Posted on | March 13, 2007 | 2 Comments

I just sent this:

I’ve knit this already for a friend (but forgot to take a photo before it was gifted – drat!) out of the recommended Suss Fishnet Alpaca yarn (a doubled yarn composed of 2 laceweight strands of an alpaca/viscose blend). And I wanted one for myself, but in a slightly less fuzzy yarn. I saw something very similar to this recently at the BCBG Outlet store and still love it; so I think I’ll still knit this someday in Jaggerspun Zephyr.

But the moderately fitted cardigan continues to beckon. I’d love to kill 2 birds with one stone and possibly submit whatever I come up with as a design idea for some publication – the problem is that I’ve rarely seen Jaggerspun Zephyr used for anything other than shawls/scarves in commercial publications. Knitting a long-sleeved cardigan out of a laceweight yarn – even if it’s knit in a slightly larger gauge to give a somewhat sheer effect – doesn’t have much widespread appeal I guess. Oh well…

The problem with obsessions is that they never quite leave you alone. They interrupt your thoughts, burrow their way into your subconscious, and refuse to be exorcised until they’re realized – one way or another.

Physics Love

Posted on | February 18, 2007 | 5 Comments

I was browsing Nature’s (journal of general science – very prestigious to be published there) website and came across this article.

I’m not sure how long the link will stay up – the journal is weekly and the website changes accordingly. I guess it’s less about physics love and more about academia love. It definitely sounds tough to have a two academic career family. It’s funny, when I met my husband that first week or so of graduate school, that was the trajectory both of our lives were taking. Now, he’s aiming to enter finance and I’m trying to get a job in energy policy – so we’re both straying from physics academia and hopefully into jobs with many opportunities in many cities.

One of the least appealing aspects of academia for me has always been the lack of great universities in great cities. Now, I know there are the Harvards in Boston, the Stanfords in the bay area, etc, etc, but if you fail to get one of the coveted and desperately few spots at one of those institutions, you’re often stuck in the middle of nowhere at a middling place doing good work. I guess I just don’t love the field enough to sacrifice quality of life. It’s sad when the passions of childhood give way to the realities of adulthood, isn’t it?

Rowan bag

Posted on | February 17, 2007 | 3 Comments

Finally I have some actual knitting content I can post. I’ve been working on this bag from the Rowan Silk Wool book for a few months as a sample for Knitting Etc in Ithaca. I’m almost done and I can’t wait to sew it up. Just the gusset strip left to go before I can block and assemble. I love how rich the bag handles look with the inlaid braided cables. I’m not usually a fan of knitted bags – felted or otherwise, but this particular specimen is very drool worthy.

Long time no post

Posted on | February 14, 2007 | 4 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mainly because I’ve been working on things that can’t be blogged about in their entirety. However, I believe I can speak about some of these things as long as I omit details and photos.

I just finished knitting two pieces for a book Yahaira is editing, tentatively titled Sensual Knits, and due to come out in the fall. Writing the pattern was hard – there were set in sleeves involved, and charts, and the math made my head spin. Yes, I have a doctorate in physics, but sometimes I have trouble calculating the tip on a check (maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this!). But I’m very proud of the projects for this book and I can’t wait for it to come out. I’m letting the pattern sit for a day or two before diving back in to proofread it. Right now, I feel too close to it and the tunnel vision is making it impossible for me to spot any errors. I have to see it with fresh eyes.

Then, fairly soon, I need to get started on a project for Knitter’s Magazine that’s due in a month. I’ll be using some luscious yarn that’s pretty much an identical twin to one of my favorite yarns put out by Rowan.

Finally, two of my designs were accepted by a small, independent yarn company. I just mailed my contract for the first of the two projects back to them, so I’ll hold off on revealing who they are at the moment. But, I’m very excited about working for them and joining their list of designers, many of whom whose work I’ve already admired before learning of the yarn company’s existence.

This designing thing has been great fun so far. I’m learning a lot and much to my husband’s dismay, have found something new to obsess about – although he is very happy that designing is slowing my stash enhancement rate. The hardest thing about designing so far is keeping mum on projects. My natural tendency is to share and it’s really hard to not post pictures and talk about what I’m working on.

That’s it for now, but to avoid making this a pictureless post, here’s a photo of the Zelda Grand I just bought from Offhand Designs, a small company from the bay area (yay, bay area!) that makes unique knitting (and diaper and work) totes from vintage fabrics. Look at that wonderful green velvet on the handles and how the bag stays open on its own. The bag was a bit of an indulgence, but now I won’t have to carry around my knitting in a brown paper bag (right, Hickory? ;) ).

New Magknits is Up

Posted on | February 1, 2007 | 10 Comments

The new Magknits is up; and my first published pattern is in it! :)

I made this vest while visiting my in-laws in Italy. The gracious model is my sister-in-law and the setting is the small garden outside of my husband’s family’s home.

My Italian extended in-law family were fascinated by my humble little vest. They were amazed that one small 25 gram ball of Kidsilk Haze costs $14 a skein! Particularly absorbed by my progress were my little nephew, Simone (the model’s son), my husband’s grandmother and his cousin’s grandmother. Here is a picture of his grandmother and his cousin’s grandmother consulting me on the kidsilk haze panels in the v-neck region.

