Saturday, December 30, 2006

Greetings from Oklahoma

I can't tell you how much I wish I had some pictures for y'all. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to find out if someone around here has a camera with a camera cord, or how to move pictures from my camera phone to the computer, but for now I am pictureless.

Since Christmas Eve, Dave and I have been hanging out in his hometown, an eensy dot on the map somewhere near some larger dots you've never heard of, in Oklahoma. We're guests of his brother and his girlfriend, both very good people with an enormous TV and lots of good food and patience. This is my first Christmas away from my parents and brother, but we had such a good visit a few days before Christmas, and I'm having a great time here.

This somewhat vacation has pretty much turned into a real vacation, as most of the books I brought have proven totally useless for the paper I wanted to write. Fortunately there should be some good stuff waiting for me in the libraries back home, and I think I can get through it pretty quickly. As I haven't been reading much I've been knitting a lot. I'm on the foot of the second Monkey sock and just finished part of something that will have to remain secret for now.

It was a very yarny Christmas for me. My grandparents and aunt and cousins got me a whole bunch of pretty stuff--so much I may have doubled the size of my (admittedly smallish) yarn stash in one swell foop. Among the goodies are two balls of boucle that, I swear, are almost twice the size of my head.

Mom got me two balls of alpaca DK that I'm gonna use for socks. She got some for herself, too, and is working on a pair loosely based on the pattern for dad's socks. She also got me the yarn for a sweater I've been wanting for a while, but I'm not going to tell you which one until I have pictures.

Dad loved his socks, and mom loved the mini-Clapotis I secretly knitted her (pictures someday, I promise!). I made a few extras of those sock ornaments while I was home and they were all very well-recieved. I plan to make bunches more next year--for myself and everybody else.

I'm having a great time but haven't been at the computer much, so sorry if I haven't been keeping up with your blogs! Hope everybody has a happy new year!


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bring on the fake vacation!

Here's another FO from the stack:

That's my cousin Marianne, age 3.5, modeling the headband I made her from the leftovers of those mittens.

The other gifts are wrapped and ready to go. We're doing our gift exchange tonight, so if my parents' craptastic computer will allow it, you'll finally get to see Dad's finished Socks with Clocks. I'm hoping for some yarny goodness under the tree, so maybe I'll have good news there!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monkey socks, "Monkey" socks, and a sock in a tree

I like monkeys. I mean, what's not to like about monkeys? They're smart, they're funny, and in cartoon form they are oh-so-cute.

Knitty has a pattern for some Monkey socks. I saw them, and thought "those are nice, but I already have some Monkey socks."

I finished all my Christmas knitting and *finally* got a crack at the Yarn Pirate yarn I won in Socktoberfest. I tried a couple of things and decided that this yarn wanted to be some monkey socks.

Sure enough! And oh man, talk about an addiction. It's really, really hard to put these down, which is bad because I HAVE TO FINISH A PAPER BY TOMORROW! *dies.*

P.S. I hope someday soon that they come up with the technology so you guys can grope my knitting over the internet. Squishy soft!

With the sun out, and all, I got a picture of another of my eensy weensy FO's. Isn't this adorable?

You may recognize the koigu from my kneesocks. This 24-stitch wonder took almost no time to knit. If I hadn't been so anxious to get crackin on my pretty pretty monkeys I would have made enough for the whole tree, but alas I have only the two little circs. I think I will make a tree's worth for next year. I like the idea of doing like six at once on 2 circs so you have a bunch of eensy socks hanging off the needles at once.

It's a little tree, it won't take very many.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Too much

I have too much to do. For one thing, I've got two days to finish a really dynamic final paper on that eternal question, "What is Revolution?" Ok, you have to read that with a really profound-sounding voice.

For another thing, the Powers That Be in the Administration Building have decided that we college students have become spoiled and lazy by the one-month winter break, and they need to break us of this attachment before we enter the "real world." We get two and a half weeks off. At the school where I did my undergrad we had *at least* 4.5 weeks off. I want to kick these guys, seriously. Also, I've decided that when I get a job in a university (note: *not* the "real world") I'm going to get something signed that the break will be 1 month long and will stay 1 month long until I retire.

I have two and a half weeks to a) celebrate my holidays, b) see my family, c) clean out the closet in my old bedroom so that its transformation to Dad's Music Room can be complete, d) spend a week in Oklahoma with my boyfriend's family, e) visit with various other friends while they're in town and f) write a whole nother paper. Sounds like a real great vacation, doesn't it?

