Archives for posts with tag: scarf

Check it out, I finished something. It only took me 2 months to knit 150 yards. SO PROUD OF MYSELF.

Pattern: Anthro-Inspired Scarflet by Kim Seio (link to my project on Ravelry)
Yarn used: School Products Multi Strand Cashmere in taupe, unsure of how much but I’d estimate about 150 yards–left over from my Eastlake sweater
Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm)
Date started: December 19, 2010
Date completed: February 19, 2011
Mods/Notes:
This little keyhole ascot is a knockoff of Anthropologie’s Toasty Rose scarf (pics may not work on that link, but there are more here.) Under 200 yards, simple knit/purl/increase/decrease, it should have been a quick little knit. So why did it take me two months? I have no good answer for that. I knit about the first third of the scarf in a couple of hours, then apparently knit about 3 stitches a day for the remaining 1 month and 29 days.

It’s worked in a tidy broken rib (“Sand Stitch”) that looks very nice but is still mostly stockinette, so has a tendency to curl a bit. It’s pretty cute, but note that the weight of the flower pulls it strongly to the front of the neck so it’s hard to keep it to the side or off-center, if that is how you want to wear it.

The pattern doesn’t come with a pattern for the flower. Here’s what I did:

  • CO 116 sts with tubular cast-on (this forms the visible edge of the flower petals, so it looks nicest with this CO)
  • Work in 1×1 rib for about 1 1/2 inches
  • K2tog across
  • Bind off, leaving a long tail
  • Using the long tail, sew a running stitch through the lower half of the strip of ribbing (ie parallel and close to the edge closer to the bound off edge), going in and out about every 1/2 inch, for 2 rows spaced about 1/4 inch apart, and pull tight to gather.
  • Roll up the strip of ribbing, folding/crumpling the flower until you like the way it looks, then sew down to the outer keyhole portion of the scarf.

I had meant to just roll this up like in the original Anthropologie scarf, but the flower looked bizarre and enormous, like a cinnamon roll or something, so I preferred the more gathered look in the end.

As an aside, it is astonishing how many photos you need to take to get even a few decent ones out of the batch. Kristen wisely demonstrated this FOR SCIENCE!… but still, it always amazes me; this time I probably had 50 shots that I thought looked great in the viewfinder, but when I got a good look at them on the computer, I realized I actually looked blurry, crazy-haired, fat, generally derpy, or whatever. This all with my best attempts at makeup, soft natural light, trying not to look like a total cross-eyed idiot, etc. and not even counting the dozens I knew were hideous right away and deleted without downloading.

I wore this white eyelet dress when I was a bridesmaid a few years ago. (How great is it that I have a bridesmaid dress that I got to pick–only the “white eyelet cotton” part was specified–and that I’d actually wear again?) My earrings aren’t really visible but they are these ginormous antiqued bronze flowers with pearls in them from Modcloth and I love them.


I’m going to pretend you can’t see those mop handles in the background. Or maybe you can imagine them as all part of an grand, artistic, high-concept fashion photoshoot. Also I just realized my bra straps are showing in several of these photos, whoops. Please imagine it is a $300, hand-stitched tussah silk bra from Anthropologie and this is all part of the grand styling plan, because I don’t want to go to the trouble of Photoshopping these, or, God forbid, taking more photos of this scarf.


The purple in this photo should be much more red-toned, but the scarf color is actually pretty accurate.

I need a haircut and this dress needs ironing.

I knit the Latitude and Longitude samples for the pattern photos in the garishly bright colors Noro is famous for, because they’re lovely and eye-catching. However, the very first Latitude and Longitude hat I made was actually in much softer shades of Silk Garden–one shade, color 267, is all earthy browns and grays, and the other, 241, was the most beautiful blend of purples ranging from the blue to the red end of the spectrum, in saturations from pale lavender to deep Tyrian.

I misplaced the finished hat (made in March 2009) for ages and thought it was lost for good, but recently, as we were cleaning around the house, I unearthed it again in a box under the bed. I thought I’d show it to you:

This seemed like a valuable lesson in color theory. I loved the two colors individually, or when I held them up against each other in skein form, but the purples and browns are too close in value and the stripes just kind of blend together in the finished hat. Not that I don’t like it, but it isn’t really the best pair of colors to show off a striped pattern.

