FO: Traveling to Scotland Cowl

You should all feel very loved.  Today was the first time it has not been five bazillion degrees outside and so of course it rained.  A lot.  But there was a break in the storm so I grabbed my oh so patient roomie and we went outside to take pictures.  And let me tell you, 85 is still way to hot for my stylish yet warm red jacket, let alone a cowl.

Pattern: Traveling Woman Cowl by Liz Abinante, Yarn: Fyberspates Chunky Scrumptious in Water
I knit this almost to pattern, but I took out one lace chart repeat.

Part of my motivation in knitting this cowl was to prove to my sister that cowls can be worn by women with long hair as well as those of us with short hair (side note: did you notice how short my hair is now? I swear I was asked every day at work this week if I got it cut.  It's my two month hair cut.  Chop it all off and then let it grow until I feel like Billy Ray Cyrus).  I wish I had taken a picture when I made her try it on because it looked awesome with her long hair.  Add in the fact that cowl appear to be in for fall and I felt like fashion genius.

This pattern was excellent.  I have made two of the Traveling Woman shawls, but they were both from before Liz redid the pattern for her ebook.  It also features her newly redesigned pattern layout which is nicely intuitive.  I knit this cowl up in a day.  And it wasn't just because Fyberspates is amazing yarn (oh my gosh I love it!  It's so soft and smooshy and the stitch definition is insane).  I love the original pattern, but the real magic is in the bind-off.  I won't spoil the ending for you, but it's a great twist.

Now if the weather could just get with the program.  Winter is coming.  The heat just doesn't know it yet.


FO: Liesl

I've had Liesl in my queue for a while.  It is an adorable sweater pattern that appears to be extremely customizable (a word which the internet and I seem incapable of spelling properly).  I have never been a big bolero fan, they seem to cut funny, so maybe it's the fact I have some weird yardage for some sweater yarn, but I had to make this.

It was a quick knit, taking longer to buy the clasp than to actually knit the sweater.  The pattern is a bit pricey at £5.00 (that's about $8 American), but I picked it up during Ysolda's annual birthday one-day sale.  After working with the pattern and seeing how much detail and variation she works into the pattern itself I totally understand the reasoning behind the price.

The yarn is Araucania Ulmo Multi that I picked up last summer.  For cotton, it did not make my hands as stiff as I expected.  I alternated two skeins to avoid any dye lot problems, which also prevented pooling and made the overall effect of the colors more cohesive.  The only problem is that now I still have the equivalent of almost one skein left over and I have no idea what to use it for.

To see more lovely FOs, check out Tami's Amis


WIP Wednesday: Companion Training

For the past two months I have been very focused on an activity that I have not been blogging about (thesis not included. No need to go on and on about scary looming deadlines).  I call this activity Companion Training.  Basically this means that I want to be prepared when The Doctor shows up at my door to whisk me away on adventure, so I am taking measures to be sure that I can outlast whatever villain we face, be it cyber or flesh-like in nature.

I didin't really want to blog about this because A, it isn't really fiber related and B, what if it doesn't work out?  How embarassing would it be to say I am trying to do this and then fail?  Long-time readers of this blog will remember that I have mentioned running in the past, but it never seems to really go anywhere.  This summer I decided to try again, this time taking precautions to avoid injuring myself in my over-enthusiasm.  And so, at the beginning of June, I started the Couch to 5K program.  I was really skeptical in starting, I mean after all, I ran a 5K two years ago without any training and last summer I was running 2 miles daily in Pittsburgh.  But low and behold it is the end of July and I am in the middle of week seven, running 25 minutes at a time.  I'm not running farther than I have ever run, but I am running longer than I've ever run and I'm loving it.

When I was nine my parents noted my lack of affection for soccer and my lack of talent for dance and signed me up for the swim team.  Over the next several years, through most of high school, I learned to swim slower than to which I was inclined and thus cover more distance more easily than some of my fellow teammates.  I swam butterfly, which if you're not a swimmer, is often looked at as the hardest stroke in the rec leagues in which I participated.  I loved it.  After the initial discomfort and awkwardness I found myself falling into the rhythm of the strokes.  I'm starting to feel that way when I run.  It's insane and jarring for a while, but after about 15 minutes I start to really jive with the rhythm of my steps.  This is not to say this is hard. It's insanely difficult, but it's mostly mental.  I know I can do it physically, but I have to convince my brain that I don't hate running and I'm not going to die.

