secret pals


My upstream handspun-swap pal, Jen, is far more punctual than I–she sent my second batch of yarn already.  I got it on Tuesday morning, which made it a really nice pick-me-up before my committee meeting in the afternoon.  (The meeting went well, and some of my stress has dissipated, but I’m still busy and under a fair amount of pressure.  Which…well…is normal for grad school.) 

Anyway, it’s beautiful, soft yarn, in what I think (if I’m understanding her letter correctly) is a variety of natural sheep-and-alpaca colors, including a fair amount of fiber from her alpaca.  My current plan is to include it in one (or maybe both) of the blankets I’m planning (I’ve started the green and grey one and intend to also make a red, gold, and brown one), but that may change.  (I’m also trying to think of good uses for the frogs she sent.)

I’m still working on my second batch of outgoing swap-yarn, but I’ve finished part of it:



This is from a merino-llama blend given to me by a friendly grad student (H.) from the lab next door to mine, since she doesn’t really spin much and didn’t think she’d use it.  (I know the roving is from her mom, but I don’t know whether the fiber is from their animals.)  It’s really soft, despite a bit of felting, and was really fun to spin.  This is about 65 yards of lace-to-fingering-weight yarn. 

There isn’t much knitting to show; the cuff on my second fire sock is an inch or so longer than last time, but it wouldn’t make for an exciting picture.  With any luck, I’ll have something pretty to show, knitting-wise, sometime in the next week. 

I signed up a while ago for the Spin to Knit handspun swap thingy, which is sort of like a secret pal thing except it’s just two skeins (or more, if one feels like it) of handspun, going to another spinner who signed up as the same skill level. 

I’m still working on my outgoing January skein, but I got this in the mail yesterday:



Plus extra fiber:


My pal said this blend is from her spinning guild’s "garden party", wherein everyone brings some fiber, everyone’s contributions get blended together, and everyone leaves with the weight of fiber that they contributed.   I love the way it turned out (although it’s a little more in the pink-and-purple realm than I usually wear), and I may need to organize something like that garden party in Philly.

And the loveliest Chanukah candles ever:


I am now prepared for next year.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with the yarn…it’s way too nice to use my fallback of "knit something for Dulaan".  (Sorry, Mongolians, you can have my handspun, but not gifted handspun.)  I’m thinking it may become something like this elephant from Knitted Toys:


Any other suggestions? 

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!

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.

Well, the saga of the felted bowl continues, so sharing it will have to wait. Instead, I have pictures of the package that arrived today. (I think my coworkers are starting to wonder at the number of packages I’ve gotten lately.)

The packaging was quite nice, but I didn’t want to further perplex my labmates by taking pictures while I unwrapped it… Ordinarily, I’d wait until I got home to open a box, but I was too curious to see what was in it.



Personalized stitch markers from Zephyr Style, from my (current) Secret Pal. Aren’t they great?

I like presents… Who doesn’t?

It’s been a good week for presents, what with my birthday and all. On Saturday, I got a mix cd from Jill and a copy of Beautiful Knitting Patterns from Rosemary.

Then, today, I got not one but two packages on my desk. The first was a final package from my Secret Pal 4, who had to move from Germany back to the US right at the end of the official exchange and thus was a bit delayed. (Hey, it’s certainly a better reason than my having just sent out a birthday present for someone whose birthday was in August.)

Sp4finalpink yarn, sparkly yarn, yummy candle…

By the way, Kelly, you are in no way the worst secret pal ever. My first secret pal sent one package and then totally disappeared. (That, incidentally, prompted this wonderful takeover on the part of several of my friends, who wished to remain anonymous.)

And then I left my desk for a while, and found a package from my current secret pal when I returned.

Sp6_2green yarn (!) and a retracting tape measure and citrusy skin care

Can someone explain the difference between a facial scrub and a facial cleanser? They both smell good, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to use one versus the other.

