Last year was quite something. I’ve started several draft posts since the last time I blogged here. They’ve all started with something like “it’s been such a long time since I posted!”. But every time, I’ve gotten sucked into Doing Stuff again before I came anywhere near catching up on post-worthy events, which then made catching up here seem even more daunting.

I’ll cover the most important things, then, and I’ll mention the other interesting things as they come up. The biggest change since June is that I’ve moved to Boston. I’m still doing a combination of freelance editing, job-hunting, and Etsy-shop-running, but in my own space, and back in a city.

The other big not-work event since my last post was a spinning workshop with Abby Franquemont. I spent a few days at the end of June on apartment-hunting in Boston, before carpooling up to Newburyport for Abby’s Drafting Methods class. It confirmed that I need to spin more cotton, not that I’ve actually spun much more cotton since then. (In my defense, most of my leisure spinning lately has been walk-around-town spinning, and I’m not confident enough with cotton for that yet.)

I’ve also been knitting, still, primarily on my fall-colors shawls:

I’m nearly halfway through the edging on Desdemona.

And I’m probably about two-thirds of the way through the edging on About Damn Time, but I haven’t totally decided yet.

Of course, I’d finish both of those shawls sooner if I hadn’t picked up Spring Mix again:

And started yet another pair of socks:

At least these socks have a decent chance of being finished this year, since they’re not only handspun but stockinette (nice yarn and easy to pick up after being distracted for a while).

In 2013… I’m hoping to show up here a little more often, to actually finish some of these fiber projects, and to get back to doing science. I think all of that is doable.

Nearly two months since my last post? They zipped by awfully quickly…


I finished Leaflet:



…Just in time to wear it to NHSW. Which was wonderfully full of fiber people.

Spring has continued–it feels more like summer now–and there are lots of things growing in the garden and at the CSA farm.

pale balloonflower

(a balloonflower in the front garden)

There has been some family and personal excitement, but things are mostly better now. Going forward, anyway. I’m continuing to look for a Real Job, but I have made some progress toward feeling more productive. I went to MAS&W (also a fantastic place to see fiber people), where Jennifer of Holiday Yarns let me use some of her booth space for my batts. That went quite well, and I have since set up an Etsy shop. Sooo… With the shop (which may soon contain things other than batts and yarn) and some freelance editing work, I at least have something to do that feels less like shouting into a void than the endless round of job applications.


(one of my favorites of the batt sets. even though it’s merino.)




spring beauties

trout lily

red leaves on green moss

I’m just a little excited about the lovely weather today and all the blooming and growing things outside.

Which makes it a little weird that I’m also excited about knitting a bulkyish wool sweater, but so I am.


That’s the cast-on and first two rows of Leaflet. I’m being careful to avoid aggravating my hand, but it seems to be ok with short bursts of not-too-intense activity.

My December was very full, with making stuff and going places and continuing to apply for jobs.

I identified a loom setup that works for me–sitting on a flat surface with either an upturned bin or a small cardboard box under the non-turning beam at the back of the loom–which meant that I got a good bit of weaving done:

Not Socks

That’s the Not Socks rectangle for Georg, though I did twist the fringe before sending it to her. I’ve been wearing the socks she knit for me a lot lately, as it’s been cold, so I’m glad to have sent her my part of our trade.

Next up was a very late birthday present for Anju:


A merino/cashmere/nylon/organic merino scarf, only about ten months after her birthday.  (The warp is MCN from Spirit Trail Fiberworks and the weft is my handspun organic merino, Natural Beauty from Southern Cross Fibre.  Plainweave with a 12-dent heddle.)  And the colors are somewhat more saturated than they appear in this photo.

I finished Anju’s scarf just before leaving town for a week and a half, so my loom sat idly in a corner for a couple of weeks, but I took advantage of having the house to myself yesterday afternoon to warp again:


This is theoretically a shawl warp for me, using the leftovers from my turquoise sweater, some teal alpaca-blend handspun that was a gift from a friend, and a few other handspun yarns that I thought would go well.  I’m a little concerned that I don’t have enough weft yarn, but I’m sure I’ll work something out.  Maybe some extra green or tan.