How is all this fiber related?  Well, what motivates us knitters more than the prospect of new yarn or a lovely FO?  I've picked out a skein of Dream in Color Starry  to serve as my reward for making it through all nine weeks of the program.  I'm not sure where I'll buy it from, but buy it I will.  This is all the more motivating because I've been knitting from my stash alone for two months, not all that long but I really don't have that much stash.  I have a project that I have wanted to make for a while but do not have the yarn for and for which this yarn will be perfect.  I just have to survive three more weeks.

For more knitting-related WIPs, check out Tami's Amis.


Wishful Knitting

I haven't had much to post as of late not because I am not knitting (so not true) and not because I've been working almost every day for the past two weeks (though that part is true) but because of the weather.  I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but here it has been well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the past week (that's way over 37 Celsius).  I am fortunate enough to have working air conditioning this summer, so I am not suffering as much as I have in summers past, but it has still been far too hot to take any pictures of any proper knitting, even that knitting which may be weather appropriate.  And what is a knitting blog without knitting pictures?

I finished this item last week.  As it is too hot to go outside I'll hold off on the details for now.  But here it sits, waiting on my desk for the day the temperature drops to at least something under 90 or we get a nice strong wind about these parts.  Or maybe I'll just move somewhere cold.  I hear the arctic is nice this time of year.


(Nearly) Scottish Yarns

It all started a few weeks ago on Facebook. Dr R (you remember her as my beloved English professor and Buffy mentor) was in England with some students for a summer program and had found herself with a very unusual occurance -- a day free from any previously-scheduled activity.  So as any person with intellectual and well-traveled friends might do she posted a request for suggestions as to where she might go or what she might do.  I, the armchair traveler that I am immediately recommended that she go to a yarn shop.  Sounds weird to suggest to a non-knitter (though the conversion process can begin at any age), but I have known yarn shops to be a unique community and reflection on the culture and thought she might enjoy it.  Actually, I just made that up to sound smart.  Really I was largely joking and suggesting what I would do if I ever make it to the UK.

Fast forward to last night.  I, deep into the second month of my no-yarn-buying-must-pay-rent depression plan, am making dinner for Chris and myself.  Because I have no desire whatsoever to leave the apartment I send him out to check my mail for me, from which he returns with a package.  It's from Dr. R.  I immediately rip it open to find a card and these little lovelies inside.

It turns out that while in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr R thought of me and decided to stop in at a yarn shop.  With the help of one of her knitterly students she picked these out.  Even though they're not Scottish, they did come from Scotland and are some of the nicest yarns I've ever had the privileged of owning.  When I finally stopped buzzing around the apartment like a frantic bumble I actually took the time to look at the yarns, photograph them, note them in my stash, and then immediately wind them.

Manos del Uruguay is a yarn that I'm sure you've at least heard of.  It's one of those in the yarn shop that I always make my mom pet with me.  It's manufactured in Uruguay by local artesians.  Every skein has the location of its creation hand written into the tag.  Essentially, it's one of the most humanitarian yarns you can buy (the Savvy Girls Podcast did an excellent interview with them).  This is Wool Classica in some very generic colorway number that in actuality is not generic at all.

The other skein is Scrumptious Chunky by Fyberspates.  I couldn't figure out why I had not seen this yarn before so I looked it up.  Lo and behold it's an actual UK yarn made in Wales.  Wales is insane!  This gorgeous yarn is 45% silk and 55% merino, making a delicious soft yarn.  The colorway is called Water and it could not be more darling.

Now I must get back to my yarn.  I may or may not have immediately started knitting with one of the skeins last night.


FO: Lodi Cardi

It's finally here!  My Lodi Cardigan is finally done!  Actually, it was done on Sunday but I wanted to save it for Friday to share with the Tami's Amis group because you were there for all the WIP posts (see what I did there. Excellent insertion of blog linkage!)

Lodi Cardigan from Knitscene Summer 2011 in Cascade Sierra

I finally got the yarn to photograph in the bright red it truly is.  Isn't it a lovely color?  Just made me feel like a superhero or something.

