FO: Cria

This is the story of a sad little giant sweater that grew up to be something great.  Our story begins in October 2010 when our intrepid knitter saw a yarn sale on twitter that just so happened to fall around her birthday.  Now our knitter, being the knitter she is, decided that this was the perfect time to invest in some nice yarn and so ordered a cone of Marr Haven Organic Mull Sport in a lovely shade of green.  The yarn arrived, she reveled in its sheepyness, she swatched a bit, and then she put it on a shelf to be admired and generally become one with the furniture.  The poor cone of yarn watched other skeins come into the knitter's life and be loved and cherished while it sat lonesome on its shelf, feeling it would never  become a real knitted item.

Many months passed and the knitter acquired a new knitting book (as knitters are often apt to do).  This book gave many helpful tips about the magic of sweaters and held several beautiful patterns.  The knitter turned to the yarn and said, "Well, I'm all out of sweater wool, so I suppose it is your lucky day" (she was obviously forgetting the discount tweed she had drooled over at the fiber festival).  So the knitter swatched again, blocked her swatch, and managed to find the time to plot out her sweater.  It is here that she made her fatal error.  We like to think that it was due to the thesis clogging up her brain, but the knitter decided that to make a properly fitting cardigan under which she could wear proper long sleeved shirts she would have to knit a bust size that gave her three inches of positive ease.  The poor yarn tried to protest, undoubtedly certain that it would wind up yet another cast off hiding in the closet corner, but it was all in vein.  The knitter had gauge, her numbers, and a sensibly confusing sweater construction and so could not be deterred.

Though the knitter found the sweater more than a bit large very soon after casting on, she continued to knit in the hopes that the designer's ingenious construction would make it all better.  It didn't.  After months of slaving and swearing (We are really not sure how many, she won't even tell us when exactly she finished it.  We know it was sometime this month), the knitter finally decided to at least shorten the body and the sleeves for the sake of the sanity of all involved.  She then tried on the sweater, knowing it to be too large, and proceeded to stare in the mirror, willing it to shrink or at least not hang like Phoebe's wedding dress when Cole mucked it up.  Suddenly she was struck by inspiration.  To this day we believe it was the yarn speaking to her through it's new snuggly sweater form.  She unpinned the sweater and moved the buttons to the side of the neckline, giving the sweater more of a military look (it quite suited the Soviet military buttons our knitter had set aside for this purpose).  She also discovered that with the addition of the buttons the weight of the sweater shifted ever so slightly and it suddenly became a very comfortable, drapy cardigan, rather than a potato sack.

To this date we do not believe that the knitter has taken off the sweater.  If you happen upon her (the wool fumes got to her and she's run off again), you'll undoubtedly see her, wearing her now almost stylish green sweater, snuggled under all that wool that is finally loved the way it deserves.


FO: Eva's Buttony Cowl

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas weekend.  I got to go home with Chris to visit my family.  It's always fun when you stick all six of us under one roof.  We didn't get snowed in this year, but now that Chris and I have been engaged for a year the atmosphere was much more relaxed than last year's unspoken pending proposal.

This was the first year that I did not give everyone hand knit gifts.  Every time I mentioned that I was considering it someone on twitter would remind me that I had vowed never again after all of the Christmas knitting I did last year.  I had that last minute family add-on that just did me in (though it was for my grandfather and was probably the last time he truly knew who I was so it was totally worth it).  In any case, despite my solemn promise to not knit for anyone for Christmas (I went so far as to make a formal no-knitting declaration to the family), I still managed to fit in some last minute Christmas knitting.

I've mentioned before that my family is very knit-worthy, and while I did not knit for anyone else, I felt inspired to knit for my sister.  I love knitting for my brother because he wears my hats all the time and I love knitting for my sister because she sticks her feet in people's faces to make them feel the softness of the socks.  I've had two skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in my stash for at least two years.  They were a part of an ill-advised attempt at leg warmers (I've learned that with a few notable exceptions I am quite fine to buy rather than knit my leg warmers) that has long been abandoned.  The buttons had also been long time members of the stash, actually I think they were founding items of my very small button box, and are part of the set I used when I repurposed my Wicked Vest for her as well.

Lucky me, my sister's color of the season is this shade of blue.  Her ability to look completely put together is perfectly suited to the funky look of this version of the Traveling Woman Cowl.  I knit the small, fingering weight, flat version and just shortened the stockinette section and the number of lace repeats.  I wish I had made the button holes smaller, but it still came out nicely and I'm quite pleased with my last minute Christmas knitting for the year.


