It's a beautiful tale of four Olympic knitters with a single dream, and that dream realized:
So let's now admire our very own Olympic gold medals. See the flame? See the rings? How cool is that? I don't actually have that many photos, since I was nominated to actually place the medals on my teammates (again, check out Rachel's photos for all the action). By far the best part of the whole Knitting Olympics was Team College Hill. The fun gatherings, the Thai food, the meeting Rachel, the stardom - it's everything a team should be.

At a moment of triumph such as this, we ought to pause and reflect on the struggles and perserverance that brought us to this point. None of the photos of Leah and her carpal tunnel syndrome demonstration came out, but Exhibit A is on your right: Katja at approximately 11pm EST on Saturday night, as she rewrote the entire final chart for Ene to line up with her new and exciting decrease system. Remember - this is a gal who hadn't knit in years until about 3 months ago - are we impressed or what?

To go from that, the pain, the suffering, the dry hands, and perhaps just a few too many romantic comedies to this:
And this (do note that it was 22 degrees F when we took these photos - just for you folks, just for you):
And this (Can you believe Rachel ripped out inches and inches of the body on Saturday and still finished for her gold? Nothing but the best for Team College Hill!):
And, last but not least, Am Kamin with her gold. Full details on the sweater - including modeled shots - coming tomorrow. For now I will say that it is stunning in person. It is by far the most beautiful sweater I own, it fits perfectly, the seams are a work of art (if I do say so myself), and I love the collar. Plus, so far I've only identified half a dozen mistakes . . . But I love it.
Notice the mirror image of the helical-type cable on either side of the button band? Perfection.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Sweep!

Go for the gold!

It's a gold medal sweep for Theresa, Leah, and Katja!

Medal ceremony at 2pm EST at the (Knitting) Olympic Village, Providence RI.

Full coverage, including photos and details from Rachel, to follow.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Stumbles and Tumbles

Faster, stronger, higher is not just the Olympics motto -
it's the magnitude of the falls, spills, and humiliation.
-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Team College Hill met last night for our traditional* Thai food and Olympic ice skating evening.

(On your right, Leah demonstrates why it is that we are Knitting Olympians as she attempts to replicate some of the lovely spinning in Torino, and instead replicates the high number of falls.)

As the ladies wobbled and stumbled their way through the long programs, we wobbled and stumbled our way through our Olympic projects. Alternating between hope (I've made so much progress) and despair (I have so much left), we spent more time fixing mistakes than moving forward (What did I just do there?). I think we were distracted.

Nevertheless, much knitting was actually accomplished. Rachel's Tubey is looking great, so much so that anytime she wants to declare victory, she can have a long-sleeved wool midriff-baring top. A fashion trend just waiting to sweep the nation!

Katja and Leah compared their lace knitting to the fancy footwork sequences on the ice, with occasional cries of "Toepick!"**

If they were doing fancy footwork, Theresa was jumping all over the place - with several notable falls on that triple lutz combination. Fortunately, I know how to drop down my cables to rearrange them. Unforunately, I didn't take any photos.

See that big pile o' Am Kamin? The sleeves are elsewhere, but that's the back, the completed left front, and the right front up to the armhole. (Cascade 220 for whomever was asking.) See my heating vent in the photo? Speeds up blocking like you would not believe.

To Our Fans
Thanks for the outpouring of love and support following our national media debut yesterday - I know I owe a lot of responses to comments and questions - but I need to plead Olympic knitting right now. (And, to my professors who are now questioning how much work I've done in the past two weeks, um, it's all an elaborate hoax. Really. Improving my Photoshop skills.) There will be all sorts of blog maintenance next week, including responses, after I win that gold.

*Well, now it's traditional.
**Did you know that there's a sequel to the Cutting Edge? It's coming out in March, and seems to be direct-to-DVD. I can't wait - it looks so terrible! Hey, flitgirl, let's make it a date!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Our Fifteen Minutes, and Other News

For a time, at least, I was the most famous person in the entire world.
-Jesse Owens, winner of 4 gold medals in the 1936 Summer Olympics

Our Fifteen Minutes
The Olympics are known for incredible acts of heroism, surprising come-from-behind upsets, and making people famous (and the wild parties, but we talked about that already). Well, Team College Hill is no Jesse Owens, but we're famous!