And I’ve continued to knit, mostly on Desdemona:


There’s a lot more border than there was last time!  It’s useful that it’s a simple pattern to knit, as the center was, because I’ve been able to knit and either talk (during family gatherings) or listen (at concerts at First Night yesterday).  The rows must be something like 500 stitches by now, but they don’t feel like they take all that long to work.

And I finally mustered the time and energy and motivation to try something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years, a felted mask.


This one was a midwinter gift for my grandmother.  The base is cormo/bamboo rayon, and it’s sewn with handspun merino/tencel.  I’m really pleased with how it came out, and I’m looking forward to trying a few more.

I mentioned going places as well as making stuff: these photos are from our trip south for midwinter.


I love winter forests with trees with light-colored bark (especially birches), but this beech is interesting for more than its compact and mostly-symmetric immediate footprint.  The roots downhill from its trunk are a mix of its own, with smoothish grey bark, and roots from the red pine uphill from it, which are more of a red-brown.  I like the way they intertwine.


And I’ve always liked the frilly shapes and tonal colors of lichens.  I’m not sure the tree is thrilled, but I was happy to see these.


I am hoping for a new year full of more making things and finding beauty in the world, and I wish the same for all of you.

Whee, creative post titles.  Heh.  Well, I’m still in Vermont, still looking for work, still spending most of the rest of my time on fiber stuff.

I have done a bit more travelling, including the not-so-fun (clearing out the apartment that had been my grandmother’s) and the fun (visiting yarnfriends).  I turned 30 two weeks ago and spent the following weekend back in the NYC metro area, going to museums and generally hanging out with friends (and knitting a lot).

I took a fair number of pictures in the newly-reopened Islamic art galleries at the Met, where we spent a good chunk of that Saturday.  These are a few of my favorites (objects more than photos):



interesting texture


And I mentioned knitting! It looks as though I haven’t posted earlier progress pics of this shawl, but I started a Desdemona just before I left for my trip to Europe. After a few months of feeling like I was close to finishing the center square, I finally did, and I picked up the 400+ stitches for the border. I also learned that picking up stitches is hard when there’s only one stitch between the edge and the first YO–I was a few stitches off count for the other three sides (-2, +5, -2), but I had such trouble figuring out where to pick up stitches for a scant two stitches per three rows that I had 15 stitches too many on that last side. Next time, I’ll make sure I have an extra selvedge stitch.

Here’s what it looks like now:


It’s scrunched up because it’s too small for the needle (I’m doing Magic Loop for now), but it should be plenty big by the time I’m done.

I’ve also started a really simple shawl with some spindle-spun singles. I’d tried this yarn in the Prairie Rose Lace Shawl last spring and thought it was too busy, so the new project is a stockinette shawl with probably a feather-and-fan border. (If not that, some other lace pattern that works well with stripes.) I am quite fond of the way the striping is working so far:



And I’m nearly done spinning my Spring Mix combo lot, so I’ll try to get a group photo of that by this time next week.

I’m still working on Bernhardt, hoping to be able to wear it at Rhinebeck.



I’m still not certain about the sleeve cap shaping, so I’m working on the second sleeve for now.

And I’ve spun some of the yarn from the Spring Mix batch of fibers:


I’ve also been carding more, some for projects and some for just playing around:


Except when there’s construction or serious lawnmowing or something, carding (on the enclosed back porch) is really peaceful, so the just-for-fun batts are especially refreshing.

Nothing much else worth reporting on today…  So I should get back to the job-hunting and the apple-drying and the jamming.  And the knitting.

The last month and a half kinda got swallowed up by work. But I defended my thesis on Tuesday, and it was the best talk I’ve ever given, and I passed. I’ve got a bunch of rewriting to do, but it’s starting to sink in, and things are good.

…And, today, I’m off to Michigan for the weekend, to take Abby Franquemont’s backstrap weaving class.

I’ll be back on Tuesday, but until then, here’s a photo:


It’s a couple of weeks old, but it’s the Haruni shawl I’ve been working on as mindless knitting this month. (It’s great. Simple pattern, no modifications, and it’s for me, so if I screw up, I can just increase or decrease to make up for it.)

• I was on vacation last week. I visited my parents and had basically the most slothful vacation ever. It was great.




(The cosmos and sunflower were cut flowers from the farm; the copper beech is in my parents’ backyard.)

