Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Thanks for all of your warm wishes and suggestions on where to find furniture and such.  I will definitely be checking out all of your suggestions!

Would you believe that I haven't knit a single stitch in almost a week?  Yep, it'll be a week tomorrow.  (That sounds like it deserves applause, but it doesn't).  It's not that I don't have things to knit, or don't have time to knit, it's just that I'm at home on my Spring break and, get this, I don't want to knit.

I would rather spend my time at home hanging out with my countless siblings, catching up with old friends, and being generally lazy around the house while I can.

I'm glad, then, that I waited to block my Haruni shawl until I got home, otherwise I would have already shown it to you and I wouldn't have anything to write about this week.

I knit this shawlette using The Plucky Knitter's Merino Cashmere Nylon Fingering yarn.  Her shop is currently empty, but she just posted on her blog that she'll be updating it tonight, so keep your eyes peeled.  This yarn is in the "Movin' On Out" colorway and I won it from a contest she was running on her blog a while back.

I knit a smaller size than the pattern indicates because I had less yardage than required, and I arbitrarily chose a US size 4 needle to knit with (it's what I had available when I started).  It came out to be a decent size, perfect to drape around your shoulders.

I gave this one to my mother because the last one I gave her (Collonade) was a bit scratchy and I thought she could use something a bit more comfortable.

I chose to go with the crochet bind-off (the pattern gives you the option to do an applied i-cord bind of as well), but I didn't use a crochet hook - I found it easier to just use my knitting needles.  What I did was with one stitch on the right needle, I would yarn over and pass the first stitch over the YO, then repeat several times to make a "crocheted" chain.  It was easier and faster for me to do and achieved the exact same results.

I ran into a bit of a snafu as I was blocking this piece.  It turns out I dropped a stitch at some point near the end of the shawl and when I stretch it out to block it, the stitch ran a bit.  No worries though, it's all fixed and you can't even tell where the accident occurred, but it still caught me off guard.  The only thing I could do at that point was some makeshift repairs which involved securing the dropped stitch with some spare yarn (a scrap from one of the ends I had woven in) and maybe a knot or two.  Seriously though, you can't tell.

And with that, I have one more project off the needles.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh, Happy Day

It would appear I haven't blogged in 20 days.  I do apologize for that - I've just been waiting for something to happen.  Well, more specifically, I've been waiting for myself to do something.  Block my Haruni that I finished a week or two ago, block and weave in the ends on the stranded fingerless gloves I finally finished after 18 months, take a picture of something so that I don't have a boring post...  All to no avail.  It was my last week of classes for the term, and then it was finals week, and things just went undone.

Now I'm back home in Minnesota for Spring break, a week of relaxing before I dive into the third term of the year (and my last term as an undergrad student!), and I can finally sit down and write a bit - despite the fact that I don't have any pictures.

Last week I was debating whether or not to give you all an update about how my grad school application process was going.  What it came down to, though, was that I just wasn't feeling up to it.

I had applied to 6 schools in the beginning.  One notified me that the clarinet professor wasn't admitting any new students for next year.  I sent a preliminary tape to another and didn't make it past the first round, which left 4 schools.  I auditioned at all of them in late January/early February and have been waiting ever since to hear back with a "yes" or "no" from the schools.

...and then the letters started coming.  In the music world we are forced to accept the fact that rejection is inevitable and that criticism is (almost) always constructive and shouldn't be taken personally.  It is impossible for someone to get a true feeling for who you are as a person and a performer in the brief 10 minutes spent in an audition, and therefore any decisions made are based simply on your performance at that particular time on that particular day, regardless of how perfectly you can play your piece in the practice room, or how professional you are in an ensemble setting.

Yes well, it was hard to keep all that in mind when the first rejection letter came.  Musicians are notorious for beating themselves up, and I must admit that the self-deprecating phrase "you suck" flittered through my thoughts more than once.

Then the second rejection came.  I was crushed.  I was defeated.  This one was from the school at which I felt most comfortable - I dare say it was my top choice.  I would have loved to go there, it just felt right.  I had practically given up at that point.

It was time to think of a Plan B.  Even my mother asked me, "What are you going to do if you don't get in anywhere?"  Yeah, like I hadn't thought of that already.  Of the two remaining schools to hear from, one I extremely disliked, and the other was, in my mind, at a more competitive level than one I had already been rejected from, so it was unlikely I would get in.  What was I going to do?  I suppose I could move back home, go back to school and get another degree in something a bit more practical than "clarinet performance."  Maybe I could sell my clarinets for some extra cash.  I could work three jobs and go to classes and work really hard and find something else to do with my life.  Yeah, that sounds good.  I mean, come on, apparently I was no good at the clarinet anyway, right?

