WIP: Teal & Grey Blanket

This week’s WIP is a teal and grey blanket:

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A friend of a friend was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I said I would knit her a lap blanket. She is being treated for it and the prognosis is really good. In fact, she’ll probably finish her course of treatment before I finish the blanket. I hope she’ll like the blanket anyway!

The pattern is a 2×2 rib loosely based off of the Wayside Motor Rug from Patons and Baldwins’ Specialty Book No. 102. I’m using US #7 size needles on a long circular and Elsebeth Lavold’s Cable Cotton yarn. I chose to use 100% cotton yarn because it is soft, washable, and wouldn’t irritate skin made sensitive by chemo treatments. The colors are grey (#22) and teal (#23). Teal is the color for ovarian cancer awareness and support, as pink is for breast cancer (and blue and purple is for RA).

Needless to say, I have been watching a lot of Doctor Who, and will watch quite a bit more before I finish!

 

WIP: Fluffy Brioche Blanket

2Photo on 2014-05-07 at 17.46

This is the second time I’ve started this blanket. I had started it a month or so ago, but set it aside to work on another knitting project. Unfortunately, that other project needs more yarn, which didn’t arrive in time for me to take it with me to work on during my trip to Thailand and New Zealand. (Oh yes, I’m traveling right now! Hadn’t mentioned that yet.)

So, I picked up this project again, saw that it had gone wonky in one section, and subsequently unraveled and restarted it. What you see in the photo here is what I knit during the four films I watched on our flight from Denver to Tokyo.

The pattern is Fluffy Brioche Baby Blanket from The Purl Bee. I’m using Queensland Collection Pima Fresca, which I got for a steal from Tuesday Morning. It doesn’t have an intended recipient yet — I just love knitting with cotton and this was a pattern I had been wanting to try, so I am. Isn’t it lovely? I’m curious to see how the colours play out over the whole blanket.

Murder she knit

IMG_9541I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been knitting. Part of my PhD Recovery Plan has been to spend hours watching Castle and Sherlock and knitting. In the last week I have knit one legwarmer and have started on its twin. (I have one episode of Castle left! How can I knit without a murder/detective mystery show? I guess Fringe or back issues of Doctor Who will have to suffice. Oh! I forgot about Silent Witness. More forensics, yay.)

Last night, my housemate, her boyfriend, and I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It turns out that it is (very) loosely based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber. “Oh!” I said, and stood up, pulled a book of the shelf, and proceeded to find the short story. It was short enough to read aloud. Living with me, it seems, provides for literary entertainment.

Also, isn’t the knitting needle case my mom made for me lovely? I really like it. I’d like it even more if I had more needles to put in it…

Some like it hot

‘After a cup of tea (two spoonsful for each cup, and don’t let it stand more than three minutes,) it says to the brain, “Now, rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature and into life; spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming stars to the gates of eternity!’
― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

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I like my tea hot, and I like it to stay hot while I jam away to Brooke Fraser while editing my chapters. Luckily for me, my brother and sister-in-law gave me a ceramic travel mug for Christmas. It has a lid, which helps keep the tea warm.

IMG_8139And then Sarah told me the trick for getting the tea to stay hot for even longer: first pour boiling water into the mug and once the mug itself is warm, discard the water and then brew the tea in it. Presto! Hot tea that stays hot until I finish it! (Okay, with one or two exceptions, but I’m impressed by how long my tea stays hot in this mug.)

The only problem? The ceramic would get so hot I couldn’t hold the mug. The solution: for my nifty travel mug, I would knit a stylish travel sleeve.

And so I did. I used the Woven Cable Coffee Mug Sleeve pattern from A Tight Knit Gathering Blog. Fingers no longer scalded by hot surfaces, hooray.

Now I just need a tea cozy for my teapot and then I will be sorted for piping hot tea for finishing the rest of my PhD!

Off the needles

Although I haven’t been reading fiction as much the past couple of months, I have been knitting. My two most recent completed projects are, I think, both functional and stylish. Warm tea and warm legs — important tasks in a Scottish winter.

 

Last year I always borrowed a pair of Ros’s legwarmers, so I was in need of a pair of my own. I used the pattern “I Love You Chuck Taylor” because I wanted cables and I liked the idea of a tie at the top to keep the legwarmer from falling down. Otherwise, it’s not doing its job!

For the mug cozy, I used a Twisted Fibers free pattern. I still want to make a lid and still need a tea cozy for the teapot, and then I will definitely be set up for always having warm tea…

Meanwhile, yes, this is what my desk looks like at the moment:

Sticks and string

Despite my lack of blogging on the subject (which I am about to remedy), I have still been knitting and crocheting. I never did post photos of the baby blanket I made for wee Thomas. This is just a basic, giant granny square with scalloped edges. As simple as it was, it took forever because I used a tiny hook and very fine cotton yarn. Even so, I’m quite pleased with it.

