Monday, March 24, 2008

one of the many reasons I do not tell my students about this blog

I decided to knit the drop stitch lace tank in the round; this entailed minor modification of the cast-on stitch count since I wouldn't need the stitches alloted for the seaming of edges. No problem.

Seventy-six minus four is seventy two. Seventy-two divided by eight is nine. Seventy two plus seventy two is one hundred and fifty four. No. Wait.

One hundred and forty four. One of the nice things about knitting is the ease with which one can return a project to its primal, original form. It's very Upanisadic, come to think of it.

Also, I am not dumb. They have a new name for dumb now. It's called dyscalculia, and while it is not recognized by blogger's spell check, it is recognized as a learning disability by the federal government, and therefore it is something for which public schools must provide remedial instruction. Anything that gets tax money has to be real, or is possibly rendered real by the infusion of tax dollars.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Hopefully in the end this won't look like someone barfed purple yarn all over my chest

I'm not one for spring/summer adult knits, but currently the only things on the needles are the wedding stoles and Cousin Liz's baby's gift. The wedding stoles require the kind of concentration and optimism of which I am only possessed for a narrow window of not more than two hours in the morning (and I generally like to use that time for Actual Work); Cousin Liz's baby's gift, on the other hand, is so fun and easy that it almost doesn't feel like knitting, and anyway, god forbid we have too much fun and/or ease.

The Buddha, as my sweet little undergraduates have just learned, taught the middle way, and also so far as I know he didn't forbid spring/summer adult knits, so yesterday I spent a good amount of time on Ravelry trying to find something interesting to knit, requiring concentration while also being unlikely to reduce me to tears. A close runner-up was Ruth Homrighaus's Tokyo (Ruth is also the talent behind Sheldon), but the winner as of yesterday was Stephanie Japel's Drop Stitch Lace Tank.

A visit to my most local yarn store - Yarntopia - turned up the pattern book and some nice purple Princess Classic Elite.

Last night I swatched and I learned two things: (1) drop stitch lace is really fun! and (2) this pattern walks a fine, fine line between being interesting in a good way and looking like a big pile of yarn barf. For now, on the strength of how fun it is to do drop stitch lace, I'm going to proceed according to plan, and hope that the plan comes together. dah da daaa, da daa dum...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


How terribly embarrassing. Until now, my critique of Ikea carpets has been mired in a hopelessly antiquated phenomenological discourse of good and evil. Now I see that Red Ringum and his unholy minions are best critiqued from the perspective of post-colonial studies.

excerpted from The New York Times, Tuesday, March 11th, 2008, the Arts section:

For some time, it turns out, a handful of nationalist Danes have been barking about booty [including territory] that the Swedes nabbed 350 years ago in a war with Denmark...In other words, one part of Sweden claimed restitution from, well, the rest of Sweden. An Internet poll by a Swedish newspaper revealed that a majority of residents in the region apparently still harbor dreams of Danish citizenship and resent their their calm, polite, democracy-loving Swedish overlords. On Valentine's day, a Danish newspaper went so far as to run a front-page headline accusing Ikea, the furniture giant founded by a Swede, which Danes have long loved to hate, of "bullying Denmark" by giving comfy sofas and shiny tables Swedish and Norwegian place names while assigning Danish names to doormats and rugs. "I don't think this can be a coincidence," a Danish professor is quoted as saying in The Local, an English-language Swedish website ( He called it "cultural imperialism."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Red Ringum Redux

Scene: Ikea in Paramus, New Jersey. Camera winds through labyrinth of carpet piles and clusters of Ikea patrons, finally stopping on Knitcrit, who is bent over a carpet specimen, pulling at its pile in a way that can only be described as manic.

Knitcrit: (examining fibrous residue on fingertips) I think this one sheds, too.

Todd: Do you really think another carpet from Ikea is a good idea?

Knitcrit: I was thinking that I’d get an office carpet from India this summer, and then suddenly I had this image of students with their dirty shoes standing on it and me spilling coffee on it as I run to class and I thought the hell with the Indian carpet, Ikea exists to furnish offices. (begins neurotically pulling at nearby carpet again) But I think this one sheds.

Todd: They have real sheepskin over there. Also cowskin.

ignoring this disturbing information, Knitcrit’s attention shifts to a nearby couple’s conversation:

Female Ikea victim #1: says something in Russian - she is looking at the Red Ringum pile.

Male Ikea victim #1: responds in Russian; walks over to red Ringum Pile, examining them with clear interest and intent to buy

Knitcrit: (frantic, urgent) Um. Um. UM.

Female Ikea victim #1 looks up

Knitcrit: (language barrier be damned, plunging right in) That carpet. It sheds. It DOESN’T STOP. I had it for over a year…no matter how many times we vacuumed. It shed and shed and shed. Everywhere. (voice breaking) IT DOESN’T STOP.

Female Ikea victim #1: (Convinced, remarkably unfazed by random impassioned monologue from stranger in Ikea, stepping away from the Ringum pile) Thanks!

Knitcrit: No problem! (to Todd, who has just returned from a trip to confirm that they are really and truly selling whole, furry cowskins) I just saved them! I kept them from buying a Red Ringum!

Todd: (seeking to sound affirming without encouraging further similar behavior) That’s great, honey.

My crusade to save the world from Red Ringum has actually been going on for some time – the last time I was in that very Ikea, I took a pencil and added the word “SHEDS!” to the Ringum sign, so to the observant customer, the sign now reads “Ringum SHEDS!.” For reasons of incompetence or, we can hope, solidarity, the Ikea employees of Paramus have not, as of this writing, replaced the sign.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cousin Liz is having a girl!

This means, among other things, that all of cousin Mim's baby clothes will prove useful; it also means that this gorgeous hunk of hand dyed silk-merino that's been languishing in my stash for at least two years following (shocker) a failed hat project

has finally found its purpose in life.

Monday, March 3, 2008

eating my hat

Just in time for spring, we've been experiencing the first really cold weather of the year in NYC this week, and as I walk around the city with numb ears, I've had the opportunity to reflect on all my slightly failed hat projects.

This one is pretty warm and it covers my ears, but it's also a little too Groverskin-esque to really pass muster on the streets of Manhattan. A hat, shall we say, from a more innocent time.

And then there' s this one, knit using guidelines from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns out of some lovely Noro that a friend gave me on the occasion of my dissertation defense. I cranked it out on a particularly rocking new year's eve two years ago - it was the year that Todd and I really tried to boycott the whole despair-inducing vomit-fest, but then at midnight there was a virtuoso illegal fireworks show in our neighborhood and, drawn by the explosions and generally festive noise of sirens, we scuttled around the streets for a bit, me wearing my new hat. This one is both lovely and capable of covering my ears (making it the ice skating hat of choice), but it's pure wool, and more than a little itchy. The scarf is, of course, the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, a wonder of a pattern with a refreshingly or disappointingly prosaic name, depending on your perspective.

This one is knit from totally gorgeous soft hand-spun alpaca that I picked up in a town outside of Boulder whilst on vacation with friends a few years ago. Actually, it was vacation for me - they were in the thick of research for this excellent book. Anyway, we went to the alpaca ranch, met the very adorable alpacas, and I came home with enough yarn for a scarf and hat and also a deep desire to become an alpaca farmer. Seriously. Especially after teaching days like today.

Note the subtle silver thread. It's brilliant yarn, truly. Alas, I loved Grumperina's Odessa pattern too much to let petty gauge concerns keep me from knitting it in this alpaca, and the result is a very warm hat that doesn't quite make it over my ears and that also gives me a deeply ferocious case of hathead (not pictured).

And the matching scarf I knit from the rest of it is really warm and lovely but I did learn the hard way that a 3x4 ribbing will in fact roll. I actually figured this out when I was knitting it, but mostly I knit the scarf while waiting for Todd to come out of surgery during that truly excellent period of our lives when he got attacked in Georgia and his jaw was shattered and then wired shut for six weeks. So anyway, it was the only knitting I had in the hospital and I just decided to go with it despite the rolling. I toy with the idea of unraveling both the hat and the scarf and starting over. Maybe someday. After those wedding stoles are done.

And this one, knit with fuzzy slightly itchy mystery yarn purchased in the old bazaar of Shimla during my first trip to India - very cool design (Todd's, actually) and the height of hipster fashion a few years ago in the city. While it does cover my ears, let's just say that India is not the place to buy really warm yarn (I have this whole idea about opening high-end yarn stores in India, actually. After I start the alpaca farm.)

The beret was the star of my very first blog post, and I do love it, but it's actually a bit too large for my small head - no fault of the pattern - and so, while it covers the ears, it doesn't exactly keep the wind out. On the bright side, the hathead factor is minimal, which is what inspired me to knit a beret in the first place. Plus, Ksar's Bouton d'Or is brilliantly soft.

So: dorky but warm; warm but itchy; soft but cold ears and terminal hathead; formerly stylish and cold; and soft with no hathead but cold ears.

But it will be spring soon.