For tomorrow: the saga of the felted bowl.

So, the stuff. I had a budget of “preferably less than $30, definitely no more than cash on hand,” including admission and gas in the latter. My shopping list was “laceweight or fingering for a shawl, in variegated green or maybe red or brown, plus sportweight yarn for socks”. I had intended not to buy more spinning fiber unless it was a new variety, since I haven’t spun in a month and a half, but I figured some cormo or bluefaced leicester might be nice. (As it turned out, I saw no cormo roving, and the only bluefaced leicester I saw was colors that weren’t quite exciting enough.)

What did I buy first, then? This:

green romney

It is a breed of wool that’s new to me, and it is in a great set of colors. (Why can I not find laceweight in those colors?) What it isn’t is roving. I was on such a fiber high or so overstimulated or so tired or something that it wasn’t until after I’d bought four ounces of this stuff that it sank in that it wasn’t actually roving. I’m sure I’ll still be able to spin it, but it looks as though it’ll need a bit more prep than I’m used to. Oh, well. Learning experiences, here I come. (Eventually.)

The next thing I couldn’t leave without was six ounces of this:

I don’t know what breed of wool this is, but it’s pretty soft, and the colors!

A goodly while passed before I bought anything else. I think a lot of that while was in the animal area, where there wasn’t as much for sale, which probably helped. In the last vendor building I went to, at about 5pm, I found this:

black alpaca and bombyx silk

While I was in the middle of that purchase, I saw Sue again, and she told me that Anj was at the Spirit Trail booth, which I’d been looking for and had totally missed. So off I went, to become their last sale of the day as I bought this:

exactly the sock yarn I wanted

Since I was taking pictures of newly-acquired cool stuff, I figured I’d throw in a shot of the notepad my secret pal sent me. The cover looks like the frog in the bottom corner.


I spent today finishing the copy of Trickster’s Choice that I’ve borrowed from Kirsten and generally doing nothing. It’s been wonderful. As much as it would’ve been fun to spend another day at Rhinebeck, this was way better for me. (Maybe I’ll go to both days of Maryland next spring, though…)

…getting a package from my Secret Pal at the end of a long day, and then taking it home and finding the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, a great notepad shaped like a frog holding a radio, and some candy.

…coming home for a goodly chunk of the afternoon and curling up for a nap with my handknit blanket and my eight-month-old kitten in my lap.

…deciding to just wear weather-appropriate clothes to Rhinebeck on Saturday. I don’t want to risk mud on my handknits, so I’ll go with normal clothing. I’ll at least take my bright orange [woven, commercially] scarf with me, though.

As you may have noticed from the button in the sidebar, I’ve joined Secret Pal 6. My answers to the questionnaire are in the extended entry.


Friday night was the Choral Society concert. We did pretty well, except for one important entrance that half the alto section missed. (“Is that our cue? No, wait, that’s the cue for the basses–we should’ve been singing two measures ago!”) Over all, the dress rehearsal was better and more fun, but it was still a good concert. (At least, if it was bad, no one was willing to say so.)

I spent most of Saturday getting ready for the seder I hosted. (Happy Pesach, everyone.) I was distracted a few times by computer issues that have convinced me I need a new computer* and by a small fuzzy either sitting on my lap or resting his head on my wrist. I can’t disturb a snoozing kitten to clean! The seder was fun, though, with some knitty/internet folk and some work people.

The best part of having so many people over at once was that Mel got a really good workout. He actually slept for a continuous** two hours after everyone left! The jingly cat toys*** really seem to interest him more when they’re moving more constantly. He’s played with them a bit since Saturday, but he liked them a lot more when people were rolling them back and forth. It was extremely funny to watch him act like a soccer goalie, trying to keep the jingly things from going under the guitar case.

