Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Take my mind off my dissertation

Things have been busy here with writing, and preparations for my dissertation proposal defense. It has been scheduled for next Tuesday, April 7th and my committee members are now in possession of my manuscript. The only thing left to do before my defense is prepare the .ppt and practice it. In the last month I've also finished up a book that I am writing with my advisor on administrative diversity and we submitted another manuscript for review to a journal. Yes, I've been very, very busy. Sadly, that means less time knitting - but I certainly have been dreaming up new projects. See here and here.

I have been exhausted at the end of each day so I needed some mindless knitting that would take my mind off the keyboard and re-center me on the important things like spending time with my husband and enjoying my kids while they play. I settled on a pink sock series - for kids (thank you Ann Budd). I've finished up one full pair, and am about 75% done with the second pair. I had fully intended to make a third pair for my youngest, but with spring/summer coming I think that I might hold off for a bit. They would make for a quick summer project anyway.

Before the writing began I was also able to complete one of the no-purl monkey socks and have just cast-on for the second. There's no rush to get these done and I'm enjoying the slow pace of these projects. I don't usually like to have lots of projects on my needles at the same time, but having lots of socks, at various stages of completion, gives me the option to pick up a project at lots of different points. If I feel the need to finish something, I can pick-up the kids sock. If I just want to sit and knit, I can cast-on the other monkey sock and get going.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The V&A

I absolutely adore this museum. I desperately want to go again someday.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Knitting Podcasts

You know that your hobby/art has gone to an entirely different level when you begin to listed to podcasts devoted to it. Here are my top three knitting-related podcasts that I listen to weekly:

1) Cast on - Knitting Matters by Brenda Dayne

2) Knit Picks Podcast with Kelley Petkun

3) Sticks and String by David Reidy

There were others that I listed to either once or twice, but the content didn't hold my interest. These three have stood the test of time. They have allowed me to smile, laugh and think on my way to and from campus during these past few cold months. I won't provide formal reviews of the podcasts as I've only been listening for a few weeks so far. But I have to say that I learned something new from each person, and something new in each episode.

In my opinion, Cast On provides a philosophical approach to the art of knitting, from a very supportive and nurturing place. Lately, Brenda has been running through a series of pod casts devoted to the art of alchemy and knitting. She combines chemistry, art, history, philosophy and snippets of her own life into a wonderful hour of listening. She also affectionately refers to all of us listeners as "knit sibs" which just cracks me up. Oh yeah, she also provides us with some amazing patterns, including the beautiful Mrs. Beeton - knit wrist ruffles with a beaded trim.

Kelly from Knit picks provides a very informative thirty minutes of listening. Chock full of tips on techniques and interviews with designers, knit picks staff members and book authors, I almost always come away with a mental list of cool knitting related things to check out on the web. I'm also a big fan of the knit picks sock yarns and harmony needles so I also love hearing about the new products they debut from time to time. For example, they just made a beautiful line of organic cotton yarns available at a very reasonable price.

Sticks and String is a fun-loving podcast from the land down under. It is also the only one of the three done by a man. David provides updates on his own knitting progress, book reviews, as well as a weekly essay on knitting. His essays usually make me laugh. For example, I really identified with his musings on how knitting leads to conversation, especially when you knit in public. For example, knitters often tell tales of being approached by strangers, who then go on to share their life stories. David figures that most people associate knitting with people from their past; people that loved them and knit things for them. He then surmises that people transfer those feelings of love onto knitters, regardless of the fact that they are strangers. You are a stranger with knitting needles - nothing more need be known about you. I don't do the essay justice. You have to listen for yourself.

Happy listening everyone!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chalk Board

Even with spring in the air, there are still moments/hours when we are indoors. While the girls love their art supplies, they were starting to get bored with their watercolors, crayons and markers. My solution was to move them to a new medium - chalk.

Sure, we have used it outside on the sidewalks, but until last week chalk was the domain of lazy summer days. No more! I gave Dan his marching orders and with the help of a little magnetic chalk board paint he made this beautiful board for our dining room. It's awesome. The girls love it and use it every day. Somehow I overlooked the fact that chalk boards create lots of chalk dust...but it does clean up easily with a damp cloth.

