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?

A fine haul

Published on Tuesday April 22nd, 2008

Thank you all so much for your kind words about Gram. It means a lot to me, and I’m sure to my mum, who reads here sometimes!

It’s been a drear few days weather-wise, and we’re all suffering a little cabin fever around here. Mr. G went to Toronto for five days, which means that Lark has been living in the car in the school parking lot and Mingus hasn’t been outdoors in two days, since I haven’t wanted to subject him to a whole day of huddling outside in the downpour by letting him take his morning constitutional before I leave for work. So it was an extra treat to come home yesterday and find these pushed through the mail slot:


Isn’t is marvelous how it’s still so exciting to get presents from the mailman, even if you’ve bought and paid for them? That’s a Schrodinger Original sock cube – just the thing for protecting my socks-in-progress from the cruel world of cat hair they’re born into. I love those little rosy brown sheep! Go check out Cathy’s shop – she has a couple more sheep cubes like mine, plus an adorable Japanese print of matryoshka dolls.

And as you see, I couldn’t resist ordering a copy of Lisa Lloyd’s new book as soon as it pubbed. I haven’t had time to read deeply yet, but I already learned a lot about the properties of different breeds’ wool. I’m sure there’s a wealth of information here to improve my spinning, and the cabled sweaters are truly succulent. I’m not casting on anything right away: the Ivy stole and a secret project for publication with Shibui demand my fidelity as their deadlines loom. But in the mean time, this title is joining the ranks of the books I leaf through late at night just for inspiration.


Published on Tuesday March 18th, 2008

New York and back is a lot of travel in 59 hours. I was forcibly reminded of my loathing for JFK airport, long taxi rides, Midtown traffic, Delta’s egregious overbooking policies, overpriced airport “food,” the last row of seats before the bathrooms, leg room sufficient only for hobbits, pungent seatmates, in-flight movies, and the wealth of literature on a) strategies for amassing money; and b) strategies for ceasing to care about amassing money, both of which seem to be favorites among American airline passengers. NB: I am the most appalling serial offender when it comes to reading over people’s shoulders. I cannot not read text within my field of view. It doesn’t matter if it’s the cereal box or stock market reports or golf tournament results or the CNN parade of daft and/or shocking headlines. I can’t help myself. All my airplane companions are probably blogging at this very moment about rude people who surreptitiously read their books, magazines, and newspapers.

The good news is that I got to see many friends and relations, as planned. Once President Bush finally stopped holding up traffic at JFK for his exit from the executive helipad, we were able to stop spewing carbon emissions over the poor innocent Pennsylvanians and land our craft. Fortunately, my beloved former coworkers never leave the office before six, so they were still around for a nice catch-up chat. And the Spiders waited for me, although Lisa was calling my husband to make sure I had, in fact, left for New York that morning by the time I blitzed into The Point. Having eaten only a bagel at 7 a.m. and some disappointing stale peanuts, I lost little time in stuffing my face with a delicious pecan bar.

Gastronomically, this set the tone for the weekend. I subsisted on almost nothing but sugar, fat, and white flour for the next 48 hours. I knew the bridal shower was going to be trouble when Marika and Saxton’s neighbor (who threw the party) sent me out to help her daughter pick up NINETY scones and FOUR DOZEN éclairs. Forty people were coming to the shower. And the tables were already groaning under tiers of assorted cookies and sweets. The shower was a beautiful success, but we and the host family were all dying for salad and protein by the end. We spent the evening lolling on the couches amid the heaps of presents, somehow still drinking champagne with our Greek salads and some leftover rice and beans.

So as it turned out, Mr. G. was happy to learn, there was no bachelorette carousing at all. Marika and I may have gotten a little wanton among the discount designer jeans at Loehman’s, a cheapskate’s heaven which just opened about a block from my old apartment. (Guess what else opened a block from my old apartment? A new Jacques Torres chocolaterie. Given that his chocolate factory, where you can watch them actually making the chocolate, is across the street from my former office, this could have been deadly indeed.) Anyway, I came home with two pairs of Chip and Pepper jeans for the absurdly reasonable sum of $71.98. (Okay, this was partly because the sales clerk wasn’t paying attention and charged the second as a pair of lacy undies. And I was talking to my brother and didn’t notice until later that I’d signed for less than I was expecting to. I’m not really experiencing all that much guilt about not having done the honest thing in taking them back to correct the error. Had it been a little store with a direct connection to the designer, I would have done. As it is, well, we all made a mistake, and I scored a nearly free pair of jeans that come with a tag proclaiming that I have a sexy bum. Moreover, I’ll be back for more. I dread shopping for pants, and this experience was painless as can be, even after my anti-svelte sins of the prior day. (All that butter just lubricates the food so it doesn’t stick to your hips, right?)

I was a prize idiot on the way home. I decided, after the incident with the jeans, that I could afford a cab to the airport rather than the A train. (The cab nearly didn’t make it. It stalled regularly in the slow traffic, and my eyes were smarting from the smell of roasting clutch by the time we reached JFK almost an hour later.) I forgot which airline was supposed to fly me to Seattle at 4:30. This meant I had to negotiate the warren of TSA checkpoints going from terminal to terminal. At one point the arrows directed me down a series of deserted hallways, across a parking lot, up a sketchy back stairway, and into a wall. I retraced my steps and found another route. This one brought me sidelong into an empty maze of cordons for the security queue. Happily, I could see the Delta self-check-in area just on the other side. But a fellow in a uniform told me firmly that I could not simply duck under one of his black seatbelty barriers. I’d have to go around. Later I spent half an hour waiting in line for a cold and greasy slab of pizza (you won’t believe me, but this really was the least of available evils), and then found I didn’t actually have a seat on the plane. Only due to the lateness of a connecting flight did I eventually manage to board. (Sorry, would-have-been Norfolk-JFK-Seattle travellers. I appreciate your sacrifice, even though no one asked you.) And then, you know, six hours crammed in with the sweaties and wealth philosophers nine inches from the toilets. By the time I got off in Seattle I was so dazed that I wandered straight into the men’s bathroom. Didn’t even realize my mistake until there was a dude of the masculine persuasion using the sink next to mine and giving me a disapproving look. Scared a fellow on his way in, too. Oh well.

There was knitting accomplished on this trip. I’ll show you soon. Oh, and Theft, by Peter Carey? Great book. I pretty much snorted it like 288 pages of literary drugs. I inhaled it so fast I had to buy Ian McEwan’s Atonement in the airport on the way home, movie poster jacket and all.


Published on Thursday March 13th, 2008

Tomorrow morning will see me flying out of Portland in the dark, winging east. I’m making a little weekend jaunt back to New York City. I’d only go so far for so short a time to see people I really love: New York holds a great many of them! The reason for the trip is a bridal shower for my sister-to-be, but since I’m coming in to town on a Friday afternoon, I also have a chance to knit with my Spiders and visit my dear former colleagues in one Hudson Street swoop.

There’s much to be done – gifts to gather and wrap, laundry piles to dominate, New York-worthy outfits to assemble (life as an early morning dog-walker can relax one’s standards to supine insensibility), knitting projects to choose among, work to organize. At least I had the foresight to sew the buttons back onto my winter coat last weekend while watching the Paris-Nice prologue time trial.

The lace stole needs to come for a progress report to the bride and some quality time on the airplane; I’m thinking the Drifting Pleats scarf for Knit/Purl will make good Spider-knitting, plus I want it finished so I can allow myself to cast on something else. This version is in a DK weight, so I’ve got 10 extra stitches on to keep the dimensions right, and somehow they’re making the knitting process feel interminable. (Or maybe it’s just that I’ve knit this pattern three times in as many months.) Oh, and the second secret red sock should come, too – its April 15 deadline is going to sneak up on me otherwise, and there’s still a third sock I need to knit before this pattern is done.

The real question is how long I can hold out before casting on a pair of Vinterblomster mittens. (Ravelry link) There are so many beautiful pairs taking shape on the blogs! But a person really oughtn’t to knit three pairs of mittens at once, right? Especially when there are already three other pairs in her queue, and therefore the potential for no less than six mateless swingin’ single mittens? Half a dozen bachelor mittens could get up to an awful lot of mischief.

See you after the weekend – I’ll be sure to report on any bachelorette mischief in New York.