Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Meet the Team

Consider carefully. Done right,
this will suck up 16 days of your life and be an epic work.
-Stepahnie Pearl-McPhee, Yarn Harlot

This all came about the way nature intended. We were discussing the Olympics (the one in Torino). We wanted to watch the fun events. My roommates have TiVo. And so, I casually mentioned The Knitting Olympics.

Meet the Team (action shot):Leah (left), Katja (right), and I (behind the camera) met during freshman orientation of our undergraduate days, which means that this is the 8th consecutive year we've been going to school together. We cannot stress enough how important the Trust that we have been able to build the years will be to our Olympic success. From biochemistry to surgery, board exams to a recent obsession with Gray's Anatomy, we've seen it all and it has made us the fierce and ready competitors we are today.

The Knitting Credentials:

Leah has been knitting since she was 8 years old, crocheted an afghan in sociology classes, and picked up knitting again seriously in college. She was sceptical at first, but once she saw how well-suited sock knitting was to long days of lectures on congenital immunodeficiencies, she quickly became the second knitter in our med school lectures. An almost Pediatrician, Leah is a firm believer that a good start (in life and knitting) is essential to future succcess. For bonus points, she wore - and talked about - handknit socks on all of her residency interviews.

Katja is a German national, which means that not only was she born knowing how to knit, but she knits in the German, or continental style. She asked me for a refresher last fall, and made a pair of socks with sockyarn on US size 1 needles within a week. Since then, she's made socks for all of her relatives (also German, and therefore born with a deep understanding and appreciation for handknit socks), and interpreted bobbles for her mom. She began her first non-sock project - a cabled baby sweater - on Sunday, and I expect she's probably done by now. A future Emergency Medicine physician, Katja works well under pressure.

I have been knitting . . ., um, just read the blog. I am going into Internal Medicine and in knitting, unlike my real life, no one dies. My Intensive Care Unit experience makes me qualified to perform all sorts of agressive interventions on knitting projects threatening to go south. The Knitting Olympics are all about heroic measures.

Leah and Katja are both declaring for the Lace Knitting Event and knitting Ene's Scarf as their first lace projects. I am declaring for the Cable and Sweater Events, and wondering if there is a category for "Just Plain Crazy." Training continues tomorrow with a yarn buying expedition to find the yarn and needles for the lace knitters. I am almost done the ribbing on the Am Kamin hat/swatch. Progress tomorrow.

The Knitting Olympics in Review:

Bloggers will want to skip this section, but for the friends and relatives following along who have been calling me (hi flitgirl!) to ask what the Knitting Olympics are all about, I refer you to this website. Seriously, follow the link. The idea is to pick a challenging project and then complete it in the 16 days between the lighting of the flame in Torino and the closing ceremonies. It is "organized" into national teams (USA, Canada, Wales, etc.), genre teams (i.e. USA Lace Knitting Team), and, um, "methodological" teams (Team Caffeine, Team Chocolate). You may join as many teams as you like, so there's plenty of potential for overlap. There are over 2130 competitors so far, and we are still in the queue waiting to be added to the list. See, I'm not the only crazy one!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Holding an Olympic Games means evoking history.
-Pierre de Coubertin, responsible for the modern Olympics

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I was thinking about it. On the fence. Demonstrating a real lack of Olympic comittment. Then I mentioned the concept to my esteemed knitting friends Leah and Katja and Team College Hill was born. Details to follow in the coming days and will all be posted on this here blog. Tomorrow you'll meet my teammates and marvel at just how great 4th year of med school can be.

So, what are we knitting? Leah and Katja are both knitting their first ever lace projects: Ene's Scarf from Scarf Style (and since I have one, that will be our team uniform for the closing ceremonies). As for me, it's time for Am Kamin.

That's right. I'm knitting a heavily cabled cardigan from a pattern I can't read because it's in Japanese. In 16 days. The Olympics are not about halfway, not for the faint of heart. Cituis, Altius, Fortius!

The hat/swatch (Cascade 220, a heathered teal for those of you who were wondering) continues apace. Let's admire the tubular cast-on:
Yeah, I'm obsessed with the macro function, but isn't it gorgeous? This is my first tubular cast on, definitely not my last. I'm in love. But it's dark and stormy out and I don't really know where all that red came from. Color is more accurate here:

Wish us luck! The flame has already arrived in Milan, and our training has hardly begun. Buying needles and winding yarn, working around rotations in Anesthesia (Katja), Pedi ER (Leah) and History classes (Theresa - I told you 4th year was the best!), swatching, laundry, laying in a supply of chocolate and caffeine - there is much to be done!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Me, Myself, and I

I often quote myself.
It adds spice to a conversation.
-Michael Moncur

A Brief Conversation Between Me and Myself:

Me: How beautiful!
Myself: Isn't it lovely?
Me: It is. Nice photo.
Myself: Thanks. I discovered the macro function on my camera.
Me: Nice knitting.
Myself: Thanks again. I like to knit.
Me: Never would have guessed.

Sometimes Me and Myself have fascinating conversations. Other times, they are far too distracted by the miracles of fair isle. This would be one of those times. Oh, and I was busy and couldn't make it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Learning Along

Learning is not compulsory . . . neither is survival.
-W. Edwards Demming

Welcome back to our weekly knit-along update. This week we explore the better angels of our nature and how it is good to learn new things.

Crossed in Translation
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Finally progress: I started the hat. For those of you unfamiliar with the pattern, there's a matching hat that many are using as a gauge swatch. An interesting gauge swatch, since the hat is knit in the round and the sweater flat, but it is a good chance to use most of the main patterns and get familiar with them. Remember - the Am Kamin pattern is in Japanese; my brain is not.

Lesson Learned This Week: When Nancie Wiseman says that one of the drawbacks of the tubular cast on is that it takes "more than an average amount of time" - believe her. I know it was the first time I did it, but 2+ hours for 130 sts is definitely "more than average" for me.
Second Lesson Learned This Week: aforementioned tubular cast on. It's pretty - Look:
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I still didn't buy yarn! But I did acquire some this week. My dad gave me some gorgeous Soy Silk and a shawl pattern to go with it. I think it will make a perfect wrap for those chilly San Diego evenings. I haven't had much of a chance to play around with it yet, but it is incredibly similar to silk, but maybe better - it doesn't have that weird smell. My wool-allergic friends (Hi Roomie!) are going to love this stuff. Too bad for them that I have a firm rule about yarn people give me: It's for me.

Lesson Learned This Week: Yarn is a great gift.
Second Lesson Learned This Week:
Yarn plus pattern is even better, because then you know you have enough to make something appropriate.