• I did, in fact, take my sunflower shawl with me, in case the airport/airplane was cold. They weren’t–in fact, they were rather warm–but it got chilly in the evenings. I love Vermont summers. (I did not, however, remember to take a better photo. And then I left it there.)

• I packed two knitting projects and three spinning projects, only to knit less than in a normal week. I made enough progress on the silk plying to have finished it yesterday, though…Photos soon.

• Mel really missed me. So much that 8 hours of my company on Sunday wasn’t enough to keep him from waking me up several times on Monday morning, something he only really does when he wants to play.

• Echo Flowers continues to grow, and I’ve gotten pretty bored with the blossom pattern. I now really dislike the 3-into-9 stitch, but I have another 4 or 5 repeats to knit before I switch to the border pattern.


• That means that the past week’s evening knitting time has gone to recharting the border pattern for my Chai Phoenix shawl and winding a plying ball from my Grim singles.

• Except that some of it went to carding: I took a couple of club fibers from Spunky Eclectic and combined the red/pink/brown bits into 154g of batts.


• Half of those batts somehow totally filled a bobbin on my Lendrum (not really packed tightly, but still…).


• And here’s another sunflower, from my parents’ backyard, just because.


I’ve been putting off posting some of this stuff, waiting for better pictures, but that may take quite a while… (I had considered taking some knits to my parents’ house for photos, but I think I’m going to need all the room in my suitcase for other things, like hiking shoes and my bike helmet.) So! The photos aren’t great, but here’s some stuff.

I finally blocked my Sunflower shawl, which I finished knitting about a week before I moved:

sunflower shawl

That’s one of the yarns from last year’s Tour de Fleece, knit into a slightly-modified Little Arrowhead Shawl.

And I knit a Pretty Thing cowl out of my Frosted Forest handspun:


There are downsides to living three times as far from work, now, but one of the advantages is that I get dedicated knitting time on the subway, trolley, and bus. (No, my commute isn’t that bad. I take the subway to the trolley in the morning, which takes about 35 minutes if I get the timing right, and I generally take the bus halfway home and then walk the rest of the way, so I get at least a minimal amount of exercise.)

The current transit knitting is an Echo Flowers shawl:


It’s a bit bigger now than that photo shows, but I’m still in the blossom chart. I will be very happy to be done with the 3-into-9 stitch, but it is pretty. I’m especially enjoying the sparkle. (It’s my Good Fortune handspun, from batts from Enchanted Knoll Farm.)

My biggest TdF accomplishment, or at least the thing from the Tour that I’m most excited about, is the “discovery” (after prodding from several people, including Abby) that winding plying balls in a different way (round rather than caked, but with distinct courses rather than as round and smooth as possible) makes it easy to ply while walking.


The plied yarn here was spun with the plying ball either pinned to my pants pocket or held in my hand; I’ve spent the last couple of weeks’ walking-spinning time on the (larger) plying ball in the back.

And….there’s been science, and more science (anyone good at making Excel do stuff? please comment if you’re willing to help), and a couple of sorta disappointing concerts, and some sample-knitting (hmmm, looks like I didn’t post that first sample-knitting thing here. it’s fun, for small-to-medium lace projects, though I think I’ll want to keep any 800+-yard shawls I knit. or at least the first six or seven of them.)… And I finally dug out my carder this afternoon, and finished carding a couple of handpainted tops. I’ll try to get photos in the morning. Seriously, though, when I’m not being hit over the head with the downside of ignoring color theory, blending batts is a lot of fun.

The weather continues to be dreadful, but I got consolation prizes this morning: pears, asian pears, plums, and two kinds of apples, all from the semi-local farmers’ market. (It took me about 40 minutes to walk there today, by which point I was dripping with sweat. I hate needing it, but I love air conditioning.)

Mmmm, apples.  They are totally the answer to Not Cooking Because I Want To Make Batts.

Today’s translation of “random” post: “Hey, look! Pictures!”

Mel, wondering why I kept shining lights in his face. (Mostly the autofocus thingy.)

Oscar, one of the cats I’m co-catsitting for Min.

Oscar again.

Felix, Min’s other cat.

Felix “pretending to be cute”, as Min put it.

Mel, far enough away from the camera that it’s not disturbing him. (This was a couple of weeks ago, when it was cooler.)

