Monday, December 28, 2009
In 2009 I swam 64,475 yards. This is a somewhat pathetic amount of yardage, but I only really swam consistently for about 6 months this year, so from that perspective it's not so bad.
In 2009 I read 30 books for fun (not including professional reading). That's 12,238 pages. In this case, it may be more meaningful to list titles rather than just the data.
1. World Without End, by Ken Follet
2. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama
3. Georgiana - Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman
4-7 The Twilight Series (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn), by Stephanie Meyer - because I work with teens ... sometimes
8. Devil Water, by Anya Seton
9. The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton
10. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John Le Carre
11. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carre
12. The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa (excellent!)
13. Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks
14. People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks
15. March, by Geraldine Brooks
16. The World Over, by Julia Glass
17. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark
18. Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult (distressing)
19. "T" is for Trespass, by Sue Grafton
20. Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger (intense)
21. Await Your Reply, by Dan Chaon (dark)
22. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, by Kate Atkinson (excellent)
23. Case Histories, by Kate Atkinson
24. One Good Turn, by Kate Atkinson
25. When Will There Be Good News?, by Kate Atkinson
26. 1066: The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry, by Andrew Bridgeford
27. The Bayeux Tapestry, by Carola Hicks
28. The Needle in the Blood, by Sarah Bower
29. "U" is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton (great!)
30. Mistress of the Monarchy, by Alison Weir
A rather motley collection, I must say. I often set literary goals for myself, but this past year I read whatever came to hand or struck me as potentially interesting. I also went on reading jags with particular authors I was enjoying at the time.
Ah, but now for the knitting. This was by far my most productive year with respect to creating knitwear. I attribute this to Ravelry. Before Ravelry (or BR) I would knit one, or possibly two, things a year. Many years went by when I didn't knit anything at all. After Ravelry (or AR), I have knit significantly more. There's something so inspiring about seeing things others have knit, accumulating patterns and yarn, queueing the projects, etc., that creates a much higher level of inspiration and productivity. So, now for the data. I knit exactly one dozen projects. "Projects" may have involved more than one item (e.g., a baby sweater, romper, and cap). When counted individually the tally was as follows: 2 sweaters for myself, 2 baby sweaters, 3 pairs of baby pants, 2 baby bonnets, 2 jumpers for my niece, 1 shrug for my niece, a smoke ring (or cowl) for my mother, a scarf (unblogged so far) for me, and a pair of socks (there were actually three) for my DH. Okay, so I'm a slow knitter. But I had a blast doing it!
If I were more techno-savvy I would include a photo collage of these items, but alas I am clueless as to how to do this.
You may have noticed that I did not include the number of knitting books I acquired or how much yarn I purchased. Like I said, I only keep data on things that feel like accomplishments and don't involve guilt.
As for my resolutions in the New Year: No new yarn! Knit down the stash in 2010.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Second, it is important to realize that the stranded portion involves counted stranding. Now I know most people will find this to be patently obvious, but it may be worth emphasizing to someone who is considering knitting this pattern. There is no memorizing of the pattern for stranding -- you have to count every stitch! That being said, it was a lot of fun to watch the figures develop slowly as I knit up the leg of each sock.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Flash forward to many, many years later when my husband and I traveled to Greece (Athens, Santorini, Crete) for our honeymoon and toured the Parthenon and the Temple of Knossos to name just a few sites.
So, when I saw these socks about a year ago on Ravelry, designed by Gryphon Perkins of the Sanguine Gryphon (www.SanguineGryphon.com),I was immediately struck by the elegance of translating a classic Greek vase design to a sock and I vowed to make them for my husband for our 9th wedding anniversary.
I was finally able to obtain the pattern a week ago and diligently knitted away on the first sock that incorporates that image of Theseus killing the Minotaur.
This side shows the Minotaur:
Here is a close-up of the Theseus side. I love the bird silhouette between his legs.
I was careful to get gauge and followed the pattern instructions slavishly. But, I am sad to report, the sock is not wearable. It is not possible to pull the sock on over the heel and ankle area -- a prerequisite for well-fitting socks. I think the issue is that I was so careful to weave in the floats so as not to be caught by an errant toe, that there is not enough flexibility and give in the stranded part of the sock. If it were only possible to put it on, I think it would fit okay but that's simply not possible. Here you can see it on a sock blocker (size medium).
Well, I guess it could be used as a Christmas stocking ...
