24 November 2008


As much as I would like the title to be a clever pun referencing upcoming holidays and time spent with family, it is not. This post has to do with -- surprise! -- relativity.

(N.b. physicists should abandon this post immediately before they start cringing)

I first learned about relativity in elementary school. I used to sometimes go to a local college library and read books in the Children and Young Adult sections (since it was a small college library, these sections were actually two facing shelves). One day I picked up an illustrated book about Einstein's Theory of Relativity (actually, it was about special relativity, aka SR or STR) and sat engrossed for some time. The book illustrated, literally, the train example. It made sense.

At the other end of the spectrum is this wikipedia article, which is full of scary math. I define scary math as that which has abandoned all use of numbers. Oh, I can do it... but there's a reason I wasn't a math major in undergrad.

Even so -- even without using impressive multivariable whatsits and exhausting the greek alphabet -- I understand relativity.

Yesterday, I stayed home. I took care of the dogs, I did massive amounts of laundry, I prepped appetizers for Thursday (American Thanksgiving, which is the day on which we celebrate obesity and honor ourselves by ingesting improbable amounts of food, stressing our insulin production to the breaking point, and prepare ourselves for a winter of bitching about how we don't know how we gained ten pounds since October) and I cleaned the house. My family also has a tradition of Wednesday Night Dinner -- a large meal for immediate family the night before Thanksgiving -- so that means even more food preparation. Yesterday dragged on. I went from finished task to finished task -- and still, the clock seemed not to move. Around 9pm last night, I flopped down on the sofa to finished knitting the Simple Yet Effective Shawl. I did a tubular bind off, which felt remarkably like moving the sea one teaspoon at a time, and went to bed.

This morning, I woke up late. I did all my usual morning routine things -- but somehow, it seemed as though the clock had sped up. Time was outpacing me. Breakfast, shower, hair-drying -- the clock ticked by faster and faster. Each time I blinked the clock jumped forward five minutes. Even as I sit here at my desk, feeling as though I just woke up, it's already afternoon.

There are a few conclusions one can draw from my experiences of the past two days: One, I suppose time has to balance out from yesterday. Two, I don't have any pictures of knitted things to show you. Three, if you figure out a way that I can wash and re-block my Firmaments Shawl without it taking an entire afternoon to pin out, please let me know*.

*I will accept calculations IFF they lead to a successful and reproducible time-warp phenomenon.

21 November 2008

17 November 2008

Show and Tell

It's Monday, and that means it's Show and Tell Day here at courtneyknits!

First up, the Simple Yet Effective Shawl by Laura Chau.

The name says it all. Knit in alternating sections of garter and stockinette stitch, with stitch markers to remind me where the YOs go. Mindless knitting at its best. I plowed through this thing last night while watching the Redskins game. Towards the end of the game, which was so totally exciting, I found myself knitting with my eyes closed. Turns out that's a pretty effective way to get some rest without actually falling asleep. The knitting was just enough to keep me marginally awake -- this is important when you're at someone else's house and snoring might not be the best way to show you're having a good time.

Speaking of good times, I knitted while I was out at tea yesterday with Anne and Angela! There were a few people who couldn't make it, and we missed them, but we still had fun. Three knitters with sandwiches and scones and sweets and a bottomless teapot -- hurrah!

After tea, I went shopping and bought two new sweaters and a smashing new red felt hat at Sky's the Limit in Frederick, MD. It's a really cute boutique with a fun collection of trendy clothing (such as Tulle and Kersh) with a smattering of hippie thrown in. I will try to remember to post pictures of the hat -- it's my new winter love. Apologies to DBF -- I'm afraid hats will always come first.

I was so busy knitting on my shawl yesterday that I neglected my other pet project...

Next, we have the Top Down Raglan Cardigan by Laura Chau. Hmmm... apparently it is not only Show and Tell day, but also Knit Things By Laura Chau Month! That's right! I'm declaring it official. Now go to her site, clicky on the patterns and cast on, brave knitters (and chicken knitters! her patterns are super-easy! You will love them!)!

Top-Down Raglan Cardi by Laura Chau
Knit using Noro Silk Garden and Adrienne Vittadini Donata.

I'm knitting the 36-38" size so I can wear it as a layer over another shirt.

Quick change of subject: if you haven't seen it yet, the new Twist Collective is out and there are some gorgeous, fun things in there. Vivian and Ice Fantasia caught my eye.

10 November 2008

Do You, Yarn, Take This Pattern...?

So I started knitting up this yummy Zoe sock yarn (ravelry link). While discussing it with DBF (a definite muggle), I had a mini-revelation. I held up this swatch to him and complained, "I love the color, but I can't see the pattern for the colors."

He said, "I see the pattern. The colors are secondary."

DBF, for as wonderful as he is, is not a color person. I, with my freakish color sensitivity, am. This solved a question for me. There were times that I saw beautifully knitted shawls, in gorgeous colorways, but I couldn't see the pattern at first because the color shifts leapt out at me first. I couldn't understand why the knitter chose that yarn for the shawl, when it wasn't (to me) a good match. After DBF's comment above, I realized that maybe to the person who knitted it, the color and pattern and everything worked together perfectly.

