Graffiti Just Because We Can

More city pictures today. More in-depth yarn buying review to come!

Saturday mornings I spend in the nearest Starbucks working on a non-russian non-grad school academic project (don't worry, full details once it is finished). I love getting there around 8am and settling in with my pen, post-its, and soy latte. Last week I sat up at the bar by the front door and saw this great mural across the street. Pittsburgh loves Mr. Rogers.

And then, on my way back to Oakland after yarn and grocery shopping I happened to spot this out of my window.

I'm going to have to go back and check that out in person.

Saturday was also Chris' last night in the city before returning home, so we went exploring into Schinley Park.

This Christopher Columbus statue is famously grafittied. The spray paint says "Looking glass is dead," a very famous line used in political protesting.

Amid wedding receptions and birthday parties we found some of the botanical gardens.

And as long as I can see the Cathedral, I know I'm not lost.


"And I look real hot in my tight blue jeans"

I have the wildest thing to share tonight. An FO! And not just any FO, no this is an actual garment!
I give you -- the Runaways Sweater

This is a sleeveless version of the Cherie Amour sweater from the Fall 2007 issue of Knitty. I knit it in some Malabrigo Merino Worsted that I bought on a whim from a very nice Ravelry destash. I wasn't sure how I felt about the color until I saw this sweater. Now I think it's prefect!

I mean, just look at that stitch definition.

It's very rare that I knit something I love this much, and this is the first time I've knit a garment that I actually want to wear.

One of the things I love about my relationship with my mom is that she immediately asked if the name of the sweater was connected with the band. It's true. The name alone "Cherie" was enough to necessitate this sweater be a tribute to the awesomeness that is The Runaways. I've recently become obsessed with the band thanks to a certain excellent indie flick that came out this spring and will soon be on dvd. Yes, I know, it's Kristen Stewart and she can't possibly do a good movie. Wrong. It's an amazing piece of acting and an awesome film. Now, if you don't like teenage girl debauchery, sex, drugs, and rock and roll, don't watch this movie. But if glam rock is your thing, you have go to see this!

And before you say I only like the music because of the movie, you should listen to some of their stuff. I love the first album on which they based the majority of the film. Though I'm also rather partial to Flaming Schoolgirls as well, which made an excellent running soundtrack tonight.

Now I'm off to more Russian. Seriously not as fun as the David Tennant Doctor Who that I marathoned to finish the back of the sweater.


The Case of the Ribby Stockinette

For the past two weeks my class has been eating lunch as a group, which means that they get to see my knitting as this is the only regular time I have to work on anything. This also means that they have discovered how often I jump projects. I'm not all that bad. I only have three projects going at the moment that can be thrown into my backpack on the way out the door (the poor Runaways Sweater is still sitting on the shelf begging to be finished). I was working regularly on the Wendy Socks, but I actually bound off one and haven't had time to do the very intricate cast on to start the toe of sock number two. Today I had Taryn's Traveling Woman Shawl with me and one of the girls asked if I ever actually finish any of the stuff I knit. I explained the term "knitting monogamy" much to the amusement of the table. Now if I could just explain it in Russian.

One of my three projects is a beautiful pair of socks that I am test knitting (YES! TEST KNITTER! ME!) for the lovely Liz Abinante of Traveling Woman Shawl fame. It is perfect for the yarn my mom picked out because she does not want, as she puts it, any "holes" in her socks (read pretty lace detailing that I crave like chocolate). I can't go into great detail, but this pattern is written as a tutorial for a stitch technique that I've never used before. I have nothing but good things to say about it, and I think everyone should immediately go on Ravelry and add it to their queue (it's the Socks for Euni pattern).

So Wednesday I'm knitting along, after turning the heel, completing all of the gusset decreases, coming down the home stretch, and then I see it.

Do you see it?

See that pretty patterned foot? Would you believe me if I told you that it is missing THREE STITCHES?! I know, I couldn't believe it either. I swore, I almost threw things (but I'm down to 4 needles in this set of dpns and can't risk losing another), and then sadly put it on the shelf to be dealt with later.

I lay in bed last night trying to turn off my brain and started thinking about this sock. It's so close to done it's killing me. But I decided that this was my perfect excuse to rip the whole thing out and start over to fix some small things that were bothering me. The biggest change I'm making is to go down a needle size from US2 to 1.5. I currently don't own 1.5, but I was not liking the fabric that the size 2 was making. For all the love I have for Wendy Happy, it does not do so well on a bigger gauge. The stockinette portion looks a little ribby because there is nothing in the yarn to "fluff out" between stitches. My Wendy Socks are knit in size 1 and I think the fabric is great.

