23 March, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, we have Waist!

My 1st sweater for myself, which most of you have seen all too often because I wear it as frequently as I possibly can, is a large comfy purple box that I can snuggle down into and, if needed, store a few extra bags of groceries without anyone noticing.

When I cast on for my new sweater, I thought a lot about my current struggle to get an actual waist back on my body (or: get my extra body off of my old waist) and how this would be an excellent opportunity to try out some craftily placed decreases and increases. I also thought a lot about the fact that when I bought this new batch of lovely yarn, I thought it was for a large felted tote, and therefore if it were to become a sweater I would need to make as little a sweater as possible. Close fitting = less yarn used = I don't have to make it a heavy woolen tube top. Sweet.

So, I did it: I did my 1st waist shaping, with much trolling of the Ravelry forums and EZ books to get all the important opinions before I began. And tonight, lo and behold, I realized:

It works! Obviously, I've only just begun the bottom ribbing (4x2) and I need to finish the sleeves (3/4 length), but now that I know my experiment is successful, I will race along that path.

Here's me with pride just beginning to dawn in my heart:

(And I'm not even sucking in!)

It's Spring!

New mittens for me:

Anemoi Mittens, in Baby Ull and Gjestal sock yarn, size M.

Spring has me looking forward. My mind floats around and settles on things that are not yet here: being back at camp and teaching tie-dye in the cabin up on top of the hill...

The six beautiful skeins of Silky Wool in carrot-red that I've had such a crush on and cannot wait to knit up into a light little cardigan...

And, someday, owning a sweet, happy little Corgi that will run around my sun-filled yard while I tend to my bell jar-covered seedlings...

...I guess my brain hasn't fixed on one specific period of time to fantasize about. For today, I managed to wax my legs (hello, Spring!) and work a lot of my sweater, which has a self-imposed due date of Before April 4th. Really, I should be doing school work, but I have a whole week until my paper is due... and I already folded laundry, so I have earned some time off for good behavior. Ha.

16 March, 2008

Sunday update

My Mom & Step-Dad are in town! Yesterday Kenny and I drove to Richmond for the Sacred Harp sing, which was sweet and small and fun. People were really nice. I ate too much of this weird cheese spread because...

I am now finished with Week 2 of the Couch Potato to 5k Challenge! Well, it's not a challenge, per se. Not against anyone else. But it is certainly a challenge to me. Anyway, I went for my run and then came home and showered, had a diminutive bowl of cereal, and went to the sing... about halfway into the first set I was starving. Like, light-headed, cranky desparation starving. I guess this is what it's like for people who have high metabolisms all the time? Your food just gets digested all the much faster, leaving you with nothing in your belly to carry you through...? So, to make up for the gnawing, growling absence of cereal, I overcompensated with the cheese spread. Hmph. I will get better at this, I'm sure...

So, Kim gave me a You Make My Day award! Here’s how the “You Make My Day” award works, as explained on mainlydrawing:

1. Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make me think/or make my day.
2. Acknowledge the post of the award giver
3. Display the "You make my Day Award" logo with a link to the post that I wrote [Optional]
4. Tell the award winners that they have won by commenting on their blogs with the news

Obviously the hardest part is #1. There are so many beautiful, inventive, expressive, and funny blogs that I read. Most of them (brooklyntweed, flintknits, the brown berry chronicles) have already received this award from someone else, so I'm going to try to pick a few that maybe aren't as high-profile. At least, as far as I know it. And I'll make an effort to include non-knitting blogs.

1. Emilee Knits is a knit-blogger who has acheived that rare middle path: Not too word-heavy, not too photo-heavy, but just the right balance of both! Her writing is really honest and funny and smart. Yay, Emilee.

2. Small Utensils: well, how could I not? Chris has way more interesting hip media type things going on on that blog than I will ever fully understand, but he manages to still be personal enough to hold my interest.

3. Kelp!Knits is one of the first knitting blogs I ever stumbled upon. I don't remember how I found her, but the banner on her site made such an impression on me that whenever I would be playing around on the internets, looking for a blog to read, I would remember hers (this is before I knew how to work the feeds or subscribe to stuff) and go there. In 2007 she made so many things that I also would knit (and wear) in a heartbeat. The fabrics she picks to sew with also give me fits of jealous drooling.

4. And now for a food blog. Noodle Pie serves as not only an incredible street-food blogger (and now super professional writer for real publications, it seems), but also the tool we used when we lived in Saigon to map out new cheap and delicious street vendors we wanted to track down. Without his very user-friendly searching features, we wouldn't have known about half of the choices that made our days every day. I am longing for Vietnamese street food, now. I better go back and look at some of the pictures we took of the food we ate, just to feel better.

5. And finally, the smartest, most thoughtful UU blog I read, with the best links to other smart and thoughtful blogs that just take me on an endless journey deeper into the interwebs, getting smarter and more thoughtful with each drag of the mouse: Hafidha's blog, Never Say Never to Your Traveling Self. Honest, insightful, ponderous writings on all sorts of topics, but I especially appreciate her recent posts about anti-racist parenting, gender, and the kinds of things that I think most parents-to-be, especially multi-racial Unitarian parents-to-be, as well as maybe-someday-parents (me) like to think about. If only we could all be as eloquent and conscientious as Hafidha... and she's nice, too!

So I'll get to work commenting on these five's pages. Also, it's time to put some clothes on and do something productive, like breakfast. Ah, Sundays...

08 March, 2008

Yarn dieting

I've been on a self-imposed "yarn diet" since right before Christmas, as I've mentioned a few times before. You might be misled, if you are not a fiber artist, to believe that I have been eating yarn. That is not the case. See, when I left for 'Nam I got rid of almost all of the yarn I had hanging around (I didn't really have a stash, per se) and only in the last few weeks of my time abroad did I really start craving needle arts. Apparently in Hanoi there's a thriving yarn and knitting scene, but not so much down in HCMC. Too hot, I guess. Well, good thing we weren't in Hanoi, because as soon as I touched down in Vermont I started hanging out at the local yarn shop, examining various twists and lengths and buying yarn in tiny little guilty splurges. Then I found the Re-Store (think Goodwill for art supplies) and went on a major, less-guilty-cause-its-so-cheap yarn stashing. I immediately realized the negative long-term effects that having a stash might bring, so I started listening to the Stash and Burn podcast, which is quite fantastic but not so great at helping me want to not buy yarn (there's more oohing and ahhing over various knitting projects and yarn qualities than there are encouraging words to help avoid "stash enhancement").

There are good things about having a supply of yarn available to you in your very own abode: when you want to pick up the needles and try something new, you can. No need to make a trip to the store. Um, it gives you options, too... okay, and it's just fun. Supplies are fun. Craft supplies are double fun. Besides, it's not rampant consumerism: it's handwork. I am choosing not to run into Old Navy and buy a couple cheapo sweaters, because that money could be saved for yarn. So I can make my own sweaters. See, much better.

So, I enhanced my stash a little bit all summer long. Then we moved to Williamsburg and I had a new local yarn store to hang out in and watch for sales. By the time winter was setting in, I realized that I had what could potentially be a problem. I had what was for me a lot of yarn. [I know now that it could be much, much worse]. The problem was/is, that I have not much time for knitting but the raw materials for dozens of projects, taunting me behind my desk and calling for me to pick up and begin yet another handknitted something or other. So in December '07 I started myself on a new regiment: no new yarn. Not yet. Not till, oh, say my birthday in April. A good 4 months away.

I have been cruising along knitting from my stash for almost 4 months now. I have rediscovered some gems in those plastic tubs, and I've also had reason to scratch my head and wonder just what the heck I was thinking when I bought that very pretty but really inappropriately hairy yarn, which is the color of a shiny penny but also sheds its little mohairs all over the place. I'll admit to some pretty hardcore cravings when hanging out in the yarn store, especially now that I am the owner of a hefty gift certificate to said store (my wallet would never even need to come out... But NO! Save it!).

Anyway, the store is having a yarn swap tomorrow, and I woke up thinking about all the things I might bring to try to exchange for something better. Because that is not buying yarn, that is getting rid of yarn. For a few hours. I realized that even though I kind of did it a few months ago, I needed to reorganize the stash. So I snuck out of bed and pulled it out.
Stash, pre-organizing

I took a good look. I photographed things I hadn't already photographed, and then listed them on my Ravelry stash page. I made a bag full of acrylic junk that I honestly will never knit with and would be more appreciated by my kids at school (so far their yarn obsessions have them concerned mostly with quantity, not fiber content or even color). I took out what I thought I might be able to swap tomorrow at the shop (most odd balls left over from projects, and a few single skeins of things I can't think of a project for). The most fun thing that I did was take my leftover ball of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn (remember the long rainbow fingerless gloves?) and break it into solid bobbins of each color. Since Noro has these long color fades, I also made a little hank of the in-between bits, where the colors are transitioning:
Kureyon sock bits

Here are the solid colored bits:
Kureyon sock: all divied up
Pretty, eh?

05 March, 2008

So close...

Down 1 more pound this week, for a total of 18.8... so close to my 10%!

Also, just started the "Couch to 5k" program, so hopefully I'll be not just watching what I eat but also moving more. I hear it's a big part of this getting healthy thing.

02 March, 2008

My feet are cold

Last night I went to the FOAM [Friends of Appalachian Music] contra dance for the 1st time, and had an incredibly delicious amount of fun and good times. Why did I neglect to go to that dance for the 1st seven months I lived here? Well, now I know better. I went to the dance with my friend Julie, who let the little bomb drop on the way there that she had just run 18 miles that morning. GAH! And then contra on top of it? Amazing.

Oh, brothers and sisters in humility, I have to say that I really am proud of any and everyone who can bear to be good at something and not brag, but today I can't be counted among you... for I, I effing rocked the dance floor last night. It's not about being better than someone else, or being able to do some fancy schmancy moves or anything, but I was feeling very much like a beautiful, coordinated, graceful dancer. With great rhythm. And a gregarious nature and an inviting personality. Love, love, love the contra dance. I think being about 18 pounds lighter than last time might have something to do with it, and I also have to just marvel again and again at the perfection that is my pair of dancing shoes. I couldn't have done as well without them. I did leave with blisters, though, which were made worse by my going for a walk this afternoon... I was thinking about taking a picture of the blood seeping through the heel of my sock to post on here but I bet you're glad I didn't. So, that's why my feet are cold, I'm airing them out.

I think I neglected to mention the two Swedes who were couchsurfing here this weekend. A young couple, Robin and Maria, who were so fun and sweet and polite and (though I shudder to use the word) chill, it made me feel better about the Swedish in general (my most recent experience with a citizen of that nation was less than grand, mainly because of professional differences, mainly because I was trying to be professional and he was tryng his hardest not to be. Which wouldn't have mattered had I not been sort of in charge of some of his conduct. Bah.) Man, that was a poorly constructed sentance, eh? I wrote 8 pages of Paper in the last 40 hours, and I have 6 more to go.

Ok, that's enough from me for now. K is in Princeton; I miss him.

01 March, 2008


My new favorite tool is Google Reader. There are dozens of blogs I enjoy checking in on, and now instead of trying to file them all in my bookmarks folders I have them all organized in one smart, efficient place. I just click on Reader from my homepage (which is my Google account anyway, since I use Calendar and Docs and whatnot already) and see whose blog is in bold. There's the little number of how many new posts there are. Of course, 85% of the blogs I read are knitting blogs, so the main change Reader has brought about are the million and a half amazing projects I've been drooling over on these amazing knitters' blogs (like yarnbee's Fiddlehead mittens, by HelloYarn, which would have taken me a month to come across by myself).

Anyway, the other 15% are non-knitting friends' blogs, including my new favorite, All Things Beautiful, by my lovely and amazing friend Alex. Her writings really resonate with me, possibly because she's my friend and a kindred spirit, possibly because she has a 9 year old and I deal with them every day, possibly because she is at a place with her yoga that I see myself reaching towards someday. So thanks, Alex.

Last night Kenny and I watched Little Children, which I had picked out, and he had decidedly not picked out, probably because of its lack of anything to do with zombies and/or Joss Whedon (the man has standards, and who could blame him). But he loved it, and, I must quote, said that it was "the best thing without special effects" he's seen in a long time. So, yay for a movie that I picked that he generally liked. Never mind that I was completely creeped out by the character of the molester guy. Even Kate Winslet, who normally makes me very happy, couldn't cheer me up after his creepy little perverted eyes had looked (sort of) into ours. Blechh. I did love the narration and the style of the film, and thought Jennifer Connelly was awesome even though she had about 15 minutes total of screen time.

Ok, I'm at the library trying to write a paper that's due in 48 hours. Somehow, I have the Spring IK beside me. Hmm. This might get messy.

I'm on Flickr a lot.

Jessica K.. Get yours at bighugelabs.com/flickr