Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Post-Christmas Present Rundown

Unlike some of you lucky bloggers out there, I have a family who reads my blog - meaning that I can't post about their presents, or anyone elses' presents, until after they've reached their recipients safely!

While this year wasn't a huge year for knitting items, both of the things that I did give away were hand-knits - a pair of mittens and a pair of handwarmers! My father has been wearing the same handwarmers I knitted for him five years ago until yesterday. They were a pair of plain but rather ratty Knucks that I'd made when I was first getting back into knitting, while driving along on a rather long car trip. Since the wool they're made of wasn't exactly the best or highest quality, they haven't held up very well - it was high time to replace them, especially since such things get worn around our very cold Iowa home almost daily.

I used my own pattern to come up with a large enough men's handwarmer to line it fully with the softest of soft - Malabrigo. The outside is made from my handspun Hello Yarn romney in colorway 'Alpine'. It was lovely fiber and a lot of fun to spin - Adrian always does an amazing job though, everybody knows. The innards are knit in Malabrigo Merino worsted, colorway 'Rich Earth', a happy, warm brown.

The second gift meant to keep hands warm went to my friend Emily, who recently became engaged (congratulations to her and Jon are in order - they make a lovely couple). She is the sweetest person I know, quite actually, and has impeccably traditional tastes in color. This meant that while she would have graciously accepted something in a handspun or even a fun, funky color, it wouldn't have been her and I'm not sure she would have worn it. I wanted a classic palette and an interesting pattern so that she would actually wear the toasty mittens meant to keep her warm.

I ended up choosing Malabrigo Chunky, which is a 2-ply and pills less than the worsted, in the 'Pearl' colorway, a pale gray with a touch of pink. These turned out to be lovely selections for the Pescovegetarian Mittens pattern I used. It makes mittens at lightning speed, and was used as a basis for another project that cannot be revealed quite yet (it didn't make the Christmas deadline thanks to an unfortunate incident with a yarn-hungry cat!) I'm almost certain that the color couldn't have complemented Emily's brown or pink coats more perfectly, and she tells me she has been wearing them about Minneapolis quite often.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful...

It truly, truly is. Here in Iowa, we are under a blizzard advisory for the whole state. Wind gusts are picking up entire drifts of snow and scattering them to the air, likely to re-land on my dad's freshly shoveled driveway. The man across the street has been snow-blowing his own driveway for three hours, probably to escape his crazy, screaming wife.

I got trapped in Marshalltown for the week (or, at least until the snow clears up) because of the blizzard - they have literally shut down all the highways. I-35 had the National Guard on call yesterday. Thank goodness they got to go home today - I worry about them just as much as any of the yahoos who felt the need to be on the road even though it was snowing non-stop.

I might have gone completely crazy had it not been for the single knitting project I brought home, my computer, and the wonderful painting studio we have at the house. I'm going to get some painting done today - something I haven't done in awhile. I know a few of you are having snow days - what are you up to?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nostalgic November

Welcome, welcome, welcome November! Usually, I herald your arrival with some manner of grumbling, but as it is still in the fifties and smelling like fall, you are quite welcome to move forward. This month, of course, is always one of my favorites - my birthday, Thanksgiving (which means a break from school), and that hint of Christmas to come. I am already busily knitting away on projects that must not be named, and I have my wrappings, trimmings and decorations (what few of them there will be) planned and prepared.

This time of year always feels so productive to me. I get to stay indoors and work on something beautiful and warm and usually woolen, spin yarn to my heart's content, and snuggle up under a blanket to knit and watch a movie. Lately, Hulu has been my knitting entertainment of choice. With shows that are only about half an hour long, I can spend just a bit of time working, get up and do something everyone else considers productive, and then settle back down for another increment.

Today, I discovered these Wallace and Gromit Short Films. They are only about three or four minutes, so I watched them consecutively, but watching Wallace and Gromit only brings joy, a desire to knit, and a strong craving for cheese. I'm seriously considering trying to hunt down the original three films on DVD - they are so nostalgic for me (the woman who taught me how to knit showed me Wallace and Gromit) - and isn't this the time of year for nostalgia?

Of course, I don't have a lot to be nostalgic about, but what I do, I promise to share with you on the blog for the entire month of November! Recipes, projects, and traditions from my family to yours - what are you planning for your Nostalgic November?

