Wednesday, December 24, 2008

O hai

Welcome to the North Pole!

And this is not a deer. Notice the big butt in the background?

Elk are huge, and they love lettuce (well, most of them anyway; there was one picky eater who wouldn't nibble on the stuff):

Featured knits above: norwegian gloves, lace cashmere scarf, random earflap hat from some handspun mohair from Lesotho (yarn bought on ebay, of course).

In less happy news, I forgot the above cashmere scarf in the sleeve of the coat as I laundered the coat. It's not felted, but it certainly is different. This is why I don't do laundry...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In the frozen North..

It's cold here, on the "frozen tundra", but pretty. The heavy snow and "balmy" temperatures bring a new appreciation for woolen handknits. With all the holiday traveling, I quickly finished a pair of Merino Lace Socks:

Merino lace socks cropped

The yarn, Shibui Sock, is lovely and shiny and springy and it positively glows. It's like knitting with butter, and the colors look gorgeous on the skein. It also pooled in stripes / spirals, which I guess some people might like. I'm not one of those people, though. A bit of a disappointment, really. The pattern is fabulous, though, so I'll make these again some day in a more reliable yarn.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Secret Santa gift exchange

This is my first year with a real job, and our school is doing a "secret Santa" gift exchange for faculty. I signed up as well - then a few days later cast on for a little stranded "something". Perhaps take the pattern from the Norwegian mittens, since it features the 8-pointed star, make a little bag or coffee mug cozy, and add a note explaining the signification of the 8-pointed star...

I came to my senses quickly. I don't knit gifts, certainly not as planned gifts. I might gift stuff once it's done, and I might occasionally make something for my husband (although his Norwegian sweater is languishing, and I'm out of the required black yarn), but I most certainly do not make gifts. Too complicated, too personal.

I bought a set of charity notecards instead. My "secret Santa" partner will get cute cards, and a student group will have some extra money for their service trip to Nicaragua this summer.

I am camera-less for a while; hope to remedy this soon, but I'm almost too lazy to buy batteries. This has been the year when I am embracing my inner slob.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Holiday tradition

I like the idea of hiking on a holiday, and here we are - Wissahickon Park, a patch of wilderness in the middle of Philadelphia:

It has a river, to keep the pup happy, and many trails, to keep the humans happy:

I tried to be all artsy and take colorful pictures, but the truth is the palette is rather limited, and Knitting Iris I am not.

As for the knitting, I am becoming quite obsessed with the Rowan book. Bought for inspiration earlier this Fall, when I was in such a knitting funk, it has certainly served its purpose. I've even been flirting with the idea of using the precious Artfibers Sylph for a Garbo camisole:

Unfortunately, while the fabric is beautiful, the gauge is way off...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well, hello

Two weeks ago I fell in love with Brueghel. The yarn store closest to me (which will probably turn out to be my new LYS, as it's very inspiring) had the sample, and wouldn't you know... the sample fit me perfectly. Out went my yarn diet and my common sense and my credit card. Two weeks later, I finished the final embroidery touches. Yay for fast projects!

One problem with knitting traditional items or "legacy items" as the stuff I've been getting into is that they take forever and ever. A cardigan on size 8 needles was a much-needed change.

In a characteristically creative move, I chose the exact same shade as the cardigan in the magazine (Rowan No. 44):

Monday, August 4, 2008

Off to conquer the world

Knitting? Check. Textbooks? Check. Make-up? Check. Dog? Check. Bike? Check.

I'm off to New Haven. Blog will continue, naturally, if a little photo-poor for the next few weeks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Organization? What organization?

I went a little crazy after finishing the huge shawl. I felt so free... free to cast on for lots of things. For the past week I've been a little obsessed with these:

Norwegian stockings in progress

Terri Shea's Norwegian Stockings from Piecework Jan/Febr '08. Free pattern. Go check it out. I was a bit skeptical at the beginning about the peasant heel and lack of gusset, but it looks like the sock will fit perfectly. Who'd have thought...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The ugly duckling

Lochinver is turning into one of the loveliest sweaters I've ever made. This is not difficult, as I haven't made very many sweaters so far. However, I didn't have high hopes for this one: it's rather boxy and the smallest size was too big for me. Having lots of horizontal patterned bands clearly wasn't going to help with the body-conscious fit. Frankly, the only reason I started this is that I had the amazing Frangipani yarn in my stash and I wanted to make a sweater from Fishermen's Sweaters. Lochinver was the only pattern I thought would go with the yarn.


