Into the suitcase

Published on Friday May 16th, 2008

Debby’s comment on the last post gave me the right analogy as I head into a weekend of insanity: Mr. G flies east on Sunday night to begin Best Manly duties for my brother, so there’s packing and cleaning and organization to do; an herb garden to plant with our neighbors; dog care to orchestrate; wedding gifts to plan and buy; absence from my job in the face of a huge looming project completion to prepare for; a fundraising run for Room to Read to participate in. Oh, and the Ivy stole to finish.

Four more rounds to knit on the edging, and then the beastly crochet chain to finish it all off. Debby and I share a love of knitting while watching professional cycling, so when she told me to dig into my suitcase, I knew exactly what she meant. Commentator Phil Liggett loves to say, when a rider hits the slopes of a tough climb at the end of a grueling day in the saddle, “He’s digging deep into his suitcase of courage now!” So into the suitcase I go, my friends. I should have some pictures of this life-sucking beauty for you by the end of the weekend.

Meanwhile, the weather couldn’t be less conducive to knitting. We’re taking aim at 97 degrees today (that’s 36 degrees for you Celsius folk, and much hotter than usual for May in Portland). The kids at school have been lobbying all week for their favorite hot-weather PE game, Drip-Drip-Drop. It’s like Duck-Duck-Goose, except that instead of tapping your friends on the head as you make the circle, you’re sprinkling – and then dumping – water on them. It sounds much more appealing than picking up the cashmere (thank goodness it’s laceweight – if Saxton and Marika lived in the southern hemisphere I could be knitting a Wedding Anorak or something). I got up extra early this morning to water the more tender plants and to sew the hem of my new sundress so I’d have appropriate garb to weather the stickiness while I knit like mad this evening.

So look out, world: I am turning a pedal in anger now! Bring on the mask of pain! I will not crack!

BAT report

Published on Monday May 5th, 2008

A week ago, Claudia threw down and announced a pledge to replace at least one car trip per week with a bicycle trip. That’s just the kind of challenge I can get excited about, since I have 1. a conscience, 2. a body that could use a little more exercise, and 3. a meager salary that doesn’t go far at the gas pump these days. She’s calling the effort Bicycles As Transportation / Knitters for Alternative Transportation: BAT/KAT. So Mondays are now BAT update days.

On Friday night, Mr. G and I pedaled down to our favorite theater for a $3 movie, pizza, and microbrew (we love Portland). Some Like It Hot was playing, and I’m happy to report that it’s still a delightful date movie 50 years after it was filmed. Saturday I rode to the yarn store to meet Katrin instead of driving, while Mr. G cycled to the annual giganticus tech-entrepreneur-geekfest known as Bar Camp. And yesterday we took the bikes when we went to meet Mr. G’s dad for dinner. That’s three BATs apiece: they’re all within two or three miles of home, exactly the range where we’d be most tempted to hop in the car, but the bike trip takes only a minute or two longer. We also walked for the groceries all week and took the MAX train when we went shopping for a purple tie for Mr. G to wear to my brother’s wedding. Since my job requires me to drive over 30 miles on weekdays (I carpool, but I still hold myself responsible for the environmental impact of the trip), I like to leave the car in the driveway all weekend whenever possible.

Now I feel like I need a marvy little sidebar BAT/KAT tally graphic. Too bad I don’t have skills like that.

And the knitting? The Ivy stole has crawled up to row 26 of the edge chart. I’m halfway there, except that the rounds are still getting longer. I don’t think I could conscionably use the word excruciating to describe knitting cashmere (hey, how has unconscionable survived in our lexicon but conscionable is obsolete? Add it to the list with words like wieldy and whelmed, I guess), but this edging is like the last 2.2 miles of a marathon. Why, Skacel, why can’t you make a #0 Addi LacePoint? What daft manager signed off on a plan to make #1s and #00s but nothing in between? I may have cast on an Indigo Ripples skirt for some much-needed stockinet on #5s.

Back to the knitting

Published on Friday May 2nd, 2008

The Ivy stole edging is a marathon, not a sprint, or even a mid-length training run. I’m on row 19 of 50, and those rounds are getting longer and longer – something in the neighborhood of 1700 stitches at this point. It takes me a standard-length movie to do two rounds; a showing of Planet Earth New Zealand (aka The Fellowship of the Ring) the other night was good for a whopping 3.5 (it would go a little faster if Addi would make the Lace Points in the size and length I need). I just ran out of the second ball of ArtYarns Cashmere I – thank goodness I had the foresight to pick up a third skein of the same dyelot when I noticed the new shipment at Knit/Purl was a slightly different shade! It’s pointless to show you pictures of my progress: the edging is picked up on a 47″ US #0 needle, so all there is to see is a big scum of lavender froth with stitch markers around the edge.