Check out our news debut in the Providence Journal here. You have to log-in to read the article, so I've created a dummy account you can use:
Log-in Email: knittingunderway@gmail.com
Password: knitting
Don't do anything illegal. Thanks.

ETA: According to Rachel, who is out and about earlier than I am, we're the front page of the Lifebeat section with a huge photo to better demonstrate our good hair days. Must go buy a newspaper . . . Must wear dark sunglasses to escape the paparazzi . . .

It was awesome - all sorts of team-spirited fun. An actual reporter came and interviewed us for an hour while a professional photographer took at least 3 rolls of film. Thanks to Rachel for hosting in the middle of a work day, and her husband Matt for putting up with us invading his national holiday. Team College Hill just gets more and more fun - we're having an official training session tonight to watch figure skating and eat Thai food (the official food of our Knitting Olympics).

And Other News
Now let's talk about the other ways the Knitting Olympics are spreading peace and goodwill throughout all the lands - First, we met Rachel, remember? Then, Texanadian (a Canadian born in Germany who now lives in Texas, if I got that right) happened to meet Katja's mom (German, living in Texas) in a yarn shop (in Texas) - all because of the Knitting Olympics. It's like those Peace, Love, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike signs - only better!

The hard part is going to be not letting this all go to our heads . . .

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Give Us the Tools

We shall neither fail nor falter; we shall not weaken or tire . . .
give us the tools and we will finish the job.

-Winston Churchill

On Monday you saw me with a whole big pile o' Am Kamin on my lap as I knit on the very beginnings of the fronts. Today I present the almost-completed left front (which is actually now *thisclose* to being done):Can we pause for a while and admire just how gorgeous this pattern is? I'm in love.

Now I need to recalculate the buttonhole placement and I can spring forward with the right front. Remember our good friend row gauge? But for the first time, I'm feeling confident that it will all come together by Sunday. I even have the buttons already. I'd cross my fingers, but that would interfere with the knitting.

Katja? Leah? Check in, will you?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

5d 5h 38m 02s

For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth.
-Mary Lou Retton

With 33% of the total available Olympic time remaining, the Team College Hill athletes were frantically knitting away, and our crack reporter had difficulty getting a complete sentence. The official Team College Hill spokesperson did note some objection to the second-by-second Olympic timer countdown. This countdown is counting every second, and not just available knitting seconds. It fails to take into account that there will be much knitting time available at the end of the week when the planets align and good things happen:
  • Katja will be done with Step 2 of her US Medical Licensing Exam in 7h 35m and 06s - wish her luck!
  • Leah will have finished all her shifts in the ED and move onto the important things in life - like knitting
  • Rachel will have actually done some work at work this week instead of playing with photoshop and making team buttons . . . unless she makes good on her talk of iron-on transfers and matching T-shirts
  • Theresa will have finished (after starting) her paper on narrating nationhood in the 1820s, because she's currently blaming her fickle row gauge on that
The Team College Hill spokesperson remains optimistic about the available knitting time remaining, noting that Leah was heard to mumble things about "zwie sleepover" and Katja might have uttered the phrase "all knitting, all the time" in between counting stitches. Furious bouts of knitting over the weekend resulted in great progress.
  • Check out Rachel's progress on Tubey on her blog - it fits! And don't forget to wish her a happy birthday while you're over there.
  • Katja had a moment of heart-stopping panic when she realized that her center stitch was not, in fact, the center stitch. Turns out she miscounted very early on and had 10 diamonds on one side and 12 on the other. Rather than "open it all up" and face defeat, she has a clever plan to progressively decrease the extra stitches on the one side. No one will ever notice, and she is flying along, having completed 52 rows, or approximately 50.5%, according to the handy-dandy shawl progress calculator.
  • Leah made some progress on in upstate New York this weekend, where she tried to explain the Knitting Olympics to her 5 and 7 year old cousins. Their response? "But you always knit." True enough - she was at row 36 (36.2%) before her ER shift last night.
  • Theresa alternates between hope and despair. She finished the sleeves (both together) of Am Kamin, cursing the row gauge that made her knit more and more the entire time, and started the fronts. With the realization that 76 (left front stitch count) is less than 120 (sleeve stitch count), she is back on a hopeful upswing, estimating herself to be about 65-70% done.
Shortly before heading off to take her boards, Katja raised her head from her knitting and spoke clearly to articulate the sentiment held deep within the hearts of all Olympians: "What are we going to do with ourselves after the Knitting Olympics?"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Team Spirit