The other change? I'm switching from dpns to circs. That's right. I'm going to teach myself the magic loop technique. Hopefully I can make this work. I'll be hitting Knit One tomorrow just in time for their giant summer sale (starts tomorrow and runs through the first week of July. It's going to be Legen . . . wait for it . . . DARY!) to pick up a set. And hopefully some new yummy, decadent, over the top yarn that I could never afford but am willing to starve in order to buy.


Some Local Color

The craziness of summer school continues! But this week we have a new addition in the form of a visit from the boyfriend. Chris is here for the week and occasionally rescues me from my studies in the form of some local culture. On Sunday we went to my first ever major league baseball game (I know, baseball, the game I claim to dislike, but it was so much fun!). His grandfather works at the stadium and Pirates games are a tradition in his life he wanted to share.

We walked from my apartment in Oakland to the stadium in uptown (a little over 3 miles).

This beautiful building is actually a major court in town. This particular section encompasses the family and juvenile court as well as other areas. As Chris said, they really do send the kids off to Hogwarts!

We stopped for pizza and then walked over the bridge.

Yes, we're really on the road. They close the bridge down for the game and hundreds of people pour across it.

This dude played the sax before and after the game. Evidentially he's another tradition

The game was a blast. We had a great view.

Especially when the manager got ejected from the game (everyone was so stoked).

I even managed to get some work done on this.

And we won! It was a great afternoon.


Yarnie Adoption

Wow what a week. I started school and then there was just no time to do anything else. That's not to say that I haven't been doing other things, but there really should not have been enough time.

For those of you wondering where I am, I'm taking an intensive Russian summer program at the University of Pittsburgh. It's almost full immersion five hours a day five days a week. I'm behind my classmates and struggling a bit, but I love it. Russian is such a beautiful language. One of the things I'm really excited about is the Friday afternoon singing class. I know it sounds lame, but it is taught by a woman from St. Petersburg and it really is going to help my pronunciation a lot. And on Wednesday afternoons we have Kino (movie) Wednesday. This week we saw Sonny (English translation) which won all sorts of awards last year. It's excellent. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes movies.

Plus, I'm taking classes in the second tallest academic building in the world, the Cathedral of Learning, which is gorgeous.

I love this city. Pittsburgh is just a really fun place to be. My lunch breaks are spent sitting on a park bench outside knitting (because I eat too fast). The side of the cathedral I sit next to is across the lawn from this beautiful chapel. Such a nice view to relax in front of.

On Thursday I used my student ID to get my free bus ride over to Knit One, the yarn store Mom and I found last week. I spent a nice hour just sitting and knitting on the couch with some lovely ladies. Rochelle, the woman we had met previously, introduced me as "Faith. We're adopting her." This is why I love yarn shops. For the most part they welcome you in to their community and make you a part of their family.

Speaking of yarn loving communities, today was World Wide Knit In Public Day. This is the day that around the world knitters grab their knitting and go to the park, coffee shop, or anywhere else they want to sit and knit. Some cities do coordinated events and lucky for me the Pitt event was held next to the Cathedral, a short walk from my apartment! It was held by the Three Rivers Crochet group (they welcome knitters too). They gave me one of the warmest welcomes I've ever had.

These are crochet socks worn by Christine, who was working on another pair while we were there. I'd never seen crochet socks before, so I had to snap a picture.

And did I mention that they had a raffle? They had enough for everyone and when your ticket was pulled you got to go pick something off of the table.

These two darlings are from Sheep Shop Yarn Company. I picked them because there is over 300 yds per skein and they are 30% silk / 70% wool. And the colors are so fun! I was certainly surprised to find out when I got on Ravelry that this company has actually gone out of business. That makes this yarn even more valuable and me even more excited to have it. I'm already making plans for what to knit with it. I think the green is going to have to be a scarf, maybe Ysolda's Scroll Lace from WLK2.

We'll see. For now I have to run. There is much homework to do and things to accomplish and yarn to play with.

And remember, needles are for knitting. Which apparently mesmerizes tourists when they are on campus tours.


Счастье Knitting

I passed! After a day filled with enough nerves that I didn't have to run due to a high "resting" heart rate, I was allowed to officially be in the Intermediate Intensive Russian course. I'm going to have to work extra hard to catch up to the other students in my vocabulary comprehension, but I don't care because I passed!

I've been so stressed out about getting through today that I haven't had time to think about all the other cool stuff that has been going on. In the past few days I've accumulated some really interesting knitting related items that were given to me by very kind members of my family.

I don't know if there is anything like this for commercial consumption, but this was made by my uncle, a retired navy man who has taken up woodworking. His wife is a big knitter and is as obsessed with socks as I am. This dpn holder is a prototype of a more polished piece that is sold in Wildskeins Yarn Company in Hickory, NC. If you are anywhere nearby and like to knit socks you should really check this out. It holds the sock nicely and is perfect for travel because it fits in my bag and takes away the risk of having a dpn fall out and drop several rows in transit.

