Friday, January 29, 2010

Week 2: Organized

Every semester, during the first few weeks, I reacquaint myself with my Method of Organization. I don't know how well they fit with the dictionary definition of organization, but for all its quirkiness, my method gets me through each semester more or less together.

Rule 1: write down due dates the moment you get them. Preferably all in the same place, like a daily planner.

Rule 2: whatever comes out of the backpack absolutely has to go right back in. Less important now that I do much of my work at home, but not negligible.

Would that my knitting was so organized. Monita's Retro Duotone cardigan is off the needles (note the spiffy Kitchener bind-off on the collar), but no buttons. And Hermanita's Warm-Up needs another 7" in the body. Augh. All the shaping for the hips is done, so now it's round after round of stockinette with simple lace panels until I divide for the armholes.

Definitely book knitting. The upside of working in a library is that I can find something I want to read practically every shift... the downside is that several of my coworkers knit, and our knitty conversations are tempting me to work on something more interesting!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just Like Winter!

After nine years, I've grown accustomed to the short periods when the weather, as in not sunny and hot, asserts itself in the desert. In the summer, it's monsoons, windstorms followed by thunderstorms, both of which are breathtaking displays of nature's brute force. There are monsoons in the winter, too, but these usually entail a couple weeks of intermittent showers, interspersed by our usual bright, sunny, warm weather, so after it was drizzly on Monday (the whole day, which is novel in and of itself), everyone scoffed at the fact that the weather forecasters actually thought it could rain for another four days.

The crazy thing? It did. That picture was taken Wednesday, from under the cover of an umbrella. I don't know why the sky looks bright--I assure you, it was most definitely raining. Note the puddles. It rained *all* day, and crazier still, it was cold. Not cold as anyone who has lived in the Midwest or Northeast knows cold, but by jove, it dropped below fifty during the day. Fifty! It rained through the night and into Thursday morning, and I got to pull my coat out, it was cold enough. After a big blow Thursday night, we thought it couldn't possibly rain again Friday. The blow is what usually finishes off our storms. But no, Friday, it was raining again, and not only did I wear my coat, I wore my Tweed Beret, Diamond scarf, and my Fetching mitts, too. Over a *sweater*.

I really don't know if things get any better than that.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


This weekend, I had a spinning adventure with my new/old spinning wheel. What spinning wheel? The Ashford Traditional I found at an upscale thrift shop in the middle of last semester. As I was checking out, the guy at the counter asked me, "Are you going to use it?"

Yes, my good sir, I just had to wait until finals were over (and the next round has yet to begin).

I do know how draft on my drop spindle, but I wanted to get a feel for the wheel before trying to coordinate *that*, so I broke out a wheel of Icelandic pre-yarn I'd gotten for my birthday. (Yes, spinning one's pre-yarn sort of defeats the purpose, but I like the weight of spun pre-yarn).

No pictures of the action: the wheel resides in our living room, which is so dim, even with all the lights on, it makes the front parlor in Cranford look like Willie Wonka's TV room. Ok--so maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

An evening of pedaling gave me two of these:

Which I left to sit overnight before skeining:

(The niddy-noddy came with the wheel, which was thrilled me to death)

I have a tendency to overspin:

So I soaked both skeins in cold water, whacked them out, and hung them to dry with hangers weighing them down. No picture--our clothesline looks out over a not-terribly-prepossessing vista of gravel and cinderblock wall.

And now I have these:

Which is just about enough for a shawlette. (!!!)

The wheel is quite nice. Had I bought new, I think I would've gone with one of those little compact guys, for less unobtrusive storage and because they don't have as much of a tendency to scootch away as you work, but I knew the odds that I'd walk into another thrift shop and find a gently used spinning wheel with all its parts and accessories at a really good price. My next mission is to find some oil (WD-40 works in a pinch, but I'd rather my wheel and the yarn that comes off it does not smell like a car) and coordinate drafting. Ooh, the excitement!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


As a student, my year follows a slightly different cycle from the average person's. My "year" officially ends with the end of the fall semester, and while I certainly mark the new calendar year January 1, my "year" doesn't actually start until the start of the spring semester. In between is a short, blissful period of abandon. A period where I can do what I want, as I want, without restriction.

This past year, proper abandon didn't start until after Christmas (giftsgiftsgifts), but even that mandate to knit was self-imposed. Thus the bloggy silence these past weeks has been my absence from routine, from duties, from all distractions except the ones I chose, and it was absolutely magnificent.

As of tomorrow, that period is over, and it's time to return to control, to order, to obligations, limitations, deadlines--all those things that ensure the proper functioning of society but not necessarily the well-being of one's spirit. My room is straightened, my school supplies purchased. All that's left is to look back on the year past.

Resolutions. At the beginning of last year, I resolved to do a great many things. Some I did, some I did not. I did read two of the unread books in my library--I did not read the rest. I did not knit a steeked cardigan, but I did continue to knit from my stash. Browsing through my Ravelry project page, I was floored by how much I had knitted, and how much I'd learned from these projects.

Socks: I knitted two pairs of socks this year, the Latvian Stockings and the Ponyo Socks (toe pictured inside-out above). The latter, actually Nancy Bush's Lichen Ribbed Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks, are so named for their color and because I began knitting them when I went to see Miyazaki's Ponyo. The Ponyo socks were my fourth pair for myself, and it wasn't until I'd finished them that I realized that by following the pattern strictly, I was making the heels too short. I feel sort of silly that that one took me so long to figure out, but I guess I can look forward to my next pair of socks being much better-fitting than their predecessors!

Sweaters: Without intending to, I knitted a whopping five and started two others. After so many sweaters, in so many styles and yarns, I finally feel I've got a good handle on this class of project. My Garter Yoke Cardi was a sort of sampler of colorwork, raglan and circular yoke shaping, and waist shaping. In the course of knitting (and reknitting) the Graphite Shrug, I discovered that I am not a standard shape (and how to tweak patterns accordingly). Lesson from Thundercloud Cardigan: I really and truly cannot stand finishing work. That was my only multi-piece sweater, though, and as a matter of fact, all but one of the rest were raglans. My troubles resizing Monita's Retro Duotone Cardigan (shown above) and my Graphite Shrug highlight that this is a tricky style for me to rework, but I only had one real dud out of the whole bunch: Wendy Bernard's Yogini Bolero, aka the Undercover Bolero because I never could bring myself to blog about all the trouble it gave me. It's adorable--don't get me wrong there--but I really didn't like working with the hemp yarn, and after all that yarn wrangling, the sweater came out too small to fit not just me, but also both of las hermanitas!

After such an eventful year, I don't have any new resolutions, but I'm looking forward to putting my new knowledge--especially knowledge of fitting--to good use on new projects. Here's to a happy, yarn-filled new year.