Girl with the Botched Trillian

I just got back from seeing Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US), which was pretty much awesome.  I highly recommend it to those who like that kind of intensity in their movies and strongly caution those who do not enjoy as much raw and gritty storylines (to you I say go read the book. They're always better than the movie anyway).  I don't think my flatmate will forgive me for a while, but she got a good laugh after it was over when I showed her how badly I mauled my Trillian (side note: Trillian is my current move knitting, which is why you haven't really heard about it.  The only other movie I've seen lately is MI4.  Also awesome but in completely different ways)

Yep, I spent the ENTIRE movie tinking back to fix a section I dropped stitches in.  Take my word for it kids.  Unless it's a stockinette tube, this is not a movie for knitting.  I leave tomorrow for Christmas with the family, so I will be up way too late packing, which is going to work out fine because I am seriously paranoid (then again, when am I not?)



I've been putting off writing this post both partly because I don't want to admit that I've reached this point and partly because I was trying to give myself distance to absorb it.  But as school has still been plaguing my dreams, I guess there's nothing to do but say it -- I graduated.

I know, I know, I sound ridiculous.  But think about it.  My entire life has been about school.  From age four to last week school has been an all-consuming obsession.  I've never gone more than two months without attending school.  And my fiance has never known me when I was not stressing out about something related to graduate school.  School is was basically my life and I have no idea who I am without that.

When I was in tenth grade I realized that I had a knack for history.  Ever since I was a child my dad told me stories and read books to me, introducing me to two very important world, that of literature and that of history.  He read to me not only the classics, but long forgotten books of his own childhood, some written by members of our own family.  I love a good book, but I quickly realized that what I really love is uncovering fantastic stories that were actually true.  By middle school I had read the entire children's biography section at my local library (which is surprisingly extensive) and had moved on to more advanced material.  In sixth grade I was assigned a biographical essay on Aristotle that involved digging through the card catalog for hours on end.  On that fateful day when my teacher (who would leave our school soon after to go pursue his own masters degree) assigned our first book review I went home and asked my father for suggestions.  A year later I was in need of another historical text, which he supplied with The Devil in the White City.  I received the history award for the second time that year and decided that not only would I be majoring in history in college, but I would go to graduate school.

In college I was almost derailed by the kind of life events that every young adult must face, but I survived and thrived in an environment that supported my love of research and telling stories.  I met two amazing women, Dr. R and Dr. S, my English and History professors, who made such a big impact on my studies that they drove two hours to attend my graduation.  They became not only my mentors, but also my friends, and I found great support for my goals through my academic departments.  Three years after the start of college I graduated, moved to the coast, and started grad school, immersed in a new library and finding new ways to tell the stories I uncovered in archives and library repositories.  I found new friends who were just as passionate as me, new mentors who would push me until I would reach my breaking point and then finally break through to new understandings, new students who would challenge my patience and make me realize why I love what I do, and new stories to share with those around me.

So, you see, this graduation isn't just the end of grad school, it's the end of 17 years of work, pushing myself to get to this point.  My thesis is not just the culmination of my own achievements, but has been my chance to tell a truly unique story that had been largely overlooked. It is a connection between me and all of the storytellers that have come before and will follow me.  And when our department chair asked us to look around at the people who had supported us through this process, I saw my dad and started to cry, because this was just as much a culmination of his legacy (and tons of my mom's patience) as it has been my effort.

I have no idea where I go from here professionally, but I am determined to keep finding ways to tell new stories as well as the old ones I love so much, even if it is just right here in my little corner of the internet.


Graduation Eve

So tomorrow I drive down to school and everyone will applaud while someone does something with a big thing of fabric around my shoulders.  Honestly?  I have no idea what happens at these graduations.  I've never been to one before.

I didn't work today and so I have been trying lots of things to keep myself busy and stave off the end of school blues.  These were bad enough when I finished each school year in high school, I'm not sure yet how hard I will crash now that I'm done with school probably forever.  I've cleaned the apartment, then messed it up, then mostly cleaned again.  I've watched way too much Charmed, took a nap, and have started some way last minute Christmas gifts.  One is for my thesis adviser as a thank you for heading my committee and dealing with me during this process.

I used the pattern that came with my sock blocker key chain from Knit Picks (excellent Christmas pattern, by the way).  For some reason though, a nice alpaca ornament wasn't enough, I had to add to it.  When my grandmother died this summer I inherited some of her cross stitch and mending supplies.

I don't know what any of the technical terms are for what I did, all I know is is took me forever to embroider that little 11 on that little sock.  Luckily there was still some white in the box, though it appears that my grandmother was in the middle of a project that used a lot of purple.  I'm pretty pleased with the result, so long no one tries to look inside where all of the ends live.