Another really cool item is this shawl pin. I've been looking for one for forever and this little baby finally found me. It can be worn as just the rose-wood pick or with the plasticy loop. I know, it's not really thrilling to anyone else, but I love it.

And it came with this adorable bag!

And then, because I'm a coffee addict and have actually used these exact words on occasion, Mom gave me this as a joke. Hopefully those who see it will find it just as amusing as I do.

Ok, I know this has been like the lamest blog post ever, so for today I'll just leave you with this Russian music video (rough chorus translation: "I give you happiness"). This was my victory song after I finished the preliminary testing.


Too Warm for Scarves

I'm currently holed up in my new room studying away in preparation for tomorrow's language exams. Passing is beginning to feel like a long shot, but I'm just happy to be here. I'll take whatever level in which they choose to place me.

So in lieu of any interesting stories from the past twelve hours, here are the final two projects from my finishing kick.

This is my movie theater scarf (better known as the #27 Twin-Leaf Scarf designed by Heather Carlson and published in the summer 2010 Vogue, which is sadly the last issue in my subscription). The yarn should look familiar to you by now, because this project uses the last of the NaturallyCaron.com Spa bamboo that I used in my summer beret last year and in Fetching. When I read through the magazine I fell in love with all the summer scarves. Now, obviously, living at the beach (or in Pittsburgh) does not lend itself to wearing any sort of summer neckwear if at all possible. But in the fall, when things just start to cool off . . . It quickly became one of those projects that I think of on the way to campus and then am tortured by fanatsies of all day long.

Because it is involves a pretty basic leaf chart that is easy to memorize, the scarf quickly became my way of keeping my hands busy when I went to the movies. The sometimes split threads and maybe too twisted stitches are the result of Kick-Ass, Iron Man 2 (twice), and the amazing indie film The Runaways (brilliant film) among others.

Technically not a finishing project, but a quick knit I couldn't wait to get my hands on was Saroyan by the incredibly talented Liz Abinante. This is the third pattern in her Bones collection (remember the Angela Shawl?) and it was absolutely a joy to knit (and fast!) I used a lighter weight yarn with smaller needles, and it resulted in such a soft delicate fabric. I love it.

I mean seriously, aren't those leaves stunning?

Many thanks to Mom for doing the photography on our front porch before the move.

Now I must return to studying. Though I may work another row or two of this traveling woman shawl for Taryn. She saw the pattern and didn't stop talking about them until I agreed to make it if she provided the yarn money (And she thinks she's getting a good deal. Ha! This is such a fun knit).


Road Trip 2010

It's been quite an interesting few days in the life of Faith (and any of the poor people who have to put up with me. Sorry Mom!) Not all bad, but all somehow steeped in emotion.

First, Mom and I took an extra day on our way to Pittsburgh (my home for the summer) to visit a very special area of the world.

Ok, yes, it's Ohio. Maybe not that exciting to you. But in my life it is very important. I was born in Ohio. Zanesville to be exact. And I've never been back. It's only two and a half or so hours away from Pittsburgh, so it was the perfect opportunity. I was so little when we moved that I have no memory of the area other than vague impressions of a quilt and being carried down stairs that could be faint infant impressions or fabricated memories from stories.

(Mom calls this my European shot. Squinting courtesy of early morning sunlight)

In any case, we found the town to be both the same and changed from how Mom remembered it. The hospital had changed names.

But the house I was brought home to was still the same (2 miles off of any paved roads and in the middle of state game lands).

We even found the site of my first acting role. My parents were in a production of Carousel (Dad, of course, was Billy Bigilow and Mom was in the chorus) in Coshocton. I guess my natural acting ability was recognized early on.

Our last stop in our mini tour was Dresden, the official town of my first year of life.

It is also the home of Longaberger baskets. The town is a little basket obsessed. I ended up buying a little pin at a shop on the way out of town. It's a basket, of course, and made by a company in town.

(yes, that's a real house next to that basket)

(Who says your trash can't be stylish too)

We took many more pictures, but I'm sure your browser would rather I took some sort of pity on it. Mom helped me move into my summer sublet yesterday and today we did last minute errands before she left. So of course, we found the local yarn shop.

This is just one small part of the shop. The place was huge. I touched so much yarn, it was amazing. And Rochelle, the woman who was running the store, was so nice to us. I think she sensed the panic Mom and I both had just beneath the surface (nothing blog worthy, just over all scary) and immediately took me under her wing. She gave me coffee and showed me around, understanding that I literally have no yarn money but reassuring me that I can come any time they are open to sit on the couch and knit. As my aunt told my mom, somehow you can always find nice people in yarn shops. I'm fairly certain that I'll be sacrificing some food money and hanging out here as much as I can.

