Friday, July 27, 2007

Finished socks!

I even have a finished object to show you! What's even crazier is that Coffeeboy was excited enough that he tried them on in hot weather! Not outside, mind you, but still! Given his aversion to the heat, it was a true sign of appreciation.

Gentleman's Fancy Socks.JPG

Pattern: Gentleman's Fancy Socks, from Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoote, color "Mums", 2 skeins plus a bit of black yarn for the toes
Needles: Size 0 DPNs
Thoughts: These were a fun pattern to knit for the future professor. they had enough patterning not to be boring, but not so much that I didn't memorize it. Designed to be long, they'll sure keep him warm this winter! I added the little black toes because in both cases, I ran out of the skein at the very end, and decided he'd probably think the contrasting toes were neat. (I did have a third skein, but didn't want to use only a small bit of it, preferring instead to have a contrasting toe color).

I've also finished my first Monkey sock; I need to cast on for the second! (Do I smell some second-sock syndrome here? Hopefully not, but moving is mighty distracting.

The weather is hot and heavy. We've been packing and packing. I shredded years worth of old bills and so on yesterday; the more I shred, the less we need to move. You won't believe what I was still carrying around! I found health insurance plan details from jobs I left years and years ago, credit card statements for cards I don't have any more, and possibly the most telling one of all: pamphlets of information on deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot in the leg, one of which I had in college.

I know I still "carry" that episode around with me in a lot of worrying, so I wasn't too surprised to see just how much I still had from that experience. I kept the important stuff but ditched lists of symptoms, instructions on how to inject anti-coagulating shots, and the like. Maybe if I can ditch the paperwork, the same will happen to my mind? I doubt it, but it's worth a shot nevertheless!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I've been holding out on you!

There are some bloggers, it seems, that when the going gets tough, the fingers get typing. With me, it seems to be the opposite! The more I have going on, and have to say, the harder it is, in the end, to get it all in the blog. (I suppose it doesn't help that the latest edition of Blogger's posting feature is really, really slow on my computer. As in, type a key, wait a second for it to appear, over and over.) But I won't hold out on you any longer...

Be that as it may, I have some pretty fiber pictures for you, because otherwise you'd see pictures of books moved into boxes and of all the random things we're trying to get rid of (old furniture, random appliances like a breadmaking machine, microwave, yadda, yadda, that we won't need at our new place).

But on to the pictures! First, the second half of my trip to Massachusetts (a week and a half ago, now):


We stopped at WEBS. Yes, I bought yarn. (If I remember, I'll try to take a picture of the booty). I felt a bit silly, posing with my sock outside this shrine of sheepiness, hence the lopsided smile.

After that, we moved on to one of my favorite places ever: Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in Lenox, MA. I spent 2 months there in high school, studying the french horn, lying out under the trees on the lawn and listening to concerts while deciding whether to go to a conservatory for college, or to a liberal arts school. I chose the latter, based partly on that summer.

Tanglewood-1.JPG Tanglewood-2.JPG

Now whenever I'm there, I'm transported back to a magical summer full of teenage angst and self-discovery. During that summer, I realized that I didn't have the drive, the will, that would be necessary to succeed (to master those high notes, that lip trill), as a professional hornist. Many of my other colleagues were much more competitive, though, and no doubt thought I wasn't terribly good. Once I realized I didn't want to compete with them, that I was (for once in my lifetime!) all right with being myself, it didn't matter that they were better than me, that they didn't think I was even good enough for second horn.

Maybe that's one reason why I like visiting Tanglewood so much, that by some strange act of sympathetic magic, I think that returning again to a place of importance will somehow bring back that same sense of equilibrium.

Of course, I like Tanglewood for other reasons: magnificent music, its beautiful grounds, stately trees, the variety of fanciness or simplicity with which people picnic on "the lawn," the surrounding mountains, the memories. This time, though, in addition to that and to hearing Sibelius's Second Symphony (which "my" orchestra played during that unforgettable summer), there was knitting:

Tanglewood-3.JPG Tanglewood-4.JPG
(Monkey socks!)

Everything cycles back on itself, or at least, that is how I find myself thinking about life, the past and the present each commenting on each other and helping prepare for the future. Going back to Tanglewood before leaving the northeast was Coffeeboy's idea - and I'm so glad he suggested we do it!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Days in Archives

Sometimes, I really like this researching life. Others, it seems a strange ordeal to put myself through! Cold feet, cold shoulders, no coffee right next to me, a hungry hole in the pit of my belly (no snacks either!). Because what else are you to do in a Rare Books and Manuscripts library but page through folders and of material, hoping for that gem, deciphering handwriting, or worrying about just how much all those photocopies are supposed to cost?

Because certainly, you wouldn't want to spill hot coffee on hundred-year old documents (and you wouldn't want iced coffee given the air conditioning.) Nor would you want to nibble tasty banana bread and get crumbs on those documents for the mice to find! And you certainly couldn't bring in your knitting, because what if you removed a document from the library hidden therein - or punctured a hole in the all-too-fragile paper! (I suppose that's what evenings are for: catching up with the yarn).