FO: Steam Age Thermis

I have developed an affection for cowls.  Part of the reason, I believe, is that unlike sweater sleeves, mitts, or socks, they do not come in pairs.  I bought this skein of Madeline Tosh Vintage at Yarn Paradise back in October and spent the rest of the afternoon on my dad's hospital bed trying to find the perfect pattern on my phone.  I burned through the entire battery, but I did decide on Thermis by Kris Knits.

Side note: I did not use a filter or anything on this picture.  The sun just happened to peak out at just the right time and create such a cool effect.

This is an awesome final product and really shows off the verigation in the yarn nicely.  I really enjoyed working with Madeline Tosh and one day when I have that kind of money I totally want to make a sweater with it.  Possibly even in this color.  I picked the yarn because A) I liked all the color changes and B) it goes really well with my winter coat.

The buttons were an impulse buy that I made last month while playing on Etsy.  They come from Worldknits & Handspun, who sells a lot of different products, including buttons from places other than the US.  These came from Russia and were just too nice to pass up.  The purchase of these, plus another set and shipping was still about the same cost as a few sets of not as eclectic buttons at the craft shop, so they do make for a really good buy.

Parts of this pattern do not make sense, specifically the button hole parts.  The patterning does not quite match up to the written instructions, and the button hole row includes one too many stitches for the section.  I fixed this for myself by removing the extra stitch, but I know that if I had decided to knit this pattern at this time last year I probably would have spent a lot longer looking for a solution.  I did check the pattern page on Ravelry, and not only is there no errata, but there are comments over a year old asking about this line in the directions to which there has been no reply.  This was hugely disappointing because this is a pay-for pattern, so one would expect that either the directions be fixed in the pattern or that the designer would address this herself.  Obviously this is a small error that almost two thousand knitters have found a way to deal with, but it was disappointing to see when I had heard such great things about the pattern.  The pattern itself was beautifully put together, and I still love the end result, which is a gorgeous cowl for those hoped for cold mornings to come.

As part of the finishing I learned how to do Elizabeth Zimmermann's sewn bind off, which may be more sadistic than the kitchener stitch, but not as much fun.  It took me two and a half episodes of Grimm on tivo to get through, but the end result is quite lovely.


Fashionable Holiday Fangirls

So with grad school wrapping up for good I am finally admitting that it is almost time for Christmas.  Just in time, too, since it is only two weeks away.  But as I am not knitting for anyone this year it has become a lot easier to really get into the holiday spirit.  We bought a tree, his name is George

And I broke out my favorite Christmas Album, Christmas in the Stars (Seriously, it is my favorite.  If you're any inch a Star Wars fan, you should check it out. Especially if you have kids).

Speaking of the holidays and Star Wars, have you seen the new holiday update from Her Universe?  I blogged about my hoodie that I bought last year at Dragon*Con, but I have accumulated several more pieces since then.

(Star Wars hoodie, BSG Red Spine Shirt)

For Cyber Monday Ashley put together a new product update that is truly awesome.  In addition to the free shipping code that I believe is still good through the 14th, she also built on some great ideas.  You can kind of see the progression of the products.  For example, last year for the holidays there was the Boba Fett pj set, a tank top and underwear set that I really love and have gotten a lot of wear out of.  This year she created the Viper pilot pj set, a tank top and shorts set based on the BSG viper pilots.  Mine came in the mail the day I defended my thesis and it was the perfect thing to relax in after such a long ordeal.  I don't normally go for shorts that say things on the bum, but these are too cute to pass up.

(I Know tshirt, Viper Pilot tank, Boba Fett tank)

There are still some products I don't have that I have on my wish list for Christmas (if you're still short on a gift for me), like the rebel alliance and imperial logo earrings and the "Daddy Issues" hoodie.  Both are great ideas and illustrate two sides of the spectrum for fan girls, the overtness and the more subtle appeal.

(Eureka Holiday Tote Bag)

It also bears mentioning that even though I met Ashley at her booth during D*Con 2010, I did not really expect to see her there again this year because the company has become such a hit and was actually a sponsor of the con.  But on the last day Andrea and I were wandering near the walk of fame and happened to see her helping women try on samples and chatting with everyone who came by the booth.  It really means something to meet someone who actually puts in that face time with us fangirls and who genuinely cares both about the quality of her product and the fanbase she is creating these items for.  I really get the impression that it is not about the money, but rather about addressing a real need that is still very strong in the geek community.


Cria Into the Black Hole

Have you ever sworn at a piece of fabric?  Have you ever done it multiple times?  Two years ago I spent months mentally haranguing a pair of gloves.  I have only knit mitts since then, having sworn off of gloves for the rest of eternity.  Chris loves his gloves, but they remain my single most painful piece of knitting -- ever.  Until now.

