Class Knitting

Yup, I've been AWOL.  Health Economics and Biostatistics are trying to best me in the academic joust that is grad school.  Add to that a new job, keeping up with law school extra curriculars and doing secret knitting projects for Christmas, I haven't had a lot to share.  But...

Here's what I'm knitting in class right now.
 Peaks Island Hood from Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits 2.
I needed a good scarf to wear when I ride the scooter in the cold.  Hopefully, with its buttons and a hood, this one will be perfect.
The scooter.  I love it.

Easter Egg Yarn

I swear I have been knitting and spinning.  I've even taken a lot of pictures to show you and then forget that I still have to post about them.

Way back a million years ago, I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and ended up buying a little bump of Easter-egg colored fiber.  For some reason I didn't make note of what it was at the time and I have long since lost the label for it.  I suspect that it is Corriedale.  I had started spinning it on a spindle, but I wound what I was working on onto a bobbin and worked it up on the wheel instead.
Here is it on the wheel.
The singles were rather pretty.

But I like the finished product, too.  Two-ply, fingering-ish weight.

I had split the bump in different ways so that the same colors wouldn't always line up, but there was still a lot of Lakers yellow and purple going on there (side note: when I was little I wanted to be an LA Lakers Cheerleader.  When law school get annoying, sometimes I wish I had followed through with that...but only sometimes).

It really does look like Easter.

I had extra singles on one bobbin so I made a tiny bit of 3-ply, chain-plied.  The plies on this one are obviously the same colors.  Looks very different.

Ooooo, pretty colors!

Yarn From Afar

My former roomie, went to Kathmandu this summer to do some amazing public health work, abandoning me in the U.S.  While she was seeing beautiful things like this:

I was working in a cubical.  Pft!

I think she took pity on me, because she brought be back the best souvenirs.

400 yards of yak and what appears to be tufts of gold silk.

It is full of vegetable matter and is pretty grubby.  I am in love with it, because I know it is going to plump up and be gorgeous once it is knit up and has a bath.

She also brough back 100 yards of what appears to be sari silk.
The colors in this pic aren't quite right.  It is beautiful magenta more like this.

With all kinds of golds and blues mixed in.  I might just wear this one around my neck as a necklace.  Don't judge.

Now that I am spinning my own yarn, I can't help but think of how much time effort the women (I assume they are women) halfway around the world put into these skeins.  Roomie said she found them in a little shop in an ally at the back of the market.  What a precious, good find!

Thanks, roomie!


I ended my summer with a trip to Maine.  It was beautiful.

Cundy's Harbor in Harpswell, Maine
And I made some friends.

 We met on a boat.

 I liberated them from their cages.
 They came home with me in the car.
 We got along...mostly.

 There was also yarn in Maine, at Halcyon Yarn.
 So much yarn!

And fiber, too!
Yes, that is all fiber you can see there.
 I ended up with:
A new basic spindle and a couple more bobbins.
A big ball of silk/merino mix (because I am obsessed with a good silk/merino)

What appears to be a giant dust bunny but is really Yak.  I honestly don't know what came over me with this purchase.  I have no clue how to spin it or what it will look like when it's done.
This is alpaca.  Nate made me do it.  Kept being like, "ooo, it's so soft and such a pretty color."  He's an enabler.
 I wanted to show you the difference between these last two fibers.  On the right is the alpaca and on the left is the yak.  Look how short and fuzzy the yak is compared to the alpaca.


And look at the difference between 4 ounces of yak on the left compared to 4 ounces of alpaca on the right.

 Any tips on how to spin either of these?  I have no clue what I'm doing.

Less Studying, More Knitting

Oh, I know what you're thinking.  It has been more than a month since I have posted any knitting I've done.  You probably think I've given up on my strange hobby to do something more productive with my life like studying for Biostatistics class or actually making a living wage. 

Ha! That will be the day!

I have been busy knitting, though.  Look what a feisty photographer caught me doing at a work function.
I will admit that I laughed hysterically when I saw this.  Holding forth on the privacy and security implications of connected vehicle technologies, in a business suit, while knitting.  Exactly how I would always like the world to see me.

