Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ennui and new yarn

For about the next month or so, I probably won't be blogging that much (I say this now -- we'll see). I'm finishing up my final year of graduate school toward my Master's degree, which means that my time is supposed to will be taken up by finishing, presenting, and writing up my master's project. This process will, I hope, be minimally painful. What it will be, for sure though, is time consuming, leaving little time to knit and/or blog.

On top of that, I've hit a few knitting walls this past week, and my knitting-mojo is suffering for it. The Urban Aran awaits attention somewhat impatiently. I cannot, for the life of me, pick up the required number of stitches along the neckline. I'm hoping that this is simply a product of me not knowing how to pick up stitches correctly (see below), and not the sloppy decreasing job. To determine this, I will have to check in with my LYS. However, I did not buy this yarn from said LYS, which tries to reserve its help for its own yarns (understandably so), and so I will have to beg and plead and probably offer money (totally worth it). However -- this whole grad school thing makes scheduling all of that difficult.

I discovered my lack-of-picking-up-stitches prowess when I dove into The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques with five Urban Aran pieces spread across my lap. Somewhere I had picked up an approach that looked nothing like the example in the book. While the new technique made my attempts on the collar more attractive (if not accurate), it created a little wrinkle in my brain. If I had been picking up stitches incorrectly all this time...then the picking up of stitches that I have done on the capecho are... incorrect. And while picking up incorrectly on a sock doesn't really matter -- you still get a fitting sock -- picking up incorrectly on the capecho may have disasterous results. So disasterous, in fact, that after a brief look at the six pentagons I've finished, and a quick realization that to fix this I would have to frog five -- I put the pieces down. I folded them up. And I have not looked at them since. (Brenda Dayne's most recent blog post on why you should not try to alter a Norah Gaughan pattern in any way is not helping.)

The Jaywalker, in its third incarnation, is coming along. And although the yarn is wonderful, the pooling is...kind of hideous. I love them nonetheless, but -- you know how it goes. Frustrating.

All of this makes me itch for a new project. Which I don't really have time to do just at the moment. Hence, my knitting-mojo frustrations.

This, of course, did not stop me from picking up a skein of 50/50 merino/tencel fingering weight yarn from Mary Ann Pagano of Three Waters Farm, a local fiber artist. She sells her hand-painted yarns at the Carrboro Farmer's Market, where I've admired them for over a year. I finally gave in today (her friendliness and my project frustration were too much to fight) and picked this up. The colors are just -- iridescent. Purples, greens, some blue... almost too good for the socks I'm planning. I think I'll play with some swatches and see what it wants to be.

I'll leave you with this: Baby yarn! The picture is poor -- I only got one in on a recent fishing trip to a nearby farm's pond. I of course was more interested in the week-and-a-half-old lambs.

Most recent podcast: Cast-On, with Brenda Dayne.
(The podcast responsible for this madness by introducing me to online knitting culture.)

Currently listening to: Cider in Battle Ground playlist: No Lonesome Tune, Townes Van Zandt.
What I should be am doing: Waiting for pyramids to build in ArcGIS. Grr.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

New spring growth

In good spring fashion, everything here is growing. I wake up every morning to the two large, bare windows next to my bed to gauge the day -- windy, wet, or warm. On Saturday, the branches were still bare. On Sunday morning, the canopy was covered in green. Lovely! Although I love the fall and winter, spring really is the best season here.

The knitting grows, too. I've made progress on the capecho -- those pentagons are addictive -- I've gotten five done (I seamed that one on the right up last night). With each additional pentagon I've been wrapping it around myself, checking the length, trying my best to keep the size in check. It seems to be working so far, as it looks like I'll need the full seven pentagons to get the right wrap-around width.

(Those stitch markers, by the way, are from Purl, the Penguin on Etsy. Love 'em.)

Not to be left out, the spring crop of lecture series has allowed for some Jaywalker time. That whole frogging thing to avoid the pooling? Yeah. That was a fair waste of half a sock, because that pooling wasn't going anywhere.

Ooooh -- and a squee update. Super fast shipping over at Fearless Fibers. Here it is! Look at that red! It's the perfect scarlet for a Rutgers fan at Duke. Now: what to make...

Most recent podcast: KEXP Song of the Day.
Currently listening to: Alexi Murdoch, Time Without Consequence.
What I should be am doing: Waiting for pyramids to build in ArcGIS. Grr.

* I don't actually like basketball, but I don't let that out very often down here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


I never win anything! This was a lovely surprise. Deb over at Fearless Fibers Yarn held a contest to celebrate the launch of a sock pattern, using FF sock yarn, by Tess Mattos of Polar Bear Patterns.

May I just say, I love Fearless Fibers (and I swear, loved it before she gave me two free skeins of Manos Del Uruguay). I love it so much that this was a perfect excuse to get another skein of the superwash sock yarn in the tapestry colorway I've been eyeing forever (550 yards for $16.50! Insane! And beautiful!). Go buy some.

Most recent podcast: This American Life.
What I should be doing: Sleeping.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fear of abandonment

I have consciously ignored the nearly completed Urban Aran for an entire day. Its finished, blocked pieces are arranged artfully on my dining room table, lonely and crying for attention, for the few days it will take me to seam it all together -- "you're so close!" -- but I avert my eyes on my way to and from the kitchen. (I also avoid the almost certain knowledge that the sleeves are way. too. long.)

