Sunday, October 29, 2006


The always charming creator of Friknits is soliciting fellow knitters to share their favorite finished objects. Upon reading her post I immediately wanted to join the fun, but I don't have pictures of many FOs on my blog. In fact, there's only one, and it was back in June. I guess that's what I get for knitting a blanket...

Anyway, I've never been good at ranking favorites. As a small child I remember being nervous if I had a favorite stuffed animal (what if it hurt the other animals' feelings?). Even now I abhor surveys where I have to rate things by numbers (How do you feel? 1-10), and I don't really believe in grading (even though I've been responsible for determining my students' grades for the past 3 years). It's not that I don't think some things are better than others; it's that people often don't discuss what characteristics they ascribe the most value to. Thus I want to clarify how I chose my "favorite." Was it be based on the yarn or pattern? Or, perhaps the utility or attractiveness of the finished item? Hmmm.

Here are the criteria for my "favorite":

1) difficulty of project and effort invested;
2) how much I learned while making it;
3) pride in finished results.

Without further ado:

I made this baby sweater and matching tam using a pattern from an old issue of Interweave Knits. My family sent pictures last winter after my little niece grew big enough to wear the outfit her aunt sent. I love these pictures (so cute!), but you can't see the sweater design too well. It crosses over in front and buttons on top of the shoulders. Plus, the pattern uses plain stockinet, ribbing, and seed stitch.

In one picture she looks like she's about to take a bite out of the hippo. It makes me smile. The ability to make people smile should also be on my list....

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I am discouraged and weary. Is there something wrong with me? Yesterday I was told that I haven't been doing enough when I comment on student papers.... It made me cry. I just don't know how I can do more.

No knitting to show you. I did finish seaming the baby sweater, but I didn't block it. Should I? Does it matter? Personally, I'm not sure.

OK. Time for some inspiration. This is Corrie:

I took the picture during knitting group a couple weeks ago. See the sweater she is wearing? She made it almost entirely using a pair of chopsticks. Yah, chopsticks. And the yarn for the sweater? Well, she got that from recycling a thrift store sweater. Inventive, creative, and resourceful--that's Corrie. Plus, she's completely humble about the whole thing. She said she made the sweater a few years ago when she was completely broke and desperate to knit.

See? Amazing things are completely possible.

Back to work.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The way of Yarn

I just want to point out that there are many people more obsessed than I am....

I saw this car as I was leaving my favorite coffee shop, and I couldn't help but snap a picture. I'm hoping the yarn-loving car owner doesn't mind that I'm posting this online.

As for my knitting, I am an awful procrastinator when it comes to the non-knitting finishing elements of projects. The baby sweater is still waiting for a bit of attention, and I just realized this morning that the fishes are almost done. . . . which means that soon I will have hours and hours of sewing and HUNDREDS of ends to hide (And, no, I am not exaggerating when I say "HUNDREDS". I will have over 200 fishes, each with two ends, plus any ends created in the sewing-up process. (Though, I have been imagining using fish ends to sew with, which might head off more end creation, but at the moment this is all purely theoretical.)).

An end hiding party is clearly in order. Anyone game? Perhaps we can watch Project Runway on DVD and drink tea?

Ends! You cannot defeat me! I WILL PREVAIL!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Socktoberfest, here I come!

The wind is blowing, the leaves are changing, and October is half over. Thus, Socktoberfest is also at its midpoint, and I have yet to make an entry about the festival of socks going on in knit-blog-land. Basically, as explained by Lolly, the sock party organizer, it's a month long celebration of sock knitting. Writing about Socktoberfest means revealing my sordid sock knitting past. Lucky for you, it's not a long history.