I had some A WHOLE LOT OF yarn laying around this summer, and this pattern called Pea Vines by the lovely Anne Hanson.  She makes these truly beautiful and complicated, yet easy-to-follow patterns. 

I truly believe that worsted weight is the queen of yarns (things just spring up so quickly under my needles with such fat yarn!) so even though the pattern called for fingering, I just went up a couple of needle sizes and went for it.

Here it is before blocking.
Is the right smaller than the left?

And after.
I think it just might be bad blocking and bad photography, but I can't be sure.

What I didn't realize is that it would take soooo much more yarn than was called for to knit with worsted on big needles.  After already using 100 yards more than called for with fingering, I got within 5 rows of the end and ran out.  Since I obviously have no respect for myself or the 100 hours I put into this garment or patience for a more elegant solution, I just grafted what was left of the two sides together (there are  some of you out there literally ready to kill me for ruining such a perfect pattern....I'm so sorry Anne).
I thought I was so smart until I realized that I grafted it inside out so the purl side is on the outside...crap.  But I think it looks alright all the same.  Again, lack of respect and patience made me not worry about picking it apart to fix it.
But I think it blocked out ok. 
 Now, off to see where else I can get caught knitting in public!

A Jaunt to San Fran

I got to go to San Francisco for a conference this weekend.  I'm not sure if you knew this, but SF is friggin' freezing even in July.  This is what the Golden Gate Bridge looked like when I was there.
Wait for it...

Wait for it...
 Ah, there it is!

Sort of....
On Friday I got to do all the touristy things and eat some really good food (Burma Superstar: I will forever dream of your Rainbow Salad).  And to be jealous of how well bikers are treated in the city.  There are designated bike spaces on the subway, trenches on the stairs so you can roll your bike down instead of having to take the elevator, and this:
The fanciest indoor bike parking.  Love it.

Saturday and Sunday I attended the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute.  I am chairing the Emory Law Chapter this year and went to meet with all the other chapters from around the country.  It was very inspiring.

After the conference, I did what every self-respecting knitter would do with some free time in a new city: I checked out a couple of yarn stores.

Art Fibers is in Downtown SF.  They own their own line of fibers, most of which are either novelty yarns or made of exotic, yummy fibers. There is a swatch for every type of yarn (usually in multiple colors) but all the yarn itself is in cones.  You buy it by the yard, so you can get exactly the amount you want or need.  What a fantastic idea!  Annnnnd you can order online!

See the swatches in the foreground?  And the cones at the back on the "yarn tasting" wall?  I only tasted.  No purchasing here.
 And, of course, their entrance was completely nondescript and hard to find, just like School Products in NYC. 

What is it about yarn stores and their modest signage?

My conference was at Berkeley law school, so I got to explore that area as well.  I got on the wrong bus and accidentally found Good Vibrations (no pictures, sorry) which was funny because I was still wearing my repro justice t-shirt.

I also found Discount Fabrics which was full of....

Yup, discount fabrics!  A LOT of fabrics.  It was really good that I had no room in my bag, 'cause I was ---->this<---- close to buying a few yards of 5mm neoprene, some gold lamee and ALL of their wool.  It was paradise in there.

I walked and walked and walked and ended up at A Verb For Keeping Warm.  These folks were lovely.  I was immediately greeted by Miss Rebekah P. who was nice enough to stash my heavy bag for me while I looked around they store and to explain all their local offerings (mostly from small farms in Oregon).  They have many yarns they dye themselves on the back porch of the store.  And they have squishy spinning fibre (baby camel, wool, cashmere and other deliciousness), also dyed on location.  And fabric.  And a sunny open space for knitting. 


I fell hard for some fibre and a skein of something wonderful that I will show you later if my plans for it planned.

Overall, a very good trip.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This is the second piece I wrote about the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute I attended this weekend.  The orginal post can be found at the Repossess Reproductive Justice Blog.

It is also cross-posted here.