I knew that if I was going to have a chance at a medal in the Olympics, I was not going to do it if I stayed home. -Mary Lou Retton

Team College Hill - our sagging spirits buoyed by our super cool new button, courtesy of Rachel - is digging in for our last week of heavy duty Olympic knitting. We celebrated by all being in the same place at the same time for the first (but not last) time:From left to right: Theresa with Am Kamin, Rachel with Tubey, Katja with Ene's Scarf, and Leah with Ene's Scarf [Photographic evidence provided courtesy of Rachel's husband, who not only had to put up with us in his house, he had to take pictures. Thanks!]

We have a busy week planned, and an extra special surprise in store for the grand finale weekend. Stay tuned as we knit towards photo finishes. . . actual project updates coming tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Breaking Curfew

The strength of Olympism comes to it from
that which is simply human, thus worldwide in its essence.
-Pierre de Coubertin, creator of the Modern Olympics, 1894

Several of you commented after yesterday's post that I seemed stressed, needed a break, that maybe - just maybe - I was knitting just a little too much. While we could argue until the cows come home about whether it's really possible to knit too much, it turns out that the Olympics are about much more than any single event.

All over the internet are tales of the wild parties in the Olympic Village. Sponsors throw elaborate and expensive parties where they give away performance-enhancing swimsuits and copious amounts of Molson.

Team College Hill remains independent after never receiving rejecting offers of corporate sponsorship, but were were pleased to attend a party hosted by JayJay of the Knitting Special Olympics in honor of her husband's birthday. The dancing lasted until the wee small hours of the night, and led to many wild and incriminating photographs. The only one I can present here on this family-friendly blog is a rare shot of me sitting down. (Plus, I don't believe in putting up photos of people without their express knowledge and consent.) Now I know why athletes have strict curfews before their events.

Because, really - what would the Olympics be without the parties?

ETA: Check out the awesome button Rachel made for Team College Hill! Won't that look good with our gold medals?

Friday, February 17, 2006


Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand.
The sun's rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
-Alexander Graham Bell

The absolute hardest part about The Knitting Olympics is the intense focus on a single project. I am usually a multiple-multiple-multiple project knitter. I'm finding a major advantage to the knitting monogamy - it's so easy to keep track of my charts and where I am and how many increases I have, etc. - but my hands are really starting to hurt. I am trying not to get distracted by other knitting issues, as you will note in this week's Knit-Along Update:

The Knitting Olympics
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The Ultimate Knitalong Challenge. Team College Hill has been performing fantastic feats of knitting athleticism. With 9 days remaining, this long weekend should prove crucial to their success.
  • Theresa's Am Kamin is coming along. Back done, sleeves (both) half done, front ribbing done.
  • Leah and Katja are knitting Ene's Scarf, and should tell us in the comments (hint, hint) how it's going.
  • Go here to see Rachel and her Tubey.
Crossed in Translation
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This is it - Am Kamin. The Knitting Olympics. See above.

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Valentine's Day was our "free day" and all of my best intentions to ignore it and not buy yarn went out the window when a Super-Secret-Special-Sock project dropped itself in my lap. I bought some lovely sockyarn, and couldn't resist picking up Nancy Bush's Folk Knitting in Estonia while I was there. They had a mint condition copy, and this book is now out-of-print. Distractions . . .

Count Your Socks
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Add yet another one to my tally! I finished my 91st pair of socks this week with the Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks for my dad's birthday. After the Olympics, I'm going to start the Nancy Bush fan club. After the Olympics. After the Olympics.

It's Not A Gift
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Am Kamin is my size. It's for me. All Olympics, all the time. Focus. Focus.

Knit the Classics
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Reading: February's book is Marge Piercy, Woman On the Edge of Time. I have a copy. That's it. Concentrate.
Knitting: This book is all about insanity. Am Kamin is driving me insane.

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Have yarn. Have pattern. After the Olympics. After the Olympics . . .

With that, we return to our regularly scheduled Olympic broadcasting. 9 days, 5 hours, and some minutes remaining. Focus. Focus. Focus.

Citius, altius, fortius!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Something Strange

If you haven't found something strange
during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
-J.A. Wheeler

The existential question of the day:

Do people look at you strangely when you take photos of your knitting?