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Shanty for Arethusa

Not so much a shanty, but a home. An apartment.
Welcome home, little cat.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

And the Wheel Keeps Turning

I have been busy lately. Busy with school, busy with work, busy with knitting, busy with projects, busy with going here and there and everywhere. And although I have been so busy, I still have trouble finding the time for all the things I am busy with! School seems to take up such an overwhelming majority of that time that when I have a few moments, I am far more likely to pick up a spinning project than a knitting one. No rows to count, no cables to figure out before you can move forward. This is not a good thing - it means that I'm getting more spinning done than knitting lately. But it is kind of fun, besides. And I get really pretty yarn out of it!

At Yarn School this year, I took the Ashford Traditional and somehow turned it into a Kromski Mazurka! It's amazing, that yarn purchase magic. The Ashford was a great wheel - sweet, sentimental, steady, smooth. But I needed something a little speedier, a little quicker, so that I could spin the lighter weights without having to treadle like a gerbil on cocaine. So the Mazurka fulfills all my intermediate spinning needs. Plus, could it get any prettier?!

I have been very busy spinning on it, too, having amassed quite the collection of both Hello Yarn and other fiber products. I am sort of addicted to Adrian's work - after all, who isn't? But after getting to meet her, it's refreshing to find out that she is a totally real, down to earth person. With a penchant for cheese and pajamas! She and the other Yarn School instructors really gave me a lot to think about when I spin (twist ratios, anyone? WPI?) But I can tell that there's already been great improvement. My first Yarn School Spin was a merino from Hello Yarn - the colorway is exclusive to Harveyville and was called 'Poisonous'. My spinning and plying came out far more even than ever before (pictures are on the Flickr.) 

When I returned home, I was delighted to find that I could spin a pretty, lovely, even single on some Romney (a club colorway called Sweet Potato Vine - I told you, I'm addicted), which yielded around 414 yards of yarn! This is destined someday to become a something lovely, I'll have you know. But for now, I am totally enjoying the yarn's photoshoot. It seems that the better my spinning gets, the better my photography gets too. Lately I have been wanting to start a series of paintings based off of some of these photographs. I feel like the line and fuzziness of yarn would be fun to capture, as well as the softness and stroke of the fiber pre-spinning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome to Fashion School

I feel like we've finally started fashion school. Officially. Before, the classes were all about things like learning to sew on an industrial machine. Learning what terms like 'Trend Forecasting' and 'color story' mean. But now we're getting into things like draping, and illustration, and I couldn't be happier.

It's funny to imagine that just a little while ago I thought that I was living out my dream of being a painter. I did enjoy my time at Drake University - don't get me wrong - but in a lot of ways I was just never fully satisfied. Fully challenged. Fashion speaks not only to my artistic side but also to my crafty one. It speaks to my ambitious side, a part of me that works really hard to come out when I'm working really hard. Fashion design makes me strong willed. Determined.

I am double focused - both in creative design (the one that most people think of when they think of fashion design), and technical design. This means that I get to use all my artsy, crafty stuff, my drawings and dye ideas and musings about poetry or natural collection, written material and visual absorption. But my technical focus allows me to be detail oriented. Serious about structure and construction and perfection.

Yes, my personality and fashion seem to be the perfect marriage, for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ingredients for Happiness

I have, after a whole month (or a little more than), finally returned to the blog. I promised I wouldn't forget about you! In the meantime, I have been very busy adjusting to the new apartment, which needed painting and cleaning and decorating and adjusting to a new semester's schedule.

So far, I really do love most of my classes. My stand-out favorites, by far, are Patternmaking I and Fashion Illustration, for entirely different reasons. Patternmaking really appeals to my technical, neat-and-tidy sensibilities. There are measurements, straight lines, and much cutting and folding, all of which seems to drive my contemporaries crazy but delights me to no end.

Fashion Illustration, on the other hand, really appeals to my creative side. I have wanted nothing more for the last year and a half to begin to show what I'm made of. There is something satisfying about putting an idea down on paper and having other people get to look at it, critique it, make suggestions, and even ask you to defend it. It is an activity, the critique, that I have missed dearly since leaving Painting for Fashion Design. Of course, some of my work all of you will get to see very soon - I will be entering the AOBA Fashion Design competition (designing with alpaca yarns and woven fabrics) and the entries are both posted on their website, and will be posted on mine.

Of course, that is not all that is going on! I attended my first ever Stitches Midwest convention this year, and absolutely loved it. I had an opportunity to finally meet the Malabrigo Yarn folks who have given me my internship next summer, Antonio and Tobias. They are wonderful, funny people and I cannot wait to work for them! While at Stitches, I picked up a few things here and there, but nothing that I'm ready to show you - yet.