The last session of the weekend, called “Where Do We Go From Here? The Future of Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice,” challenged all of us to think about the history of the reproductive justice community, to analyze our successes and, more importantly, the bad habits we have formed, and to think critically about how to move the conversation forward.

One of the speakers was Ms. Sujatha Jesudason, the Director of CoreAlign Initiative. CoreAlign did a study to analyze what was working and what needed to be improved in the RJ community. They found that the movement was extremely well-funded, but that we lack cohesive messaging, inspiring leaders and goals, and actions that are proactive rather than reactive. Instead of looking at the issues of rights, justice, and health as separate issues to be addressed by different experts, we needed to find ways to make connections, share resources, and to focus on RJ heroes rather than victims.

I thought back to an exercise we did the first day where we were asked to design a program around a reproductive justice topic. Many of us who were well-versed on abortion-bans, defunding of Planned Parenthood, and vaginal ultrasounds struggled with the assignment because we had never thought about some of the other RJ issues out there. Even those who had thought about them, had never before considered out to communicate them to a broader audience and in a way that included the voices of those RJ impacts the most.

I also thought about the session I attended on chapter strategic planning. I attended but was skeptical that a campus club like mine would benefit much from a strategic plan; it seemed too formal for what we were. But after hearing Ms. Jesudason talk about how the RJ movement is doomed to stagnation and repetition of bad habits without close self-examination and a plan for success, I am a convert.

I pledge (and I challenge you to pledge) to examine how my organization is doing RJ work. Do we sacrifice a broader message in the name of an easy event? Could we reach a more diverse group of people by spending more time coalition building on campus and in the community? Can we acknowledge the successes of those who came before us while doing something different, better, more successful?

I am so excited to get back to campus this fall to get started on our strategic plan. I wish you good luck on yours!

Doula-ing The Movement Forward

This is a piece I wrote about the Law Students for Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute I attended this weekend.  The original post can be found at the Repossess Reproductive Justice Blog.  Also cross-posted here.

During the first day at the Leadership Institute, we discussed how the reproductive justice model differs from other frameworks for reproductive rights or social justice.

It made me think back to when I was working as a labor doula before law school.  A labor doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a woman before, during and just after birth.  A doula learns that she is there to help the woman have a safe and satisfying childbirth as the woman defines it. It is not the role of the doula to discourage the laboring woman from her choices, nor to project their own values and goals onto her.

As a doula, I was required to listen more than I talked.  I learned to encourage women to ask questions and get information rather than doing it for her.  I learned that I couldn’t possibly understand all the circumstance of another woman’s life that drive her to make the decisions she does, but that I should do everything in my power to hear her and help her achieve those choices.  I learned to work behind the scenes, providing valuable skills and resources when needed, but never taking the spotlight away from those who really mattered: the woman, her family, and supporters.  Outside of the birthing room, I advocated for changes in a complex system of institutions, laws, and circumstances that make it difficult for women to have the birth they knew was best for them.

What I heard during the RJ 101 session made me think hard about the role of an RJ lawyer.  In law school we learn how to be the interpreter of the law and the one who gives advice.  We are taught to stand up in front and speak confidently.  We are taught to be, or at least act like, the experts our education prepares us to be.

But the reproductive justice framework asks us to focus on the intersections of race, class, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender expression, immigration status, and ability and how they impact access, agency, and autonomy in shaping one’s reproductive destiny.   It shifts our role from achieving a right or winning a case for someone to one that requires us to listen and to act only once we attempt to understand those we serve.  It asks us to work with communities as allies, strategists, and advisers to overcome the complex systems, laws, and circumstances that make it difficult for people to have the reproductive destiny they know is best for them.

We must be doulas in the reproductive justice movement.

I am incredibly honored to be at the L I with so many soon-to-be lawyers who will continue to doula this movement, and those it affects, forward with compassion, grace, and integrity.

Slouchy Cabled Hat

I don't really wear hats.  Even in the winter, I am much more likely to pull up my hood or throw my scarf over my head babushka style than wear a hat.  But when it comes to knitting, I love me a hat.  Something basic with a little flair for interest.  The fatter the yarn, the better.  Bright colors preferred.  And then I just crank them out.