The knit-and-purl patterns are easy to memorize but very pretty, especially together like that. Also, my gauge is so far off the mark that this sweater will fit me very nicely! Maybe I should add "gauge tighter than Alice Starmore" to my list of accomplishments.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Picture-heavy post

Swedish detail

Swedish detail

Swedish detail

I finished the Swedish Heart-warmer shawl. Click below for a bigger picture.

Swedish heart warmer blocking

Monday, July 14, 2008

Long overdue

A post with actual knitting content is long overdue, after all the real life nonsense in the last few months. Freshly blocked, I give you:

Hanami Finished 002

The Hanami Stole! Another awesome pattern by the talented Melanie of Pink Lemon Twist. As soon as I finished her Mystery Stole 3, I knew I wanted to support her design endeavors, so I purchased the pattern for Hanami (the first and, so far, only pattern I've bought by itself). It is very much worth it, and you know how I feel about blocking and such (blocking chez Gauss usually involves a green bedsheet, cheap steel wires from the hardware store and even cheaper push pins):

Hanami Finished 001

The yarn is JaggerSpun Zephyr. It glows beautifully and all, it makes for some nice crisp lace, so I am pleased, but somehow it doesn't wow me. Perhaps it's because I am turning into a cranky old lady.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Grown up" thoughts for July

The beginning of July is the season of milestones:

* four years ago I rented my first apartment out of college
* three years ago I started teaching the first college class on my own ("Professor Gauss" sounded nice, until I explained to my students that I'm not a professor)
* two years ago I got married (and may Reverend Bill Levering be blessed forever for marrying people for free!)
* one year ago I became a permanent resident (no more visas for me, thank you very much)
* this year, two days ago in fact, I bought my first car! I am in love, although it's no Mazda Miata (my dream car at the moment).

Funny thing is, I wore the same outfit to exactly TWO of these events. Can you guess which two?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New H(e)aven

I have always wanted to live close to the beach. Not a lake, not a river, but an actual sea or ocean beach. And here is the view eight miles from my new apartment:

The Atlantic Ocean. I think I will be happy here.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


The shawl goes on:

swedish_chart7 001

I am trying to finish this monster before it gets too hot and humid here. Wool and mohair stick to my fingers in the summer, and this project is already blanket-size... not fun in July! Fortunately, I am getting quite close to being done.

Haven't touched the Crosspatch vest in weeks. I'll have to weave in those ends eventually, but not today and definitely not tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What I did this weekend

Jupiter wanted to go hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail this weekend, and we had no choice but to follow:

hiking 011

Pennsylvania's mountains are beautiful in the spring and everything was green, except for the rocks we had to step on for most of the way. Our muscles are sore, we have blisters and Jupiter's paws are in pretty bad shape. But it was so much fun, and very much worth it, for views like this:

hiking 016

... and for many other events that were breathtaking, but impossible to photograph: the huge silent owl flying above the campsite one night, the deer running through the forest, the amazing candy at Port Clinton's Peanut Shop. Also, for the joy of sharing a water bottle with a dog:

may18 012

(for the obligatory knitting content, see if you can spot the handknit socks)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

One problem with working on big projects is that progress seems slow and I cannot finish them as fast as I'd like. I finished the neck and armbands on the Crosspatch vest, but there are still so many ends to weave in, and I really do need to weave them in before taking a "completed" picture. It will be a stunning vest, though (and not just because it's so bright!).

As procrastination, I've been working on the fluorescent Undulating Rib socks for J, and I managed to finish them - so small, so quick, a sock has about as many stitches as a few rows in the Heart Warmer shawl! I don't have a picture, it's not much to see really, but they fit well as the pattern is very elastic, and the undulating part keeps them from being too boring to knit. It's interesting, somebody at the knitting group was working on some very simple socks and they were going so slowly precisely because they were so simple. Sometimes a pattern helps do things faster.

