Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yarn Along

Between traveling over the weekend for a wedding, teaching, setting up appointments for wedding stuff, and trying to finish a book review .... I haven't had much knitting time. The stole still has another three repeats to go ... maybe two, if I decide that's long enough.

But I have cast on a hat for Japan using leftover yarn from Keith's socks. I'm using the Swirl Hat pattern, and it's simple and easy to memorize. I even took my knitting on the bus with me for the first time ever yesterday, and I can easily work on this while reading.

Which is good, because I am currently rereading Gina Ochsner's The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight. Last year I sent my cousin a couple of Ochsner's short stories. She hated them. But I absolutely love them, and I love this novel. Because I love it, I agreed to review it for Hot Metal Bridge. But it's been more than a year since I read it ... which means I'm frantically rereading it so that I can write the review sometime over the weekend. Good thing I like this book.

Speaking of Japan and yarn, I recently won a contest over at Knitting Kninja's blog and received a copy of her pattern, Beetle Tracks, and a skein of Madeleine Tosh yarn.

I am quickly falling in love with Madeleine Tosh. I bought my first skein of tosh sock in Nectar (picture :) ) two months ago, and now have a skein of the same yarn in Thyme to coordinate. At some point these will become a Whippoorwill.

The yarn I won is tosh sport in Charcoal. I'm not sure yet whether I'll use it for the Beetle Tracks pattern or something else.

What a gorgeous silvery grey! Very appropriate for a day that dawned on the heels of a thunderstorm, no? I just love Madeleine Tosh's colors. And I love that the yarn is named after her grandmother. Hopefully I'll enjoy knitting with it as much as I enjoy looking at it.

(Linking with Ginny at small things.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Gathering the Pieces ...

A week (two weeks?) ago, Keith bought a rosemary plant and some nasturtiums for the back porch. The idea is that the nasturtiums will climb the railing and be all pretty.

They haven't climbed much yet, but they've started blooming. As of today there are two orange flowers and one yellow. I keep meaning to take a picture of them; maybe tomorrow, if it isn't raining.

And the weekend before last we went to Ikea and bought some lights for over the sink, this lampshade (for a lamp that Keith will bring with him when he moves in), and we also ended up adopting another plant. (I collect yarn; Keith collects green and growing things. And we both collect books.)

I really love the lampshade. The last time my mom was here, I told her that it reminded me of a lampshade in my Great-grandma Ivy's house, and she had been thinking the same thing. It's funny, because I don't actually remember Great-grandma's lampshade, in the sense that I have a picture of it in my mind. But I look at this one, sitting on top of the bookshelf, and I have an image--part sight, part feeling--of sitting in her living room looking at it.

Anyway. Things are going well at the apartment; slowly but surely boxes are getting unpacked and belongings set up and furniture moved to its proper place (at least for the time being). The only bad thing is the fleas which I've finally pinned as the culprit for eating me alive for the past three weeks.

Yes, fleas. Ugh. I have NO idea where they came from; I'm glad, I guess, it wasn't bed bugs or mites or something harder to get rid of, because they don't bite ANYONE ELSE except me. But still, it's gross and itchy and a pain in the butt. On Thursday Keith is bringing over a vacuum and we'll sprinkle powder on the carpet and spray the couch etc and hopefully kill the HECK out of them. (In the meantime, my friend Stephanie tells me that they won't bite you if you take vitamin B. I would like this to be true, please.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Joining Ginny for the week's yarn along.

I'm grateful that my last yarn along post wasn't deleted in the midst of Blogger's troubles last week; but some of the comments on it were, and I wasn't able to respond to others, which makes me sad. So if you commented on my last post ... know that I read it, and thank you!

I've just been knitting along with this final bridesmaid stole--it's a little less than 2/3 finished, unless I poop out after 8 repeats, which would make it almost 3/4.

I have, however, started blocking the others. Two so far. I've been having a little trouble getting all the pins in before this yarn (Kidsilk Haze) starts drying out, so with the second one I used a spray bottle.

AND I now have blocking wires. Lacing them through the edges is kind of tedious, but it does make it easier to keep them straight, and it lets me pull an entire edge a little further rather than attempt to make the thing wider pin by pin (and hoping they all line up in the end).

I only have the one with me, so photos of the other will come soon, hopefully by next week.

I don't really have good photos of this one either ... but here's what I have. It is the third stole I knit; the pattern is Upstairs.

My attempt to model it in the bathroom. Bleh.

I love how this yarn blocks. It has a beautiful sheen to it, and lightweight as it is, it really is warm. I don't have before-and-after pics (although I have some photos from when I was knitting it here and on Ravelry), but here it is side-by-side with a stole-in-progress to give you an idea.

I really do need to get better pictures of it at some point. And definitely at the wedding, but that's 59 days away. (Not that I'm counting or anything. :) )

As for reading--same as last week, except that I've finished What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us. A book of beautiful short stories; I really enjoyed it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Wave of Weddings

Early on Friday morning, after a busy week of teaching and grading and getting my wedding dress fitted (!!) and sundry other tasks, I will pack up my things and head off to Philadelphia for my cousin's wedding.

Now, Theresa is a few years younger than me, but she is beating me to the altar by a little less than two months. I am okay with this. ;) The crazy thing is that our other cousin, Genevieve, just entered the convent last month for her three-month discernment period.

Of course, the youngest of the lady-cousins, Regina (Genevieve's sister), has us all beat: she entered the convent in 2008 and was invested as a novice last July.

But now the remaining three of us are going down with one fell swoop, so to speak. Walking into our lives, following the footsteps of Christ into our vocations as women.

I have this feeling that going to Theresa's wedding is going to make the eight weeks until my own feel very, very long. But it has been such a gift, the two of us being able to share this time of preparation together. And I am so joyful for her, and cannot wait to stand by her as she makes the vows that will transform her life.

(I think I intended to say much more here, but the things are too big and near yet, and I have a class to plan.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Slippers and Stoles

Joining Ginny over at small things for another yarn along.

Over the next six weeks while I teach a summer course, I will be living half in the city, and half an hour north at my parents' house. This weekend was my first up there, and I was able to give my mom the slippers I knit her for mother's day. Luckily our feet are the same size, so I was able to shape them appropriately after felting. Although they came out looking slightly different, once I sewed on the straps, it was less obvious.

Over the weekend I also got a good chunk of the last bridesmaid stole done. I'm hoping to have it finished in two and a half weeks. We'll see!

My blocking wires and pins came in on Saturday, so I plan on pinning out a stole on my bed next time I leave for home and letting it block while I'm gone.

In the meantime, most of my reading has been for this Intro to Fiction class. (Yes, I lugged ALL of these books up to my parents' house with me.) Here and there I've been snatching some moments with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and two short story collections--one by Jhumpa Lahiri and one by Laura van den Berg. So far I am enjoying both. But even then, I am eying the collections for potential class material.

When I walked into the classroom for the first session last night, I have to admit I was initially intimidated. Which is saying something, because I had steeled myself against intimidation before walking in. I knew that 1) most of the students would be male, and 2) half of them would be seniors, and thus three years younger than me at most. But I did not expect a good third of them to be grown men. I'm not the best at judging ages, but a couple of them are certainly older than me.

I look young for my age, am pretty short, and can have a pretty dorky sense of humor when it comes to teacherly monologues. (I've found that "cool" doesn't work for me in the classroom, so dorkiness it is.) I wouldn't say that I have anxiety about maintaining authority in the classroom, but it's certainly something I'm aware of. And the first five minutes with a new class are vital in getting their respect and attention.

I had those first five minutes pretty well planned out, and I realized that I was going to have to switch registers. There was no way I could talk to men my age and older in the same way I had planned to talk to college students four and five years younger.

But it worked fairly well, I think. I maybe talked a bit too much, but they talked a lot too. Which is wonderful. And they responded to each other, which is great. I'm hoping that the rest of the session follows suit.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Life Full of Bags and Boxes

Here are a few of the things I've done this evening instead of finishing the syllabus for my summer course:
  • Loaded 1/3 of the bridal shower gifts into my car so I can transport them to the apartment tomorrow or Tuesday.
  • Sorted through the old (bordering on ancient) AWP Chronicle mags and throwing out 15 of them. (I kept four because they had articles that looked interesting, but the probability is I will never read them.)
  • Thrown away some ratty clothes, put away some nice clothes in a bag for Goodwill. Probably more will end up in this bag. But it seems I have to consider giving clothes away a couple times before I decide to actually do it. (Except for that hoodie in the back of my closet that an ex-boyfriend gave me. I could've sworn I'd already gotten rid of that. Into the bag.)
  • Sorted through half a shelf of paper junk, including: my writing from when I was 15 and under; printed out emails; printed out recipes; printed out directions for polymer clay projects; my "I'm famous" folder of all my publications, newspaper appearances, etc; pictures people have drawn for me; etc. The recipes, polymer clay projects, etc have all been tossed. My writing and "famous" stuff is still around, but condensed into fewer folders.
  • Made a half-hearted attempt to go through the letter drawer in the desk before realizing this was a project for another day. (Note that in addition to this drawer, I have six shoe-boxes full of handwritten letters.)
  • Wrote this blog post.
Getting rid of stuff is always cathartic and satisfying. But there's a real element of difficulty to some of it. Those letters, for example. There's no question of throwing away the ones written by my cousins over the years ... especially now that both of those cousins are in the convent. But there's a box of letters, too, from a bunch of girls I met on a trip to Rome and kept in touch with for a few months ... and who are now completely absent from my life. They all went to a boarding school in Rhode Island, a beautiful place I once went to on retreat--a school run by an organization I was very involved with as a girl but which I would be isolated from as a teenager.

I could throw away those letters.

But the thing is those letters--tangible objects--are really the only things that remind me of that part of my life. That those girls existed, that for a short time I was emotionally invested in them, and they (to varying degrees) in me. My trip to Rome; the school in Rhode Island; the organization and the good and bad memories I have of it ... That particular letter-writing phase was a small, distinct chapter in my life, one which carries meaning, but isn't something I carry around consciously. And I forget about it, even though it is, in some way, a part of me. It'll be in my psyche somewhere if I throw away the letters, sure. But will I ever remember it? Won't I be throwing away some tangible part of myself?

(This is probably how people become horders, isn't it?)

Most of the boxes in the new place are unpacked, except for the books. I don't want to bring boxes of baggage with me into a marriage, or leave (too many) of them behind for my parents to keep. But my tossing will be thoughtful. Maybe too much so. Maybe not.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny for the first yarn along in the new apartment!

This week is slipping by at a relaxed pace, which is nice. I've been getting ready to teach a summer class that starts on Tuesday, so my reading has been mostly from the textbook. My knitting has mostly been on a Secret Project that I can't describe in detail this week--although I have learned Navajo knitting and felting because of it. But in the meantime you can see the pretty color of the yarn, which is called "Fairy Tale."

The red yarn is a ball of Malabrigo lace, which is ... delicious. It was gifted to me by a fellow knitter who I met at a friend's bridal shower on Saturday when another friend, Christine, and I explored her knitting room in awe. :) (Well, I was in awe, at least! Christine had been looking for the bathroom, walked into the knitting room by accident, and knew she had to came back to get me. She's a good friend. ;) ) I won't be knitting it for a while, what with all this wedding knitting, but I am starting to make plans for it. It's lovely and squishy and soft, and I made my old roommate squeeze it so she could experience its amazingness. (I think she ended up being more amused than amazed, but that's okay.)

I feel that this is an appropriate time to mention that I've moved within walking distance of a yarn shop where they already know me. I may come to regret this. (Or more accurately, Keith may come to regret it. ;) )

Monday, May 2, 2011

Post-Moving Day

I am typing this sitting in my pajamas, on my bed in a new bedroom. The room is full of light, and also unpacked boxes, but not as many boxes as are in the kitchen and living room and master bedroom--the last of which shall remain unoccupied until Keith and I get married and live here together.

I am realizing that this month will be very busy. This week would be nice downtime before the summer session starts, except that I have to unpack, and get ready for the class, which (cough) I'm not as ready for as I should be. (Although to a large extent that's due to circumstances and not my fault.)

Anyway. I spent my first night here by myself, and I am still alive. Before sleep I ate some cinnamon-sage ice cream in a teacup, since my lone bowl was still packed up somewhere, and watched the first installment of Downton Abbey. It was quite nice. Now I have a cup of coffee and a long to-do list which I am procrastinating.

I'm not sure how long I'll stay down here this week; we'll see how quickly work gets done.