Natural light is good, right? As you can see in the glamour shot of two sleeves reclining gracefully on a ledge, progress on Am Kamin continues apace.

Check out the Olympic countdown here. Notice that it keeps going when we sleep, eat, go to the gym, go to those wild and crazy Olympic Village parties, and even when we arrange our knitting in artful poses to make passers-by stop and stare.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cross Training

The difference between a good athlete and a top athlete is that a top athlete will do the mundane things when nobody's looking. -Susan True

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled Olympic Update.

Team College Hill is continuing its quest for Olympic gold by putting in some solid knitting efforts this week, but all teammates are having difficulty maintaing the pace set last weekend. They have begun cross-training in an attempt to get other things done stave off burn-out. Theresa finished the back of Am Kamin one day ahead of schedule, after some particularly heroic rows knitted in near darkness in a crowded auditorium. Rumor has it that she used the LCD screen of her cell phone to periodically light up the knitting and maintain her pattern, but her spokesperson refused to comment. She now feels confident that she is ready to tackle the sleeve increases. After the strange and awkward maneuvers she was forced to perform on the raglan shaping of the back,
however, impartial observers and French judges alike wonder if she really has as much of a handle on her elusive - and apparently fickle - row gauge as she would like to think. Her teammates are now concerned that being ever-so-slightly ahead of schedule will make her overconfident. They note that she used nearly 2 full skeins of yarn for the back, and now needs to backtrack and wind more skeins into balls, a potentially fatal miscalculation. Theresa's cross-training consists mostly of reading about the extension of the franchise in American history, making her realize that she is actually unelected.

Katja has been cross-training by studying for her medical boards. "A detailed understanding of autoimmune thyroid disorders is really informing my approach to Ene's border," she emailed in from her remote training site. "Not only does the importance of heredity come into play, but the eyelet diamonds almost look like thyroid epithelial cells." It should be noted that this athlete was tested, and no illegal substances were found. Her teammates profess their support, as a medical license can come in handy when you're a doctor.

Leah has was so inspired by the Paul Farmer lecture that she nearly decided to abandon her knitting and save the world. Unfortunately, she had to attend a suturing workshop instead. Her skills now buoyed by the practice on pigs' feet, she feels confident she can tackle any mattress stitch that comes her way. "If I can sew an eyebrow," she rightly bragged, "I can sew a sweater." It was up to her teammates to remind her that lace shawls do not have seams.

Rachel continues on Tubey, and took time from her busy schedule to make a fabulous button for Team College Hill. It will debut tomorrow, after Theresa finishes her reading for this afternoon.

And, in closing, I would like to call your attention to the Special Knitting Olympics. With an abundance of respect for the well-respected Special Olympics, this team of new knitters wanted to create their own event that would respect their individual handicaps in the knitting world. JayJay, creator of the Special Knitting Olympics and frequent commenter on this blog, thought their goal of making visible progress on a knitting project was more compatible with the Special Olympics motto of "Skill, Sharing, Courage, and Joy" than with "Citius, Altius, Fortius." She invites all supporters to the medals ceremony on February 28th, and reminds you that this is just a prelude to the Ironcraft Triathalon.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Any man can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. -Proverbial

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Olympic programming to bring you this special message:

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yes, that's right. My dad and St. Valentine share a day. I think I was about 16 before I realized that Valentine's Day was not a family holiday in every household. So here's to the man who taught me to ride a bike, taught me to drive ("That's my transmission!"), and once came all the way from Philly to Providence in the middle of winter just to help me do my taxes. Even more important than keeping me out of trouble with the DMV and the IRS, my dad (and my mom, too, but it's not her birthday yet) always told me I could do anything I wanted to. I believed him, so I made him a pair of socks.

From my hands to your feet: a lovely warm pair of "Gentleman's Fancy Socks." (Knitterly specs another day.) Unlike the first pair of socks I made my dad, these two are actually the same size.

My dad reads this blog- and its comments- so leave my dad some birthday wishes in the comments today. Because there are two options: Grow older or die young, and I'll celebrate that my dad is another year older.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Greetings from The Olympic Village

But to me, training in the [Olympic] Village
brought all the best memories we have.

-Mary Lou Retton
Greetings From the Olympic Village, Providence, RI! Anticipating the snowstorm, Team College Hill convened at our Olymic Village for an intensive training session, now known in the words of our multi-lingual Katja as "Ein Sleepover."

