Saturday, January 27, 2007

Three scarves for far away friends

I spent last July studying Yiddish at Tel Aviv University (you can find lots of pictures and details here through here). It was a rigorous academic program full of opportunities for rich cultural and intellectual experiences. Happily, the students were heavily international, and I was able to acquaint myself with smart people from different countries who shared their perspectives and stories with me. We studied, explored, sang, ate, complained about the heat, swam in the sea, talked about loved ones, worried about the war, shopped, walked to class, helped each other translate, danced, laughed, and formed a little community together. I became particularly close to Agi (from Budapest), Bartek and Adam (both from Poland). I hope that some day I can visit my friends in Eastern Europe and/or perhaps they can visit me, but I'm not sure when the time will come. In the interim, I don't want them to think I have forgotten our time together, so I made three scarves destined for Eastern Europe.

The specs:

Yarn: Malabrigo, one skein for each scarf (I can't rave enough about how soft and nice this 100% merino wool is to work with.)

Needles: 10.5, Knit Picks Options

Pattern: I think the stitch pattern is called "herringbone," but I'm not sure. You can find the instructions at "My So Called Scarf." In my version I cast on 28 stitches and knit till I was out of yarn. You can see close-up of my stitches on Agi's scarf here.

I have no idea how long it will take for my little packages to make their way across two continents and an ocean. Hopefully, they will arrive soon to warm the hearts and necks of my friends in Eastern Europe.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Blue sky, open door, new beginning

This hasn't been an easy week. Although the sky is blue, the days are cold and nights are colder. The apartment feels empty and lonely, but the sensation gets a little less strange everyday. My back's been hurting because I slipped and fell down the stairs on Wednesday while I was rushing to answer the phone (stupid telemarketer), and I haven't quite been feeling like myself. At the same time, I seem to be suspended in some strange academic limbo where time passes but I never feel closer to my goal. Something has to change.

I didn't knit for most of the week, but on Friday knitting made an appearance when Dan and I were trapped in our apartment all day with the door open. The property management has been trying to "clean up" our apartment complex (which is sometimes a good thing) and part of this process is repainting all the buildings. Why they choose November through January for this project, we'll never know, but Friday was the day they painted all the front doors on our building. We got a note about a week in advance explaining that we would have to leave the door open for about 6 hours (it turned out to be more like 7) while the painters applied two coats and left sufficient drying time after each. Friday happens to be the only day when neither Dan or I work, so we were both free to guard our apartment while the door was open all day. We cooked. We watched movies. We got cold. So we wore knits.

Dan took this picture to document the experience. You can see the open door in the background, me all bundled up, and Dan demonstrating the softness of the scarf I made for him. To be honest, I wear it more than he does because he says that it doesn't get cold enough here in CA for him to need a scarf. Friday was the exception.

At the end of the day we had a pretty, brick red door. The sad part is, after all of that trouble, the door got a big scratch out of the paint by the next morning. I'm afraid I accidentally brushed my bag against the paint that night when I was coming home from an evening visit to the coffee shop. The paint was dry to the touch but apparently not yet hardened. Oh well. I'll call the office Monday morning to see if they can do a touch up.

Yesterday at knitting group I finally finished the last scarf in my trio of scarves destined for Eastern Europe. I originally thought I would have sent those by now, but life doesn't always go the way you expect.

It's time for a new project, a new start.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Our little love

Niko Niko Fincannon

July 1997 – January 14, 2007

Niko, our lovely cat, went by many names. She was our Neek-Neek, our kitty-cow, our fuzzball. Although she was a cat, she also resembled many other animals, and we called her by those names too: little lion, little monkey, little lemur, little bird. We liked to say that she was made of pure Neekonium and if she was a race horse her name would have been Lenin's Beard. She is our little love.

Friday, January 12, 2007


School started, and I began Socks 101. I am pleased to report that I (finally) finished my first pair of socks. I relayed my sordid sock knitting past during Socktoberfest when I tried to revive a flagging sock project, but my efforts didn't result in a finished pair of socks. No, I needed a good old lesson in Socks 101—a basic and quick pattern to help me prove to myself that warm handmade socks are within my power.

As I explained before, I made these socks as part of a knit along/test along for a book. The pattern used one skein of Manos del Uruguay, and the size of the yarn and needles makes the project go fairly quickly. After you're done knitting, you "full" the socks by getting them damp and running them in a dryer for a few minutes. Above you can see the socks before their twirl in the drier, and below you can see them flying about at the Laundromat.

My friend Kelly kindly let me take pictures of her wearing my new socks. (I love this picture with her tattoo.) You can see more pictures of these socks and other test-knitters' SOCKS 101 at a Flickr site here.

I think I will name these my "Happy Blue Socks." Doesn't Kelly look happy wearing them? I must say, I'm happy in them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Reading + Knitting = My Life

Wow, I can't believe it's already been a week since my last post!

I've been very busy working—tidying up loose ends from last quarter, beginning my new quarter as a Teaching Assistant, and reading, reading, reading—but I'm also almost done with my three scarves destined for Eastern Europe. I only have a few inches left on the last one (pictured), and then I have a few ends to hide. I'm not sure if I need to block these, so I will probably skip that step because I don't want to wait a year for them to dry (it's currently rather cold and humid in my apartment).

I'm also participating in a knit along, or rather a "test along," for SOCKS 101. It's kind of exciting because Larissa (you can see her blog at Stitch Marker) is writing a book, and this knit along is testing one of her patterns. All of the finished test socks are available for viewing at a special Flickr site. I will post mine either tonight or tomorrow. Isn't that exciting?

Time to get back to the books! I'll probably have a FO post by this weekend.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In the sprit of randomness

I am sitting in a cafe working and have no time to blog, but I don't want my avid readers to miss me (Apple Jack, you know I'm talking about you!). So, I will share three unrelated things that I thought might make good blog content.

1) Yesterday I was talking to my Dad on the phone. I could hear my teenage brothers talking in the background. Tristan, the 14-year-old, decided that I should take my hobby to the next level: "extreme knitting." It would involve knitting while jumping out of a plane, or underwater, or something. Fabulous idea, don't you think?

2) Two people asked in the comments on my last post what brand of yarn I'm using for the scarf I'm making Agi. The brand is called Malabrigo Yarn (follow the link for information about the Uruguay based company), and it's really great to work with. I finished Agi's scarf and am making two more with the same kind of yarn but in different colors for some nice Polish boys. You can look forward to pictures of a finished trio of scarves destined for Eastern Europe in the near future.

3) Just before I started writing this little entry, I overheard some people at another table talking about Evergreen, the college where I did my undergraduate work. I loved my experience at Evergreen and am ready to promote it at any time. So I turned to the table and said: "Are you talking about The Evergreen State College?" One of the boys started talking with me and then, when I told him that I'm now pursuing my PhD in History, he said: "Hey, I think I met your sister in Olympia." Apparently he was sitting in another public place talking about Santa Cruz, and my big sister (who is super gregarious) overheard him and started talking with him about my town and how her sister is here studying, etc, etc... Isn't that fabulously random?

Finally, an unrelated picture because otherwise this entry would be pictureless, and we can't allow that.

My cat wins the fluffy winter coat award, but she's still spent the last month hiding under blankets. I briefly considered the validity of knitting something for her to keep warm in/under, but that thought only lasted a second. She would never use something made expressly for her. Cats are just too contrary for something like that.