One of my goals for 2011 has been to always have a knitted or crocheted project going. With the exception of November – for obvious reasons – this has been the case. On the evening of 1st December, not knowing what to do with myself now that NaNoWriMo was over, I pulled out my wool stash and found something to do with the yarn that I had. Within a week I had made for myself a crocheted lap blanket – also a granny square, but much quicker to make thanks to a large hook and chunky yarn.

And I have since begun work on a fun, Southwestern themed scarf and a Christmas surprise for a wee boy.

I’ve never knit with double-pointed needles before last night and it’s so much fun. Much easier than I thought it would be. I spent most of the day wanting to be home and knitting, and now that I finally am, that’s what I’m going to do.

August 2011

As usual, I am posting the list of books read in August. Though at Sarah’s suggestion, I will also list a ‘things made in August’, which will perhaps explain why this month’s reading list is a bit smaller than previous months’:

  1. Sunchild (beta). Hanna C. Howard.
  2. A Conspiracy of Kings. Megan Whalen Turner.
  3. When We Were Orphans. Kazuo Ishiguro.
  4. Serenity: Better Days. Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews, and Will Conrad.
  5. Fire and Hemlock. Diana Wynne Jones.

Best new read: Sunchild.
Best (only) reread: A Conspiracy of Kings.
Best disappointed read: When We Were Orphans.

Though Sunchild is still a WIP, it was still very enjoyable to read and I am honoured to have been one of those privileged to have read it as a beta reader. Even if A Conspiracy of Kings had any competition, those who know me would also know that it would have won that category hands down. As for When We Were Orphans, I found it the most disappointing of the books I have read by Ishiguro (and I loved Never Let Me Go). It felt like he only has one way to tell a story, and as interesting as that story may be, the form and technique with which he tells it was unexciting. Anyway.

Things made this month (and why I watched an inordinate amount of television and film via BBC iPlayer the past month):

— Gifts from Aunty Chera —

My best friend’s first baby gets preferential treatment: my first ever baby blanket, hat, and mitts are all gifts to my soon-to-be-born nephew Isaac. Since I have yet acquired the skill of being able to read while knitting or crocheting, I have watched iPlayer in lieu of reading as much this month. I still have another baby blanket for another little one to go! But fortunately I also have quite a bit plane traveling, so I’m sure I can squeeze some books in for September…

Finished products

The last daffodil.

A couple of Christmases ago, my sister-in-law gave me one of the most thoughtful and useful gifts I have ever received: an ergonomic crochet set. I had learned how to knit while an undergraduate — to give my hands something to do during study breaks when I watched M*A*S*H and Star Trek and movies — but when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years later, I had to stop knitting. I had heard that arthritic-friendly crochet hooks existed and wanted to give them a try. I missed doing something with my hands.

It’s taken me over a year to finally sit down and learn how to crochet, and I have resumed knitting in the meantime (albeit very, very slowly), but I have learned. And I have made things! Many thanks to Faith for teaching me how to chain, single and double crochet, and make circles.

And so this week has been the week of finishing things: I finished the scarf I started a few months ago, I’ve crocheted two hot pads, and, after a year and a half, finished my first PhD moleskine.

As my friend Sarah has pointed out, when one is a PhD student, working on a thesis/book that takes years to complete, finishing something becomes a big deal. So look! I made a circle, a square, a scarf, and filled up a moleskine with various thoughts and notes for my thesis. It even has a Table of Contents/Index at the back.

I have since bought and begun writing in a new moleskine, and I have just finished putting a new knitting project on a set of 5.5mm, 80cm needles. I will need to knit a little faster than usual if I want to finish it in time to welcome a new Williams to the world.

Since things are always ending and beginning, here’s also a gratuitously adorable picture of a duckling pile:

Duckling piles are almost as cute as kitten piles.

WIPs

A sample of my Works in Progress: text and textile.

Fiction:

His first breath of Martian air was cold. Luke gasped at the thin air and began to cough. Others behind him began to do the same. His eyes had seen the red desert outside of the windows; his mind expected heat to sear into his lungs. He coughed as much out of surprise as he did at the thinness of the air.

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Thesis:

Soon the duke’s knights beg him to stop taking their wives as wet nurses for the child he believed to be his son. His own mother then tried to nurse Gowther, but he did not spare even her: ‘He snaffulld to hit soo / He rofe tho hed fro tho brest’ (129-130). Gowther did not kill his mother as he had the wet nurses, but the damage was done. In Sir Gowther, Gowther’s savage treatment of his wet nurses is an indication of his demonic paternity – like father, like son, as it were. The statement above about Horrible is spoken by his own – human – father, Raymondin, spoken just after he laments that his wife, who he now knows is some sort of spirit-creature, ‘neuer bare no child that shal at thende haue perfection’. Like Gowther, Horrible’s brutality is attributed to his unnatural parentage. It is because he is not fully human that he is as horrible as he is.

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Wool: ‘Iris’ from New Lanark online shop.
Pattern: Adapted from The Purl Bee’s ‘Easy Mistake Stitch Scarf’.