Tuesday, February 23, 2021

There Was a February

I started this blog post on February 5 --with the ever optimistic: 

Apparently when you have multiple back to back national do-not-look-away-from-the-screen events and also a new semester to launch, blogging or really much writing at all goes by the wayside. 

Gray Tabby laying on my hand while I try to use a computer mouse

This week, I've been chatting with coworkers and friends who all are consistently wondering where February went. We know it happened. There was a LOT of snow -- here in Chicago we got two storms with 18 inches of snow each in something like 10 days. The freezing and power issues in Texas have been horrific to watch from afar.

And I haven't been knitting. I get up, I do as much work as I can throughout the day, I try at the end of the day to bash my email into submission again, and then I go to bed.  

There's knitting nearby -- I've been looking at the same honey cowl every day. It sits next to me on my desk and doesn't get worked on.  

Pyewacket laying on a wool blanket having ennui

There's a baby blanket sitting next to my seat on the couch in the living room. There's a sock in a bag that hasn't come out of my purse from when we went and picked up Korean food. It's just... not happening.  AudioGirl and I were trying to remember when last I consistently didn't knit for 2+ weeks. We're both pretty sure I still lived in New York then. 

Widge in her new furry blue cat bed

It's not that I don't want to knit but I end up at the end of the day just staring blankly, working on a digital puzzle (real puzzle and two cats? Oh no...) But as I talk to my girlfriends -- texting again or maybe a phone call because none of us can handle yet another Zoom call -- its where we all are. Exhausted, trying to figure out how we do this for another day -- or another six months, and trying to hold each other up for just a little bit longer.  At nearly the one year mark, with vaccines slowly trickling out, none of us are quite sure what is next but we're very tired of what is now. 

So does it worry me that I'm not knitting? A bit. I have rather a large collection of yarn if the answer to "when do you knit" were to become "once in a while." And I'm optimistic that I'll get back to it. I wound up six skeins of yarn last night in anticipation of that.  The yarn wound in January is being abandoned because I'm going to knit a blue and heavily beaded Nim Teasdale lace shawl that will make me look like a sparkly dragon. 

But if things seem quiet, it's because the cat is sleeping on my knitting and I, well, I'm going to try and go to bed early. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Not Really Like a Plan

Someone asked over the past few days whether I actually planned to knit another 20km in 2021. It's physically possible -- certainly -- but 2020 was quite the lesson in having plans disrupted, changed, or abandoned. Trying to make significant plans for 2021 has been hard all the way around. I'm back to work on Monday and most of that will then be the regular teaching sprint that is the front half of the semester. I feel really separated from work right now; and yes that took a solid week to achieve. 

So I don't have yardage or X quantity of Y pattern goals at present; I'm sure something will come up and in the interim -- I certainly have some general knitting planned.

While collaboratively watching an episode of the Great Canadian Bake-off just before the dregs of 2020 were hustled out the door, I broke out the swift and ballwinder and a few of the skeins I wanted to tackle in the new year.  This is just slightly under an hour of winding. 

AudioGirl pointed out that it's been nearly a decade since I was last truly on a sock binge. It looks like the last year that I knit more than 5-6 pairs was 2013. As a result, well, her sock drawer was starting to wear a little thin. Considering I too have had a few blowouts and I'm sure the Incredibly Patient Mother has as well, that suggests that I should get back to some sock knitting. With quite a lot of Blue Moon Fiber Arts floating around the stash, that's no hardship. 

I wound three skeins specifically for socks -- including the replacement Chasing Flamingos skein which went missing on the train last year. 

But that's not the only BMFA -- I also pulled out this three pack, which has been waiting for me to stop neglecting it and knit a second Color Affection. I love wearing my Color Affection shawl -- it's warm and all the fall colors and it's amazingly flattering. Works with everything. These three skeins were from a moon pack that Tina did after/around the total solar eclipse event that we had. I finally have them wound and ready to go.  It feels like progress. 

Beyond that, well, you hadn't thought that I was entirely out of Honey Cowls, had you? I have at least 6 more that I'm planning to knit; along with socks they are such a wonderful and also attending your very important meeting project.  

There's some purple -- there's always more purple to be knit up and with a surfeit of Northwestern fans -- usually homes easily found for all of them. 

This Miss Babs Yowza skein I had intended to split between two other DK skeins so I could use up single skeins. Instead, this will probably be one of the cowls for one of the men in my life who prefers a slightly more neutral look. 

Finally I'm excited about this pairing and I've already cast it on -- that was amongst my New Years Day Knitting -- it's a skein of Cascade Heritage, which is uneventful, but it's paired with a skein from Amy Florence of Stranded Dyeworks. They are such simple colors -- Old Overalls and a Gray and I think they work perfectly together. It might not be my best choice with the gray dreariness out of doors but I have a super bright socks to counter balance. 

At my usual knitting speed, these should take me through about April. I am sure though that a few other projects will sneak in for variety.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

20 Kilometers Yarn Completed

This morning M and I had a long chat and I used the phone call to finish up one more hat and weave in the ends on fingerless mitts that have been lingering in a project bag for three years. And without fanfare -- that did it. I've used up 20km of yarn in 2020.  

This year I've knit (or finished up)

  • 37 Washcloths
  • 22 Hats
  • 12 Honey Cowls
  • 6 Other Cowls
  • 5 Large Shawls 
  • 5 Cotton Crocheted Bags
  • 2 Pair of Socks
  • 2 Pair of Fingerless Mitts
  • 2 Scarves (if you can count the Oak Park scarf as *one* scarf)
  • 1 Adult Sweater
  • 1 Baby Sweater
  • 1 Set of Toddler Mittens
  • 1 Baby Blanket

The year began with the Honey Cowl parade, a baby blanket for Jenny, and the most delicate lace shawl I've knit to date. I'm still trying to figure out where I'll wear a hot pink lace shawl. 

As the spring moved on there were more honey cowls, a return to the world of cotton washcloths, and a few other shawls for good measure. Oh, and one pair of socks. 

I *sprinted* through a lace and beaded shawl for my Dean when she retired, finished a sweater that had been  long lingering, worked through an entire pound of cotton yarn in something like three days? Oh, and also the hats started. I knit a lot of hats. 

Hats, honey cowls, and the Oak Park Scarf -- which was an enormous amount of garter stitch even for me. 

And then finishing the year with accessories mostly -- trying to get the project bags that are littered around Chez Hedgehog compiled into one place and emptied out - not merely lined up for me to admire yet again.  

I did a big shipment of things to friends in October, donated hats for an animal charity, and participated in Romancing the Runoff with one of those "other" cowls. That said, the gift bin is getting refilled, with a number of things completed and in Ziplocs with names sharpied across the front, just waiting until we're able to meet again (or until I get fed up waiting, decide the Post Office is caught up, and march things over there.) 

I went to write that this will be unlikely for 2021; a repeat of this. But then I went and scrolled through the projects and thought about when I started things and -- no, actually at least another 15-18km should be very doable. Theoretically. 

I also very much failed on my arbitrary January 2020 goal-which was to get my stash entries down to 150 from the 211 I'd started with (not 211 skeins, 211 different entries on Ravelry).  Buying from indie dyers during the first months of lockdown and through the fall has been a sanity point and I also want them to stay in business.  So, there's been a lot of yarn. I end the year with 250 entries instead. That'll be okay; there's always more knitting to do in 2021. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

There Will Be 12

When AudioGirl heard that I'd finished Honey Cowl #11, she immediately understood and remarked that of course, there must be a twelfth one this year.  Whatever other projects I finish up in 2020, a full dozen Honey Cowls had to be among them. 

Ball of black yarn with purple accents

She knows me so well. And the yarn for this last one of 2020 obviously needed to be special. I have yarn designated for a few more -- these have been well received as gifts and several other people have made "you know..." noises in my direction.  They are great meeting knitting when I get the increasingly rare meeting I'm not running or taking really active notes. 

That picture is the last third of Skein 1 of 2. Skein 2 is sitting next to it but my very yellow overhead light keeps blowing out the image and I wanted to write tonight rather than tomorrow, so details it is.  This is Seismic Yarn on her Butter Sock DK base in the Raven colorway.  I am really impressed with her as a dyer -- a lot of interesting work with black skeins that have a pop of color and really saturated colors. 

It's December 16th already and I'm still working away at my 20km that I decided was a good idea six weeks ago. Having several large projects nudge me ahead certainly didn't hurt and I'm somewhere around the 1100 meters to go. This cowl will be 450 of those.  If it wasn't a holiday break next week, I would be more concerned but I think 600 meters in the final 12 ish days of the year shouldn't be too bad. 

Black and purple knitted cowl project still on the needles

I say that now; I'm also rummaging through my works in progress for a hat/mitt set that I know is around here half done and which would add a very solid 300 meters and also a hat that is nearly done that would be another 100 -- I think that just needs the decreases and surely I can get that wrapped up.  

And then it'll be off to the 2021 races. I already have ideas.... 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Address Box and Loopy T&G

 A habit I inherited from my mother is how I store mailing addresses -- which is on lined 3x5 cards in a box with alphabetical sorters. This means that scrolling through the cards can trigger some very specific memories: both of my grandmothers cards are still in there (they are both deceased), a card with a college boyfriend's information, cross reference cards for a couple of families where I never remember which last name I filed things under. 

I have some addresses stored electronically, mostly of friends whose houses I need to drive to but inevitably I go back to the cards. Birthdays, children's names, spouse names, cell numbers. And things get crossed out and updated as life continues to evolve.  One friend did a get a new card when she remarried -- before I'd just aggressively blocked out his name. 

Opalescent by Dominique Trad
Malabrigo Rios

And then today, AudioGirl texted, did I remember an address she'd been at a few years ago? She knows about the box -- we lived together and she's seen the box in action for Christmas cards. To make things fast, I just sent her a picture of the entire front of her card. (The back only has her current address).  It's a wealth of information -- seeing how my handwriting has changed, seeing where all around Chicago she has lived -- the scribbled notation of her phone and birthday, information I actually can recite if pressed.  

It was a very fast walk through time for both of us -- the place with the built-in hutch, the place where she painted the bedroom bright green, the place where moving out day involved a very angry cat in the front seat of my car and a street fair.  

I also finished yesterday my final Loopy Academy Talented and Gifted Semester (yes, AudioGirl, I ended up doing this semester).  It was a designer study -- knit three items by one designer. I did 3 of Dominique Trad's cowls.  All of her designs are well written, easy to modify, and produce really lovely final products. Everything I made was out of Malabrigo, which was an added joy.  

I'm still on track to make 20km this year -- although the number of days left is getting shockingly small!!

Monday, November 30, 2020

Wool as Distance Hug Transfer

I love it when elements of planning and knitting come together in truly outstanding ways that you hoped for. The raspberry shawl I knit between here and Dublin last December was one of those; the blue and orange honey cowl I knit early pandemic another (I kept that one). And some projects work out not even just as you expected but slightly more.

This was one of those. Meet the Fall in Oak Park scarf.  

This is the Oak Park pattern (Rav link), from the designer's Mid-Century Collection. It's knit out of just over 1600 yards of Louet Gems fingering weight yarn held doubled (discontinued, yes, I'm sad too).  This was my marathon of knitting in September. This was planned and executed for a friend of mine who is an architect; and I finally managed to do a drive by delivery over the past weekend so now the surprise has been revealed! 

It's also the project that sent me through my entire stash, all possible other places extra stash and unacknowledged stash might be hiding, and back through the stash a second time when my labeling (while entirely accurate) failed me. The search for that brick red yarn was infuriating. But I found it, I restructured the pattern to work with four colors instead of five and I was off and knitting. 

This is one of those deceptive projects where the first middle panel goes quickly. You check back in with yourself after a LONG meeting and lo and behold another section has gone by and it's time for the two rows of dark brown.  

Then, of course, you're slightly hubristic. That center panel was so fast! This project will just fall off the needles without any more time committed. Only to be faced with rows that are hundreds of stitches long and seem endless. Soothing garter stitch, but endless. 

Oh and you caught the part where I mentioned I held the yarn doubled? So that meant all the ends were doubled as well. Weaving in ends was it's own separate project -- there were something like 150 of them?  No -- why would I have woven them in properly as I went like a grown adult or responsible person. I was busy knitting in Zooms, didn't you hear? 

The final scarf is long and incredibly squishy.  I didn't even end up doing all of the length it suggested as that would have put me closely into Dr. Who territory.  And I was so happy that it ended up looking like one of the many stained glass window details we see here in the Chicago area. 

It's gone to my friend now to be the hug I can't give her until we're through this pandemic; to be warm and cozy for her through these upcoming winter days as we navigate walks outside with our partners, waiting for when we can all gather again.  

Monday, November 16, 2020

"Novel" Holiday Presents -- and Supporting Voting

Just after election day in the US, it became apparent that Georgia was headed for a run-off for their Senate seats.  Organizers in Georgia are one of this years' amazing stories of the outcomes of overcoming voter suppression, voter ennui, disengagement, disenchantment, and disenfranchisement.  Amongst them, is romance author and all around badass Stacey Abrams. 

And to continue to support those efforts, members of the Romance Community led by Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, and Kit Rocha have set up an absolutely incredible Romancing the Runoff auction (presently at 769 items!).  The funds go to the organizations on the ground and you could get a lot of really unusual and unique gifts for Christmas. The auction opens on 11/18 and runs through 11/24.  

Included in there is an item I made -- a handknit cowl out of Malabrigo Sock yarn. 

This was my meeting knitting for a couple of weeks and it looks to me like a dark hummingbird wing.  It's stunning yarn and of course because it's Malabrigo it's soft.  The pattern is Copilot by Dominique Trad, and this is a looser cowl -- a lot of lace which means it's probably not something you'll wear in the deepest winter in Chicago but it should have good fall and spring wearing. 

The direct link to the auction for this item is here. I'll be mailing it within the United States to whomever has the top bid.  I'm really look forward to popping over to the post office and shipping off this particular package of joy. 

But there's so much here... autographed copies of books, consultations on chapters or pilots, fun mugs and other craft projects, professional copyediting. If there is a writer, a romance reader, a craft enjoy-er -- someone who likes gift cards (there's those too) in your life, they could be a really neat way to donate to an excellent cause and get some one of a kind things.  

It's one of two auctions/donations I'm contributing to this holiday season; I'll have the other up after the 20th? I'm still waiting on a final date on that and whether it's all local to Chicago area or if someone else is arranging shipping (I'm handing off the handknits and they go from there, I'll post details).  

Meanwhile I'm finding all the tabs I need to have open and bid on. There are *several* that I think would be incredible to win.  

There Was a February

I started this blog post on February 5 --with the ever optimistic:  Apparently when you have multiple back to back national do-not-look-away...