Count Your Socks
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Houston, we may have a problem. Remember that aging stockpile thing? Full assessment still in progress. Details to follow next week.
In the meantime, sock knitting continues with interval progress.

Lesson Learned This Week:
Wear slippers.
Second Lesson Learned This Week:
Keep your leftovers.

It's Not A Gift
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Now that I'm finally making progress on Am Kamin, albeit small progress, I'm working on three sweater projects - all for me. Winter Folly continues up the front. I cast on the body for Rogue and knit up past the hem pick-up. And now, Am Kamin.

Lesson Learned This Week:
Complicated cables and lace is not ideal for knitting groups.
Second Lesson Learned This Week:
I might actually finish something if I didn't work on three sweaters simultaneously.

Knit the Classics
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Reading: I picked up February's book at the library: Marge Piercy, Woman On the Edge of Time, so I'm raring to go. I couldn't find an audio version. Anyone?
Knitting: I finally started Flora. I may or may not finish by the end of January, but I'm OK with that. It's a fast and easy project, and the flower looks fun. Knit 'n Lit Jenn wanted to know what yarn I was using: Wool in the Woods Whisper (94% cotton, 6% nylon) doubled. It's a fun, slubby cotton that I got on sale.

Lesson Learned This Week:
As a grad student, I can check out books for the entire semester. That's cool.
Second Lesson Learned This Week:
The theme thing would work better if I knit the project while reading the book.

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Because I need to knit more socks like I need a hole in my head. This is a sock swap, matches come out February 1st.

Lesson Learned This Week:
I'm really am a joiner.
Second Lesson Learned This Week:
I mean really. I'm a joiner.

So the only question left to us is this:
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Should I, or shouldn't I?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Tales of Derring Do . . . and Row Gauge

Miscellaneous is always the largest category.
-Joel Rosenberg

Three Things for Your Entertainment and Delight:

Pattern Recognition
Mi and I were recently discussing how easily we recognize certain projects, particularly on blogs, but also walking down the street. You think, "Wow, what a lovely Charlotte's Web, or a hideous use of fun fur, or whatever the occasion merits."

Today we took it one step further when a Klaralund sat next to me in a 9am course on Medieval Spain. When she pulled out her Interweave Knits and realized that her notebook for the course must be in her knitting bag, well, a lovely discussion ensued on the merits of Noro yarns, the adaptations she made to the cuffs (a drop-stitch rib, lovely), and the clever intarsia method she used to control the width of the stripes. Good times.

In Other News, I Knit

After finishing my Rogue sleeves, you'd think (heck, I'd think) I'd be raring to cast on the body and go. I was. It was the first thing on my knitting to-do list last night. Do you see it to the left? (If you do, let me know. It would be as magical as the newspapers in Harry Potter.)

So let me introduce you to some new projects:
top left: Checks and Charms Hat from KnitPicks. Recall the plan to revise The Early Works? This may be a contender. It's in KnitPicks Merino Style, which is soft soft soft, it's colorwork and I needed some color, but the colors are subtle and elegant, and probably pretty good for a grown-up teacher like Kate D. Kate? What do you think?
bottom right: Plain Jane mittens. You've seen the progress on the sidebar, but I don't want to put you to sleep by showing too many pictures of plain black mittens. They're not that exciting, but they were a special request from my sister, so I do what I can.
bottom left: Flora, for the Knit The Classics January project. About time.

The Meaning and Nature of Row Gauge
In several of my current projects, I see a regrettable trend towards the importance of row gauge. A fellow knitter at a knitting group last weekend commented - in an off-hand way - that "no one ever really gets row gauge" - so I know it's not just me.

Why, then, does the Rogue pattern not include interval sleeve measurements on the schematic? I knit the requisite however-many rows, and knew in my heart of hearts (plus I held it up to my arm) that it was clearly not long enough. I measured row gauge. Yup, different. I pulled out Ann Budd's yar and trusty book and knit an extra inch and a half before beginning sleeve cap shaping. Because I think I'm clever, I then tried to add extra rows above the sleeve cap shaping. But it turns out that I'm not a linebacker (go figure), so Kristen isn't the only one who had to rip. (But she is the only one who took pictures.)

And the idea that chaning needle sizes can change your row gauge but not stitch gauge? I don't buy it. Doesn't work for me. No, sirreee. Is anyone else feeling oppressed by row gauge? Want to foment a revolution? I see the seeds for rebellion right here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Good Habits Die Hard

Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
-Mark Twain, Puddenhead Wilson's Calendar for 1894

Coffee, yes. Manicures, absolutely. Even exercise. But nobody ever told me this was habit-forming:

I think it's blogging. It's the only intervention between my former non-blocking-before-sewing-up self (eloquently, maybe erroneously, defended here), and now. First it was the back of Winter Folly. Now it's the sleeves of Rogue. Seriously, what will be next?

While we wait on the edge of our seats to find out if I will block something else (can't you hear the edge of danger in my voice?), go convince Kristen that she should show us the progress on her Rogue.

On another note, do we think the person who googled "commitment issues" really wanted to read about my dilettantism with knitting projects? And speaking of other projects, thanks for all the suggestions about the chupph project. It looks like we're leaning towards the singe rose leaf lace border, but I still to need swatch for an outside border. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Rose By Any Other Name

Gardens are a form of autobiography. -Sydney Edison

Thanks for all the lovely comments yesterday. I promise I will get photos soon, but part of the delay is that I don't actually have them yet because they were still too big to email. So maybe Roomie will see all the comments and send me some photos?

Yesterday we waxed nostalgic about the weddings of two of my dearest friends. Roomie and her husband just celebrated their one year anniversary and are carefully storing their chuppah with all the care an heirloom deserves. Flitgirl is running around the Mid-Atlantic states meeting with rabbis, deacons, caterers, and what-have-you. Anyone who knows exactly (and I mean exactly) what kind of centerpieces she wants to best compliment the gardens on the grounds a solid year and a half before the wedding, well, . . . let's just say I wasn't surprised when she asked me what color ribbons should be tied around the poles supporting the chuppah.

No, siree, not surprised at all. But it does inspire one to start creating this currently-theoretical chuppah.

Let's recall our parameters: Size: 4.5 x 6 ft. White or ivory. Lace. That's about it.

Let's talk options.

Yarn: I'm thinking a wool-silk blend. Roomie's was 100% silk from Henry's Attic, Cascade Petite, I believe. It had a gorgeous sheen, but it was awfully heavy. I knit it on US3s at a gauge of 7-8 spi unblocked, about 6 spi blocked.
For flitgirl, perhaps Silk and Ivory. Would that be too ivory, not enough white? I like the sheen from the silk, but I'm thinking of something airier and more delicate in appearance, knit on larger needles and blocked within an inch of it's life. Perhaps even a 100% wool? I'm aiming for fingering weight on US6-7s, I think. Laceweight would be nice and delicate, but most people will be viewing it from a distance, so I think fingering would be better. Suggestions welcome.

