31 May 2007

Meme Season?

It must be the sultriness of the weather, but memes seem to be filling the air, and I for one am too lethargic for much else just at the moment. Besides, I was tagged by Laura an embarrassingly long time ago, before even getting tagged for the 5 random things (see below). Since there are an endless supply of random things floating around my life, here goes:

7 Random Things

1. I wrote my first story when I was about 6. I can’t remember what it was about, except that it involved a secret door into an imaginary universe, that the secret door was based on an actual door in my grandparents’ old farmhouse that didn’t seem to go anywhere (in retrospect, I believe it provided access to the plumbing), and that I got really frustrated with the story’s lack of originality, and didn’t finish it.

2. A couple years later I won a “young authors” prize for a different story, one about a robot. I didn’t like it at all – I shamelessly wrote what I thought the teachers wanted to see and would consider precocious, and it worked. I never really fully respected teachers after that. I also gave up writing fiction at that point.

3. I have a morbid fear of spiders. Seriously – I flip out if I get too close to one, and feel like something’s crawling on me for hours afterwards. However, bees and wasps don’t scare me in the least.

4. The first time I dyed my hair was when I was 16, while staying in a youth hostel in Lido de Jesolo, Italy with 40 other exchange students. I dyed it “plum,” and it’s been various shades between auburn and blue-black on and off ever since.

5. I walked for the first time at 9 months, but started talking very, very late. However, when I did start talking I immediately used 3-syllable words and full, grammatically correct sentences. My mother attributes this to the fact that she took me to college with her in a front pack from my earliest days. We also think the early walking may account for my inability to coordinate hands and feet – not enough practice at crawling.

6. When I was little, my best friend and I painted pictures on rocks and pieces of wood and sold them to the neighbors. It didn’t occur to me until years later that people bought them because we were cute (and only charging 10 cents), not because they needed paperweights.

7. I had braces for more than 6 years, and my bite still isn’t quite lined up right. My teeth were straight to begin with, and I wish they’d never been messed with. I think it’s annoying how braces give everyone the exact same unnaturally perfect teeth.

28 May 2007

Knitting Experience Meme

Edited: to fix mistakes from posting too fast and to (hopefully) fix the little problem of bold and italics not showing up in bloglines and making it look like I've never knit stockinette stitch! (thanks Specs!)

I found this via Eve and Kate.

Instructions: Mark with bold the things you have knit (or are knitting), with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Eve introduced an extra bit: link to pages if they’ve been documented!

Afghan (will be a long time coming)
Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up

Knitting with camel yarn (I’ve done llama…)
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk (not 100% yet, though…)

Moebius band knitting (band?)
Participating in a KAL

Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns

Knitting with banana fiber yarn (dude!)
Domino knitting
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting

Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn

Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items

Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (huh??)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns

Publishing a knitting book (probably not, alas, but knitting did get mentioned in my diss…)
Teaching a child to knit (have taught only adults so far, strangely)
American/English knitting
Knitting to make money
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting

Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on one or two circulars
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit

Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn

Knitting art
Knitting two socks on twoone circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener stitch (finally have it memorized!)

Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO

Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting (my aunt has a machine and let me try it once years ago; unfortunately we no longer live near each other…:-( )
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegated yarn

Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere


Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern

Gloves(thinking of starting some soon, as you know)
Intarsia (have been avoiding this like the plague...but for no good reason)

Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine

Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting (have the yarn and the plan ready…)

Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Shrug/bolero/poncho (I’ve got a bolero in mind, I like shrugs, but NOT ponchos!)
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Post Scripts

1. The bookshelves - Ikea's "Billy." As cheap as it gets. The secret is twofold: first, glass doors, which I found in their remainder room for $40 for the pair, and second, colorful books (helps to study Russian history - lots of red covers!)

2. Huge thanks to Sara (blogless?) for referring me to a diagnosis that explains everything. An excerpt: "In the terminal phase, dissertation dementia, the patient may become incoherent, demonstrate catatonic behaviors and/or flat affect, and report hallucinations and delusions....A tendency to ruminative, vague, and circumstantial speech is common, as are odd beliefs and peculiar behavior patterns. Research indicates that university professors are particularly prone to these patterns."

3. Plans for Decadence: I think I'm going to take Ayla's advice and make Miss Dashwood but skipping all the frills and furbelows, and also take Paula's advice and make the Cherry Garcia neckwarmer from Hello Yarn - I think I should have enough yarn for both. Thanks guys!

