28 November 2006

Smiley's Manhattan Sale

Does anybody know about Smiley's once-a-year Manhattan yarn sale?? Is it worth the 4$ trip cost? From their yarn listing, it looks like you have to buy yarn by the bag...is that true? And they don't list the two yarns I'm most interested in - Paton's Kroy, and Classic Wool. Carrie, Wendy, anybody in NYC - want to meet me there? I'm thinking of just dropping everything and going tomorrow....

Heel Trauma and Lessons Learned

I have 533 feeds on my bloglines. If you haven't seen me in the comments much, that's why. But I have a feeling I'll catch up.

On the other hand, the chapter is progressing. Almost to the point where I kind of like it. Almost.

I've been really, really frustrated with my knitting lately. So frustrated, that I've been mostly reading with what spare time I have. So frustrated that every time I walk past my WIP basket, it growls at me. And I growl back.

I've been thinking about what to do with the peacock sock, and receiving all your wonderful, generous, sympathetic responses with great gratitude. I'm working myself up to facing the fact that some frogging will have to happen. I've decided that while I'm okay with a little eccentricity in my knitting, total madness will irritate me, so I'm going to go with a suggestion that was not in my poll because it came from the brilliant minds of several of you, my genius commenters. I'm going to rip back enough of the toe of the finished sock to make them evenly unfinished, and then I'm going to finish both the same way, with another yarn. I haven't decided which other yarn yet. Since both feet will at least match each other, I might just go with the alpaca (I kind of like the idea of the extra warmth at the toes, since it will be both toes). I would ideally like to use Kroy, but even though there are two sources that I know of for it in NYC, both involve a train trip, which means it costs $4 and is almost the same as shipping anyway. Since we only have to be on campus 3 times a week (between the two of us!) we can no longer justify an unlimited metrocard, and when you start to think about how much each trip costs...well, it's just nutty. Anyway. I can't think of any other errand to do near P&S or Smiley's to justify the trip, plus P&S has only a small selection of Kroy and may not even have a tolerable solid color. Crazily enough, I didn't even ever realize that Smiley's is here in NY (thank you, anonymous!!), but again, I can't quite justify the trip when I have a huge stash...not to mention that if I went to Smiley's, there's just a little itty bitty chance that I might come home with extra sock yarn, not to mention some more Paton's Classic Wool, my felting yarn of choice that I can never have too much of. So, no, that wouldn't be a safe trip right now.

So that's pretty much the result of my endless pondering of all your comments since my last post, at least in terms of these socks. I've also learned tons, and been pushed to think a lot, about the whole nature of socks and what I want out of them.

While I've been pondering all this, I was working here and there on my first toe-up flap sock, using the Widdershins pattern as modified for 64 sts by David Demchuk.

You are looking at the just-finished Heel v.3.0. Yes, while agonizing over the future of the peacock sock, I was knitting this heel THREE TIMES. And this is after, mind you, David did a lot of re-knitting and figuring out for me, so that it shouldn't have been nearly this hard. What I've learned is that Hubbster's not the only one with weird feet. I think the big secret that the cotton/elastic commercial sock conglomerates have been hiding from the world is that everybody has very different feet, requiring different socks. And since this is of course the point of knitting them yourself, I really want to get it right. So even though my first version, following David's directions but -- ahem -- accidently screwing up a little could technically be pulled over my heel, it was really too tight, so I did it again, and this time got the instructions right. But the heel was still too short to fit me well. While Hubbster has wide, very flat feet, I have long, narrow feet (I knew this) and, I believe, tall, narrow ankles (hadn't so much noticed this before). So, Hubbster needs both height and length in the gussets, to get the sock over the enormous ankle part of his foot, which lacks an arch. I need lots of height in the gussets and flap, but not so much gusset length, as my foot gets really skinny really quick on either side of the ankle.

Meanwhile, I have also learned, with ya'll's help, a great deal about the Yarn Harlot's square-flap formula. When I first did it, I thought to myself, "well self, I'd better not do my usual 'knit until square' thing where I fold it over and if I can stretch it to the other side I decide it's 'square' only to find out after I've done the next part of the knitting that it's really a short, squat kind of 'square'." No, I thought to myself, I'm knitting on bloody #0 needles, I'm going to do this right. So I got my measuring tape (digging it out from the couch cushions) and I measured, and even checked to make sure I was measuring in a straight line, and that damn peacock sock flap was precisely 3.5 inches each way. And look where that got me.

So what I decided was that I needed to figure out the perfect proportion of gusset to flap for me and for Hubbster (nobody else gets socks on #0 needles, no way!), and just always use that proportion, ignoring the word "square" altogether.

I figured out that Hubbster's sock could have done well with 6 fewer sts in ea gusset, but no fewer than that (that's why I'm not ripping back that far - I won't save enough yarn for it to be worth it). I figured out that I need a bit more than 25% of the total number of sts (which, judging from the comments, is what most of you do, and which I see in most general sock patterns), but not as much more as Hubbster. This also affects how far in from the toe you need to start the heel, which was a factor in my trouble with the Widdershins pattern, among other things (also, that Widdershins has you increasing for fewer gusset sts than will eventually be attached to the flap - the extra sts needed beyond that are increased at the center heel section, when you "turn" it).

In the end, my formula is: a PGR toe (which I like because it's less pointy than the traditional one), then, after 2.75" for me or 4" for Hubbster, start gusset increases. Mine need to add up to 29% of total sts on each side, 41% for Hubbster. Then, I do the Widdershins short-row heel turn, but simply skipping the increases. This doesn't make it quite as rounded, but it's rounded enough for my foot:

Then, you just knit up the flap, which is the usual 50% of total sts, consuming the gusset sts as you go, at the same rate as a top-down sock. The sock you see here, v.3.0, still has only 25% of total sts for the gussets, and is still a little on the strained side, which is why I made my ideal 29% (based on measuring how many more sts I wish were there but aren't). And I think I'll be sticking with the regular slipped-st heel rather than EOP, just because EOP takes up too much yarn. Although since Hubbster's socks will clearly always require more than the usual amount, I might as well do them on his, if I'm going to have to always buy three skeins anyway!

So, in sum, I've had a traumatic couple of knitting weeks, and neither pair of socks is remotely done even now, but I have learned a hell of a lot, and I know now my own absolutely perfect sock formula and how to get there.

