Monday, July 16, 2012

20,000 words, more or less

They say that a picture's worth a thousand words. Well, here is 20,000 words in their pictorial equivalent to catch you up on my knitting life this year so far:
Meet Janus. (And you can see my hand knit Christmas ball, too)
My first handspun on a wheel

Some knitted gifts for my best friend's daughter
And for her son.

Our mushroom and lichen foraging booty (aka our mini-moon trip souvenirs!)


Some other samples in my dyer's notes

Monday, October 17, 2011

The best knitting quote ever

"No, [France] arrived accompanied simply by the guest I am going to present to you."
..."Ah, this gentleman is a Hercules-killing Cacus! A Perseus-freeing Andromeda!"
"No, he is a man about my own size."
"Armed to the teeth?"
"He had not even a knitting needle.... Why, he is the count of Monte Cristo."

--Alexandre Dumas

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fruit Party!

I am not what you would necessarily call a healthy eater. I like a good meal as good, if not better, than the rest of them. But I work a lot, and when I'm not working, I usually have homework to do for grad school, or I'm on the train on my hour-and-a-half-each-way commute. It's a busy lifestyle. And when I get home, cooking a fancy meal, and usually, cooking at all, is not really how I want to spend my free time. So I eat out a lot.
Japan is notoriously short on vegetables. The bulk of them are imported, and especially with a good deal of the farmland near Tokyo ruined post-nuclear disaster, the prices have gone up to boot. Getting your greens when eating out is usually insufficient.
When I was home in the States this summer, my sister-in-law got me on a huge smoothie kick. The two of us would make smoothies nearly every day we were home together, and the habit stuck back here in Japan. They're like a fruit festival! And to boot, they're always a splash of color on the mornings when I leave for work when the sun is still rising behind the buildings.
So what kind of smoothies do you like to make, you might ask? Anything and everything! The more interesting the mixture, the more fun they are to drink!
So today, in front of me, I have a honeydew-pear-peach smoothie. It's a little on the watery side, but that's what you get for having the juiciest pears you could wish for (Thanks to my awesome in-laws who send bags of fruit home with my lovely man.)
But the combinations are pretty much endless. Banana-kiwi-pineapple, anyone? Or banana-peach-strawberry-blueberry? Why not peach-banana-canteloupe? And of course cucumber-melon-banana.
It's a hit of vitamins that always picks me up for my morning classes, a splash of color that brightens my mood, and a kick in the pants to make sure I'm eating healthier.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm okay.

Okay. Alright. I'm fine. Really, I'm fine. I'm just...going a little crazy, that's all. I'm just not getting along with my project, that's all.
So, I've just started Eunny Jang's Bayerische Socks. They are beautiful socks. Precise. Decorative. Elegant. Impossible.
Okay, not impossible, but difficult to the brink of insanity. Maybe I'm exaggerating. Just a little.
I don't know if it's the combination of the difficulty of the pattern, or my (now) hatred of size O Knit Picks Harmony needles, or the fact that I'm not getting along with my yarn.
Cascade Heritage is beautiful. The stitch definition is incredible, the sheen is lovely, the color is rich and vibrant. But am I the only one in the world who has had a splitting issue? That yarn just fans when you try to stick your needle through it, and inevitably there's one ply that just won't comply. Brat!
The fact is, maybe it's me. Maybe I just don't know how to get along. Am I having trouble listening to the project? Does it just not like me?
I think (sob, sob) what I'll have to do is frog and start on a size 1 needle. It's just that those size 0 needles bend. I don't think they're supposed to bend, but they do. And I constantly have the feeling that one is going to snap in my hand. And I wouldn't like that. I already have a splinter in my hand and can't get it out, and I don't need another one.
So maybe size 1s will do the trick. They're just nicer. And they don't bend. And they are pointier, which will hopefully stop the yarn from practically fraying as soon as I touch it.
And in the meantime, maybe I'll cast on another sock to keep me sane. So I can feel like I actually know what I'm doing as I knit, so as not to go loopy. At least not too loopy.
Well, anyway. See how far I got? How am I going to continue if it's hardly even started and I'm already despising the thought of working on it? It was really the increase row that got me. Eunny, you're so smart. And amazing. And awesomely cool. But where in the world did you come up with "k tbl, m1 knitwise, purl front and back, m1 purlwise, purl 1"? 6 stitches out of 3? Brilliant! But horrible! I'm dreading doing it again. And I'll have to. There are two socks!

Friday, September 16, 2011


For those of you who don't speak Japanese, hisashiburi means "It's been a long time since I've seen you", basically. And yet again, time passes. But with it, knitting. And buying yarn. I have plenty to say, but I'm going to try and be smart about it, and break it up into multiple segments. So let's start with my summer yarn binge. Oh, and there was so much of it!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Playing Solo in Harmony