Pattern: From the first moment flitgirl asked me to knit her chuppah, I knew what I wanted for the center pattern: Rose Trellis pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury (examples here and here). June Oshiro used it to great effect in her wedding veil. [Pause in respect for a great work of art.] But then we need border patterns. Something similarly dainty and delicate, Romantic in every sense of the word, if you will. So I turn to my favorite online collection of lace edgings: Homework, from 1891. We are probably looking for two borders - an inside border with a straight edging and then an outside border with a scalloped or pointed edge.

Here are some contenders:
Of course, I still have to consult my books for an edging, and any suggestions are most welcome. I learned on the first chuppah that it is desirable to plan your edging before casting on for the center. It does not take care of itself later on. No, you have to take care of it instead.

Please comment. Especially if it's your chuppah.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A Wedding Gift Like No Other

Chuppah (n): (a) the canopy under which a wedding is solemnized; (b) the wedding ceremony

I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a cold spring day in NYC, March or maybe April, and my college roommate and I were walking down 5th Avenue. We had just been to Tiffany's where she was looking at engagement rings (and her fiance called from Israel while we were there - we started getting much better service after that!), and we were talking about the wedding, the marriage, growing up, all the good stuff. I offered to make her something as a wedding gift, something beautiful that they would use and treasure. What did she think?

Roomie thought about it for, oh, 10 seconds.
"Theresa," she said, "Will you make my chuppah?"
"Um, sure. What's a chuppah?"

A Jewish wedding canopy, as it turns out. Among other historical precendents, it represents their house befor God. Roomie, being a good rabbinical student, found out all the requirements for it to be kosher: no mixing of wool and linen, size about 4.5x6 ft, try not to spill any bacon on it. Oh, and she's allergic to wool. And not required, but she wanted lace. Silk. And pretty.

It's stunning. Roomie and her husband just got their wedding album in time for their first anniversary, and the chuppah is in all of their photos. It's gorgeous. I have photos, but they're so beautiful (ok, ok, the files are too big) that they keep breaking my computer.

So this is not your average knitting. I mean, I'm a big fan of cushy warm handknit socks and all the good things they do for your soul, but knitting that represents your house before God? It was a tall order even before Roomie and her husband decided to move up their wedding date by 8 months (again, like it was yesterday, the premonition I felt when a phone call began thus: "You're going to kill me . . .").

So why am I blogging about this now, even sans photos?

I'm making another one.

My best friend ever since shortly after she made one of my library books overdue in 6th grade, flitgirl, and her supercool fiance just got engaged. Since flitgirl is a long-range planning kind of gal (wedding in July '07), she first requested this chuppah when she saw me making the other one, approximately 18 mos before actually getting engaged. Head over to her blog and congratulate her. Then come back and help me design a chuppah. Something that special has to be one of a kind.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Piece of the Continent

No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
-John Donne, Meditation XVII

I am back in Rhode Island, which is not an island. (It's complicated.) It is beautiful, sunny, and cold. Great sweater weather. Great yarn shop weather.
(Here's the heating vent in my new - but actually really old - apartment. Isn't it a gorgeous work of art? Plus, it brings me heat. I'm in love.)

In fact, I went to The World's Best Yarn Shop, Sakonnet Purls, yesterday (yes, Sherry, the sale is going on through the end of January). I bought 2 sets of Addi Turbos, one pair of Lantern Moon straights, and some buttons. And I did not buy yarn. Neither, however, did I remember to take photos. I was too busy helping friends pick out yarn, thus discovering one of the great universal truths:

Picking out yarn for other people to pay for is fun fun fun.

The new knitter and expectant mother bought Knitting for Baby and Plymouth Encore to make a baby blanket. The less-new knitter bought some cotton to make a striped tank top. An interesting choice for a Rhode Island knitter in January, you think? Well this lovely friend of mine (let's call her J) just informed me that she's accepting a job offer at Cal State Fullerton - approximately 1 1/2 hours north of San Diego!

(Again, from my new-old apartment - what craftsmanship in the floor of the hallway! Stunning. Too bad all the buildings in San Diego postdate this one.)

Why didn't I think of this earlier? I can bring everyone to California with me. J, J's husband, and I had brunch this morning with a lovely (but tragically non-knitting) family of four, a family that is already planning a visit to Southern California in July. This would be the lovely family of four who dressed their sons in my handknit sweaters for The Official Family Christmas Portrait of 2005. These are good people, folks, good people.

Rhode Island is not an island. No man is an island. I am definitely not an island. We're enjoying lots of quality social events, many of which are drowning in nostalgia and remember-whens, so I'll leave you with some photos of the old and new around here:

The Old Observatory, which clearly predates electricity if they ever expected to see any stars:And then the new:
Because in this gorgeous modern building that pays homage to the historic buildings around it but doesn't slavishly imitate the styles of old, are the people who bring me my internet connection. Remember that not-an-island thing?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Delight and Wisdom

A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. -Robert Frost

January 20, 1961: Robert Frost read at the inaugeration of John F. Kennedy, whom, if we recall from earlier this week, used to steal his father's socks. And now, our weekly Knitalong update. Happy Friday.

Crossed in Translation
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  • The yarn came. Is that progress? Maybe now I'll be inspired?

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  • So far, so good. The Crossed in Translation yarn was ordered just before the deadline on December 31st. I hear rumors that I may have gift yarn coming at some point, but I didn't buy it. The big test will be Saturday: I'm going to The World's Best Yarn Store (Sakonnet Purls - really, I've been to yarn stores in 22 states, I think I'm qualified to judge) with some knitting buddies. I need some needles and buttons, and I want to spend time with these friends. Can I really go to The World's Best Yarn Store without buying yarn? Help. Please.

    Count Your Socks
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  • I thought I was counting backwards. I lost a sock from my sock boxes this week, as it developed a hole in the darned areas. I have my limits as to how many times I darn. But I digress. Lynda assured me that we're not just counting our own socks, we're counting all the socks we've ever knit. Pairs, that is. So I'm still sitting with 89 pairs done (I don't count the baby socks), working on pairs 90, 91, 92, and 93. See last week for details, and look here for progress on the argyle front.