On Monday, with my usual fearless passion, I dove in to the seaming process. I joined the shoulders satisfactorily, if not perfectly, and began the process of picking up stitches for the collar. I picked up stitches. Too few. I continued on, thinking it wouldn't matter. I realized this was a bad idea, and began again. Again, too few. I went back and forth, until, utterly frustrated and having visions of five green sweater pieces following me for the rest of my life.

So I put it down. I've realized that my usual, gung-ho, jump-right-in-and-I'll-figure-it-out-as-I-go attitude was not going to work here. So I'll read my Nancie M. Wiseman finishing book (again, it's not at Powell's), plan ahead, go slow, and figure it out. It'll just take me... a little longer.

In other news, be sure to read the best review of 300 that I've seen. The blog is excellent as well (if you haven't already seen it for yourself) -- one I check in on daily.

Most recent podcast: NPR's Sunday Puzzle with Will Shortz.
Currently listening to: Lonesome in Caroline, Chatham County Line.
What I should be doing: Forest Vegetation Sampling lab.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Spring Break updates

Have I really not posted for nine days? Spring break, a trip to Colorado, the week before the next draft of my Master's Project is due... it's just flown by. I'm only allowing myself to post now because I'm waiting for a model to run in ArcGIS 9.2.

Well, enough of that. Some updates:

After spending entirely too much time thinking about it, I decided to bring the capecho and the jaywalkers, both on bamboo needles, so as to avoid the scrutiny of any over-zealous security officers (excellent point, emano). I've learned not to bring anything too precious, as I once lost five Brittany dpn's (mid-hat!) to just such a circumstance. The capecho was new, exciting, and still small. It was a great project for the plane and a little podcast-listening, where I could give it my full attention. The jaywalkers had been languishing a bit, and I knew I'd need something a little more mindless for socializing.

Capecho progress! I've added a third pentagon since this picture was taken, but the light in Colorado was so much better that I've used an old shot. The seams are a bit obvious; any suggestions? I used the mattress stitch that Auntie Amanda recommended (thanks much!). It was super simple, but it's standing out a bit on the capecho. Any ideas?

Now that I'm back in the southeast, I've put all else down for the Urban Aran cardigan that still has me so excited. I've about 5 more rows to go before I finish the second front panel and then...then it's on to putting it all together. The seaming of the capecho pentagon's has given me a little confidence boost, and I'm excited about actually, possibly finishing!

Colorado was lovely -- I was just west of Denver, at my boyfriend's boyhood home in the mountains (I grew up in New Jersey. Apparently, they're called "foothills," but they're mountains to me). I got to go cross-country skiing (my first time ever on skis), and try out the new hot tub (I highly approve).

Something new has caught my eye, although I'll have to put it off until maybe the end of summer. It's both me, and not me, at the same time. I have nothing else like it, but I completely see myself wearing it over a fitted white long-sleeved tee, and jeans. It's SweaterBabe's Romantic Cable and Lace Vest.

Whew. I'll leave you with some Colorado eye candy.

Most recent podcast: KEXP's Song of the Day.
Currently listening to: Bitter Tea, The Fiery Furnaces.
What I should be doing: Writing the second draft of my MP.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A procrastinator's knitter's dilemma

It's almost 2am. My flight leaves at 9am. I am still awake because I put things off until the last minute can't decide which knitting to bring, or how much. One skein or two for the capecho? A second project? The jaywalker, or the toe-up sock whose heel I haven't been able to figure out for four months? Grr.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

How do you solve a problem like capecho?

With the Urban Aran nearly knitted, and a plane ride to Colorado coming up this week, I decided it was time to gear up for the next project (I didn't think my coach row-mates would appreciate my 14-inch Brittany's). Never mind that I have two other WIPs, the Jaywalker socks and My So-Called scarf (which is really just an exercise in Malabrigo). These are just the projects I admit to being on the needles. I also have just a few UFO's lurking: a pair of toe-up socks, a branching out scarf, and the back of the beaded kaftan in Debbie Bliss #5, bought before I knew what a stockinette sweater really meant.

Ignoring all of that, I've decided to dive into Norah Gaughan's Capecho from the Vogue Knitting Winter 2006 issue. I've been drawn to this sweater since I first saw it - the construction seems ingenious, the sweater is stunning. I never had a chance.

There are, of course, a few warning signs. Let's think about the word: capecho. A joining of cape, and poncho. Both are flowy, wrapping, loose. Now, take another look at the picture. Nothing about really evokes either a cape or a poncho. Or a wrap, shawl, blanket, or tent.

If "capecho" didn't give it away, the grisly images from the Craftster knit-along and knit lit's hilarious letter to Norah should have. And yet, I'm jumping in - I was doomed from the start. There is some hope, at the end of that thread, though, and I'm going to reach for it with everything I have.

Perhaps the knitting projects I am drawn to will stand in for a personality trait that I (mercifully) am without. My knitting will be the equivalent of "bad boys" -- projects to be tamed, trained, and changed. This idea never seemed fair or sensible to me romantically, but this sweater has has changed all of that (too bad it's all white and soft, and not black leather -- the sweater you can't bring home to Mother).

And yet, still, I'm going to attempt it. More to come.

Most recent podcast: Quirky Nomads.
Currently listening to: Lisa, The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers.
What I should be doing: Learning how to use the network analyst function in ArcGIS 9.2.

Wow. I just linked to ESRI and outed myself as a GIS nerd... on my knitting blog.