Monday, February 25, 2008

The Sock that saw Barack...

Even though I did not win one of the raffle tickets to the democratic debate last Tuesday, I did get a chance to see Barack Obama on Friday night at a rally held for him. Myself and three of my friends begged off a meeting in order to be a little part of the history currently in the making.

We wanted to get there early in order to have a good view of the stage. One of my friends said that if he was going he wanted to see the man's eyes. So we got there when the gates opened at 6pm, went through the metal detectors and settled in to wait for the 9pm speech. I had flashbacks to the Austin City Limits festival, except I wasn't sweating buckets. It was a beautiful night to cram a bunch of people into a quarter block cordoned off area. There were thousands of other people outside the fences. The creepy thing is that someone, somewhere, has figured out how much space needs to be secured for a rally such as this in order to place the speaker out of the range that a weapon might be able to reach. Gives you the willies, doesn't it?

Anyway, I was amused over the next three hours by my friends, a wonderful r&b group, a high school mariachi band, and lastly a rock band (although I have to admit, by the time the rock band came on in the corner stage behind us, the crowd was so packed that I assumed the music was recorded, not live). Oh, and my current sock in progress. I very nearly finished the body of this guy while chatting with my friends and waiting for the speech. Since then I have finished the first one and knit the ribbed cuff of the second. I think I will have to call these the Barack Socks.

As for the speech, I won't go into detail. If you are unfamiliar with Obama's platform I suggest going to the official website. I found that I am far less eloquent than he is when I tried to explain the content of his speech to others. And while I do not use my blog as a soapbox, I will say that he is my candidate in this election.

The rest of the weekend ended up leaving me even more tired than when it started! It ended with the Oscars, and I wanted to share this picture with you. Living in Austin gives you some freedoms that I did not experience in the midwest. People in this town manage to walk the fine line between yard trash and yard art, tacky and tasteful, with the greatest of ease. For example, That Guy went to great efforts to put gravel into the yard. Low hanging tree canopies and rocky soil prevent grass from growing, and the yard gets quite muddy at times. He also built a nice fire pit. We like to make fires and watch movies outside in the yard. There are white christmas lights in the trees year round. And to top it off, he recently acquired this mini fridge. Yes, the television is sitting on top of our mini beer fridge in the front yard, fire and christmas lights casting a warm glow.

And the people I know down here think this is fantastic! It certainly is fun!


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Catching up...

Finally, for your viewing pleasure, a picture heavy post! I found myself home a little earlier than usual today. Since I did not win the much desired ticket to the Clinton/Obama debate on campus tonight (I have heard that 50,000 people signed up for the 100 tickets available in the drawing) I decided it would be best to get off campus early if at all possible. As I have a chunk of computer work that can be done at home I felt okay clearing out at 4:30pm. With the little sunlight remaining I decided to get some shots of my current WIP's.

The closeup of the brown and blue colorway above is some fabulous Schaeffer Anne being knit up in my generic sock pattern for myself. I recently purchased a nice pair of Keen's at the REI clearance sale. They are the Keen version of the Mary Jane, so I have taken to wearing all my handknit socks with them. I can't wait to finish these!

The pinkness here is a much better photo of the scarf I showed in my previous post. I have finished one out of two skeins, and I have a third for a crocheted trim edge that I've planned.

Here you can see my male cat, Abraham, practically rolling his eyes at me for not having this sweater finished by now. I worked on this over the Christmas break and then just dropped it as soon as classes started.

I've gotten the body knit up to splitting it for the front and back. As you can see below, one side of the front is completed and the other side started. The back stitches are still on holders. The yarn is some that our friend in Germany gave me when I visited with my dad the other year. It's a wool/alpaca blend. This pattern calls for the yarn to be knit on larger than usual needles in order to give the knitted fabric more drape. The openness of the stitches also means the alpaca shouldn't get to warm. Important in this central Texas climate. I did make one modification. Since I don't like the rolled edge that results from starting with stockinette, I started with rows of garter stitch. I plan to do the same on the sleeves hems. I haven't decided yet how to deal with the neck opening, since I think the pattern has you pick up stitches and knit that rolled edge there as well. Perhaps a seed stitch?

Here's a closeup of the center cablely motif. I quite like it, and I know it will be even nicer when the rest of the sweater is blocked.
I also might go with shorter cap sleeves and wear this as a layer with a long sleeved white shirt. I might get more use out of it that way.