Which has now been added to a little project I've been working on...a 6-page knitting cheat sheet, containing everything I ever need to know to keep knitting for the rest of my life. Seriously. I actually made one a few years ago, but it was lost when my laptop got stolen, along with a lot of other great knitting stuff (which just goes to show, you can't just back up "work" stuff, you must backup ALL docs, everytime). I gave up on the project for a long time after that, then came back to it recently. I put in it all the technique tips and reminders I'm always having to run to a book for (like the order for kitchener stitch, or which decrs to use in what order for v-necks vs raglans, etc), plus the essential points for the most versatile patterns - EPS with all the shoulder shaping options, my own (new!) essential sock formula, wash cloth, slipper, mitten and wrist-warmer patterns, the pi shawl. The instructions for the basic lace and cable motifs that I like best. I put this all in columns in 10-pt font with tiny margins so that it all fits on 3-dbl-sided sheets that can be folded like a book. Right now, I still have room for 2.5 columns, and I swear I could happily knit for the rest of my life using only the info here! The only pattern I use regularly that isn't there is the Galeskas felted clogs, and I'm not sure I can fit that into the remaining space. I type everything up in my own abbreviated way, leaving out the things that are no-brainers for me, and adding in reminders for the things I always screw up (ahem, kitchener). The real point of this is to take it with me to Russia next year, so I don't have to take a whole suitcase full of books, but I also like to have it on shorter trips. So far I've taken versions of it on trips and it's always missing the one piece of info I want, but now that I've been through that a few times I think I've added almost everything - this year's xmas trip to Georgia should be a good test, as there will be plenty of knitting time and I plan to bring only the 6 pages, yarn, and (hopefully! if Santa has been good to me!) the KnitPicks options needles.

Here's a slightly blurry pic of the socks, the only one taken without flash so you can see the colors and the pretty pooling. It's in-house cashmere sock yarn from School Products, with a little nylon. It's spun with little curlicues like boucle, which makes the socks very soft-looking and soft-feeling, but also makes it tough to see the sts when you're ripping back.....

And because I can't resist a good meme:

(click to make it legible)

20 November 2006

Peacock Sock Emergency

I regret to tell you all that the peacock socks have reached a state of emergency.

I'm out of yarn. What you see is what I got. I'm not sure how this little problem managed to sneak up on me like this, but I think the cause may be those pretty eye-of-partridge heel flaps. They seem to take twice as many rows to reach squareness as other stitch patterns. This is no doubt why it's so firm and sturdy, but it also means that it takes a lot of yarn. Then, since this was my first foray into heel flap socks, I took the Harlot at her word when she said to just pick up one stitch for every 'V' on the flap and that would be the perfect amount for the gusset. I really did slip the first stitch of every row, but I still ended up picking up 36 sts on each side (on a 72-st sock). Now, I did see fairly quickly that this looked like way more stitches than a "normal" sock, and that it was taking way too long to get back to the baseline number of stitches at the rate of 2 decreases every other row. But I tried the first one on Hubbster's foot at this stage and discovered that while the "widest part of the foot" that I had been measuring (where the toe-knuckles are) is wide, the part of the foot in front of the ankle - the highest part of the foot - is actually well over a half-inch bigger around still. Probably because poor Hubbster has flat feet. (Honestly, I never imagined I'd know his feet quite this well.) So, the huge, odd gusset actually fits him marvellously well, and he says it's better than any sock he's ever put on. Although a slightly smaller gusset - say, halfway between normal and this one - would probably work just as well, this one is already knitted, now on both socks, so I'd really hate to frog and re-do it because of the yarn shortage.

Another option would be to frog the ribbing on the legs, and use that yarn. I am missing 30 rows plus the toe, and the ribbing is 20 rows on each sock, so that's probably about the right amount. Then I could just rip the last 4 or 5 rows of the remaining legs and knit them back up in 1x1 rib to finish it off. But I think this would seriously diminish the beauty and comfort of the socks - this is not the right colorway or pattern for anklets!

I could, of course, hunt down another skein of the yarn, which is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock merino. Two problems with that - 1, I'm not sure of the colorway or its current availability, and 2, if I'm going to spend real money, I've got a huge list of things I want, and I'd rather get something new and different and have these socks done already.

Or, I could finish it with another yarn entirely, and when Hubbster wears them in shoes no one will notice. Hubbster gamely declares that he is totally fine with this plan. But what yarn? The whole point would be not to spend money. The cheapest option I could find online was Paton's Kroy (in plain navy blue) for $4.50, but shipping was $6 (!!). I do have a plain brown yarn in the stash that would probably get the same gauge or close enough and not clash. But it's alpaca, and much fuzzier/hairier than the Supersock.

I cannot resolve this dilemma, not even after tossing and turning for an hour last night. Help me! Log your verdict in this poll:

How should I finish the peacock sock?
Buy another skein of matching yarn.
Unravel the ribbing and make ankle socks.
Frog and re-knit the feet with smaller gussets.
Finish with a matching Kroy yarn
Finish with the miscellaneous brown alpaca.
Stick it in the closet and cry.

View Results

In the meantime, I am continuing with the first pair of Widdershins. Did I mention that I have vowed to never, EVER, ever ever ever knit socks from the top down again???!! I have. Except maybe for EZ's moccasin socks, and even those I prefer to start just above the ankle with a provisional cast-on and then finish two at a time on one magic loop. I get better chances of having two legs of equal height that way, plus it makes the boring part a little more adventurous.

I also worked out some of my angst by whipping up these suckers in one evening:

Fuzzy feet, in orange alpaca, inspired by Aija's. It occured to me that since I'll be felting in suburban comfort over the holidays anyway (when I felt the in-laws' new clogs while we're visiting them), I might as well felt a few other things. I figure I might have time to do one or two more of these before we go. We can never have too many tapochki in this house.

P.S. I'm behind on my email. I know. I will catch up...eventually.

17 November 2006

The Benefits of a Crafty Childhood

I seem to be on this sentimental streak. Bear with me (or just skip this and wait till next time; I should be reverting to my usual cynicism any day now).

Marianne commented on my earlier post about my knitting bag that it sounded like I had a happy childhood. This really made me think...you know how you refer to other people, saying they had a "happy childhood" or an unhappy one...I don't think I've ever thought about my own childhood in those terms before. Probably because I've only recently realized that I am, in fact, an adult now whether I like it or not. So, prompted by Marianne's comment, I thought about it.

