albatross.

Let’s be honest: I’m probably keeping those handspun mittens I started for my brother for myself. After all, that lumpy, bumpy stuff is my first ever wheelspun. I can’t give that away, right? Besides, the first mitten wouldn’t even fit his hand, because it just happens to fit mine perfectly.

Enter this awesome CMF superwash merino in the albatross colorway. Deep blues, pale yellows — masculine enough for my brother, and super soft. I separated about 3.5 oz from the 8 oz that I have, and began spinning for a squishy 2-ply. I’m going to call my brother for a hand measurement later so that I don’t accidentally make these in my size as well…

Here’s the cuff of the second mitten.

And here’s my silly dog in the background.

Boh and I have plans to ring in the New Year quietly, and perhaps a little bit early, with delicious farm food and an evening of knitting and spinning. (We’ll also take a walk in the snow before it gets dark.)

Whatever your plans may be this evening, Boh and I hope that you are able to ring in the new year with people/pets/crafts that bring you joy.

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oh-nine.

Well, here they are: the 2009 knits still in my possession. This year I knit 3 sweaters (4, if I manage to get the GYC butons on today), 3 pairs of socks, 10 hats, 4 baby gifts, 2 pair of toast mitts, 4 shawls, and a cowl (in a pear tree).

I took a look at my oh-nine goals, and I’m feeling pretty good about my fibery progress this year. I wanted to finish 28thirty, and I did. I wanted to knit toe-up socks, and I did. I wanted to successfully knit a short row heel, and I did (though the pair isn’t done). I started knitting socks on 2 circular needles. I wanted to learn how to ply on my drop spindle, and I did. I wanted to spin a 3-ply sock yarn, and I did (though I did it on the wheel, not the spindle).

Things I didn’t quite get to? Cabling without a cable needle, knitting more of the sweaters on my list.

Things not on the list? I knit my first “real” lace shawl, for my friend H’s wedding. Oh, and I bought my wheel, and learned to spin on it.

In life beyond knitting, this was a huge year for me. 2009 contained some of the best and some of the hardest moments of my life. I’m pretty sure I fell in love this year, and those of you who read regularly know that I also had my heart broken. (Apologies for the passive voice, but I’m not sure it is totally fair to say that he broke it. Heartbreak was certainly the result, but the experience of trusting someone enough to allow myself to become more codependent than I imagined I’d be — and then dealing with the aftermath — was very much about me.)

I’ve spent quite a lot of time in my head this year, wrestling with my own dreams and expectations, and I imagine that will continue. It isn’t always easy, but it is important, I think, to keep doing it.

This year I started canning. I discovered a passion for pickling. I found yoga. I taught my first section, gave my first lecture, did archival research for the first time as a grad student. I made a home here, and then set about making it anew, slowly reclaiming places that had been “we” places for me.

2009 was not what I expected. I’m not sure I’d change it, but I’m rather relieved that it is time for 2010.

pigeonroof studios merino times two.

PRS x 2 = awesome.

Yesterday, all I did was ply. And ply. And ply. This is 439 yards of 2-ply, mostly worsted weight, from 2 braids of pigeonroof studios merino (in unknown colorways from a rav destash) in three skeins of 183, 166, and 90 yards. I’m thinking this yarn might make an awesome eternity scarf. What do you think?

I have so many knitting projects I’m excited about, but this week it seems like all I want to do is sit at my wheel. (Not exactly a bad thing, but I really should sit down and sew some buttons on my otherwise totally completed GYC so that I can wear it!)

It is a little bit warmer out today, so Boh and I have plans for a nice walk, and then we get to go pick up our farm share this afternoon. Stay tuned for a recap of my 2009 knitting goals, as well as some thoughts on 2010.

“new glass in the window…”

“New glass in the window, new leaf on the tree.” If you’re looking for some music to keep you company as you knit, spin, read, and hunker this week, check out the recently released live compilation of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. It’s called Dreamin’ Man Live ’92, it sounds like it is just Neil, acoustic, and it is fantastic. (Post title is a line in From Hank to Hendrix.)

I’ve seen some internet chatter about whether these songs/this album are among Neil’s best or not, and I don’t really care about all of that. I’m not interested in trying to compare Harvest Moon to Tonight’s the Night or any of that; I like it all.

While listening to this album, I spun up most of the second braid of Pigeonroof Studios merino, and today, I plan to start plying it.

Also, do you want to see what I got myself for finishing up the semester?

A new Namaste bag! (This is the Laguna.) I loved my Malibu to death, mostly by lugging it everywhere and filling it with way too many library books. Despite my constant abuse of this bag, it gave me almost two years of daily service, and I’m sure it would have lasted much longer if I’d been better about not overloading it with enormous books about the 19th century. This bag is every bit as cavernous as my old bag, and I love the messenger strap. The shape is a bit different — deeper and less wide, which seems better for the kinds of things I’m often lugging around. The external pockets are great for phone and keys — both things that would end up floating around loose in my old bag. I could keep raving about this bag, but instead, I’ll just say that these bags are worth considering the next time you need to replace your take-everything-everywhere bag. LOVE. Yay!

monday mitten.

Two pictures, one mitten. This is the first mitten that I am ostensibly knitting for my brother. This is my first wheelspun yarn, oatmeal bfl from paradise fibers, and while I had to cast on about 5 times to get a cuff that seemed snug enough with my lumpy bumpy yarn (note to self: 36 st), I am in love with this mitten. The thing is, this mitten is probably not long enough to fit my brother with a bit of ease, despite my constant measuring and re-measuring against my mom’s hand (bigger than mine).