I mention this because I've been working on my Cria and it is bringing back memories of how much I struggled to get through those gloves.  I've been working on the second sleeve, which has really thrown me into the black hole of knitting.  The last one took three days tops and this one is taking over a week.  I'm at that point where time and space have no meaning and I'm just knitting and knitting and getting absolutely no where.

I love this sweater, I really do.  But right now we are so not on good speaking terms.  I'm just going to sit and knit and not move until it's done or my fingers fall off.  Honestly, I am already googling good doctors to reattach  my appendages.  The outlook for work tomorrow does not look good.  I'll keep you posted.


A Masters-Prepared Student

So I'm sure judging on the fact that I am in fact still alive you have surmised that yes, I did indeed pass my thesis defense on Tuesday.  Thanks to everyone for all the supportive comments (even to those I accidentally deleted because I was trying to publish them on my phone while my hands were shaking).  The whole day is a little bit of a blur, what with the major stress, freaking out, and not eating thing.  A few times my hands were shaking so bad I couldn't even knit, though I did make good progress on the foot of the second Time of My Life sock while waiting five million hours for my defense to start.

Luckily for the documentation of the day, I did tweet quite a bit, so I'm going to post a few excerpts here in hopes that I can reconstruct it all.

6:03am - It's today. Today is here. #defense
8:07am - Got a parking spot in the free lot! #goodthings #cometothosefivehoursearly
8:16am - Sitting outside Dittos waiting for it to open. There's a dude snoring on the couch in front of me.
8:21am - There's a crowd gathering.  We're all subtly vying for places in line.
8:30am - I'm in! This is a competitive time of year.

It all spirals from there, getting more panicky and less informative, culminating in hallucinating seeing Sandy Cohen and a sudden need for a gin and tonic, despite the fact I have never in my life had either gin or tonic.

After I survived the defense (which I really do not remember, so don't ask.  I know it went well, I know I stayed calm, and most importantly I know my skirt was not wrinkled), I packed my weary self back into my car and drove the 2+ hours back to my apartment.  Where I pretty much passed out on account of that aforementioned no eating that had lasted the past three days.  Yesterday I had the day off work and so of course my body woke up on time and would not go back to sleep.  So rather than laze around the apartment and enjoy having no defense to work on I sat at my computer, finished correcting the few typos found in the text, and then scurried all over town to find a place that prints on 100% cotton paper (just go to FedEx business. Don't even try to find another place because they won't be able to help and are not nice about it).  End result?  Yesterday afternoon I was able to send this in the mail.

The past two years in 94 pages.  It is done and I am left with nothing to do before graduation next week.  I may have to create a self-assigned reading list to survive the transition from student to real grown-up.  Thankfully I have work to keep me busy, just not busy enough.


Here We Go

In a little over an hour I will load up my car and head back to school for my defense tomorrow.  I have my presentation outfit hanging up to avoid wrinkling my skirt and have packed clothes to wear before the defense, again, to avoid wrinkling my skirt (the majority of my defense will be spent standing behind a podium, but I'm still greatly concerned about the wrinkling of the skirt).  I have my box of research to write last minute notes for the scary question-answer portion.  I have my presentation and thesis saved in two different places as well as emailed to myself, because you don't go through 17 years to school without becoming a little paranoid.  I've got my running stuff, should I wish to taper out some nerves on the nice flat ground.  I have my own pillow and blanket so that I can minimize my presence at my cousin's house and thus minimize the amount of cleaning I will have to do.  On that note I also have a packet of Starbucks Via from my mommy, guaranteeing coffee for the morning, and my fully loaded tea wallet, to help me stay calm.  I've packed not one but three different knitting projects because I don't want to run out of things to do on an overnight trip, after all.  Just one sock and a pair of sleeves isn't enough.  I need a cowl project too.  And then I've got my comfort items (knitting, obviously, is a necessity, not for comfort).  My Star Wars hoodie for the 70+ degree weather. Hand-crafted accessories from family members that will go with the I outfit I picked to wear to my defense.  The latest Yarn Harlot book, which I have not reread enough times.  And Pretty Little Liars season one.  Because nothing helps you sleep before a scary, life-altering, working to this your whole life, terrifying day like the sheer terror that a teenage psychopath will find you.  And Esbians.


KIPing with the Canes

Last night I had the good luck to be able to go to an NHL game.  The museum was accepting a donation and so we got a block of seats for whoever wanted to go.  I brought Chris with me, who might have had even more fun than I did (didn't hurt that we could actually see things from our seats).

Our team lost, but not without putting up a good fight, including a rarely seen penalty shot.

He shoots, he's blocked!  The crowd went absolutely nuts.

There was a lot of knitting related fun as well.  I dressed for the cold that hockey rinks are known for and I think Andrea and Chris are now having a competition to see just how much or little knitwear they can find me in.  I can't help it if an alpaca sweater and a knitted jacket were perfect for the occasion.  I should have dug out  a pair of mitts, though, because by the end my fingers were a little too stiff with cold to keep working on my Time of My Life socks.  You'd think no one at work ever saw me knitting on my lunch break or had noticed the brightly colored knit socks I wear every day. But I got almost all of the cuff done!


One More Tic On the Checklist

I love Mondays.  I know I'm the exception to the norm, but my work schedule usually means that I am working most of my hours Thursday thru Sunday, making my weekends harried and exhausting.  I work at the tutoring center on Mondays, but Monday morning is like my gift to myself.  I let myself sleep in, I generally try to do some laundry, and I try to push myself to go a little farther or longer on my run.

Today I didn't actually get any laundry done, but I finished my Christmas shopping and then worked on the thesis some more.  The big moment of the day?  When I got home from work to an email letting me know that my formatting has been approved.  This is a huge relief because I have been stressed about getting that right since I started this process two and a half years ago.  Yeah, there's the original research, the writing, and I still have to properly defend the thing next week, but as of today the graduate school has given me the green light to  pursue graduation in three weeks. 

In celebration I am taking a break from the defense writing and curling up with my knitting, some tea, and the most recent of my library for Kindle acquisitions.  I might finish the body of Cria tonight.  Or I might just go to bed before midnight for once.


FO: Attraction on the Moors

Did you know that mismatched socks is a thing now?  I had no idea when I put this yarn on my wishlist that it was the latest trend.  My sister is working her pediatrics rotation this semester and just laughed at me when she saw me working on these socks.  Evidently all the kids on campus as well as the little ones she sees at the health department are sporting mismatched socks this season.  Even our little boutique gift shop at the museum has succumbed to the madness, selling socks in packs of three coordinating but unmatched individual socks.  But I always argue that the knitters are ahead of the trends (cowls and shawls are huge this season, and who among us hasn't seen a million patterns in our books and magazines in the past several years).

I love the concept of these socks.  The yarn and pattern (OppAtt Socks) are both from Barking Dog Yarn, who dyes the skeins in two coordinating colorways and sells them in sets, enough yarn for one sock of each color.  The set I picked is Catherine and Heathcliff, one of my favorite tragic couples.  I've been very outspoken in the past about how much I do not enjoy Jane Austen.  I've given her books a try, read parts of several, and of course have seen the movies (the one exception is Sense and Sensibility.  Colonel Brandon covers a multitude of sins).  But my heart remains with the gothics, particularly the Bronte sisters, whose books I devoured in my more melancholy high school days.

These socks were just as tempermental as the pair from whom they take their name.  The first sock was a real exercise in how to efficiently rip back.  The first time through I started the heel on the wrong side of the sock and it was only obvious once I started the foot patterning. rip  Then I got halfway through the heel only to realize I had twisted some stitches in an obviously wrong direction.  riiip And then after I had reknit I realized that the sock felt so long because it really was and I had started on the foot patterning while actually knitting the leg! RRRIIIPP!

But after all of that, I think the result was worth it.  I subbed in a short row toe and heel a la Nutkin because I really enjoy how the short row heel fits my foot and take a lot of satisfaction from the short row toe. I've already worn these socks several times to work.  Hand knit socks seem to have become a standard part of my wardrobe and I finally have enough pairs to get me through a standard work week provided I do my hand washing once a week (yes, I still hand wash my socks).  The fabric in these is a little on the warm side, but my feet are naturally cold so I'm sure this will be a boon once we get actual cold weather around here.

In the end, I think these socks have really found each other.  They gave me fits and went into time out several times, but the final product exhibits just the amount of quirk I demand from my wardrobe.


FO: Autumn Melody

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, even if you don't celebrate American Thanksgiving.  I got to go stay Wednesday night with my family at my cousin's house the town over from where I lived during the first two years of grad school.  It was a whirlwind trip, and I had to drive back Thursday night for work on Friday, but it was nice to see my family and check in on my aunt and uncle.  The rest of the holiday has been a whirlwind of work and assorted panicky moments spent staring at a blank notebook, preparing for my defense next week.  I've been seriously clinging to my more simple knits lately.

One not so simple knit that I finished up before the aforementioned computer disaster was my Autumn Melody, knit out of Brooks Farm Solo Silk.

I bought this yarn at SAFF with the last of my yarn money.  I really wanted something that looked like fall but was at a loss until I found this.  It's got some unrecognizable numerical name, but the color is absolutely perfect.  It is dominated by orange and yellows, but also has hints of less obvious colors, including purple.