Can you tell I was getting a bit hysterical?  If two rejections had pulled me this far under, I was terrified to think what the third one would do.

...and the third letter* came last week.  A thin envelope just like the last two.  I knew what it was before I opened it.

(click to enlarge)

...but I was wrong!  Maybe I don't suck after all!

You can't imagine the amount of relief I felt after reading that first word.  I was no longer doomed to flip burgers for the rest of my life (yeah, I went there too).  And then as I continued reading, it got even better!  And even better!

I haven't accepted yet because I'm still waiting to hear from the other school (the one I didn't like - despite the clarinet instructor telling me that she really wanted me to study with her and that she would do what she could to get me scholarships).  I don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched, but I think this is the offer I'm going to accept (hmmm, I'm not sure that idiom actually worked in that sentence).  I can't imagine I'll get anything better (nor do I need to.  I really did like this school a lot).

And with that I have leapt over one more hurdle in life's journey.  The next will be finding, and paying for, an apartment.  At my current school, students are required to live in the dorms for the duration of their attendance, which means I have never actually lived in an apartment.  I don't own my own bed.  I don't have dishes to cook with.  I don't own a chair to sit on, or a lamp to light my room.  Can you tell that the euphoria of my acceptance has worn off a bit?  If I'm not worrying about one thing, I'm dwelling on another...

At least now I can concentrate on the clarinet again.  My senior recital is less than three weeks away and I have a lot of work to do before I'm ready to play.  (My recital was originally scheduled for May 1 until just a few weeks ago, when I had to bump it up to April 10 due to a conflict with my professor's schedule.)

...and I blocked Haruni.  I'll show you in a day or two.

*I was going back and forth about whether or not I felt comfortable sharing with the entire online community the name of the school where I will most likely be attending next year.  Chances are it'll pop up in the blog or the podcast sooner or later, but for now I still don't know how I feel about it.  Those of you I whom know (by which I mean those of you with whom I have formed a relationship over the years, online or otherwise), I have no problem telling you on an individual basis.  I just didn't want to make that information available to anyone who happens to wander through my blog.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Today's Post Is Brought To You... the verb "to frame".

I'll use it in a sentence.  "When taking pictures, I am terrible at framing."  Here's another.  "Usually when photographing an object, you want to frame the entire thing within the picture."

Yes, well, I've always been one to learn from my own experiences.  Another key word is "focus".  As in, "taking pictures that are in focus is a good thing."  Again, I'm learning as I go.

Anyway, thanks for all of your encouragement in the last post.  It helped me get motivated to work on my projects again, which is always a good thing.  I even finished my sweater!

See above about framing.  This was one of my better pictures.   Almost all of me is in it!  Who needs the top of my head anyway?  (What I really need is someone to hold the camera for me so I can stop with this camera timer nonsense.)

I am very happy with the way this sweater turned out.  It honestly took maybe a total of four hours to finish it up, which was fantastic.  I forgot how quickly things knit up when you're using worsted weight yarn and size 8 needles!  It's like magic.  Super fast magic.

I started this sweater 100 years ago (that's nine months ago in normal time, back in June) and actually knit most of it over the summer.  I had a sleeve cap and the seaming to finish by the time I went back to school in the fall (and a collar and pockets), but it took me a while to get back to this project.

Pattern: Delain, from Bouton d'Or Catalogue No. 83
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Tanzanite Mix colorway, 8 skeins
Needles: US size 8
Time:  June 2009 - March 2010
Mods.:  Not many.  I shorted the shawl collar and lengthened the body and sleeves, as I tend to do

The alpaca/wool blend of the yarn makes this sweater super warm, quite drapey, and comfortably heavy.  Sometimes I feel warmer when I can feel the weight of a sweater or a blanket on me.

This was my first time seaming sleeves into a sweater (other than a sweater I made for my brother, which had raglan sleeves, so I feel like it didn't really count.)  I'm quite happy with the way it turned out, and the sleeve and side seams are invisible, which I was really proud of.

All in all, I am calling this sweater a resounding success and I love it a whole lot.  The pockets on the front are tempting to stick my hands into, but they're really only about two inches deep, which makes them impractical for anything other than aesthetic purposes, but they're tempting nonetheless.

Thanks for the yarn, Deirdre!

One more down for Project Free-The-Needles!  Believe it or not, I'm really nearing the end of that one.  ...or so I'm telling myself.

The Fox River sends its love, to anyone who cares.  (Which I do.)

