Thursday, November 30, 2006

The End of November

1. NaKniSweMo

Check. (A photo finish complete with still-a-bit-damp and way-too-rushed seaming!)

The pattern for the castle is in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and the sweater is just a basic drop sweater in about a child's size 10.

2. NaBloPoMo

Check. 30 days--and I finish with a bang (2 posts in one day).

3. National Finish-the-Book-You've-Been-Working-On-Forever Month

Well--almost check. Really really almost. It will be sent off to the press for copy editing in a couple of weeks!

4. Sleep

Not so much.

Storming the Castle

Can I finish on time?

Because I did a wet block in order to insure that the castle would be flat, I'm afraid I did not budget in enough time for the blocked sweater pieces to dry.

Hair dryer to the rescue!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


1. Shetland Triangle Shawl

I knit the Shetland Triangle in a 30%silk/70%merino yarn (12 pattern repeats).

The yarn is beautifully soft yarn and the pattern a truly lovely one. I am a bit disappointed that I could not block it to be a larger shawl. Perhaps because of the silk content?

2. Silk Feather and Fan Scarf

David returns home from his parents' house this afternoon. His mother is doing very well--as is the feather and fan scarf he is knitting from 100% silk yarn. This morning he sent me pictures of both:

I can't wait to have David sitting beside me on the couch--a fire in the fireplace, perhaps a cocktail in our hands, and the last stitches of sweaters coming for both of us.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I made good progress on the castle sweater last night, finishing up to the neckline on the front. I was so excited about the picture knitting, however, that I forgot something:

See that? On the back I knit little indents for a modified drop shoulder. On the front, I completely forgot.

I thought briefly about ripping the front. I thought about waiting until tonight when I go to my knitting group. I knew some of the pros there would hold my hand as I did it--but I also thought it would be quite hard to pick up the twisted stitches and the RTs and the LTs and the P2-b stitches and the like while also drinking wine and having great conversation.

I thought about castling in chess. Ah ha! The old switcheroo: change positions between one piece and another....

So I picked up the perfect sweater back, ripped down past the decreases. What was to be modified drop sleeves now has a different plan of plain drop--and I have about 55 rows of mindless knitting for tonight's group.

The front is going to need a wet block in order to get the stockinette-to- reverse-stockinette areas to lie flat. (Yep--I am lazy bought Sue's moat idea from the comments). Is there still a possibility of finishing this sweater by the end of the month?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Updates and Uncertainties

1. David's mother's health:
The tests this morning were all good news. We are extremely pleased and hope that what happened was just a random quirk. David sounds somewhere between exhausted and relieved. Strangely enough, I am still ridiculously uncomfortable with the uncertainty. A friend of mine said simply, "Sometimes definitive but bad news is easier to hear than apparently good but not fully satisfying news."

2. Knit Picks Options:
Knit Picks said they are sending me a new cord but did not answer my questions about whether this is a common problem. Nor did they say anything remotely apologetic. I am not sure whether to be pleased or slightly annoyed.

3. WIP Progress:
The Shetland shawl is blocking on the bed. Will it be dry by the time I'm ready to sleep? Is it big enough? I knit 12 repeats, which should have yielded a 70-inch shawl. It did not. I should have used a bigger needle. And--WILL I go to sleep? I really need to spend some serious quality time with the Castle sweater if I am going to finish it for NaSweKniMo....

Sunday, November 26, 2006

In the making...

Thank you all so much for the very kind thoughts and wishes. David and I both appreciate them.

D. flew to his parents today, taking the scarf with him. As he knitted, the flight attendant ribbed him about how much progress he still had left to make before the holidays. "Hurry up! Christmas knitting!" she said, clearly either a knitter or a close relative of one. "It is already past Thanksgiving!"

Oh...yes.... Yikes...!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


David's mother went to the hospital with chest pains this week. After some preliminary testing, it appears that she did not have a heart attack but did have enough irregularity that more invasive testing will be done this coming week. David is flying down tomorrow morning to spend time with his parents, see his mother through the procedures, and take care of his father.

He needs knitting.

Not only that. He needs a new project.


We are scared and fearful about his mother's situation.

We are also both aware that this situation has proven that David is now not just a knitter but a Knitter.