To knit up this yarn I really wanted something with leaves that would showcase the colors and reflect the foliage for which my region is best known.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is a dominate part of the geography back home and tourists come from all over to see our mountains ablaze with color.  I ended up returning to a pattern that I knit at the beginning of the year in another Brooks Farm yarn.  You can see some similarities, but Autumn Melody looks almost nothing like New Year Flame, both of which are variations of Rose Beck's Unique Melody pattern.  This pattern is representative of what Rose Beck has become known in the knitting community, clearly written with so many customizable options that one can choose from a variety of yarns and sizes.  For Autumn Melody I chose to knit something more akin to a stole, four motifs wide and six body repeats long.  It was a fairly quick knit, very addictive, and used all but a tiny scrap of the yarn.

I've already gotten a lot of use out of it as both a shawl and a drapey scarf.  I never seem to want to knit actual scarves, but I forget how much I enjoy wearing this style.  I'll have to look into making some more as a break from the more typical triangular shawl.


Smash Hit

I can't tell you how excited I am to be posting tonight.  My sudden absence from the internet had nothing to do with my lack of enthusiasm for the blog and a lot to do with what happened two weeks ago, a disaster only I could successfully pull off.

As you know I have been slaving away on my thesis for what feels like an eternity.  Two weeks ago I finally reached the point in my editing and formatting when I just had to admit that I was done.  For real.  Barring typos and formatting problems, I am actually done and am now supposed to be preparing to defend this monstrosity in two weeks.  So I converted it to a pdf, printed out the form I had to sign, made frantic phone calls and emails to ensure that my paperwork was all in order, and emailed it to my committee.

Not even an hour after this, the unthinkable happened.  My computer broke.  Again, let me back up for a moment.  The entire process of writing this thesis has been rife with computer problems.  Last Thanksgiving I had to borrow a friend's laptop to write my final papers on because mine was so overheated that the Best Buy guy told me the only way to make it work would be to run it out of the refrigerator.   After I got that fixed, the keyboard crapped out and I wrote the first chapter of my thesis without many of the necessary keys because there was no way I could go without my laptop while writing.  Other problems cropped up over the next year.  I wrote with an external keyboard, had to turn the entire computer off and on again to access the internet, gave up listening to music on the computer itself, and basically became confined to whatever odd setup I could rig for a computer that had to have three things attached in order to make it work.  I dealt with all of this because a computer is so integral to the thesis process and I did not feel I could go without it for long enough to get everything fixed.

Then, when the end was finally in sight, the computer slipped off of the stool I had balanced it on and cracked the screen.  This was beyond the last straw and so I packed my baby up and with the help of my flatmate Andrea, took it to the Geek Squad to mailed away to a repair center.  Last week I got a call letting me know that my warranty did not in fact cover accidentals and so it would cost almost $400 to repair the computer.  But, when I picked up the computer today I found out that this was only the screen and the rest of the computer has been repaired.  So I am currently using only the top half of my screen, but I am able to use all of the other parts of the computer that I have not had access to for over a year.  I will still be able to make any necessary edits to my thesis, and more importantly, I am able to blog again!

Fortunately for us all I have not finished anything since the great computer crash of 2011, an event which hearafter will only be spoken of in hushed tones, lest the irony be too evident to avoid the inevitable hysterics. I'm leaving tomorrow for a whirlwind Thanksgiving, but when I get back you can expect all new posts about my Autumn Melody and the Attraction on the Moors socks.

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for the ability to type on my computer and access new podcast episodes.  Hope you have a lovely holiday!


Paranthetical Socks

Thank you to everyone who expressed sympathy regarding my neck yesterday.  I am still pretty sore today, but I have regained a lot of mobility and am actually sitting fairly comfortably, which is always nice.  I also only work a few hours this afternoon at my second job, so I have not had to stand all day, which seems to have helped.  Instead I have been doing something truly terrifying, reading my thesis straight through.  I got through the first 50 pages this morning before I felt like throwing it out the window.  I'll try to brave the last few chapters tonight.  The thesis isn't scary because it is bad, I am actually tentatively proud of it, but the thought that everything I have done academically for the past two and a half years (really since high school when I decided that this is what I wanted to do with my life) boils down to a little under 100 pages of text is rather unnerving at times.

Aside from the ability to laugh without dying from pain, my morning was also brightened by the arrival of a lovely package.

