Monday, January 26, 2009


"Be afraid of skydiving. Be afraid of wild boar. Be fearless with knitting." - from At Knit's End by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

This quote is quite amusing to me... does it really need to be said? I've seen this talk of "fearless knitting" a lot in the past year. Maybe it was just last year's buzz-phrase, but it would seem obvious to me that knitting is not frightening. However, I did just read an article about a woman who was walking into her knitting group when she fell and stabbed herself in the heart with a knitting needle, nearly killing her. So maybe the fear is justified.

At any rate, I believe knitting and other crafts to be safe hobbies. So I am not afraid to share with you some of my recent craft failures. In the end the knitting failures are harmless because they can be stuffed into boxes where they're never seen again. House painting failures, on the other hand, are much more painful.

1. Chirstmas card holder
For Christmas, I really wanted to make something to hang on the wall that can hold all those cards that arrive in the mail. I bought some red wire and attempted to knit it into garter stitch. The idea being that it would hang on the wall and the corners of the cards could be pushed into the spaces of the garter stitches. However, it became clear quite quickly that wire is difficult to knit, and making a rectangle big enough to hold just one card would take a week.

So I tried using some gold crochet thread that I had sitting around from a previous failed knitting experience (trying to make fake gold jewelry for a toga costume). The crochet thread is knittable... but it creates such a delicate little fabric that it would take forever to make anything big and then it wouldn't have the strength to hold cards :(

The cards simply sat on a table in a pile all month.

2. Cabled hat with mohair yarn
I bought some gorgeous hand-dyed mohair months ago and have been waiting to come up with the perfect idea for it. I found a great hat pattern. The only problem was that there are cables in the hat pattern. I assumed that cables in mohair would be rather uninteresting... but I didn't realize that they are nearly impossible to knit (stitches dropping everywhere, impossible to see how many stitches are being slipped) and then the cable looks really terrible. So I had to pull that out and find a simpler pattern. That hat turned out great (bottom of this post)!

3. Card holder
Here's another failure turned success. Here's the post (the blue thingy) about the finished product. I want you to know that I actually made this little thing twice. The first time it was totally the wrong size despite my careful calculations and I thought of other little adjustments to its construction that resulted in the near-perfect finished item the second time around. I'm glad the size was so wrong the first time. If it hadn't been, then I would not have re-done it with those adjustments.

4. Pink bathroom
Our bathroom has pink and black tiles surrounding the shower, possibly from 1951. We are not removing those tiles anytime soon, so I thought it would be fun to give the bathroom a retro look. I painted the walls pale pink and bought black & white geometric patterns for the shower curtain, bath mat, etc. That pink is killing me. I tried to buy an even paler pink to sponge over to give the walls some texture... but they were nearly the same pinks. So I got a darker pink and sponged over again. Now it's a 4-year-old girl's dream room. But I'm really tired of painting, so I'll suffer with it for now.

Fyi, this post was 4 days in the making due to intermittent and irritating network failures. I may need a new modem.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tome Hill

For Xmas, Hubbers got a book called 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Albuquerque. On Monday, we thought we'd use the book to find a different place for a short hike. Wiley is limited to about 2, maybe 3 miles these days due to a bad back. But he really loves hiking so we don't want to leave him home. In the book, we found Tome Hill, near Los Lunas, which provides a loop hike by going up one side of the hill to some crosses, then down the other side and back to the start along a dirt road. At the top, there's a great view of the Rio Grande valley south of Albuquerque, the Manzanos and the Sandias. There were plenty of other people and a few dogs up there, so we only managed to get a couple of lousy photos before having to restrain our dogs.
Vixen gives Wiley a boost while I enjoy the view of the Sandias.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The longest week

This past week may have been the longest week of my life. I'm not sure when I'll be ready to start the next week. Thanks for all of the supportive phone calls, emails, notes, survival gifts, cooking dinner, etc... I really wasn't expecting so much support for taking an exam, but it really helped a lot!