4. I've also started yet another WIP for which I have no justification at all: a lace sampler stole, based on the one in Victorian Lace Today, using my pink Alpaca Cloud from KnitPicks. I'm starting the fourth chart already and loving it!

26 May 2007


First, don't worry, I'm not going to spend a whole post punning on the word "decadence."

But only because my Russian studies institute recently hosted a "Decadence Conference" and I'm so over that now.

Instead I'm going to talk about the yarn. Knit Picks' Decadence. How many of you, like me, happened to do one of your periodic checks of the KP web site a while ago only to discover a one-week-only sale on luxury yarns a mere 24 hours before it ended??? How many of you, like me, temporarily lost their minds?? Hubbster wasn't home, I was alone and defenceless. It's not my fault.

I got two hanks of Decadence (100% superfine alpaca) in "winter rose," bulky weight, and three of Ambrosia (80% baby alpaca, 20% cashmere), sport weight in "mulled wine." They match, although that wasn't my intention. They were marked down from $5.99 to $3.99.

I decided that the Ambrosia was meant to be the gloves I've been procrastinating about knitting gloves almost since I learned to knit. I've never ever been able to find a pair of commercial gloves that remotely fit me - the largest women's gloves tend to reach the crook between fingers at my lowest knuckle, while men's gloves are wide enough on me to fit two hands inside. So here I am a Knitter - I should be swimming in hand-knitted, perfect-fitting gloves, shouldn't I? Alas, no. One of my only knitting phobias is gloves...and it's not really a phobia so much as an aversion. I know I can do it, and it won't even take that long...but I really hate knitting small tubes. Socks and sleeves are only marginally okay, and then I prefer smaller gauges to make it "worth it" by giving me a lot of stitches to enjoy between the fussing at each end - and I've absolutely minimized fussing by religiously using Magic Loop. So the idea of ten tiny tubes makes me a bit queasy. When I do it - and now that I've got this Ambrosia burning a hole in my basket I've got to do it - I want to make them the Meg Swanson way, using I-cord for each finger, but leaving a bit of slack at every turn that can be crochet-hooked up to form one more stitch and thus a tube big enough for a finger. But I'm still very nervous about getting just the right amount of slack....

Then there's the Decadence. What to do with the Decadence? I picked the color because I felt guilty about how much deep-red yarn I already own, so I picked my second favorite color, deep rose. But since I did the same thing with the Ambrosia and they match, I'm thinking I need to make something that will go well with the Ambrosia gloves. I'm kind of sick of scarves at the moment and I own more of them than I can wear, so I was thinking of a hat. Standard hats look awful on me. I already made a beret. I'm saving the cupcake hat concept for my PeaceFleece, because I think that's a good match of yarn and pattern. The Decadance is so soft and drapey, it made me think a floppy hat of some sort would be a good idea. My grandmother had crocheted a lovely floppy hat (with matching scarf and mittens) in bulky ivory unspun wool for my mom when she went away to college in 1970, that I later inherited but didn't fully appreciate in the 80s, that I thought might make a good model. Grandma's hat was great, but a little stiff (crochet) and the ivory color had never worked as well on me as on my mom. Hence: Rose Decadence + floppy hat = Perfection. But I didn't feel up to winging the pattern - I still feel woozy from the Diss and don't trust myself. Then it hit me - Miss Dashwood! Why not make the largest kid pattern provided, but in bulky yarn? It should be perfect! Indeed, I even swatched, and it was just right! The Knitting Gods have spoken! The pattern starts at the outside edge of the brim, so I knitted in to a few rows past the decreases for the crown, and realized now was a good time to try it on.

That spectacularly beautiful pattern, ladies and gentlemen, should be reserved for angelic babies.

Way, way too many bobbles for adult faces.

I was so horrified by my reflection that I frogged it all before I thought to take a picture for the blog. What you see above is all there is.

Leaving me with the question: know any good PLAIN floppy-hat patterns? Or should I give up and do something else instead? I think I need something virtually fool-proof, as this is fairly delicate yarn and, as you can see if you look closely at the picture above, the frogging has already worn it out a bit. I don't want to subject it to any more of that. Does that mean I'm stuck with a scarf...?

Meanwhile, I've been tagged. Like most people I don't like chain-letter type thingies, but on the other hand I discovered a lovely new blog by being tagged, I was highly entertained by Lauren's answers to the meme, and so why the hell not?

Here are the rules:

Each person tagged gives 5 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 5 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 5 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

Now, this is not required by the meme, but since I liked the kinds of things Lauren included among her 5 facts, I'm going to do a few similar ones...

1. Celebrities I've met or seen close up and in-person (and not just from the audience):

Bill Murray (on the sidewalk in Morningside Heights, NYC - I recognized him by his grin)
Woody and Soon-Yi (holding hands on Park Ave, NYC - I felt like I'd suddenly stepped away from reality and onto the pages of People)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (in Tea & Sympathy, NYC - he looked annoyed at being stared at, understandably)
Naomi Watts (at The Container Store, NYC - she looked extremely glamorous in that environment, but then I'd imagine she'd look pretty glamorous anywhere)
NYC former mayor David Dinkins (shared an elevator in the CU Int'l Affairs bldg)
Keanu Reeves (bumped into him, literally, while being an extra on Chain Reaction - he was very nice, considering)
David Schwimmer (bumped into him, literally, at a premier at the Steppenwolf theater in Chicago - he was very nice, considering)
Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf (they were in said play premier and party afterwards; didn't actually talk to them and managed not to bump into either of them also)
John Linnell and John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants (on the sidewalk in Peoria, IL)
James Carville (he guest lectured for a class my brother was TA-ing - a very nice guy)
George Stephanopoulis and an unidentified Kennedy (at a party - didn't actually talk to either)
Ted Kennedy (at a fundraiser - he shook my hand and called me "the future of America")
Robert Redford (at a screening - his skin looked awful up close. So did Ted Kennedy's)
The Yarn Harlot (at her signing in Brooklyn; only saw her from the audience at the Represent event)
Amy Singer (at The Point in NYC)

2. Celebrities that I'd like to meet:

Meg Swansen
Kay and Ann of Mason-Dixon
Brenda Dayne
Lime & Violet
Annie Modesitt
Elsabeth Lavold
Priscilla Gibson-Roberts
Franklin Habit
Annemor Sundbø
…you get the idea

3. I wasn't on Romper Room, like Lauren was, but I was on some short-run kids' show when I was little. I don't actually remember it. I was also seen knitting - briefly in the background - on the news in Moscow on Election Night 2004 when I watched the returns at the Embassy along with a bunch of other expats. I was knitting my archive gloves and didn't look happy. As for my stint as an extra in the amazing hit film Chain Reaction - I was in the balcony during a lecture hall scene that's shown over the opening credits of the movie, but I never actually got onscreen. It was a fun time though - Keanu Reeves was playing a U of Chicago student, and a real U of C professor (from the theater dept) had a bit part as the lecturer in that scene. One of my best friends went to the bathroom during what she thought was a break from filming, only to run into the entire film crew at the bathroom. She works in the movies now, but not because of that incident!

4. My mother used to call me (and sometimes still does) "D.C." with the emphasis on the D, not the C. Apparently this evolved from my name this way: Katie -> Kay-dee -> Dee-dee -> Dee-see. My brother was "foo."

5. Also when I was little, I used to hum tunelessly, without realizing I was doing it. Kind of like Scout in the opening of the To Kill a Mockingbird movie. Apparently I grew out of it by about 7 or 8.

I'm going to break the rules by not tagging anyone specifically - consider yourself tagged if you want to be. I need to back off from the computer and pick up some pointy sticks....

21 May 2007

FO - First Skirt Ever!

...but it won't be my last. I'm already planning another in charcoal alpaca, this time actually using the pattern from Blue Sky Alpacas. The one shown below I made up, using 50-50% wool/cotton that I bought in Russia. The yarn is rather stiff (it's the kind that's made like a teeny-tiny tube of I-cord), and I knit it at a tight gauge so that it keeps its shape well. It's quite a bit shorter than I'd intended, but I ran out of yarn, and Hubbster approved! With no further ado, some uncropped and unadjusted pictures (because I'm posting from work):

Meanwhile, I've been adding a little bit to several other WIPs, but not yet enough to make for interesting pictures. I've also been returning library books and throwing out piles of early drafts:


I also want to say a gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who's written and commented to support me through this dissertation hell, and just in general - although I've been absolutely terrible about responding to anything, I delight in every one of your comments and emails. I look forward to checking for comments as a special treat, and every single one makes me grin (while quite a few make me laugh out loud with joy). Please don't ever think that if I don't write back it's because I'm ignoring you - not at all! Actually, I always have a response in my head...but in recent weeks months years(??) the response has not always made its way from my head to my fingers and the keyboard. But it's not because I don't care! It's because I've been barely keeping myself together to get the minimum necessary done. But now it IS done...and I finally have time and (more importantly) mental energy to eat right, exercise, take my vitamins, sleep, knit, and get myself in order generally. That's what I'm working on now, and it feels great. I'm even going to the doctor to check up on all my psycho-somatic dissertation-induced illnesses (because I did one of those online diagnose-me things, and it turned up with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and adrenal dysfunction! I think they don't have "dissertation" as an official diagnosis, though, and from what I hear they're all pretty equatable).

15 May 2007

Still Here!

Do you know how much 333 pages weighs? Now multiply that by 5, for the five members of my committee.

I'm going to be spending tomorrow afternoon getting some weight off my back.

And then there's just a little bit of catching up to do - sleep, laundry, cleaning, etc.

But I'll be back soon! and with no more posts ever again that are labeled only "non-knitting content, diss"!!!!!!!!!!!

05 May 2007

CotLin Review and 2 FOs!

Edited to Add: Actually, as it turns out, I'm less picky than the Harlot, too. Those unmatched ribs wouldn't bother me at all - in fact, I've probably done that inadvertently and not even noticed. Though I suppose it depends on how the sweater is supposed to hang (ribs stretched apart, or bunching up). Good to have these things sorted out. And good to know that cool technique from Veronik Avery - just in case...

Funny how you think you're "practically done" and will suddenly have more time...and your immune system kicks you in the ass and reminds you that, actually, you have to pay for all those months of poor diet and no exercise and stress....blaech. Anyway.

I finished a bath scrubby made out of my new KnitPicks CotLin!

This took only a very small part of the skein, so I'm going to make one more scrubby and maybe also something else.

Before I attempt any kind of review, a few caveats: I'm not a picky knitter. More Harlot than Grumperina, you know? And I've never had any trouble knitting with even something as rough as kitchen cotton (in three strands even!), though I also don't knit with cotton more than once in a blue moon. I'm also not exactly meticulous about...anything. So I'm maybe not the best reviewer in the world. But, I'm happy to share what I've noticed from playing with CotLin so far.

As you can see, the stitches are even and balanced. It has no noticeable elasticity, but wonderful drape. Check out the CO edge of the scrubby - I did 2 or 3 rows of stock st, then a row of k1, p1, another row of plain knit, then p1, k1 across, and continued in stock st. Not the slightest little hint of a roll - I think I could have left it in plain stockinette and it would have been flat enough for my purposes. The hand is similar to other non-mercerized cottons - it's soft in that cotton-y way. But it's also very light, and smoother than kitchen cotton. I personally very much enjoyed knitting with it, but like I said, I'm kind of insensitive to the hand-cramping others seem to get from knitting with inelastic yarns.

There are quite a few bits of very small, light plant matter throughout the skein. I started taking them out and then decided it was probably a good thing for a scrubby and left it in - you can see it in this picture. You can also see the slight, fuzzy halo from the cotton. It's less fuzzy than kitchen cotton, but not as sleek as linen (nevermind the shine of mercerized cotton. It's definitely something I would make a garment out of, but only a summery, casual, drapey sort of garment.

I haven't yet tried washing it or using it as a scrubby, since I decided to send this one off to Mom, with her new socks (see below) for mother's day, but I'm making the second one for me and will let you know if it does anything funny in the wash.

As for color - these pictures are accurate on my monitor. I love the light sport-weight gauge, allowing you to knit lighter or finer pieces than kitchen cotton.

Verdict? I've already ordered more, now that they've got the natural linen color in stock. I'm going to make some dishcloths, and I have a feeling I'm going to need to make still more in a variety of colors. I think this yarn fills a wonderful niche - between kitchen cotton and mercerized cottons and the more expensive and stiffer 100% linens and hemps - and I'm delighted to have it available, even though it's fairly limited, in my mind, to tanks or light summer tops, and washclothe/towel-type things. But maybe I'm just not using my imagination enough?

I also finished the Avocado socks for mom for mother's day. They look much less funny on the feet.

And, I've been knitting blue. Yummy.