Monday, December 13, 2010

Initiate Holiday Mode

Low-desert style. There seems to have been a small miscommunication about the appropriate holiday temperatures, but I have great hopes that will be rectified by the end of the week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

That's my Picture!

Happy Things:

1. This photo of my skein of Twisted Sisters yarn bought on absolute sale and modeled in my lucky tooth mug (won at a guess-how-many-teeth-on-the-table contest in my Dental Anthropology course) was chosen as one of the Ravelry images for the Avarice. As an amateur photographer who has a hit to miss ratio of about 1:24, getting Ravelry's seal of approval is pretty fabulous.

2. The weather has gone from bearable to nippy. Sweater season!!!

3. I am knitting Stella a Jaunty Sweater. This has been on my to-do list since last winter, and so far so good. I don't have a pattern, so I just started at the neck and am making it up as I go along. Stella has been very good about fittings, with one exception: when I go to take the sweater off, she tries to nibble on the needles.

Less Happy Things:

I have thirteen days to finish two rawther involved projects and miscellaneous busywork. Time to get Panic Switch cranking.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Fall!

Certainly took long enough. We're in for a few freakishly high highs before Halloween, but the mornings are cool, and on days when the clouds are obliging, one can get up at a reasonable hour and bike to the park for lunch and a new-shawl photo shoot.

Pattern: Shetland Triangle, by Evelyn Clark.
Yarn: Mountain Colors Twizzle in Ruby River

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grand Excitement

I have this very sweet, courteous coworker. We only work together on Sundays, and every Sunday, he asks if I did anything exciting that week. Considering I'm in classes 40+ out of 52 weeks every year, my response usually requires a pretty liberal interpretation of "exciting." And yet he still asks--that is dedicated belief in the existence of exciting.

This past week, what passed for exciting was taking the car and driving out to The Hinterlands to the only independent fabric store around, which is also just about as far as the nearest big-box fabric store (just in the totally opposite direction).

Technically, the Hinterlands is a rawther large city. It sprawls like no other, though, so it's more like several different cities, the closest rubbing right up against where I live, the farthest touching the mountains rimming the valley. I think of it as The Hinterlands because it takes so long to get to the downtown, unless, of course, you have a death wish and want to take the freeway out.

Anyways--the excitement of driving to the Hinterlands is the signage. Somehow, they have managed to retain more of their old signs than any other city around, so as you drive in, you get a peek of what Arizona was like before the masses of people washed in, making tiny one-road downtowns explode into big sprawling cities. Driving by, looking at signs for motels, little florists, car repair places, and the fabric shop above, you almost feel like it would be possible to pull off all the 21st century grunge like an old carpet and reveal the city as it was, filled with cars the size of ocean liners and men in crisp chinos opening doors for women in full skirts and poufy hair-dos.

Also exciting was that this trip ended with me hitting the button jackpot. You wouldn't think finding buttons for a sweater is all that hard--after all, most LYSs have their own little button corner, and then there's the venerable Button Tin in my closet. Au contraire. I've been on the lookout for buttons for Monita's Christmas sweater since January, and it took me until last weekend to find The Buttons. 8 months later, Christmas gifts are officially, unquestionably done.

Now that's exciting.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Decency of Snails

Well, summer is still hanging on for dear life here, but fall has reclaimed the early mornings. The end must be near...

I have not given in to the wooly shawl yet. Instead, inspired by the a) amigurumi of a crocheting classmate on Ravelry and b) a long-abiding desire to use up the last of the Rowan Calmer that gave me such trouble in Christmas 2007, I pulled out my copy of Amigurumi Knits and knit a snail. Hansi is a knitter after my own heart in her unwavering dedication to grafting and picking up stitches rather than seaming. That whole snail has one seam that is not kitchener--where the shell attaches to the mantle. Genius.