This one is called Quick Cabled Slouch by Azure.

I didn't take the instructions with me so ended up doing it completely wrong.  There are only supposed to be six cables instead of twelve, with intervening sections of socking stitch.

The the top I just made up, since having too many cables meant that I didn't have a graceful place to put my deacreases.

I do like it though.  The right amount of slouch.  The yarn is more pink in person.  Made from KnitPicks Swish bulky, so the yarn is smooth with a little bit of silk in it. 

This one is going in the gift bin as well.  Perhaps with matching mitts?

A Luxury Hobo Hat

I took my wee skein of luxury yarn and immediately wound it into a ball.
I have had Jane Richmond's Pasha pattern laying around for a while, so I whipped up a hat.  It was supposed to be in DK weight yarn, but I didn't let that stop me.
The yarn was hand-dyed, and apparently still had a lot of dye in it.  It turned my fingers blue.  But, it created this fascinating spiral on the hat.  I kept watching it grow and grow.
It is a little bit slouchy.  I did an extra couple repeats of the pattern to compensate for the fingering yarn.  DK really would create a better slouch (rather than the mere flop I have going on here), but I like it all the same.  This is before I blocked it, so the lace will be more pronounced.

 And it only sort of makes me look like a hobo.

 A cheerful hobo with a spirally, hand knit hat.  This is probably going in the Christmas present pile.  Who wants it (aka who wants to make me something in return for an awesome cashmere hobo hat)?

NYC Yarn Crawl: School Products Yarn

The last store I went to in my NYC Yarn Crawl was called School Products Yarn.  I almost didn't go.

When I looked it up online, it had terrible reviews.  People said that the selection was limited to only one yarn line and some expensive imports.  The yarn cost too much.  The owners were gruff and unhelpful.  Jeesh, why would I want to go there?

But I was walking to Penn Station from the Lion Brand Studio.  I had a little time before I needed to be on the train and it was sort of on my way.  I found the location on my phone.  I went to the address.  I didn't see a sign.  I looked and looked and finally, as I was about to give up, I decided to ask the front desk clerk of an office building where the address was.  He said, "second floor" in a way that made it sound like he had daily requests for yarn stores.  I took the rickety elevator to the second floor.  I stepped out into a dark hallway across from a door labeled School Products.  It was dark inside and no one was there.  The door was locked and I rang the door bell.

Suddenly, the lights sprang on inside and a man, wiping lunch from his chin, bounded to the door to let me in.

He explained what was on the walls.  There was every kind of karabella yarn ever made.  There were cones of yarn and weaving tools.  And then....there were piles and piles of imported, hand-dyed Italian yarn.  There was Merino and camel and alpaca.  And ohhhhh the cashmere.  Each little ball cost more than everything I had purchased at Lion Brand combined.

The shop owner asked me in an unidentifiable accent what I planned to make.  I explained to him that I mostly like yarn for its innate awesomeness and didn't have any particular project in mind.  (I refrained from asking him if I could bunch all his soft yarns on the floor like a pile of leaves and roll around naked in them).  I explained to him that I couldn't afford a whole project's worth of anyone of his beautiful, but expensive, yarns.

He nodded knowingly.  "Then you will just get one."

And so...I just got one.

It was skeined when I got it.  I just couldn't wait to use it, though.

250 yarns of hand-dyed fingering  cashmere.  So soft, I want to put it in my mouth or sleep with it like a teddy bear or stuff it in my bra and wear it to work.
I didn't do any of those things, though.  Just thought I would be clear.

As I went to pay for it, I noticed a copy of Runway Knits next to the register.  I mentioned that I had knit the leaf tank out of it.

"That is my wife's book," he said.

"But the writer of that book founded Karabella Yarns."

"Yes, that is why we only stock Karabella Yarns.  She was designing for runway designers and companies like Gap and wanted her own source of yarn.  So she started Karabella and this store."