This is the whole version of the photo that I cropped and put into my "100 Things" list. Now you can fully appreciate both my red knee socks and the Wild-People-of-the-Woods look my parents were sporting in those years (hey, it was an ugly decade - it could have been so much worse!).

There are a few reasons that I didn't immediately think, "yeah, of course I had a happy childhood!" For one thing, I was never a happy-go-lucky type person who runs around dancing and singing and liking everyone they meet. I've always been the introverted, observant type (and, okay, more than a little antisocial). In almost all of my baby pictures, even, my brow is furrowed as though I was contemplating life and death or something (I suspect it was actually gas). That said, I enjoy thinking, and observing. It seems to be my place, and I like it. So while I may not have always looked happy, much of the time when I didn't I was probably merely thinking, and was perfectly content.

Meanwhile, my parents married young and there was a lot of fighting in our house (they eventually divorced, as soon as my brother and I left the house; they're both happier now). And like I mentioned, there wasn't much money; my parents really only started to get their heads above water right about the time they needed to pay for orthodenture and college, so even then it wasn't easy. However. While they weren't necessarily sure they wanted to be with each other, my parents were deeply committed to being parents, and very, very good at it. Obviously my brother and I would have been a lot better off if they had been more respectful and kind to each other, too, but I couldn't ask for anything more in the way they behaved toward us (the one thing in which they were united). A lot of the theories that are popular today - attachment parenting comes first to mind - were things my parents were practicing way back then without knowing the name for it. That's even more impressive knowing they figured this all out on their own, so young, without much in the way of modeling from their own parents. As for the money - I admire them enormously for choosing to dedicate their time and energy to working in social services when (with their educations and social background) they could have made a lot more money doing just about anything else. My dad was a teacher in the public schools before his recent retirement, and my mom is still a social worker. It's also true that I didn't ever really notice the lack of money when I was young because - the story is famous in my family - I was perfectly delighted with things like a box of popsicle sticks (grandma gave it to me one year, and she couldn't get over the fact that my favorite present ever had cost about $5 - but have you ever tried saving popsicle sticks for an entire summer, tried to make anything at all out of those sticks despite the colored stains left by the popsicles, only to suddenly get a bonanza of some 1000 perfectly clean, new sticks all at once???!!! Oh wait - I'm talking to knitters. We're all people who get more excited about a ball of string than just about anything else. So you know what I'm talking about.)

I also grew up in a crazy, insular, intolerant, bigoted town. I'll just share with you the phrase - which I have actually heard spoken in all seriousness - "If ya ain't Dutch, ya ain't much" and that should give you a general idea. My friends at school went to church three or four times a week and really, truly believe(d) they were the only people going to heaven, and the rest of us were damned. Creativity, independent thought, and outside influences were all abhorred. People actually accused me of being a satanist when I admitted that I didn't go to church very often. To say I was a misfit in school is putting it very, very mildly. My whole extended family was (is) very much a part of this madness - my parents became such hippies because they were running away from the loving-in-its-way but suffocatingly repressive and punishing environment they'd been raised in.

But you know what? I did have a really happy childhood. Because when I look back on it, the stuff I've just described isn't what comes to mind. What I think of is how much I loved reading and crafting. I spent my entire childhood mostly immersed in my own little world...and it was an awesome, creative, stimulating world. My parents' brilliant attitude toward childrearing - lots of freedom within reasonable limits, lots of love and respect and communication - was obviously crucial in every way, but the most important thing they might have done was to expose me to the World Book Encyclopedia and another series of children's reference books which I've forgotten the name of but which had one particular volume that defined my whole childhood -- called "Make & Do." It was a craft book for kids, and I don't really remember which projects were specifically from there, but I know that whenever I was bored or at loose ends, I turned to "Make & Do," or maybe a Ramona Quimby book. How could you not be happy? Naturally it was just a hop, skip and a jump to where I am now...getting a PhD and knitting a lot. Even before I could knit I had a yarn stash. It was 100% variegated acrylic, and I did many things with it - finger knitting, spool knitting, gluing it in patterns on paper, wrapping presents with it, you name it - but I think it's fair to say I haven't been without a yarn stash since I was 3. How can you not have a happy childhood when you have a yarn stash, I ask you??

Someday when I have (hopefully) kids of my own, what I would like to be able to do more than anything else is to give them books, and creativity. If you've got those things, your life will always be rich and interesting, and that's bound to bleed over into everything else you do.

Thanks to everyone for all the wonderful comments on my last post. I'm sorry I couldn't show you a picture of any incarnation of the brown pullover, but I didn't have any of those digitized, and we don't have the prints here in NY. Hubbster was touched and adorably embarrassed by all the attention.

I've often felt a little worried that I might be or become somebody's 'Aunt Myrtle' - I think I sometimes hesitate to give a knitted gift because of that stereotype. (See the latest evidence of the strength of the Aunt Myrtle stereotype over on Specs' blog). Especially when I become a mother and grandmother someday, I want to be the kind of knitter Anna was for Hubbster. Kids anywhere need that kind of focused attention and care, and will always be proud to wear something that's just for them, as long as you pay attention and make it really something they want and need -- and that's a good excuse for getting to know a child even better, which is always the right thing to do! Failed FOs, though, shouldn't be forced on anyone. They can always be frogged. That's the lesson I'm going to try to take away, anyway.

I'm on the heel of the second peacock sock, and so excited to start the toe-up Widdershins pattern (David of Knit Like a Man sent me his formula for the 64-stitch version!) that I've also cast on the toe for that, in a spaced-dyed boucle cashmere (with nylon) sock yarn from School Products that, as you can see, is too busy for a complicated design and so is a good candidate for my first, plain stockinette Widdershins.

I know I shouldn't start a new, more exciting sock before the old ones are done. Couldn't help myself. And I discovered that (gasp) I actually really hate the magic cast-on. Maybe I just didn't give it enough of a chance and maybe it was the tiny needles, but I found it incredibly fussy on the first few rows, and impossible to get the M1s on every row without holes. I tried every kind of M1 I know, and increasing by knitting into the row below the next stitch, but most of those are impossible right above the previous increase, and the M1 where you just twist a loop over the right needle leaves a huge hole. I contrast this to the PGR method, where you start with the invisible CO done with waste yarn, short-row around, pick up the invisible CO and proceed. I've never had any trouble with that CO row, and the toe looks great, so I'm going to stick with that. On with Widdershins! Oh wait. No. Better finish the peacock socks first, or poor Hubbster will be sad. Then on with Widdershins.

