Saturday, December 26, 2009

weird christmas

The family and I went to the beach this year for Christmas, as we have every year since I was fourteen. Well, actually, we went to Winthrop and rented a cabin in the snow the first year, but I think the five-hour drive with a blind, cranky old corgi mutt whining and farting in the backseat was a little too much for all of us. In any case, we've started going to Ocean Shores instead, which is a small, windy little town on the Washington coast. We eat coffee cake, watch a lot of movies, and I usually knit enough socks to clothe the feet of a small army. This year wasn't an exception, although there was definitely something different about it. Maybe it was the recession, or maybe Christmas just feels a little frantic and grasping this year because I'm old and disenchanted with college and probably just the world (just to be a little more melodramatic). Insert "damn kids and their ____ " gripe here.

But there's good things too. Every year we visit this little shop that sells pieces from local artists. I've always found lovely little things - a handmade iron Celtic barrette, a necklace - and this year was no exception. I loved all of this artist's pieces, but this one in particular caught my eye. The price was incredibly low for a necklace, especially with the amount of detail that went into it. I love everyday objects that are incorporated into jewelry - coins, keys, and little metal rings. This one has a little bead with a hat that looks like an acorn.

Hanging out with my parents and brother has been great too, especially since I only come home twice a year. I've been going for walks on the beach and having some serious cuddle time with this little gremlin. He's the new family dog, and although my parents were informed that he was some sort of chihuahua mix, they suspect that he's actually a Cairn Terrier mutt. He's got quite the underbite going on, he chews inappropriate objects, and he goes from zero to nap in five seconds on the lap of anyone willing to pick him up. He's sort of stinky and neurotic, and he's really growing on me. (Hopefully not like a fungus.)

His name is Buddy, and he just wants to be your friend, gosh darn it.

Anyhow. Hope everyone who celebrates Christmas had a wonderful one, and for those who don't, I hope your December 25th was extremely relaxing. And full of cookies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stash Appreciation Wednesday: Second Day of Finals Hell Edition

We interrupt this Wednesday afternoon of studying the fall of the Tokugawa bakufu to bring you... well, a crazy person, apparently. Japanese history is actually super fascinating, but 3 hours of any type of studying just kinda does me in.

In between cram sessions, I've been drooling over some amazing things, working out (which is really fun when you get up to stretch from being a study-lump and all of a sudden you're like oh right, I really have calves today. thanks for reminding me, calves!) and knitting a pitiful, pathetic, somewhat disgustingly small amount. Like you get to knit four rows in between your cup of coffee and reading about the Namamugi Incident of Blahblahblahblah (actual event except for the blahblahs) and it's the most you've knitted in a week. Seriously.

Anyhow. Reading about amazing handspun sock yarn named after classic rock songs reminded me that I actually have two skeins of it in my stash, albeit a discontinued color. The skein on my head is Secret Agent Man, obtained at Yarn Con while visiting the talented and amazing Bethany in Chicago this last October. And behind me is the wonderful old Oberlin slogan.

Heck yeah, Oberlin, I'm gonna change the world. As soon as my brain stops leaking out my ears from finals. Which is your fault, by the way, Oberlin. Just to clarify.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stash Appreciation Wednesday: Almost Finals Edition

Mmmmm silky wool. I bought a little more than a regular sweater's worth of this... oh man, probably my freshman year? It was originally intended for an Elsebeth Lavold pattern from one of the pattern support books, but after a while I realized that I wanted to try something a little different. A long jacket with a mandarin collar, frog closures, and some sort of light cable detail on the back (because I really, really love how this yarn looks with both cables and reverse stockinette) and contrasting applied i-cord edgings. I swatched for it, but didn't feel technically proficient enough to design and knit it myself, so this yarn has been sitting in my stash.

Also, I've noticed that both of the garments that I've built from scratch have ended up having applied i-cord. And, actually, both garments that I have yarn for and want to design in the future have applied i-cord edging. There's just something really great about a nice, clean, rolled edge that looks like dressed-up stockinette. Siiigh.

Anyhow. This yarn is strange in some ways; it's listed as a DK, but feels like a sport weight to me. I would hesitate to use it for anything that needs a lot of structure or weight (it's strangely light?), but it has such an interesting texture and an incredible color selection.

And, since it's just about finals time, all I want to do is pet my stash and dream about all the things I'm going to knit when I have a life outside of school. Which, conveniently, will be in about 10 days. I can't wait.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

rock me mama like a wagon wheel

Things that would be nice right now:

California (northern, please!)
enough time in the day to do homework, knit, and exercise... because now only one of those is happening, and guess which one it is
time to sketch and daydream about yarn
Christmas at the beach with family
clean socks
batteries for my camera
the first real snow
hot chocolate
sleep without an alarm
seeing old friends
listening to Wagon Wheel on repeat

in 13 days, most of these will be happening.

I'm pretty excited.

(Yarn story: I bought this Jitterbug on discount from a place in Santa Barbara called Cardigans. It was warm all the time, I got to hang out on the beach with one of my friends, and I got yarn with my mom at three different places. I am so nostalgic about my California trip this summer, it's not even funny.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stash Appreciation Wednesday: Jitterbug Edition

Gotta say, this is one of my top three favorite sock yarns ever. Tight twist, gorgeous color, and holds up amazingly well for merino. I've made two pairs of socks out of it, and there's an orange pair in particular that I reach for every time they're clean. This color is called Whirlifig, and I bought it in Chicago at Loopy. Sigh... all I want to do is cast on with it, but alas there is much commission and Christmas knitting to do before that can happen...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

transformation: Issaquah vest

So I put it on to help it dry, and wow. What a difference a good wetblocking makes. All of that intarsia that was so messy is flat and beautiful. It still needs a zipper and a proper photoshoot... but holy crap, I didn't think I'd make it.

Finish line in sight!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


There's something magical in the act of taking an idea from sketch, to swatch, to reality. Something promising latent in the uncertainty and excitement of learning a new cast-off, or in using an old method in a new way, or in watching what blooms after a good soak in Eucalan and cold water.

Today I did all of the finishing on the Issaquah vest. It's blocking downstairs as we speak. There's waist shaping, two colorwork motifs, applied i-cord edging, a traditional Cowichan bind-off at the shoulder, and a gorgeous, horribly time-consuming garter-stitch shawl collar. I puzzled over PGR's instructions while watching a samurai flick for history class. There's a little pile of yarn bits sitting on my bedside table from the weaving in of ends. My room is a disaster. My last cup of coffee was at 8 pm. I wish the damn vest would dry already so that I could put it on over my Smart-Wool turtleneck and go to chem class and show that while I struggle with crystal structures, I am quite aware of perfect and imperfect symmetry.

In other words, I really can't wait to share this one.