"You should put a sign out front to advertise this cool fact!"

"Everyone who needs to know we are here already does."

Now that is what I call an amazing yarn find.  How could all these people online missed the coolness of this place.  It does have limited selection, in the way that the Lion Brand Studio only carries Lion Brand yarn.  It is expensive, because, um, cashmere is expensive.  He is gruff because he is tired of people telling him he has a limited selection of expensive yarns.

I am still giddy thinking about this.

NYC Yarn Crawl: Lion Brand Studio

The second stop on my NYC Yarn Crawl (don't worry, there were only three) was at the Lion Brand Yarn Studio.  Lion Brand has been important to me since the beginning, because they were the first yarn I knit with and continue to be a staple for when I just need something basic (or machine washable).  You can get their yarn in almost any craft store (though not in most local yarn shops) or online, but they also have a dedicated shop in NYC.

This shop is known for its amazing window displays reflecting the season or some cultural event.  I am not sure what it is now, but when I went it was famous pieces of art replicated in knitting.  For example:

Van Gogh's Vase with 12 Sunflowers.  There are actually a number of versions of this painting.

Knitted.  With a picture through the window...sorry....

Picasso's Woman Asleep in an Armchair

Knitted version...with knitting, obviously.  And without the nip slip Picasso so thoughtfully added.

The inside of the store is equally cool.

The shop has lots of airy, open space and tables for people to sit and work at.

There are rows and rows of yarn stacked against the walls.
And there is a sampling wall where you can reel off a little yarn and see how it works up before making a purchase.

I made a purchase.  I loved working with Fisherman Wool when I made my Speckled Shrug (the one that never ended).  And I have been hankering to design my own sweater ever since I took the design class at Stitches South.

So I got three GIANT balls of Fisherman's Wool in Oatmeal.  I will wait until I am back in Atlanta to get started on this one (it is way too hot to deal with a sweater's worth of wool fabric at the moment), but I think it is gonna be good.

Yarn Crawl: Purl Soho

Back in June (I'm a slow poster, obvi) I did a yarn crawl in NYC.  I only had a short time in the city, so I just hit up three places.  The first was Purl Soho.

I've followed their blog for a while and really liked the suggested projects they post.  They also have a mix of knitting, sewing and stitch-craft, which I thought would be fun to check out.
I was not disappointed.  They have a wide range of mostly high end yarns, but also a lot of Cascade for the budget customers (I think I count as a budget overall yarn consumption is high, but each ball is relatively inexpensive).  A lot of the brands, I had never heard of before...I always think that maybe I should keep a journal of yarns so I would know what I like or don't like for the future.  But then I think about what I like best (solid colored, worsted, long-lasting wool) and realize that I am not ever going to be the girl that buys fancy yarn, so it doesn't really matter.

I especially liked that they had LOTS of large samples knit up in many of their yarns.  You could thumb through the table of them like wallpaper samples.  A nice way to see what they fabric would be like.
See the samples on the table in the front?

What I really wanted from them was ginormous Big Stitch yarn, but it is alpaca and ended up being WAY more than I wanted to pay for it.  (I am still trying to come up with a good idea for spinning uber-fat yarn that does not look too much like roving....many plies maybe?)

Instead I asked if they had anything local.  Since sheep aren't very common in the city, I expected something from local dyers or spinners or maybe an upstate NY brand.  Instead they directed me to Jared Flood's Brooklyn Tweed Loft (Fingering Weight).  I got some.

I hate it.

I shouldn't hate it.  It is American sourced wool.  Jared Flood is an amazing designer.  I like men who knit.  But the colors are not bright enough, the yarn breaks too easily (I'm kind of a tight knitter, so this causes problems for me) and it kind of looks and feels like dryer lint.

However, I am hopeful for the finished product, so I am going to knit a shawl with it for the Revellenic Games (formerly the Ravelympics).  We shall see.