I also saw the Yarn Harlot today and she is as sweet and funny in real life as one can imagine from her blog.

In the absence of real knitting photos, here's a picture of my pet sheep:

Jupiter May 18 2008

I am so tempted to spin his hair some time...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A beautiful thing


There was a neighborhood fair adjacent to the farmer's market today, so I stopped by to look at volunteer opportunities (tree planting next Thursday!) and to look at stuff in general. And here was this table with gorgeous crochet shawls - fingering weight alpaca, made in Bolivia by a women's coop. $10 for a shawl, who could resist? I told the lady that they should sell their wares for more, and she said they are already selling them for more than the suggested price! Anyway, it really is alpaca (I think I can tell by now, and there are a few guard hairs sticking out here and there), it's expertly crocheted and it's a good size to wrap around on a winter day:


And what is that crazy-looking piece on my messy couch? Let's take a closer look:


Yes, it's the unmistakable Crosspatch vest, but something magic has happened to this vest:


I finished the intarsia knitting!!!! Off to do a happy dance now.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More proof that I am crazy

I have four projects I am currently working on: two on size 1 needles, one on size 2 needles and one on size 3 needles. The two "hibernating" projects use size 3 and size 0 needles, respectively. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dear people of Philadelphia:

Please stop riding your bikes on the wrong side of the road. Thank you!

I cannot help thinking of the soccer player, but I doubt this is who Lavold had in mind when she designed this:


A fairly straightforward knit, on big needles, in a very pleasant yarn. The one big lesson that's worth repeating: BUY AN EXTRA BALL OF YARN, DAMN IT! I ran out of yarn (boo), and this yarn is a bit tricky to find; it's new and none of the stores in town have it. Luckily, Carodan Farm had it in stock, at a discounted price, with very cheap shipping! I received the yarn within a week of ordering, and even better - it was the same dye lot as the rest of the balls!

I don't usually wear cycling tights with my handknits, but I was off to a Sturdy Girl and - why not?

Now off to finish the big headache that's the Crosspatch Vest... I altered the width of the blocks because I didn't need a 40 inch vest, and now I need to adjust the neck decreases, but I want a steeper neck than the original decreases make... fun stuff. Intarsia is annoying to knit; frogging intarsia is even worse!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The green bedsheet strikes again

I suppose a self-respecting knitter would invest in a blocking board, the bigger the better, and a million "quilter's T-pins", whatever the heck they are. I am obviously not a self-respecting knitter:

Here is Pele drying on the usual green bedsheet. This is a sheet I got from my mom and it is way too bright to put in bed, even for me. I am using push pins to hold stuff in place, and the only concession I made to knitterly propriety is that I used a tape measure when stretching the top. However, it's the same hardware-store tape measure I use to measure my walls, my bike parts and my body, so maybe I don't get any points on this one either.

And how is Pele? Frankly, I have no idea yet. The cotton/bamboo/linen blend is weird when wet, and the top looked un-amazing before blocking or seaming. We'll see.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Here is the beginning of Lochinver: the first flap, rolled up on spare needles:


This might not be my absolute favorite design in Fishermen's Sweaters but it will work very well with the Frangipani yarn I already have and it will be eminently practical. I have visions of walking the dog through New England woods while wearing this sweater, a rugged link with knitters of the past. At the beginning of the year I resolved to do more historical knitting, and this will certainly qualify for that. 

Not much to report about the sweater yet, except a very warm recommendation for Jan at Frangipani. Last Fall I was looking at yarn for Jess' Gansey, and Jan insisted that she mail me (for free) a color card before I make a decision - and I bought one cone of 5-ply yarn. The pattern proved impossible to learn, though, so the yarn sat around for a while in my stash. When I decided to make Lochinver, I e-mailed Jan, in the hope that she might have more of my yarn: one cone doesn't seem to be quite enough for a long-sleeved, generously-sized gansey. Jan e-mailed me right away, and she even found my dye lot! Also, her prices are amazing: even with shipping from the UK a cone of yarn is still 1/3 cheaper than just the yarn at other stores. And shipping is very fast - one week from the UK to Philadelphia! 