I think the decreases occurred much faster than I was anticipating (I mistakenly expected that the decrease rows would occur every other row), but it is possible that my subconscious wanted me to knit these to fit MY hands instead. I finished this first mitten (well, sans thumb) before Christmas, but I haven’t decided whether to rip back and make this bigger and knit another, or to finish the pair and keep them, and knit a new pair for my brother. What a dilemma, right?

Also, last night I cast on a lacy baktus in my handspun AVFKW merino/silk in A King’s Ransom colorway. Believe the hype: this pattern is addicting.

Today, Boh and I are doing laundry, cleaning the house, frolicking in the snow, organizing the closets — and eating this delicious traditional Czechoslovakian bread called hoaska that my dad makes every year for Christmas. (Boh is not eating the bread. Or helping with the rest of these tasks.)

Yum. I can’t believe they let me leave with almost a third of a loaf! It might be time for another piece…

for chunk.

(He has a real name now, but I sort of prefer Chunk, at least for this post. After all, he was known to the world as Chunk while I was spinning and knitting for him!)

This is based on the Pebble vest — and many of the modifications I found on Ravelry. I decided to knit this in the round and eliminate the side buttons. I must have cast on 4 times, each time decreasing the number of stitches in order to arrive at something that looked appropriate for a newborn but would also offer some room for growth. (I may have more details scribbled on the pattern I printed out, but I’m at my parents’ house now and don’t have those handy.)

I looked at a lot of different baby hats to get a sense for the number of stitches to cast on, and then used the Thorpe pattern as a guide. I used every last scrap of that FLUFF superwash merino handspun in Beach Day to finish binding off the hat. Whew!

I also wanted to make something soft and cozy for Chunk’s mom, A, so I got out the leftovers from two of the seaman’s caps I knit this fall and crossed my fingers that there would be enough yarn to make a pair of toast mitts. The handspun makes the gauge and color changes a bit wonky, but these are supersoft, and exactly the kind of thing I wanted to tuck into this package. These treats arrived in the Southwest on Wednesday, and I cannot wait to see how handsome Chunk looks in his new handspun duds.

Also — I’ve taken a bit of a digital vacation these last few days, so my apologies in advance if I don’t manage to motivate myself to take some finished photos of my mom’s Multnomah. I think I managed 5 repeats of the feather and fan lace. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, even though I had to wrap it at 11 pm on Christmas Eve. I’ll be back to see my parents in January, and I’m intending to give it a good blocking then.

Boh and I are heading back to our bright green kitchen in the morning — more soon!

dashing through the snow.

We only have a few inches here, but since I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit and Boh and I are hopping in the car this afternoon to head to my parents’ house, I’m going with “dashing through the snow” today.

I’m also dashing through my knitting, or trying to. Here’s mom’s Multnomah shawl. I’m three repeats (of 11) through the lace section, and I can get through a repeat in about half an hour. I’m planning to crank through as many repeats as I can tonight, early tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night (as I’ll be AT my parents’ house) — okay, maybe the next morning too — and then try to surreptitiously block and wrap this. I’m still packing/planning, but I think I’m going to tuck my blocking mats into a tote bag and try to do this right. We’ll see…

Also, my brother isn’t coming home for Christmas this year — he has to work the day before and the day after, so it just didn’t make sense. I mailed him a little something this week, but I am behind on his knitted gift. With the academic calendar as crazy as it is in December, I really need every last minute between the end of the semester and Christmas Day to get everything done! (And this year, I totally prioritized new baby knitting, but I’m not sorry about that! I’ve been excited about his arrival for months!)

Anyway, in keeping with my plan to knit everyone (well, everyone who likes wool — see Multnomah shawl above) something out of handspun, I’m making my brother some mittens out of oatmeal bfl (the lighter stuff) and dark grey local jacob. I’m going to use the Alex’s Mittens pattern by Rebekkah Kerner (whose handspun is awesome, by the way). The pattern has a nice, full hand, which I really like.

What else am I bringing home? I’m going to cast on the Lacy Baktus, finally, out of my AVFKW A King’s Ransom handspun, and I’m also bringing my GYC cardigan so that I can finally sit down and sew on the buttons. And that’s it! I always bring way more knitting than I can ever complete whenever I go home, and while options are nice, I’m working on developing more reasonable expectations so that I’m not just lugging a lot of things back and forth unnecessarily.

This is a little something I got myself for Christmas — 2 bumps of FLUFF bfl in Turkey Two-Step. I decided that I am not bringing my wheel with me this week, which means it has never left my house, despite the fact that it folds and has a carry bag. I am, however, planning to spend a week at my parents’ house in January, and I think I might bring it then. This fiber will have to wait until next week!

Also, yesterday I made peanut brittle, from Deb’s recipe. (Of course.) I made two batches, and I must not have cooked the first batch on high enough heat, because it did not solidify, and I ended up having to toss it. It stayed chewy, like caramel, which would have been fine, except that it was impossible for me to get the wax paper (even though I greased it) off of this batch. Boo. Glad I made a second batch, though because this brittle is fantastic — crunchy without being too hard to bite into, sweet and salty, yum. I think this is the perfect treat to counter all the Christmas cookies I’ll be baking with my mom tonight!