Well, nothing except for my new SPINNING WHEEL! She is a gorgeous Ashford Traditional that I was able to buy secondhand. The woman who sold her had loved her dearly, and I have already fallen in love myself. The first few days were pure frustration, but, finally, today my efforts made actual yarn. And just a few hours later, I was ready to begin my first real spin: Hello Yarn Falklands "Five Plum Pie".

Absolute heaven.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Upcoming Excitement!

Dear Blog. I have been very busy! I have moved into a new apartment, which as no internet yet, but which I am in the process of painting and decorating. School starts on the 24th, meaning that I have a lot of preparation to do between now and then. And on top of it all, I have been beginning work for my first collection of clothing (it's a mini-collection), that will be shown in the April 2010 Iowa State Fashion Show. 

So, I'm just going to provide a quick look at what has happened recently, and what will be happening on the blog before too long!

The picture above is from a very lovely recent visit to the Henry Doorley Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska. If any of you have ever heard of this zoo, it can only be good things - it is, supposedly, the best North American Zoo out there. Much of it is indoors, too, so you can even visit during the wintertime! We went for my sister's 18th birthday, and saw so many interesting creatures. My favorite exhibits were a nocturnal animal 'walkthrough', complete with cave and bats, and the excellent aquarium, which featured not only the usual sharks, but wonderfully interesting textures and creatures like the one pictured above. That, my friends, is a fish that hops, rather than swims! No, really!

I'm going to be doing some before and after pictures for the apartment before too long, one room at a time, to show off my amateur decorating skills. Right now, I'm updating the blog from downstairs, where there is a very cute little coffeehouse. I'm already beginning to feel at home here, but before long I'll have internet at my apartment so I can stop paying $3.50 for an iced chai every time I want to check my email! Yikes!

The blog is going to get refurbished, too! Now that I'm back at ISU, I have access to an Adobe Photoshop studio computer, and want to kind of share my 'designing' process with all of you. Meaning that you'll get to see sketches, little texture and photography inspirations, and eventually finished and in-progress garments. Many of these garments will be knitted pieces, and hopefully some of them will be released not long after as patterns!

So, please bear with me as I go a bit MIA for awhile... but good things are coming!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Long Eared Bats

Yesterday, I sat down and made my first embroidery (pattern and stitching), only to find that it was surprisingly soothing and easy. This is my Long-Eared Bat, in progress (not quite finished yet!)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I've finally finished my first sweater. After many false starts and attempts on various sweaters, it is Coraline who earned the honor of first completed sweater. Or, cardigan, should you prefer. 

I don't usually wear very many pullovers - I prefer cardigans, since they're more versatile - and I can tell already that once blocked and washed, this cardigan will be one of my favorites. It's made with Malabrigo Silky Merino, a dk-weight yarn that comes in a brilliant array of colors. This colorway is called 'Sand', but I personally think that it looks like spun gold, and it certainly felt like something luxurious, slipping through my hands while I knitted. 

A modeled photo should be coming soon! The weather has been rainy today and Coraline has not been blocked.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pocket Pocket

My sister and I have been wanting to start a joint venture on Etsy for some time now, and the day is finally here! Introducing, Pocket Pocket! Although there are just a few things in the shop right now, we're expecting to make a major update towards the end of the month. Eventually, our lineup will include everything from yarn, roving, and accessories, right up to jewelry, housewares and clothing. I'm really excited about it!

One of the things that I wanted to have in the shop was a 'different' variety of yarn pouch. There are a lot of neat bags out there already, but I wanted something lined, and a little bit of a different shape, with cute buttons and fabric. The shop is named Pocket Pocket, so these knitting bags were naturally.... YarnPockets!

Please, check out the shop and tell your friends!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Preperation

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm working on starting a store on Etsy - all of that will be revealed shortly - however, my room and workspace needed some serious updating and organization before I could even get started.

I had a pincushion, one of the little red tomato ones with a strawberry (who originally decided that generic pincushions would be tomatoes? And why is the needle-sharpener a strawberry? I'm not complaining, mind you.) The thing is, they just aren't big enough to hold all the pins I've been using, nor are they big enough to hold the new heart and leaf corsage pins I picked up for 50¢ apiece at the local Ben Franklin's going out of business sale.

