December 2005

I had a very exciting December 30th. It began with my waking up for real at 7:12, not all that long before the 8am train that I was supposed to be on. I’m quite proud of myself for actually making it there, since I’m usually very slow in the morning. But I was, indeed, on time for the train, so I got to spend two and a half hours with my college friend K as we headed up to New York. (We swapped rather similar midwinter holiday gifts: I gave her some homemade granola, she gave me some dried fruit from the farm in Argentina where she’s been working.)

When we got to New York, K headed off to Connecticut, and I made my way to Ess-a-Bagel for brunch (whitefish salad on pumpernickel) and half a dozen bagels to bring home. I’m glad I got there when I did, as there were only two pumpernickel bagels left! I ate my brunch on a sunny bench in Stuyvesant Square and then headed toward SoHo. I was intending to take a bus, really I was, but I started walking, paused once for a bus that turned out to be a Limited when I was at a local stop, and then just kept going on foot. (It’s ridiculous, sometimes, the way I just don’t like waiting for buses. I swear, one of the reasons I picked yesterday for my trip to The City was that I could take an odd number of rides on buses/subways and no longer have an odd number of dollars on my metrocard. Didn’t work–I wound up not using any intra-city transit except between 30th St. and my apartment.)

There were several tables of people selling things on the south side of Houston, and I picked up a birthday present for my mom from one of them: really pretty earrings that were copper that I suppose was really, really thinly enameled and then chipped away in certain places so you could see the copper again. (It’s funny, I think the last time I bought something from an artisan-vendor there, it was a different kind of copper earrings…)

A few minutes later, I realized I was at Houston and Sullivan with an hour and a half ’til I was supposed to meet Cassie at Purl (about a block away). Silly me, I was worried about getting there in time! So I had plenty of time to wander in and out of several Tibetan-import stores, the Evolution store (lots of fossils and specimens; Jill, I thought of you while I was admiring the beetle and spider and scorpion keychains), and a more generic East-Asian-import store that also sells lots of beads. I bought a stone torus to become a pendant. And then I wandered back toward Purl.

I was very tempted by Purl’s selection of Lorna’s Laces. Sockish yarn in flame colors, and a lone skein of Helen’s Lace in a color they called Pewter for no reason I could see. I have never seen green pewter, but I’ll grant that it was a very greyish green. It would’ve been absolutely perfect for the Peacock Feather shawl (and cheaper than the two skeins of Fleece Artist that I still haven’t actually ordered) except that it was already pilling. I stood around for a while, staring at it and going back and forth about whether the pilling would be a problem, and then Cassie (who is, unsurprisingly, as cool in person as on the internet) arrived and nudged me toward my final decision that, since I was concerned about it, it wasn’t quite worth what it would’ve cost (in both money and potential frustration).

And then we headed to The Point for coffee and knitting. Mmm, that’s a nice yarn store. (It might be nicer with a teensy bit more space, but I realize that it’s in Manhattan and space is at a premium.) Good coffee, a place to knit, and lots of yarn to admire. We were particularly intrigued by the sock yarn that said it had aloe vera and jojoba in it, perhaps to moisturize one’s feet, or perhaps to keep one’s hands moist while knitting… Oh, and the gigantic boxes stuffed full of Fleece Artist yarn. Heh. Alas, no miracles–they did not include the exact yarn I want. (Had I the Lotus Blossom pattern and no shawls on needles, I might’ve gotten one of the sort of brownish-bricky-pinkish skeins of bfl, but I Have Priorities.)

After a lovely afternoon of knitting and talking, Cassie went home, and I went to the Strand. Yay, books. I was extremely virtuous in the two yarn stores, coming away with only a birthday present for Ella. (Happy Birthday, Ella!) So, I suppose, it was bound to happen that I’d spend relative lots of money on books… At least it was under $30, including a book I picked up for my mom. I’m especially happy with two of my acquisitions: a hardcover of HP6 for $12 (it’s the Bloomsbury kids’ edition, which has an atrocious cover illustration that I may have to conceal with wrapping paper, but $12!) and a three-in-one edition of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad Trilogy for $4. I have a picture of my (non-food) purchases, so anyone except Ella who wants to look can click here.