  • It's NOT a Gift
  • See all those Christmas ornaments? Totally gifts. Especially for my Aunt Carol, because relatives who read my blog and point out their favorites deserve Christmas ornaments. Actually, Aunt Carol doesn't even need to read my blog to merit these - I think about half of the ornaments on my tree are ones that she and my cousin have made over the years - cloth, pottery, sand dollars, you name it. Creative people in that household.
    As for my current big projects, still here. But coming soon (yeah, I know, I said this week. Next week will be fine.), a wedding gift so unusual it may be featured in a bridal magazine.

    Knit the Classics
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  • January Book: Mrs. Dalloway - DONE! I finished listening to it this week. Great fun. I'm a fast reader, so the 7.75 hours of audio were more than it would taken me to read it, but a) the library copy of the book had been checked out and b) I can knit while listening.
    January Project: Flora. Not yet. But I still have ten days of January, and it looks like a quick knit.

    And another recommendation: Good Poems by Garrison Keillor
    I bought these four audio tapes because they were on sale for just the right amount to qualify me for free shipping (seriously, how much more money do they get out of me because of that?). It's probably the best $4 I've ever spent - he reads an eclectic collection of "good poems." Classics. Contemporaries. All in that voice. I'm going to be listening to these over and over.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    A Kiss On the Hand May Be Quite Continental

    . . .But diamonds are a girl's best friend.
    -Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

    And Susan is my new best friend. She gave me - what else? - diamonds. Of the argyle kind. Authentic patterns straight from the 1940s. Short of doing the d*&$#ned intarsia for me, it's the best kind of gift a girl can get.

    And, now that I have some sense of where I'm headed and how this anomly - this sock knit flat - is ever going to be put together, I'm actually making progress. Check it out:
    The diagonals are going to be purple, and duplicate-stitched on afterwards (apparently an acceptably "traditional" way of doing things). I thought, ever so briefly, about kniting them in, but do you know how many more butterflies that would require?!?! Here's the back, for those of you who like the seemy side of things:

    Not bad for a few episodes of Law & Order, eh? There was something about walking the line, the straight and narrow, etc. that really jived with the straight lines of the argyle pattern. So, here's a question for all you multi-project knitters:

    What determines which project you work on when? Assuming no deadlines are looming over your head, do you knit certain kinds of things while watching certain TV shows or movies, listening to certain types of music? Sitting in the sun? At a coffee shop? Knitting group? I'm thinking more along thematic than practical lines. I know we all like small socks in line at the post office.

    As we've discussed before, we're into voluntary participation around here. We support the suspension of the draft, freedom of religion, and your choice of Pepsi or Coke. So feel free to turn this into a meme and respond in the comments or on your own blog, as you see fit.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    I'm Done. I Think.

    True ornament is not a matter of prettifying externals.
    It is organic with the structure it adorns,
    whether a person, a building, or a park.
    -Frank Lloyd Wright

    That would be, um, ten. And I only have one more on the needles. And maybe one more planned. Just a few more scraps to use up. Maybe two. But seriously. Enough is enough.

    Christmas Crack Ornaments
    Pattern: Knitted and Felted Christmas Ornaments and Garland from Handknit Holidays. These would be the knitted ornaments.
    Yarn: The oddest of the oddballs from my collection - a mix of wool, chenille, mohair, synthetics, everything. These are really the ghosts of projects past, and I used pieces as small as 2 yards.
    Needles: Brittany Birch US5 dpns
    Notes: The pattern called for a yarn that seemed worsted or aran weight, and US 7s. That struck me as too loose a gauge for something that needed stuffing, so I went down to US 5s. Also because US 5 is the largest size I have in the small 5" length. Is that shallow?
    Best Thing About This Project: Clearly, I like this project. I can't stop. Very fun to see what combination I should use next. Plus, it uses everything. Even the smallest of the small yarn scraps that I feel compelled to save get turned into stuffing. Who doesn't love to make something from nothing?

    Really, I'm ready to stop now. I have to. I'm driving back to Providence today and 1) it's dangerous to knit and drive and 2) the oddballs are staying in Pennsylvania. But even if they weren't, I could stop anytime. Really. I could.

    You've Got Questions
    . . . About knitting in med school. Several people want to know if anyone seemed to care that I knit in class, or if I sat in the back to be unobtrusive. No, on either count. I generally sat in the first or second row, but was careful to maintain eye contact with the lecturer rather than my knitting, to answer questions the lecturer might ask, and ask questions of my own. Second year we generally had a new lecturer every 1-4 classes as each taught her own specialty. At first glance, some of the lecturers were taken aback or suprised to see someone knitting, but I generally got only positive comments, especially after their lectures. I always felt like my knitting made sure that a) I went to class (non-compulsory attendance) and b) I stayed awake. Most of our professors seemed to appreciate that I was always present and participating and not surfing offensive websites like some of my classmates.

    As for my fellow students, my class in medical school is more than half women, and there was at least one other who regularly knit in class. Believe me, I am incredibly grateful to all those women who were one of three or one of five or one of twelve in their classes that now I can be one of forty. What I feel mildly guilty about is that my knitting encouraged several of my classmates to knit in class as well, including one rank beginner who was not able to knit without holding the yarn and needles directly in front of her face and generally being disruptive. I know several of my classmates blamed me for her knitting in class (and, in the interest of full disclosure, teaching her how to knit.)

    Once I hit the clinical years, many of those same lecturers recognized me and started chatting about what I'd been knitting recently. And then we discovered yet another universal truth: People get impressed when the Chief of Cardiology starts talking to you in the middle of the CCU.

    Perri Klass, pediatrician/author/knitter, writes of knitting during lectures at the hospital - Grand Rounds, Noon Conference, and the like. This I've never done. I knit at medical student-specific lectures, but I'm way too low on the totem pole to knit in the same room as the Chief of Surgery. You really don't need to call extra attention to yourself during Trauma Conference . . . There's also a logistical issue: I never have any knitting with me when I'm running back and forth from the floors to the OR to the coffee cart to the auditorium. I don't anticipate being able to knit at lectures during residency, partially because of logistics (never having knitting with me), but partially because of the Navy uniform. I've never seen a specific prohibition, but, well, call it a gestaldt. . . Fine by me. There's a time and place.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Counting Backwards

    He may be president, but he still comes home and swipes my socks.
    -Joseph P. Kennedy, on his son John

    I get a lot of comments from you folks about how I knit so many socks. Simple, really. I went to med school. First and second year are pretty much straight lecture, some small group stuff, for 35+ hours a week. Then there's all that studying, looking over lists and charts and diagrams over and over and over, and reading from BIG heavy books that conveniently lie flat all by themselves. I knit about a pair and a half of socks a week for nearly two years. It adds up.

    When Lynda started Count Your Socks, I was excited. Everyone should have a drawer (or box) of handknit socks. Except for white cotton socks for running, I haven't worn anything else in 3 or 4 years. (I even have a small collection of really boring black stockinette and ribbed socks to comply with Navy uniform regs.)