So I wandered aimlessly through the binder of to-be-done sewing patterns I have at my house, and rediscovered Anna Maria Horner's Wildflower Pincushion Pattern, which is pretty darn huge. Like, three inches across at the top and up to five or six near the middle. Yeah. It'll hold whatever I need. Now, to find a spare strawberry....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Embroidery Candy

I feel a craze coming on. After winning a prize package from Feeling Stitchy, I searched the house and found my grandmother's old Whitman's box of embroidery thread. All the threads were tangled and you couldn't really see what you had, so I took some time organizing it.

There is something wonderful about a candy box filled with little gleaming thread-cards.
Now all I need to do is sit down and start a real embroidery! Do you think my mom would understand if I quit my job to 'work' from home? I am starting an Etsy shop soon...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The New Addition

So, apparently, this month is Sew Mama Sew's Sewing Machine Month - which is lucky, because I just got a new (old) one! My grandfather, sweet fellow that he his, went out of his way to purchase a used Bernina 931 Record machine that I'd been looking at the day before at a local shop. Since then, I haven't had much time to work on it, but I've set it up quite nicely on my desk. Starting yesterday, though, I'm on vacation from work, so the machine's activity level should go up nicely.

To go along with sewing machine month were some fun questions, which I'll answer as best I can!

What Brand and Model do you have?
I've got a Bernina Record, 931 Electronic.

How long have you had it?
Just a few weeks, really - maybe two? But it is pre-owned.

What types of things do you sew? How much wear-and-tear will the machine get?
I'm going to be sewing stuff for a new Etsy shop I'm setting up, as well as a bunch of stuff for school - clothing, home and knitting accessories. This machine is pretty sturdy - one of the reasons I wanted it, and it will see a LOT of work. The next step up will be when I graduate, and get a Juki or Janome.

Do you love/hate your machine?
She and I are just getting to know each other, still.

What factors are important to you when buying a machine?
I definitely need something sturdy that can handle most fabrics, including lightweights and heavyweights. I prefer a metal-bodied machine to a plastic one, since I'm not going to be transporting it much. It should have a pretty good arm reach, which this one lacks a little, but for anything I need that this machine won't do, I'll go to the school's industrial labs. So basically, I need all the features of an industrial without the actual industrial capacity. Oh, and the machine should be fast! And easy to change the feet on! And have lots of feet! And a buttonhole feature!

Do you have a dream machine?
Yes, someday I'd like to own an industrial machine, probably a Juki or a Janome, with a long arm lockstitch, as well as an industrial serger. I think I could get on without the machine as long as I had an industrial serger.

Monday, June 1, 2009


There are few things in nature that are generally agreed upon by all people as perfectly acceptable to admire. Butterflies have to be one of them - everyone from young children (who can quickly become obsessed, and collect them, and maybe ask for them for christmas, cough, cough) to older men (especially those equipped with cameras) seem to love butterflies. One of the fortunate things about going to Iowa State University is that, as a student, I have full access to the Reiman Butterfly Gardens. For free admission (although I suppose it could be part of my tuition), I can go and look at the butterflies all I want, and, of course, spend however long I want photographing them. Although taking pictures of butterflies is sort of cliche, they are a lot of fun to capture on film! So photogenic! 

Reiman Gardens is really cool because they show the chrysalis case out front, so that you can look at all the chrysali before they hatch. Some of them were hatching while I was there - I have pictures in my flickr, in addition to the luna moth picture I've got to the left of this. They have well over thirty or forty species of butterfly at the Gardens, and they don't just have a butterfly house, either, but a whole host of indoor and outdoor displays.

The best part was trying to capture a Blue Morpho butterfly that kept flitting around - no luck, though. They close their wings as soon as they touch any surface! One of the 'butterfly handlers' informed me that some of the moths don't even eat during their life cycle. They hatch as larvae, eat then, and once they emerge from their cocoons, the larger moths sometimes don't eat at all - they live only a few days, and only live to breed. For me, there's a sort of loveliness in that very purposeful existence.

I especially love the moths. I know, as a knitter, that 'loving moths' is probably a taboo. It's an unspeakable - we pray that those horrible little clothing moths never get into our houses, and eat all our yarn, and ruin all our hard work. Believe me, I don't feel any differently. But how can you hate a moth that is almost twice the size of your hand and fuzzy all over it's little round body and antennae? You can't. Because they're awesome.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All My Little Words

Words cannot possibly express the beauty in things so simple as stacks of books, fresh fiber, spindles, and time to knit. Thank you, long weekend.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I've Got Mail

And it's yarn, no less!