(Did I mention that I also really, really hate DPNs? I thought I'd figured out why people like them when I navigated that first top-down flap heel on a magic loop and got royally irritated during the picking up sts process. So I did this fussing around with the toe of the new sock, and some of the second peacock sock, with DPNs. It may just be that I have the wrong ones, but one set was short Brittany birches that are so flexible that make my hands cramp up. I know some people like flexibility, but it makes my hands cramp, I don't know why, but it hurts like hell. So I switched to a set of steel DPNs, but they're really long, which makes it a very poky-poky, awkward experience, plus at this size they have almost no points at all. I might try a pair of KnitPicks' new DPNs in #0 someday just to see if they can convert me (and because they don't get offer a 60" US#0 Magic Loop, natch), but I doubt it.

Oh, and the Fair Isle is down to the cuff on the first sleeve, finally. I don't like how the sleeve pattern ends clumsily in the middle of a motif, but I also don't want my sleeve either an inch or two too long or too short, so oh well.

THIS JUST IN: Make and Do was part of the ChildCraft series published by World Book, the same folks who did the encyclopedia. I remember my parents saying they bought both sets from a very charming traveling salesman, around 1976 when I was 1 and my brother was 4. They used the grocery budget to buy them, but I say it was totally worth it. Dharmafey: Let the nostalgia flow.... :-) Thanks for giving me the first word of the series name - I figured it out from there.

Back. To. Writing. Chapter. Now.

15 November 2006

The Exception That Proves the Rule

EDITED: to add PICTURES because Hubbster came home and gave me permission to post them!

First, the third YARNIVAL is out. It rocks all over the place. Really, this thing is getting cooler and cooler with every issue, probably because more people are becoming aware of it and contributing (or even writing for it). Do your part!

Anyway, even though there are a million other things I should be doing right now, I wanted to respond at length to one of the awesome posts from Yarnival. (I thought I'd do it here instead of leaving one of my patented long-ass comments, because I'm always timing out and losing those long-ass comments because I forgot to copy it to the clipboard before hitting 'send'.)

There are several rockin' posts about the Boyfriend Curse. Kirstin's got an entry in which she posits the theory that these infamous boyfriends, upon receiving the handknitted sweater, suddenly flashback to the most hideous christmas present they ever received, a monstrosity courtesy of someone like an Aunt Myrtle, and no matter how beautiful the sweater you knitted might be, they suddenly see you morphing into Aunt Myrtle (who else is picturing certain scenes from Vanilla Sky here?), and so they cut and run. Without even giving back the @^@%&#$% sweater, which if you ask me is really the worst part, since obviously this is not the sort of person worth keeping around anyway, and after the initial pain wears off, you might be grateful to him for showing his ugly colors early, you know? But that YARN - it could've been frogged into something fab for you!

So I've got an exception that proves Kirstin's rule. (Warning: This post may also be a blatant attempt to nominate Hubbster for hunk of the month.) Anyway.

So...I think Hubbster may have actually married me for the handknits. That's how much he loves them. And he doesn't just love what I make for him (though he loves those items with a fiery passion). He oohs and aahs over everything else I make, too, because he knows that this keeps me productive, and as long as I'm knitting productively, he knows he'll be on the receiving end of a fair portion of the goods (actually a totally unfair portion; I'm ashamed to say that Mom hasn't been getting as much as she deserves ever since Hubbster showed up - she's been very understanding about it since I finally finished her second and long belated sweater, though). Hubbster even accompanies me to yarn stores and likes it. He gets all excited about any undyed, natural fiber. He spends as much time as I do petting the pretty hanks (though he's of course over on the earth tones wall, while I'm wading in the reds and pinks). I get all kinds of murderous looks from the other young women in the store.

Maybe you've been one of those young women -- and so you ask, where did I find this guy? Like everything else (ahem), you have to understand the historical context or you'll never get it. So - I'm sure almost all of us can picture all too clearly the Aunt Myrtle experience that Kirstin describes. Many of us may have had an Aunt Myrtle of our own. In any event, all of us who were youngish in the 70s have certain dark memories of unpleasant acrylic color schemes. This all makes sense.

Hubbster has a different background. He grew up in Moscow, in the last years of the Soviet Union. Like many Soviet kids, he was an only child and both his parents worked, and then spent most of their after-work time waiting in line in several different stores to get groceries. So, like nearly everyone else, he spent most of the week while he wasn't in school being watched over by his grandmother. His grandmother's name is Anna and she's a Knitter (sadly, she's no longer a lower-case knitter because her eyesight is going, but she'll always be a Knitter).

(This is Babushka Anna knitting what appears to be the sleeve of a child-size sweater.)

The thing is, in the Soviet Union, even though most people's grandmothers probably did know how to knit, there was very rarely any yarn available, or if you happened to come across some it was probably itchy and ugly. Being a Knitter, and having the extreme good fortune of living in Moscow, where supplies were a bit less scarce than anywhere else in the Soviet Union, Anna did sometimes find decent yarn, and when she did, she made excellent use of it. Hubbster was wearing one of three major items she knitted him in almost every picture taken of him in his childhood years. One was a warm, bright blue and grey ear-flap hat. We brought that hat back from our last trip to Moscow, and I did my best to re-create it in his adult size, using the half-Russian half-American Peace Fleece yarn. It was a clever and adorable-looking design (I don't know whether she made it up or followed a pattern), made out of a yarn that feels like a blend, maybe of cotton and wool, or wool and a synthetic. She also made him a pair of bright-red ribbed snow pants, which he wore on top of what looks like about 10 other layers whenever he played outside. In the oldest pictures, the snow pants have huge folded cuffs, which gradually become smaller and then disappear, straightening out to make longer legs as he grew.

(With his grandmother, wearing the snow pants.)

And then there was the sweater. It was a fairly plain sockinette crewneck pullover, made in several different shades of brown, probably because Anna couldn't get enough of any one color for a whole sweater. At first, it was plain with a small pattern across the chest. As he grew, she modified the sweater, adding different-colored cuffs and a body hem, and then, it seems, ripping the whole thing out and knitting it again in with the several yarns in different-sized stripes, though all of them in shades of brown (possibly undyed wool brought in to Moscow markets occasionally from the countryside??).