Far more subtle–to the other version’s tropical macaw,

this might be more of a backyard bird–a purple martin or sparrow.

I also recently finished another Latitude and Longitude knit in calmer colors than the samples. This one a scarf, knit in Cascade Eco Duo.

Pattern: Latitude and Longitude scarf

Size made: Finished dimensions 5.5″ x 78″

Yarn used: Cascade Eco Duo, a kitteny-soft worsted weight singles blend of 70% alpaca and 30% merino. This is the softest, fuzziest yarn I’ve felt in a long time, and it comes in a bunch of naturally colored, subtly striping colorways: I chose 1705 and 1703, one colorway white and cream stripes and one colorway shades of gray, from palest smoke to darker slate. They were 40% off at an Easter sale at a local yarn shop, and each skein has 197 yards, so I only needed the two skeins instead of 4 like the Noro. I loved this yarn–I’m sure it will pill like crazy later on, but it is so, so, soft, it seems like a fair tradeoff.

Needles used: US 8 (5.0 mm) for the first few inches of the scarf, and US 9 (5.5 mm) for the rest. I cast on with the smaller needles since they were handy, but switched to the larger needles once I got a chance.

Date started: April 26, 2010

Date completed: May 30, 2010

Mods/Notes: Since my yardage was a little shorter with the 2 skeins of Cascade than with the 4 skeins of Noro, I decided to cast on 35 stitches to produce a longer/skinnier scarf. It came out to a very good scarf length, and I’m very happy with it, though I suspect there may be a lot of scarf stealing come winter–Rahul liked it a lot too, put it on as soon as I finished it, and asked (hint hint) who I had made it for.

Like the purple and brown Noro hat, it is in soft natural shades instead of vibrant dyed ones, but I think the colors contrast well enough in the scarf that the reversible vertical/horizontal stripe patterning stands out clearly.

Just look at how soft and fluffy this yarn is… does the fluff factor show up in this close-up?

I wanted to take some better pictures of the hat and scarf modeled, but since it’s high Midwest summer and about 90 degrees and humid both in and outside at all times, I instead opted for the ever-stylish “winter watchcap and alpaca scarf over cotton sundress” look. I had a black wool coat on over the dress for about 2 seconds before giving up and flinging it off.

And last but not least, because it fits into the color scheme, here is a picture of my current WIP–the Shalom Cardigan in Elann Peru Soft, color 801 (a bulky-weight but light and fluffy singles yarn–about half acrylic, half natural fibers–I resisted when it was first posted, but caved in and bought a bag when they had it on sale for 10 bulky-weight, 98-yard skeins for $18; decided to do penance by casting on right away instead of letting it marinate like all the other perfectly good yarn in my house).


The contrast between this and the last chunky weight gray yarn I used (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky) is striking. The Rowan feels very sturdy and rustic, heavy, rope-like–texture-wise, the Elann yarn is like an airy loaf of Wonder Bread, while the Rowan is like a tooth-breakingly dense loaf of whole grain, like black rye or Vital Vittles whole wheat. No wonder, as the Rowan weighs 1 gram per meter while the Elann weighs only 0.55g for the same yardage, though to be fair, the Rowan recommends only 12 sts/4″ and the Elann yarn a much lighter gauge of 15 sts/4″, so “bulky” doesn’t quite mean the same thing here.

Anyway, it’s nice, and I hope the cardigan fits in the end… this is a free pattern, and the sizing is a bit haphazard in the original pattern anyway (it only includes one size), so I took a seat-of-the-pants approach to gauge and sizing on my version. The stitch gauge turned out to match but not the row gauge, so I’m recalibrating as I go (and already had to frog and reknit an inch or two). I’m planning to add buttonholes all the way down, and add long sleeves.

Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here…
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(check out my fabulous peacock tights!)
Here comes the sun
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Here comes the sun
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And I say
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It’s alright
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Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo (is that the right number of “doo”s?)

To celebrate the arrival of spring and the melting of the icebound lakes in Madison, here is my newest pattern, Here Comes the Sun (link: buy now or go to the hat or scarf Ravelry pages.)

Like Latitude and Longitude, it’s an accessory set, so although I’ve listed the pieces separately in Ravelry, the pattern includes instructions for both the hat and the scarf. The slouchy ribbed beret is knit with one skein of Malabrigo Twist, the reversible wavy scarf with two (both shown in the gorgeous sunny golden semi-solid Sunset). Just the thing to cheer you up on a gray day, or add a pop of color to a drab outfit.