For a third thing, I have all these great ideas for blog posts I want to do before the end of the year, like a year in review where I talk about stuff I've learned and stuff I want to learn next year, and I want to do something on "historians who knit" like I mentioned before. Maybe that will wait till next year. I can invite my historian knitting friends over for a stitch-n-bitch and then corner them and interview them. Muahahahaha!

And Fourth, I have 6 finished objects that haven't made it onto the blog yet. Four will have to wait till later-- two are Christmas presents I haven't given yet, and I don't have a picture of the third. I thought I had a picture of the fourth, but apparently I am a moron and shipped it off without taking a picture. Mom has a picture of the recipient modeling it, if we all bat our eyes at her maybe she'll send it to me ;-)

Here's the big one:

Mary Charles' Wardrobe Staple Sweater, otherwise known as "Blocking is Magic. Sometimes." This pic does a great job of showing off the sheen of the alpaca, but you'll have to fill in the halo yourself.

When we last left this sweater it had been completely knit as a set-in-sleeve v-neck, but the armholes were enormous. I ripped out the top of the sweater to where I'd divided for the armholes, and ripped out more than half the sleeve caps, then joined it all up to knit it as a raglan in the round.

The pattern itself worked out better than I could have imagined it in my wildest dreams. Pure luck got the v-neck to meet up with the raglan seam at exactly the right place. I swear I didn't even plan it. There was one problem, though. When you wet-block and then frog alpaca, it curls up more than my frizzy hair on a rainy day.

Click for big, so you can appreciate the difference. But! A gentle washing in the sink, five or six times, soothed out almost every kink, and now the difference is invisible to the untrained eye!

I am such a bad blogger because I totally didn't get a picture of Mary Charles modeling the sweater. But it fit her perfectly. She's about the same size as I am, but she's a good bit shorter. I knew the sweater would fit her width-wise, but I did get a bit nervous about the sleeves because they hit me *at* the elbow. But all is well, and she loves it, and that makes me pleased as punch. She wants me to write up the pattern to make it available for her customers. Add that to the list of stuff to do.

This is the other one. This little guy was knit with some leftover yarn. A 16-stitch sock, actually kind of challenging but very quick. He's on his way to my boyfriends' mom's Christmas tree.

Browsing blogland, it feels like I'm one of the few people left who actually likes Christmas. So here's my manifesto: I LOVE Christmas. I love the decorations, I love picking out (or making) the perfect gift for my nearest and dearest, I love the excitement of looking at wrapped presents and trying not to cheat by looking at my Amazon wishlist. I love stuffing my brother's gifts into really weird-shaped boxes so he can't guess what I got him. I love how people try a little harder to get in touch with old friends. I love the way my heart beats a little faster every time I see my little tree with its white lights sparkling like starlight. I love tying a big red bow on the wooden drawing dummy who lives on my TV. I love Mexican Wedding cookies. I love nativity scenes. I love the Coca-Cola Santa Claus. I love Christmas carols and the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.

There are plenty of things not to like about Christmas, but there are so many wonderful things about Christmas too. If you need a little Christmas cheer check out Joyeux Noël, a movie about the spontaneous cease-fire in the trenches in December 1914. Or just drink some eggnog.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Check it out, I'm definitely not a cannibal!

I totally stole this from Philoscifi's Livejournal, otherwise known as my boyfriend's old roommate. As I was filling out the questions I could kinda tell where it was going and what my result would be.

(sorry about the formatting, I tried! really I did!)

Your results:
You are Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
You are good at fixing things.
You are usually cheerful.
You appreciate being treated
with delicacy and specialness.

Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Inara Serra (Companion)
River (Stowaway)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
A Reaver (Cannibal)

Click here to take the "Which Serenity character are you?" quiz...

On my last post Jane commented:

Liz, do you have a theory for the high numbers of knitters who are also history students/librarians and/or writers?

I keep waiting for a revelation (or a revolution)...

I've been thinking long and hard about this and am planning a post with an in-depth exploration of the question. I've noticed it too, and it would be fun to get a dialogue going.

I have some really top-quality knitting content for y'all but at the moment I'm hard at work on finals stuff. Not so hard at work that I can't find out which Serenity character I am, but whatever.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I've come undone

Before we begin, go over to Google Video and check out Undone [the Sweater Song] by Weezer. You can ignore the goofy student film if you like and just have that playing in the background for this post, although there is some actual knitting in it and an odd take on the Boyfriend curse.

