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.