For other chalkboard-related ideas check out this recent blog post from Little Birdie Secrets. Start dreaming...

Oh, and since this board is magnetic, which our stainless steel appliances are not, this has opened up a new world of crafting to me! I can't wait to give something like this a try.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gratuitous photo (cute kid sweater)

I was finally able to get Madeline into the sweater last week for a photo. A brief re-cap: I knit it for her around her first birthday, but it turned out way too big; I knit the 2 y.o. size after all. Now that she is walking it fits much better. I love this pattern - just the right amount of cuteness. And now that I know how to do a picot edge (for a cool tutorial look here) the next one I knit up will be even cuter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Knitting Books

With less time to knit, but more time with books, I've borrowed another stack of knitting books to look at each evening. Here are a few of the one's I've glanced at recently:

Closely Knit (Fettig) - beautiful, thoughtful knitted gifts for loved ones
Fitted Knits (Japel) - very good notes on how to get garments to fit properly
Inspired to Knit (Orne)
The Best of Interweave Knits (Allen & Budd) - beautiful, stunning projects
Knitted Socks (Tillman) - great knits for kids and fun loving adults
The Knitting Workshop (Zimmerman) - a true piece of knitting history
Knitting Without Tears (Zimmerman) - ditto
Sensational Knitted Socks (Schurch) - beautiful socks with awesome stitch pattern guides

Some others that I'm waiting for are:
New Pathways for Sock Knitters (Bordhi)
Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn (Sulkoski)
Knit so Fine (Myers)
Mother-Daughter Knits (Melville)
2-at-a-time Socks (Morgan-Oakes)

One that is not available yet, but will be this year:
Sock Innovation (Cookie A)

And one other that I should add to my personal library:
The Opinionated Knitter (Zimmerman)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Totally, and completely, justified

Well, that's what I told myself since I've been spending so much time in front of the computer lately. I had my 50% coupon for JoAnn's to get some of this, so essentially for $2 I got myself a new mouse pad. Dan had lots of cork underlayment left over from a remodeling job at our old home - sometimes being a pack rat really pays off! I already had this amazing fabric in my stash. Thanks (again) to Sew, Mama, Sew! for the great tutorial.

If I were to make another one I'd probably use an exacto knife, or something more sharp, to cut the cork. I just used regular scissors and while it worked, the edges are bit jagged for my taste. The project also only took me about 15 minutes from start to finish - gotta love that!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

My quilts on Sew, Mama, Sew!

Here they are! I was contacted a couple days ago about using photos of my doll quilts for an upcoming post on the Doll Quilt Sew-Along. I was so excited to be asked. The awesome tutorial was put together by Alissa. I highly recommend giving a doll quilt a try - even if you don't consider yourself a sewer. I am more of a knitter than a sewer myself; and if I can do it with squirmy three year-olds on my lap anyone can do it.

I also have to highlight my other favorite Sew, Mama, Sew! project - the Classic Tote (and related tutorial) by Irene. I've made a zillion of them and each one has been put to good use. You can see most of the ones I've made here and here.

Hello to all you visitors from Sew, Mama, Sew! Leave comment below and say "hiya" if you feel like it. And for those of you that came here looking for sewing stuff - maybe not knitting stuff - here's a link to the doll quilt post and my other sewing adventures.

By the way, I'm currently flattening some cork board under heavy books in hopes of making one or two of these this weekend. Fat Quarter Month rocked, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Two FO's

I have a couple of FO's (finished objects) to share! First, let me present my new mittens:

And here are my new socks:

I have been doing a lot of writing lately, and not too much knitting. I have gotten the green light from my advisor to set a proposal defense date (pending one last revision) so I will be pretty focused on school for the next few weeks. It feels great to be making some progress on my dissertation! I know that I will have to set the knitting aside for a bit - or rather not spend quite so many evenings knitting as I would like - to jump this next hurdle, but I'm on my way. Yeah!

Details for both projects are on ravelry. The mittens are Bird in Hand by Kate Gilbert, and the socks are Spring Forward by Linda Welch.