Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On Resolutions and UFOS...

I have always loved the new year and the symbolic fresh start that comes with it.  For me, the holidays brought some big changes, in the form of a new roommate.

This is Tess, short for Tessa (originally Tesla, but I was afraid that was a little too geeky for someone who works with really big magnets).  I met her over Thanksgiving when my sister brought her to dinner.  Let me explain--my sister works for a dog rescue fostering dogs that have been given up and retraining them for adoption.  Tess stole my heart right away, so I adopted her Christmas Day. 

The truth of the matter is, I have been feeling a sort of unease of late.  I get this way from time to time; not exactly restless, but like I have become a little too complacent and am in need of something to shake things up.  I have found that when I feel dissatisfied, I am driven to make changes that can results in great growth or a change in my life path.  It was this same sense of unease that drove me to return to school for my graduate degree some years ago, then later to leave my friends and family to move across the country for a low-paying but challenging job over a high-paying job that would have kept me in my comfort zone.  And honestly, I consider those two decisions as the two single best things I have ever done.  So I am hoping that sharing my life and home with Tess will be the start of something very positive in my life.

That said, it is not without its challenges, not the least of which is scheduling.  Tess likes to walk.  A lot.  Several times a day.  This is not so much compatible with a workaholic who travels frequently.  I took off two weeks at Christmas for us to settle in and get used to each other, and I am happy to say both of us did a lot of walking and a lot of napping during that time.  It helped that we had a streak of very nice weather, with little or no snow and atypically high temperatures for New England in January.  Next to walking, Tess's favorite thing is looking at the ducks on the river.  Every day she rushes to this spot, and I practically have to drag her away.

I am embarrassed to say I have not walked outside this much since I moved here, and I have loved reconnecting with the area.  I have also found my "backyard" to be rife with inspiration.  If I were putting together a "what inspires me" page in my design notebook, here are some of the images I would include:

The ice forms these delicate little sculptures on the trees along the river bank that look like finely-blown strings of glass pearls.  They don't show up as well as I had hoped in my photos, but hopefully you get the idea.

 And of course the wonderful reminders that we are a mill town first and foremost.

I actually live in a refurbished mill building that was originally built in 1830 and housed a very large cotton spinning and weaving factory.

There are reminders of the industrial age everywhere, and I have always found this to be a source of inspiration for my knitting.

I don't know if you can read the print on the side of  the building, but it says "Knit Fabrics: We take PRIDE in our product". So that is going to be my motto for the year--taking pride in my knit fabrics.  That said, I was asked recently in the form of a questionnaire for a swap what my knitting resolutions were for the year.
Back in October, I decided my second blog year goal was to knit six sweaters, but my personal New Year's knitting resolution is to tie up some loose ends in the form of some UFOs.  And I don't mean that in a generic, "I am going to finally finish all my projects" kind of way.  I have four particular UFOs in various states of completion that have been on my mind of late, and my goal is to tie up these loose ends once and for all.  Here they are (in no particular order):
  1. The Little Blue Sweater, or in my case, the little burgandy sweater.  I started this, embarrassingly enough, in 2008 on a trip to Hong Kong.  The front, back, and sleeves have been done forever.  Status: stuck in seaming.  Reason: You see, I hate seaming.  I hate seaming lace more than I hate seaming.  And I hate seaming set-in sleeves above all else. Seaming set-in sleeves made of lace?  Forget about it.  Goal:  January, to have it stitched up and neckband added. 
  2. Lace Cardigan #10, from Vogue Knitting Spring 2007.  All the knitting was done in 2 weeks.  This was the project on which I discovered the joy of airplane knitting, and all but sleeves were done in 2 cross-country flights.  Status:  You guessed it--stuck in seaming.  Reason:  See #1 above.  Sad, I know as I have seamed many a project before and since without this type of time lag. Goal: Let's just say by spring.  That gives me a nice, wide, 3-month window.
  3. Lily of the Valley Opera Gloves.  I fell head over heels for this pattern, and celebrated my love with an indulgent purchase of a luxury silk-cashmere lace-weight for the project. Status: Middle of glove one.  Reason:  I discovered two very important things.  One, I hate bobbles. Two, cashmere lace weight breaks very easily.  You see, I knit lots of socks. Most of my socks are made of wool. Wool is strong. I pull the wool really tight at the end of each needle to avoid ladders. That poor cashmere never had a chance.  After 3 breaks in 5 rows, I put them down in frustration, with a vision of starting over and using knupps instead of bobbles. Goal: I am going to give myself a lot of lattitude with this one.  Let's say by Dec 31 2012...
  4. Map of the World sweater.  Ah, this one is a true blast from the past.  I ordered the kit complete with Reynolds Saucy cotton back in the early 90's when I was primarily a crocheter who knitted occasionally.  It was my first intarsia project, and what a doozy!  (Though I have to say, I am quite pleased with the work my teen-aged self did on it) The colors are reminiscent of what I wore in the 80's (teal, hot pink and orange!), and it is an over-sized, drop-shoulder design with no shaping whatsoever.  But, hey, it is a map of the world, and how cool is that!  Status:  North and south America, Australia, most of the Pacific, and half of Africa completed.  Russia and China still looming.  Bits and pieces of Europe scattered about.  Reason: I was flaky back then and never stayed loyal to a project for long.  Goal:  Sometime after the Rocky Coast Cardigan and in all likelihood before I get around to seaming set-in sleeves made of lace.  Not needed for any particular season because let's face it--I am not going to wear this thing in public!  It is more about making a personal statement (to myself, natch) about finishing long-standing UFOs.  And I want to be able to say I knit a map of the world, because really, how cool is that!   
 Bye for now.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


With all the travel in Oct-Nov-Dec, I have had a hard time finding the energy to post.  I have had some interesting travel and knitting experiences, though.

I actually had to rush back from Rhinebeck to catch a flight to Atlanta.  I left just after noon, and only stopped briefly to admire the beautiful fall foilage along the ride home.  I quickly swung by my house and swapped out suitcases, then headed straight to the airport to catch a flight to Atlanta.  My seatmate was a very interesting woman who had just published a book on sales management.  We actually started talking when I took out my knitting--this is always a great conversation starter--and chatted all the way until we picked up our respective luggage and parted ways at the taxi stand.

I had been seated next to another book author in September, and both promised to send me copies of their books, though I have not received either yet.  Honestly, if I were to choose one thing that I love most about travel, it would be this: the interesting people you meet along the way that you would never come in contact with otherwise.  I was recounting this story on ravelry, and got a reply back from another author, who had recently returned from her own book tour.  During the course of her tour, she had offered up books to her seatmates on various flights, so we decided to become virtual seatmates.  We began corresponding, and she offered to send me a copy of her book, which arrived a couple of weeks ago.  It is a beautiful meditation on knitting and service and how the two fit together, and I am enjoying it very much.  Thank you virtual seatmate!

Another interesting experience was talking with the flight attendants on a short commuter flight in November.  We had a lively discussion of knitware and they told me they loved to purchase hand-knit items from a friend of one of their colleages.  Their favorite item by far was what they called "circle scarves" which I believe is an infinity cowl.  They tell me there is a waiting list a mile long for these, so I may have to try knitting up a couple.  Perhaps that will be my knitted gift of the year since everyone I know already has socks.