Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It once was lost but now is found!

Kristen's lost scarf has been found! She has been so bummed about her lovely and lovingly created scarf getting lost. It seemed almost symbolic of the frustrations of this winter term. But she had some free time (finally) and decided to try to find out how it could have disappeared. She told me the long sequence of phone calls she made to post offices all over the place, but the bottom line is that it has been sitting in UCSB's campus post office all along! They either never sent Ryan the pick-up notice, or it got misplaced or something. So Kristen called Ryan and he went and got it.

I am so proud of her persistence and her skill in "stalking," even if the stalkee this time was a lost package. And if I may say, Ryan could have accomplished much the same result with less effort, if he had thought to try.

This incident is one among many that make me suspect that external reality sometimes seems to happen as a reflection of our inner state of mind. The sense of futility and lostness that has been dogging her this term seemed to take tangible form as a lost hand-knit scarf. And as she is feeling a bit better (and as she has time to pursue it), a better reality is achieved.

And my Baby Yoda sweater has been hand-delivered to baby Prudence, and word is that it did fit her, in some fashion or other. Pictures may be forthcoming.

So we have no knit in vain!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Why I Love Mittens

I've started another pair of mittens, in charcoal gray heathery wool, probably for my Dad. It is such a pleasure to work with the springy texture of wool. And I love mittens. Because when a mitten is done, you have no seams and only three ends to weave in: the one where you started, the one at the end of the thumb, and the one at the end of the hand. And that's it--you're done!

But a sweater! You have 5 pieces of stockinette fabric, rolling themselves up in every dimension. And you have to sew them up, which isn't all that difficult, except that the seams are not elegant-- they're lumpy and bumpy and odd. And then you have ends all over the place to weave in. Ends from where you stopped and started, ends from where you sewed, dozens of ends. And the more you weave in, the more lumpy and bumpy the whole thing seems. The Baby Yoda sweater involved 4 little string ties, so each of those had two ends (= 8) and then they had to be stitched on somehow, making 4 more stray ends of yarn, so the ties alone resulted in a dozen danglings ends to be hidden somehow or other.

So I am knitting a gray mitten! And I love it already. It seems like there's always a trade-off in knitting. Mittens and socks are so self-contained and don't require any sewing of weaving in of ends--but they do have to be knit in the round, and whether you use dpns or two circular needles as I am doing, it's not quite as relaxed as flat knitting. But then flat knitting results in all that finishing!

So I love mittens.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Kristen mailed the scarf from Chicago to Santa Barbara, and it never arrived! It's been a week and a half and it's still missing! That is so tragic! They could at least return to sender, if they can't figure out how to deliver it!! What could be crueler than having a token of friendship, lovingly hand-knit, get lost and never arrive? Oh the agony.

I have basically finished with the Baby Yoda sweater, and it's ...well, odd, I think. It's hard to tell, since I don't have a baby handy to try it on. But it's heavy. Dense. Weighty. And the sleeves stick straight out from the shoulders like they intend to stay in that position. And the shape is oddly tall and thin looking. But I will send it off to Baby Prudence and hope for the best. I hope her mom will send me back a digital picture of sweater and baby, which I can then post here.

I need a camera!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Knitting by Kristen

So what's a girl to do when the windchill has been in the single digits or below for days on end? Knit, obviously! Kristen knit up this lovely scarf for Ryan. And then stood by the mirror to take a picture of it. Nice all around.

Winter at U Chicago

Why, you ask, are the pictures so hazy? Well, because tiny particles of snow are filling the air. A report from the scene: "It's solid white outside. It was snowing/winding so hard that I tried opening my umbrella, but the wind inverted it and generally rendered it useless (read: 'elpless). I need boots! The snow is so powdery that it looks like the pavement is steaming when the wind blows particularly hard. It's very intriguing."

Chicago Blues!

Here are the Chicago Blues mittens snugly on Kristen's hand. Good fit! Great picture!

And why would one need warm cozy mittens? Um, because of whiteout conditions, winds whipping snow in every direction. While the mittens rest securely on the window ledge.

A plate full of mitten.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Yeah, the right needles help. But there's still something less than satisfying about knitting with acrylic yarn. This Baby Yoda sweater is coming along nicely--back done, right front done, left front well under way. But it doesn't have the sensuous appeal of knitting with wool. Is this irrational snobbishness? Maybe--there is certainly wool yarn that is rough and unpleasant. And this yarn--Caron Simply Soft is in fact nice and soft. And my knitting looks very smooth and appealing. But the pull just isn't there. I don't look forward hungrily to picking it up each time.

I am dying to finish this and start on another pair of mittens. I bought 4 skeins of Patons 100% Merino wool at Michaels for $4 a skein. They didn't have any really pretty colors left, but I got 2 skeins of charcoal gray and 2 skeins of a warm dark brown. I'm thinking men's mittens. Perhaps I could add a bit of red to the cuff to spark it up, if desired. Christine wants me to show her how to knit mittens with 2 circular needles, so I need to cast on another mitten, right? (I was thinking of doing a third blue mitten for Kristen, but if she brings them home in March, I can just tear out the top and add a half inch there. No need to do the whole mitten over again. Also, I am thinking that I should take out the thumb on my original mittens and make it all stockinette, now that I know an easier way to do it. The rim of purls around the base of the left thumb are kind of annoying.)