I haven't been much of a gansey knitter so far, but it seems like the Frangipani 5-ply is the gold standard for such sweaters. True? False? I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monogamy pays off

I have too many projects going on, so it's no wonder that I hardly ever finish stuff. If one knits 3-4 rows on a different project every day, not much will get done.. 

For the past few days I've been churning away at the Lace Ribbon Scarf, in the hope that I will get rid of one thing on the list. And here it is! 

I haven't blogged about this scarf much, because it's a scarf and not a particularly exciting one at that. This is what the Artfibers Sylph would have become had I not come to my senses and saved that yarn for something more special. Plus, I got plenty of scarf from 400 yards of yarn; the 780 yards of Sylph would have produced a monster.

It's blocking right now (hurray for blocking!), but it has already been worn: it made a great wrap for walking the dog and driving to the pet food store. This was an easy knit, and more than half was done on the subway, to and from my volunteer work earlier this month. Half a repeat on the ride there, half a repeat on the ride back. Got me into some interesting conversations with people. Is there something about me that makes people start to talk to me? The other day a lady sat next to me on a bench on campus and half an hour later I knew her life story, she knew some of mine, and she had prayed for me, my boyfriend AND the dog, in one very beautiful and thoughtful prayer. Anyway, back to the scarf:

Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery, in the Spring'08 Knitty
Yarn: The Fibre Company's Canopy Sport, 2 skeins in Kaffir Plum. ( what is a kaffir plum?.)
Needles: does it matter? probably size 3 or 4.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A hard day

Today is another of those days when I am so happy that I dropped out of school*. Instead of spending the lovely April day in a depressing building, working on obscure problems that will never benefit or interest anyone, having lunch with sexist professor three times my age, I spent the lunch hours biking at one of my favorite spots in town: the 18th century mansions in Fairmount Park. The smell of grass, the colors of flowers, the chirping of the birds... sounds cliche, but it really felt like heaven. I even bumped into the model plane people, who seem to fly their planes and do some great plane acrobatics on the same field every day at noon. April might be the best month in Philadelphia: the temperatures are high, everything is blooming, but the humidity hasn't started yet. 

I'll spend the rest of the day taking the dog to a park, knitting, reading... I know, my life is very difficult right now. I know that I am paying a price for dropping out of school, though, so I might as well enjoy myself and savor my free time. 

Obligatory knitting content: see the photo above. I finished the roses chart on the heart-warmer shawl. Stupid @#$%! roses chart. What a pain.

* For all of you worried about my future and such: I dropped out of graduate school, after getting a masters. My career will be Ok, methinks. So I won't be able to be an Ivy League professor any more. Big deal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"Amazing Chinese Weight Loss Cure"

That's what one of the AdSense ads above the posts says today. I should share my own "amazing weight loss cure": getting off one's butt and doing stuff. The weather's turned very nice, I fixed up my road bike and hurray! A first timid solo ride happened today. It's true that you never really forget how to ride a bike, even when the bike is complicated and you need to ride through insane city traffic. 

Speaking of city traffic, I am doing my share: I started taking driving lessons! If you are in Philadelphia next Tuesday (the 22nd, Earth Day), please avoid being on the streets between 1-3pm. 

And the knitting? The knitting is fine. Nothing spectacular to report, just crawling along on the three active projects. As a classic solution to the "how to deal with too many UFOs" problem, I cast on for another sweater: my first Starmore! I will be knitting, hopefully, Lochinver from the Fishermen's Sweaters book. At a 40 inch waist, on size 2 needles, it will take forever plus a few years. I worked on it for a few hours yesterday and I have nothing worth photographing.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A midwinter night's dream

I spent the past few days knitting and tinking / frogging almost everything I had just knit. More on that later. Here's one project that hasn't been tinked too much: the Swedish Heart Warmer shawl.
There is a row of suns (stranded), then a background transition region (also stranded), then some beautiful red roses (intarsia!!). I hate intarsia, but what can you do when the pattern needs it? So here I am, intarsi-ing away on the second such project:

The original intarsia project, the Kaffe vest of doom, hasn't been touched in more than a month. Instead, I've spent the past 48 hours knitting and frogging this:

Pele, a lacey shell from Lavold's Book Fourteen, knit in Bamboucle. The yarn and book are so new they haven't been posted on Lavold's webpage yet, so unfortunately I haven't been able to find an errata. I think I will run out of yarn, although I've never run out of yarn on a Lavold project before.