I’m almost done with a secret project for Shibui, so naturally my mind has wandered to what’s next. I’ve got something in the hopper for Popknits that I’m very excited to cast on, and I’ve been mulling over possibilities for the new Casbah. The confluence of the new Interweave Knits summer issue with Megan’s post about knitting cowls with doubled sock yarn turned on a light.

Look at all the complementary sock yarn I already have in the stash! Counterclockwise from the left, that’s Socks That Rock Lightweight in Amber and Mica, Dream in Color Smooshy in Gothic Rose, Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Cedar, Socks That Rock Lightweight in one of the colorways with rock names they don’t seem to offer anymore, and of course the Casbah. All mostly superwash merino. Of course, a worsted-weight wool tank top makes no sense. But what if I shortened the body of the Confectionary Tank and wore it as a vest next fall? I couldn’t help myself. I started swatching.

The design-minded among you will notice that the sidebar’s looking a little less scraggly. I owe Mr. G for this. You’ll also see there’s a link to his company website: one of the reasons I knit so much is that my partner for social activities is pouring all his energy into launching a small business. I think you can only know what an effort that requires if you’ve actually done it yourself. We certainly didn’t comprehend what we were in for when we took the decision for Mr. G to leave his job to work on SweetSpot full time. We saw a need within his family for better communication about his father’s diabetes; we saw that Adam had the skills and the passion to do something about it and to extend the project to other families in the same situation. He’d wanted to start a company of his own for years, and we thought now was probably the time to try: we don’t have kids, I have a job, we have some savings put by to cushion us for a year or two. Neither of us fully imagined the emotional drain, or the way every conversation we have would turn to the business, or the frustration of trying to bring in the support and relationships necessary to sustain a worthy one-man project. But SweetSpot is out in the world now, and if you or someone you care for lives with insulin-dependent diabetes, you might find that Mr. G’s service can help in the daily work toward wellness. It fetches, stores, and analyzes information from blood glucose monitors, and it offers a teamwork structure to make family participation simpler and more constructive. It’s free to try it out, and if you have any questions, the CEO himself will take your call in his handknit socks. How many companies can say that?

Secret Train Order 11 now in effect

Published on Monday March 3rd, 2008

A day of March sunshine in Portland is rare as red sea glass, and not to be wasted. Katrin and I knit in one of the urban parks, took refreshment at the Tea Zone (they serve a creditable English scone with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, joy), and swung by Knit/Purl to ogle her beautiful finished Autumn Cardigan (a beautiful Ruth Sorenson design in the Kauni yarn you’ve read so much about) and to drool over a new shipment of Pear Tree merino. This was a perfect cap to a lovely half-weekend with my husband and pup at the beach (we did a nine-mile hike on Cascade Head, now officially one of our favorite places in the world). The weekend may also have included a few moments of weakness in Nestucca Bay Yarns:


Really, can you believe I’ve been to Lincoln City all these times and I’ve never set foot in the shop until now? Turns out it is admirably stocked with Rowan, Jamieson’s, and Cascade. I heartily approve. And I approved of this luscious, tweedy, foxy Silk & Lambswool too much not to bring home four skeins for some sort of cute, cabled, button-up vest. Sinful stash enhancement was offset by virtuous work on the Ivy stole, at the beach and in town on Sunday:


I think it’s two-thirds of the necessary length. I think I also made my first mistake in the pattern yesterday, but I believe I tickled a fix out of it that will make it invisible to the masses. If I look at it again with a more critical eye, I may have to do some surgery. We’ll see. That’s what I get for trying to knit fiddly lace in the park in the sunshine with my friend while chatting and scoping out knitwear on other park-goers.

At last it was time to make my way home, and I took the train, as I so often do. Sometimes you can faintly hear over the loudspeaker the messages meant only for the drivers, and just as we were pulling into my station, I was treated to this: “All red and blue lines, Secret Train Order 11 is now in effect. Secret Train Order 11 now in effect.” What felicity to catch such an absurd and amusing directive! Seriously, they have Secret Train Orders, and that’s what they call them? Anyway, now that I have to live with the vexation of not knowing what Secret Train Order 11 is, I thought I’d be an equal tease to you, dear readers. I’m working on a new sock pattern, and I’m very pleased with Sock the First:


I have concealed its most alluring features, although that picot cuff is darn cute, though I say it myself. For now we’ll just call it the Secret Train Order 11 sock, although I’m rather chuffed to have finally thought of a good real name for it the other night. I won’t be able to unveil these officially until the fall, but secret knitting is so dull if nobody knows you’re doing it, don’t you agree?