I picked up a skein of Twist a while back from The Knitting Tree after admiring my friend Liz’s slouchy green beret, and resolved to make one of my own. A bit of experimentation and I came up with the hat; after wearing it for a bit and knitting a second one in blue to work out the pattern, I made the matching scarf with yarn I picked up at Stitches West.

With the help of speedy tech editor Dawn Catanzaro, I released the pattern for the Malabrigo March design contest being held on the Malabrigo Junkies forum on Ravelry. The contest is closed for judging now and we should all hear back in a couple of weeks–there were some great contenders, so I doubt I’ll win, but it was a great kick in the ass to have the deadline to work towards for finalizing the pattern, and nice to participate in the community event–I tend to mostly lurk on the boards and seldom participate in actual knitalongs (I’d kind of wanted to do the Bodhi Mittens KAL for MM, but couldn’t commit the time and psychic energy… anyway, it’s in my queue, and looks like a pretty quick knit, so I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually.)

Go check out the other MM design contest patterns if you have a Rav account–my favorites are the Wild Growth mitts and the versatile whatchamacallit accessory called Verse.

OK, folks, ready for some magic?

Abra…
hatlat

Cadabra!
hatlong

Presto…
cowllong

Change-o!
cowllat

OK, it ain’t David Copperfield, but it’s still pretty cool, right?

My latest pattern release, Latitude and Longitude (Rav link for purchase: buy now), is a set of three accessories, meant to be knit up in two complementary colors of Noro Kureyon, Silk Garden, or another self-striping yarn: the PDF includes instructions for a scarf, cowl, and hat. All three are fully reversible and, as you saw, have vertical stripes on one side and horizontal stripes on the other. You only use one color per row, and there’s no real fancy business going on, stitch-wise–the basic pattern is just knits, purls, and slipped stitches. There are a few fancier things happening in the hat to keep the decreases as balanced and invisible as possible, but follow the written directions or chart and you’ll be fine.

I probably shouldn’t gush too much about the awesomeness of my own work, but seriously, I love these. (Sadly, one hat and the scarf have gone missing already. I seem to always lose my absolute favorite knitwear. At least I still know where two rainbowy cowls and a hat are.)
set

I first came across the stitch pattern a couple of years ago, in Jane Neighbors’s out of print Reversible Two-Color Knitting, which I found in the Cleveland Public Library system (one of Cleveland’s only redeeming points, in my humble opinion). It took a while, but one day I realized its full potential as I was contemplating another Noro striped scarf–previously my favorite renditions were the vertically striped two-color brioche rib or the horizontally striped mistake rib scarf. I realized that with this pattern, at last, there was no need to choose between the two.

So I worked up the scarf, then put the pattern into the round for the cowl, and last but not least, figured out some nice-looking decreases for the hat–I think it looks pretty good from both sides:
hattop
hattop2

The opposite directional striping shows up when you fold up the brim of the hat:
hat

Or when you fold down the edge of the cowl:
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Or when your scarf twists or folds, as scarves are prone to do:
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The hat and cowl each take two skeins of Noro–the scarf, a more budget-busting four skeins. The cowl, like most cowls, is pretty much just a big tube, but it is a nice portable piece of knitwear to tote around in your purse (or murse, or pocket, as the case may be) in case your neck gets cold.
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One of the hardest things about knitting these two-color Noro pieces is picking out colors that will work together.