This is a skein of Unwind Yarn Company's Luxe Sock in the colorway Lake Lure.  Dana, who is the owner of this fine Etsy shop, is one of the hosts of the Just One More Row podcast (I met her and Brittany at SAFF.  Lovely women) and offered up a coupon code to the listeners for the month of October.  Because of SAFF I decided to put off purchasing until the end of the month so that I could have full use of my yarn budget for the event.  And I am so glad I waited.  I originally had my eye on her Faded Graffiti colorway, but someone else bought it.  But!  I got an awesome skein.  Not only does it have 10% cashmere and 10% nylon (I've never tried any cashmere blends and I am afraid to use blends without nylon for socks), but it is also named after one of my hometown's local landmarks (at least I think it is)!  Lake Lure is in the same county as the town in which I grew up, and I have spent a lot of time out there.  Tourists love to go hang out on the man-made lake, and it was the filming location for Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans.

Chris and I on his first visit

I am fantasizing about knitting this up as the Darjeeling socks from Knitter's Book of Socks (birthday present from an amazing friend).  I'm in fact so psyched about this project that I am pretty sure I shall be frogging another sock project to make room for it on the needles.

Now, before I frog, I want to say that I love the Hummingbird socks.  Pretty much all of the patterns in Knitter's Book of Socks are projects I want to make.  The Hummingbird socks are billed as the perfect project for verigated yarn because the patterning moves the color vertically as well as horizontally.  I'm just not so sure that it works for this skein of Miss Babs.  It is striping too perfectly, which is somewhat annoying in such a pretty lace pattern.  Plus I don't have the mental capacity right now for a pattern that requires full attention to the chart, so I'm gonna rip them out and put the yarn to good use as something else.  Maybe as Trillian?


Postcards from the Couch

It's been one of those days in which you should probably never blog because you know you're so snippy or grouchy or what have you that you know anything you say will go out into the universe uncensored and come back to bite you sometime in the future.

You ask why?  Because at around 3 this morning I woke up in dreadful pain completely unable to move.  Evidently I wrenched my neck, and so have spent the entire day barely able to move my head.  I should probably go soak it in the bath, but I find baths dreadfully boring.  And I'm not a fan of candles either, so all those tv shows and movies in which the female protagonist enjoys a nice soak with a good book are just lost on me.  If I'm going to enjoy a glass of wine and a good book it's not going to be where the pages can get water-stained or I can risk being drowned by an angry ghost or water demon.

So rather than a bath I'm sitting stiff and unmoving on the couch watching Breakfast at Tiffanys on Netflix.  A little Audry always soothes the soul.  Though I doubt I'll be trying to climb out a window any time soon.

And there is knitting of course.  I keep wanting to cast on more and more, but I did finish a sock yesterday.  I then declared myself the Kitchener Stitch Master and decided that this was the career for me.  I was born to kitchener stitch.

I'd apologize for the bad quality of this photo of sock #2, but I rather like it.  The color is pretty accurate and it blacks out all the background, namely the pile of trash that really must be taken out.  I was going to do so today . . .

Ah, well, another time perhaps... As long as the trash doesn't rise up and try to take over the apartment.


FO: Twisty Frosted Violets

It may be counter-intuitive, but it appears that the more I have to write, the more knitting I do.  Now, a lot of this knitting is tied to some tragic, melodramatic socks, but that's a story for another day.  Today it is a crisp cold morning in North Carolina, and I am sporting a brand new hat!

Twisty Violet Cap by Kate Oats in Yarn Love, Frosted Mulberry

I bought the kit to make this hat while at SAFF, and really enjoyed knitting it.  What attracted me was the lovely twisted brim, and despite the fact that I had decided to take a break from hats, I knew I had to knit it.

I originally intended to knit the medium slouchy size, but at the last minute decided to do just the medium, so it has the stitch count of the slouchy but the pattern repeat number of the regular.  The women in my family have notoriously larger heads, so I often knit a slightly larger size to be sure it fits.  The resulting drape of the worsted weight fabric is quite lovely.  I may have found a tiny error in one of the last rows of the chart, but the  pattern is so intuitive that it was an easy fix and it is entirely possible that I slipped up somewhere along the way because the pattern was so well written.

The window pane style pattern is absolutely stunning and a nice departure for my recent leaf obsession.  Mom actually discussed this with Kate when we were in her booth and we came to the consensus that it really is all the fault of Alana Dakos, whose recent pattern sale resulted in an overdose of leafy hat knitting on my part.

This was my first experience knitting with Yarn Love and I was extremely pleased.  Not just because the yarn base is called Anne Shirley either!  I definitely have another skein on my wish list to knit the matching mitts (again, the braided brim! I can't get enough).  I actually have this fantasy of using my leftovers to make a headband of some sort.  We shall see.