In all seriousness though I am enjoying this.  It may be obscenely hot outside but this is quickly becoming my go-to cardigan for overly air-conditioned buildings.  I highly recommend the pattern which is very well written.  This was my first sweater with a button band and the instructions actually made a lot of sense.  I chose these awesome sparkly buttons that seemed just wild enough to fit the bold personality of the yarn.  They're sewn on with navy thread that matches the grosgrain ribbon that I used per the Knitmore GirlsCouture Button Tutorial (took me two nights but the results are totally worth it).

While I honestly am enjoying this cardigan it did provide some learning moments.  When it was all finished and the buttons were sewn on I ran into my bathroom to try it on.  It looked great until I buttoned it and found that while it buttoned the fabric gaped.  It seems I had a momentary loss of brain function and made the same size as my bust measurements.  In a cotton yarn.  I blame the fact that I generally knit with a bit of negative ease and that I'm still new to this whole sweater knitting thing.  I seemed to forget that cotton yarn does not stretch the way wool and wool blends do.

But it looks great unbuttoned, and it was from my early knitting stash so overall I'm happy.


FO: Andrea in Paris

My roommate Andrea's favorite place in the entire world is Paris.  Or New York City.  But there wasn't a shawl pattern for a famous NYC landmark so we're going to say Paris.  Back in November I asked her if I knit Natalie Servant's Eiffel Tower Shawl if she would wear it.  She said yes and so here we are.  Happy Birthday!  In July.  Finally done.  Eight months late.

In my defense I thought it would be much more difficult than it actually was.  This lovely pattern was actually pretty straight forward.  The only real difficulty I had was when I got to the third chart.  It's pretty readable if you aren't trying to read the chart, knit in a dark yarn, and watch the last four episodes Game of Thrones.  It is a laceweight pattern too, so it's not even effective for hiding behind because you can see through it.  Note to self, never knit laceweight when watching HBO.

I knit this out of Knit Picks Shadow in the colorway Midnight.  It's a black with undertones of blue and green.  Just like the planet.


FO: Pretty Twisted Hug

I'm doing the one thing in knitting blogging that you should never do -- post an FO before it has been mailed to the recipient.  But I just can't help myself!

I find myself falling into a pattern with Knitty.  The new issue comes out, I join every other internet-addicted knitter in the world in nearly crashing the site for two days, and when I finally get the pages to load I am completely underwhelmed.  Nothing strikes my fancy, the cover project is gorgeous but uses more yarn than I could afford even without rent payments.  I'm bored and a little sad.

Then the reviews come in.  Every podcast in the knitting world is discussing how much they loved the issue, especially pattern x because it really explores construction with style q.  What?  I didn't see that.  What was that name again?  And thus I rediscover the issue and find that nearly everything in there, once I look at the larger pictures, read about the ideas behind the pieces, and frankly just pay attention, is truly a work of art.  That's the thing about Knitty.  There's always something so unique that when you stop and look at it really is inspiring, even if you never get around to making it.

So of course when the First Fall 2011 issue was released I followed my standard pattern of behavior and during the course of my rediscovery found Cat Wong's Pretty Twisted, a pattern for not one, but three different bracelet cuffs, which can then be modified ad infinitum.

I quickly cast this on as a gift for a friend who has hit a bit of a rough patch.  I'm not there to take her to coffee and give hugs so I did the next best thing.  The bracelet had a few false starts in different yarns and I was quickly reminded that alcohol, even just a small glass of wine, does not mix well with linen stitch.  I used US 1s, but in the future I would use 2s because the stitch definition is a little muddied.

But the end result is lovely.  I used part of my leftovers from Daybreak and knit up the framed version.  The button is also from stash and has sweet little hearts encircling a flower.

Just a sweet little hug.

For more FO's this very accomplished Friday, check out Tami's Amis!


Tornado Thoughts

Thank you to everyone for your kind words about my grandfather.  He is doing much better and was able to walk today at the hospital.  We're hopeful for a discharge in the next day or so.

Focusing on my own personal struggles for the past few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about how much tragedy happens every day in our own back yard and how quickly we unconsciously expect people to deal with it and move on.  I don't know if this has always been the case or if it has a lot to do with the increased flow and pace of information that we now have.  This thought really hit home for me today when I was walking to work.  I work downtown in the state capital four to five days a week at our local children's museum.  It's an awesome place to work, but it is also right on the edge of one of the more rough areas of town.  On days I work in the afternoon I have to park a few blocks over on the street where I don't have to pay two hours at a time and move my car three times during my shift.  I had to park further out today than normal and as I was walking in I realized that I was walking the path of the tornado that hit here in April.  Along this street is a lovely and very old cemetery that was devastated by the storm.