    In the midst of all that excitement, however, was a lingering fear. A fear that my sock collection, like the former-USSR's nuclear weapons program, represented an aging stockpile that was increasingly difficult to keep tabs on. I lost track of a pair of Kureyon socks that match my favorite sweater when I was in Providence in November, and they were MIA for a whole month. We are still waiting to be reunited, although it is a great comfort to know they are resting comfortably in the home of friends. Then I inadvertently left a pair of socks behind on my recent trip to Seattle. Kate D. was kind enough to mail them back, but, what if they had ended up in Iran? Or North Korea? Or small unmapped Pacific atolls?

    Then, my worst fear came true:
    I'm counting backwards. See those socks over there? See the big whole? Yeah, they're done. Toast. Gone to the other side. Put out to pasture.

    The socks I don't miss much. They're one of the first 5 or 10 pairs I ever made. I remember working on them in the car on the way back from PEI, Canada Spring Break of my senior year in college, which makes them about 4 years old. For socks made out of Wool-Ease (really NOT a sock yarn), that's pretty good. It's some lace gull pattern that stretches a lot, so they've always been comfy house socks, and they've already been darned at least twice. Fine. I've lost socks before. My feet are still warm. Really, I'm sorry not for me, but for the socks.

    These late, little-lamented socks will never get to know this:
    Remember my original two boxes o' socks? Beautifully collaged just for me by the crafty (but tragically non-knitting) Kate D? She made me another one. Want to see more angles? Of course you do.

    Here we see the two main sides of the new box, with the inside cover of the old box (cowboy boot). Check out the sexy doctor chica on the new inside cover. How cool is that? The yarn. The sea. The flowers. The knitting. I have it on good authority that the sources for these photos and quotations range from Glamour to National Geographic.

    This new box has a beachy theme going on, recalling good times down the Jersey Shore wearing cute toenail polish but a real lack of footwear more sophisticated than flip-flops. She has a sense of irony, that girl. In honor of the yarn-beach theme, I'm dedicating this box to my cotton-blend socks, a group sure to see an increase in their numbers as I head off to Southern California. And beaches. And definitely red toenails.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    A Tale of Two Sweaters

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .
    -Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

    I finished the back of Winter Folly and did something I never do: I blocked the piece.
    It's a combination of cables and lace, and the pattern warns you to stretch width-wise while measuring length to assure proper measurements. I thought I was there, but wanted to double check before I plowed forward. The wet piece grew 2 1/2 inches in length and I went to bed dreaming of the one less repeat of the center cable which it needed (and we wonder why my dad thinks I need a life . . .). Annoying, but I could do it. In fact, it could have been the moment for me to cut it off at the bottom and knit the ribbing down, as the center cable pattern is exactly 2 1/2 inches. But then, it dried. And now it is (I think), the right size. So that's good, right? But I still have my doubts, fostered, no doubt, by my inability to ever get the same measurement twice in a row. Unfortunately, I think I won't be entirely comfortable with the measurements until it's done and I can try it on. For the time being, I'm comparing it to a sweater I already own, and it seems to be on track.

    The Two Sweaters
    Let's take this moment to reflect upon the two sweaters I am currently knitting: Cardi Rogue and Winter Folly (Vogue Knitting, Fall 2004).
    • Both are beautiful sweaters.
    • Both are using lovely yarns.
    • Both require attention while knitting.
    • Both are billed for experienced knitter.
    • Both are being knit by the same experienced and skilled (and modest) knitter.
    So why is one a relaxing joy and pleasure to knit, and the other an exercise is obsessive chart reading?

    One is written by a knitter, for a knitter. (Rogue, as if you had to ask.) The other is designed by Michael Kors, written by one of his lackeys. Nothing wrong with that, in theory. In practice, however:

    The center cable has a 16 row repeat; the 2 side patterns have 10 and 18 row repeats. It would be an incredibly simple thing (in this particular pattern) to at least make the 18 row repeat match up with the 16 row repeat. Instead, I am glued to my chart and my annotations of where I left off.

    Other things that may or may not be their fault (but I'll blame them since I'm making it in the suggested yarn): Ever try to P2tog through the back loop in a yarn as slippery or multi-plied as Inca Alpaca? Don't. Plus, double-yos after that same P2tog tbl? Who are these people? Also, (and, in fairness, this is probably not their fault), this is slippery stuff for my usual cabling without a cable needle.

    Rogue is clever knitting that is fun, a little bit challenging, and oh-so-clearly written by a knitter. You get the idea that she was playing with cables and thought, "Hey! I could make these into a sweater." A delightful marriage of process and product. Winter Folly was designed the other way - starting from the concept of the finished product and working backwards to come up with the knitting. Process is completely ignored in the name of the finished product.

    It shows.
    Do other Vogue patterns have the same issues? I've subscribed ever since the delightful flitgirl gave it to me as a gift during a run of fabulous issues (2002 and 2004 were great years; see Saturday's post for more recent comments), but this is the first sweater I've made from it. While I'm loving how Winter Folly is looking, Rogue is way more fun.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    The Runway on My Needles

    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable
    we have to alter it every six months.
    -Oscar Wilde

    The new Vogue Knitting (Winter 2005/06) came in the mail yesterday - what did you think?

    My overarching impression: It's better than the last issue.
    My second thought: It would be hard not to be.

    One of the designs even made You Knit What! (one of the funniest websites ever and very much worth a long stroll through their archives), which is not a good sign.

    On closer inspection however (and good photos of the designs are available here), there are some really nice things in here. You definitely have to get past the first section, "Under Construction." Would that they had finished it . . . It features, among other things, a shrug-like contraption that can either be a deep V neck or a cowl neck, but definitely can't be either unless you have a 6-pack and a naval tatoo.

    The "Winter Wonderland" section is covered in bobbles - perhaps there was an avalanche during the photo shoot? - but has some lovely designs by designers you can count on. Kristen Cowan. Kathy Zimmerman. Nothing that I need to start this very minute, but good stuff. "Going Pro" has some classic pieces - Sasha Kagan is trying to torture me with all-over argyles in two different yarn weights. Does anyone think the mosaic pattern in sweater #26 is showing the wrong side? The accessories are cute. They usually are.

    And then we come to one of the great existential questions of our collective knitting existences:

    Why do people keep designing knitted skirts?

    I leave you to ponder that as I move on.