World-Wide Knit in Public Day

June 10th was World-Wide Knit In Public Day.  The DC event was hosted by Looped Yarn Works (my LYS) in Dupont Circle.  Nate and I rode our bikes down, worried because we didn't know exactly where they were meeting in the Circle.  Never fear: it was really hard to miss a crowd of knitters (although at first they looked like a prayer group because everyone was sitting quietly with their heads down concentrating on what looked like folded hands).

Immediately a burly man with a beard and clipboard came over to greet us.  He asked if we had ever heard of a group called "Minute." 

"Minnit?"  I asked.

"Yes.  Mennit," he replied, strangely only speaking to Nate through this whole conversation. 

I was a little perturbed.  Nate can knit but he isn't the die-hard that I am...just because I decided to just take a skein to wind rather than actually knit something didn't mean I should be completely ignored.  Or maybe this dude was inviting us to join a religious organization that systematically excludes women?

The friendly, burly man must have felt my attitude and spoke veeeeery slowly.

"DC Men Knit is a knitting group for men.  Would you like to join?"

Hells yea burly man who knits!  Please recruit Nate!  He's been working on the same damn hat for a year and a half now!

Moral of the story: if you knit in public, good things happen.  Do more of it.

Ravelympics Smack Down

Because everyone seems to be talking about it, thought I would mention the U.S. Olympic Committee's cease and desist order against Ravelry (an online community for knitters) for using the name "Ravelympics."  They had the nerve to refer to the knitters' use of the name as "denigrat[ing] the true nature of the Olympic Games,” and as "disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

The Yarn Harlot did a really thoughtful response to the knitterly anger over the letter.  I agree with what she says.  My only problem with her piece is one comment a reader made:
Amen. As an attorney, I certainly understand the trademark issue at stake and agree that they had to defend the mark. Designers certainly should applaud this stance as well. I think the law clerks unfortunate comparison is what draws so much ire. I just hope it is a teachable moment for him in always considering the multiple audiences for any communication (and that he is not one to be smug about it when he returns to law school in the fall).

Why you gotta blame the law clerk, yo?

Candy Striped

I was spinning on my new wheel before I left Atlanta this spring.  Unfortunately, the wheel doesn't fit in my suitcase, so I don't have it with me this summer.  I did end up with several bobbins of purple and white silk/merino singles.

I plied them together to get some candy-striped yarn.

I think I like it.  Maybe.

It's growing on me.

Mostly because it is super soft and squishy.

About 300 yards of somewhere between fingering and worsted weight yarn.  It isn't obviously purple at first glance, though.

I have more fiber of each color and I am trying to decide whether to make more stripey or if I should make solid colors of each.  Then I could make a kind of color gradated shawl or something.  I guess I have all summer to think about it.

Decorating the Car

I mentioned that I went to visit my dad and sister in New York a couple of weekends ago.  My sister is even artsier than I am and so we decided to do a project together.  Her car roof fabric was falling down.  It was very annoying, especially when it flapped in the wind when the windows were down.  So we got ourselves some yarn and pins and started to decorate it.

We started from the middle and worked our way out.

My dad joined in.  We each had our own style that looked slightly different.

I think it looked pretty cool.  Unfortunately, my sister then bricked her car the following week.  She was heart broken over the lack of transportation.  I was heartbroken that our hours of work was taken to the scrap yard. 

In happier news, if you are looking for someone to decorate the ceiling of your car, I'm your girl!

Knitterly Dad

Last week, I had some time off before I started my summer internship, so I decided to visit my dad and sister in Syracuse.  They showed me all the cool places they hang out, fed me the best burger and BBQ in town, beat me fair and square in our on-going, years-long air hockey tournament, and took me to the Syracuse Chief's baseball game (which is cool because they are the farm team for the Washington Nationals).

And I got to teach my dad to knit.

He got it pretty quickly.  Especially when I taught him the knitting poem: Up from the bottom, around the back, back down to the bottom and off jumps Jack.  We proceeded to say "off jumps Jack" to conclude activities for the rest of the day.

In just a short period of time he learned to cast-on, knit, purl and and cast-off.  He ended up with a bracelet for my sister.

Not too shabby for a weekend.