Saturday, November 25, 2006

Signs of the Season

With blue skies shining, how can I tell that it's winter on the CA cost? Well I spied a few signs of the season that I can share with you. First, Niko grew her winter coat and is now fantastically fuzzy.

Second, Dan is also working on his winter fur.

Third, my scarf saga has reached closure. Behold my NEW alpaca scarf.

It's a simple scarf, made with knit 2 purl 2 ribbing in a symmetrical stripe pattern that I like. The yarn is Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. I've used this yarn for several projects, and I always enjoy knitting with it. It sheds a bit, and the finished project can be a bit fuzzy, but I love it for hats and scarves because it feels soft and cozy. Plus, I enjoy these colors tremendously.

Now my hat has a mate again, and I am wearing both almost every evening when I'm out and about with the ocean chill in the air.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Too busy

I don't have time to post, but I have been knitting. Look what I've been making out of those yarn scraps I showed you on the rock.

Purrdy colors. Oh, and the sunsets have been amazing recently. I took this shot from the middle of a parking lot because I couldn't stand not documenting the moment.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating. And to my family, you know I love you and my thoughts are with you. Always.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Finished 21st Birthday Scarf

A happy scarf for a happy birthday present:

I made this scarf using a half ounce of Habu silk mohair blend, and it's super soft. The recipient helped me pick the yarn, and she requested something simple but light and a little lacy. I knew, in theory, that knitting every row in a skinny mohair on larger needles (I went with US size 9) would create an open almost lacy effect, but I'd never done it before. Personally, I'm really happy with the results. I just hope the Birthday Girl is also pleased.

Below is a picture I took of the scarf when it was about half way done. As you can see, I used the new Knit Picks Options Needles, and I really liked them. They arrived, as a late birthday present from my father, on the day I was ready to cast on. Clearly, I was fated to use them because they even matched the yarn!

Knitting it went by in a flash, but I procrastinated a bit with the blocking. Really, I'm not super experienced when it comes to blocking my knitting, but I've read so many places about the benefits of blocking, particularly anything lacey, that I decide to make an attempt in the hopes that it opens, evens, and lengthens the scarf. But, as you can see, I haven't yet perfected my blocking setup.

Dan joked that I'd made a runway for the cat. Luckily, she stayed away from it after the first time I chased her off. Most of it was pinned to a towel on the kitchen table, but it was a little too long, so I tied one end to a chair. Dan observed that the process looks like I put my knitting on the rack. What do you think?

I know it's not the ideal way to block a scarf, but, if anything, it's a little cleaner and fresher now that it bathed and straightened up for the party tomorrow night. I'll try to get one final shot of the Birthday Girl in her clean new scarf to add to the blog this weekend.

Edited to add: Here's a picture of the Birthday Girl backdropped by a ridiculous amount of booze for her 21st. She seemed happy with the scarf, and wore it until she got worried about the possibility of an encounter between the scarf and the earlier mentioned booze.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scarf Saga

Two years ago, my wonderful sister sent me a lovely bunch of soft, bulky alpaca yarn for my birthday. It was love at first sight, reigniting my knitting passion, something that had smoldered with lingering projects and little attention through my first year of graduate school. I immediately cast on for a new scarf. When I ran out of two of the colors before finishing my project, my sister was a great sport. She quickly mailed more of the required colors in the matching dye lot. When it was done, I loved my scarf.

Eventually I made a matching hat. For some reason, I had sharp pangs of desire for a hat with earflaps. I played with designs for a while, eventually making something up that I was happy with. I felt quite cozy and styling with my matching alpaca hat and scarf.

Then, last spring, tragedy struck: I left my scarf on the bus. I knew immediately and turned back, but the accordion door was already shut and the bus moved on. After many calls to the bus station and several visits to their lost and found, it was clear: a stranger had my scarf.

What to do? After a period of anger—at myself and the scarf thief—I decided that the only course of action left to me was to find more of the yarn, and to make another scarf. I mean, really—the hat simply wouldn't look so snappy without its mate. Now, that mission is almost complete.

In this picture you can see the two scarves I knit during the past week. One is a delicate silk and mohair scarf for a friend, and the other is my NEW scarf. Both need a little more attention before they are complete (ends to hide and blocking to be done), but I'm really happy with both. I'll post another picture of each when they're completely finished. In the mean time, I have a bunch of bits and partial skeins left of the alpaca yarn. I think another scarf, perhaps for a very nice sister, is in order.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Recipe for a Fun Section Meeting

This started as a response to one of my fellow gradstudents when she displayed frustration with her students after they were unresponsive in an early morning section meeting. First I told her to make them dance and sing. Then I wrote this, but it became too long to just be a comment on her blog, so I decided it can be a post on mine.

OK. Here's a real suggestion for sections:

When students come in, tell them that they need to do a little writing and that you will collect it at the end of class (sometimes I use these to take role). Write instructions on the board:

  1. Spend 4-5 minutes brainstorming themes from the readings.
  2. Write down 3 "significant" or "memorable" details from the reading (with page references or quotes).
  3. Then I usually end it with one more definition type question that relates to something they SHOULD know at this point, but many are still confused about (for example, in my Russian History class: "What's the difference between a peasant and a serf?").

After giving them enough time to do this stuff (I love watching them writing and thinking), make them share their themes as a big group. Write them on the board. If their really reluctant to share, make them go in a circle. Then make them get in small groups to share their details from the readings and talk about how they relate to the themes on the board. After they've had time to share, make each group report on what they talked about (Encourage them during this point with statements like: Did you come-up with similar details from the text? If not, were they related to similar themes? etc, etc.) Encourage other groups to ask questions of the group that is presenting. Then, after all groups have shared, make some nice transition statements to move them to the last question they had to write about. Make them turn to the person next to them and share their answers. Then, after they shared, ask them what the answer is. After they figure it out as a group, ask them why this is an important issue...

Then class time is probably up.

As you can imagine, there are many possible variations on this recipe for a section meeting.


Oy, why did I write this? Now someone else has to tell me how to concentrate and be productive when I'm supposed to be reading student papers.

As for knitting, I'm done knitting both scarves, and now each just needs a little finishing so that they can be pretty. Pictures and finished object posts to come.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


My little California beach town has very mild weather. The summers are sunny, but not hot. The winters are wet, but not freezing. Overall, mild. Yet, I insist that it has good scarf weather.

As a child of the North West, I am a devout follower of the layering school of dressing. Will it rain all day? Is that morning grey deceiving? Will we have sunshine, winds, or rainbows? Or maybe, all of the above? Here in costal central California, my heavy wool layers are not necessary, but my scarf is a must. Observe, for example, Halloween.

This town has Halloween festivities at least 20 times larger and more raucous than any other place I've lived. About half the population of the city converges on a one mile stretch of downtown. And although many of the revelers are scantily clad, don't let looks be deceiving: even here, nights are quite cold in late October.

This guy, and others dressed like him, must have been freezing. Me? I was fine—I wore a scarf.

Perhaps in reaction to witnessing all that shivering on Halloween, I have gone completely SCARF MAD. After less than a week, I have almost finished knitting two scarves, and I have plans to knit at least one more ASAP.

I took this picture yesterday at knitting group. More knitting progress has taken place since then.

Say it with me: "WE LOVE SCARVES!"