Finishing his first pair of socks down to the kitchenering, finishing all the parts of the sweater he is knitting for Son, and coming very close to the bind off for a Harlot scarf, David has no portable project to take with him. Although he has a ball of sock yarn in his own one-skein stash, socks just don't require enough thought to provide the support he needs from his knitting right now.

I took him to my own stash. I offered him the most beautiful thing I could: the 100% silk yarn I bought at Rhinebeck.

He learned to do the first lace stitch I ever learned--feather and fan--and started a beautiful scarf. I told him that if I could not knit with the silk, I would get to wear it.

But I know this scarf should really belong to his mother.

May all go well.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Adventures in Dyeing

I wore the little white scarf to a reception at my academic conference last week. As I was talking with an old advisor, someone jostled me and I spilled a drop of red wine on the scarf. (My totally imperfect but very loved handspun scarf!)

After the reception, I went back to my room and tried to get the spot out. I could not.

Finally, I dunked the whole scarf in the dregs of Cabernet Sauvignon still left in the plastic cup.

Now it is a little pink scarf.

I love it even more.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I found this homemade gourd turkey at the thrift store for 40 cents. In addition to a painted body, a felt hat, and a typing-paper color, he has thumbtack feet. He gobbled to me as I past by, "Rescue me!"

I'm such a sucker for handmade items in thrift stores. Are you? What are some of your favorite rescues?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WOMB Wednesday

What's On My Bobbin?

I've been spinning up a lot of merino/tencel lately, loving the soft and slippery fiber sliding through my fingers. I bought this roving at the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival from the Stony Mountain Fibers booth.

My thought is to ply these shiny almost-black singles with this "Midnight" colorway, also a merino/tencel mix. I found it a few weeks later at Rhinebeck and it is from the Sheep Shed at Mountain View Farm.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


All had been progressing smashingly with the Shetland Triangle. I was trying out Knit Picks Options for the first time, loving the smooth joins and the sharp tips. Glory, glory.

And then suddenly I felt a slight catch on the yarn, less catch than is standard on some needles but something I had not felt at all since casting on with these needles.

So I looked--

and the needle had come apart, leaving loose lace to fend for itself:

The join between the connections held just fine--but the cord had pulled out of its connector piece.

Luckily, it was easy to get the stitches transferred to a pair of Addis. I think the shock might help me get back to the sweater....

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another one...

I attended an academic conference this weekend where I talked about lynching in the New South, dreamed about Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's new book Casts Off (due this spring!), and knit 9 repeats of Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle Shawl (from Wrap Style) in Knit Picks Gloss:

I can't believe I started yet another project.... Is there ANY hope of finishing the castle sweater for NaKniSweMo?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ravenous Raven Returns

It's been a bit more of challenge to eat locally now that our garden is hibernating and one of our CSAs has ended for the year. Fortunately the local farmer's market operates year round and our other CSA extended through November.

This weekend, with fond memories of One Local Summer, we cooked a late supper with local eggs, milk, cheese, onions, broccoli, and pepper. Local bagels, too.

Dessert, however, was not local:

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Friday, November 17, 2006

Little Projects

This scarf, from my own handspun, is one of several little projects that I've knit in the last few days.

Usually, I find relief and diversion from my deadlines and work stress by knitting lace or cables. The more complicated they are, the more they keep me completely occupied and focussed. They help me take a real break from work.

But things are so intense right now that simple seed stitch keeps me stretched to my limits....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Remind Yourself

Son found an old sticky-pad (saved in the pens-and-stickies box next to the phone since the early 1980s?) and took its statement at the top seriously. He decided to post these drawings in the bathroom to remind him of some conglomeration of what he thinks is important and what he thinks I think is important. This is the kind of insight I don't quite know what to do with.

The top picture suggests that if he does these things every morning, he will be happy and if not, he will frown.

He will make his bed, the one on the mattress stand in his own bedroom rather than the patch of blankets on the floor in ours.

He will wipe the toilet seat after he pees.

He will brush his teeth, even in the morning.

He'll then "play school"--our version of second grade.

* * *

Although my mother never really told me what to do (just as I'm pretty free-wheeling about Son's rules), I too made endless lists. Still do.

When I saw his reminder to make the bed, it made me think about going to make my own....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

birthday mice

Happy Birthday, Mom!

These little critters, the ones you asked for, are winging their way to you.