    One of my favorite things about magazines (and I love magazines - I get about 15 regularly) is all that stuff in the beginning. You know, the "In Brief" or "Around the Town" or whatever they call the little snippets of news and information. The knitting magazines are no exception. Interweave has the great Knitting Art and Knitted Artifact columns. Vogue always has a great technical article by Meg Swansen. This issue is on Armenian knitting, an entirely unknown-to-me approach to two-color knitting. It was apparently the style Elsa Shiaparelli used to knit the famous bowknot sweater at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (gallery tour here - it uses frames, but the sweater is under "Pour le Sport"). And here I'd always thought that was intarsia. Learn something new everyday. . .

    Generally, I like Vogue. I can't even talk about Knitters. (No link. It's a matter of principle.) My favorite knitting magazine by far is Interweave Knits - I think of it as for knitters by knitters. Vogue, on the other hand, has a crazy mix of knitting designers and high fashion designers (remember "Under Construction" above?) trying to bring the runway to your needles. Well, I don't really want the runway on my needles. But a sweater like my Winter Folly? If there's one an issue, I'll take it. At $5.99 for 37 patterns (less with a subscription), it's a bargain even if 35 are in the You Knit What! category.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Fearlessly Knitting Along

    triskaidekaphobia: fear of the number 13

    Friday is for Knitalong Updates:
    Two points make a line and today is the second consecutive Friday I've done it; therefore our course is clear and we are sailing boldly forward.*

    Crossed in Translation
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  • I wound the single ball of Cascade 220 that I have. It's a start. The rest of the yarn is backordered and should come in a couple of weeks. Next up: Swatching.
    I'm finding that blogging about my intentions makes me more likely to follow through, as last Friday I finally got around to winding my yarn after posting about it. It's going to be a stormy rainy long weekend so, after going to see Body Worlds at the Franklin Institute, I have high hopes for getting the swatch done.

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  • Still haven't bought any yarn! Wow - 13 whole days. So far, no real withdrawal symptoms, either. As a coffee addict fan, I know what withdrawal feels like - when all the Navy med students were doing our officer training, they decided it would be "character building" to go without coffee for the month we were there. 300 med students. No coffee. Lots of push-ups. No coffee. Lectures. No coffee. And here I thought the uniforms were khaki so that the spilled coffee wouldn't show . . .
    The two official Stashalong sweaters, Rogue and Winter Folly, are coming along nicely. Stay tuned for detailed pattern analysis next week. I have opinions.

    Count Your Socks
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  • I have have 39 pairs of socks for me in that box o'socks, but overall have knit 89 pairs. I'm currently working on pairs 90 (Canal du Midi from Knitting on the Road), 91 (Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks), 92 ("Plain Joe" 2x2 ribbed men's socks in Trekking XXL), and 93 (Those D*&*(&ned Argyle Socks) - all gifts. As I like to say, handknit socks can only be had (around here) for love and not for money. This is love. . . . and Nancy Bush appreciation week - why did Knitting in Estonia go out of print before I got my copy?

  • It's NOT a Gift
  • The sock knitting may be gifts, but my sweaters, including the still-to-be-swatched Am Kamin, or whatever the Crossed in Translation sweater is called. And we're moving right along - I finished the back of Winter Folly last night, and we're still knitting Rogue-ish-ly handsome (sorry - couldn't resist) sleeves. I give you fair warning, however, that the mother of all gift knitting is coming next week. It's a wedding gift like you've (probably) never seen before.

    Knit the Classics
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  • January Book: Mrs. Dalloway - I've listened to 4/7 CDs (mostly while knitting and embroidering Christmas ornaments - can anyone find a connection for me there), and I'll have to finish the last 3 and return the set to the library before I go back to Providence next week.
    Themed-Project: Flora. I wound the yarn. It's a start. See above.

    *And, in a tangentially related book recommendation: Dava Sobel's Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time is a quick but worthwhile read.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Picture Perfect

    Life is just a bright sunny day.
    -Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    Look at the gorgeous photos my new camera is taking:

    I'm in love. It takes beautiful pictures, has a macro setting, and is cute and small and fits in my pocket. I've had it, oh, about 2 hours, and I can't remember how I ever lived without it. If it wasn't for blogging, I never would have known.

    (And do note the significant progress on Winter Folly - almost done with the back and she's looking good.)

    Because I'm having so much fun with my new toy, I'm off to go look for my new car. It's a gorgeous day for a test drive, and don't we think I'll look good in a red car?

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    I. Can't. Stop.

    The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Holiday ornaments from Handknit Holidays. Simple. Balls. Of leftover yarn scraps. Tiny. Insignificant pieces of yarn. Knit. Striped. Wool. Silk. Even chenille. Decorated with my (incredibly rudimentary) embroidery. Incredibly addictive. Can't. Type. Must. Go. Make. More.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Committment Issues

    Time on time revolving we descry;
    So moments flit, so moments fly.
    -Ovid, Metamorphoses

    I have committment issues. Ask any of my friends. Ask my mom. Ask my knitting projects.

    Meet all the little projects. Clockwise from left:
    • Black bulky mittens for my sister, per her request. These are actually several inches longer since my trip to the post office yesterday. Like everyone and their mama's aunt's boyfriend's cousin, I needed 2 cent stamps. I did 2x2 ribbing.
    • The Dreaded Argyles. Note that they are still skeins of yarn with some 2x2 ribbing in gray. Like the colors?
    • Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Nancy Bush's amazing new book of old sock patterns. GGH Marathon. The yarn kind of stripes. It's cool. The pattern is - get this - a variant of 2x2 ribbing.
    • Star Hat from Beadlizard in Andean Silk. Lovely yarn to work with. Doesn't show cables well. Still, since nearly the entire project is 2x2 ribbing and the cables are at the top of the head of a man who is 6'3" (or 6'4"?), the main effect is 2x2 ribbing.
    • Trekking XXL socks. I started with 2x2 ribbing and switched to st st, but realized that the socks look amazing in ribbing and not-so-amazing in st st. Oh look - a whole 'nother project of 2x2 ribbing!
    Maybe I'll give a prize to the first person who spots the theme here . . .

    The sidebar grows longer and longer. The progress bars remain stubbornly attached to 5%, 10%, 15%, with nothing moving forward except Christmas ornaments and baby booties. After my end-of-season push to get projects off the needles, I spend all of January (so it seems) doing 2x2 ribbing to start new projects.

    Thank goodness for my Rogue with a 6 row hem and fascinating cables right off the bat. And more on the fun of Winter Folly tomorrow.

