process.

Wednesday is the day I get to stay home. I have no obligations calling me to campus, but I tend to have the most important book of the week to read — often for a meeting Thursday morning one-on-one with my advisor. These are the books that tend to speak to me, and these meetings, while often incredibly challenging, leave me with a feeling of affirmation that this is what I want to be doing. That part feels good.

The actual process of reading a book for a Thursday meeting? Time consuming, because it needs to be read carefully  (and should be, given that it is more relevant to my fields than most of what I read in my other classes). It is so easy to read 20 pages, only to realize that your mind was wandering, and you didn’t really catch what so-and-so was getting at in chapter 3. That does not quite cut it during Thursday meeting, so I’ve taken to using Wednesday to get other things done during the reading process in order to make sure I’m paying attention. All this to say that, despite the fact that I have no actual pictures of the reading process, I  can show you lots of the things I got done yesterday, in between chapters:

Hung out with the dog:

dog1

dog2

Baked oatmeal-cranberry-walnut cookies, based on Deb’s recipe from earlier this week:

oatmeal-cranberry1

Worked more of the foot of the sock, in 5 or 6 row increments throughout the day:

toeup2progress

After a particularly long chapter, I took this guy to the dog park:

dog3

What a ham. I also managed to do laundry, bake a loaf of bread, and have an ichat knitting date with a dear friend. I realize that this post makes grad school look like a piece of cake, but I stand by this particular approach to Wednesday: solid, focused reading, a chapter at a time, interspersed with productive tasks (laundry, errands, food prep) and fun (knitting, playing with dog) helps things to stick better, and means I don’t waste as much time losing focus/drifting off/etc. Note to self — do this more!

Apologies if the blog is getting a bit repetitive! These days I feel like my schedule looks a lot like this:

Read (a lot). Knit (a little). Repeat.

Time to pour another cup of coffee, read the epilogue, and make some thoughtful notes for my meeting.

one down.

sock-kitchen

Or should it be up? I am thrilled with the way this turned out. I haven’t done any of the regular tidying — weaving in ends, closing up small gaps near picked up stitches, etc. and it looks terrific! I’ll try to self-edit as I post, as I may have done some rather excessive photo-documentation of my very first toe-up sock.

sock-flat-kitchen

sock-closeup

The yarn is Madelinetosh Sock in Colorway Pool. I’m using size 2.5 needles, and I modified the tutorial for a 52 st sock to account for yarn weight and my gauge. When increasing for the gusset, I increased one side of the sock to 40 st, and then when it was time to work the heel, worked something like k12, ssk, k13 in order to center the heel over the center 13 st (1/4 of the regular sock stitches). I picked up 9 st along the decreased edge, and followed the instructions to get back to my magic number of 52.

As I’m unfamiliar with judging when to start the ribbing near the end of the sock, I do have a little bit of yarn leftover, and my ribbing is a good inch and a half.  I can’t believe how quickly this flew off my needles once I picked it back up. Excited about my toe-up momentum, I stayed up late last night and worked the toe of sock number 2.

sock-2

Unrelated, but entertaining:

boh-paws-on-ground

He sat/stood like this for  good ten minutes yesterday. My laundry is ready to go into the dryer, and I am ready for a second cup of coffee. Wishing you a productive Wednesday, and lots of toe-up sock confidence if you’ve been afraid to try it. This particular tutorial made the process painless — and I’ve certainly done my share of floundering with other sets of instructions. Thank you again to Andrea over at knittingbybicycle for clear notes and photos of the first section of the toe. What are you waiting for? Go check it out.

Progress.

This week, I’ve been reading a lot about Progress (with a capital P) and modernization in the 19th century. Something about all the language of improvement, advancement, expansion, etc. made me pick up my toe up sock project again (despite the fact that I think I most enjoyed reading things that explored the uneasiness with ideas of modernity that existed alongside the narrative of Progress).

toe-up-first-sock

Strange light in my house this morning — these socks have a lot more green in them than you can see in this photo. The lights and darks are definitely pooling, and there is a big weird dark splotch near the top (a function of the calf shaping I’m adding rather sporadically), but I actually love the big chunks of light/dark that make stripes.

After several false starts, this sock is flying. This expansion of my sock-knitting skill set would not be possible without this tutorial over at knitting by bicycle. The heel does not involve wrapping, and for that, I am extremely grateful. I’m so excited about being able to knit tall socks without worrying about how much yarn I’m using, and I’m thinking that this is going to turn into an almost knee-sock! (Yay.)

eggs-and-bread

I took this picture last week: fried eggs, homemade bread, good coffee, and at least ten minutes with the New Yorker = a good day.