Contrasting dark and light, warm and cool, dull and bright colors seems to work well. But there are always those surprising lengths of weird colors like neon yellow or muddy olive that aren’t visible from the outside of the skein, then show up with a vengeance when you’re halfway through. Liz and Other Liz, friends from my Wednesday night knitting group, were kind enough to test knit for me; Liz (or Other Liz?) had to frog a bunch of her hat because two nearly identical shades of green showed up in both skeins at the same time. I try to avoid these situations by keeping both the centerpull and outside end of each skein accessible, and switching them out as needed. But sometimes just cutting out a length of a nasty color is unavoidable.
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A perfect example of careful color selection: the hat I lost was knit in an ivory colorway of Silk Garden contrasted with purple shades, which seemed to go together really well when I held up the skeins next to each other, but the contrast all washed out when it was knit up. It was attractive and subtle, but didn’t photograph well–so it was a good opportunity to choose the two most garish colors of Kureyon in my stash and knit up hat #2.
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The two-sided stripes help camouflage everyone’s other least favorite thing about Noro (well, aside from twigs, breaking, uneven spin, and all the other things I see people complaining about on the Ravelry Yarn forum every few weeks like clockwork)–knots, with completely different colors tied together at the join.
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So there you go. Latitude and Longitude. Please consider them for your future Noro striped accessory needs! More info, including a chart of possible yarn substitutions and links to tubular cast-on and bind-off tutorials, can be found on my main pattern page.
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1) I made my January Help for Haiti donation to Doctors Without Borders, via the KFI matching program. Yay! I’m going to extend the offer through the end of  February. And my total sales were embarrassing compared to most of the other designers who have posted about their thousands of dollars worth of donations, so I’m not disclosing the total, just quietly donating my 75%.

2) I made a couple of updates to the Prismatic Scarf pattern, to fix a chart issue on the WS rows in the i-cord edging, and to add a link to The Textured Knitter’s no-purl mod for the pattern (it gives you slipped stitches on both sides). 450+ projects on Ravelry and nobody had mentioned the WS edging chart issue to me until today… oops! Thanks, juniperr. The new version is 1.3 and the proper PDF should be up on Ravelry now.

Thanks so much for all the nice comments and advice, everyone. As it turns out, the gout-esque toe pain condition culminated in a late-night ER visit last night/this morning, and a followup podiatrist visit today–we ended up at two different clinics and it took a couple of hours. But we think we might have a diagnosis (Morton’s neuroma) and some special orthopedic shoe inserts to help take the pressure off the affected nerve, and on the bright side, I now have about 11 inches of the back of a giant sweater coat knit over the course of two days spent waiting for doctors. I guess the problem might persist for a while but the podiatrist thinks it should correct itself eventually. I did finally get a nap after work today so I feel a little less crazy and exhausted.

Here is a project I finished about a month ago, but haven’t posted about yet…

Pattern: Two-color brioche scarf; the stitch pattern can be found for free at Run and Not Grow Weary or briochestitch.com
Size made: I forgot to write this down, so I have no idea how many stitches I cast on, but could probably reverse engineer it by counting the stripes. I can tell you that it’s quite a bit wider and a little bit shorter than most scarves I make for myself.
Yarn used: Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted in 720 Ash, about 2 skeins or a little less, held double-stranded; and about 2/3 of a skein of handspun, hand-dyed bulky two-ply, one of the first yarns I made for myself. I think I dyed the singles separately in the microwave with various colors of Kool-Aid including generous amounts of Grape and Berry Blue. It took a bit of work to figure out a way to showcase the yarn, and I think the two-color brioche works well, separating the stitches out enough so they can be individually admired, like little handspun jewels.
Needles used: US Size 13/9.0 mm Boye circulars (this stitch is worked flat on circular needles because it involves sliding the stitches every other row rather than turning the work.)
Date started: Not sure. It must have been late 2006/early 2007, around the time I learned to spin; it sat around mostly done for ages before I decided enough was enough and it was long enough as is.
Date finished: August 18, 2008
Notes: I love two-color brioche. I also love the way this yarn looks, but it’s kind of a giant, wide, heavy scarf, so I’m not sure how much use it will get–possibly will be passed up in favor of lighter, woolier attire, as I tend to go for long skinny scarves more than wide short ones. Maybe I should seam it up into a vest or shrug or something. It probably weighs something like two pounds, though… I packed an awful lot of wool into that bulky two-ply handspun.

The unseasonable giant wool scarf + tank top photo was taken right when it was done, in August.



oh, and my current yarn crush is Malabrigo Sock. What’s yours? Malabrigo Sock is now available for preorder at Whitknits, and you can see lots of colors there–Abril, Archangel, and Indiecita look especially dreamy, though I wish I could see them all in person. I know the color of the skein I have is wonderful, though I’m not sure if it turned into a real colorway (Persia?) or if it stayed as just a test color.

We moved into our new place in Madison on Saturday!