When I started the project, I thought I could make it just a slug. It would be a sort of knitting therapy to get over the plague of slugs that coated the walkway to Dalkeith Estate. And the fields surrounding the estate, and the forest surrounding the fields. As a general rule, I'm ok with gross, but these slugs were too large, too slimy, and too numerous to be viewed with anything but a sort of horrified fascination. Seriously, there were so many slugs you had to keep your eyes on the ground walking in, out, and around the estate. Unless you happened to be ok with the thought of stepping on multiple slugs in the course of your walk, which I was absolutely not.

I got the slug part done and discovered that it looked quite indecently naked. How that is possible with a knitted toy, I'm not sure, but it was undeniably indecent. So it had to become a snail. There were some snails at Dalkeith, too. They were far fewer and farther in between, and somehow, less ugh-worthy than their shell-less cousins. Maybe I just like my gastropods clothed. Whatever the reason, it was a small matter to whip up the shell, and voilĂ --snail.

Pinky the Snail has quite happily taken up residence on my nightstand beside the Hansigurumi Loch Ness Monster, and I'm even thinking I could round out my collection of strange knitted toys--and use up the last of that Calmer--by knitting a little pink nautilus, or perhaps a go traditional with a chubby pink mouse. The possibilities!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


It's that time of year again--while the rest of the country is savoring the last lingering days of their summer, I'm counting the hours until summer is over, done, and gone.

School has started, and darkness is falling noticeably earlier, both of which are counts in fall's favor.

But our cold water is still running lukewarm (from sitting in pipes outside), butter can be softened in an hour at room temperature, and the noonday sun is still enough to bake your laundry in, if you so desire. Three counts for fall.

But look! The hesperaloe pods are going from glaucous green to brown and brittle! (I love bending the stalks so they sproing back and scatter the seeds)

This is also the time of year I start to feel it would be prudent to start stocking up on warm things for fall or winter.

First item to go in this year's stockpile: Gudrun Johnson's Crofter's Cowl. The yarn is Noro Taiyo, which I'd bought in Tucson last year and have been saving up for a Special Project. Taiyo, I discovered, is a single ply with little rough bits of fiber in it, so I modified the pattern by working from bottom to top rather than from both ends to the middle to eliminate the need for grafting. The horseshoe lace only has those nice points on the cast on edge, which means my BO edge is pretty straight and boring, but I was worried that the nature of the color changes and the texture of the yarn would make for a bad grafting experience. And I can live with only having a nice pointy edge on one side of my cowl ; )

The neon yellow and lime green in this colorway had worried me a little bit when I started knitting, but the pinks and browns balance that out nicely. I used exactly half the skein, so I'm tempted to use the other half (which has a great bubblegum pink and carnation red along with a shell gray) for another crofter's cowl, just to see how the colors come out.

Yes, I am modeling my cowl in a tank top. So I may be jumping the gun a bit if I start a big wooly shawl next. It's tempting, though.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crossing Paths

One of the many things I love about blogging is the way you can cross paths with other bloggers in another state or another country without even meaning to.

This summer, I became intrigued by the flora of the UK. As my springtime forays indicate, I am reasonably familiar with the plants that grow here in the Sonoran Desert, but most of the plants I saw in gardens and fields in the UK were total strangers.

I like to know things, just for the sake of knowing, so not knowing the names of the plants all around was driving me nuts. This was especially the case with those tall, spiky plants with the purply-pink flowers. We saw them all over--on the embankments on the side of the road, in the waste beside the train tracks, and cutting purple swaths through fields around Dalkeith.

My first thought was that they were thistle (perhaps the one UK flower I can identify), but getting a good look at some real thistles (picture taken at Dalkeith Park) proved they were not. I had resigned myself to shelving them at the back of my mind with the UK hills, monuments, and villages I had seen but whose names I would never know.

Then I read Kate Davies' post about the Braids.

