Saturday, April 28, 2007

On the knitting front

Well, I'm feeling better. This cold was much milder than my last one (which kept me sick for a whole month!), and I'm back to my busy, busy self. The glimpse I gave you in my last post inspired some curiosity about my current project, and I want to fill in a few of the details.

It's the Swallowtail Shawl, designed by Evelyn Clark, from Interweave Knits (Fall 2006). Honestly, I'm almost done. It took a bit over two weeks to knit (I started it as soon as I finished Peter's scarf and will finish binding off at knitting group this afternoon), but don't hold your breath for FO pictures because I don't know when I'll have a chance to block the finished shawl.

I followed the pattern as it's written, except for the yarn. This is what I used:

That's a picture of the yarn I got for holiday gifts this winter, and the one in the middle is the Paris color way of Handmaiden Yarn's Seasilk (bought online, here). I've really enjoyed using it. When I began I was worried that all the color changes would be too busy for the lace pattern, but I overcame that concern as the project developed. The yarn is smooth and luminous. It smells faintly like the ocean or a bit of nori. I'm seriously looking forward to making something with the second skein (on the left in the picture) but haven't yet decided what it will become.

As for other fronts, Dan and I realized yesterday that we will be moving in exactly two months... crazy...

Monday, April 23, 2007

A glimpse

I am sick again! And this is really quite unfortunate timing because I'm way too busy right now. I need to write. I need to read. I need to teach. I need to comprehend what people say and offer articulate responses. Instead, I'm a very sad example of a graduate student.

Oh well, at least my knitting is pretty.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Peter's scarf

I made a scarf for Peter, one of the professors I work with, and it turned out even better than I thought it would.

Of all the people I know, Peter talks the most about death and mortality. Perhaps it's because he's Hungarian. Perhaps it's because he was a Jewish boy in Budapest during Nazi occupation. Perhaps it's just how he is. Here is an example of our conversations last spring (we had many little talks like this one):

Peter: Do you think I will make it through lecture today?

Me: Of course! Why not?

Peter: Well, you never know. I may open my mouth and the words may be gone.

Me: I'm sure you'll be fine.

Peter: Do you think that this problem with my voice is cancer?

Me: Your doctor said it's nodes on your vocal cords. How are you feeling otherwise?

Peter: Fine. But, we all must die. I think it's cancer.

He was right. Shortly after his diagnosis I asked Peter if he would like a scarf, but he didn't want me to knit him something until his health was better. I listened to Peter's request that I wait until he "survived" and put his scarf on a list of projects for later.

After treatment during the summer and a leave of absence in fall, Peter taught again in winter, and I was his TA again. He's recovered quite well, and I decided that his 70th birthday this month would be a good occasion to give him a scarf. He seemed very happy when I presented his gift, and was happy to model for my blog. He said, "Amanda, if I can lecture in front of 300 students, why would I worry about my picture on the internet?"

Scarf Details:

The scarf itself is made from Cascade 220. I cast on about 320 stitches and just knit, knit, knit away in the symmetrical stripe pattern.

As a design element I incorporated the "wrong side" of the garter at color changes on both sides of the scarf. Thus, it doesn't have a "wrong side."

Also, it was important to me to have both edges as similar as possible. So, I used "EZ's Sewn Bind-Off" (Elizabeth Zimmerman was a knitting genius!) to make the cast-off edge less obvious, and it worked like a charm. Several experienced knitters haven't been able to tell which edge was my cast-on and which was my cast-off!

The fringe was made by cutting the yarn and reattaching it at the end of each row, creating an instant fringe and eliminating the need to hide ends. I originally planned on trimming the ends to make a more even fringe, but several friends told me that they really liked the uneven look. So, I left it as it was.

I'm really happy with the finished scarf and will definitely use this technique again!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small things can make a big difference

I finished another scarf (the one I was working on during my grading). Holly and I decided that the left over yarn makes the PERFECT fashion accessory. What to you think?

A FO picture will come soon.

In other knitting news, the yarn I got for my grandma's scarf is in time-out. (I'm sorry, Grandma. I love you, and I want to make you a scarf, but the yarn isn't behaving.) I have begun a new project for her that should please, but its identity shall remain a mystery for now...

Lastly, my dad uploaded some pictures of my family to Flickr so that I can see how tall and old my brothers look. They are significantly younger than me (I'm 27, and they're 12 and 14), and I haven't seen them for one-and-a-half years! I can't get over these pictures (here's my favorite, and this one from last summer is also really great). So, in order that they don't forget what I look like, here's a picture of me wearing my Clapotis as a shawl:

Back to work!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Applause with a French Accent and My Vacation

Well, school is back in session, and I have a variety of interesting but challenging tasks facing me this quarter. I am making some progress with my writing—which makes me feel good but also reminds me how much time I must dedicate in order to accomplish small steps—and I'm looking forward to the class I'm TAing and the readings course I'm taking. But, before I dive headlong into another pile of books, I need to show you something. My Clapotis:

This pattern, available for free on Knitty, is super popular in the knitting world, and the reasons are simple: it's fun and the results look good. I found this yarn on clearance last fall and, despite the fact that I wasn't planning on knitting a Clapotis, as soon as I saw it I knew what I would use it for. Now, if you read this blog regularly, you may be wondering when I knit this, because it barely made an appearance until today. To be honest, I think I did most of the knitting in December, and maybe January, right after I bought the yarn. I even gave you a glimpse when my fall grades were due.

I found that the knitting went quickly because the pattern has built in goals/rewards: "Oh, I can't stop now. I'm almost to the next row where I drop stitches!" But, silly knitter that I am, I was really slow with the finishing because I was worried the scarf/shawl was too long. So, I stuffed it in my knitting box and forgot about it until a couple weeks ago when I fished it out again, hid the ends, and suddenly had an *instantaneously* finished Clapotis.

My lovely model for these pictures is Karen. She and her son, Derek, came to visit me for two days over spring break. We had such a wonderful time playing at the beach, wandering through lovely natural settings, seeing sea lions and butterflies, eating tacos and tamales, and talking. Plus, I took tons of pictures, many of which I uploaded to my Flickr site, even creating a special set of pictures from their visit. (Karen has a wonderful blog about raising her son at Go, Bebe, Go! But, I don't think she's updated it for a few weeks.)

Their visit was very refreshing! Now I'm ready to get down to work. QE prep, here I come!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A girl with a hat

The hat fits!

And she looks so cute in it!

I want to send another thanks to Tim for the great pictures of Katie in the Kitty Hat. He sent them so quickly that they sat in my email in-box without attention for several days until I completed my grading and allowed myself a brief return to my online pleasures. I think they were worth waiting for.

After the grading was done, done, done I spent two days (well, maybe three) behaving as one on vacation before returning to my qualifying exam preparations. I will QE this spring. It must happen, and it will happen. (Must. Write. Faster.) Please send me good writing vibrations.

Also, please contemplate this second picture of Katie as she contemplates a sheep. The circle between animal, yarn, and Kitty Hat makes me happy.