Anyway, remember this?

Ok sing it with me now

If you want to destroy my sweater
Hold this thread as I walk away
Watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked
Lyin on the floor, I've come undone

I frogged a *whole lot* of that sweater. It took me three chapters of the Age of Innocence (read by Saint Brenda), which I calculate to be over an hour, to get it all ripped and those six lovely balls of yarn wound back into tight little balls. When I washed this sweater it grew. The arm holes were already too big, and this certainly did not help.

Watch me unravel.

With Mary Charles' approval the sweater has been converted to a raglan with 3/4 sleeves, which saves me a great deal of trouble. I've already knit two rounds of the yoke and will basically be fudging this as I go. I've never been so unaffected by the idea of ripping out so much knitting, I'm actually really happy to be getting back on track.

Dad's socks have reached the last row. I was getting on the computer to look up Peggy's Stretchy Bindoff for toe-up socks, as recommended by Saint Brenda, when I saw the email from Mary Charles ok'ing the raglan, and got distracted. But his socks will be done within a half hour the next time I can get to them, which is good news indeed.

Now I have that wonderfully catchy tune in my head. Yay.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A productive evening with Kaiser Wilhelm II

Before I get to my evening,
Here is most of the sweater that I knit in nine days, the other sleeve had to be blocked elsewhere. You know how a lot of times you *know* you ought not skip a crucial step like, say, washing your swatch, but you skip it anyway? And then your sweater grows to monstrous proportions? Must consult with Mary Charles but there will probably be some reknitting in my future.

No remarkable progress on Dad's socks, although progress has been made. I want to get at least five more repeats in before switching to the ribbing. Each repeat has six rows and each row takes like 8 minutes (2 socks on 2 circs) so if somebody cares to do the math on that and tell me if it's possible, I'd appreciate it.

I have a meme that totally ties into the knitting. I saw this on Adventures of a Knitting Naturalist. Apparently some guy is trying to track the speed of a meme. I'm participating because of some of the language.
  1. Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  2. Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances.
  3. Ping Technorati.
Sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances? I'm so in. I myself, as I told Julia, happen to be a poor graduate student in desperate circumstances. Which is how we come to this hat:

Desperate circumstances were as follows:
1) Yesterday we got our first really good cold front of the year, and my head was cold.
2) I have had this yarn in my stash for over a year. I don't really stash. This (with the exception of some regrettable fun fur) is the only yarn in my stash that wasn't purchased with a specific purpose in mind. It makes me feel guilty, and it took up a lot of space.
3) I was writing a paper, and there's nothing a gal needs more for her "woo hoo! wrote another page!" breaks than some fast and easy knitting.

The actual desperate circumstance was that I had less than 24 hours to write a really good paper for my major professor and I was pretty intimidated. The paper was on German politics, especially Max Weber (political theorist and father of sociology), Otto von Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and all the German liberals ever.

Because I wanted this done and didn't want to swatch, I looked at the ball band, pulled out some Size 19 straights, and cast on 10 stitches for the band. This is Rowan Big Wool Fusion, btw. Those size 19 straights are ginormous, I had to support them by resting the ends on my lap. I knit a straight strip (stockinette with garter selvedge) until it was big enough to go around my head. Then I picked up stitches along one of the edges, knit the crown flat, and seamed it up. I tried it on midway down the seam and realized I had a slight problem.

The last hat I knit I think I was in 10th grade. I didn't know at what rate to do the decreases. This hat reminded me of the hats you always see WWI German soldiers and the Kaiser wearing, which I thought was very appropriate and awesome. I named it the Kaiser hat, undid the seaming, ripped back to where the increases started and did it again.
You can't tell in this picture but it's still a little pointy, but not half as bad as it was before. I am contemplating a pom-pom. It also wound up a little too short and it doesn't cover my earlobes. I'm trying to decide between a crochet edging, which will require more supplies, ear flaps, which have the potential to take this from classy to Fargo in less than 6 seconds, or to just use the other half a ball to make a hat that fits. Haven't decided yet.

The paper went reasonably well. According to the book I read on the Kaiser, he was a total nutjob and probably wouldn't have been stable enough to wear a wool hat. His mother certainly wouldn't have made him one. They didn't get along very well.

It was slightly warmer today but still cool enough to get away with wearing a big wool hat. When I got home I decided that since it's now officially December I can finally start decorating.