    Argyle Update

    Thanks for all the comments and emails. I'll respond personally later today. The general consensus seems to be that the argyle diamonds have to go all the way around the ankle to be considered "traditional" - not only that, they have to meet at the seam and look seamless. Start loving the argyles, because they have many miles to go before they sleep.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Issues with Argyle

    It's not easy being green.
    -Kermit the Frog

    Argyll, Scotland looks like a truely lovely place. Really, it does. And there's a certain classiness to argyle patterns, a timelessness even. In fact, the NYTimes Styles Section had several argyle vests this weekend (sorry - can't find the link). Then there's that cute pattern from Knitty. Granted, they speak of "drunken" argyle, but still. And not only is there an Argyle, NY, there's even a town called Argyle, TX.

    So why, after 8 hours of knitting argyle diamonds, am I left with a big pile of tangled yarn and 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing?

    For those of you who are going to jump in and tell me that I should just give up the ghost and forget about it, let's back up a few steps: It's a requirement for the TKGA Master Knitting Level 2. My thoughts and motivations regarding this program are a whole 'nother apple-in-my-eye post, but suffice it to say that I need to knit argyle socks.

    Things that Have Gone Wrong So Far:
    1. No pattern. Go ahead. Search. Try to find a pattern for argyle socks. The Socknitters' one calls for DK yarn. I have fingering. They call for 3 colors, TKGA calls for the "traditional" 4. Every other chart I find has no relation whatsoever to my 76 stitches.
    2. Splitty yarn. KnitPicks Essential. The price is right, the colors fun and contrasty (MC=Ash, CC1=Grass, CC2=Pumpkin, plus purple diagonals). But it splits like crazy.
    3. I can't count.
    4. Two orange diamonds should not be next to each other. I should not knit for 2 hours before figuring this out.
    5. 8 inch dpns. Intarsia needs to be knit flat. I have neither US1 circulars or straights that I can find, so the stitches keep falling off the ends.
    6. What is traditional argyle anyway? This is the big question that's holding me up right now. I would be delighted to have a sock with a single chain of diamonds running down the front instead of all-over argyle. It's elegant in it's simplicity, classy, it still shows my intarsia and duplicate stitch skills, etc. But the only thing worse than making one pair of argyle socks would be making two if they don't accept the first one.
    Continue in Kind has dubbed 2006 "The Year of the Frog." So far, that's what it's looking like around here - our knitting is definitely not sailing smoothly underway . . .

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    On the Twelfth Day of Christmas

    I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.
    -Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

    Today is the Feast of the Epiphany, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the last day we sing Christmas hymns and have decorations in church. This is it. We're back in ordinary time. Even the Christmas knitting has been done for weeks. So it is with a certain irony that I present my first finished object of 2006:

    A Christmas ornament. (Sorry for the blurry photo - believe it or not, this was the best of the 10 I took.)

    Holly Christmas Ornament
    Pattern: KnitPicks Holiday Cheer Holly Ornament - free pattern
    Yarn: leftovers of Fortissima fingering weight cotton in green and white and some random red sock yarn
    Brittany birch dpns, US 2
    Notes: This is knit in the round stranding the green and white with the red berries duplicate stitched on afterwards. I stuffed it with leftover scraps of yarn (all those really small pieces you cut off after leaving in ends. Everything has a purpose. Pretty fun and quick - each ornament took about 2 hours, and was a beautiful example of what steam blocking can do to stranded colorwork.
    Best Thing About This Project: I liked it so much, I made 2. Not only did I use up all but 3 yards of that green fingering weight cotton, I am on my way towards one of my 2006 knitting resolutions: small circumference stranded knitting.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    I'm a Joiner

    A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are
    lured and then quietly strangled. -Sir Barnett Cocks

    I'm a joiner. Always have been. When my parents used to call me in college and talk to the best randomly assigned roommate ever (she brought me quiviut from Alaska - who can top that?), the running joke was that I was never there because I was in a meeting. There's nothing wrong with a committee every now and again, is there?

    It turns out that - no matter what we'd like to think - our virtual personalities are a lot like our real personalities. And so I start a knitting blog and join in the fun: webrings, fanlistings, and, of course, the mecca of all joining, knitalongs.

    Welcome to Friday: Knitalong Update on Knitting Underway

    I'm stealing a page from Amanda here and instituting a weekly knitalong update. Friday looks good to me.

    Crossed in Translation
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  • This sweater is so gorgeous. It might be the number one thing I want to knit right now. But currently, the yarn is ordered and I have one skein of Cascade 22o in a blue-teal waiting to be balled up. What's holding me back? Trying to find my swift and ball winder. It's somewhere in this mess. Balling the yarn is on the agenda for today, swatching soon to follow.

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  • I ordered the CIT yarn just before the deadline of midnight on December 31st, and so far, so good. I even visited a yarn store on January 2nd and didn't buy any new yarn. My official Stashalong projects are my Winter Folly and Rogue sweaters. Stashed yarn was 1 and 4 years old, respectively.

    Count Your Socks
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  • Lynda is trying to wear nothing but handknit socks. An admirable goal. She wants us all to count our socks to inspired her. I have a box o'socks (two, if we want to be technical) with 39 pairs of socks for me. Although I currently have 4 pairs of socks on the needles (don't be impressed, it's not like any of them are done), none of them are for me. Since much of my sock collection is several years old, I'm worried that I might go backwards this year.

  • It's NOT a Gift
  • Two sweaters. Both for me. (See above.) Although, my Aunt Carol (Hi!) is making noises in the comments about how I should really make my dad a sweater (Hi Dad!) . . . And I promised Kate D. a new hat with my improved understanding of negative ease in headwear . . .

    Knit the Classics
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  • January Book: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf- Listened to 1/7 CDs. This is quality knitting time. Very relaxing.
    Themed Project: Clarissa is all about flowers, so I'm making Flora in some Wool of the Woods cottony-stuff that is still in skeins. As soon as I find that ball winder . . .

    And a Meme

    Chris tagged me earlier this week to list 5 weird things about myself. Since this is a knitting blog and I am totally obsessed with mildly interested in knitting, I'll stay on that theme. But, before I begin, let me just say that I am so normal. This is healthy. Adaptive. It's good to have a hobby.

    1. I have to-do lists for my knitting.
    2. I have to-do lists for my blogging about my knitting.
    3. I rewrite my lists as I finish things to keep them looking neat and tidy.
    4. I am a (fast) thrower, and have a lot of trouble knitting continental, except when I am doing stranded colorwork. For some reason, I can knit with my left hand just fine when using two colors.
    5. I decorate with yarn.

    It seems I'm supposed to tag 5 people now, but Knitting Underway is a voluntary participation kind of place. We believe in the republic. One man, one vote. Tag yourself and leave a note in the comments.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    Rogues and Rakes; or My Last New England Sweater

    A rich rogue nowadays is fit company for any gentleman; and the world, my dear, hath not such a contempt for roguery as you might imagine. -John Gay

    Welcome to Cardi Rogue, My Last New England Sweater. Not to be too dramatic, or anything, but I first fell in love with this sweater on Claudia's Blog (and she loved it so much she made two!). This was last fall and winter when I first started really reading knitting blogs, and it was mostly by surfing the New England Knits webring. There were leaves, snow, cold, and this is the perfect New England sweater.