When I decided that I had to leave the Strand lest I spend money I really didn’t have on books, I headed off toward Penn Station for the train home. I picked up some fancy salad bar food for dinner (I wasn’t hungry enough to eat before getting on the train–that was a large bagel with a lot of whitefish salad) on the way, and went to the NJTransit waiting area. I would’ve gotten on the 7:03, but the sign by the stairs said it was a peak train, and I had an off-peak ticket. Same with the 7:13, and there still wasn’t anyone in the waiting area or by the bottom of the stairs whom I could ask. By the time the 7:29 train was boarding, I figured something fishy was going on and found my way to the (line-free!) customer service window and confirmed that, although the sign still said peak, it really was an off-peak train. So I got on, got to Trenton four minutes after the Septa train left and 56 minutes before the next one, and then got to sit on the Septa train in Croydon for an hour while an Amtrak train in front of us had some kind of breakdown. I’m really beginning to wonder whether I should plan on hour-long unscheduled stops in southbound train rides, after the hour in Charlottesville last week. But we did get to Philly around midnight…

…And I (sort of obviously) hadn’t lit candles yet, having been in various trains or train stations. So, not wanting to either blow out the Chanukah candles or stay up too insanely late, I cut the candles in half before putting them in the menorah. Not exactly orthodox, but that’s a pretty good descriptor for much of my life.

Tonight? Well, I’ve been exhausted all day, what with all of the activity of the last few days three weeks two months, and I have a long-standing policy of not going to parties out of a feeling of obligation. (Work parties, held during the workday, I may attend for up to ten minutes out of obligation, but that’s about it.) So, instead of going to the two parties I’d planned on, I’m spending the evening with my adorable kitten, and I’m hoping I’ll feel fully rested and refreshed for the new year. I’m going to get ready for bed as soon as I finish this post or when tonight’s candles burn down, whichever’s later.

Happy New Year, everyone, and a happy (almost-)birthday to Cara!

Hey, look! It’s a two-color Jaywalker!


I settled on the Amber Soft Rock because I figured I’d be safe with quantities. No, I haven’t yet finished the bear for the baby who was due on Tuesday, but the sock is better socialization-knitting.

It’s Thursday again, so I present a tulip tree across the street from my cousins’ house in Charlottesville.


My holiday trip to Virginia was not really anything like the super-relaxing vacation that I’d expected. It was stressful, and I’m at least as tired now as I was when I left last week, and it’s only the ridiculous number of fun things planned for this week that’s keeping me moving much at all. (And I’ve still managed to be either late or really late for stuff, and I’m starting to question the sanity of my planned trip to New York tomorrow. But if I don’t go tomorrow, how am I going to use the extra dollar on my metrocard??)

The trip to Virginia did include some funny bits, though. One example of the somewhat-inappropriate humor was the sign in the hospital that said “Skilled Care [Wing]”. That kinda struck me as implying that the people elsewhere don’t have/need skill. (My cousin, the occupational therapist, said something about how it’s a difference in how much the nurses do versus assistanty people, but I’m not really clear on that.)

And then we saw a very amusing sign on the way home, which I’ve reconstructed here:


And, aside from all of the weird bits from actually celebrating with other people, my Chanukah candles make me happy.


sorry about the low contrast, but check the background

Mel, who’s never seen either the menorah or candles on the floor before this week, is just curious about them. (Yeah, yeah, when I get my table cleared of clutter and blocking boards, I may switch to lighting candles on the table instead of on the floor.)

I’ve also been knitting some lately. The trivet got its foam base sewn on okay, and it went over well. I’m maybe 40% through the head on the baby bobbi bear (but I have yet to knit the legs), and the new Jaywalker has switched colors and the leg pattern is visible. And I survived a fiasco of plying my alpaca-silk (into mostly laceweight 2-ply) that required assistance from both my parents.


If all goes well, by the time you see this, I’ll be at my grandmother’s house, a few blocks from this railroad bridge, having travelled by Amtrak. (Not over that bridge, though.)

I’ll have limited internet access over the next several days, but I’ll be back to Philly, if not blogging, on Tuesday evening.

My (downstream) secret pal, the wonderful Ericka Jo, got her final package. So now I can tell you about the knit part. One of my favorite rules about the two local secret pal exchanges was that at least part of the reveal gift had to be made by the giver. I actually had, in my stash, some yarn that I was planning on using for a gift scarf when I came up with a recipient and a pattern, so off I went.