My husband was very proud of these items. Not everyone had a grandmother who could do this, and no one had very much clothing at all, much less custom-made clothing. You had your school uniform, and a few other items. Often, all the kids would have pretty much the same clothes and shoes, because the Soviet supply problems meant that certain items would flood the market all at once, and then disappear just as suddenly, not to be seen again for a long time. So, when a necessary everyday item appeared, like kids' jackets, everyone bought the same one, or the same type, as long as supplies lasted. My husband's hand-knitted clothes were his alone, completely unique, and made with love (and considerably more effort than we go through today) by one of the people who most meant security to him in his youngest years. Anna made them to fit him, and she made them to last. They were plain, but skillfully made with the best materials available at the time.

(Hubbster thinks this sweater was probably also made by Anna, but we're not sure.)

When I first started dating my husband, a few weeks passed before I was brave enough to admit to my, er, little knitting fixation. Most American guys I knew acted just like Kirstin describes in her post - they didn't exactly mind it, and thought it was kind of cool in a way, but it was a little...disconcerting. And anything that wasn't a hip project - like a skullcap - well...most American guys wanted to change the subject. So, when I met the man who became Hubbster, I knew from the start that I really, really liked him, and I didn't want anything to screw it up. I figured I better introduce the knitting gradually, and I sure as heck wasn't going to knit anything for him for a minimum of 20 years, and only with a marriage certificate and several children for collateral. After those first few weeks, I casually brought along to his place a very hip pink scarf I was making for myself. It was my first official test of the waters, and I was very nervous. I said, half-laughing (so I could pretend it was a joke if necessary??), "so...you know, I know how to knit." Then I added quickly that I learned how in Norway, to replace any initial green acryclic associations with ski sweater associations.

But it wasn't necessary - before I'd even finished my sentence, he had brightened up like a light bulb and said, "REALLY??!!! You know how to KNIT??? That is SO cool!!! Would you know how to knit me a scarf??" I mumbled something about how easy it was, really, and changed the subject. I didn't want to test my luck too far. Then he kept asking about what I was knitting, and, gradually, since we were spending almost all our time together anyway, I started bringing my knitting along and regularly knitting when we were together. And he kept mentioning how much he'd love a real, proper scarf. The one he was wearing was not only synthetic, but the pain 1x1 rib pattern was finished off on each end with a line of serger sewing!! Horrors! And then he kept saying that he'd like to see a yarn shop some time, to see what they had. This finally did me in...for our first Valentine's day together, I made him a little card with a coupon promising him a scarf in the cashmere yarn of his choice. I took him to Purl Soho. He walked in, and almost immediately zeroed in on an undyed 100% alpaca so soft that I want to spend the rest of my days wallowing in it. To be sure we were getting the best possible yarn, I examine every other skein in the store, and Hubbster-then-boyfriend followed along, but we kept coming back to the alpaca. What I've since learned is that Hubbster has absolutely infallible yarn instinct. He can walk into any store and instantly gravitate straight toward the best yarn there. I bought one of the huge hanks, and made him a scarf in twisted rib. Fast-forward a year or so, we got engaged, and Hubbster-then-fiance begged: can I pretty please have a sweater now because we're getting married and the curse no longer applies??? Since he was a lawyer at the time, I made him promise to draw up an agreement stating that in the event of any breakup, sweater ownership would instantly revert to me.

And there you have it - he couldn't divorce me even if he wanted to, because he'd have to give up his favorite sweater. It was made entirely to his specifications, which meant endless rib on tiny needles in a size several times too big for him (that's how he likes 'em) in that same undyed alpaca. It's not at all what I would have picked out for a yarn for this sweater, and I would certainly have made it several sizes smaller, but he utterly adores it. It took me all of our engagement period and a couple months after our wedding to finish, and I frogged and re-knit the collar the last and final time just one day before I left the country for a long research trip in Russia, while Hubbster had to stay behind because he was taking coursework at the time. As I was frantically finishing that huge sweater, part of me was wondering what had possessed me to even contemplate a project like this - I wouldn't do it for myself or anyone else on the planet - but the other part of me was so glad to know that if I had to leave my newlywed Hubbster home alone for months at a time, that at least I knew he'd be warm and cuddly, wrapped up in miles of lovingly stitched alpaca. He called me every night while I was away, often while wearing the sweater and telling me yet again how much he loved it. We survived the time apart, and have been happily wallowing in handknits ever since.

And when I re-organized my stash a little while ago? I told him I'd got rid of two shopping bags of acrylics. He cheered the banishment of synthetics and said...."so now you have room for more yarn, right?"

And I didn't even have to train him to get him that way. Thanks, Anna.

(Hubbster was too young at the time to remember what was going on, so we totally can't explain this.)

(This is his second sweater made by me, deliberately reminiscent of the one his grandmother made for him in various shades of brown. The third will be a Dutch fisherman's sweater, like the ones my ancestors wore.)

13 November 2006

You Thought You Knew Me? You Were Probably Right...

I got this from Specs.

1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?

”And yet…and yet…Harry went restlessly back to the bed and sat down on it, running a finger over his scar again. It wasn’t the pain that bothered him; Harry was no stranger to pain and injury. He had lost all the bones from his right arm once and had them painfully regrown in a night.”

2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?

Hubbster’s book: Robert P. Geraci, Window on the East: National and Imperial Identities in Late Tsarist Russia.

3. What’s the last program you watched on tv?

The Daily Show and CSI, on my dad’s TiVo when we were visiting him over Columbus Day weekend. I had no idea what TiVo was, but I’m very impressed…

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.

8:00 pm. Crap, it’s 8:26. Typical. I’m always losing time.

5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?

An episode of Sopranos, season 5, on DVD. Things look bad for Adriana.

6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?

Hubbster and I met my cousin and her friend for lunch at the Popover Café, and then we walked through Central Park for a couple hours. It was a beautiful day. I hadn’t seen this cousin in five or six years, even though we were really close as kids. This was the first time she met my husband.

7. What are you wearing?

Flannel jammies from Victoria Secret, which my mom gave me for xmas a few years ago. They’re blue, with a pattern of little white down feathers all over them, as if I just got in the way of an exploding duvet.