You want winter sports? Torino has nothing on us.

Snowball fights. Snow angels.
And a particularly daring trek - in blizzard conditions and gale force winds - to the nearest Whole Foods for some coffee. Recall our obligations to Team Caffeine, and the utter necessity of coffee to fuel our Olympic aspirations. Note The Official Snow Sweater. The woman at the (surprisingly crowded) store commented on the loveliness of each of us in our hat-scarf-mitten sets. We were lovely, look: After we restocked the Olympic Village, the real athleticism began:And then, only then, did we knit. We knit all day and well into the night (which is why our progress photo is so dark).

Looking left, that's the back of Am Kamin up to the raglan shaping on the bottom. On the left is Leah's Ene's Scarf in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, color Valentine, up to row 12. On the right is Katja's Ene's Scarf in LL, color I call Sherbert, up to row 8.

We knit and knit and knit and knit. We made excellent progress. It does, however, raise an unforunate question:

How are we ever going to finish when we can't knit 8 hours a day every day?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Parade of Nations

The six colors, including the white background, represent the colours of all the world's flags . . . This is the true international emblem.
-Pierre de Coubertin, reviver of the Modern Olympics, 1894

Already the Olympics have been bringing people together. Rachel of LicketyKnit found Team College Hill when she was looking for something else on the Knitting Olympics homepage. Well, Providence is not that big, and it turns out that we all knew each other six ways to Sunday, but never would have met if it weren't for this. Since Rachel brought the Ben&Jerry's and her impressive collection of Red Sox stitch markers to last night's Opening Ceremonies, I cannot stress what a tragedy that would have been. It was awesome.

(I can promise that Rachel's going to have better photos of this. Go look.)

We had our very own parade of nations last night. We ate Thai food and Ben&Jerry's (Vermont has a long history of trying to secede into it's own nation), knit patterns from Japan, Estonia, and New York City (again, a different country down there), and watched the crazy display of "Passion" that was the Opening Ceremonies. Loved those dresses that makes you look like you are the alps . . .

Oh, and it turns out that one of my roomates once hitch-hiked in Italy with a couple who had been to Pavarati's wedding. Which makes us *thisclose,* right?

So, about the knitting: Think this is 6.25% of Am Kamin? Me neither. But it has a great tubular cast on, and we're on our way.

Katja managed to cast on an impressive 375 stitches (all the more impressive because that's the number the pattern required) and made great progress on row one until she got so distracted by the dancing cows that she had to tink half of it. Nevertheless, she's learning all about the shape of the knit stitch and double decrease, and is poised to get snowed in and knit away this weekend.

You may notice that Leah is conspicuously absent from all the photos. While we were laughing at how cold Laura Bush looked, she was saving lives in the ED. She plans to cast on today, before saving more lives tonight.

Rachel's Tubey is coming along beautifully. I'll let her tell you all about it.

Isn't this fun?

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Organizational-Multiplying Tendency

America is a nation of joiners.
-Alexis de Toqueville, Democracy in America

I'm writing an article wherein undergraduates of the 1890s lamented "The Organizational-Multiplying Tendency" that was sweeping their campus. With all respect to those beanie-clad young men and their Base Ball Association, they've got nothing on knit bloggers. With that, I bring you this week's Knit-Along Update.

The Knitting Olympics
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The Ultimate Knitalong Challenge. For the next 16 days, there are no others. Follow along here as Team College Hill performs fantastic feats of heroism to win their gold medals.
  • Theresa is knitting Am Kamin, and is apparently the only person in the universe crazy enough to do this.
  • Leah and Katja are knitting Ene's Scarf, with the full support of the other members of Team Ene.
  • And meet Rachel, the newest member of Team College Hill. The member in charge of dessert race food for the opening ceremonies, she'll be knitting Tubey.
Crossed in Translation
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Did I just say that the Knitting Olympics were the only knitalong? I lied. I'll be Crossing in Translation with true global spirit. I even finished the swatch hat this week. And if you can explain to me how a round hat is a swatch for a flat garment, well, you're smarter than I am.

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I went to a yarn store - again - and didn't buy yarn. I think helping others pick out yarn to buy is my new favorite hobby. Even my Sockapaloooza socks are from the stash!
I also finished Winter Folly this week (which deserves, and shall receive, it's own post), but there's a whole sweater out of the stash. Huzzah!