    I thought I had missed all the hoopla, but now Kristen, fellow New Englander and med-student-in-stitches, is also starting Rogue. She's busy with her next rotation, while I bask in the relative calm of 4th year. Nevertheless, I'm still working on Winter Folly, a few other projects, and really need to get going on all that academic stuff I was putting off for the new year. Hopefully, we'll keep pace.

    Here's my start:
    I'm using Briggs and Little Heritage 2-ply 100% wool that I had picked up at the B&L Factory Store in New Brunswick, Canada about 4 years ago. (See how this qualifies as a Stashalong project? And isn't that such New Englandy-goodness?) I had swatched on US 7s over the summer and convinced myself that I'd gotten the requisite 4.5 sts/in. But there must have been a nagging voice in the back of my head, because I then did something I've never done before: I cast on for a sleeve first. Not only that, I stopped and measured after a few inches.

    Good thing.
    I was getting about 4.2 sts/in - a big difference. And instead of ribbing out 180-ish sts for the entire sweater body, I only had to rip out 43. Plus I got some practice with the new-to-me double-centered increase that starts the cables. (Check out savannahchik's great tutorial here.) I started over with a US6 - gauge now right on track - and then knit both sleeves up to the top of the cables, first one, then the other. I like to knit both sleeves together, which I can for the rest, but I needed a break after the exciting adventure that was knitting the hem stitches with the live stitches while increasing 3-in-one AND cabling. I like to live dangerously.

    And as for the wooliness: I love New England. I'll be back. Someday.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    Winter Follies

    The follies which a man regrets most, in his life,
    are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity.
    -Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

    Last week I sought comments on whether I should knit this absolutely gorgeous sweater. We discussed the dangers and opportunities inherent in starting any new knitting project, the opportunity cost of choosing one project over another, the inevitable choices we must make in life. It was deep.

    And knitbloggers are smart people. Theresa, they said with great conviction, rip it out. It's in Inca Alpaca. You're moving to San Diego in June. Laura was appalled (as am I) that the center cable pattern is not charted. I considered the combined wisdom of the group. I considered the depth of commitment of this project. I fondled the baby blue Inca Alpaca and realized that it could happily become many things. And then I asked my sister her opinion.Meet the sweater I've decided to call my Winter Folly. (Cables and Lace, Vogue Knitting, Fall 2004) My sister's overwhelming compelling argument (and here it must be admitted that my sister does not knit) was that this sweater was just so me. Then I looked at the current San Diego weather. 54 degrees. And I remembered that actually, I was cold the entire month I spent in San Diego (September). It's warm enough during the day, but this sweater isn't exactly Navy reg anyway, and it gets pretty chilly at night. Plus, it's a great spring in New England sweater, and I made good progress on the back already.

    And there is that one other thing . . . Many of the aforementioned intelligent knitbloggers recommended that I turn my attention to Rogue in a nice cotton or silk blend. Like I said, smart people. What I had neglected to tell them is that I'm making Rogue in stash yarn, 100% (rustic) wool.

    What is that they say about changing horses mid-stream? Or should I pay more attention to those who forget history are doomed to repeat it?

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Cat Alien Powered by L.O.V.E.

    Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them in the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining. -Jef Raskin

    Computer connectivity issues impeded my blogging today. Instead, I knit. Expect all sorts of good posts coming up.

    For today, however, meet Simone, self-described "cat alien powered by L.O.V.E":
    Isn't she gorgeous? We know it's a natural beauty shining through (even through my camera phone), because she looks great in this hat. For the record, I tried it on and looked ridiculous. Not only did she take me to the supercool T Salon, but we also went to Knit NY for some coffee and to look for more pumpkin colored yarn for Simone (why are all my friends knitting in orange these days?).

    And, in the Reasons we know 2006 is different than 2005 category: With the power invested in me by the Stashalong, I didn't buy any yarn.

    Sunday, January 01, 2006

    Heart on Your Sleeve

    To wear your heart on your sleeve isn't a very good plan;
    you should wear it inside where it functions best.
    -Margaret Thatcher, 1987 interview with Barbara Walters

    A holiday present being gifted today; a hold-over project wrap-up from last week. This was a quick knit hat, the last of the Christmas presents that I had almost started calling a Valentine's Day gift. Just in the nick of time . . .

    Heart Hat
    Pattern: Family Circle Easy Knitting Fall 2002 (lots of great baby hat patterns in this issue)
    Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery Yarn Over (red), Yarn for Sox (brown)
    Needles: US 9 Brittany Birch straights
    Notes: This is a baby hat upsized by using thicker yarn and larger needles. The heart in the pattern is in reverse st st; I used intarsia. This hat has an unusual construction - it is knit as a large rectangle, seemed up the back, and then the top is made into 4 points. The pattern calls for binding off and sewing; I used a three-needle bind-off for the relevant section. Hard to see in the photo, but there is a braided tassel in each corner.
    Best Thing About This Project: This was a special request knit. A good friend saw the baby hat I had made from this pattern and really really wanted one in her size. I think I made it look almost mature by changing the colors from the baby pink and yellow.

    Six for 2006

    Good resolutions are simply checks men draw
    on a bank where they have no account.

    -Oscar Wilde

    I'm out of town visiting lovely (but blogless) friends for New Year's, and really just to visit, so I cleverly split up my reflections and resolutions into two posts. Now you'll have something new and exciting to enjoy on this new and exciting day. And once you read this post, go check out the Mummers. It wouldn't be New Year's Day without them.

    Six (Knitting) Resolutions for 2006:
    1. Update The Early Works: Some of my best friends were the grateful recipients of the lumpy bumpy first things I've made, and could really use some nice new hat-scarf-mittens sets.
    2. Successful fairisle on dpns: Socks, mittens, whatever it takes to manage the floats around the corners.
    3. The Crossed in Translation KAL: I want to keep up with this as the knit-a-along is knit. I'm sure struggling through the Japanese pattern will be easier that way, rather than trying to finish it up myself so many months later.
    4. TKGA Master Knitting Level 2. Anyone want a vest?
    5. Christmas stockings for the family: This is a resolution born of necessity - when I went to hang mine up this year, the hang-tie broke, and we realized they were all looking a little shabby.
    6. Transition to Southern California: learn to love knitting in cotton. Learn to love that shells and tanks don't have sleeves.