After saying goodbye to my knitting friends in Bloomington, we packed up our apartment… here are some photos of the goodbye knit night, at our regular venue (the Pour House) and a nearby bar called the Root Cellar:

Elli + Korknisse:

Kalani + Korknisse:

The gang at the Pour House… from left to right, back to front: Sara, Kalani, Norma, Katie, me, Nicole, Elli

Knitting with raspberry beer at the Root Cellar, which is located in the basement of a fancy restaurant named FARM:

Elli and the wall of bedpans at FARM. Apparently these bedpans really freaked out her husband, who didn’t realize that they were meant to designate the area where the bathrooms were located and were not just there on a wall in a restaurant for the hell of it. So I had to take a picture of her with the scary decor:

In the first half of the move (from Bloomington to Rahul’s aunt and uncle’s house in Illinois), our car was packed to the brim:



I had to huddle cross-legged on the blanket nest in the passenger seat, clutching a bag on my lap, for the entire 4-hour drive–and this was already after getting rid of a ton of stuff that we just had to buy again as soon as we got here (like paper towels, a microwave, a coffee pot, etc.) sending a van-and-U-Haul trailer load with Rahul’s parents, and leaving a van-load of stuff with a friend in Bloomington for later pickup. We made kind of a strategy error by packing the less important stuff with Rahul’s parents in their van and leaving just the most important stuff to take with us in our car. They left, and we were wrapping up and packing when we realized we wouldn’t have enough room–but we really needed to keep everything else we had with us. Hence the clown car full of blankets, clothing, computers, and guitars.

We stayed in rural Illinois for a week and had some long and pleasant bike rides through cornfields and tiny towns–the longest ride we did was about 30 miles and I had a great time because we rode on a nice, flat dedicated bike path instead of along the side of the road with cars. Here are a few of the sights along the way…

The two stores in downtown Owaneco, Illinois (a meat store and a wine shop):

A log cabin in Pana:

A pause along the bike path:

The second half of the move went smoothly. We were able to redistribute our stuff into the van when we met up with his parents in Illinois, so we could actually see out of the back when we drove the next 5 hours of the trip. We were able to get our stuff moved in within a few hours on Saturday morning, and had some nice Thai food and unpacked for the rest of the day. We only put things together backwards a few times while assembling furniture. A success overall.

So the new place is cute, though we have no driveway or garage–something we didn’t realize would be a problem initially, since we knew we could get a residential parking permit, but we found out today that Madison requires you to change your residential street parking spot every other day, or every single day in the winter, between November and March (park on the even-numbered sides on even-numbered days, and vice versa). Since neither of us is going to be driving on a regular basis, this is a colossal pain in the butt. Also, I won’t have internet access at home until Friday, which feels odd and crippling in a place where we don’t know our way around yet–all this calling 411 and consulting paper maps feels very strange and archaic now.

But these things aside, our new place is cozy and cute (read: kind of small!), and in a great neighborhood, quiet and residential, full of huge old trees, close to Trader Joe’s and a record store and a branch of the public library. After a hellish afternoon shopping at big box stores yesterday, we took a nice long bike ride in the evening around the park (we spotted bison at the zoo through the fence), along the shores of Lake Wingra, and through the beautiful Arboretum. Today I’ve been sucking down lattes at a local cafe and working, and I stopped in at the record store at lunchtime and bought this album on an impulse. This band totally cracks me up.

In the meantime, I’ll continue slowly working through my backlog of blog fodder. Next up, my most recent finished object (I have been less than prolific in the past month or so).



Pattern: Branching Out, by Susan Lawrence, from Knitty’s Spring 2005 issue

Size made: n/a

Finished dimensions: long and scarfy? I thought I’d written this down, but I can’t seem to find it. I’d guess about 60 inches long by 7 inches wide.

Yarn used: Farmhouse Fibers/Yellowwood Llamas Super Silky 100% Llama in Lily, 1 skein (200 yards, sport weight yarn)

Needles used: US size 6/4.0 Addi Turbos

Date started: July 10, 2008

Date finished: July 16, 2008

Mods: None

Notes: As I explained in my post about the visit to the llama farm, my friend Molly and I have a deep affection for llamas dating back to junior high school days or thereabouts. We wrote a parody of a romance novel called The Mark of the Llama… I remember very little about the plot except that it featured a protagonist named Coriander who floated about misty manor lawns in a diaphanous white gown, and a villain who, at one point, threateningly pulled a shotgun from his sock and waved it around.

