Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Swallowtail shawl progress is afoot

Look what I'm making - a giant blob of orange gold! This is my Swallowtail Shawl, 14 repeats of the main lace pattern finished. I'm enlarging the shawl so I plan to do 19 repeats as per Pepperknit. This is a semi-secret gift project. Semi because I want to be able to blog about it, but secret because I'm not telling you who it's for. See, semi-secret? Right...

I need to figure out how to make Flickr embed photos in my posts without doing the weird formatting it's doing up there! Anyway, this is Zephyr wool/silk in curry. I think the color in the first photo is pretty accurate. I'm worried it's going to be too orange, but really it is a lovely color and hopefully the recipient will like it. I was going for gold but I couldn't find any gold laceweight in Seattle or on the internets. So, curry it is! I'm very much enjoying knitting this now that I'm into it, although that took a little while. Now the rows are longer and thus the stitches are more stable on the needles so I feel more confident, plus I have the pattern pretty much memorized and I'm learning to read the lace to make sure I'm on track. This has to be done in about a month, which should be okay at my current rate of progress, although the nupps may slow me down. Pepperknit also has a different nupp method that I think I'll borrow to avoid the purl5together stitch, which sounds painful even with the Knit Picks Harmony needles (which are great, and not garish as I initially feared). Here's a close-up of the pattern. Thanks to Dave for stretching it out so I could take the photo!

Now that I'm back and not that busy there's no stopping me - I'm posting all the time! Oh, and I've been messing with my sidebars a bit - if you're a blog I read and I haven't added you yet don't feel bad. My computer at work crashed when I was making the list and I haven't gotten back to it yet. Then again, I read a lot of blogs so I might not be able to list them all...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A fresh perspective

Dave and I have been arguing for ages about the merits of furniture rearrangement. I grew up in a household where we rearranged furniture almost monthly, and I did the same thing in my college apartment. However, since I've lived in Seattle, I haven't really bothered moving things around, largely because their original arrangement seemed like the best one. When my mother was visiting a couple of summers ago, we rearranged the living room, but everything else has stayed as it was. But I digress. Dave did not grow up in a family where furniture moving was a frequent occurrence, and he really couldn't understand the point. We got into it again while having brunch at a friend's house on Sunday, and I resolved that we were going to rearrange the bedroom, if only to move my nightstand to the other side of the bed so I could switch sides such that maybe Oliver would stop harassing me for food at 5:15 in the morning (I'll be sure to let you all know how well that works out.). Well, to make a long story short, Dave ended up getting quite into the process and now the bedroom is completely different: I realize hardly any of you know how it was before, but I figured my mother would appreciate this, and she's one of my most loyal readers! And I know how she likes furniture at angles, because she put my couch at one! Dave even has his own reading area so he doesn't have to read in bed when he has insomnia. Apparently he would rather read sitting up...We have a nice symmetrical wall of furniture, which appeals to me because of the varying heights. We'll see how we like this. Last night it was hard sleeping on the wrong side of the bed!

Final Christmas gift in the mail!

Finished! poor grandmother, having to wait until late February for her Christmas gift!

They look funny because they're too big for me, hence the floppy toes. I made the first of these socks in time for Christmas but was worried about the size, so I only gifted one sock. It was, as feared, too big, so I made the second sock smaller with intentions of ripping out the toe and reknitting shorter. But, these are toe-up and with the eyelet pattern it was all getting too confusing for me and I knew I would procrastinate on it and therefore I decided to let the first sock be a bit big. I think she'll be happy with them anyway, she said at the time it was okay. Plus, I suspect these will be worn almost exclusively in the house, not with shoes, and that they will shrink a tad anyway. Fingers crossed that they fit and she likes them, and that she isn't lying when she says so!

Project Stats: Anastasia Socks

Pattern: Anastasia, by Pepperknit.

Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight, colorway Lucy (named after Wendy's cat). Yarn purchased at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in 2007.

Needles: Size 1 Clover bamboo DPNs

Time on the needles: November 2007-February 20, 2008. Eh. No excuse for this, really.