Okay, so my family might not have been so excited, but I was darn thrilled. If you've been reading my blog for any time at all, you'll know that I rave and rave about how wonderful Malabrigo is. Because of how amazing and incredible this Uruguayan treat is, I haven't really branched out much lately. I buy a lot of Malabrigo. But recently, I got to thinking - do my yarn 'icon knitters' specify that they've got a favorite yarn? And they don't - they experiment with all kinds of yarns, and test new yarns, and see what the buzz is about. Which is why I've been inclined lately to *gasp* branch out from the Malabrigo and try some new stuff.

First up, I wanted to see what all the fuss is about with Madelinetosh, an indie dyer who just seems to be all the rage on Ravelry. Her colorways are gorgeous - and the yarns, from what I'd heard, equally exquisite. I found the right color at Eat.Sleep.Knit some time ago, but just couldn't really pony up the money. When I did have a bit more cash, I went back to find that the colorway I wanted - violin - was sold out. Go figure. So when The Backwards Loop announced that they were having a 10% sale in honor of their anniversary, and they carried Madelinetosh, I had to check to see if they had it. And they did. It arrived to day and was, well, incredible. The hand of the yarn in the skein is very nice, sort of a mid-weight worsted. It's plied, and the colors are certainly handpainted but not streaky. I'm interested to see how it knits up - going to do a review, of sorts! (My first review, as if anyone's going to be that interested in it, ha!)

The second yarn I've been wanted to try was the Shibui Knits Sock yarn. My friend Ivy, who is one of the most sunny people I know, is on the list to receive Christmas gifts this year. And yes, for once, I am starting early. VERY EARLY. I will not be held back at crunch time this year (literally, last year, was finishing a sweater in the upper bedroom the day before Christmas. Not cool.) So she's getting a pair of socks in Shibui's bubbly colorway, Finch. I know Ivy will take care of them - she handwashes a LOT of her clothing already - plus, they're superwash, so if an accident happens, there's a good chance they'll survive. I don't know what pattern I'll be using yet - let me know if you have any ideas!

Last, but not least (since obviously I can't have any yarn days that don't include Malabrigo!), my good friend Tricia sent me a skein of Malabrigo's Merinocash that I traded her for. It's in the testing stages, but I'm sure they'll release it soon, especially since everyone's gone so crazy about it. The colorway is Pearl Ten, a sort of deep gray with touches of purple, and the yarn is 70% merino, 30% cashmere lace. I'm making a Featherweight Cardigan (Ravelry Link), using mostly the Pearl Ten with some stripes of Malabrigo Lace in Sapphire Green. She was so generous to trade - and even sent a novelty chocolate bar with it. Have any of you had bacon-chocolate? I'm not sure which way I feel about it, but I'm willing to keep trying as long as I've got the bar in my fridge!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In Transit

The school year is over, and most everyone is traveling home, if they haven't already gotten there. Not me. I moved back home mid-March, when I decided that sorority life wasn't really for me, and I've been making a commute from here to work at the University Library every day since. My summer is probably going to continue along that path. My summer is definitely going to continue along that path.

This is always a time of year where I'm filled with a lot of hope. For a while, I'll have some time to do things, to make things, without the pressure of a deadline or an assignment. I'll be able to draw again, and paint, and add knitting and embroidery and cooking once more into my weekly lifestyle. The weather will be warm and the plants will grow and I'll have things to talk about. I'm really looking forward to writing blogs again. To having something to write again.

I took a seminar with songwriter Carrie Newcomer a few months ago. The seminar was about discovering who you were and who you wanted to be, and how to get there. It wasn't really about mapping out a path for that - just for figuring things out. Or, at the very least, reading into your own mind far enough to have some idea of what you'd like to figure out. We did all sorts of interesting exercises - talking about our childhoods, writing for ten minutes about what we'd like to communicate through ourselves to the rest of the world, and even something the Quakers do called a "clearance committee" (I hope I got that right, for any of my readers who might be Quakers). In a clearance (it could be 'clearness') committee, you pick the people closest to you - church leaders, friends, relatives, teachers, anyone you feel like you could receive advice from - and present them with a question. The committee then comes up with other questions to ask, based on that question - they are not allowed to direct you, or offer their wisdom, only help lead you to your own conclusions and answers.

Through the writing and the clearance committee, I discovered some things I knew, and some I did not know, about myself. I have always known that what I love is best communicated through the making of objects. It's not that I'm a particularly materialistic person. There is something wonderful about the tactile, about encasing your experience into a single object, and handing it to someone else so that they too might experience the same feelings, or at least some division of them. I have some deep-seeded desire to share the world with people in an enclosed way. I think this is because, at this point, the world seems so large. To close it off, to pull it into a little space that you can hold in your hands, or wrap around you - this appeals to me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quiet Rainy Day

I like rain. I like rain a lot, and certainly more than I like snow, so when we start getting rain in Iowa, that means that spring is here. You could probably tell from the flowers blooming all over our garden, or the plethora of bees and birds that seem to be floating around dizzily here and there. But I like to tell by the rain.

There is nothing better, in my opinion, than sitting in a freshly cleaned room on a rainy day, whilst reading a good book or knitting, or, if you can manage it, reading and knitting at the same time. While it's not a great day for photographs (which is why you get another painting. This one is from my Badlands Trip in 2007.) It's excellent weather for appreciating the smell of the air outside, sitting indoors with a window cracked, and getting things done.

I feel like I've gotten a lot 'done' lately. School is coming to a close for another year (thank goodness) and all of our projects have to be turned in and done, all of our finals will soon be wrapped up and finished, and then we can pack everything in our lives up and move somewhere, whether it's home, or to a new apartment, or for a few people, to the first place in their new, graduated existences. Spring is a beacon of new movement and new things and new beginnings. Hopefully it'll be the beginning of more blog writing, project-making and inward focusing for me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Warm Breeze, at Last

The day outside is gorgeous. Gorgeous! Sunny and fantastic. I'm sick but I'm enjoying the weather from inside by having a nice breeze flutter through my room while I sit around in my favorite chair and knit and surf Ravelry. Recently, I won a contest on the Feeling Stitchy blog, a blog that features embroidery and cross stitching from really really talented people. For awhile now, I've been admiring embroidery but I haven't picked it up. I don't know anyone personally who embroiders and I haven't really had the time for another hobby. The contest was for a book - The Kitchen Linens book. It's all about embroidered kitchen linens, printed kitchen towels and such, and is written by a 'collector of vintage fabrics'. (Wish I had that job.) Anyway, Feeling Stitchy was giving away a copy of the book, and having one of those comment drawings, so I made a comment about my grandmother's embroideries (we have a few around the house on various things) and mine ended up being the random winning comment! Exciting! I won the book and about five colors of embroidery thread, as well as a linen kitchen towel. Fantastic. It arrived in the mail yesterday and while I haven't had a chance to really read through the book yet, I'm hoping this weekend will be a good time to do so.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting up a storm on the Coraline. I think I'm going to lengthen in just a little bit (it asks for 94 rows of stockinette but I'm going to take it up to 114), which will be a better length on my body, but unfortunately will take a little longer. Then will come the fun part of the sleeves and yoke and all that. After some nice, long, mindless knitting I'm certainly ready for something a little more interesting. I've taken a picture of my progress so far, sitting on one of the vintage card table chairs that I'm hoping my mom will let me turn into my new apartment's dining set when I move in. I love these chairs and table! They're lightweight wood with seafoam green plastic seats and would look so adorable with little cushions and placemats. I love the way the sunlight coming in through the window makes this cardigan look like liquid gold. Silky Malabrigo is a very luxurious yarn - you should all try it, for sure. Especially on a sunny day.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

But at least there's no ice. The snowy winter seems at long last to be approaching an end. All day today it rained, and my mood was pretty close to the weather, for much of the morning. At work, there was nothing to do. All my classes today were lectures and remarkably boring ones. I have enough homework that I could very reasonably be up until ten o' clock.

But the hope of spring, and freedom from another year of school, is just around the corner. Finals are less than three weeks away and then it's a long summer of work and counting down the days until I visit Los Angeles again (hopefully in July.) Every spring I make a list of things that I hope to accomplish over the summertime. They're usually trivial, silly things - but they're always attainable. I want to be golden tan, the natural way (meaning, via the sun). I want to do Pilates, go on a bike ride, and go on a long walk at least once a week. I want to eat a full serving of fruit and drink the required amount of water every day. I would like to teach myself how to do a perfect French manicure. I want to sew my first quilt and do some embroidery.

They're silly enough goals, but they're summer goals. And that's what I love about them most. What do you all hope to do for summer, this year?