Well, that hadn't happened for me with this yarn... at least, it hasn't happened yet.

But I've seen it in another's project! Laura K knit a pair of socks using Zoe Sock in the same colorway, Acadia. They are a perfect marriage of yarn and pattern (link to her Ravelry project page).

Laura's Acadia Socks
Socks knitted with Shalimar Yarns
Zoe Sock, colorway "Acadia"
on US 1.5 / 2.5mm

And I wanted to create something like that -- where the yarn worked with the pattern, and the pattern worked with the yarn. I did not want one fighting for dominance over the other. It occurred to me that the finest projects often take the yarn and show it off to its best advantage.

With that in mind, I dove down into my stash and started rummaging. I pulled out four skeins of Noro Silk Garden, color 47. One ball of this I had frogged from an enthusiastic attempt at an entrelac pillow cover, conceived without regard to whether I'd actually want either said pillow cover or anything in those colors. In another Rubbermaid container, I found three balls of Adrienne Vittadini Donata (70% alpaca, 30% acrylic) in brown, smushed together with several balls of brown Jaeger Fur. The latter is possibly one of the most expensive fun-fur style yarns ever. I purchased it while in the throes of knitting and fulling stuffed toy hedgehogs. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. But let's leave the Fur for now...

The Silk Garden and the Donata looked pretty good together (no, really, they do)... and using both of them, I might actually have enough to knit a cardigan. I did a Ravelry search for cardigans using Silk Garden. The first to come up was Laura Chau's Top-Down Raglan Cardigan. I read the pattern; I estimated yarn amounts; I printed out the pattern and cast on.

Pictures coming soon.

While I was browsing Laura Chau's site, I also saw the simple yet effective shawl. This is knit using fingering weight/sock yarn. It may the the solution for the Zoe Sock... stay tuned.

05 November 2008

Shalimar Yarns Zoe Superwash Merino Sock Yarn

Shalimar Yarns has come out with a new 100% Superwash Australian Merino sock yarn, called Zoe Sock (ravelry link). It's 450 yards per skein and available at Eleganza Yarns. Kristi has dyed it up in some gorgeous colorways, and sent me a skein to take for a test drive. I'm going to knit it up into something awesome!

Shalimar Yarns Zoe Sock (ravelry link), colorway, "Acadia,"
100% Superwash Australian Merino

Sock/Fingering Weight, 450 yards
handpainted, available at Eleganza Yarns.

wound into a cake.

LOOKS: Visually, I can't say enough good things about the colorway. The colors are vivid and in great combinations. I saw some of Kristi's other colorways and they are equally beautiful.

TOUCH: So far, I've swatched it. While it is not the absolute softest merino yarn I've worked with, it is pleasing to handle and plenty soft. It strikes the right balance between softness and durability, especially for a sock yarn. I have no problems with having it next to my skin. It has a great squoosh factor. From a purely tactile perspective, it would make a pair of socks that are pleasing to knit and a pleasure to wear.

The thing is, I don't knit socks. I like wearing hand-knitted socks, but not so much making them. I've tried, and I much prefer knitting lace. So... what can we do with this sock yarn?

Ideas for knitting this yarn:

Diamond Fantasy Shawl by Sivia Harding (sivia)

The Crocus Pocus by Susan Pandorf (pandosu)

Rivolo scarf by Anne Hanson (knitspot)

Tiger Eyes Lace Scarf by Toni M. Maddox (bockstarkknits)

03 November 2008

Now with 300% MORE YARN PR0N!

It's Monday, and you need to look at pretty yarn.

First, let's take a trip to Kiparoo Farm, in Adamstown, MD.

Kiparoo Moonlight, in dark purples

Kiparoo Moonlight in red-purples

Kiparoo Glitter in indigo

Next, we'll review results from Steph's awesome Halloween Destash party. Thankfully, I took less yarn (I think) than I brought.

mystery yarn, oatmeal color, 3.7 oz
looks like mostly wool wrapped with nylon.

purchased at MD Sheep & Wool.

mystery wool, 100% wool.
laceweight, on a BIG cone.
weight, including plastic cone, is 1lb, 4.4oz

blue loopy mohair boucle, 3.6 oz

knitted roses! I can't wait to use these, maybe on a black
cardigan or wrap. Nicky Epstein would be proud!

Back to Kiparoo for a bit, to show you Silk Road, a 50/50 wool/silk. It's heavenly to touch, next-to-the-skin soft (even for me, the itch-a-holic).

Kiparoo Silk Road, 50/50 wool/silk
264.0 yards (241.4 m), 150g.

Knitted up, it looks like this:

Huckleberry Ascot,
Interweave Knits Holiday 2007.

Coming up next: I'm test-knitting and reviewing Shalimar Yarn's Superwash Merino Sock yarn!