Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One Down...

Well, I finished the first Noro Jaywalker.
I've had a bit of a cough, which has been a slight deterrent, but I'm really pleased to have finished the first sock of the pair. Better yet, after hearing "But are they going to match?" for two weeks straight, and only responding that I wouldn't do much work to ensure they did (hey, they're quirky) I can finally say... YES THE PAIR WILL MATCH!!!
I must admit, I was apathetic before about the possibility, but I'm pretty thrilled that they'll match now that I'm sure it will happen. Thank you, Noro, for figuring out just about how much yarn I would use per sock and thank you for making such addictive sock yarn. I'm really very pleased.
Additionally, despite the controversy that's followed me ever since that green was visible on the ball (after the whole ball appearing to be purple, blue and gray), my labmates are now pleased with the colors of the sock. Of course, regardless of their whims, I have loved them all along because they're Noro and they're mine.
I also broke a size 1 dpn this week (mysteriously... at work the needles were fine, get home and one looks like a snapped toothpick) but I have been making do with four 1's and one 2. However, my lab mates and I are going on a yarn run tomorrow so I'll buy another set and promise myself I'll be more careful. This yarn run is necessary because I taught our visiting student from Holland how to knit last week and now she wants real yarn to start a real project with needles all her own! She's taken to the needles like a fish to water and I couldn't be happier; I told her she needs to start socks before she leaves in July but we'll see.
If you haven't spread the joy of knitting, I highly recommend it. Sure, you'll get a few rejections (see the previous post about Our New Friend) and a few who sit for a lesson or two but never pick up the needles again. However, when you get that one person who really takes to it and loves it like you do... it's like knitting magic.
P.S. Our New Friend approached me yesterday to tell me that she sees now that knitting really is back and how she saw Martha knitting on her show and how cool she thought that was. I think she sees us all knitting during our breaks and wants in on the conversations only knitters can share. Either way, I'll show her the way if she asks really nicely. You can't say knitting turns people into losers and expect me to be enthusiastic about your sudden interest.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Noro Is Like Yarn Crack

Yesterday, #1 and I went to the LYS and I caved.

It started innocently enough. #1 needed some new yarn; S 'n B night was quickly approaching and she had a baby blanket that needed to be knit. I went along thinking, "Maybe I'll buy a nice worsted and finally knit a hat... or that cute throw from brooklyntweed..."

We browsed and looked and discussed for quite some time and I kept heading back to my old mistress: sock yarn. I looked at each hank, imagining each glorious bundle as a pair of socks I've been dying to knit.

"No! Bad Rachel! Knit something else!" I repeated over and over to myself as I gingerly cradled each hank in my hands. But I love knitting these Noro Jaywalkers so much. Each new color seems like a new adventure. So I bought more Noro, even though I have some Lorna's Laces lying around and despite the fact that the LYS has lots of sock yarn I've never tried. That Noro has a hold on me, I tell you.

Crazier still? We have another yarn run planned for next week. AND I got to introduce a fellow knitter to the idea of a yarn store. She said, "What, like JoAnn's?" Oh boy, that was the end of it. I told her about the magic that is the LYS, a concept she had never even HEARD of before! I'm going to open her up to a whole new world. It'll be great.

My Jaywalker in action. Sorta.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No, I Don't Think You're Boring.

I've been working on those Noro Jaywalkers for about a week now, but I haven't gotten nearly as far as I would like. I had nearly finished the leg last week at the S 'n B when the bf surprised me by showing up in the midst of knitting goodness. I was extremely happy and shocked because he was a day early and it just happened to be Valentine's Day. (Between you and me, if that boy had a dime for every time I lamented over the fact that, although he asked me out at 2:00 AM V-Day, due to some unusual circumstances we had never spent that fabled day as a couple... well, he wouldn't need that job so far away.)

Needless to say, my Valentine's day was not only special but surprisingly fantastic. However, every time I tried to pick up that sock in his presence over the extra-long weekend he would say, "Am I THAT boring?" or "I thought we were chatting... now you're knitting. Do you want to chat with me or not?"

Despite my best efforts to explain that I can certainly chat and knit at once (hence the S 'n B) or that no, he isn't boring, but I'm really excited about this pair of socks and we're driving all the way across town... I barely worked on those socks. In fact, my only quality sock time was while we were hanging out in the Manliest Man in the World's (MMitW) apartment while MMitW and bf were PS3-ing and MMitW's gf was typing something. That was the night I got most of the heel flap finished.

It was all worth it, however, because the socks are again coming along beautifully and I had a wonderful weekend with my bf. I have no sock pictures to post, but I'm working away and I'm looking forward to a yarn run with #1 and perhaps other lab knitters tomorrow.

The pictures are some cupcakes I made over the summer that I was especially proud of. Real buttercream (with molten sugar and everything!) leftover from a birthday cake for the bf became pretty cupcakes to share at knitting group (woot). Happy knitting!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

On Knitting and Femininity

Recently, while knitting in the lab with my #1 lab knitting buddy, two non-knitter lab mates were discussing the number of knitters in the lab. One said to the other, "Working in this lab makes me feel so not girlie. Everyone in here seems to be knitting and I don't do any of that kind of stuff." The other nodded her head and agreed that a lack of knitting (and other handcraft) prowess left her feeling less than feminine.

This got me thinking about if knitting is really a "girlie" activity. Sure, I've heard people say things like, "Oh, only girls should knit." Of course, I completely disagree with this statement. (See I'm also not sure I consider knitting to be inherently linked to femininity.

For one, knitting is a sure-fire way for me to ruin nicely polished nails.

Additionally, while knitting does make me feel connected to some ancient tradition that was largely performed by women, the really girlie girls I know would never knit (or sew or cook) because they prefer to keep themselves on a pedastal and would never risk chipping polish, mussing hair or breaking a sweat for the love of art.

On the other hand, perhaps femininity and girlishness are related but not really synonymous. Women are artisans. Girls are artisans in training. Women have years of experience and practice which allow them to not only create beautiful creations but also to have the wisdom to let girlie aesthetics go for a moment until the product is complete.

However, I am one of those crafters who is irked to hear anyone describe a craft as meant for one gender or the other. Men were traditionally the accomplished painters of Europe, but do I feel masculine when painting? No. Frankly, I'm interested to see what anyone, regardless of gender, has to bring to my favorite crafts. I'm always looking for new inspiration and new points of view.

P.S. Those socks are the alpaca lace socks that plagued me for so many months. They are the Merino Lace Socks from Interweave's Favorite Socks in Alpaca Sox (color 1803). Yes, they are exquisitely warm and soft. The best part? That little lace pattern continues all the way down the heel! I'll try to get a picture while the bf is around.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Wasting My Time

Yesterday I had the oddest response to my knitting encountered thus far. There is a new research assistant (RA) in the lab and she is very chatty. She was already not my favorite RA because when she speaks she sounds like she just stepped out of Clueless and she is too young to be really familiar with that era. Regardless, I make chit-chat with her to be polite and to figure out what kind of RA she will become (industrious, lazy, flaky, etc.)

I was knitting away on the socks pictured (Noro Jaywalkers) during my lunch break. The girl previously mentioned asked if I was knitting another pair of socks to which I replied that I was indeed. The rest of the conversation went something like this:

Rachel: Do you knit?
RA: No.
R: If you're ever interested, I'd be happy to teach you.
RA: Uhm, that's okay. If I started knitting I'd be a loser. Uhm... not that you're a loser! Just I would be a loser.
R: Okay...
RA: It's just that I did that potholder weaving things in high school and if I started knitting I'd waste all of my time knitting. Uhhh... not that you're wasting your time!
R: Actually, I like knitting because you can knit while you're doing things like standing in line or waiting for an appointment, time that would otherwise be wasted.
RA: Uh-huh

Oh dear. It appears our new friend has no filter on her mouth.

Needless to say, I've decided to keep knitting and no longer waste my time listening to her.

And the Jaywalkers? My first socks ever were a pair of Jaywalkers I knit on size 2's in the largest size, way back when I unknowingly twisted all of my stitches. I cast these on with the same needles in the smallest size and they were huge. I ended up frogging my inch or so and restarting on size 1's and they look much more reasonable. As for the yarn? While it isn't the softest yarn I've felt by a long shot, the colors are beautiful, making it really fun to knit with. I highly recommend Noro socks if you're big on color and not so particular about a yarn's hand (how the yarn feels when you touch it). It's no Red Heart, but it's also far from Lorna's Laces.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I, like so many bloggers, have fallen behind. I have lots of pictures and stories to share from the last few months, but I'll start with the most recent news. First, I left the library for a job in a psychology research lab.

True, not nearly as romantic for a knitter.

However, it is less dusty, less dirty, more interesting and I have more money for yarn! I win.

Second, those in my S 'n B know I was knitting a pair of alpaca socks for the last few months that really kicked my butt. I had to rip out parts many times and they required lace charts every step of the way. Luckily, they're absolutely gorgeous and worth every minute of ripping and re-knitting. You can check them out on ravelry (username shortestkitty) or you can wait until I post them in their glory.

After a project that admittedly beat me down for a bit, I decided I needed to do some small projects before I get back on that horse named Socks. No, I didn't pick something reasonable like a nice pair of Fetching or a quick hat; I chose to take a break with coffee cup cozies.

To understand my rationale you must first know that I love coffee. I find it to be comforting and suitable for every hour of the day from breakfast with oatmeal to just before bed with cookies. You must also know that I love to warm my hands on the mug; it makes me feel comforted and taken care of. My bf thinks it's totally weird that I hold the mug in both hands under the table when we go out for breakfast. He hates coffee. I, on the other hand, love coffee hot and cold but I hate, hate, HATE a lukewarm cup. Blech.

Late last week I tried my first cozy using leftovers from my alpaca socks and a simple tube pattern. It worked, but I was hoping for something more exciting and more special. Serendipitously, I found this pattern on ravelry:

Normally, I loathe to knit seed stitch. But really, I hardly notice it here and it's given me a chance to try a new cable pattern (see picture above). What yarn is that? I have no idea. I bought it in NYC at Daytona Trimmings as my first "real" yarn. It was originally my failed marsupial tote (never felted), but I decided to finally rip her out and use the yarn. If I recall, it is hand dyed something or other and, while it seems perfect for felting, I swear I can feel the sheep's oil on the fiber. Weird. Nonetheless, I'm excited about this little cozy, even if my nonknitter coworkers think I'm crazy.

In the midst of knitting this cozy, I took a break for dinner leaving the cable needle tucked carefully behind my ear so I wouldn't lose it. Alas, my ears aren't the perfect needle containment device and the needle fell during dinner unnoticed. Unnoticed by everyone, that is, except our little dog Draco who thought it looked like the perfect toothpick:

Draco: 1. Needle: 0.