There the flowers were! And Kate knew their name: rosebay willowherb! (Her pictures are much nicer, too)

So utterly random, so utterly unessential, finding that name totally made my day. Now I know. I can go back to all my pictures of those swaths of purple and add the tag: rosebay willowherb.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Originally, I'd intended to do a proper summary of the rest of my month in the UK, but there was simply Too Much, all of which defies description. It was a month in another world entirely, and if it weren't for the scads of pictures I took, I'd be tempted to say it was all a dream. The best evidence of the sheer amount of living that was crammed into last month is in the pictures of the *two* pairs of socks I knitted while I was away. Even though the last sock was finished at home, I have never managed so great a feat (feat, feet...giggle)--my previous sock-knitting "record" was a pair in a month.

Here they are:

I don't think I can do socks for a long while now. Cowls, however, are an entirely different matter...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Did the Vacation End?

Back in the Valley of the Sun. I was gone so long, I feel like a tourist gawking at the wide streets, low buildings, and skinny palm trees for the first time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A knit tag, discovered en route to my beloved Konditor and Cook.

We took some day trips over the last weekend, complete with handouts containing background info and thinking questions.

You would not believe how hard it was to get a picture that would let me pretend I was alone in the middle of nowhere without a concession stand or car park in sight.

I nearly added Mousie to the load while doing laundry in a rush--luckily, I spotted her as I was adding detergent and a little rinsing in the sink and drying under the window put her to rights. Had I not gotten her out, it would have been disastrous on two counts--Mousie is not at all superwash, and the load in question was my whites.

Dover Castle--a real live castle!

Dickens frequented this tavern. They also have fantastic Welsh rarebit (or rabbit).

The Prime Meridian!

The garden behind Shakespeare's birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon

More Shakespeare--if you can get to a good performance, be assured it will blow the printed version out of the water.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Very Busy Week

Mousie and I have had a very busy week and a half:

The Tube to the Barbican, with its funny above ground Tube stop--once to see the library

And once to see a play (Nevermore)

Running with petroglyph beasties at the British Museum on a proper field trip, on which we did not get lost

With just a little time for coffee breaks. It's a funny fing that there is no drip to be found in London--just espresso. Not that I'm complaining, I just think it's unusual.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's a Taxi!

I finally got a picture. I've been too busy not to get run over by them to get a good picture of one in action, so here's a parked taxi Mousie and I found on our way to this place:

You may have heard of it. By the grace of a stranger, we got a groundling ticket for the box office rate and got to stand right up front for King Henry IV, Part One. It was a fabulous show, enthusiastically performed, and humorous enough to set straight anyone with the idea that Shakespeare is meant to be completely solemn and dignified. Being a groundling is essentially standing, like at a rock concert, and it's the best--the actors walk through the crowd to make many entrances and exits, you can see really well, and unlike most rock concerts I've been to, the crowd was really well behaved. The two ladies behind me even suggested a good angle for a photo:

Mousie and I were quite pleased.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Right Book, Right Time

On Thursday, we visited the British Library, and by luck or fate, I found a copy of Neverwhere. I'd thought of that book when we were on the Circle Line (which actually makes a sort of curlicue shape) and passed the closed Blackfriars station, which features in the early part of Neverwhere.

Then I remembered more of the story--how Richard comes to London from a small town, how he gets sore feet in the Tate, and how he eats curry in the Floating Market. And the more I remembered, the more I wanted to reread it--and there it was, in the British Library bookshop.

I started rereading it almost immediately, and it is perfect, the right book at the right time. I am generally terrible at reader's advisory, but I will say without reservation that anyone traveling to London for the first time and suddenly feeling that it might be a bit much for a person (and who doesn't mind a little fantasy, either), Neverwhere is required reading. Don't argue. It is.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Very British Things

After a solid day of taking pictures of architectural detail, I realized I had hardly any of the iconic British things--so here's a stab:

Organic Wensleydale wool from Annie Sherburne!

A building on either Fleet Street or the Strand, I can't remember which because we were sort of lost from the group at the time!