While I do have some sock yarn in my stash at the moment, the percentage of it in comparison to other types/weights of yarn is actually pretty low. I have quite a lot more lace yarn, so I have put a purchase ban on any more until I use up at least half of what I already have. Sock yarn, however, I don't feel nearly so bad purchasing. There is always a sock on my needles. Of late I have branched out in my brands of sock yarn, much to my delight. The yarn seen here is a recent purchase from The Loopy Ewe. Fiesta Boomerang in Jamaican Spice. This should be great to work with. It is so soft and sproingy!

While the Jamaican Spice is for moi, this little number is for the request of another colleague. Natalie asked for a pair of socks. Specifically all wool. No nylon, no polyamide, just good old wool. I am happy to oblige with this Schaeffer Lola in the Walk in the Forest colorway. I think these will be the next pair I cast on.

I hope you have enjoyed the yarny goodness!


Monday, February 18, 2008

Aii yai yai!

Wow. This might be the worst photo I've ever put on this blog. I just wanted to let ya'll know that I'm still around! I have actually knit some other fine things recently, but for want of sunlight have not photographed them. That, and a couple of items were gifted knits that I neglected to photograph. So, if my biggest sis reads this anytime in the new future - maybe you could take a picture of your shawl sometime? Against a backdrop of snowy Chicago perhaps?

As for the other item, I did finally photograph it - with someone else's camera. So once I have that pic I will definitely post it as I'm quite pleased with it. Nothing major, just a hat, but it's pretty and the recipient was really happy with it.

As for the barely distinguishable knitting in the photo above...this is a gift knit as well. I can blog about it because A) the recipient knows she is getting it. She has even seen the yarn and its progress thus far, and B) I'm not sure she looks at this blog anyway. She is a graduate school colleague, so we see each other all the time. She probably knows better what is going on in my day to day life than the rest of my family. Sorry family! I love you all, but I love Austin too! What is a girl to do? Anyway, I have a twisted scarf that I wear constantly that I knit out of Classic Elite Blithe, a baby camel sportweight yarn. In fact, I knit the scarf once, lost it one Christmas, and missed it so much I knit it again. This time with three full skeins instead of two. I love this scarf, and it has gained the attention of two grad colleague's thus far. These people are my friends as well. Since I love to knit, and I love to give the knits away, I informed my friends and family at some point in time in the past that they could make requests. Mainly because if I am going to go to the time and effort to make something for someone, I want it to be something they will love and use.

So I bought this pink Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed about a year or so ago and have taken it out of the stash from time to time to ponder it. It is a heavier gauge of yarn than the Blithe, so I didn't think the pattern I had used would have the right sort of drape. Eventually I just had to accept that this yarn would yield a different kind of scarf, so I adjusted my approach. I have decided to do a reversible stitch pattern so that I can knit it flat, twisting it only once and grafting the ends together to make a mobius. I am also making it as a single tube. Mine is very long, wrapping two times around my neck. With this yarn I think that would be to bulky, especially in this climate.

The stitch pattern I'm using is very simple. It is essentially six rows of garter stitch alternated with five rows of *yo, K2tog. The first stitch of every row is slipped, and the last stitch of every row is purled. I'm using a 24"US 4 Addi Turbo Lace Circular needle. Knowing my history of posting since graduate school began the next time you'll see this is likely to be when it's finished! Since I'm with my friend nearly every day at least you are more likely to get a photo of it.

On a non-knitting note, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have both brought their campaigns to Texas in anticipation of the Texas primary actually counting for something in the Democratic nominations. In an extra bit of excitement, they are holding a debate this Thursday on the University of Texas at Austin campus a mere few blocks from the building that I spend most of my time in. It is an invited audience, but there are a block of tickets reserved for a drawing amongst the UT students. Naturally, I've entered. Even if I don't get to go we are hoping someone from our department gets to go so we can get a firsthand account. Otherwise, it will be broadcast live on CNN. Exciting!

Anyway, sorry I've been MIA. I came down with what we on campus have coined the "viral crud" and missed a FULL WEEK of school/work. I can't tell you how strange this was. I haven't been sick like that in years. Fever, chills, coughing, terrible hot wet sinuses. I spent so much time in bed totally out of it that when I returned the following Monday I had a strange moment. My friends were working and talking about their projects and the classes from the week before (it was Monday) and it hit me that I had missed a FULL WEEK. One friend noticed my blank stare and looked me in the eye. This prompted me to mutter, "I was gone last week, wasn't I?" To which she replied, eyebrows raised, very frank, "Yea. It was weird. We missed you." Awwwww. That was two weeks ago, and I'm just now feeling like I'm caught up!

I'm pretty sure that my staying away the entire week prevented me from being the cause of other people's infection. I suppose next year I will have to seriously consider getting the flu shot. Just for the last year of grad school though. In general, I don't like to put to many meds in my body. At least not now when I'm still young and pretty healthy.