I won't find out about the results of the exam for a couple of weeks. But in the meantime, there is already one good thing to come out of this: a new stove. Yes, that's right. Hubbers has done all of the grocery shopping and most of the cooking for the past two weeks, and suddenly announced that we need a new stove. I've known this for years, but there are so many things we need, it never made the top of the list... until now. He's already done all of his Consumer Reports research and visited every appliance store in town taking meticulous notes about brands, features and prices. Frankly, I'm glad I was too busy taking the comps to accompany him on all that :) Now I just get to say, "Sure, that stove looks good, let's buy it."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

More FOs

Here are a few more items that I finished knitting recently. The purple and white dog-bone pillow was a "holiday" gift... it didn't get done until January, but that sometimes happens :) The white side is the last of the Irish yarn. The purple stripes happened thanks to my inability to decide between the two shades of purple. The whole thing was felted then stuffed to make it into a pillow.Just before Xmas, I had some leftover yarn and an idea. Thus, I created from scratch a little holder for all those cards sitting in my purse. I was rather excited that I was able to envision such a thing, and several hours later I turned a little ball of yarn (plus a square of velcro) into my vision.
Finally, I just finished this hat for myself which I also started before Xmas. It's made of hand-dyed Mohair from Lonesome Stone. I love the colors! Now I have enough yarn left over to make two more of these hats... or something else, ideas?
This blog makes it look like I've been a knitting machine lately. However, I simply stopped posting any finished objects after August. These things were worked on over the past several months and they are relatively small items.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Study and exercise

While I have a few other finished knitted items to share with you, I'm dedicating this post to my priorities this week: study and exercise.

This coming Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will be taking the PhD comprehensive exams. It's 8 hours each day, and I've been spending the last few months studying, and the last couple of years taking classes in preparation. A few weeks ago, I decided that no matter how much more studying I felt I needed, I also needed some time for myself, especially to exercise.

When I trained for a marathon a couple years ago, I found that running the marathon itself was difficult... but not nearly as difficult as the four months of training that preceded it! Usually, when I run, I find the first 3rd of the distance to be difficult. Once I'm past halfway, I have a lot of motivation to finish. Especially when doing the marathon, I couldn't give up once I got more than halfway because I knew that would mean another 4 months of training to try again.

I fully expect these exams to be easier than the last four months of studying. Passing those exams is also the first of 3 hurdles to graduation. The next two are my dissertation proposal and the dissertation writing/defense. Hopefully, getting through the first 3rd of grad school will prove to be the hardest part. Maybe not, but taking exams gives me a lot more anxiety than it used to. However, writing and presenting does not.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holiday gifts

It started with 20 skeins of white wool from Ireland. I like to give people gifts from my travels, and so I started turning that yarn into gifts. First I had to learn to make cables, and so I started with the reversible cable scarf for the Ravelympics. That scarf turned out so well, that I did another as a gift for my father-in-law.

Then I wanted to do some mittens and hats. I found a Vogue Knitting on the Go book to help with that. But I needed more color for these mittens... thus the Kool-aid experiment. If you recall, there was some electric blue yarn too, but in an attempt to tone-down that color, I completely ruined it. Thus the mittens have two colors rather than three.
And then there were hats!

And then to mix things up a bit, I added some blue sparkle to this one.
If you have access to Ravelry, you'll get a kick out of looking up this Tivoli Aran yarn page - it's almost all me!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


I was first inspired to start this blog a year and a half ago by all the knitters that I know. And so I will revive it with several posts on knitting. Some travel and some other crafts may find their way back in here again as well.

This past fall, I knitted several gifts which understandably did not go on the blog at the time. So here's the first of many projects that are already done and gifted...

My first attempt at a sweater was a baby sweater for my nephew's 1st birthday. I was advised to make it the 2-year-old size so it would fit him for a while. So I searched for cute sweaters, and found a cardigan with paw prints. I didn't think that intarsia with 2 colors would be too difficult. However, I didn't realize until I was knitting that I needed 8 separate bobbins to make those 4 pawprints. The fact that there were 2 colors did not matter as much as the fact that there were 8 blocks of color. And I did most of this on an airplane :)

Here's the completed sweater. For more details on the pattern, yarn, modifications, etc... you can check out my Ravelry project page.
Not surprisingly, this gift was not nearly as exciting to the nephew as his big dump truck :) However, it's clearly big enough to last him 2 winters.
And here's a preview of things to come on the blog (I can't stop myself from actually writing the list forming in my head):
- more gift knits, including what happened to that kool-aid yarn and all that Irish yarn
- project ideas that I tried but couldn't get to work
- knitting and cross-stitch projects on the queue
- travel notes
- grad school ranting