So - first things first. The sweaters.
No, okay, I'm kidding. As enamored as I am of the sweaters, I want to tell you about the job first!
I got one! That's the most significant, shocking, unbelievably fact at the moment. Now, I know several of you are poised to go comment something really sweet about how I shouldn't be shocked, I worked hard, etc, but the academic job market is really arbitrary and I know many incredibly talented and hard-working people who end up sh@t out of luck year after year, stuck in cycles of incredibly low-paying adjuncting or whatever. I fully expected to put my time in with this, and see whether it would eventually lead to a tenure-track job or to leaving academia after about 5 years or so. But, I've been very, unexpectedly lucky. I'm in a relatively tiny field - though there are many more jobs for Americanists, for example, there's also way more Americanists than there are jobs. Not as many colleges have even one Russianist in their departments, but then again there are only a tiny handful of PhD Programs producing Russianists, and there have been fewer and fewer going through that system since 1992ish. Meanwhile, apparently that magical moment when the professoriate hired in the early 60s retires has finally hit (10-15 years later than expected) and trickled down - there were an unprecedented number of openings in my field this year. Like, several times more than last year, which had been a good year. So I got 5 preliminary interviews, which is awesome, but not completely out of the question since there are probably 25-30 Russianists applying at most (more likely less), as opposed to the 250 who apply for most Europeanist positions.
One of the schools that offered me an interview actually bypasses a large part of the usual process (usual being two levels of interviewing: preliminary conference interviews and intense on-campus visits), and gave me an on-campus interview in mid-December. I just found out that they've offered me a tenure-track job, even before learning whether I even made it as a finalist for the others. Luckily, as it happens, it was a really easy decision to just accept it and be done. This school solves all kinds of practical (geographic) problems for us, since we can stay in NYC where Hubbster is committed for another year, and is a good school that impressed the heck out of me on my visit, with some really lovely people whom I genuinely liked. Again - more tremendous luck.
Oh, but you wanted to hear about the sweaters? Here are the sweaters (all photos, click for slightly bigger):
Hubbster's Dutch Fisherman's Sweater. Here's the Ravelry page on it. (If you're not on Ravelry yet and you care about knitting enough to read this blog at all, you should sign up right now - these days they're moving through the waiting list very quickly and it only takes 1-2 weeks.)
After leaving it untouched through all the crazy traveling and stress of last summer and fall, I finally got back to it in these last couple of weeks while I was suffering from
This is the only outdoor picture, sadly, because it was -18C.
The color - KnitPicks WotA Sapphire Heather - never ceases to fascinate me. Gorgeous. Feels sturdy and durable but soft enough for comfort over just a t-shirt (I did it on US5, so it's fairly dense). Hubbster assures me that the color and feel strike an appropriate balance between attractiveness and manliness (Hubbster would also like to hereby be known as "Hubbus" as he thinks this is more manly sounding than Hubbster but I'm not sure I'll remember).
The knitting of it was easily the smoothest and most trouble-free of my sweater career. I did mis-calculate the frequency of increases on the first sleeve (inevitable) but practice at this particular mistake made me catch it quickly. For once the collar came out just right on the first try. The pattern was very easy - it looks more complicated than it is, but each row-pattern is easy to memorize and predictable. I made the first sleeve too short at first, but instead of ripping all of it I snipped one row in the plain stockinette portion at the top, added the necessary 5 extra rows, then grafted it back together. Doesn't show a bit. After blocking I added a few rows to each cuff, also - it was hard to predict how much it would flatten out, but luckily this was as much adjusting as I needed to do. The drop sleeves have surprisingly little extraneous bulk. My favorite detail is the I-cord CO/BO on the hem and cuffs. I saw something like that in the historical pics in the book, though it's not mentioned in the actual pattern (not sure if the original was I-cord or just rolled reverse stockinette, though).
The next sweater is not as much of an unmitigated joy, but I'm sure happy it's done!
