Friday, February 27, 2009


I don't have a lot of on-topic news to post, though I promise a book review is forthcoming. I've been on vacation this week (and before you ask, no it is not a "staycation" as I refuse to acknowledge that as a word.) My knitting has mostly involved a lot of ripping out and reknitting, as well as a couple of days of standing in Windsor Button staring despondently at my calculator, as I try to understand why dk weight yarns - especially those containing alpaca - are so damn expensive.

But, I have finished and blocked the back of my Marseilles pullover, and started on the front.

After the aforementioned futile quests for dk weight alpaca yarn, I placated myself with some Madelinetosh and started what is sure to be the cutest sock in the world.

I love both the purpley berry yarn and the Leyburn Sock pattern. They were made for each other.

This week I've been eating very healthy meals, such as the Layered Salad from Mark Bittman's Food Matters. (Have I mentioned that I am a little bit in love with Mark Bittman?)

I've also spent way too much time managing interspecies relations.

Poor Clarence. He has never quite understood why we brought home this strange long-eared eggplant-shaped animal. Nor have I, come to think of it.

I have even managed to do a bit of socializing with actual human beings, though I haven't found the time to watch Pride & Prejudice, which was originally the most important part of my vacation plan. It has turned out pretty nice and relaxing for the most part though. I could very happily never go back to work.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chocolate Icing Swirl Hat

Pattern: Icing Swirl Hat
Yarn: Knit Picks Decadence in the Chocolate colorway (one skein)
Needles: Size 11

This pattern is part of Whimsical Little Knits, a collection by Ysolda Teague. The patterns are becoming available one by one as downloads, but the entire collection will then be made into a book and I'll receive a copy of that as well.

I spent two days knitting this on size 10 needles last weekend, then ripped it out and spent the next day knitting it again on size 11s. Good thing it was a long weekend. It's a fun pattern and the hat is cute, but I was pretty disappointed to see how it looked on me. I'm becoming convinced that I shouldn't wear bulky yarn on my head. My inclination is to frog it and use the yarn for mittens instead, but every time I put it on, Eric smiles at me and says "You look so cute in that hat!" So, I don't know. Maybe I'll keep it around for a while. What do you think?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pomatomus Socks

Pattern: Pomatomus Socks designed by Cookie A. for Knitty.
Needles: Addi Turbo size 0
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Black Parade

Overall, I am relatively happy with these socks. The black yarn is shot through with blue, which is very pretty. As I was knitting, however, the black dye came off on my hands. I asked around on Ravelry and a few people swore that once I washed them all the excess dye would be gone and they won't turn my feet black. They are drying right now, so that remains to be seen.

As for the pattern, I really like the scaly effect, though all the twisted stitches make the fabric sort of thick and bumpy. The toe came out really annoyingly pointy, but that may be related to my gauge. Basically my big toe takes up the whole toe area, pulling it all askew thusly:

I'm not sure how well you can see that. Black is difficult to photograph and your monitor may be darker than mine. If you can't see it, just take my word for it.

Fans of Cookie A. and her sock patterns will be happy to know that she has a book called Sock Innovation coming out this April through Interweave Press. If you see it before I do, let me know how it is!

Speaking of Interweave, the new issue of Interweave Knits is pretty awesome compared to the last two (though if you can understand why the Petal Halter is so popular, please explain to me. Mysterious!) Anyhow, the projects are great, but I think my favorite part of this issue is a short article called "Start as many new projects as you can." The author, Vicki Square, advocates keeping your creative juices flowing by having a variety of projects going on at one time. This is so simple and so brilliant.

For quite a while I've been trying to limit my number of projects in progress, as if casting on above a certain number of projects indicates a weakness or fault on my part. Three is my magic number, though recently I've been down to one or two at a time. My thinking was that I get things done faster that way, and maybe so, but it's not as much fun. This article hit the mark with me, and I realize I'd have a better time if I had a variety of projects going on so there would always be something I'm in the mood for. If I want to work on something complicated, or something to take to knitting group, or if I just want some simple knitting because I'm too tired to think. In that spirit, yesterday I ignored my Marseilles Sweater and my Guacamole Socks and cast on for the Icing Swirl Hat to match my recently finished neckwarmer. What a quick, satisfying project! It's the next day and I'm practically done.

Variety is so good. I don't think I've ever had more than one sweater going at a time, but I'm seriously considering casting on for Coraline soon. I keep thinking about it so what better time than now, when I feel inspired and excited by the project? Marseilles will still be there the next time I go looking for it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh: a review

From the descriptions I read, this is a novel about a girl diagnosed with Turner Syndrome and how her condition tears her family apart. That is what part of the book is about, sure, but it's a lot more than that. Gwen's brothers and both of her parents are also given equal weight in this family saga. The diagnosis was just the last straw for her parents' already doomed marriage, which becomes clear as their characters are fleshed out post-divorce. Her brothers have their own problems too; eldest brother Billy has compartmentalized his life so his family won't find out that he's gay, while Scott bides his time in an unsatisfactory marriage.

I read about this book on Jennifer Weiner's blog, and I wonder why I haven't heard more about it. It's a great portrait of a dysfunctional family, readable, compelling, and engaging. Haigh does a such a good job of illustrating the differences in the lives of each family member that the reader can imagine what it feels like to step from one character's living room to another. She also makes it easy to see how each person's internal struggles effect the rest of the family. I can't imagine why there hasn't been any buzz about this book, but I will certainly be recommending it frequently.