Back to work — hoping to reward myself with finishing this sock today!

FO: ribbed baby sweater.

oscar21

oscar1

Hooray! The seaming is finished. And it wasn’t even that bad. (Note to self: Remember this the next time I let a sweater languish because it needs to be seamed.) Baby sweater seams go super quickly.

Details:

Mission Falls 1824 Cotton, 3.5 (?) balls. (might have been 4.5)

US 7 needles

3-6 mo size.

I would definitely make this again.

The goal was to have this finished in time for my weekly independent study with my advisor — which isn’t for another two hours. Victory!

Time to get back to the book we’re discussing…

“feeling” productive.

The keyword there is “feeling,” folks. Yesterday was such a day: only a few hours of academic work was completed, but I managed to go grocery shopping, make all sorts of deliciousness in the kitchen, teach someone to knit, and attend reading group.

smashed-chickpea-salad

Smashed chickpea salad, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. (Shocking, I know.) My version lacked olives and bread, to make it a sandwich, but this was even better than I expected.

bread-and-brownies

More applesauce bread (I’ve been making at least a loaf a week lately) and Mark Bittman’s basic brownies — I know I’ve posted these before, but it has been several months since the last time I baked them. These were for a friend’s birthday. and they were every bit as good as I remembered them to be. And so easy! Why aren’t you making them already?

snowing

Yesterday afternoon, after several days of green grass and muddy walks with Boh, the snow began to fall again, in huge, wet flakes. Yay!

oscar-blocking

Progress on the baby sweater. At last. The ribbed baby jacket is blocking, and is almost dry. This afternoon, I will sew the seams together and weave in the ends. I ended up making a buttonhole in case I go that route, and after looking at snaps yesterday, I think I’d prefer a bright button. If I can’t make it to the yarn shop, I may swipe the blue button from my gathered cardi. We’ll see…

Time for coffee and actual productivity, instead of just feelings of productivity!

about 5 bank accounts, 3 oz and 2 vehicles*

twilight-2oz

This is more like 2 oz.

Of fiber from the January Spunky Club.

Not anything illicit. I’m just saying.

I’m realizing that 2 oz is about all I can fit on the spindle at one time. Despite what this picture seems to reveal, I’m really happy with the evenness of this yarn. the last 10 yards or so are more irregular (and what you can see here) and I think it has to do with how heavy the spindle gets. When it is approaching full, my technique seems to emphasis the “drop” in drop spindle!

*This is Dr. Dre’s answer to the previous line, and the name of the song: “What’s the difference between me and you?” Given that the song lyrics and music references I normally post situate me solidly in the land of americana/folk/alt country, I’ll provide a little more context. This album was popular during my freshman year of college, and somehow it became clear that a friend and I knew all the words. (While this isn’t my favorite song, I have a serious memory for useless information like song lyrics.) He is getting married next year, and there have been jokes about demonstrating this particular skill at the wedding. If you know the song, you probably realize that it is pretty intense/violent and, shall we say, representative of the genre. Despite all of this, it makes me think of said friend whenever it comes up on itunes, and I smile. Music is good for that.

Plus, now that I operate in ounces — of a very different kind than Dr. Dre —  it is allowing me to creatively(?) post on my spinning progress this week…

first handspun FO.

handspuncowl1

handspuncowl2

I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out, as my first plied handspun is definitely a thick-thin yarn. After perusing a bunch of cowl patterns on Ravelry, I settled on something similar to the malabrigo cowl I made a few months ago. I was aiming for a drapey fabric, and figured I’d knit til I ran out of yarn.

I cast on 75 stitches, worked a purl row at some point to counter the roll over, and then knit, knit, knit while catching up with a friend on the other side of the world, listening to This American Life, and even last week’s CraftLit episode. I increased by 9 stitches at a few different points in the middle, worked a decrease row (also 9 st) somewhere, another purl bump row, an increase row, and then at about 14 inches, a purl row close to the bind off. I was worried about getting it over my head, initially, but those fears were totally unfounded. I LOVE this cowl — and not just because it represents my first foray into the spinning side of things. I stayed up an extra hour last night in order to finish this — here’s the token “hold the camera up to the mirror” picture marking my victory:

handspuncowl3

It’s a good thing you can’t actually see how bleary-eyed I was at this moment — but we all know how certain projects induce a kind of “must…finish…” zombie-like state.

In conclusion: hooray for handspun! (And I will finish that baby sweater by Friday. Really.)