January 2006

Yes, I’m still here. Not much new, fiber-wise, though. I spent last Thursday evening plying and spinning more alien yarn.

Last Friday was the Colin Meloy/Laura Veirs concert* (with John Wesley Harding as a special guest for the rock versions of a few old ballads, including Barbara Allen)–many thanks to whichever performer requested that there be no smoking. I was pleasantly surprised, when I started up the stairs to the balcony, to hear Alisa call my name. So, instead of just having my knitting for company, I got to talk to Alisa, her twin Rebecca, and their SOs. The knitting was good, though; I made some real progress on the second felted bowl.

Saturday was grocery shopping and some cleaning, until I lost focus and started spinning more alien yarn. I wound up staying up way too late finishing plying the last skein, because I knew I was going to see Jill on Sunday. And then I got hungry, and had some carrots and hummus for a late-night snack. Oops. I’m not sure which, but one of those made me ill, necessitating cancellation of the PhillyKnitters gathering I was cleaning for. Still, I got Jill to come over for a little while, so I could give her this:


(Okay, I gave her that plus an extra skein that was still drying when I took the picture. All told, probably just under 200 yards of fingering-to-sport.) It was really good for me to spin for someone who doesn’t knit with laceweight yarn. Extra motivation to make the singles as thick as possible, always good.

Anj has told me that it’s easier to spin heavier yarn on a wheel than on a drop spindle. Do any of the rest of you have opinions on that? I’m certainly hoping she’s right. Much as I like knitting with fingering-weight yarn, I really do want to be able to spin worsted-weight eventually… Until I get a wheel, though, I ought to get something else onto my now-empty spindle.


I’ve spent the last several days not knitting. I hope to make up for that tomorrow (at Anj‘s), but I do have a few other things to tell you about.

First of all, I spent nearly all of Saturday singing shape-notes at the annual Keystone State convention. We arrived at 10:30am and left a little after 4pm. There were a couple of short breaks, and a potluck lunch for which I brought brownies, but the rest of the day was singing. My voice is still recovering… And then I spent five hours at the mall on Sunday. No, I couldn’t believe it either, and the only way I lasted more than about twenty minutes was because I had a guide who reassured me when I was about ready to run and hide in a quiet corner (not that such things really exist in a giant mall). When I got home from that, I made another batch of brownies and a potful of soba noodle stirfry. I didn’t do anything interesting the last couple of nights, but I made a third batch of basically the same brownies tonight, along with a similar soba dish. Recipes and discussion are in the extended entry.



There are now such things as light-up knitting needles. (My reasons for not wanting them? First, they’re straights. Second, they’re way too bulky for their suggested purpose of theater-knitting. I’ll stick to socks, or a scarf on a short circ, for the occasions when I knit in a theater.)

How I’m feeling:


A small part of why I’m feeling like that:


More when my weekend sleep time is up over 4.5h.

I think this makes me certifiably insane…I’ve been tired all week, I have tons of housework to do, and what do I do? I stay up ’til almost 2, spinning.


Note to self: 100 yards of heavier-than-laceweight doesn’t really fit on the spindle.

For those who are curious: I have no real Jaywalker progress. I started knitting the second one on two 2.75mm inox circs, but that was way too big. Any day now, I’ll try again with the 2.5mm ones, and go from there.


I have decided to play in the Knitting Olympics. (Hence the new button in the sidebar.) I had been thinking of trying to knit a sweater, since I could really use another sweater, and I could just rip out the inch I’ve got on Klaralund and call it swatching. And then I remembered that the Olympics are right smack in the middle of February, which is when I’m supposed to have a thesis committee meeting. So I’ll be knitting a pair of socks with my Spirit Trail yarn from Rhinebeck. They’ll be nice and cheery, and hopefully relaxing. I’m hoping they’ll be a good way to de-stress. Or at least transfer the stress away from the presentation… And the deadline might help with actually finishing a whole pair of socks.

I have continued to knit and spin very little. I got sidetracked by things like company and this weird phenomenon called housecleaning which I’d managed to skimp on for a long time. (And I’m still rereading those books I read last week…)

But I did manage to set the twist on the alpaca-silk that I plied while at my grandma’s house. It had to come off the niddy-noddy so the couch could be cleared off, you know.

about 50 yards

Yesterday morning was so bright and sunny and beautiful after a grey and rainy Saturday that I couldn’t stay at work any longer than necessary. I decided to walk to Rosie’s to use a frequent-buyer discount. I’m glad I walked; it was a lot colder than it’d been recently, but it finally felt like January. And it was a great excuse to pull out my giant patchwork scarf.

And, well, it was a beautiful day…

a sycamore downtown

So, there I was, going to a yarn store during a yarn-buying moratorium, so I focussed on tools. My top priority was sock-circs, ’cause I think maybe part of the slowness of my Jaywalker progress is the needles. I really like them, and they were okay for the koigu, but I think the Lantern Moons with the Soft Rock are slowing me down. And circs are faster for me anyway.