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Personal Day

I'm not really feeling very well this morning. After I resigned from my sorority, I started this back-and-forth commute from Marshalltown to Ames - it's about 45 minutes, all in all, with parking and bus riding. This means that two days out of the week I get up at 5:30 am, and the other two I get up at 6:30 am. (I'm sure some of you are out there smirking, since this is a normal time for you to wake up, but I have discovered that I am not even close to being a morning person.)

After a relatively busy and sleepless weekend (foolish, foolish!), I feel quite utterly like complete crap this morning, and just wanted to crawl back into bed the whole time I was getting ready. My stomach, no doubt reacting to the up and down sleep schedule, is protesting with some general queasiness, and I decided that it might just be better to call into work and school and stay at home today. This means that in between doing laundry and sleeping there's a good chance I can actually get some knitting done! Hurrah! The only issue is that I don't really know what to knit at all.

"But you have four on the needles," you may say, glancing towards my sidebar with obvious disapproval. In fact, this is not the case. I have four, and they are on pairs of needles, but in fact, they are not of knitting satisfaction right now. The Shalom cardigan, which is lovely, requires some thinking. And I'm not really in the mood for thinking. The MalTravelers scarf is a continuing project you'll hear about when it's finished - and right now it's literally not in my hands, but travelling across the country to various people. My Vaila, which I was so terribly excited about, doesn't fit correctly and has to be modified for a top-down rather than bottom-up raglan. So it too, requires much too much thinking at the moment. The Noble Cowl? Lovely, made with some test yarn from Malabrigo - Silky Merino in test color Archangel, as is pictured above - but it's lace. Lace! What am I thinking?

I want to knit something useful but not difficult, something that won't give me a headache and isn't too simple... any ideas? What are your favorite patterns for early spring (with a winter chill, it's still cold out) that you'd like to recommend? 

As for today? I think I'll start my Coraline sweater - it's a lot of stockinette at the beginning, which makes it a good idea, for now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Some Small Sanity

I'm writing this quick, actually on my lunch break at work. It seems like everything I love has had to be pushed into little squares of time this week - on drives to and from school, I listen to the music I love. When I go home, I look at the yarn I love (I have no time to knit it). And when I'm on my lunch break from work, I read the blogs that I love.

I don't feel bad not writing on here. Especially knowing that there is a big long list of links for those of you who wish you had something to read, other than to just look at my same posts, over and over.

But this weekend should be a little less hectic. Perhaps I'll be able to sit down and tell you all I have to say.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

All The Pretty Girls Go To the City

Los Angeles is, in a word, massive. In more words, it's huge, all-encompassing, and a city that seems to stretch beyond any boundaries. If we hadn't flown over desolate areas of country on my way there, I wouldn't have believed there was anything outside Los Angeles.

I was staying in Hollywood area L.A., and there's an observatory near his house. On the second or third night of my visit, he drove me up and we walked in the dark to the huge building to overlook the city. After a short upward climb, you could see for miles and miles, lights everywhere. And what you could see from the Observatory was only half of the city. Pictures can't possibly describe it - there's no lens long enough to capture the range, and I'm not one for panoramas.

What thrilled me the most during my visit was actually driving around and seeing various areas of the city. Jeff works at a little pizza place as a part-time delivery driver, so I would ride along with him on his route and knit while we waited for the orders to come up. It's through riding in the car with him that I discovered the joy of the "Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour," quite possibly one of the best radio programs in a long time. Each show is themed around something random - but there's always music, and a short list of things that match it. My favorite so far has been "Eyes."

Most of the area Jeff covers during his route is Beverly Hills, which I don't care for very much. While it's pretty enough, it seems like a very superficial place - all the people have an air of entitlement an snobbery about them. If you're from L.A., and live in Beverly Hills, I apologize. Obviously I didn't see you or your family walking around!

The thing I did like about Beverly Hills? You get to see the mountains. I don't know if they're really even mountains - I mean, obviously, they're called hills. But they were more mountainous than anything I've seen in a long time, especially living here in Iowa. And when the sun was setting and they were the only thing glowing on the horizon? Breathtaking.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Back to the Midwest

I have so very much to talk about, but I got on a plane last night at 10 pm in Los Angeles, had a 3-hour layover in Detroit, then arrived here in Iowa at 10 am. 

And I'm very, very tired.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Leaving, On a Jet Plane

Well, today's the day. The day I get on that airplane and fly all the way to California - Los Angeles, specifically - for the first time, to visit Jeff. I'm really excited, and amazed that I somehow managed to get everything into just a single suitcase (not huge, but the right size to take on the actual plane) and a carry-on! Very impressed, actually, since I've got all the clothes I wanted and there will be a bit of room in case I find something in LA that I just *have* to have - doubtful, since I'm sort of poor. But, we'll see.

The painting above is actually barely a painting at all - it's a mixed media drawing with some acrylic and ink touches. For the project, we were asked to travel around outside and make charcoal rubbings of strange things - thirteen, to be exact, I believe - and then bring it back inside and 'turn it into' something. There was an arc in the finished compilation that felt to me like a bridge, a bridge that people would be waiting in line for. I never really named it, but I supposed that a good name would be something like, "Industrial River Styx" or "Bridge of Sighs," (yes, I know who Robin Trower is. Try not to faint.)

For some reason, even though it's not green, it does seem to fit the "winter" section of Project Spectrum. The slow, mundane drudgery and slight despair of the cold here in Iowa, easily (and eagerly) about to be abandoned for somewhere much warmer....

Speaking of winter, I have finished one last "winter" FO. I made the Just Enough Ruffles scarf by Laura Chau, of Cosmicpluto, out of Malabrigo worsted in the natural colorway (undyed). The finished thing is gorgeous but not really my style (though it does look pretty cool with a leather jacket), and will be given to my mother as an early birthday present - her actual birthday is in April.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Greener on This Side

The start of this March also marks the start of this year's Project Spectrum. This is my first year participating and I can't think of anything better to kick off the cycle than to have such a neat theme. This year's PS is based around the cardinal directions - North, South, East, West, their traditional corresponding colors and an element to fit each. I've got a collection of various objects/photographs/illustrations/projects that fit each theme here on my Flickr.

This first section (which will cover the months of March and April), is North, Winter, Green, and earth-forms, like stones, gems, or rocks. It's no surprise, then, that when I came home and undug some of my old paintings to take pictures of them, that I wanted to share this one with you. It's from a four-part series about rock structures (these have always fascinated me, so I was pretty excited when Lolly announced that the first part would be partially about rocks). Although not my favorite painting in the series, it is the most green, and is supposed to reflect ideals about Chinese landscape (the way the mountains are drawn, the line qualities, and the green-covered mountains). I love these paintings because they could be either macro or microcosms of another world....

As far as knitting projects related to PS go, I've started several. First, I re-started my Lace Ribbon Scarf, which, as those of you who have been reading the blog may know, gave me a lot of trouble in the past. It's still giving me a lot of trouble now, and is sitting in cast-on mode until I can find some thinner circular needles that don't need to be battled through each stitch. I like the yarn and the pattern so much that I'm willing to keep up with it - I think the thin line of the Sapphire Green Malabrigo Lace is sort of like moss, and I can't wait to grow it into a little blanket of soft that will wrap around my neck.

If only lace was just a little easier for me!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Queen of Hearts

I don't have a dislike for Valentines Day. Actually, I'm pretty neutral, most years. My parents have always done very sweet things for me - like buying flowers or getting us little bitty chocolate boxes (not like a friend I had growing up whose very, very mean mother used to tell her that Valentines Day was only for people who loved eachother!) I can only remember one Valentines Day that I had a boyfriend - he got me a small, white gorilla (I don't have any idea why a gorilla), a giant heart-shaped candy box, and a red rose. While I appreciate the gesture, I'd rather get something more personalized, or get nothing at all.

What I do love, however, is passing out Valentines. I wish this was a tradition that carried into your high school and college years - I remember many many years in school where we made the woven heart baskets, or decorated shoeboxes with wrapping paper and cut-outs, to line up in the windowsill and fill with treats and surprises. There's something so simplistic and sweet about handmade valentines, or ones with the little paper doilies beneath them.

This Valentines Day, I was lucky enough to pick up some of these reminders of the past at a local antique store. While they aren't the Barbie, Power Rangers, and cartoon characters (nothing says 'I love you' like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) of my own childhood, I love the way that their simplicity, the cute puns and illustrated pictures communicate the best bits of childhood with this season.

Of course, I do have a Valentine, this year. It happens to be his birthday on the same day, too - lucky boy. So I got him a present, of course: a vintage, 1960's silk scarf with paisley in pale blue and red. It's gorgeous, I was almost too in love with it to give it away. But I love nothing more than I love giving presents, so that instinct won out. While he gets to see it on my blog and via email and such, he doesn't get to have it until I visit him during spring break in March. Because as much as I love giving presents, I love giving them in person more. (I'll be in Los Angeles! I've never been to California before!)