WIP Happy

It's a lovely dreary day here in Raleigh.  The kind of day that just makes every color pop against the almost-stormy sky.  Quite honestly, it's my favorite kind of day.  I can sit at my desk with the blinds open without suffering from glare on my computer, I can curl up on the couch with a stack of pages to edit and quietly sip a cup of tea, listening to Pandora play The Cranberries.  And it's the type of day that makes me want to dive into my stash and cozy up to a special skein of worsted or some nice sock yarn.  I don't know if it is the fact that the weather has finally started to turn or an after effect of SAFF, but I have somehow found myself in a frenzy of works in progress.

In this pile is a sweater, two cowls, two socks (will be two pairs sometime soon), two hats, and a stole.  These are in a variety of weights and complexity, in various stages of completion, and all screaming to be worked on.  For the most part I have not listed them on my Ravelry projects page, mostly because I don't like to list projects with attached photos.  But also because I am closing in on 100 projects, and for some reason I feel like this will solidify me as a Knitter, the kind with a capital "k".

But instead of working on any of these, I am winding this lovely skein of Miss Babs (squeal!) for another pair of socks.  Hope the other projects forgive me.

ETA: So the yarn has informed me that it would rather be a shawl than socks and the collective wisdom of Twitter has advised that it is always best to listen to talking yarn rather than risk it's wrath in the form of unhappy socks.  Maybe I'll wind another skein...


FO: It's Hip to Be Square

It's my little brother's seventeenth birthday!  First he learned to shower daily, then he could drive, and now? Now he can go see an R rated movie.  My how he's grown.

While I was home for SAFF mom and I picked up a cake and we had an impromptu birthday celebration that ended in the kind of giggles that only family can understand.  I've knit for all of my family, and each has a very real appreciation of the work and love that goes into each stitch.  But my brother is often the most fun to knit for.  For Christmas 2009 I gave my brother a knit hat.  He wore that hat so much he slept in it.  Last year for his birthday I knit another and he wore it all the time.  So this year I once again turned to some sturdy Cascade 220 and knit another hat.

This is my fourth Turn a Square.  I really should branch out and try to knit other Jared Flood patterns, but I love the way it works up.  My little brother is a guitarist and, in his mind, future rock star.  I may not have the musical talent in the family, but when he and my sister are one day touring with Evanescence, I will be there. Screaming in the audience and making sure they have the best and coolest knitwear around.


SAFF (Or How We Did Not Go To The Tractor Show)

SAFF was amazing.  I don't think I've had so much fun, like, ever.  Ok, maybe not that amazing, but it was pretty awesome and Mom and I had a great time.  It was a little overwhelming to see all of the vendors with all that yarn and it was just everywhere and . . . yeah . . . . There is a sales arena that is two floors, and then there is a barn.  While all of the sellers were very nice, I really liked hanging out in the barn because it felt more like I was interacting with the specific individuals who create the products I was purchasing.  My goal with SAFF was to buy yarn that I had not seen in my local shops, specifically those created and dyed by individuals, rather than created in a manufacturing plant.

So I could tell you about the awesomeness of Miss Babs, the eclectic feel of Knitting Notions, the amazing colors of Kitchen Sink Dyeworks, or the soft verigations of Brooks Farm, all of whom I purchased from, but instead I want to tell you about a booth in which I instantly felt welcome.

I was excited to hear that Kate Oats, the designer behind Tot Toppers and When I Grow Up.  I'm a latent admirer of her designs.  I love them, but I have not actually knit any of them.  It was really exciting to go in the booth and see all of her samples sitting out, a pattern book on a stool and she and a friend knitting away huddled by a heater (did I mention that it was FREEZING?).  Kate was super friendly and not at all pushy while mom and I picked over her booth trying on hats and deliberating over yarn colors. Oh, I didn't mention she had a build your own kit? Yes, it was super awesome.

I bought this gorgeous skein of Yarn Love in the Anne Shirley base to knit the Twisty Violets Cap.  I've already picked out several of her other patterns to knit and my dear mother, who still has flashbacks of the one hat she has knit, fell in love with one of the sweater patterns and is now talking about knitting sweaters.  That's how amazing this woman is.

I also got to meet some really cool people.  The lovely hosts of the Just One More Row podcast, Brittany and Dana, had a small meetup.  It was really nice to meet them.  I love listening to their podcast.  It's the only knitting podcast that I listen to that is actually hosted by people who live in this area of the country, where we have a lot of really good fiber.  Mom and I also visited with our friends Lynette and Kim who work with the Southeastern Llama Rescue.  They had a booth selling donated goods to raise money for their efforts.

Oh, and we got to visit with some Llamas.  Don't worry, no knitwear was harmed in the taking of this photo.