The pattern can be found in Toy Knits by Debbie Bliss. I have really enjoyed this book!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Advancing on the castle

Hm. I'm thinking I would have been happier if I had started the reverse stockinette right after the ribbing. Do you think it will look alright after I block it, or should I frog to that point and try again?

Monday, November 13, 2006

No Beans

Pee Wee said, "I'm not eating green beans.... I'm not eating any beans."

"As there are only a limited number of beans in the house, should they not go to the bean lovers as opposed to the bean haters?" [asked Aunt Sally.]

"Aunt Sally...was using two beans as knitting needles, knit knit knit, nibble nibble nibble."


"We need beans. We need many beans, now," said Amanda, who wanted to knit and nibble.

"You are the strangest children I ever saw," said Aunt Sally, lifting her head to look at them. "If you wanted beans, why did you give me yours? There aren't any more beans. Your mother left only that one bag. How about some ice cream instead?"

"Can't we go to the grocery store? We have time before bedtime," said Amanda....

"I can't stand it. I don't know if I can sleep tonight," said Amanda, her fingers still itching for the feel of a long thin bean.

"Can you please, please shop for more beans tomorrow?" asked Melissa....

"Gosh, I feel like such a beast, eating all those beans myself," said Aunt Sally. "And on your mother's very thorough timetable it suggests we have broccoli tomorrow." ...

"You can't knit with broccoli," said Amanda.

Quotes from Polly Horvath's The Trolls.

In the same book, the author writes this brilliant line, right after the girls ask their aunt to lock the doors to keep the trolls out:

"But don't worry, the trolls don't come to you. It's your own darkness that leads you to the trolls."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Comments from the Playground

7yo, newly obsessed with secret clubs and passwords, mysteries and spies, informs his 5yo friend that the get past the guards in front of the bush house they created together, all who would dare enter must provide the password.

5yo, recently obsessed with laws, justice, and inclusion: "That is against the law! This is a public park. We can't have passwords. All children have the right to play here. You can't break the law! Everybody has rights!"

7yo, intending to give any child who wanted to play the password, not to exclude anyone but just to play this new game, tried to reassure 5yo. But then he went right back to the password idea. "Do you promise to tell no one the password?"

5yo: "Well, I have to tell my mother and father because I tell them everything and it would be like lying if I kept it from them."

7yo, now frustrated: "Fine!"

5yo: "So what is the password?"

7yo: "Password."

5yo: "What IS it?"

7yo: "The password is PASSWORD! No one will guess THAT."


I am the mother of the 7yo--but two years ago, my son would have made the same comments the 5yo did. Are these just developmental stages?

* * *

Speaking of comments:

Yesterday Sheepish Annie wrote in the comments that she was not talented enough to be a writer. Don't believe her. Her marvelous blog is a cross between the Yarn Harlot and The Panopticon. Go check it out!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

BookBookBook Angst

I am in a reading group for the leaders of my local attachment parenting group. We meet monthly to talk about new books in the field. This month's assigned book, a pathetic little book slim on ideas and very VERY poorly edited, keeps making me panic. Rather than grappling with the author's perspectives, all I can do it pray that people who read my own book will not be as critical as I am. And pray that my writing will not be as awful as hers. And that my press will give the manuscript to a decent copy editor to save me from humiliations.

* * *

Last night I dreamed that my book was already out. Although I am writing a historical study designed primarily for an academic audience, the university press decided that the book had mainstream appeal. In order to capitalize on that fact, they choose to publish the book as a piece of pulp fiction with a racy cover, with that fake butter guy and a plantation house in the background and everything. And the copy editor, rather than cleaning up any of my awkward writing, inserted weird comments in brackets to point out my foibles to all the readers who bought the book hoping for a romance novel.

* * *

And now I am totally crazy, unable to think about anything but the future of the book. I spent five hours without breathing this afternoon trying to do final edits. Then I hopped up and down for three minutes, knit a single purl row on Swallowtail (which, in its brand new incarnation, is behaving well), finally regained my ability to speak coherently, and then started craving spicy food.

* * *

Knit knit knit. I cannot imagine sleeping. Knit knit knit.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Warming things up

Hot apple cider, mulled with cinnamon and cloves, and spiked with brandy:

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Knit Three Together

While David and I worked on our scarves this week, Son worked hard on his--and finished! Not only did he knit it; he spun the yarn himself out of pencil roving and even used handmade needles. What a feat!