Pattern: Branching Out
Needles: clover bamboo size 8 circ
Yarn: Douceur et Soie in Garnet, about 60% of a skein.
Mods: none intentionally…

Branching out is a pretty pattern, and it’s not that difficult, but I wouldn’t call it a good first lace pattern. Sorry, but there’s enough lace out there that has the same number of stitches in each row that I’d suggest starting with one of those. I did okay, though, since it was not my first lace project. I made a few mistakes, of which I corrected exactly one. Oh my goodness, tinking mohair is Not Fun. Yes, the mohair-silk is soft and fluffy, and it’s really fun to watch the yarn float gently…but it’ll be a while before I knit anything more complex than very simple lace or cables with something I won’t want to tink.

Sorry, Cyn, I’m not a convert, after all.

Happy Solstice, everyone!

I had a highly productive weekend. Here are some of the results.
First, the knitting:

a bear torso for an impending infant

the trivet for my dad’s birthday, before felting

the trivet, felted once

the trivet, cut and re-felted

There might have been more knitting, except that there was a solid day (twelve hours with lunch and dinner breaks, or something like that) of baking and candy-making with Anj, Sue, and Parker.

almond lace cookies

earl grey cookies and my attempt at rugelach

jars of granola and hot cocoa mix

Now, it’s time to scurry off to work. Only another day and a half before I leave for small-city Virginia!

magnolia in December

In lieu of actual knitting or spinning pictures, I present two memes or meme-like things. Both of them are things I meant to post a while ago.

First, I have set up a Frappr Map. Maps are wonderful things, and they’re even more fun if they have people associated with them. So wave hello!

Second: a picture of my usual knitting spot, for Scout‘s meme.


This is my couch. There’s also usually a table in front of the couch with my laptop on it, and sometimes a blanket in some of that empty space. And sometimes the cat curls up next to me instead of sitting on the back of the couch. (Actually, you may recognize the back of the couch from the number of times it’s appeared as a background in my progress and yarn pictures.)

I present two photos, both taken today. One is from my walk to work and the other was taken by my mom, in my parents’ backyard. I bet you can guess which is which.



There must be effects on package shipments like the ones that make cars clump up on highways, ’cause I got three packages this afternoon.

First up: the final package from my Secret Pal, who turned out to be Emily of Knitting Chemist. Thanks, Emily; you were a great secret pal!


Not pictured is the actual catnip mouse, which was swiftly abducted by the kitten. I’m pleased to report, however, that he has not been unusually active. Yet. Also not really pictured is the fact that the green mohair has little splotches of brown, so it’ll probably work up to be sorta licheny. (This is a good thing, although I realize that not everyone would agree. I recall one time in college when a friend of mine asked how a particular outfit looked–I said something about how it reminded me of moss or lichen. She was not pleased, and immediately changed clothes.)

Next is a birthday present from my friend Emma:



In case you can’t read it, that says olallieberry jam–I’m excited to try it and see what olallieberries are like. I will also not be lacking for fun pens any time soon… The bumper sticker I stuck to my window at work (I have more of a window than that one, but it fit nicely there), since it seemed silly to have a bumper sticker in my apartment. (I should note that I don’t think Republicans are necessarily evil. I have even voted for at least one–Jim Jeffords, who’s now an independent. But I like the bumper sticker. Not all Republicans are New England-style ones, and some of those others do not seem to have the best interests of the whole country–or most of its people–in mind.) Also, the socks really are super soft, just like they claim to be.

And, third in the package lineup, the least exciting–my latest Knitpicks order:


That’s a big pile of yarn for the shadow-knit neuron scarf I’m planning for after I finish the current round of projects, both gifts and not, plus a whack of dpns. I should have a much easier time knitting bear limbs with my nice, new dpns than with either two circs or three mismatched dpns…and easier means faster, which is all to the good right now.

…I’ve got Jaywalker progress:

partial cast-on

That’s Soft Rock in Black Onyx. I’m going to hold off on deciding what colorful yarn to use for the patterny bits of the sock until I get to the end of the ribbing…

I also have some more…substantial progress, in the form of the second incarnation of the felted bowl:

yes, I’ve got more yarn

I took this (well, the needle and yarn) to the Criminal Justice Center yesterday so I could be a juror for Dan‘s Trial Ad class mock trial thingy. I was concerned enough about overzealous security that I left my precious sock yarn and Lantern Moons at home. I did get some quality knitting done during the trial, though; I even knit a few rows of the sides before putting it aside during the closing arguments because I forgot whether I was on an even row or an increase row. Anyway, I don’t know how steadily I’ll be able to knit on this, since it’s not really supposed to be a gift, but the idea is to eventually post something resembling a pattern.

Maybe I should take notes on what I’m doing.

Eh, we’ll see. The first one eventually turned out nicely, and it’s not like it has to fit or match or anything.


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