Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Achilles

After feeling the triumph of finishing a big knitting project, I of course wanted to jump right in to the next one. I started making my Christmas list for this year of hand knits for friends and family, including a couple of requests (a mustached facewarmer for a coworker, another Elijah for a new family member arriving in February, some mittens for a photography friend). But something was still nagging me at the back of my mind.
Something to do with sweaters. And Christmas.
Something that's been haunting me, watching, waiting in the corner with other half-finished projects that I've put in time out.
The ultimate project.The Dale.
This was supposed to be my Dad's Christmas present not for this last Christmas, but the Christmas before that. I started it November 11th, 2008, naively believing that I could easily finish this mammoth of a project in a month and a half of hard knitting.
I was obviously out of my mind at the time. Or drank too much coffee when this decision was made.
Fast forward to now. I pulled the Dale from the time-out box to assess what needed to be done, and found what stopped me. The body is too big to really carry around, and it's deep in intricate colorwork, which means concentration is required (no class or bus knitting). Luckily, the colorwork section is close to half way done, so really I don't have a huge amount left to go (in relation to the body as a whole). On the first arm, I'm up to where the colorwork begins, as well as the increase in the arm. I have to find the halfway point on the arm, count out the stitches from there and start the colorwork- a little more portable, but I have to first do math, then begin busy pay-attention colorwork- again, not conducive to my current lifestyle.
I'm thinking the best thing to do for now would be to start on the second arm, that way I can carry it around knitting the part I don't really have to think about, and when I have time between writing my thesis paper and lesson plans I can work on the colorwork bits for the body. It'd be nice to get one big part of this project done soon- in the words of Bill Murray, "Baby Steps".
After being in hiding for so long, it's time to get this project out and slowly but surely start chipping away. Don't worry- I'll be finishing my Vivian sweater first, because that's two yokes and a hood away from being done (plus my KAL buddy is finished with hers already- oops), but it's time that this monster get out from under my bed, get finished, and make its way to the rightful owner.
My Dad is going to be happy about this. :)(Above picture are some lovely lilies that my guy got for me- I love the colors!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Ladies and gentlemen, my finished Seneca sweater.Thus far, it's one of the fastest completion times for a project this big at 5 months (not counting my Mom's sweater for Ravelympics, because that's different).I'm in love with the simple cable all around the edges of the garment, highlighted because of the possum fur in the yarn.
Pattern: The Seneca Sweater by Jared Flood, from his book "Made in Brooklyn"
Yarn: Possum Yarn (8 ply) in Natural by The Wool Company. It was a gift from New Zealand, made up of 70% merino wool and 30% possum!
Needle size: 7- instead of the prescribed 8
Size: XS
Modifications: 8'' of body and 18 3/8'' of arm length instead of that specified in the pattern. I love the extra body length because of my long torso, and I like having the sweater arms past my hands for added coziness. I also used only two garter ridges to close the neck, and used a different stretchy bind-off to make a head-friendly neck.Worst part of the project: The cables on top took longer than the bodies and arms combined, but mostly because I accidentally kept setting it down from frustration of how long it was taking. Note bad circle pattern here.
Best part: Getting excited when the cables really began to show the shape of the project, and putting the final product on of course! One more sweater I made just for myself (for once)!I'm very happy with the finished product, and can't wait to curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book as the days grow colder up here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Catching Up

It's been a flurry of catching up this last week to get back on track after my stint of unhealthy-ness, both physically and academically.
My first thesis paper is due in a couple of weeks, so I've been working with a professor to get the final drafts ready to go. Lesson planning has become a big part of my work load, as I'm teaching 2-4 classes a week now. Last week- Aristotle and his Poetics. This week, Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello for two different classes. Next week, Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author and more dramatic theory texts. All of it fascinating, but the trick is weeding through the mass of information to find the key points I want the students to notice. Fun and challenging all at the same time.
I've slowly been adding physical activity to my list, first with short bouldering sessions at UMD to test my body before a session on the north shore. My first couple of warm up climbs did a good job of wearing me out quickly, but a great climb on Mack the Knife made me feel like I was finally back on track to getting better physically.
I finished a hat for my friend Pete last week, which was an exchange for professional photos he did of my trip to Ouray last year. He was so excited about knitted goods that he quickly agreed to help out with photography for my next few projects I'm finishing up!We had a photo shoot on a rainy evening a couple days ago with my Seneca sweater (which I'll post pics and logistics ASAP), and I'll be getting those pictures as well as ones of him in his hat sometime this week- I'm excited!
For now, more training to get back in climbing shape to send some big projects, and getting as much done this week as possible, since I have a big event coming up this weekend that I have to be ready for... :)

Monday, September 20, 2010


The last week or so has been very difficult. I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening in the hospital, hooked up to IV's and getting a CT scan because I was in doubled-over pain in my abdomen. It had been bothering me since Saturday, but I hadn't paid it much mind until it got unbearable. Turns out I had a kidney infection, requiring antibiotics, pain killers, and bed rest (which I sort of did- mostly). It rendered me to a semi-useless blob until last night, and this morning was my first full day back in action. Have to admit, it worked me out a fair bit. I'm excited to sleep long to recover tonight.
Some good news though- I finished the lovely Seneca sweater!!I haven't had an official photo shoot with it yet, but I have a couple of pictures out and about in it- Tyler and I went for a walk down on the pier yesterday with coffee (I just had hot chocolate- no caffeine while infected- boo!!), and I was able to talk him into taking a picture or two next to our well-known lift-bridge.He didn't really understand the concept of the knitting being the focal point of the picture. Or camera flashes vs. real light. Or mentioning confusion of these things when I said I wanted a "knitting photo shoot"- especially since you can't actually see the knitting. Hmmm. I think I'll need to work on that a bit.
My first draft of my thesis paper is my big project this week, so hopefully I'll be well on the way to having a solid draft done by the end of the week. I was supposed to have it done by last week, but then the whole kidney thing got in the way... well, you know how it goes.
Off to grab more cranberry juice, work through my draft and sleep hard before another full day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hats, Hats Galore!