I seriously can't believe how long it's been since I've blogged. It's a shame, really, and I truly wish I could say I'll be better about it in the future, but I don't want to make a promise I know I will have difficulty keeping. I guess the fact is in the spare time I do have, I want to spend it knitting instead of talking about knitting. But I want to be able to help build something bigger than just the project on my needles; I hope that in the knitting world, I can contribute something to add to the community of knitters and the world of knitting.
I do love listening to other people talk about knitting, though. And I've been doing so much of it lately. As you might know, I have a long commute--a total of three hours a day, which, whenever I can, I use for knitting. But why not add to that? I have ears as well as eyes that can be filled with knitting. And so I have started listening to podcasts. I LOVE the fact that I can bring knitters from all over to the seat next to me on the train, so to speak. I love listening to them feel guilty about how big their stashes are, how many projects they're currently working on, how many projects they want to start. I love listening to them talk about frogging whole pieces, and struggling with counting stitches, and all the other whims and woes of knitting. To tell the truth, I have been a solo knitter for most of my life. My best friend wanted to learn to knit out of a book, and I thought that I would like to learn, too. It's something I had always thought intriguing. And soon after we started, she stopped. So I forged on alone. I eventually found out that I knitted differently than everyone else--my stitches move from left to right on my needles. And I was embarrassed to let any knitters see that. I've tried to knit the "right" way, but I don't mind being a knitting heretic as long as my projects turn out alright in the end, and they usually do. But I can't tell you how long it took me to realize that I have to knit lace patterns in reverse (and obviously cable charts as well). I also have to admit that it was impossible for me to learn how to knit through the back loop simply because I had always knit through the back loop and I couldn't possible go any farther back. Go figure. Thanks to knitting in the round where no one could see my uneven stitches!
Back to the point, though:
I have indeed gotten over my fear of letting others see my heretical knitting, and I joined the Tokyo Stitch and Bitch! Everyone should have a knitting group. How great it is just get together with a bunch of other knitters and crocheters and just do what we do with complete acceptance and understanding. And frankly, I've never met a knitter (or crocheter) I didn't like. Well, almost never. Perhaps it's the endless hours of quiet a knitter spends thinking over miles of stockinette. Or maybe it's the understanding that being a part of knitting means you are part of a heritage stretching back over generations--it's humbling to think about how we are each a stitch in the fabric of history, each of us somehow adding to its texture. It is, for me, a reminder of my small but meaningful place in the midst of all this.
Anyway, podcasts. What a great way to fill our ears with news of new patterns and yarns, old and new knitting techniques and problems, and just the day to day lives of people just like us, with the same interests, motivations, and frustrations. So here are some of the ones I have been listening to every day:
The Knit Wits Carin and Rick's hilarious repartee always cheers me up!
Sticks and String This Australian bloke who knits is efficient, organized, interesting, and awesome!
KnitCents There is never a bad time to save money to spend more on yarn!
Stitch It!! Meghan is a great lady--I love listening to her stories about knitting and her "little man"
The Knitmore Girls Every time I listen to this mother-daughter team I get jealous that my mom doesn't knit!
Knitting Pipeline I love listening to Paula--she has great stories and I always feel like I'm listening to a wizened grandmother telling stories to her kids and grandkids.
The Knit Picks Podcast Kelley Petkun has the most soothing voice. I always feel relaxed while I'm listening (and knitting) to her.

This seems like a long list, doesn't it? Well, maybe I'm a little crazy... I do have a long commute during which I can listen, though. And why not? What could be nicer that listening to great knitters, anyway? Especially if you don't have a knitting community around you, or if you are just KIP-shy, it's a great way to keep connected!

Next time I post, I'll fill you in on all the projects I've been working on, which have been many!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Summer Fantasies

Summer vacation has finally begun--long awaited, and, this year, (I think) well deserved. I like teaching high school--every day presents new challenges and new successes--but who doesn't love a five week holiday?
I think it's true for all of us, though, that when vacation comes, there is an imminent feeling of catch-up. There are so many things I have been wanting to do, so let's get down to it! And yet, it's vacation--why not be lazy? Enjoy it!
Well, for me (sadly, perhaps), I always have a sense of urgency--counting down the days from the beginning to see how many I have left! There are so many things to do! This summer, I have a lot of goals--too many, I know--but I'll do my best to get the most out of my time off.

Of course, there's knitting. I am right now working on a pair of Cookie A's Hedera socks. I started them during finals week to take a break from correcting exams, and the first sock is just about done--I'm a couple of inches away from the toe decreases. After I finish the socks, I'll finish the Razor Cami I am still mustering up the patience to fix. Who knows after that? I just bought some lovely Fair Silk--enough for another summer tank, I think--and I'm hoping to do something very lacy and open. I've been browsing through the Barbara Walker volumes to find something that really sparks me, but there are so many things that are beautiful that I'd love to try my hand at...which has made me start thinking about making a sampler, just for the fun and for the practice. But we'll see.

Besides the knitting, I have a list of books a mile long that I want to (or I have to) read. Teaching literature has made me realize that since college, my analytical mind has gotten a little lazy. I've been reading for pleasure for too many years! So this summer, for me, is partially about prepping for the next term, but it's also about giving my brain a mental workout. So, it's an interesting melange of authors and genres--Nabokov, Bellow, Toni Morrison, Bronte, Henry James, Saramago. I'm especially looking forward to reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, which was highly recommended by several friends of mine, but I've heard it's quite the heartbreaker, so I need to be in the right place for that. That'll wait until the peak of my vacation.

Besides reading, there is sewing. I've been itching to drag out my sewing machine for weeks, but it's just too much of an undertaking during the school year. I have been daydreaming about making these pants in a green linen I picked up last year. And I also have a few of my own ideas for blouses in a couple of cotton prints that I found a while back.

Needless to say, the list is a just a touch too long for five weeks, but better have too much than boredom. Any vacation of the year!