Ooh!  As an aside, I love walking along the river, which is my go-to spot for FO shoots.  Today was quite warm and a lot of Spring or migratory birds are arriving/passing through, so I enjoyed that.  I was under a tree filled with my favorite Cedar Waxwings, and I saw a Bald Eagle, a Red-Tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawks (mating... they were being quite loud about it too), possibly an American Kestrel, and most exciting to me, I saw a gang of Buffleheads!  Exciting to me simply because I have a "Birds of Wisconsin" book and keep track of the date and location of when I see the birds in there, and in the four years I've lived in Wisconsin, I hadn't yet seen these.  I always love checking off another bird in that book.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Checking In

With the calendar quietly shifting into March, I am a little more hopeful that Spring is on its way.  In fact, today is the first day since, oh, September, that I have my windows open, because the temperate is currently 33 degrees Fahrenheit.  You may notice that this number is above freezing, and therefore warm enough to have the windows open.

Not surprisingly, I fell off of my own self-constructed bandwagon after finishing those argyle mittens and project "Free-The-Needles" is now relatively defunct.  I do still have plenty of things on the needles, though.  Shall we take a tour?

That's the beginning of the Evenstar Shawl by Susan Pandorf.  It's a mystery knit-a-long in which a new section of the pattern is published and distributed every other week so it's a fun surprise to see how the pattern develops.  That picture is clue 1 and some of clue 2 (which was published a couple of days ago.) Sign-ups are now unfortunately closed.

State of Affairs:  Don't expect to see lots of pictures of this one until it's done.  It's going to be pretty boring to look at until then (as crumpled blobs of lace tend to be).  So far this is relatively simple and I haven't had many problems, except for the fact that I had to rip out most of clue 1 and re-knit it again.  I made it simpler by just snipping the yarn and starting over.  I'm knitting this using some beautiful Natural Dye Studio Angel Lace in the Heather colorway that I got from my sister's shop.  It is a wonderful blend of alpaca, silk, and cashmere and it is a treat to knit with.  The only downside is that the natural dyes used tend to rub off on your hands.

Haruni, knit using The Pluckyknitter's Merino/Cashmere/Nylon Fingering in the "Movin' On Out" colorway.  Unfortunately it looks like her shop is empty right now.

State of Affairs:  I'm knitting a smaller size of this shawlette because I don't have the amount of yardage called for in the pattern.  It's super easy to downsize, so that wasn't an issue.  The issue right now is that I have 10 rows left, over 400 stitches per row, and it just doesn't look like I have enough yarn.  Any motivation to keep knitting on this one has sort of gone out the window...  (It's a great pattern and I love the yarn, though.)

Can you even believe that Delain (#15) is still hanging around?

State of Affairs:  I could have knit this one ten times over by now.  I don't know what's taking me so long.  The front is done, the back is done, the sleeves are done, all seams are sewn.  I need to knit pocket liners, a collar, and a neckband.  Right now I just have to decide how long I want the collar (I'm not really feeling the shawl collar anymore) and whether or not I want to add buttons to the front, which would involve knitting button holes.  Not a problem, I just need to decide whether or not I want to do it before I knit the front bands.

Cubism is relatively new on the needles, even though I told my brother a year and a half ago that I would make it for him.  I'm using Berroco Comfort in the colors of the Irish flag (per request).

State of Affairs:  I've included a pen for scale in that picture so that you can see how big the square is.  I have two of them done, which means I only need ::gulp:: 30 more!  That's a whole lot of garter stitch.  If I were knitting the original size, I would only need seven more of those little buggers, but, well, I re-charted and super-sized the blanket to make one that is going to be 7'x9'.  Aren't I the luckiest knitter in the world?

These are some nameless socks that I'm knitting.  I'm using Malabrigo Sock in the "Persia" colorway (also from my sister's shop) and this is part of a challenge that my sister and I are doing with each other in which we have to design our own sock pattern.  My inspiration was based on the colorway name and comes from this picture I found on flickr.

That's the foot charted out based on my gauge.

State of Affairs:   Hmmm...  Every time I try that toe on I feel like it's a little big, which should be telling me to stop knitting and try again.  I, being a typical knitter, continue knitting.  I think I'm going to have to rip it out though.  That means changing my stitch count and re-charting the pattern (which I have to change anyway, because I have a different idea for the top of it.)  I'll get around to that sometime.

So, I can currently knit on the shawl that turns my hands purple, the shawl that is going to run out of yarn, the sweater that has remained by my side for months, the blanket that may be the end of me, or the socks that are too big.  I wonder why I don't have much of an urge to knit lately?