It's raining and gray here today, and this is the last day of my l-o-n-g winter break, so I think I'll go to Barnes and Noble and drink coffee and knit this morning. Finish the Baby Yoda! Be ready to start something new! (I still want to try again on the cable technique too, and maybe make that shawl with cabled pockets. But if it's for Mommy, she's kind of allergic to wool. And I really don't want to invest the time in Jiffy Yarn. Maybe I can find some alpaca or something that would make it pleasant and non-allergenic.)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

What a difference...

the right needles make! I finished the back of the Baby Yoda sweater, but the acrylic yarn on bamboo needles was like pulling nails. I stopped by Let's Knit and got a $2 pair of aluminum coated with something, and it makes a huge difference. Same size, but now the stitches slide instead of having to be pushed and pulled. This should be do-able, I think. My gauge is off, and the sweater back looks long and narrow, but it should be wide enough, so if it's long, it will fit a baby longer, right?

I don't think I'm ready to knit a sweater for myself just yet, with such a casual attitude towards size!

I ordered two new knitting books from amazon. One has basic patterns for a bunch of stuff, and the other is a basic sweater-designing book. Not that I am in need of more patterns! I just need to do one thing at a time.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Super Bowl Bag

I started a felted zippered accessory case yesterday in red wool from Patons (Merino) and finished it up and felted it today during the (disappointing) Super Bowl. It turned out wider than I had hoped (Kristen reminded me that things don't shrink much from side to side, but a lot more in length. She is right!) I cast on 50 stitches on size 8 needles; I didn't measure the length before felting, but the finished size is 10 " x 4 1/2". I had pictured something more like 8 x 3 1/2. Well, that's not what I have. The yarn is lovely to work with and the fabric was soft and appealing. It took a while to felt, but it did felt into a nice dense fabric.

But it's cute, if a bit plain (well, it's just red. Solid red, felted.) Maybe I should sew on some cute buttons, or embroider a chain of pink or something. I did stitch the 7" zipper in, and it looks functional and sweet. But plain. I do have more too. Hmmm.

I cast on the back of the Baby Yoda sweater. That may not get done for a while though. Teaching is going to cut into my knitting life! My leisurely interlude is drawing to a close, I fear.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Mittens in the mail.

I mailed the mittens, along with some noodles and Japanese chocolate, to Kristen. It is minus 3 degrees F. there right now, with a wind chill of minus 25 degrees. The poor dear! Mittens are the least of her worries!

I was a little disappointed in how the second mitten turned out. Despite my most careful measuring and counting, it ended up being maybe a half inch shorter than the first. :-(
Still, it is warm and homey and lovely to look at, and I hope it won't drive her crazy. I didn't have to dip into the second skein of yarn after all. Maybe I should knit a third mitten?? Maybe later. I can't take any more mittens right now.

I wanted something really calming and easy to knit, so I started to work on a felted zippered bag to hold knitting accessories (maybe pencil-case size.) The red wool is a delight to work with, and the plain flat knitting is so simple in size 8. But for some reason I kept purling the wrong way. I now see that there is a very easy way to go wrong in the purl stitch and if you do, the knit stitch on the reverse side is on the needle backwards. (Otherwise everything looks ok.) That explains what was going wrong when I tried the cable knitting. So after I finish this (which will be tomorrow), I will give the cable thing one more try. In fact, Christine is planning to show us cable knitting tomorrow at Teresa's, so I'll see what I can do there, and then go from there.

Friday, February 2, 2007

There is a God!

I couldn't even start the second mitten until I found out if I could get more yarn, so on Wednesday morning I went to Michaels first thing, and they not only had the same yarn, they still had the same dye lot! Ahhhh! So I grabbed it and went to Borders and spent the morning casting on and knitting the cuff. It is coming along nicely. The first few rounds of rib knitting in the round is tricky, but I got it all worked out eventually. And I found that the best way to join the two ends into the round is to slip one stitch from left to right and then slip one stitch over that from right to left so it's tightly connected.

On Thursday I gave my presentation to the Korean Medical Alumni Association, and it went off fine. About a dozen people in the audience, and the speech seemed well-received. And the handed me a check for $300 at the end for my trouble!

I worked on the mitten some more in the afternoon, and then had to go work in the testing office in the evening. But I have the thumb hole in place and am making pretty good progress. I will work on this all day today and should have it done today or tomorrow. Such fun! Oh except for sore fingers! Mittens are knit very tightly, using smaller than usual needles with worsted weight yarn, so there's a lot of pushing and pulling. I put my leather quilting thimble on my left forefinger, and that helps a lot. One poke with a bamboo needle doesn't hurt, but 1000 or maybe 10,000--yeah, that starts to hurt!