And I just heard from my mother-in-law that Simone (he’s 9) just requested some circular knitting needles and wants to learn how to knit! Just spreading the joy :)

Work Avoidance

Posted on | January 13, 2007 | 5 Comments

I have several things I *should* be working on. But when I get stuck, I’m great at work avoidance. So, here’s a hat (Odessa by Grumperina) that I had been promising my friend for ages. It’s worked up in Rowan Wool Cotton that I had in my stash – oddballs that I got from a sale a long time ago. Despite being warned that the hat would turn out too shallow without adding a few repeats, I still managed to make the hat shallower than I meant to. My friend specified that she wanted a hat with a brim that can be rolled up. I hope this is enough. It’s off to her now. And I need to get back to work!

Dangling Candy in Front of a Baby

Posted on | January 8, 2007 | 1 Comment

A carving station at a local restaurant, featuring Parma’s most famed products – parmigiano reggiano and prosciutto di parma.

Back and the Passport Story

Posted on | January 4, 2007 | 7 Comments

Well, we’re back from our holiday trip to Italy and it’s time the passport story is told. Let me preface this by saying that the Chang family is known for being extremely absentminded. Members of the Chang family have been known to go tranquilly to the airport only to find out at the airport that they had just a reservation, not an actual ticket. Members of the Chang family have been known to lose their passports not once but twice while travelling abroad, once leaving it as a security deposit at a Greek Isle boat rental facility only to have that facility close before retrieving the passport for a scheduled departure that day.

Meanwhile, the Chinchio family (my in-laws) are known for being super organized. The Chinchios trace the outlines of different tools in the garage to ensure that they will be put back in their proper place. The Chinchios track energy consumption going back many years, decades even, and file everything in its proper place.

That said, on the eve before our departure for Italy two weeks ago, at around midnight, my husband was gathering our documents for our flight out of Newark the next afternoon when with a surprised shout he threw the passport at me in disbelief. Turns out that my passport had expired in August. Frantically, we searched the internet (thank goodness for Google) and found several private agencies that claimed to be able to supply a passport renewal within 24 hours. Still, we needed the passport within something more like 5 hours, not 24, so we were in dire straits. But my husband was calm (as he always is) and we replanned the next day. Instead of leisurely leaving in the late afternoon for a direct train trip to Newark, we left for the city at 6 a.m. to go to the only one of these agencies to have a 24 hour phone access line. We got there at 7:30 and with some fast talking at the counter, we managed to convince them to attempt to get my passport renewed. At first, they insisted it couldn’t be done. It would require hanging around for a few hours on zero sleep and then going directly to the US Passport Office to get the passport from the agency’s representative. There would be no direct contact with government officials. I had no idea such services existed, but for those of us who are messy and hopelessly disorganized, they are truly a boon (at a price of course!).

Anyway, that’s the passport story. We were very tired, but everything worked out.

And as a reward for reading that long long story, here’s a picture of the yarn store I visited in Milan. Look at all that yarn! My poor husband had to literally tear me away. Every wall was similarly covered with yarn, but strangely enough, customers weren’t allowed beyond the central region. To see yarn on the shelves, we had to enlist the aid of a shop worker. It was very very frustrating to not be able to touch the yarn at will.

Another strange thing is that the yarn shop didn’t sell any knitting magazines. My husband says that Italy isn’t known for customer service – that selling knitting magazines at a yarn shop would be too obvious and too helpful. Instead, I got some magazines at a newsstand on the corner.

La Dolce Vita

Posted on | December 29, 2006 | 6 Comments

I’m currently in Italy with my husband, visiting his family. A few days ago we went to his town’s version of BestBuy and got his family a wireless router to convert his mother’s slow dial-up connection to DSL, allowing me a quick post.

We’ve been here for about a week, just hanging out in his hometown which is about 40 minutes from Milan and stuffing ourselves like crazy on Christmas day and St. Stefano’s Day. Among the delicacies I like best is Pand’oro dipped in marscapone.

The other day, we ventured briefly into Milan where I went to a huge yarn shop with shelves from floor to very high ceiling full of yarn – mostly stuff you can get in the US like Filatura di Crosa, Grignasco, and Mondial. The prices, however, are slightly cheaper – though with the beastly exchange rate from euro to dollar, not as cheap as it could be. I managed to limit myself to three balls of Filatura di Crosa’s Baby Kid Extra in a powder blue and a magazine or two. If I had infinite luggage space, I would have snapped up some Filatura di Crosa Principessa too – a superwash, fingering weight merino wool that feels delicious and that the shop owners claim doesn’t pill at all due to its tighter spin.

I also have some news on the designing front that I’ve been witholding due to my natural pessimism, but I think it’s fairly safe now to reveal that I’ll be in the spring issue of Knitter’s as well as the February issue of Magknits. I’m really excited about starting this phase of my knitting life — especially with the disappointments with my professional life this year. The Knitter’s thing is done and sent off to their offices and the Magknits thing is almost done as well. The sample is all knit up, but the instructions remain to be sorted out.

Anyway, that’s it from here. Pictures will come when I return home. Hope everyone is having a good holiday season!

Knitting’s version of the waiting bus syndrome

Posted on | December 11, 2006 | 3 Comments

Are you familiar with the waiting bus syndrome – where you wait and wait and wait for a bus that never comes because you’re afraid that the minute you leave, the bus will come? And the more you wait, the more you’re reluctant to leave, having sunk in a certain amount of time already waiting?

I think I encountered knitting’s version of the waiting bus syndrome this weekend. I had finished 3/4 of the back of a tank when I realized that an element I had incorporated into it was too narrow to really be visible. But since I was already 3/4 of the way through, I pushed the doubts out of mind and soldiered on. The more I worked on it, though, the more reluctant I was to scrap it and start over. I reached 1/4 of the way up the front before I finally succumbed to the niggling doubts and ripped everything out. Back to square one. Ugh.

But I think ultimately it was the right thing to do.

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