Anyway, Molly has a wool allergy and always complains about being unable to find nice coats or dress pants for a reasonable price–they’re either cheap polyester or incredibly expensive cashmere. I’ve been encouraging her to learn to knit, and have been telling her all about No Sheep for You ever since it came out–it hasn’t quite taken yet, but she’s definitely intrigued.

More so, I think, after I gave her this scarf. I originally went to the llama farm with the intention of getting some 100% llama yarn to make a woolly, llama-y present for Molly. I could have gone with alpaca or cashmere or silk, but llama just seemed like the perfect fiber for a present for her. So I made this while I was in California, and presented it to her.

She was pleased and said it didn’t feel like burning. Her mom laughed and explained that this was what wool felt like to the rest of the world.

Anyway, now that we’ve moved, I hope I’ll be able to settle in quickly, find some new friends here, and get some more mittens made before the bitter Wisconsin winter comes. The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival is coming up soon and I’m hoping I can make it… Lord knows I don’t need any more yarn or fiber right now, but Briar Rose and Handspun by Stefania will both be there for the ogling, and of course lots of cute sheep and other critters. Maybe even llamas.

So I just posted about the YELLOW Malabrigo lace I bought, but that’s not the end of it, not by any means.

I just got the prizes from winning Best Original Design for Malabrigo March for Prickle in the mail yesterday. They are lovely!

First of all–get an eyeful of the giant pile o’ prize yarn at the contest moderator’s blog. Wow. Aren’t those all just amazingly gorgeous?

Two of the skeins from that giant pile are now mine!

A skein of merino worsted in Hongos, a pink and brown variegated colorway:

And a skein of their brand-new superwash sock yarn, in “Test Color,” a lovely light blue with a subtle mixture of turquoise and gray shades.

Here, take a closer look.

Yum! It’s soft and pretty, but I can’t tell you much more than that yet–I haven’t skeined it up or swatched with it yet.

Now, if you’re my mom, don’t read any further! Everyone else, go ahead. There’s more Malabrigo goodness behind the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

First of all, machine washing and drying Rusted Root worked beautifully! The sleeve puff has more or less vanished, and it sprang a big hole under one arm that I had to fix with yarn unraveled from my gauge swatch, but the fabric tightened and evened up wonderfully and the sweater still fits. Judging from the half-inch of red lint stuck on my lint trap, I think it preemptively removed a lot of potential pilliness/shedding from the fabric as well. I’ll have a bit more info later; I’d like to do some post-washing measurements so I can give teh Intarwebs information about how much Cotlin shrinks in the wash.

Other stuff:

Last Monday, Rahul and our friend Charlie went gathering mushrooms in the woods. They got lost for about 6 hours, but finally came back with a pile of huge morels that we sauteed in plenty of butter and ate for dinner. (We are all still alive, so I’m pretty confident we correctly identified them.) They were really delicious, even if they look kind of scary and greasy in this photo.

Over the weekend, Rahul and I decided to go looking for morels again. It was a fruitless search as far as the mushrooms were concerned, but I did see some beautiful tulip tree blossoms lying in the leaves:

and I found a box turtle:

–both enthralling and exotic temperate-climate treasures for a native Californian! Look at that grumpy turtle face! We don’t really see such things in the wild on the West Coast, though we do have lots of salamanders and live oaks in our forests, which I’m sure would be exotic for a Hoosier born and bred. It was great, though, very spring-green and picturesque. Unfortunately, I got awful allergies and later found a tick in my bed. (Ew!)

That was Saturday. On Sunday, we went out and took some photos for my new pattern, the Windflower Scarf.

The green and brown one is Patons SWS in Natural Earth (I love how it worked out with the self-striping yarn!) and the purple one is Manos Silk Blend in Violets. The pattern is reversible, and very simple and relaxing to knit, mostly garter stitch with a few patterned rows thrown in every now and then. Isn’t the stitch pattern pretty? I might also adapt it into a cowl pattern with a bit of leftover Malabrigo so I can see how it works up in a semisolid yarn.

Next up in my knitting queue: some Malabrigo Lace in Cadmium, a very bright golden-YELLOW!, selected by my best friend as the color she’d like for a shawl to wear at her wedding this summer.

The celadon backdrop is one of Rahul’s paintings (not sure if it’s in progress still or if that’s going to be it, Mark Rothko-style). I have a strict deadline for this shawl, mid-July, so wish me luck–if my original design goes to hell, I’ll probably have to make her a last-minute Swallowtail Shawl or something.

Oh! And before I forget, another “OMG Ravelry is soooo great” story. Friday night, after work, Rahul and I went for a bike ride around town so we could enjoy the glorious spring weather. We stopped by the chemistry building to say hi to chemgrrl, but I didn’t know where exactly her office was, so we were unsuccessful. We rode up to the north side of campus, and I finally saw the beaver who lives in the hedgerow alongside the train tracks; along the way, we passed Nicole, who was out jogging. On the way back down, we passed her again and stopped to talk for a while. It seemed like a good evening to sit outside and have a drink, so we split a half bottle of Sauvignon Blanc at the Runcible Spoon, and spotted Saibh and her husband on their way out of the restaurant. It was a nice evening. I went home and found the Ravelry Friday Night Open Mic #1 thread, in which Ravelry users around the world called up and left messages (transcribed by an automatic transcription service). I was thrilled to hear exotic accents and see the mess the voice recognition system had made of some messages… “I’m addicted to Ravelry!”->”I’m addictive to robbery” was one of my favorites. So I left my own message about how cool it was that I’d randomly run into two different Ravelry friends while we were out and about on a Friday night in Bloomington, and in the same thread, saw a shout-out from hapagirl, yet another Ravelry friend from Bloomington (or Bounington, rather, as the transcription would have it.) I felt like I was in a TV commercial about how Ravelry Brings People Together–running into friends, hearing these little “hello!” messages from all over the world, it was great.

Plus, I had a lovely breakfast this morning at the Uptown Cafe with some of my knitting group (Leigh, Nicole, Kalani, blogless Norma: hi guys!) with only a little bit of knitting involved, but a lot of delicious cottage cheese pancakes. These days, since I work from home and I’m naturally a night owl, there is very little that will induce me to get up at 7 AM. A meeting for work, a plane to catch, or, apparently, pancakes with friends at the Uptown.

I’ve been tagged for two memes–I’ll do Kristen’s first, because I’ve been thinking about it for a bit.

Both these memes are meant to be about me. I find it much more difficult to write about myself than to write about external things like books or knitting… perhaps because I find it stressful to be the center of attention, or perhaps for the same reason I’ve found it hard to answer when people say “what’s X person like?” or “what was it like to live in X place?” For complex subjects I know well, I don’t construct a simple narrative about them the same way I do for simple subjects or people/places I know only in passing. I should practice coming up with “elevator speeches” if I think I’ll be asked about something, but honestly, I never think about it until the question drops and I’m left stymied and stammering and going into far more detail than the person asking really wanted.

Anyway, here’s the six-word memoir I decided to write.

Searching for happiness. Is happiness enough?

Growing up, whenever I blew out the candles on my birthday cake, or blew dandelion fluff clean away, I always closed my eyes and simply wished to be happy. I didn’t ask for particular things to happen or for particular items. I wished for a state of mind. Mostly, as an adult, I’ve been successful in that. But–the essence of my quarterlife crisis–

Is happiness enough?

I went to Quaker church last Sunday with Rahul. The church is non-hierarchical, so you sit in silence in the meeting of Friends, and when someone feels moved to speak by the Holy Spirit, they stand up and say their piece. Best church I’ve ever been to, though being more spiritual than religious, I don’t know that I really believe in the Holy Spirit or a personified God. Anyway, someone stood up at church and talked about a successful lawyer who had been moved to drop his career and move down to Nicaragua to live in a shack.

“What would the world be like,” the speaker said, “if all Christians felt like it was their Christian duty to be poor?”

Now, I don’t think that has to mean moving to Nicaragua and living in a shack. Studies have shown that money does buy happiness, up to a certain point, once your basic needs are met and you don’t feel afraid about where your next meal will come from. But what if we actively aspired to stop wanting at that point? Not passively, with the “camel through the eye of a needle” proverb in the back of the mind, or with alms or tithing as a sort of duty separate from ourselves, but actively, as a pillar of faith. What if we tried, like Buddhists (and not the kind of consumerist Buddhism that comes from buying prayer flags and wearing yoga pants) to let our desires fall away and ignore the I want mindset? If we stopped asking for more money, promotions, power, stopped buying stuff except when we needed it? What if we focused on love and simplicity and the things that please us?

What if we didn’t need more? Could it be enough to be happy?

I think we tend to give lip service to this idea, but in practice, without thinking about it, we value money, objects, status, and achievement more. We secretly look down on people who reach a certain point in their careers, not too high up the ladder, and then stop advancing, calling these “dead-end careers.” But is it always better to be at the top? You get more money and more status, but (depending on your particular position) you may trade off free time and your level of stress may skyrocket. There was some movie about this a few years back, where a very happy temp worker got hired full-time and his life went to hell.

I don’t mean to advocate selfishness, of course, or hedonism to the detriment of the greater good, and I’m all in favor of making enough money to take care of yourself both now and in the future. And it makes life so much easier to have lots of money, no question. But there’s a feeling in personal lives analogous to our ideas about the economy that more is better, growth is necessary, but what if it’s not only unnecessary but harmful? I read this interesting story in the Atlantic Monthly called Fear of fallowing: the specter of a no-growth world (abstract here) that goes into these ideas a bit, on an economic/societal scale rather than a strictly personal one–Collapse, by Jared Diamond, does as well, but then Diamond is a successful author and professor and doesn’t really need to worry about his place in the world.

So, without going too far into the details, and without addressing consumerism (I have a wee problem with loving and acquiring stuff, though I’ve gotten much better about it in recent years) my current crisis is that despite sometimes feeling like I’ve never been happier, I get this vague itchy feeling like I ought to be doing more, achieving more, or making more money. But what if I already have enough? What if I could, but I don’t want to, and what if that’s enough? (Maybe I should move to Bhutan, where they measure and deeply value their Gross National Happiness.)

I’m feeling this crisis particularly right now because, well, I just filed my taxes and am feeling extremely poor and angry and grudgingly, selfishly in favor of this idiotic economic stimulus plan, because it will mean another $600 in my pocket. But on the other hand, I don’t really need it, I just hate having to pay the government a big chunk of money, and I know I could be making more. I can pay my rent and my bills and sock away money every month for retirement. And I have lots of free time and mental balance right now. But I can’t help thinking, sort of longingly, of the days when I had a lot more money and a lot less free time and general happiness.

I mean, springtime is finally here in Bloomington, and just look at it! Magnolias, sunshine, rainbow scarves, forsythia… would I really rather be stuck in a cubicle or in meetings in an office park until 10 PM, making a bit more money? (Um… maybe? Check back in with me in a year…)

Observe:

A star magnolia outside the public library:

Pink trees on 3rd Street:

A reversible scarf pattern I’ve been working on, called “The Water is Wide”–it will have 3 variations, and I’m working on the 3rd right now. Here are variations 1 and 2.

The main version shows wave cables on one side and a quilted “gull stitch” ribbing on the other side. It’s knit in Malabrigo Silky Merino in Indiecita, 2 skeins. I have lots of nice pictures of this that I took this weekend around the IU campus. I’ll share more later, but here are some of the outtakes I don’t plan to use in the final pattern:
Too nipply:


Shows construction in the background:

And here are some photos of version 2, a version showing quilted rib on both sides, knit with 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon and 1 skein of Plymouth Boku, all striped together. I might use some of these photos for the final pattern–I’m pleased with how they came out, but then I have a real weakness for rainbow-striped scarves, so how could I have gone wrong?
In the star magnolia:

Floating in forsythia:

TP

Close up

Far off

(Version 3 will show wave cables on both sides, but I ran out of yarn and have to wait for more to come in the mail. I hope the dyelots are similar. I love it so far–it’s luscious–but it eats yarn like crazy.)

This NPR story inspired the meme, and here are the guidelines:

Here are the guidelines, should you choose to participate in this yourself:

  • Write your own six word memoir.
  • Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
  • Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
  • Tag five more blogs with links.

I hereby tag:

  1. Goldtop, in revenge exchange for tagging me with the “seven things” meme
  2. gleek
  3. Emilee
  4. Kate
  5. Big Sister

(Apologies if you’ve been tagged before… I didn’t do a search to check. And no obligations here. It was definitely hard to figure out what to write in my 6-word bio, so totally I’ll understand if you don’t want to.)

And anyone else who wants to be tagged, please do participate and let me know!