Impressions: Once again, I love the STR. This was a nice pattern but I had some issues on the legs. Once I was doing the pattern all the way around I got frameshifts, and I probably could have figured out a way to fix it but it only happened once on the first sock and then the second sock I was knitting on my way back from Boston on the plane and I was tired and not thinking hard enough about it. It's really not that obvious anyway, unless you're looking. Most of my socks thus far have been knit top-down, but I like toe-up for full yarn utilization. Not that I used all the yarn here since I correctly assumed my grandmother was not the tall socks type. These socks have brought me around to the merits of the short-row heel, which is easy and I suspect faster than the heel flap-gusset decrease heel I'm used to. Plus, most store-bought socks have short-row heels (You know you've looked too!), so there must be something to them...This is a good pattern for this yarn, and I'm really happy with the striping (no pooling!) that I got on both socks. Overall I'd say these are a success, but I do feel bad that they aren't the same size, and that they're soooo late!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A belated post about my recent trip to Boston, and more importantly, to WEBS

Alright. I'm sorry. My recent blogging, or lack thereof, has been an utter disaster. This is only my second post in February and the month is almost gone. Granted I was really really really busy and I had repeated health plagues, but still. And then I went to Boston for almost a week. I uploaded these photos last Thursday and I'm just now getting around to writing about them, which is pretty pathetic. I'm not so busy now and hopefully I'll get my blogging mojo back. But I see how people fall out of blogging. There's an inertia that arises from not posting, where you think, "Oh, I'll just do it tomorrow," but then tomorrow you can't be bothered, nor the next day, and you don't have much knitting to show off anyway, so you don't post. But, I'll do my best to not let down my public!

Right, apologies over with - let's talk about Boston! I went to Boston for the annual AAAS conference (this is the American Association for the Advancement of Science - try saying it three times fast). This isn't really a bench science meeting, it's much more about science policy and scientific issues. This year the theme was Science and Technology from a Global Perspective, and there were many symposia on global warming, global health, ocean contamination, energy policy, emerging green energy technology, etc. I loved it. I love science and I think we should all know more about it. But, I find my current research very focused (this is the whole point of graduate school - learning a lot about a very narrow subject) and I have broad interests. So for me this meeting was great because I got to learn about all sorts of interesting science that I wouldn't otherwise have been exposed to, and to meet some of the people who make the policies that shape how our nation deals with science. I went with FOSEP, the Forum on Science Ethics and Policy. We're a group of graduate students at the University of Washington that are concerned with science policy. We bring national speakers to campus to discuss current issues and encourage dialogue across campus, and we do some community outreach here in Seattle. Several of us went, including Anne-Marie, and we got a bunch of ideas for future seminar speakers, so the meeting was a success.
But, enough about that, probably you'd rather hear about Boston (or WEBS), so let's talk about that! We spent most of our time at the conference, although we did do some shopping (Thursday night when we arrived we had to jet to H&M because Alaska Airlines didn't feel like putting my bag on the DIRECT flight to Boston, and thus I needed to quickly acquire a new shirt). Although the conference technically didn't end until Monday at noon, Monday morning found Anne-Marie and I at Enterprise renting a car for our jaunt to Webs. As soon as we knew we were going to Boston we decided we really should make a pilgrimage, even though Webs is in Northampton, over 100 miles away. But, if you've already come all the way from Seattle, 100 miles is nothing, right? So off we went, through the pouring rain, driving wind, fog, and a mishap with a toll booth, to the yarn mecca of the United States. And we were not disappointed. Here's a shot of Anne-Marie in the back room, where all the deals are:Note smile and empty basket. The smile widened and the bag filled as we proceeded around the stacks. The front of the store was also impressive. I didn't think their base prices were that great, but they have a discount program that makes them quite a bargain if you're buying more than a couple of skeins (which of course I did). And, no sales tax in MA! They have such a huge variety. I wanted to take pictures but I wasn't sure if that was allowed, and anyway I was just too overwhelmed. Here's what we bought (this includes another trip to H&M, so those bags aren't all full of yarn, and our little car.

We had a little trouble getting all that yarn back on the plane. Thankfully Anne-Marie brought an extra bag and we were able to jam it all in there. If you ever get a chance to go to Webs, you really must. It's great, and the people were really friendly. And they have good pizza in Northampton, if you need a further reason to be there. And no, I'm not going to show you what I bought, because I don't want to frighten my relations. Actually I didn't buy that much - it could have been worse. If you're on Ravelry you can see that I uploaded a bunch of new stash - that was all of it. There were two bags of Hempathy (summer tops, light sweaters), a bag of Classic Al (lovely red) and some other assorted skeins for scarves and fair-isle projects. Between us we definitely paid for the rental car and gas with the money we saved, so it was a success.

But it wasn't all science and yarn, we did see some of Boston proper. On Tuesday we walked a good chunk (to the Charles River) of the Freedom Trail, which winds through many of Boston's historic sights. It's very easy to follow as they've painted, or bricked, a red line on the sidewalk that you follow blindly, and which occasionally has markers like these, in case you are confused about what you're doing: The Massachusetts state capital building is quite impressive:

Boston has a lot of history, being one of the oldest cities in the country, so there was plenty of old stuff to be seen, like this cemetery in the North End and Paul Revere's house, from which he set off to warn everyone that the British were coming.