Count Your Socks
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Add one more to my tally! I finished my 90th pair of socks this week with the Canal du Midi socks from Knitting on the Road. Regular programming will resume after the Olympics.

It's Not A Gift
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I finished Winter Folly. Rogue is hanging out in a corner looking rogue-ish. And now, Am Kamin. They are all for me. As long as Am Kamin fits, that is.

Knit the Classics
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Reading: February's book is Marge Piercy, Woman On the Edge of Time. I have a copy. I'm making a real effort this year to read (check out the 52 Books in my sidebar), as I feel my reading decreased a lot when I started knitting so much. Olympics or no Olympics, I want to read this. Last week I read Clifford Beers, The Mind That Found Itself, a memoir of a bipolar man at the turn of the 20th century. A fascinating look at how sanity was conceptualized then. I think the gendered and temporal contrast to Piercy's book will be worthwhile.
Knitting: This book is all about insanity. Therefore, Am Kamin is my official KTC project this month. It will drive me insane.

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This is a sock swap. I knit socks and mail them by May 2nd; someone else knits me socks. The world is small. Peace love and international understanding all increase. It's all good, and there's plenty of time.
My swapee wants fingering weight, wool blend, and bright colors, in whatever pattern I like. I have yarn, I have a pattern and both are from the stash:
Yarn: Sisu, a superwash fingering weight wool blend in a bright blue (cornflower-ish, maybe?)
Pattern: Cascade Lace Socks by Anne Woodbury in Cast On from Summer 2004. It's pretty, I've never made anything from any Cast On, and I think it'll look great in this yarn. Plus, the pattern is marked "advanced" and I think my swapee deserves something impressive, my best work.

With that, we will be broadcasting all Olympics all the time.

Citius, altius, fortius!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wet and Wooly

He had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes
to wear than the skin of a bear not yet killed.
-Fuller, qtd. in George Eliot, Middlemarch

Nothing like the smell of wet wool (and alpaca) in the morning. Because we all know what that means, right?

I finished

One:Am Kamin hat. That's a pretty accurate shot of the color (Cascade 220, #4007, Kristen). I think I'm getting the right gauge, as best as I can tell. Since the pattern only has one size (luckily, mine), I'm going to knit it, measuring as I go, and if it doesn't fit me, well, I have friends.

Two: Winter Folly. Photos when dry.

Three: Canal du Midi socks. Photos when dry.

projects last night. I am so ready.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I Don't Bowl Alone

Joining one group cuts in half your odds of dying in the next year.*
-Robert Putnam,
Bowling Alone

Actually, I don't bowl at all. (It's not a moral issue; it's a hand-eye coordination thing. Bowling balls are heavy. Dangerous.) It turns out that I don't knit alone, either.**

Look what I finished at knitting group last night:

That's right - the knitting on Winter Folly is done done done. And one sleeve is set in. After all that stressing, now I couldn't care less about finishing. Hmmm. . .

My history classes (speaking of a Liberal Medical Education) have been all about American citizenship and nationalism, the early republic, and, of course, hegemony. Naturally, our discussion of declining social capital led me to talk about knitting and knitting blogs, wherein I affirmed that if anyone requires a community, they should learn how to knit. Not only is knitting a metaphor for life, but you get to hang out with cool folks like at the knitting group that JayJay (blogless commenator) organized. During our raucous discussion of Bowling Alone, we learned that it's not only knitting: There are puppy playgroups, Cat Clubs, Antique Clubs, and the politics of Cycling Clubs can rival those of Congress.

So the sky is not falling. Social capital is good. Knitting is good for your health. And if you think the barn raisings and quilting bees of the days of yore speak to a simpler time, remember this: They didn't do it for the postcards. They needed barns. Winter is cold without central heating. It's warmer when you knit, and warmer still when you knit with friends.

*I would be remiss if I didn't point out that this is likely related, at least in part, to the healthy worker effect. (People with jobs are healthier than people without jobs, not because having a job makes you healthy, but because if you aren't healthy, it's hard to hold down a job.)
**This is patently untrue. But last night I did not knit alone.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


In these days a man is nobody unless his biography
is kept so far posted up that it may be ready for
the national breakfast table on the morning after his demise.
-Anthony Trollope

One trusty Lantern Moon needle had its life tragically cut short last evening in an accident Olympic officials are calling "senseless" and "a waste." The accident occurred shortly after 9pm, EST, on the couch of a fellow Team College Hill Teammate. Theresa shuddered as she recalled: "I only left it alone for a minute as I got up to get some water. When I came back, it was snapped in half. There was clearly nothing I could do."

This needle was part of a matched set, and was relatively new to the world of international knitting competition, having entered the stage a mere 3 weeks ago as a surprise replacement for some Brittany Birch straights that were snagging. Teammate Theresa recalls that "it was a perfect fit. We were all surprised by the glossy smoothness of the needle." Katja noted that she, too, was new to Olympic level competition and that the needles were surprisingly similar to Addis. "But I'm German," she reminded. "I still prefer Addis."

Already gory photographs of the crime scene have been circulating on the internet. Fellow Team College Hill teammates Katja and Theresa are begging the public to let the dead rest in peace, but to no avail. Investigators have reason to suspect foul play, and the security surrounding Team College Hill will be increased for the duration of the Games. "Not since Tanya Harding attacked Nancy Kerrigan have we seen such blatant sabotage of equipment and competitors," one Olympic official who requested annonymity stated. "Losing a needle is bad enough, but many others could have been injured as it broke. We must be on our guard."

This needle had recently returned from an uneventful trip to Florida. It is survived by the three members of Team College Hill, it's matched needle and a set of US5 Brittany Birch straights. The Brittany Birches will replace it in the international knitting competition.

In related news, the two sleeves of Winter Folly are at the sleeve cap shaping. Teammates of the lead knitter on the project are concerned that she has not yet finished her swatch for her Olympic project. "Never fear," Theresa responded. "I only have 600 pages of reading to do for tomorrow. Plenty of time."

No stitches were harmed in the writing of this article.

Monday, February 06, 2006

As Pretty as an Airport

It is no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase
"As pretty as an Airport" appear. -Douglas Adams

Winter Folly
and I had a great time in Florida. We lounged at a pool that was by a lake: (And if H. the wonder photographer has any suggestions, let me know.) We stopped to smell the tropical flowers:
(They didn't smell, but aren't they purty?) And we learned that this is what coconuts look like on the trees:
And now for our daily dilemma: After good times (yeehaw! good times!) in the Altanta airport we finished the front and started the sleeves. By last night, the sleeves were half done (or half undone, depending). Today is Monday. The Olympics start Friday. And yet, I could almost wear this sweater. It needs
  • two half sleeves
  • seaming
  • 1 inch of ribbing around the crew neck
  • blocking
  • dare I hope- another trip to Florida?
This is not terribly much. It could happen by Friday, although not much else could. So why do I think I'll be 99% done with it before Olympics. Recall, the Olympics need
  • yarn shopping for teammates
  • yarn winding for me
  • rewriting Japanese pattern into English
  • finding needles
  • brilliant blog posts
  • laundry (it's good to wear clothes in winter in RI)
Did I mention I have other things to do this week? So . . . what should I do? Knit like a crazy lady trying to finish Winter Folly and wear it with pride during the Olympics, or relax, take a deep breath, and let it wait?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Spring Training

That's the true harbinger of spring, not the crocuses or sparrows returning to Capistrano, but the sounds of a bat on a ball. -Bill Veeck

I know we're all about winter sports right now: skiing, knitting, ice skating, knitting, bobsled, knitting, speed skating, knitting . . . But don't forget about the Grapefruit League. Our favorite team returns to Florida February 18th for Spring Training.

Katja and I decided to do a little Spring Training of our own in Florida this weekend. In between a bridal shower (not ours) and wedding dress fittings (also not ours), we'll be stitching away and warming our knitting muscles in preparation for the Opening Ceremonies. Because I have a sense of irony, I'll be knitting Winter Folly while I'm there.

Your Friday KAL update is on hold this week. I'm on vacation, and in the Knitting Underway universe, we love baseball, apple pie, and my mom.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading: "Otherwise"

I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words
as the Rhymical Creation of Beauty.

-Edgar Allen Poe

I'm joining in the Blogger's Silent Poetry Reading, started by Grace's Poppies; I read about it at Yarn Harlot. It's a one-day only special.