Those of you who have followed my blog over the past year know by now that I don't give up easily. I have already started on the second sock which will have a number of improvements. First, I was fortunate to have purchased Wendy Johnson's sock book which includes several great toe-up cast-ons. I am delighted with the perfection of casting on in such a way so as to not have to sew up the toe. Yay! One great advance already. Second, I plan to shorten up the length of the foot, eliminate the slip stitch from the bottom of the heel area (my own misguided addition), and I plan to increase the number of stitches in the stranded leg area.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that this is not the first pair of socks I've made. Hardly! It's the SECOND pair. The first pair I made (also for my husband) a year ago were a perfect fit. Witness below. I guess it was beginner's luck and then I went and got all cocky about it.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
It is often difficult to obtain both attributes in one project. My latest project, a Gedifra design (#1443 from Highlights 092), is an example of the former concern -- I am hoping for a flattering and attractive look.
However, endless rows of rib stitch is not the most fascinating thing in the world to knit. Here is the back -- all 25 inches of it.
The yarn is Samina which is a very unusual fiber. It is made of wool that is inserted into a nylon mesh sheath. It is soft to the touch and the knitted fabric holds its shape well, but it snags very easily. My hands are not as soft and smooth as they should be and my rough cuticles tend to catch on this yarn and snag it. I am hoping that these small snags will not be too noticeable in the finished garment.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
So, herein lies the peril of knitting for others. Unless the knitee specifically picks out the style and colors, beware! The receipient may not: (a) like the style of the knitted item, or (b) wear it. I guess all dyed-in-the-wool knitters know this, but I am a slow learner. Despite having an inkling of this danger, I blithely went ahead and knit the following creation which, I am sad to say, Hannah Montana would not be caught dead wearing!
But, I had fun making it and learned a very valuable lesson. My next project is for my brother. And, yes, he did pick out the pattern and approve the colors.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
She taught my grandmother to knit, who, in turn, taught me to knit. So, for that in and itself I am forever grateful. But, I also loved her for her gentle and loving nature. She seemed to be one of those people for whom adversity and sadness had distilled in her a sense of what is really important in life and she was generous in her relationships with others. One of her most obvious traits was that she could never just sit still and relax. She always needed to be doing something and so knitting and quilting became important activities for keeping her hands busy during her infrequent moments of "relaxation."
By happenstance I inherited a quilt top she made in the 1930's out of scraps of fabric from various items of clothing she'd made for her children and herself. She pieced this Star of Bethlehem together by hand but never finished it and it was found among her personal belongings when she died at age 92.
I was honored to inherit it, and since I am not a quilter I had a professional quilter finish it for me. It now hangs in my therapy office and I hope it brings a sense of comfort to my patients. I know it does to me. Thank you Citty!
The backing is a reproduction fabric from the 1930s. It depicts little girls in long dresses serving tea to little boys with waistcoats.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
- Ted Berrigan, poet
Clearly, this is not a calamity from which I suffer.
Over the Labor Day weekend I went into an organizing frenzy. The label gun was out and the dust was flying. Eventually when the dust settled, here is what became evident.
First, the knitting books.
Then, the (partial) yarn stash.
This is an embarrassment of riches. If I sat down and knit for the rest of my life, I wouldn't run out of yarn or inspiration. On the one hand, this gives me a great sense of comfort (as in, "Phew - I'm glad I don't need to worry about having nothing to knit."). On the other hand, I feel more than a little embarrassed and somewhat baffled. How did this happen?! Have I been in a fiber-induced fugue for the past 18 months? And, most importantly, how will I work my way through this?
To wit, here is my knitting queue (in no particular order, because the latest project in which I've fallen in love always jumps to the top of the queue:
1. Gedifra Moments #1443
2. Narvik by Dale of Norway (for my bro)
3. Ivel by Evi T'Bolt
4. Ginny by Kim Hargreaves
5. Autumn Rose by Eunny Jang
6. Ingeborg Jacket #12614 by Dale of Norway
7. Military Jacket by Veronika Avery
8. some stealth gift knitting ...
... and many other projects for which I either have patterns but no yarn, or the yarn but no plan.
But, in closing, I must admit that I am not looking for a cure. It's my therapy. It keeps me sane. When things become overwhelming or stressful, I can always lose myself in the Zen of knitting.
Monday, July 27, 2009
This FO is the second of two knitted jumpers (i.e., sleeveless dresses for all you Brits) I made for my six year-old niece who begins first grade in a month.
She is a very active, athletic little girl who much prefers leggings and jeans to dresses despite the attempts of my sister, my sister's MIL, and me to dress her in girly-girl clothes. So when I saw Emma Peel which is described as a dress that school-age girls will appreciate more than a "frou-frou" knit with ruffles and bows, I thought I'd give it a try.
Okay, I couldn't resist some embellishment, so I embroidered a heart on the breast. I found this particular heart in libbyguillard's Flickr photostream, but I'm not sure if she made it up or used a pattern. Anyway, it was the perfect outline of a heart for this little dress. Sort of like the alligator on Izod shirts.