I got a little bit of knitting time last night, after I got home from work. I’m another half-row closer to finishing the flower-lace shawl. I think I’m going to make it about the size of the Flower Basket Shawl from IK and give it to my mom for her birthday and Mothers’ Day. Then, I’m going to make a fingering-weight shawl for me, possibly with the blue and green sock yarn I bought for that purpose last year. Of course, what with MDSW coming up, I may find some other sort of shawl yarn…

And now, a few pictures:

Melprofile Sp4gedifra
Ragtimesockhalf Mel_dad-shoe

(Mel, yarn from my SP4, half a ribbed Wildfoote sock, and Mel playing with my dad’s shoelaces last Tuesday. He is fond of shoelaces.)

*It’s been freezing up a lot, and when it restarts, there’s a second or so when it shows a question mark on a folder before it goes to a happy mac. (Anyone know if this is easily fixable?) Oh, by “a lot”, I mean maybe ten times in a week, as opposed to maybe once every few weeks or month.

**Continuous except for when I moved him so I could change position.

***Gifts from my SP4 pal, which I think I forgot to mention in my post about the last package.

I’m feeling pretty drained and exhausted, which is perfect for nine and a half hours before I have to teach*… It’s been a crazy long week, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to flee work early tomorrow. You know, early, like 5pm.

I’ve gotten a bit of knitting done on my first for-real toe-up sock. I’ve made up an interesting ribbing pattern which I hope to be able to repeat on the second sock. The knitted bit is about to the ball of my foot. I’m using Wildfoote in Ragtime, which is a bit purplier than it looked in the skein, but it’s still pretty.

That’s all the knitting that’s been happening, as any knitting at home these days requires (1)being both home and awake at the same time, (2)not being in the middle of dinner, and (3)keeping Mel from attacking the moving yarn. He’s asleep again, and still very cute. My only real concern is the habit he’s developing of climbing my arms or back and perching on my shoulders. It’s amusing, but I’m not sure how much fun it’ll be once he’s a full-sized cat instead of a 20-oz kitten.

I got another box from my secret pal yesterday, which kept the thirteen-hour workday from doing too much damage to my mood. It contained more of the excellent German gummy bears, some chocolate rabbits, a couple of frogs on lily pads on stakes that are going to go into plants, a couple of balls of soft & fuzzy yarn, some salad dressing mix, and a tin of hand cream. Pictures may appear eventually, but not tonight.

Speaking of pictures, I’ve set up a photo album for finished projects, both knitted and other-crafted. (No neuroscience in the finished-project gallery.) As of now, it’s got the first ten pictures I found; I’ll add more as time permits. (The same goes for the archives, which I seem to have to transfer post by post. If you’ve just found this blog and you want to look at the archives between the first post and the middle of February, they’re accessible here.)

*Olfaction and peripheral audition. Should be lots of fun. Oh, and speaking of work, I joined the knitting scientists webring today. That should be fun–without any sarcasm this time.

…the promised pictures. My computer stayed in lab last night while I went out for Thai food with some friends from work.

gifties from my SP4 pal: a mug, a mini cookbook, candles (lavender and vanilla-berry), furry eyelash yarn, a pair of dancing frogs, and an i-cord maker thingy

The yarn is probably going to become a felted bag reminiscent of the monster slippers from Stitch ‘n’ Bitch Nation. I may even add eyes…we’ll see.

the hat made from PKSP2 yarn, finally finished. It needs a good blocking, since it kept trying to squinch up my head, but I like it.

So, does the red yarn in the sweater-to-recycle (courtesy of Rosemary) go with the blue variegated yarn? I’m thinking not, which is kind of too bad, but the sweater isn’t superwash–I think–and the blue is. So I should just wait a few months and get me some encore.

I got my first SP4 package this afternoon, and virtuously waited ’til I got home to open it. I’ll post pictures tomorrow, but highlights include two flavors of tealights, a tool for avoiding knitting i-cord, and the excellent German gummy bears that we’ve had in lab sometimes after Thomas has visited with his relatives in Germany. Thanks, secret pal!

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