Several months later and it still looks like the storm was only a few days ago.  I didn't want to take pictures of people's homes, but there are still downed trees and broken branches throughout the area.  

While the loss here was not nearly as bad as in other parts of the country, the damage was significant for many families and sadly because the storm came through downtown many of those still feeling the after effects do not have much at their disposal to restore their homes.

I'm not trying to get preachy or call for help, but I do think that it is important to remember what has happened is happening in the world around us.  I'm grateful that the only real damage that I saw today was to a cemetery.  I feel even more pride in my job because I do think that our location, while it may be upsetting to some and frustrating at times, is important because it allows us to provide a safe environment for families and to reach out to those we can.

And here's a random cat statue I parked next to, just to make you smile.


WIP Wednesday: Memories

For more WIP Wednesday madness, visit Tami's blog.

It's ironic that I wrote about my Kristi socks last week because they are basically the only knitting I've done in the past week.  It seems that lately every time something happens in the family I'm working on a cabled sock.  When my aunt died I knit my Cabled Highway Socks on the drive to the funeral.

On Monday my grandfather was admitted to the hospital.  We had brought him over for lunch earlier in the day and had a really great time.  He doesn't recognize most of us anymore, but he knows we are important and likes to spend time with us.  My sister, who is studying to be a nurse, gave him a manicure which had to be one of the cutest things I've ever seen.

Monday night I did a lot of knitting waiting to see how he was.  It was a rough night, which meant that I got a lot of knitting done.  Tuesday brought better news and we had a really good day with him in the hospital.  He is really sick, but he was mentally engaged and kept watching me knit.  I sat next to him watching the World Cup and he found me way more entertaining than the television.  At one point I let him look at it and he would not give it back for a full five minutes.  It was a great moment.

I'm almost done with the leg on the first sock.  Which is a big deal for me not only because they're Cookie A socks, but because I'm not a cuff-down sock knitter.  But I'm loving these, and I'm knitting in hopeful and happy vibes into them in the hopes that I can wear them next time I go visit my grandfather.


A Very Green Fourth

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday yesterday.  If you don't live in the US I hope you had a great day anyway.  I managed to get three days off in a row so I got to come home to visit my family.  For the past several years I have been various other places, typically working, and have not been home to enjoy any festivities.  While we could not make it to fireworks due to weather and a few family emergencies, we did manage to have quite a good time.

Mom has always grown herbs and this year the basil is taking over so we made pesto, a traditional summer treat at our house.

Basil, parsley, walnuts, and parmesan.  All ready for the liquefy setting.  It turned out great!

So good. And patriotic too!

Why yes, I am wearing my Featherwight.  See, it all comes back to knitting.


FO Friday: The Other Slayer

In the spirit of only thinking about good news this week, I have something exciting to share with you all.  It isn't a knitting FO, but it is an FO of another sort.

I've been published!

Let's let that sink in for just a moment, shall we?  Yesterday the new issue of Watcher Junior was released and one of the three articles was written by me!  This is the culmination of three years of work and patience and to be honest I had begun to believe that it would never happen.  In 2009 I presented my senior honors thesis (a requirement to be fulfilled the semester you graduate if you have completed the honors program) about the character Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  My adviser, a published Buffy scholar herself (she's awesome and blogs about it), pushed me to submit my paper for publication in Watcher Junior, an online journal affiliated with Slayage that publishes undergraduate papers.  Fast-forward to last summer when I got my comments and revisions back.  I spent every Saturday morning in Pittsburgh sitting in Starbucks working the edits.  In August I submitted it and then nothing happened.  Actually, lots happened, but it was on the inside at the journal so I did not know anything about it.  I thought that was the end of it until I got an email on Saturday that said the new issue would be out this week and I would be included!

If you would like to read the article you can do so for free here.  It is also searchable in EBSCOHost, which I think is probably the most exciting thing for me right now.  I'm kind of afraid to go look at the article after a year away from it, but as my Dad has requested linkage I guess there's no hiding from it.

For other FO Friday posts check out Tami's blog!