The knitting has, in chemgrrl’s words, been of the ovary-exploding type. One of my bestestest friends in the whole wide world gifted us with a new variety of baby: the kind I like.

To celebrate, Baby K, Ma L and Pa G got these:

Baby Booties

Look, ma, NO PINK!

Of course, these tiny little booties (and an accompanying pair which I did not photograph) do not 3 months of knitting make…. No, indeed. There has also been knitting of other kinds. Which I can’t share. Yet. Instead, I offer up the second-best home-brew dye job in the world!

Dye Job

Urban camouflage. Invisible or not? You decide.

Really, “second best” is something worth saying with pride. Maybe third- or fourth- best, even, given the company at the TBKGE’s Second Annual Dyeing Party. Allbuttonedup has the best. Srsly. Haven’t seen photos yet, but I can guarantee that it was spectacular in person, and there were several other very pretty fibery things including a cotton-candy spectactular that Sara did (though the fleece on which the cotton-candy was unleashed unfortunately felted in the process).

It has been so long since I did anything other than Judy’s Magic Cast-On that I actually goofed in a serious and vital way when I went to cast on for a scarf tonight.

Guess I need to go to remedial knitting school. Think there are night classes for that sort of thing?

Hope you all had a lovely winter holiday (of whatever persuasion) and are prepped for an equally lovely entreƩ into the 2009 New Year. Pictures of the holiday fog and the new scarf tomorrow. I promise.

I spend most of my days–all but a very few a year–on a gerbil wheel, walking the same 20-block route to and from the markers that divide day from night, work from home, classroom duties from research duties.

Friday’s trip took me off of the gerbil wheel and on an almost overwhelmingly sentimental trip to one of the biggest landmarks in a geek’s life: Frys. There were, admittedly, a few non-geek things thrown in for good measure, including a very satisfying trip to an Ann Taylor store that resulted in one of the most coveted shopping experiences a well-endowed woman can have (a good-quality perfectly fitted white button-down shirt in the right size, on sale for less than $20). Still, the indisputable stars of the day were the fumes of computery goodness in that most precious of geek meccas.

On those rare instances when I do set foot off of the gerbil wheel, it’s always a little strange, a little limiting, to come back to it, especially when a trip to Frys feels just a little bit like a homecoming. It’s times like this when I appreciate more than ever one of the projects I undertook at the beginning of the year: a pictorial of change to remind me that my gerbil wheel is as much a thing of beauty as the unchanging haven of silicon that is Frys.

These three photos are all from October of this year, taken from my living-room window, spaced evenly 2 weeks apart. It’s amazing how much can change in the space of a month.

Equally amazing is the lack of knitting that has gone on in the last week, but that is a post best saved for tomorrow.

Dyeing day has come and gone, and the fact that I am sitting here typing means the extra ‘e’ in the main verb is a key part of the excitement.

This…

became this….

which looks like this now:

These walnuts…

became this natural dye…

and, with nothing but walnuty goodness and boiling water, brought these into the knitting world:

The company, both human…

and furry…

was (and still is) extremely pleasant as well as eminently talented.

The only thing that went wrong? Mmmmmm. Pepto-Bismol. I will have to rectify this. It was supposed to be an icy pink, but even limiting the dye called for in a “pale” color to less than 1/8 of a teaspoon, coupled with a mere 5 minutes in tepid water, turned off-white wool/silk into, well, a color that is very nearly unwearable unless you’re 3 and wearing a tiara and a tutu. While I won’t have the cherry-blossom pink yarn I wanted for a modified cardigan version of the Hanami Stole, I have learned a lesson about icy just-barely-not-white-anymore colors that I will not soon forget, and I likewise had a weekend I won’t soon forget.

The weather was perfect; the company was fantastic; the slowly darkening walnuts smelled of cookies, leaving trails of steam wherever the dye pot went. There were picturesque falling leaves cascading in waves of yellow and orange around our heads (along with slightly harder walnuts falling from trees overhead), and dappled sunlight wafting in rays across the newly dyed yarny goodness as it dried outdoors in the warm afternoon air. In such surroundings, the Pepto-Bismol yarn–and the walnuts falling perilously, percussively, and concussively, close to the deck–were absolute necessities. I’m convinced that it’s these tiny little imperfections which elevate a day from simply great to unsurpassingly, beautifully, uncompromisingly real, and real is oh-so-much better than perfect….

There are good reasons for everything. This week, the lesson is in why I have a knitting machine.

Two ordinary skeins of sock yarn turned into art. Or at least potential art.

Chemgrrl is throwing a Fall To Dye For dyeing party for my fantastic knitting group (Blogless Norma and Huan-Hua are sadly not attending due to previously arranged absences). Thankfully, it’s not a dying party, or I’d be bringing a coffin instead of pre-knit stockinette swatches designed to become beautifully hand-dyed socks.