Sometimes you find a small, congenial library: the lockers for one's bags are located close to the reading room; there is a small shelf atop the lockers for - you guessed it - coffee storage! Last week, I finally decided to bring my beverage into the locker room, which also held the photocopier. That way, whenever I went in there to make copies, I could take a leisurely sip of coffee. Yum! Or, if the archive is even smaller, there's no pretense: coffee and computer on one table, and on the next table over, the old folders and books and boxes. There's caffeination and a warm beverage to take the chill off, and the air conditioner might even be adjustable! Such, indeed, was my pleasant experience this morning!

Edited to add:The above was written yesterday, when I was indeed freezing (one woman yesterday had on a sweater and two shawls; a man had on a thick wool sweater), under-cafeinated, and hungry (but too engrossed to want to go get lunch). Julia and The Add Knitter are right, though, there's much to enjoy and I do get into a zone, trying to imagine and read and think my way into a life or a movement separated into labels, folders, boxes, finding aids. Someone real touched this paper, someone who fascinates me - and someone else real categorized this same paper, called it X, separated it from all the myriad little things that went into its production. When I'm not dreaming of being covered in wool socks, shawls, and hats it's a lovely world to be a part of, for a little while.

Tomorrow, I need to get back to real life, though, and remind myself that I'm moving in 2 and a half weeks, and haven't started packing!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stream of thoughts

How's everyone doing in the heat? I can't wait for it to be over, I can tell you that much! I've been keeping cool in the AC... in fact, I even have a finished object to show you!

How did I make so much progress? I joined and downloaded a book, listening to it on my iPod this past Saturday. We were at Borders and I meant to do work, but instead, the very yarny cover of The Friday Night Knitting Club caught my eye, and I read it in the store for about an hour... and I got hooked. Not hooked enough to pay market prices and take time out of knitting for it, but enough to decide I'd listen to the book and knit at the same time! The book is, well, entertaining enough, but that's all I'll say for now since my wrists are in pain from the knitting, fiddling with that little microfilm wheel, and answering a bundle of email.

It's a good thing I'll be stuck in a car for much of tomorrow, heading off to Boston & Camberville for another research visit. (I can't knit in a car; it makes me ill.) Hopefully that will give my wrist time to recover - not to mention more to say about my dissertation proposal progress.

I was up in the middle of the night last night, from about 4-5:30 alternately writing down thoughts and surfing for pretty handpainted yarns. I'm never up in the AM with insomnia. It was very, very weird. At least I got back to sleep for a bit.

This is getting long. I will have to show you my FO pics once I'm home next week, once there are pics to show!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy (wet) Fourth!

Today's Fourth of July was rainy in these parts - no fireworks or BBQ for me! It was also cloudy and cool - quite different from the many, many very hot Fourths I can recall. (I recall with particular clarity several spent camping out all day in public places, waiting for fireworks in the 90-degree heat, waiting for public transportation to take us home afterwards). Coffeeboy and I stayed home, did housework and schoolwork. I concentrated on plunging into some reading for my dissertation, which proved quite fun. I even knit a bit on my Monkey sock (pictures below!)

This past weekend, besides redoing the blog layout and working on writing out more formal notes towards a new dissertation proposal, I finished up a baby sweater for a professor whose young one came early. Luckily, the knitting was mostly done, so all I had to do was the sleeves and the neckband - which, when you're aiming for a 6-month-old size, means knitting something very small and cute!

Baby sweater.JPG
(Note pincushion for size)

Pattern: Baby Pullover, from Knitting Pure and Simple
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool, color 016 ("Thyme", 2.5 balls)
Needles: size 8 and 6 circular (16") and DPNs
Time: less than 2 weeks off and on
Thoughts: I haven't had many opportunities to knit for babies, so this was a real treat: so fun, fast, and cute given the small size. Plus, it means I actually finished a sweater! I really have no idea what size babies are, so when I saw the newborn earlier this week, I was stunned by how small he is, how fragile, the parents carefully holding that little pink head. I realized, with relief, that this sweater with a 20" chest diameter would most certainly fit him in future, cooler months. It was fun to work with the Mission Falls, which is really soft (and it's machine-washable, which I took to be a non-negotiable item!).

Well, enough about babies. Let's talk about Monkeys instead - monkey socks, my first socks for the Summer of Socks Knitalong! I've made a lot of progress! They really are quite fun, and totally memorizable, which surprised me for a charted lace pattern with 11 rows. Once you do it once or twice, though, you see the general logic of the pattern and it flows very easily. Especially if you have 3 hours round-trip of train travel to archives like I did last week!

Monkey sock.JPG

Best news of all? Well, for the monkey sock? There's more train travel to archives in my future! And for me, I get to visit more libraries... and hopefully get a few more steps closer to having this thing relatively well sorted out before the move!