Back to the pattern: it will stand as proof that you can start a project too soon. The entire fabric you see above has been frogged, because I misunderstood the directions and didn't center the pattern correctly. Granted, I was off by only two stitches, but it will have made an enormous difference in a V-neck! There is a Romanian proverb: "Cine face si desface tot anul are ce face!" (in a knitterly translation, If you knit and then frog, you will have something to do all the time!) and I am living it.

Special non-knitting note: It seems that you can dramatically increase the number of readers of your blog if you mention... Scientology. So there, Scientology, Scientology! (I can't wait for my AdSense revenue to triple!) Also, Xenu, if you want to see why Scientology sucks.

Friday, April 4, 2008

New Haven!

An unexpected apartment find in New Haven prompted a blitz visit: took the 7am train yesterday, saw the apartment, visited the school (my future employer), checked out the neighborhood, then caught a 5pm train back. I didn't find the Acela train as impressive as I had imagined - it was very crowded and the passengers were all boring businessman-type people. I'd rather be seated next to friendly grannies wearing "Bush lied" buttons and asking for my advice on knitting! 

Anyway, I persuaded the landlord that I am a trustworthy person and that my dog is a medium dog (ha-ha, even the dog is laughing at this), so I got the apartment. It's in a lovely neighborhood, very green and spacious, and I have a 15 minute walk to a cute shopping area: a few coffee shops, a yoga / new age studio, a hair salon, a Scientology gathering place * and ... 

... a very dangerous place: Yarn LLC. Why dangerous? Let's just say I was able to find Lavold's books one and nine (the Viking ones) for original prices, plus her latest, plus what seems like most if not all the yarns in her collection. I have a feeling a good portion of my meager future income will be paid to the friendly ladies at this store. 

* I don't really approve of Scientology. In fact, the whole cult creeps me out. I was just astonished to see the storefront in what looked like a friendly, nice part of the street. 

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sampler stole finished

It's creamy white and lacey:

There is quite a bit of variation in the patterns. The second from the left is my "mistake lace" pattern - I misread the pattern and purled the wrong side rows instead of doing a pattern:
I'd love to show this stole on my favorite knitwear model, a.k.a the dog, but the finished piece is just a little too big:
Pattern: Sampler Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls
Yarn: 3 100g skeins of laceweight by Wool from Wales; it looks like they will attend Maryland Sheep & Wool again this year! Stop by their booth to see some gorgeous shawls and blankets.

The pattern is very well written, with both charted and written lace instructions. The yarn is rustic and strong and worth every penny. What am I going to do with a giant shawl? I'm sure I'll figure something out!

In other news, tomorrow I start my lace class at the university. It's a four-week, one hour a week class and tomorrow we'll go to the yarn store to choose yarn for the projects! I advertised it as a class to do the Orenburg-style scarf, aka my Pink lace scarf - it has a historical connection, it's pretty and it can be made with any quantity of yarn. My scarf only took one skein of Kid Silk Haze. Of course, I'll be happy to work with the students on whatever pattern they might fancy...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not much knitting

Despite a trip filled with knitting opportunities (plane rides! endless car trips through suburbia or corn fields!), I managed to get preciously little done in terms of knitting. I packed the green undulating ribs socks:

and didn't even take them out of the suitcase. I put some mindless rows on the shiny red scarf:

This is the long-awaited pattern match for the 780 yards of Artfibers Sylph. A priceless yarn from a unique trip, and I want to use every yard of it. Veronik Avery's Lace Ribbon scarf in the current knitty looked perfect. I have a million scarves, but I like wearing them and among all my knitted objects it's the scarves and stoles that get the most wear. The pattern is super-easy, but it might take a while since I will knit all the yarn. Might end up with a very, very, very long scarf!

To make up for the lack of knitting on the trip, I've finally set out to block the Sampler Stole. Please excuse the messy room and the stuffed moose feet in the following photo: