Monday, June 26, 2006

One step closer with the lace tee

Sorry it's been a few days since my last post. I had intended on posting Friday or Saturday but what little free time I had got tied up.

In non-knitting news, I had a wedding shower to go to yesterday for a very very old friend. I've known her since we were both 3 or 4. I hadn't been back to her family home for quite a while - and it was just so strange because I remembered everything from the eyes of a 12-or-so year old. I also had very strange deja vu feelings from the neighborhood. It was just a feeling of familiarity and newness all at the same time.

At school, I've been making great progress on my course for the fall. I'm almost done designing all of the labs - so that's majorly good news...and I submitted that paper for publication that I mentioned last week. So, I'm glad to get one of those off of my desk.

And the knitting! I finished the front of the lace tee!!
Doesn't it look so great? I managed to figure out how to turn off the automatic flash - and I think it really allows you to better view the stitch pattern.

Anyway, I'm really happy with it so far - it needs some serious blocking - but overall, I think it'll really be great when it's done. So, now I have to cast on for the two short sleeves - but I definitely feel that the worst is behind me!!

Also, I have passed the halfway point for the granny square afghan. So far, 31 squares down!! I can't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet - but I'm inching my way closer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Easy? Intermediate? Advanced?

I thought I'd take some time in my post today to discuss something that's been weighing on my mind for some time. My usual updates about my daily adventures will resume later in the week.
I love going through knitting and crochet books. I'm not saying that I necessarily have to buy them - but I love looking at patterns. I love stopping in a Barnes and Nobles to check out their craft section, and I love getting knitting and crochet books from the library. I know that I'm certainly not alone in this. But, when looking at these pattern books, I've noticed something a little frustrating.

You know - that little (sometimes present) subtitle that tells you whether the pattern is for beginner, intermediate, or advanced knitters or crocheters. So, here's the frustrating part - what exactly does that mean? Have you noticed that certain books or magazines will have different criteria as for what is easy and what is more difficult? For example, in one knitting book, a simple drop-sleeved sweater knit totally in stockinette (except maybe for some ribbing at the bottom) was given a rating of 5 - meaning it was very hard. However, in another book, that very same sweater would be considered easy. Does this drive anyone else crazy?

With knitting, I pretty much get what makes an advanced pattern. Usually it's something that includes a complicated cable pattern that requires you use a chart, or maybe a tricky intarsia or fair isle pattern. What becomes more difficult is distinguishing between what one pattern designer might consider easy vs. intermediate. Usually this involves some sort of shaping to be considered intermediate but not always.

However, with crochet, I'm still completely confused. I can't figure it out at all. Again, some books will consider anything other than a scarf advanced while others use more subtle criteria. Specifically, I've been a little stumped by this book I got from the library, Cool Crochet. It has some very lovely patterns - but it seems like all the ones that I want to do are for experienced crocheters. Yet, I can't figure out why those patterns are advanced - they don't use any charts, they don't use any crazy color combinations, they don't use any fancy stitches. Yes, there's shaping but that can't be all because there are other patterns in that book for garments with shaping that are labelled advanced beginner. Advanced beginner??!! As if that doesn't create even more confusion! (Note: I do not mean to just single out this one book - just about every knitting or crochet book do the same type of thing - Cool Crochet just came to mind because I just got it from the library)

So, I guess the other alternative would be to follow the likes of Debbie Stoller (Stitch n Bitch) and the crew at Interweave Knits who don't include any indication of how difficult a pattern is. In one sense this is a good thing because it doesn't discourage people from going outside of their comfort zone. But, on the other hand, I think it's also useful to know what one is getting into when starting a pattern.

I wish I had some sort of solution. It would be very nice and thoughtful if all of the publishers and pattern designers could come up with a standard set of guidelines regarding pattern difficulty. But, that probably won't happen any time soon. Until that time, if you design patterns, why don't you let us know why you've designated something as easy, intermediate, and advanced? Maybe that way we can all start speaking the same language.

Any thoughts on this?

Ok - my thought piece is done for the day! As I mentioned before, a more "normal" posting will resume later in the week.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Forging ahead

So, the weekend is here! I made a lot of progress work-wise - I sorted out what labs we will be doing in my experimental psych. class that I'm creating. So, I've made some major headway with that. I'm also almost ready to send out that paper I was mentioning - so all is looking up.

The afghan is also forging ahead. I try to do 1 square a day and have been pretty good about sticking to that. I'm almost half way there!!

I have also been making great progress on the lace tee. I've been working up the front with the lace pattern. After two sets of pattern repeats, here's what the front looks like so far:
Can you see the lace pattern going up the middle of the front? I'm actually really looking forward to wearing it now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think it'll be really lovely when it's all finished.

So, as I'm seeing this end of the tunnel, I've also been thinking about what my next knitting project will be. Have no fear though - I'm not starting anything until I finish this one first - otherwise, I feel that I really will accomplish nothing! Anyway, after stumblling around a few blogs, I think I found my next knitting project!

So, here she is, Matilda Jane:

Obviously, these are front and back shots. I think the color scheme I'll be doing will be a little more conservative though. I'm thinking of doing a dark bluish/lavender for the body of the sweater and a light blue on the trim and ribbon for the back. But, we'll see when I actually decide on a yarn to use. So, what do you think?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Thank You, One Skein Pal!

I got such a wonderful surprise today when I came home. There was a package waiting for me from my one skein secret pal! There were so many goodies inside - I couldn't wait to post about it.

The skein - this is a one skein exchange afterall!! Well, I didn't receive just one skein but two arrived in the mail! The one on the left is a skein of natural 100% wool from Beaverslide Dry Goods. It's a little hard to tell from the picture, but the skein is more of a maroony type color (technically, it's autumn dogwood). I absolutely love it!! It's so rustic and seems like it will be so warm. I think that I will eventually use it to make a hat or some other winter type garment - maybe gloves or mittens.

The second one on the right is Outback Mohair from Plymouth Yarn. I do love mohair and these are some of my favorite colors so this is right up my alley! It actually reminds me a lot of the contrasting color I used in the afghan I had made back for the engagement. It's hard to tell from the picture - but these are practically the exact same colors. I loved them then and I love them now!

But, that's not all! There was also this:

At the top is a lovely note from my one skein pal. Then, underneath that is an adorable cell phone holder called "poire" - which means pear in french (because if you notice, the cell phone holder is in the shape of a pear!) and the blue package is a package of cards and envelopes. I can certainly always use more stationary - especially as a secret pal!

Oh, but we're still not done! Candy!
Pez and pop rocks! I haven't had these in ages! But, these were some of my favorite candies as a child! Yum!

And, we're still not done if you can believe it - and I've left one of the best to the last (they're all the best, it's hard to decide, but this is certainly extremely thoughtful):
freud and jung
They're magnetic dolls of Carl Jung (left) and Sigmund Freud (right). You see, my one skein pal has done a little detective work and discovered that I'm a psychologist - which up until now I haven't revealed on my blog. For those of you who aren't into psychology, both Jung and Freud had a major impact on the field - especially in the clinical and personality domains. They were close friends and colleagues but then had a falling out for reasons that are a little beyond the realm of my knitting blog. When I saw these two little guys, I just burst out laughing - they're so cute and such a thoughtful gift. I will definitely be keeping these little guys in my office!

So, my one skein pal - thank you thank you thank you!! This is really way above and beyond what was expected. I feel very fortunate to have you as my secret pal and feel very spoiled indeed!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Back to normal with a finished back

Things over here have been pretty much back to normal. This weekend was a little crazy though so I didn't get much knitting or crocheting done. On Saturday, there was a conference in honor of my undergraduate advisor that I had to attend which took up the whole day and left no time for knitting...I didn't think it would be appreciated if I brought my projects. People just wouldn't understand and would probably be offended! On Sunday, lots of errands errands and more errands.

However, yesterday, I did finish up the back of the lace tee:

I'm pretty happy with it so far - although I think something went wrong up by the shoulders. One side seems higher up than the other - I'm not sure sure why that would be. So, I'm just hoping that it straightens itself out or that it won't be visible when worn especially since it's the back of the tee.

I also got one square done yesterday after school. So, after today, one third of the squares will be finished!

Other than that, I've been busy writing at school. I'm almost ready to send out a paper for review so that'll be great once that's out of my hair. Have no fear though - there are PLENTY of other things that I need to work on writing. Plus, I've been working hard on putting together this course for the fall.

That's it for now - I'll probably be sending out my second package for my SP8 tomorrow. Wish I could fill you in on more - but it's a secret!!

Friday, June 09, 2006

I'm back home!