* * *

Even YouTube knows now that Real Men Knit!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pleading the Fifth

This soft little textured scarf is knit from a 50% Merino/50% Silk worsted weight yarn in Seeded Rib:

Cast on a multiple of 4, plus 3 extra stitches.
1st row: (K3, P1) to the end of the row (ending on a K3)
2nd row: K1, P1, (K3, P1) to the end of the row (ending with K1)
Repeat these two rows until the scarf is long enough, then bind off.

This non-aligned K3,P1 pattern gives you a column of garter, a column of stockinette, a column of garter, and a column of reverse stockinette.

Amy calls this the Beethoven Rib. Da, Da, Da, DUM! K, K, K, P!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Citizen's Responsibility

A guest blog by 7yo Son, aka The Little Giant:

Today I went to the polling place with my Papa.

The polling place was at a school near our house. In the parking lot, there were lots of signs. There were some for Heather Mizeur, Ike Leggett, and lots of other candidates. There was table with information (and stickers) and people talking and handing out voting guides and sample ballots.

Inside we waited in line to give our name and address. The election judges gave us a piece of paper with our name and a card to insert into the voting machine. Then we waited in another line for a voting booth. There were eleven machines (including one where you could sit down). The line moved pretty quickly.

When we got to the front of the line we were ushered to a voting machine. We gave the judge our piece of paper and inserted our card into the machine. When we inserted the card, the screen showed many names and small boxes next to each name. The machine had a touch screen. When we touched the screen over a box, it filled the box with an x. There were many things to vote for. At the end, we touched 'cast ballot' and our card popped out. We took out the card and dropped in a box in the middle of the room and each took a sticker that said "I voted."

After we finished voting, I interviewed people waiting in line about voting. I asked them two questions. Here is what they said:

Why is voting important to you?

*Because it determines how our government is run.
*Voting helps me represent my views to the government.
*I am proud to live in a democracy. Choosing leaders is my responsibility.
*It shows that we live in a free country.
*Voting is the way that things I care about are addressed by our government.
*Voting expresses my opinions.
*Voting helps change government.
*It allows me to take part in the political process.
*I want government to make changes.
*We live in a democracy and if you don't participate it doesn't work.
*Voting is a privilege.
*Voting is something very special. It is a freedom we enjoy in our country.
*Voting gives voice to what we care about.

What are some issues that are important to you that you want the government to address?

*Ending the war in Iraq.
*The war in Iraq.
*The quality of our environment.
*Education. Making college affordable.
*Education and foreign policy.
*Health care.
*Affordable health care.
*Keeping kids safe from violence.
*The Iraq war.
*Health care for all people.
*Better schools and affordable college.
*The environment.

The last person I interviewed was Heather Mizeur. She is running for the Maryland House of Representatives. I enjoyed meeting her. She said she became interested in politics when she was my age. She told me that she would vote for me if I run for office!

Thanks, Son, for your report on what voters in “Berkeley East” think is important.

For more on Son's political perspective, check out this post on his blog.

Monday, November 06, 2006

David's Irish Hiking Scarf

David started knitting this scarf right around Rosh Hashanah and has split his knitting time between it, a pair of socks, and a roll-edged sweater for Son.

These are his first cables--lovely and very even. Isn't the color perfect for him, too?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A month in which to do something or other

I was moved by Stuntmother's gorgeous post detailing the reason she cast herself into Nanowrimo. While writing a novel in one month does seem to be a life-affirming endeavor, November is not the month for me to try.

Instead, November is the month to turn in the final draft of my long-ago started book.

Which took me more than five years longer than one month to write, and I had a co-writer to help me out on top of it. But we are not going to think about how long this project has been part of my life.

And the book just got blogged about. How amazing. (Thanks, Sara, for the link!)

I've decided to do the still-be-a-part-of-the-fun Nablopomo. You'll be hearing from me a lot this month.

And then I ran across Nakniswemo and knew this was what I really need this month:

On the needles: the back of the castle sweater. The sleeves are already finished. And after I bind off the shoulders, the fun part still awaits! (Isn't this a clever strategy? Thanks, Amy!)

I do wish my writing progressed as nicely as my knitting does. Even when I have to frog the whole damn thing, it is much easier when knitting than when writing. And honestly, more people appreciate the gifts I knit than read my first book.

Saturday, November 04, 2006



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