This will be my first real foray into hand-dyed yarn in a serious kind of way. I’ve done some experimentation with Kool-Aid and even less with acid dyes (just one skein of self-striping yarn for a work project), and I’m really looking forward to seeing natural dyes like indigo and walnut in action. Still more exciting is the chance to try some patterning on these KnitPicks-inspired sock blanks made out of ShibuiKnits’ 100% superwash merino Sock. I’m not a big fan of anything with nylon, so while the KnitPicks Sock Blanks concept makes the geek in me squeal, the fiber content doesn’t so much appeal to the yarn snob in me.

Here’s hoping the resultant hand-dyed yarn will be fodder for another design that uses the spiffy new forked heel I designed over the summer. At the very least, I will learn more about the worm content of walnuts, though perhaps I might come to regret such an education….

It’s been a while since I felt the kind of displacement that comes from spending a few weeks on someone else’s floor and hunting down guest Internet connections in a city that’s theoretically home. In what I’m finding is a fairly regular alignment of the stages of various things in different parts of my life, the BrewFest vacation, my computer projects, my knitting projects and my academic projects are all simultaneously in conjunction, contributing equally to this odd feeling of disjointedness. It’s both encouraging and a little unsettling, since displacement comes from change and change is usually a varying combination of fun and scary.

For a long time when I went back to Portland, I slept in the house that had been home since before I was a self-supporting life-form. The last several years, of course, the sleeping quarters were my own and when I flew somewhere, coming home really was exactly that. This trip came at the transition point, where the new city wasn’t quite home in the real sense of the word but the old city didn’t have quite the familiarity it once had. Even though the old haunts are still there and the things newly discovered just before our departure a year ago are still making their imprints on the psyches of the people who walk by everyday, the simple act of scanning for an open public wi-fi network brings with it a certain amount of other-worldliness.

As much as we all long for excitement and the thrill of the undiscovered, there is something to be said for predictability. I just never figured that Bloomington would be the latter and Portland the former…. My knitting group has a lot do to with that.

The knitting itself, however…. I’m working on a new sock design, which is unusual for me. I knit a lot of socks and I futz with sock designs all the time, but I rarely think about designing socks for publication, much less designing a cables-and-lace pattern from scratch. Still, a new heel turn method (yes, more teasers) deserves a completely new pattern. And this is what it looks like right now:

With help from my knitting group (Thanks, Huan-Hua and Nicole!), I have a substantial part of the charting done on an exciting and very knittable sock pattern. In a desperate effort to get the damn thing done quickly, I’ve set it up as my Ravelympics project.

Out of the desperate effort to get a sock pattern done also comes a desperate need to redesign my pattern stylesheet, and that’s where the current computer project comes in: a complete reinstall. Again.

Thanks to Adobe’s shoddy programming and inability to mandate the use of case-sensitive code, I’ve had to reinstall my OS for the second time in six weeks. Fool me once, etc., etc., etc.

In any case, the reinstall prompted a rethinking of my computer set up, and boy, has it changed. Unfamiliar computer surroundings apparently translate to real-world unease. Weird. Though I do have to admit, as I was transitioning my Time Machine backups from one hard drive to a bigger external hard drive, that I was perversely disappointed by the fact that my old backups were only 50K short of 2 million trashed files. Two million! (Ah ah aaah! Maybe I should change my nickname to The Count?)

Of course, before the knitting starts, and before the sock design really gets underway, we have the academic projects to tackle. I use the royal we because first-person discussion is much harder here. I have a total of four paragraphs in 8,000 words that are dragging down an otherwise fantastic project, and once I solve the problems in those four paragraphs, my life will take on a very different shape. These are the key paragraphs; they define the framework of a Big Project, set out the methodology for what I want to do for the next few years, and I can’t fix them because I can’t quite justify the building of mental research walls yet. I don’t want to have a focus because I like futzing with a wide variety of things, but I can’t move on to the next stage of Big Project until I focus on this one and just get it the hell done.

On the other hand, the socks are coming along nicely.

Wait, does the “P” in WWKP stand for something else? Right, “Public.” Still, there certainly was proselytizing–complete with print collateral–at the All-Bloomington-all-the-time World-Wide Knit in Public Day.

Knitterly Proselytization
Nicole at allbuttonedup and Katie at historyweaver put together flyers and business cards in anticipation of the hordes (see photographic evidence above, which also includes photos of Anna and Huan-Hua) of people we assumed would be desperate to partake in our own yarn obsessions. There were, in fact, hordes of interested fiber-holics, though they came at fairly regularly spaced intervals, which kept the crowding to a minimum.

There were finished objects to be had…. (finished socks courtesy of Anna)

….and even a few non-human WWKiP attendees. This one was my favorite.

“Please don’t make me wear a sweater!” (is what I imagine he’s saying in this photo, anyway)