A red telephone booth!

Fish and chips from The Plough!

No surprise, Mousie and I are in serious need of rest at the end of each day.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

London So Far

Already, we've seen and done a ton, so here's a few quick things:

My hair had a bit of trouble adjusting to the fact it's rawther humid, for one.

But there's a lovely church with a garden next door to the dormitory...

Where Mousie and I go to enjoy our Konditor and Cook.

Yesterday we got a bit lost, but ended up finding a pretty little park

...And the British Museum.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We're Here

I am not thrilled with the bathroom, but Mousie likes the view.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm Going, and the Sweater is Coming

Big excitement: for months I have been plotting and planning to join a study abroad for Library and Information Science students. I kept it under wraps, because nothing is done until it's done, and I believe that fate can be tempted. But now that I'm 24 hours away from takeoff, I think it's safe to announce:

I'm going to England for a month. (!!!)

Thanks to an education that deemed world history unnecessary past 6th grade, all I know about the country comes from a strange admixture of literature, pop culture, and extensive readings on the history of the English language. So I'm going to the land of Wallace and Gromit and Chaucer, the venerable Bede and Harry Potter, Miss Marple and Adele, a Little Princess and the Young Victoria, Darwin and the Arctic Monkeys. It will be similar and utterly different. And I couldn't be more excited.

Mousie is coming with me, and of course the Pimlico Shrug. Everyone cross your fingers that all volcanoes stay dormant and no freak storms develop in the Western hemisphere between now and tomorrow. After that, let the heavens open up--I'll be in England.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Pimlico Finished

As usual, blog time is only an approximation of real time--although I'm just getting around to blogging it now, my Pimlico Shrug has been finished since Friday morning.

But I love it! The yarn is soft and warm, and the pattern has struck the perfect balance between slouch and stylish, as promised. I had to tweak the collar a bit--the increases, as many Ravelers have noticed, create a funny crease in the collar, and I worried that switching to a larger size of needle to approximate the same flare would result in too floppy a collar. Floppy collars and cuffs send me to despair. An attempt at camouflaging the increases at the switch from knit to purl ended in a small frogging session, so I went for option C: work the collar straight for the written length and bind off. This changes the look of the finished shrug, but so far I like it. And if I change my mind, I have plenty of yarn to go back and work a collar with increases.

Yarn: Vermont Grand View Farm Natural Romney, all of 2008's CSA share (~16 oz) and 1 skein from 2009's share (~4 oz)
Needles: Size 6, 7, and 8 circulars and size 6 and 7 dpns. If you are not obsessed with Kitchener BO like me, you can omit the size 6 needles.
Pattern: Pimlico Shrug, from Knit 2 Together, by Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark
Modifications: All pattern tweaks are listed in agonizing detail on Ravelry.

As I might have mentioned one or six times before, I've loved the experience of working with a single-breed yarn, and being able to follow the action at the farm where those sheep live has totally added to the experience. This, combined with rave reviews of places like Beaverslide and Imperial Stock Ranch has whetted my appetite for some more single breed/single-farm yarn!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pimlico Via Vermont

Here it is, the project I've been hinting at for a couple weeks now: the Pimlico Shrug.

I'm knitting it with my Vermont Grand View Farm Romney. This year's share came at the end of May, complete with goodies as before, and I wasted no time getting started on my project!

The Romney is a great yarn: two ply, with slight variations in thickness, and very wholesome and sheepy-scented. Up until now, the only single-breed yarn I've ever used is Merino, so I'm loving the experience of using a different single-breed yarn. And the Romney is a perfect match for the project. It drapes really well, and although it's soft and a little fuzzy, eyelet pattern on the body is sufficiently giant that it doesn't get lost in the fabric.

I am also loving the pattern: the body is one large rectangle and there are a grand total of two short seams, with sleeves and edging knit right to the body. Expect a FO photoshoot soon!