While I was there, I picked up the issue of VK with the cabled cardigan I’ve been seeing around and a copy of the Lotus Blossom Shawl pattern.* Hey, patterns and magazines aren’t yarn! And, on the way over, I’d been thinking that a swift might be particularly useful for turning my skeined singles back into forms from which I could ply (in addition to their general usefulness in knitting), so I asked about swifts. I bought one; it’s very pretty, and it’s lacquered wood, which is super nice. There’s just one problem:


See that? Glue, holding the slidey clamp thingy to the base clamp. (edit: this means that the umbrella-y part won’t stay out to hold the yarn, so it’s a useless pile of wood) And off went all of my energy for accomplishing stuff last night. I’ll have to exchange this swift for the other one sometime this week…

*Regarding the knit-trend phenomenon that Steph discussed the other day: in multiple aspects of my life, I tend to avoid doing things just because everyone else is doing them. I even go so far as to avoid some things because everyone else is doing them, in part because conformity is boring and in part because I don’t like the idea that people will think I’m a sheep. (I like to use bits of sheep.) But I’m trying to get better about not caring what people think. I’ll knit what I want, when I want, regardless of how many other people are making it. Cabled cardigans with pockets? Just what I need more of in my closet. Socks with some very simple, non-lacy patterning? Excellent. (Shawl-scarves full of dropped stitches? Pretty, but I can’t see it not getting horribly snagged during the first couple of hours of wear. Or the first five minutes I leave it in the room with the kitten.)


two more books read since Tuesday…

The knitting pace continues to be very, very slow. I blame the books and the Sudoku. I had held out so long on doing Sudoku, since I knew I’d get sucked into doing lots of them. I used to do the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, starting at breakfast (and continuing as needed, especially for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday ones). Grad school (and blogs) weaned me away from crosswords, to the point where I only do a few every month, and only Thursday-Sunday ones. I did not need another addiction. Really. It’s eating into my fiber time! And making me late for work! Anyway, the combination of Sudoku (especially those dashboard widgets) with the bunch of new books I bought last weekend kind of squooshed out most of the knitting time this past week. The attention-starved kitten hasn’t really been helping with the knitting productivity, either. (Now that I think of it, the four evenings that included social events that weren’t primarily knitting can’t have helped at all. But I’m still blaming the books and the sudoku.)

Fortunately for me, there are ways of acquiring new clothing without knitting it. (*gasp*)

I took advantage of two of those ways yesterday afternoon. Ella hosted a Naked Lady Party (aka clothing swap), from which I acquired four skirts (thanks, Ella!):


And we also took a field trip to a store called Mia Lou. I had been meaning to go there for months, but it’s just a few blocks past my usual circuit, and it’s only open on weekends. Why’d I want to go? It’s got lots of local crafts, including some beautiful jewelry and stained glass and knitted goods and and… (Some of them are also available at The Black Cat, which has been on my radar for a while. Unfortunately, the things I wanted to show you are not on the Black Cat website.) But Mia Lou also has West Philly shirts of various designs. Jill got a West Philly All-Stars hoodie, and I bought this:


The screenprint design is photoshopped from the sign at the West Philadelphia High School. I like it. And I think I may eventually have to get one of the West Philly/Baltimore Avenue 34 shirts. (The 34 trolley runs down Baltimore Ave, in West Philly.)

And, just maybe, I’ll eventually finish knitting my Jaywalkers.

seen on Hazel between 46th and 47th

I’m sure you all knew that, but it bears repeating… Just look what Cyn gave me for midwinter holidays!


Mmmm, alpaca. What to do, what to do…I don’t think it’s really sturdy enough for socks. It may have to become a hat or wristwarmers or a scarf or something.

I got a few other excellent holiday gifts, in addition to the always-welcome money–I told my grandma she was contributing to my wheel fund, as I’m still planning to buy a wheel at Maryland. The more photogenic gifts are pictured below, but I think the best object I got was the iFM from my parents. I can listen to the radio on my iPod now! And change the volume and skip songs and pause music without taking my iPod out of my back pocket (where I keep it when I’m working)!

I love me some novelty socks

I’m especially amused by the fact that I was given three pairs of cat-patterned socks, all the same brand, all different patterns (and not all from the same people).

a frisbee thingy and a Demotivators calendar

I was kind of expecting the new Demotivators calendar, since my uncle gave lots of the previous one as midwinter gifts last year. I like it–it makes me smile, which is always good. The orange thing is a pretty good flying device. I’m sure it’s better than my throwing and catching. I managed to talk my mom into going outside to play with it with me (“If you didn’t want to play with it, why did you give it to me? What did you expect me to do?”). That may only have worked because it was the only new toy I got, but we had fun. And we didn’t get hit by either of the cars that went past in the half hour we were outside. (I could really get used to that end-of-a-dead-end-street thing.) I think I’ll have to be more careful when I play with it in the park here…

The new year has continued nearly as busy as the end of last year, but I’m optimistic that things will calm down some as of next week and a bit more as of next month March. Evidence to the contrary is absolutely not welcome.