8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?

This is SO embarrassing, but I dreamed that I found a few untouched skeins of the one of the yarns I’d decided to give away to Goodwill (which in the dream was already gone, instead of sitting by the door waiting to be gone), and…I was regretting giving it away, because these extra skeins would have given me enough for a sweater. I wouldn’t actually want a sweater out of this yarn, though – the regret was all in the dream only. There were many other unrelated episodes to this dream, but the yarn-related one is all that I remember now.

9. When was the last time you laughed?

About 30 seconds ago, because of something on Sopranos.

10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?

Quite a bit, as it’s our living/dining room and the kitchen and entryway are also visible from where I’m sitting. Most of the wall space is covered by bookshelves, but there’s also a copy of an old engraving of Geneva that Hubbster got when he worked there one summer, the cuckoo clock his dad gave us (the real thing), and a framed photograph of the New York skyline taken by Hubbster’s friend from his old apartment when he was at NYU. It’s got a huge stormy sky filling half the frame and throwing strange light on the skyscrapers. This is not nearly as strange and creepy, however, as the other photograph, in the hallway, taken by the same friend from Hubbster’s old apartment in Brooklyn, showing the twin towers before Sept. 11, but with such strange lighting that the towers…look like ghosts. They took the picture because they thought it looked neat, that’s all. It was hanging on the wall the day Hubbster saw the towers fall, and came home to Brooklyn to find charred bits of office paper on his front stoop.

11. Have you seen anything strange lately?

Apparently we saw lots of really strange people while out and about with my cousin the other day, but Hubbster and I mostly took the strangeness for granted until my cousin or her friend pointed it out. Weirdos, performance artists, etc. Just the usual Central Park stuff.

12. What do you think about this meme?

A little different from the usual – I like the random aspect of it.

13. What's the last film you saw?

The Departed, while we were visiting my dad in NH. We don’t see movies here generally (at $10.50 a pop, no matinees!), though we’re strongly tempted to check out Borat.

14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?

Pay off all our educational loans. Buy a decent house somewhere pleasant, in a blue state or Canada. Get one of the several accountants in my family to tell me how to invest enough of the money in smart enough ways to ensure a decent retirement for me and Hubbster, and for our parents. If possible, invest enough to live off the interest, though “multimillionaire” status doesn’t necessarily mean as much as it used to – depends on how “multi” we’re talking! Establish an educational fellowship, or if possible, several. Donate to my top-ten list of charities. With whatever’s left, buy up my wishlist from Amazon and KnitPicks. I’d probably still want to teach and write, but it’d be nice if the pressure to make ends meet were taken off…I think I’d actually work better, and be more driven, in that case. I’m odd that way.

15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I almost never spoke in school, unless directly called on by a teacher, for much of middle and high school. It just wasn’t worth it. I was a total blabber-mouth at home though, and continue to be when I’m with people I’m comfortable with.

16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?

”Bad guilt”? Huh? If you don't watch out, I'm going to take back those nice things I said about this meme.

If I could change one thing by magic that I think would make the biggest overall difference, I would make the general population of the whole world value education, critical thinking, and teachers as highly as they ought to.

19. What do you want your children's names to be, girl/boy?

Names have to be pronounceable and not silly in both English and Russian. I’d prefer for there to be family associations at least on one side, if not both mine and Hubbster’s. ‘Anna’ is perfect – the name of one of my favorite great-grandmothers, and the grandmother of Hubbster’s who practically raised him. We also really like ‘Marina,’ after my grandmother, Mary, and Hubbster’s mother, Galina. Boy names are harder. The ones we like in English don’t have good Russian equivalents and vice versa. Right now, Alexander and Alexei top the list. Every other person I know seems to be named Alexander, which is the only mark against that one, but Alexei is often difficult for English-speaking mouths to deal with, and it’s even worse for the Russian diminutive of that name, Alyosha.

17. Do you like dancing?

NO. And NO – it’s NOT that I’m just shy, but secretly wishing to be dragged into it. NO. I just DON’T LIKE IT and that’s okay. Have we got that straight? I love to talk with my friends, I love to watch other people dance, I like to listen to music and to just watch people. But I do not in any way get any pleasure from dancing, and it’s not because of self-consciousness or fear. I don’t have a good ear or sense of rhythm, and this means not just that I’m a bad dancer, but that it’s NOT ENJOYABLE. It’s like asking someone incredulously why they don’t love to wander around a room in random circles - because that’s what dancing feels like to me. It’s boring and I’d really much rather be talking to someone – anyone. Why can’t most people who live to dance get this into their heads?? I’ve never tried to force anyone to read or knit or drink tea against their will. I wouldn’t dream of it. But more people than I can count have tried to manhandle me into dancing when I have clearly and politely, with no hesitation, shyness or self-consciousness, said that I’d rather be doing just about anything else. What’s UP with that???

(Sorry if I've been unduly grumpy)

18. George Bush?

Willfully stupid, coke-snorting, pathologically lying frat boy with a daddy complex who is allowing the evil cabal that flatters and rules him to destroy the world for no better reason than their pure, unadulterated greed, and when they follow Goebel’s Textbook on Authoritarianism (“the best way to fool the people is with a really big lie”), refering to all this theft, murder, torture, and bigotry as “Christian,” “fiscally responsible,” and “tough on terror,” many people -- most of them employed in the media -- are too scared of getting even more screwed than they already are to stand up and point out that the emperor has no clothes. I could go on. For hours. I could go on for as long as it takes to get these people out of office and, preferably, behind bars.

20. Would you ever consider living abroad?

I’ve lived abroad for a year at a time on three separate occasions, now. I will certainly do so again for at least that long several times more. I would be very excited about the idea of a much longer stay in many, many parts of the world.

21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?

I wouldn’t say that I want this, but here’s the picture that leapt to my mind: “Gotcha! I really am a feeble personification of human fears that lives on a fluffy cloud, as opposed to that abstraction of the combined natural forces of the universe which is far greater than any pitiful human imagination. Aren’t you glad that I’m a girl, at least? And don’t worry – we’ve got plenty of yarn here. Duh – that’s why we call it heaven.”

22. Who should do this meme?

Everybody who’s read this far.

And I’ve been doing some quizzes. Putting them together probably gives a pretty solid all-around sense of who I am, actually. I’m skipping the stupid and illiterate ones, of course.