It's the KnitPicks Palette Sample Cardigan, at long, long last. Here's the Ravelry page. It had sat in my knitting bag awaiting the cutting of the front and collar steeks for an embarrassingly long time. Beth had even volunteered to do it for me over the summer, but I stupidly forgot to bring it with me to the Allegan Fiber Festival. The truth is, I was both terrified of cutting (the collar, specifically, since the steek was sloped - the sleeve experience had made me a little more sanguine about straight steeks) and had also lost some of my love for the sweater after realizing that switching needles on the second sleeve had made it slightly larger than the other. And with all those tiny bits of different colored yarns, I wasn't about to frog. No way, Dude. So I pretty much resigned myself to having a very beautiful only-around-the-house sweater and I just wasn't that pumped about it anymore.
But, in the euphoria over finishing the Dutch Fisherman's Sweater, I did it. The cutting wasn't that bad, as advertised - actually kind of fun once I'd decided I wasn't that happy with how the sweater was turning out anyway! And I'm not totally unhappy, either - this project was meant to be a learning experience, and I did learn from it everything I'd intended to learn. And, I have a delicious sweater for wearing at home, which I actually needed. I seldom knit cardigans (have I ever, before? I don't think so, actually), but they're really the only kind of sweaters I want to wear indoors. And the Palette yarn is astonishingly soft and pleasant to the touch. And I have oodles of lovely leftovers to play with.
Notice how I have cleverly staged these photos to keep you from noticing how severely the sleeve dimensions don't actually match? Actually, after blocking, that's the least of my problems with the sleeves. What I like least is the hugeness of them both at the top - which was strictly according to the pattern. I know it's a drop-sleeve design, but this is out of control. Now I know to always modify this (I think I already knew that, but I ignored the Little Voice). It's also a little too short, which was my fault, but I'm glad that it ended with my favorite motif - the one with the three graduated shades of green - at the top of the body and sleeves, where they're prominent.
While the sweaters blocked, I quickly whipped up a tea cozy to match the Garter Mug Cozies I made from the IK pattern in the holiday special issue that I picked up while I was in NYC for my interview.
Simply because our tea was getting cold. Problem solved, with modest aesthetic pleasure as pure bonus. I used my own handspun (!!) - it was the roving I bought together with my PeaceFleece spindle from an LYS on Long Island, because the other fiber I had collected at that point was still out of reach in my suitcase in NYC. It's Corriedale/Romney and I love the dye job - absolutely delicious - but I wasn't happy with the condition of the fiber once I actually got into spinning it. It had lots of little pills in it, as if it had been handled too much or badly or something. I don't know enough to say why, but I do know that it led to much bumpier and less fun spinning than other fibers I was spinning at the same time. Compared to the awesome, shiny, blissfully pleasant spinning experience and final product of the Wensleydale that Beth sent me (and which I dyed myself with kool-aid) - well. Let's just say, I vow to always, always listen to Beth about all things fibery and not stray again any time soon no matter what. I also vow to go back to Beth's shop this coming summer and buy myself a fiber stash so that I'm never in such dire straits again - hey, I'll be employed by then! And while I'm there, if I take the opportunity to try out all the spinning wheels...well, who could possibly blame me?
As if this post isn't long enough already, I don't want to leave without sharing some of the pictures I've been assiduously taking.
First there's the pretty:
(From a monastery located right in the middle of the city, within walking distance from us)
And then there's the more neighborhoody sort of sights:
(can you guess what year this playground was built?)
(Sadly, much of our snow melted after I took these pictures, then we hit this cold snap, and all it did was freeze the dog pee on the sidewalks.)
(I don't really know the purpose of this thing, but there are several of them around the playgrounds in the neighborhood, each one striving to be cuter than the next.)
("New Years" decorations at the nearby baked goods kiosk)
(These relief portraits are on a local school. My first thought was that the guy on the far right was Stalin. Which seemed strange, but I thought the guy at middle left could be Marx. Which leaves, of course, Lenin and Engels, but that would mean the artist was singularly untalented. A closer look made it clear - from L to R they're: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Mayakovsky and Gorky. That's more like it!)
I thought I had a picture of the cars triple-parked all over the sidewalks, but I can't find it, so that'll have to end our tour for today. Hope you enjoyed!