Knitting! I’m making good progress on my sunflower shawl, thanks to the knitters’ housewarming I attended on Saturday and the Momix show I attended on Sunday. (Yes, it’s tricky to knit lace in a dark theater, but I only made one mistake. And I was exhausted, so the fidgeting helped counteract the darkness-with-soothing-music. It helped that I was on the aisle, so I could use the emergency lights in the stairs to read my (backlit) stitches.)  Please pretend I vacuumed before taking that photo.  I meant to, but I couldn’t bear to disturb Mel, who was napping peacefully a couple feet away.


And on my way to Min’s yesterday evening, I stopped at the pet-supply store, mostly to ask about the cat-for-adoption (from a local rescue org) whom I hadn’t seen recently (he’s been adopted, and seems to have taken to his new family quite nicely).  I wound up chatting with the storekeeper, though, because she asked about my Mirah shirt, and whether it meant I was going to Mirah’s show at the Unitarian Church next month.  I’ve now checked the R5 show listings, and I’ve found two I want to attend: Mirah, even though she’ll be here the Monday after I move, and Stars.  I’m sorta happy and sorta frustrated, since I haven’t had lots of spare energy lately even without concerts…  (Also, I wish they were at World Cafe Live instead of the Church.  I like being able to sit at shows–it means I can see better, and it means I can knit more easily.  And WCL has better (i.e., palpable) air conditioning.)





From Wednesday’s walk home.

Bonus knitting picture:


I’ve finished my sample-knitting and am back to knitting with handspun. Super-cheery sunflower handspun from last summer’s Tour de Fleece, fiber from the previous November’s Spunky Club Swa(m)p. I started with some stockinette, but I’ve switched over to the main pattern from the Little Arrowhead Shawl; I plan to start the border pattern just about where the yarn turns red. (I can see some orangey yellow peeking out of the ball of yarn now that I’ve knit a few more rows than are pictured here. Color changes are fun.)

I was going to wait to have better pictures and time to write something more coherent, but there’s more and more and more stuff to do (both fibery and not), and if I actually wait for time to take good pictures and then time to write, it’ll be July and I’ll be busy with other stuff, so it might actually be December or something.

So, here:



Springtime Bandit, 5 repeats of body chart, half the edging chart, 12g left of a ball of Brooks Farm Acero. Knit on 5mm needle. Has been done for ten days, and I still haven’t woven in the ends. (And I’ve worn it twice.) Color is much more accurate in the picture with Mel.

And here:


Very Full Spindle. Though it could fit more if I really wanted, I suspect. At least 4 oz of fiber, there, the batts I got a little over a year ago in a swap with Sherie.

Yes, one knitter. Me. One of my labmates is finishing up here and going back to China next week, so a few of us went on one last lab hike before he leaves. We went to Hickory Run State Park, where a different group of us had gone a couple of years ago.  We took a different trail this time, because I wanted to not have to wade through a stream, and because we wanted to visit the boulder field, no matter which part of the woods we walked through.


The woods were lovely.  It had been far, far too long since I’d been in the woods.


Lots of the tree stumps were covered with moss and lichen–I love the way the lichen makes some of them look like teensy stone cities.


I have to say, though, that I’m not sure the trail (the Boulder Field Trail, which I would not call difficult) was all that much drier than the ones we took last time–those were dry, except for the stream.  This one, well, the puddles you can see are the trail.  And we still had to cross three streams, though they were leapable and didn’t require taking off of shoes.

We made it to the boulder field, though, where we had lunch and hung out for a bit.  Then, my companions headed off for the other end of the boulder field, and I stayed behind to enjoy the warm sunshine and the cool breezes and the not feeling like I was slowing everyone down.  (I am not a fast hiker.  Especially in gorgeous woods.  Especially in old running shoes, which really aren’t great hiking shoes but which I still think were the best of my options.  Fortunately, they were gracious about the number of times they stopped to wait for me–the trail took me an hour and a half each way, and probably would’ve taken them closer to an hour.)


While I sat in the sun, I knit:


Springtime Bandit grew a lot today, between the drive up, the break after lunch, and the drive back.

My feet are faintly sore, mostly from the weird angle of my running shoes (I do most of my running barefoot these days, on my elliptical machine), but I had a wonderful time.  It was actually kinda nice to get to hike apart from my labmates for a while (several whiles)–it was quiet, and peaceful, and the only reminder of nearby civilization was the whisper of the highway.

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