(And yes – I’ve been saving these up for a while. I didn’t do them all just now in a gigantic, epic bout of procrastination. I just do them every once in a while and stick the code in a file, and I realized I had a whole bunch built up. They gotta go somewhere, folks, and in the meantime I have neither made progress on any knitted item nor gotten around to addressing anything else on my blog to-do list. So there you go.)

Which NICOLE KIDMAN Character Are You?

"Satine" in MOULIN ROUGE!You're not just a star in your own mind, you're the real deal. Beautiful, talented, and gorgeous. But life is short: stop worrying about money and fame. Above all things, life for love.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

(Yup. That's the character I'd pick. Except there's no correlation with that whole prostitute thing.)

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

(This one seems to be particularly accurate – it’s almost spooky.)

You paid attention during 91% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

(Again, accurate right down to the point that I sure as hell didn’t actually learn any of this IN high school. No, they were too busy entertaining us with football and pep rallies.)

You are 60% English.

Getting there. You may wish to pay attention to the world around you.

"And did those feet
In ancient times,
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
In England's pleasant pastures seen?"

Well, no, but it's a cracking good tune.

How English are you?
Create a Quiz

(I always wanted to be English. Seems like I’m getting there. )

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

(This one was much easier than that other one.)

Congratulations. You are 30% dork.

So you're aware what a computer is. That's a start, but for true dork-dom, we're really looking for someone with more social dysfunctions and technical know-how.

The dork/nerd quiz
Quizzes for MySpace

(I expected more. Clearly, there are many kinds of dork, and not all of them were encompassed by this quiz.)

You Are 35% Strange!

You are a bit strange, though still more normal than strange. You definitely have some quirks, don't get me wrong. But you aren't exactly freaking out old ladies on the street. It's okay though, you've got a healthy mixture of strangeness and normality.

How Strange Are You?
Quizzes for MySpace

(I’m a little disappointed not to have scored higher on this one, too.)

Which Star Wars Character Are You?
Your Result: Yoda

You are a passive green creature with a speech impediment. You always try to find a peaceful resolution to your problems, but also aren't afraid to kick some ass if you need to.

Jar Jar Binks
Luke SkyWalker
Princess Leia
Han Solo
Darth Vader
Boba Fett
Jabba the Hutt
Which Star Wars Character Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

(Whatever. I don't get this one, but then it's been awhile since I last saw Star Wars.)

You are 0% STUPID!

Ok, so you're pretty intelligent. Granted, you have some stupidity but everyone's entitled. And you certainly have the ability to keep it in check when you need to. Good job!

How Stupid Are You???
Make a Quiz

(That’s a relief.)


You scored 16% Slytherin, 20% Ravenclaw, 44% Gryffindor, and 36% Hufflepuff!

Are you sure that you belong at Hogwarts? You show no defined personal characteristics and therefore no house preference. Perhaps you should seriously consider a lucrative career in dentistry or tax preparation -- or allow the Sorting Hat to redetermine your place at a later date.

Link: The Sorting Hat Test written by leeannslytherin on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

(*Sniff* I’m nothing but a bloody squib!! I was shooting for Ravenclaw, dammit!)

What NYC yarn store are you?

You are School Products!
You are a treasure seeker. You will sort through piles and piles of poorly labeled yarn to find the perfect coned cashmere from Kashmir. And when you find it, you will design a fantastic lacy shawl.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

(That one was a no-brainer…)

And now, my three favorite new quizzes:

You are 42% Russian!

It may be that you've been in emigration for too long. Time to watch some old Victory Day parades on video and remember your roots.

How Russian Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

What kind of graduate student are you?
Your Result: Typical.

Your talent and passion will get you through and it'll all pay off eventually, but for now...well, there's a reason everybody says grad school is the worst time of your life. Hang in there.

The precocious expert.
The closeted professional.
The poseur.
What kind of graduate student are you?
Make Your Own Quiz

12 November 2006

The Importance of Exercise

Hi guys. Sorry I pulled the disappearing act. Nothing has gone terribly wrong; it was just a particularly busy and stressful time for a while there. The diss chapter is at a critical stage and making me completely crazy. I think this is part of “progress,” but it’s still sometimes hard to tell the difference between “progress” and “pointless hell” just at this particular juncture.

In addition, I’ve been having these mysterious aches and pains for a few months, which suddenly started to get worse, so I had to go through a round of tests and doctors and worry. I thought from the beginning that it was some kind of pulled muscle or pinched nerve, probably getting continually aggravated by sitting in front of computers day in and day out in uncomfortable chairs, and that’s what, after a lot of scary tests, it seems to be. Or at any rate, every diagnosis that’s really scary has been eliminated, thank goodness, so the doctors have now decided to let me go away and suffer with no further intervention on their part. I’m told, though, by people that know, that the whole vast array of psychosomatic illnesses that accompany dissertation-writing will disappear as if by magic on the day I defend the thing. I’m very much looking forward to that. In the meantime, I’m going to try to get more exercise and rotate amongst my various uncomfortable chairs when I work.

I’ve also been on an interesting emotional journey relating to our recent national elections. This isn’t the place for detail, and others have blogged so articulately on exactly the things I’ve been feeling, but the curious may enjoying following this link to a glimpse into the tiny, crazy world I come from, and how it’s – maybe – finally – changing.

So I had all this time where I felt awful physically, was very worried, was completely paralyzed about my chapter (all of this is pretty much over now, by the way)…I just felt incapable of doing anything active, like blogging, or writing, or thinking, and for much of the time wasn’t even up to reading other people’s blogs, or listening to podcasts or knitting anything remotely challenging. I started re-reading Harry Potter for approximately the 7th time. I puttered, and I lived through another 3-day migraine marathon. And, of course, I found a way to treat myself with some yarn therapy, which played a big part in making me feel better.

I organized my stash. I pulled it ALL out of its closet, spread it all over the living room, wallowed in all its loveliness, rediscovered forgotten treasures, and put it away again in much better order than it had been. I also sorted out two big shopping bags full of yarn to give away to Goodwill. Everything that had more than 20% acrylic in it, everything I know I’ll never knit with, is going to be gone. I’ve divided what remains into lace yarns, sock yarns, felting yarns, potential sweater yarns (which was a surprisingly small pile – I have really been making a dent!), and a separate pile of miscellaneous one-skein treasures.