Well, I'm back from Charleston. It was good to be down there for a few days - but it really is good to be back home again. Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures while I was down there - but I'll fill you in on some of the highlights.

Sunday: we drove and drove and drove down there - took us about 12 hours! But, we finally arrived exhausted.

Monday: my dad took me on a carriage tour of the city - the kind where the tour guides dress like they're in confederate army:

We also went to two Spoleto events - we saw a chamber music concert and an orchestral concert with a large choral component.

Tuesday: We went to Middleton Place - it was a plantation and was simply beautiful. They had such amazingly beautiful grounds with all sorts of wildlife. We saw alligators, all sorts of wild birds and they had a farm with chickens, sheep, horses, goats, and peacocks! Here's a birds-eye view of what the plantation looks like today:
The picture doesn't really do it justice - it kind of looks like a golf course/country club from the picture - it's much more natural and untouched in real life. Believe me, it's beautiful.

On Wednesday, we went to some of the beach towns nearby and also checked out this Hopper exhibit at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Thursday, I came home but was delayed and my trip ended up taking over the whole day.

During my trip, I made a lot of progress on my projects too. I got through 7 more granny squares and am almost finished with the back of the lace tee. So, I'm quite pleased about that.

In other news, I heard an update from my friend about the engagement. It's officially off - as I had suspected. Although I didn't suspect how it happened - to make a long story short, he basically walked out on her. Everything was okay and normal - he went off to work - and when he was at worked he emailed her saying that the wedding was off. EMAILED HER!! Plus, no explanation why. She's tried calling him and emailing him to find out what happened - and he doesn't return her calls or emails. What a coward. Can you imagine? I mean I guess it could have been worse - what would have happened if he decided to walk out on her when they were married with children - but it's still quite devastating.

Anyway, so I'll be getting together with her this week to catch up and see how she's doing.

That's it for now! It's great to be back home!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

One more post before I go-go

I had to put up one more post before I left for Charleston because I got the most amazing package in the mail from my SP8. She sent me a book - not just any book though. A book of her own from 1989 entitled Granny Crochet Favorites by Jean Leinhauser and Rita Weiss. The entire book is composed of projects that use granny squares. Here's a sample of some of the projects:

I love it! I think that with some different colors the projects could look very modern. I can't wait to try some of them out - that is, after I finish the current afghan. But, I should also mention that this book is really not just a book of granny squares - for my secret pal it has tremendous sentimental value which she described in this amazing note with a card that she made herself!

Thank you so much, secret pal! I can't tell you how moved I was to receive the book and your description of your memories with your grandmother crocheting. I know that this book has beyond monetary value for you so I was just totally blown away to receive it. So, I couldn't leave without sharing that.

Also, Frodo felt left out of the last post, so here's a picture of him sleeping on our couch this morning!

Friday, June 02, 2006

The week comes to a close

Well, the work week is just about over - I can't believe it. Overall, it was a pretty quiet week - I managed to get a fair bit of writing done and prep for my course in the fall. Of course, there's plenty ahead but I'm making progress.

Progress is also happening on the afghan and the lace tee. 12 squares are now done and I have about 3 inches left of the back of the lace tee before I start shaping under the arms.

I heard some shocking news also that's been on my mind so I thought I'd blog a little about it. Do you remember those friends of mine who got engaged very suddenly? You know, the couple who I made that amazing afghan for a few months ago? Well, I'm pretty sure that the engagement is off. I'm waiting to hear about the details, but I'm pretty sure it's done considering that on my friend's friendster page, it says that she's single and all the pictures she had posted with them together have been deleted. Plus, a little while ago, he had mentioned in passing to my husband that things were a little rocky between them. So, I tried calling her cell and haven't managed to get in touch with her yet - just left a I don't know any details. But, I'm just so sad for them. I'm 99.999% positive he broke off the engagement - and it's just terrible because they had a date, booked the place, and she had a dress. I know that it's better that the engagement is broken off rather than them getting divorced down the line especially if kids ever came into the picture...but it still must be very hard for her to handle.

In other news, more positive news, I leave for Charleston on Sunday morning - 4:55am to be exact according to my dad. Did I mention that we're driving down? And that my dad is totally anal-retentive that way with time? I'll try to post, but regardless, I'll be back on the 8th - so I won't be absent for too long.

So, then let me just leaving you with this - a sleeping picture of Sam: