Friday, September 29, 2006

color change

Fall is my favorite season. I love walking to work on crisp mornings and stopping to marvel over beautiful leaves like these. Color! Bright, earthy fall colors are the best ones, to me.

The snap in the air gets me itching to knit, too. The other day I stopped in at the LYS and the Haphazard Knitter nefariously pointed me to their new stock of Lorna's Laces... just what I needed. A big seductive pile of hand-dyed yarn. But so beautiful! Look at this colorway in the Shepherd sock yarn that I somehow couldn't stop myself from buying (this yarn has magical powers to make debit cards begin vibrating and leap from unsuspecting pockets):

just like the leaves i keep stopping to pick up

Then those wicked women at kpixie sent out their little email teaser yesterday. Brushed Suri! Oh bliss! Oh yum! I know I said I was only going to knit socks as Xmas presents, but wouldn't you swoon for a floaty scarf made from Brushed Suri? My mom would, I am sure of it. And a scarf is even faster than a pair of socks, right? That's why two skeins of this yarn are now on their way to my mailbox. Because I am so practical. And because of the possessed vibrating debit card.

Over the weekend, while I was chugging away on evil statistics homework, my mailbox was brightened by the arrival of this:


A package from Ms. Piry! She sent me the happy dishcloths and the woooonderful green vintage buttons in thanks for the buttons I sent her a few weeks back. What a delightful package, and I can't wait to use these buttons on something I knit for myself.

The good news is, it's not all-statistics-all-the-time at my house anymore. I have been spending a little time on the couch (and in the car) with the needles, and a quick pair of winter socks is almost done. I'll leave you with the progress pic and good wishes for crisp fall mornings and bright new colors.


Monday, September 25, 2006

the big and the small

Today I ran into an old friend at the coffee shop. She is in medical school and trying to figure out what to do with her practice and her life. We talked about what is important to us, and what we hope to achieve in our lives.

Isn't it funny how school and work and just life can sometimes get in the way of understanding what's really important? All the hustle and bustle, the incredible strain of keeping all the details organized, make the smallest things loom huge in their perceived importance, while the real goals practically disappear on the horizon. It is a rotten trick of perception.

I tend to be a pretty balanced person. Generally speaking, while I have a lot of stuff going on, I still leave the office at a respectable time most days, limit how much I work on the evenings and weekends, and make time to care for myself and relax with loved ones.

But I don't think that I make enough time just for reflection. Where have I been? Where am I going? What does it mean? How often do I actually relax and separate long enough from all the activity, so that the trick of perception dwindles and things appear as they really are?


We are supposed to learn from our mistakes. I think I spend more time worrying about not making the next one.

Another friend of mine is about to go on a long trip. My hope for her is that while she is traveling in all these places she's never been (and may never go again), she gains the perspective she has been craving on her own life. I hope that all the little obstacles and worries appear scattered like leaves on the ground, and she can see what is really important, her values and her hopes for herself, infinitely larger in the landscape in comparison.


Is there a way to gain this perspective all the time? And can you let go of worrying about little things, relatively meaningless things, without losing your attention to small things?

I think small things are different from little things. Little things are worries, anxieties, hang-ups, compulsions, wants and other things that make you unhappy, dissatisfied, and make you feel like less of a person than you want to be. Small things, on the other hand, are meaningful, just small. Beautiful things are often very small, but they can bring deep joy.

I aspire very much to letting go, completely and forever, of all the little things. I am not ready yet, but I hope to be soon. I am a little afraid of losing the small things in the bargain, though.


Friday, September 22, 2006

free pattern friday: baby om

This is a versatile, colorful sweater with a simple intarsia motif. I chose a lotus, both because prenatal yoga was important to the sweater's recipient, and because the theme seemed to resonate with the strong colors I had in mind. Peaceful, calming symbols just can't hurt when you have a new baby in the house.

I knit this using two strands held together of Peruvian Baby Silk, a fingering-weight yarn made of 80% baby alpaca and 20% silk. The result is a luxuriously soft fabric with a loose drape, but you could subsititute almost any DK-weight wool or acrylic-blend yarn for this little pullover (you will need about 500 yards total). Instead of a button for the back closure, I used a small bead, but you can choose whatever you like, including velcro if you prefer.

  • 6 balls of Peruvian Baby Silk in color #1740 (Gentle Violet). 25 g; 109 yd each. Knit doubled (MC). Wind two balls together to form one doubled ball of yarn (three times).
  • 1 ball of Peruvian Baby Silk in color #1575 (Mulled Grape); and 1 ball of Peruvian Baby Silk in color #2020 (Claret). 25 g; 109 yd each. Wind these two balls together to form one doubled ball of yarn.
  • US size 6 and size 5 circular needles
  • US size E crochet hook
  • one 3/8 inch button or bead
gauge: 5 st/inch on size 6 needles

size: 0-6 mos (6-12 mos)

chest circumference: 21 (24) inches
back length: 11 (13) inches
sleeve length: 7 (8.5) inches

CO 52 (60) st in CC using smaller needles. K 7 rows in seed stitch (K1 P1 every row).
Row 8: Change to larger needles and MC yarn. Knit this row and all following rows in stockinette stitch (K on RS, P on WS). Continue knitting until the piece measures 8.5 (10.5) inches from CO edge.

neck opening
Next RS row: K 23 (27) in st st, K 3 in seed st, turn work leaving remaining st on a stitch holder.
WS: K3 in seed st, K to end in stockinette.
RS: K to last 3 st, K3 in seed st. Repeat last 2 rows 3 times more, ending on WS row.
Next RS row: K to last 9 st, slip them onto a st holder, turn work.
Next WS row: P2 tog, P to end.
Next RS row: K to last 2 st, K2 tog. Continue in st st, dec 1 st at neck edge on every row until 14 st rem. Work without shaping until piece measures 11 (13) inches from CO edge. Leave rem st on holder.

With RS facing, rejoin yarn and finish the other side to match.

knit the front
CO 52 (60) st in CC using size 5 needles. K 7 rows in seed stitch (K1 P1 every row).
Row 8: Change to larger needles and MC yarn. Knit this row and all following rows in stockinette stitch (K on RS, P on WS). Continue knitting until the piece measures 5.5 (7.5) inches from CO edge.

Next RS row: work intarsia pattern, centering motif at the chest. (Intarsia pattern is 23 st wide and 17 rows high). Cont knitting until piece measure 9 (11) in from CO edge.


Next RS row: K 16 (20) st, BO 20, K to end.
WS: K to end (leave rem st on the opposite side on a st holder).
RS: K 2 tog, K to end.
WS: P to last 2 st, P2 tog.
Repeat the last two rows until 14 st rem on needle. Cont without shaping until piece measures the same as the back. Leave shoulder st on a holder.
Complete the other side in the same manner.

sleeves (make two)
Using smaller needles, CO 25 (30)st in CC. K in seed st for 7 rows. Change to larger needles and MC.
K 4 rows in st st.
Next RS row: Kfb of 1st and last st in this row. Continue this double increase on every other RS row until there are 47 (68) st on the needle. Cont in st st without shaping until sleeve measures 7 (8 1/2) inches.

Use the three-needle bind-off method to join the two shoulder seams.
Using smaller needles and CC, beginning at the back divide and working around towards the front, pick up all the collar st. As you go, pick up all BO st , and 3 out of 4 selvedge st around the sides of the neckline. If you still have live st on a st holder, pick up all of them. Cont around to the other side of the back divide so that you have picked up all the collar st. Turn work and knit 4 rows in seed st. Next row: BO all st.

You will use the crochet hook to "finish" the inside edges of the back divide in the contrast color. Using the crochet hook and CC yarn, SC 8 st down inside of back neck opening and 8 st up the opposite side. Chain 10 st for a button loop, sew loop down.


Sew sleeves into sweater. Sew up side seams and sleeve seams. Weave in loose ends. Sew button into place.

post script
If you have any problems with this pattern, please email me (f [dot] pea [at] airpost [dot] net). This is a very simple sweater, but I only took sketchy notes while I was knitting, so the pattern may be less thorough than I realize.

important notice: This is a free pattern and you are welcome to use it for all the non-commercial purposes you like. However, you may not reproduce this pattern to sell, and you may not sell what you make with it. You may donate what you make with it to charity, and you may use it for charity fundraisers only if 100% of the proceeds are donated to the charity (and by charity I don't mean your kid's college fund). Thanks for understanding!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

my life in pictures

Really, just this one picture is enough. This is my new life outside of work: study, study, study. All the studying and problem sets and data plotting are really cutting into my knitting, yoga, pleasure reading, beer-swilling and whooping-it-up time. But especially my knitting time.

I realized the other night that there is no way in hades that this year I'll be knitting any of my dear family members a sweater, vest, shawl, felted bag, or any of the other lovingly-handcrafted goods they've come to expect to find waiting for them under the Xmas tree. I'm a little sad about it, because I really love spending cozy fall & winter evenings making a special thing for each person.

That's not to say that I'm not going to knit anything at all, though. This year I'm planning to put all my eggs in one basket: socks! I can have fun with them, but unless I get stupid and start knitting ridiculous cabled lace patterns or trying to make thigh-highs, I should be able to squeeze them into my very-limited knitting time. Lucky for me, there will be moral support, since it's almost time for Socktoberfest. Thank you, Lolly!


Failing a dozen pairs of socks, maybe I'll have time to make a realllly big batch of cookies. Because the mall is just not an option. If you see me there in December, please escort me home and pour me a glass of wine. Pour one for yourself too, while you're at it. The fall can be rough.

In related news: there will be no posting of the top-down baby bolero pattern conversion. You know what? When you start out with a stinker of a pattern, you still end up with a stinker, even when you try your best. I just don't like the way it's coming out. But in its place the Baby Om sweater pattern will soon be posted, and it's a better knit anyhow.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

my other car is a co-op beater truck

Meet Red Betty.

This pretty little lady is the common property of five lucky households here in downtown. Mr. Seamless and I went down to Holly Springs to pick her up today from the guy who sold her to us.

The idea is, we each pitch in 1/5 of the purchase price, plus an annual maintenance fee. The truck lives at Ms. Why's house, since she has a nice big driveway for it, and we use a Google calendar to reserve her for up to 4 hours at a time - the only rules are that you don't take her outside the Triangle, and you bring her back full of gas.

This is so brilliant for so many reasons, not the least of which being that it wasn't much of a financial investment at all, yet we now have access to a pickup truck whenever we need it. Load of mulch? Cleaning out the shed? Trip to the household hazardous waste collection site? MOVING? We've got it covered. But you don't have to go out and buy your own truck.

We also have an amateur mechanic in the group, so hopefully the maintenance won't kill us.


What we haven't quite figured out yet is whether/how to rent her to friends for their hauling, mulching and moving needs. If you've got a co-op beater truck, it seems like a pretty good idea for lots of folks to get plenty of use out of her. On the other hand, if her dance card is pretty full we may not want to share her. She is such a little cutie. We might get jealous.

she's so fine!

Now I want to go co-op on all kinds of other practical items: lawnmowers, hedge-clippers, sanding belts, screen printers, internet service... the list goes on. There's no point in having four or five of each of these things, when one would serve so many! I would love to hear about what kinds of stuff you & your friends go co-op on, whether to save money or just tread a bit more lightly.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

best war ever

Go watch this web movie!

John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton have a new book out, The Best War Ever: Lies, Damned Lies and the Mess in Iraq. These are the guys from PR Watch, and I have long been a fan of their books, including Toxic Sludge is Good for You, one of the books that led me down this path to full-time environmental health advocacy (what I do when I'm not doing most of the stuff I blog about).

The concept from this book that freaks me out the most: infectious propaganda: When you actually believe your own spin, and it leads you down the path to defeat.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Best. Birth control. Weekend. EVER!

I can't begin to count how many curtain-climbers between the ages of 0 and 6 I interacted with this weekend. Suffice it to say, any involuntary baby-pangs being suffered by HWWLLB or myself recently have evaporated and been replaced with the very strong need for beer, immediately.

Pictured above you see a shot from the birthday party of miss Jay, who turned four this week (she is the un?lucky recipient of the colorbox sweater). Her parents claim to have liked it - I think it's rather too loud, myself, but she's a kid who looks good in bright colors, so it will probably get some wear this winter. The infants aren't in this picture, but besides miss Jay's 10 week-old sister the party also contained a set of 11 week-old TWINS. I pray for their parents. This party came complete with a kids' race, a moonbounce, and a Barbie cake, which was the highlight of the party for me. It was strangely fascinating.

barbie cake 9
help! eeeek! masher!

Cute idea, but totally macabre in the execution. The best part, once we recovered from the slicing off of the dress, was later when miss Jay and I got to try all the different outfits on her. Barbie really needs to learn to wear colors other than pink - because if not for the color, I would have worn just about everything in that baggie of fashion (except the shoes - Barbie seems to wear hooker heels exclusively). You should have seen the long tweed coat with the fake-fur collar - to DIE for, really.

So as if the birthday party wasn't enough, today I had to work at my organization's booth at La Fiesta del Pueblo, and our booth just happened to be located in Niñolandia (we do a lot of work on children's health issues). I have no idea how many ladybug temporary tattoos I applied to grubby little hands today, but it was right many. Did I mention Remi the clown? Yeah, he was right next to us. Remi is the real deal, as Puerto Rican musical clowns go - he had those kids revved up to 100 RPM. But being located right next to the inferno of entertainment that is dozens of psychotic toddlers screaming along to songs about eating vegetables and good behavior... it was a little much. Just a wee bit.

So I'll be recovering chastely from the weekend over the next few days. In fact, you may not hear much from me this week - it's a busy week and I'm behind on hideous biostatistics homework - but I'm hoping to get the top-down transformation of the baby bolero done in time to post for Free Pattern Friday this week. Keep your fingers crossed, and have a great week. Unless you're Barbie, in which case, girl, you need to get you some flat shoes. Seriously.

Friday, September 08, 2006

hardest button to button

I just finished tearing off all the too-bright green buttons off the Colorbox Sweater and replacing them with nice bright (but not too bright) pink buttons. Just in time, too... I'm supposed to be giving this sweater to a kid on Saturday at her 4th birthday party.

One of my most favorite activities is trawling antique stores for cool buttons. Some places will take matching sets and wire them together on cards and then charge outrageous prices for them. I prefer sifting through buckets of buttons and finding the matches myself - and paying more like 25 cents a button. Here are some of my favorites:

nother pile o buttons

These came from an antique store in Selma, where they had a huge rack full of plastic bags full of buttons. These all came in the same bag - I think the bag cost around $3 and had about a dozen buttons in it. Last time I went back to that place, the rack was gone. Boo hoo!

This week I got my vintage button love indulged by GreenKitchen, who led me to the Vintage Buttons flickr group (for pictures of peoples buttons and things they've made with them). Total button porn. Yum.

Vintage buttons don't usually come in big sets, so it can be hard to use them for something like a whole cardigan, but they are wonderful as closures for something like a purse or cape. I also love vintage buckles. You don't see enough of these cool closures on clothes and accessories anymore. A few months ago Bugheart sent me a surprise package with wonderful old buckles inside, including the big funky wooden one in this picture:

pile o buckles

I have this fantasy that I'm going to use up all these great buttons and buckles on fabulous clothes and accessories that I've knit up for my friends and family, but at this rate it's going to take the rest of my life. I guess I'd be okay with that, though...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

unpleasant guts

Have you heard enough yet of me ranting about how much better knitting all-in-one-piece from the top-down is? You haven't? Maybe you should just read back through some previous posts... and don't forget this one... and this one. So I'm obsessed. Big deal!

Okay, so case in point. Here we have a cute little baby bolero sweater, all finished up and ready to go. Hm... raglan sleeves... cardigan... hey, this ought to be knit top-down, right? Well, in theory, yes. But I bought the pattern (buying a pattern - my first mistake) that came with the yarn, which called for knitting up all the itty-bitty pieces of the sweater and sewing them together. Can we say tedious?? The dang sweater took me longer to sew up than to knit. And then there are all the ugly interior seams:


I like the guts of a knitted item to look just as good (or maybe half as good) as the outside. I hate sloppy-looking insides. All these ugly seams and yarn ends everywhere are just so very unnecessary.

Last night I finally got started knitting the top-down transformation of this pattern. I'm going to change things a little bit - hopefully just enough to justify posting it for you, because this really ought to be easy to knit, it was just the hideous instructions getting in the way.

By the way, if you're looking around for just the right pattern to make someone special a fabulous Christmas gift, look no further than the Flying Spaghetti Monster hat pattern. A true original for the Alternative Creation Theory enthusiast in your life.

Don't miss out on the remaining free yarn from Saturday's big giveaway!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

free stuff, courtesy of ernesto

Yes, that is a large tree on my house. Overall, Ernesto was not much of a threat to North Carolina compared with some of the doozy hurricanes we get from time to time. But thanks to the moronic off-balance tree-whacking done by my wackadoodle next-door neighbor last year (yes, that is a clinical diagnosis), one of our most favorite trees wound up sideways on my roof yesterday around 5 AM. The roof is more or less all right, but the tree is not. We are really sad about the state of the backyard at the moment - normally our oasis. Right now it looks like a hurricane came through there... oh, right.

But nothing makes you feel better than giving, so in the spirit of the Great Monday Giveaway (I know, it's not Monday), I present some free stuff. First-come, first-served. Please let me know in the comments what you'd like, and let me know how to get in touch with you about shipping. Domestic shipping is free, but if you live on another continent I will need you to pay for the shipping (sorry Australians). Enjoy!

item #1: 7 balls of cotton blend yarn - taken!


Seven balls of Zitron Evita, a plied DK weight 40% cotton, 40% acrylic, 20% rayon. This is a lovely, very soft lightweight cotton blend yarn wrapped with a strand of shine. 121 yd/110 m (50 g) per skein. Color #10 is a soft sage green.

item #2: 2 balls of snazzy eyelash yarn


Two different balls of great carry-along eyelash yarn. On the left: Knitting Fever Flutter in color #130. White with subtle metallic silver interspersed, 75 yds/70m (20g). 100% polyester. On the right: Berroco Plume FX in color #6743, Caffe Latte. 63 yds/58m (20 g). 100% polyester.

item #3: buttons - taken!


The vintage pink buttons would look wonderful on a coat, a chunky sweater or as purse closures. They're 1.25-inch (34 mm) buttons (there are 4 of them). The leaf green buttons are new, but they would look great on vintage-styled items. They're 3/4-inch (19mm) buttons (there are 6 of them).

I hope you find something you like, and I hope all your trees are upright.