And now I really must get back to this sock. Though I have another shawl that needs my attention.

Remember: Knitting needles are for knitting. And skewering dried fruit when you spill the bag making giant trail mix to pass the time in construction.


For the Love of Socks

One of my aunts is calling this year "The Year of the Sock." It's a pretty apt title, at least for the past month. One of my goals for last year was to knit a pair of socks, which I managed to do right at the last minute, racing against the clock in the car on the way home on December 31. (whew!)

For Christmas I bought myself two sock knitting books, Cookie A's Sock Innovation and Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. I promptly lost all knitting mojo, particularly in relation to socks, and these gorgeous books were put on the bookshelf to gather dust.

Well we all know that didn't last. On Monday (in the car no less), I finished the Kai-Mei socks(Ravelry pattern link) from Cookie A. I had started them back in January but grew concerned that I didn't have enough yarn and put them aside. Fast forward to May and I started this new finishing kick. I had successfully finished one of my Evil Stepmother socks and so decided that though it was top down, these socks could too be ankle socks (it's honestly a nicer fit because I have thin ankles to go with my skinny wrists). I had decided in January that this pattern would be ok in variegated yarn because the only patterning was the open paired holes on the foot. So, bound and determined, I set these back up to be knit sparingly with other projects.

The further I got on these socks the more I couldn't decide how I felt about them. I love the yarn (also used for my Pixie Mitts, Knit Picks Imagination in the Pixie colorway), and found the pattern absolutely inspiring, but I could not decide how I felt about the two together. Though I still feel ambivalent to the socks themselves, what saved them was the fun I had knitting them around other people.

For the past two weeks I have been staying with my parents as a mini vacation (mini because I was supposed to be doing school work and will probably not see another "vacation" until after I graduate) before I head off to language school. My mom teaches PE at a small local private elementary and middle school, so I spent a lot of time visiting her and watching adorable little people run around playing crazy games (you have to remember, I don't ever see kids at home, just their college version selves). One of the highlights of last week was attending the talent show in which a fourth grader sang a Miley Cyrus song better than I had ever heard it sung (she was on pitch singing without music) and a third grader did an excellent Michael Jackson impersonation. Some of the other acts, well, lets just say it was the year of the Miley and I was grateful to have something to distract me.

Another night I went to the Kindergarten graduation (my mom has them for class, so we went in support). Aside from the enjoyment of hearing five and six year olds recite Japanese (their teacher lived there for thirty-eight years), I had an entertaining time with one of the students' younger brother who sat in front of me. Mom and I were there pretty early (gotta get a spot before everyones' grandma) and so out came the knitting. The little boy was fascinated. He asked all sorts of questions and was shocked at how smooth my needle was when I let him touch it. His parents were entertained as well and his grandfather actually stole my finished sock to show to his wife and the in-laws.

So despite the fact I wasn't too fond of the product, the compliments I received on the socks were enough to give me hope that the finished work would be worth something.

Boy was I ever right!

Unfortunately the socks are rather big on me and so bagged a bit when I hurriedly photographed them before yet another summer storm hit.

Fortunately for the socks, and for my self-esteem as a knitter, I found someone who I believe will love them the way they deserve.

I left this on my sister's pillow before Mom and I left for our two day road trip to my summer home.

When I asked Mom if she thought my sister would know how to care for a hand-knitted gift she reminded me that all I can do is provide instructions but after that it is out of my hands and I have to be ok with that. And she's right. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee writes in her book Yarn Harlot: the Secret Life of a Knitter

"When it is all over, when the socks are done, a knitter will have invested an average of twenty thousand stitches in the name of love and warm feet, knowing full well that the socks will wear out."

That's the scary thing about socks. They don't last forever. But I hope my sister, who begins work in her university's nursing program next semester resulting in a lot of time spent on her feet, will truly enjoy them while she can. I hope she takes care of them and loves them. And I hope that she does not save them only for special occasions. Because after all, everyone, particularly a nurse, deserves comfy feet.


Baseball and Powdered Sugar

Yesterday Louis and I went to a local baseball game. The town next door hosts one of those teams that college league players join for the summer. As happens with all baseball games I attend, it rained.

When the rain finally stopped and the lightening went away the game finally began, but I had already been knitting steadily.

I managed to finish the toe and get all but two rows of the chart repeat on my new Wendy Socks.

I might have made it through more, but I had the distraction of good company and fattening treats that threatened to spill powdered sugar all over my beautiful blue bamboo (alliteration intended).

Ah, small town charm.

Did I mention we won?!