Then I made a sock. I’m just about to graft the toe of the first one. I’m using one of the gorgeous sock yarns I got from Cookie’s contest - it somehow reminds me of peacock feathers. The colors are mostly dark blue, chocolate brown, and olive, but there’s also a bright peacock blue that never fails to delight me every time it turns up. I had to manipulate these photos a lot to get them even close because I took them at night with a flash, but Cookie’s original picture of the yarn is very accurate.

I’m making these top-down, using the Harlot’s recipe. It’s the first time I’ve ever used US #0 needles, and I’m really enjoying it (though you might want to ask me again when I’m on the second sock). It’s perfect for the state of mind I’m in – lots of mindless knitting with very impressive results, and just enough excitement to keeping my mind on the knitting instead of my worries. I was going to just make the Widdershins pattern, adjusting the size up for Hubbster, but then I actually read the designer’s instructions for sizing up. I thought I knew as much math as I would ever need for knitting. But no. Everything she writes there relating to her heel sizing formula is total Greek to me. Luckily, one of my heroes has graciously agreed to write up how he did it, which will be extremely helpful since I want the same number of stitches he had. While I was contemplating all this and waiting to hear the details of how David did it, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to have even the faintest clue how the regular, top-down heel flap sock is made. I’ve never done it before – the closest I’ve ever come was fuzzy feet, and that was a very long time ago, before I’d ever made any other kind of sock, so I don’t remember a thing. The Harlot’s recipe is (of course) fantastic, and I’ve had a lot of fun watching how this works. I know most people are much more familiar and at ease with the heel-flap sock, but compared to the Gibson-Roberts short-row method, which I learned first, it seems so much less intuitive that what you’re doing will actually make a foot shape, right up until the very end. I had a lot of fun with that. And I made an eye of partridge flap, which was also highly entertaining, as I’d never done that stitch pattern before. I love the way the yarn striped – it never really pooled, but formed subtle stripes in slightly different formations on each part of the sock. I did the leg and top of the foot in a modified rib copied from Thuja. Both Hubbster and I love the look of it – very masculine, somehow – and I love that it’s much faster than regular ribbing. Every other row is plain stockinette, and even the rows with purls don’t have that many of them.

There are a million things I wanted to reply to (and that’s not counting the now huge catch-up list of unread posts I have waiting for me in bloglines) and stuff to add to the sidebar, etc, but one thing at a time.

02 November 2006

My Knitting Bag

This is random, but I've been wanting to show it off to you all for a long time, and since I don't have anything else to blog about today, I will.

This is my prized knitting bag. For a long time, it was buried in my closet because it held a UFO (one of the ones that got frogged in August). One of the benefits of frogging that UFO was that I got to re-discover my favorite knitting bag all over again, now disassociated from the frustrating sweater-that-looked-mauled-by-a-cat.

If you look closely, you can see that this bag was made for me in 1979. My mom sewed it, cleverly doubling or tripling the thinner printed cotton fabrics to match the weight of the denim. Then, she embroidered my name on it, and "Montana '79" because she made this - and a matching one for my brother out of tan corduroy and green cotton prints - to hold the stashes of crayons, paper, Uno cards and other odds and ends we were given to get us through the long train ride from Michigan to our aunt & uncle's house in Missoula, Montana, and back again. I was four at the time, and one of my clearest early memories is the overwhelming surprise and delight I felt when I opened up that bag for the first time. My parents were really young and still finishing school, not to mention they were hippies and it was the 70s, so we did not get elaborate presents for birthdays or christmas. A scratchy sweater, a board game, and some small stocking stuffers was more like it in those very early years. So, here we were in mid-summer, no special occasion, and I got a bag full of all my favoritest things in the world. I didn't happen to know that crayons, paper, and card games were really cheap - to me, they were highly coveted and endlessly entertaining items, and I couldn't really imagine what anyone would want with anything else. I think this feeling is part of why the bag was very, very special to me from the start, even more so than for my brother, who was a little older and less easily thrilled out of his gourd by something like a 48-piece set of crayolas (after all, I had only had the baby-size 8-piece set before this).

Needless to say, the trip flew by, and the bag became my "travel bag," going with us on every trip. And, dutifully, Mom embroided the location and year for each subsequent journey. The one that really cracks me up now is "Nashville '85," because I insisted that she embroider "101st Airborne" under it -- the name of a theme restaurant we went to on that trip, that my brother and I had loved beyond all things.

Around that time, in the mid-80s, my mom made two more bags for my cousins, with whom I was very close. Times had changed, and so their bags were made with two squares on each side of teal corduroy and two squares of printed cotton in teals, lavenders, blues and pinks. I was SO jealous of their pretty-colored bags for a while there, and thought mine looked old-fashioned. It stayed in the closet for most of my middle-school years. We all have these lapses of poor judgement, after all.

Later, when I went abroad as a high school exchange student, I packed that bag with me on purpose so that we could add an impressive "Norway '91-'92" to it. Of course, by the time I got back everyone was busier, and my Mom had (to be honest) never been all that big on embroidery anyway. I was the crafty person in this family, and I was old enough to embroider it myself. I liked this idea, and loved inheriting Mom's embroidery floss collection, but somehow...I just didn't get around to it for a while. Mom had stopped partway through the word "Norway" and so eventually, on a vacation home from college, I decided I must at least finish the word. This is when I learned that method matters in embroidery, and it's not as easy as it looks to do it neatly:

The 'wa' was done by Mom, the 'y' by me. As if you couldn't tell.

So to this day I still haven't done any more than that, even though technically I've taken the bag to Chicago for college, and on two separate trips to Russia, and another to Budapest, since that time.

Somewhere along the line, it has become my knitting-at-home bag instead of a travel bag (it's not exactly a convenient style for my kind of traveling these days). Now that I've frogged that pesky UFO, I'm keeping my currently favored at-home project, the Fair Isle sweater, in it.

So - is there a story behind your favorite knitting bag??

Today's blog entry brought to you by the tangy fruit taste of nostalgia.

One last item for today - if you haven't already listened to last week's Cast-On, do. I signed up on Wikipedia before I'd even finished downloading the episode.

Too tired and scatter-brained to say anything else coherent. Been loving all your comments. I think there were things I wanted to respond to, but don't remember what they were at the moment. I think I'm getting a cold. I feel like my head's full of...well, snot.