I heard this poem on Garrison's Keillor's Good Poems, my current driving companion, and its simple grace keeps coming back to me all week.

by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

The photo is reason #437 I'm glad that, today, it is not otherwise. In the Navy, even annoying paperwork has a fun drive and a great view: Newport Pell Bridge, Narragansett Bay.

Enter Stage Left

All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players;
they have their exits and their entrances;
and each man in his time plays many parts.
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Act 2 Scene 1

In which we witness, yet again, why I leave the writing of good dialogue up to the lovely ladies at Damned Scribbling Women.

Setting: regular Tuesday knitting group at a grad student's apartment

  • Our knitting heroine (let's call her Theresa)
  • Hostess (gracefully hosting knitting group, has tragically never been to San Diego)
  • Friend-of-Hostess (reads Japanese, knits, and might be moving to San Diego)
  • JayJay (knitting friend of Theresa's who is moving near San Diego)
Theresa: Hello, Hostess. Thanks for hosting knitting this week. I can't wait to get started on the charts for my Am Kamin hat/swatch. It's too bad I don't read Japanese.
Hostess: Hello, Theresa. Thanks for coming. Meet my friend. She is Japanese and just started knitting last week.
Theresa: Hello, Friend. It's so nice to meet you. Do you read Japanese?
Friend: It's nice to meet you, too. Yes I do. Would you like help reading your Japanese pattern book?
Theresa: Yes, I would. Thanks so much. By the way, I'm moving to San Diego.
Friend: Wow - I might be moving to San Diego, too. (This is true.)
Theresa: Great. Let's be friends.

Other than the stilted dialogue, it was really just that great. Friend-of-Hostess clarified some of the symbols for me, but really, the chart is pretty easy to get the hang of. Want to see?
For some reason, I just cannot photograph this color accurately. It's a deep heathered green. Any photographic hints?

So, for those of you also working on Am Kamin, a few comments:
  1. The twisted stitches are actually more like 1x1 cables in that they involve purling one of the stitches. I started that way, but then switched to the way I usually work, say, Bavarian twisted stitch patterns and knit both stitches. I've been purling those stitches on the next row, and I think it looks pretty good - unnoticeable, and it's MUCH faster. Thoughts?
  2. And how are you going to do this flat?
  3. I like the "outside" of the tubular cast on better than the "inside," so I flipped my hat inside out after the ribbing and began working as if that were the right side. This way the nicer side of the tubular cast on shows when you turn up the hem.
  4. Regarding reading the pattern (you've probably already figured this out) - they use E vs. E prime to tell you to reverse the direction of the cables/twists on the opposite side - isn't that clever?
I'm falling in love. With Cascade 220. With green. With Japan. With twisted ribs and twisted stitches. I'm falling in love with knitting all over again. Think it'll last the 16 days of the Olympics?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Gone, But Not Forgotten

There is one thing I would break up over, and that is if she caught me with another woman. I wouldn't stand for that. -Steve Martin

Dear Flora-in-Whisper,
You were a beautiful pattern, a nice idea to knit flowers for Mrs. Dalloway, and a lovely color of orange. But knitting two strands together to get gauge was an annoying habit of yours that I could not look beyond. Maybe you would have softenend with washing, but your cotton was just too rough to be as soft as I need a scarf to be, and I never understood why you wanted to be 6% nylon. I always saw that measley 6% as a fear of fully committing to being yourself. For now, Flora, I think it's best that we part company, take a break from each other. Some day, perhaps, when I'm living in a sunnier and warmer climate, some day I might be able to appreciate you for who you are. Until then, good-bye, Flora, good-bye.
In Friendship,
Dear Theresa,
Don't try to pretend that this is all about me and my "issues." I knew you were never attracted to the nylon part of my personality, never understood that my roughness is the source of my strength, and that without it, I wouldn't have those fun little fuzzy bits. But no matter what you don't "get" about me, I saw you with that Fair Isle Floozy the other day. You and that soft merino wool in five colors so cozy together - did you think I would miss that? The whole world saw it. The photos were all over the internet. Even your parents could have seen them. Aren't you ashamed of yourself?
In anger,

Um, no. Say good-bye to Flora. She's gone for good, ripped out, yarn in the stash. Check out the hat - isn't it fabulous? And fair isle totally counts as my Mrs. Dalloway project - it was popularized by the Prince of Wales and his golfing vest in the 1920s. So there.