It's been a weekend for hats around my area! Mostly notably, my good friend Heather came over to finish working on her first knitting project ever- a hat for her boyfriend, based on the Turn-a-Square hat by Jared Flood!

She did a marvelous job for her first hat, and I thought it looked fantastic (although a little big for her pretty head)! Luckily her guy has a guy-sized head, so if it's a teeny bit big she just has to do a little shrinking by giving it a bath and she'll be set.
I pulled the Thorpe back out- remember a long time ago, the hat I started for my buddy as a barter? Well, it found itself back out of the realm of oblivion that is my craft area, and I plan on working on and finishing it very soon.
I also got some pictures of one of my hats in action- I knit a hat for a Coast Guard friend heading up to the Arctic Circle, and he got a picture of himself next to a glacier in the far north!
He just got back after being gone for two months, and was happy to report that the double-knit hat with a fleece lining was able to hold up to the arctic chill. That made me happy. :)
My life isn't just hats right now- I do plan on finally blocking the Seneca sweater today after class! I got home from VE last night with a mission- finish the sweater to be ready to block today. An episode of True Blood and a bowl of raspberries later, and the underarms were grafted, all the ends sewed in, and she's finally very close to becoming a part of my wardrobe.
Hopefully more on that very, very soon... :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010


The first week of school went by in such a busy flurry I can't believe it's already over. School is really off and running, and my to-do list proves it.
That didn't mean I couldn't take some time off this weekend, though. Mark and Larissa are getting married in early October, and yesterday was their joint wedding shower put on by friends.
It was a ton of fun, with games for everyone including the classic "Newlywed Game", with questions from "What would Mark eat for dinner if Larissa wasn't around?" to "What is the first thing Larissa does in the morning?" It was fun to watch, especially since Mark had more trouble answering questions about himself than Larissa did about him (above picture is case in point). My friend Kim, a crazy-amazing baker, contributed to the festivities with a cake portraying a full-body bride hanging out on two tiers. How she does it, I have no idea and will probably never be there. I just admire.
After the shower, the guys left and us girls got ready for the big part of the night- the bachelorette party! Larissa decided that she wanted the theme to be 1930 and 40's pin-up girls (think Rita Hayward and Ginger Rogers), so we broke out the Victory curls, garter belts, thigh-highs and t-strap heels for a night on the town!It took awhile to get ready (how did those ladies do it back then, every single day??), but with lots of help and lots of hairspray and bobby pins we were all pin-up worthy.Larissa was the belle with a vintage purple dress, victory curls, a flower in her hair and a net angled across her face. She kept saying she felt sky-high tall with her curls and heels, but she looked fantastic in them!It was a lot of fun to go out dancing- we stopped at all sorts of places, including a polka bar with a live polka band! It was a great night, and I was exhausted when it was all over (my normal bedtime is around 10-10:30, so staying out till 2 for me is super late!) but it was so much fun to hang out with my old college friends and really get to know a lot of new girls.
Today is back to reality, with lessons plans to make, half a novel to read for class, and research to do before heading back to Duluth.
Time to pour more coffee and get crackin'. Have a great Sunday, everyone. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Today is a bit of a big day for me. It's the first day to the last year of my Master's degree program, I'm teaching my first class today, and this is the 400th post in my blog!
I have to admit, I never thought I would enjoy writing on a blog this much. It's connected me to people, given me a good support system, and hopefully if you read this you've enjoyed it at least a little. :) Thanks for sticking with me!
On to life- I found that lugging my twenty pound laptop around is going to be a problem this year, especially with how much I'm going to be moving back and forth between my office at school, work, home, and elsewhere. Solution- Netbook:This little guy is going to be my fun little companion this year, helping me teach and research at school without giving me a big backache from carrying it around. It weighs less than 3 pounds with the battery, and I'm really excited to bring it to school with me! You can see the size in comparison to Tyler's laptop, which is about the size of my own. So excited for it!
I finished knitting the Seneca sweater. It looks pretty and innocent, doesn't it?Well, looks are deceiving. There are problems. We'll talk about it later. Right now it's in time-out.
Got to go climbing this last weekend out at Palisade, and I couldn't have asked for a prettier day!A big group of us were able to set up a lot of climbs, and I worked quite a few routes as well as tried some new ones. My favorite new one has to be Mack the Knife- a gorgeous crack climb with not a lot of difficult sections. It was so good, and felt so solid for me, that after a few runs on top rope of it to cement the sequence in my head I'm going to work on fixing a line and figure out gear placement for my first 5.10 trad lead. Yaaaay! Sorry for the lack of actual climbing pictures- we were so busy climbing we didn't really take any, which might be a good thing in this case. :)
We'll talk about the sweater problem later.
It might be a bit of a sore spot.