I used Rowan handknit cotton yarn, because my niece lives in Southern California and I thought wool would be too hot for her. But, I have to admit, although cotton yarn has its uses it's like knitting with string in my mind. I muuuuuuch prefer wool!
If you have something nice to say and you'd like to leave a comment, please do!
Sunday, July 19, 2009
I finished the first of the two. It's actually a baby design by Kari Haugen published in the Dale of Norway Baby Collection Nr. 114. I modified it to fit a 6 year-old and added the colored stripes at the bottom of the bodice.
I purled the yellow centers of the pansies to add texture to the design and while I was knitting it the fabric was somewhat puckered. However, a good blocking seems to have taken care of 99% of the problem. There is still a small amount of pulling just below the yellow centers where I wove in the floats. I got lots of support and ideas about how to prevent this in the future from Mary Ann of http://www.kidsknits.com/ and the Two Strands group on Ravelry. Many thanks!
I was watching "An Affair to Remember" when I picked up the stitches on the left armhole which is clearly not beneficial to my knitting technique. The right sleeve stitch pick-up looks much more professional thanks to the fact that I gave it my full attention!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Apparently, this was a Marion Foale design named "Betty" that was available in UK retail shops in the 1990's for about 250 pounds. I despaired of being able to "reverse-engineer" the design until I found this Marion Foale pattern published in Woman's Weekly (11/4/2008 issue) on eBay.
I decided to try and modify the pattern to approximate the "Betty." Six months later, here is my best attempt:
Overall, I am pleased with the outcome but it is now clear to me why Marion Foale is a talented knitwear designer and I am not.
First, I misplaced the pockets.
Rather than frog the whole thing (to which a collar was already attached) I decided to camouflage them with pocket-flaps (one of which I think is sewn on a little crooked).
Second, I had absolutely no idea how to turn a Revere collar into a shawl collar and, as it turns out, moss stitch does not look the same when turned on its side.
Third, I added a vent to the back just to be fancy.
After six months of slaving away at this, I have to admit it was not my best effort. Sigh.
Although I think I will be able to happily wear it to work, it does not warm my perfectionist heart. But, the great thing about knitting is there is always the next project!
Pattern: Modified "Neat Knit," by Marion Foale
Yarn: Rowan 4-ply soft in ecru (doubled throughout) - 20 balls
Needles: US0 and US1
Completed: January - June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
What I don't like about moss stitch is that it takes so looooong to knit up. I think these sleeves are like Penelope's shroud...I knit them during the day and then they unravel at night (all on their own).
Here they are in March:
And here they are in April.
And here is one of them as of today:
Not much progress, huh? What I discovered on page 23 of that wonderful knitting reference book, The Principles of Knitting, by June Hemmons Hiatt, is that "Seed stitch is 30% shorter than stockinette and 18% wider." Aha! I knew something was up. I knit and knit and knit and have only an inch to show for it. I've also noticed that it tends to become somewhat misshapen. The sleeves I knit in stockinette stitch never look this "wonky." I hope the pieces even out with a good blocking.
Well, I have to admit that I'm being a little bit melodramatic because the delay is largely due to several other knitting projects that have intervened during the past several months. Projects that have been much more interesting to work on, so I've abandoned these poor sleeves time and time again.
One of my other projects is the Military Jacket by Veronika Avery.
I swatched in a WW Khroma from the Fibre Company in Plum, but it was too dark. Then I swatched in a DK Khroma in Aegean, but the yarn was too thin. Finally, I cannabalized my stash of Cascade 220 Tweed set aside for Stefanie Japel's texturized tweed jacket (which would never have flattered me anyway), and that was just right the right yarn.
I've started on the right sleeve (you may remember my vow to work the sleeves of my next garment first), and added a ruffled border as I felt strongly it needed an edging.
Here is a close-up of the ruffled edge.
I guess I'd better go knit some more on Penelope's sleeves ... ;-)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
On to other knitting news. I found this nifty expanding file folder thingy today at an office supply chain store for $10.99. I have been keeping my circular needles in a bag which is a very inefficient way to manage them.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The button is wooden and is painted with an orange slice design. The embroidery was done with Rowan handknit cotton in "canteloupe." The jeans themselves were knit with Rowan demin and pre-shrunk in the washer in hot (!) water and thrown in the dryer before sewing up. (I know!)The label was made with faux leather in butterscotch purchased online from Leisure Arts. (I can't take credit for thinking this up, I took my inspiration from "beppesgirl" on Ravelry.)
The entire project was completed within a weekend -- a first for me! And I also had time to do 5 loads of laundry, play a game of tennis, read a book and watch two movies. So I'd say all in all this is about an 8-hour project.
Rowan Handknit Cotton in shade 337