And we saw other things as well, like Harvard Square in Cambridge, and Boston Common, and the waterfront. Boston isn't really that big, you can walk around most of it without too much effort and see a lot fairly quickly. We also drove around a bit when we got back from Webs, and the Boston drivers were NOT as crazy as I expected. Then again, I am an aggressive driver so perhaps I just fit right in? And it was a holiday, so maybe everyone was subdued. We had a lot of good food, including great Italian. Seattle is not a city that has good simple Italian. It's all fancy and expensive and I just want some pasta and good homemade red sauce. I'm spoiled because in Erie where I grew up there is great Italian food, and in Chicago as well, but out here, nada. But I digress.

I loved Boston. I always thought it would be my kind of city, although I'd never been there, and it was great. The people are friendly but they're aware of their surroundings and they walk quickly (people in Seattle amble and take forever to make left turns driving, which makes me insane). They drive fast and get where they're going, which I appreciate (see previous paratheneses). And they have good food, good yarn (well, close-by, although we went to Windsor Button and it was pretty good), and, and I can't stress this enough, everyone we talked to was really friendly. It has been my observation in several East Coast cities that shall remain nameless, that unfriendliness, if not outright hostility, reigns supreme, but Boston was not like that. Plus, there are so many universities, museums, theaters, etc, there that it seems like a larger city (Boston is smaller than Seattle, which surprised me). I'm actively looking for where I want to do my post-doctoral research, and Boston is now high on the list. While I love Seattle I would really like to be closer to my family and I could always come back here. We'll see. I'm sure I'll keep you posted!

Okay, that was a saga of a post. I have other stuff to talk about but I'll save it for later! Hope you're all well, and I'll try not to disappear for as long again, at least for awhile...

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Right, I'm back. I've been here all along really, but I had some sort of fever-type plague which I think was a short-lived flu, and then I had (well, concurrently really, which wasn't fun) a huge amount of stuff to do for class and lab, and now I have a chest cold but at least I'm not alternating between crying about stress and sweating through my clothing. Sorry if that's TMI. And I had this whole big January wrap-up/February goals posts all written in my head for Friday but then I spent all day laying on the couch trying to will my head into not pounding whilst wondering who in their right mind thinks they're going on Jerry Springer to hear some good news. Ahem. Yes, it was bad enough that I didn't go to work, which is rare and was nice...but I didn't knit, because I had lost the will to live, let alone count. So, now that it's February 7th, the wrap-up/big plans post seems a bit silly, but I'm going to do it anyway.

The January goals were thus:
1. Finish Anastasia Socks - Not done :(
2. Finish secret gift project - Done, this was the Baby Surprise Jacket for Vivian
3. Finish Drops Swing Cardigan - Done, discussed at length here
4. Knit a hat for Rembrandt - Done, knit jointly by Dave and I but not yet posted
5. Finish Carpathia hat - Done, this was for Daisy
6. Cast-on and knit five inches of the Ivy League Vest - Done, see below
7. Design my ski hat - Not done, there are some potential issues here
8. Pick pattern/yarn for semi-secret shawl - Done, this was talked about here and progress has been slow but I have been working on it. Just tonight I did a repeat...

Looking back I am really happy with all that! Aside from the socks, which were a Christmas gift and are languishing. I did start the second sock and I'm about halfway up the foot, and there's really no reason I haven't been working on them aside from that I've been working on this:

Sorry the photo isn't great, but that is just about 5" of Ivy League Vest. I've been really enjoying it so far! I'm using Knit Picks Palette and I really like the yarn. I've very happy to be done with the ribbing as it was tedious. I'd like to devote an entire post to this but I don't have the energy just now so that will wait until there is more progress...

February Goals

1. Finish Anastasia Socks

2. Knit to armholes/v-neck steek (whichever comes first) of Ivy League Vest

3. Finish woven scarf - I'm going to Boston next week and this will be a good traveling project, with the socks

4. Finish the section of the lace shawl that I'm on now. I've done four repeats, I think I need to do 16 or something, and it gets longer each repeat so this isn't trivial but there is a deadline looming for this baby.

We'll see how it goes. February is a short month and it's 1/4 over already, plus I'm going to be really busy for the next couple of weeks, so I might not do as well with the goals this month as I did in January. But I will make a valiant effort at it, just for you!