I am one of over 1800 participants in this year's Socktober festivities. Many of the participants are avid sock knitters, skilled in their craft and with fantastic socks flying off their needles. Me? Well, I'm not that much of a sock knitting girl. So far I only have one finished sock to my credit. But to my defense: it is a lace patterned knee-high. Sadly, it wants to fall down, and I am having a hard time bringing myself to finish its match. Unfaithfully, last spring I turned to a new sock project for solace:

Where did I get the pattern? Well, I wanted to try the toe-up method, so I used the tutorial on Knitty. Creating the toe was an exciting process, and then I started zipping around and around the foot. Unfortunately, I don't know how to make the heel from this direction. So I turned to my only book about knitting socks, Cat Bordi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. But there still remains one problem: I am using double pointed needles, not two circulars.

I know that experienced sock knitters can make conversions between sock patterns in their sleep, but I am not yet a member of that happy club. Sadly, the little purple sock, with its neat little rows of stitches, sat without attention or progress for the summer.

Happy for me, Socktoberfest is the perfect time to pickup my neglected sock. It is now getting the attention it deserves, and, maybe, I'll have another finished sock to be proud of by the end of the month. If only the two matched....

Oh, and I have a sweet new t-shirt, thanks to my fabulous sister. Other "knotty knitters" can purchase their own here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The scene last night:

It is evening, around 9:00. Dan and Amanda have just finished eating dinner and are resting for a few minutes before Amanda will go out and work some more. Both show signs of fatigue. There is a loud knock at the door. Dan and Amanda are briefly startled by the unexpected sound They exchange looks, and Amanda goes to reveal the identity of their nighttime visitor. She peeks through the window and then smiles as she quickly opens the door.

"It's Erin!" she announces with excitement.


Erin is the fastest knitter I know and, most importantly, my dear friend. In fact, we met entirely through knitting. Over a year ago, I spent much of my summer indexing a book. One day I was working at a table outside a cafe (and a yarn store), and I saw a group of young people knitting and crocheting. When I was ready for a little break from indexing, I went over to the group to say hello. Erin immediately asked if I knit and invited me to join her group. The rest is, as they say, history. I became Erin's most loyal knitting group attendee, and we became good friends.

Currently, Erin is so busy that she doesn't come to knitting group, and I have sort of inherited its leadership. Not only does she have a fulltime job fighting mortgage fraud, she decided to go back to school for her MBA, and she is working at the CA Renaissance Fair on the weekends. She is amazingly driven, but no longer can make it to knitting on the weekends. I miss her, and was really happy to see her last night, if only for a few minutes. She stopped by to present me with a thoughtful birthday gift, which she hadn't had time to give to me on my birthday: a beaded necklace that she made herself.

Thank you, sweetie!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Erin for something else: this blog. You see, Erin inspired this blog. I became interested in writing a knitting blog after seeing hers. Although she is currently too busy to knit much (and thus there aren't many new entries), Erin's blog is a wonderful record of her creativity and productivity. Plus, when I expressed interest in starting my own knitting blog, she was full of encouragement and support (as she has been with all of my knitting adventures).

So Erin, thanks for everything. And remember: I'll keep the knitting group going, but I look forward to you coming back someday. Plus, you know you can always call me if you want a friend to knit with, study with, or talk with.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

One list and some pictures

This was an action packed week, and I am about to start another. Unfortunately I don't really have time to describe it all for you, but here is a list of some of the things I learned:

  • I love the zoo, and I love it even more when I have a camera that allows me to take about 250 shots. (Some of my favorites are scattered through this post.)
  • Using a cable cast-on and elastic bind-off isn't hard and looks good.
  • All the baby sweaters I knit look like they could be costumes from Star Trek. (Here are shots of the front and back of my newest almost finished project. Now I just have to sew the top seam, hide ends, and try a bit of blocking.)

  • It doesn't matter how many times I explain something in an assignment if I am asking students to do something they haven't done before—many won't understand.
  • Students need clear time limits and structure for small-group work, no matter how old they are.

  • Responding to 20 student papers with detailed suggestions for revisions is time consuming.
  • Panicking doesn't help—except maybe when it wakes me up early in the morning, thus allowing an additional hour to read student papers.

  • It feels good to pass back 20 papers, each with personalized feedback and comments.
  • I love my camera.
  • I seem to actually enjoy teaching--even while I'm panicking.

I hope you learned something new this week too!