31 May 2006

Still waiting...

Yep. Despite the fact that I was promised information by May 30th, it is now May 31st and I still haven't heard about the status of my abstract. Now, I don't want to be whiney, but I want to know. I hate waiting and the fact that the date has passed with not a word makes me assume the worst. But I'd rather know, than assume.

My newest FOs are not helping.

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Lorna's Laces, Shepherd Sock in "Black Purl", one skein
Needles: Inox metal dpns, US 0
Started: May 3, 2006
Completed: May 29, 2006

Thoughts: Well... I knit them from the toe up, which is nice when you only have one skein and aren't sure how far it will go. I love the yarn. There aren't words enough for it. So smooth, easy to knit, beautiful colors... The pattern was easy (though if I had it to do again, I'd increase a few more stitches at the toe before knitting the foot. I'm getting a little better at the short-row heel, though if you look closely (which you are not allowed to), you can see they are a little ragged. Why am I not pleased? Well... notice that I'm only wearing one in that photo? Can you guess why?

Remember a few days ago, I wrote asking about looser bind-offs for toe-up socks? Many of you wrote with helpful suggestions, including the sewn bind-0ff, which I used successfully on sock #2 (shown on my foot in the picture). I was so pleased with it, I immediately ripped out the bind-off of sock #2 (which worked, albeit very tightly), used the sewn bind-0ff, and immediately wove the end in and snipped it, all without trying it on. Foolish me. Because what worked so beautifully for sock #2 was an absolute disaster for sock #1. I have no idea why, but now I can't even get the damn thing on. I'm so frustrated and disappointed that I can't even bear to look at it. They are now stashed away, under some other stuff, and someday, I'm sure I'll take the time to try and re-do it. But why? Why did this happen? Any ideas?

Between this and the problems with T-SALP, my confidence in my knitting skills has been pretty thoroughly drained.

Not drained enough, though, to prevent me from casting on for New England. Let's hope this goes better... otherwise, I might throw down the needles for good.

29 May 2006


So remember way back in March, I submitted an abstract for the annual ethnomusicology conference? In Hawaii? Yeah. I find out whether I've been accepted tomorrow. Explain to me, then, why I am compuslively checking my e-mail today, as though the internet gods (and the people at SEM) are going to send me the 'results' a day early, not to mention on a national holiday? I'm crazy. And holding my breath...

28 May 2006

Amazing Lace

I've posted about T-SALP and Amazing Lace here. So check that out. The end of this post is the same as the end of that post. I'll just add that there will most definitely be so FO's this week, so keep your eyes peeled.

What does that really mean anyway? :)

In the meantime, Orangina and I travelled to the Ralph Stanely Hills of Home Memorial Music Festival, which is up the mountain from my house. It was pretty fun, though it poured like the second flood on Friday and the sun shone like we were in the desert yesterday (I have nice pink arms and a cap-sleeve-tan-line to show for it). Here is Orangina with Ralph:

You can't really tell it's her, but trust me, it is. (By the way, for those of you who liked that O Brother Where Art Thou thing, he happens to be singing "O Death" in this photo).

And here is Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys singing in the rain. And when I say rain, I mean RAIN, which you can kinda see in this picture.

Overall, I had a great time, though it was really nice to come home last night, take a shower, and drink so good, strong coffee this morning.

24 May 2006

Wednesday's Happy Things

It's been a few weeks since I've done this, but it's Wednesday, so here are some things that are making me smile:

1. Coffee and the Last of the Cadbury Eggs

I wonder how many times coffee will make this list? Honestly, it makes me happy every day.
(Pardon the Cadbury Egg's absence. My camera was out of batteries and I just couldn't wait for them to charge before eating it -- Thanks Mom!!).

2. Freshly cut grass

Yep, yesterday I participated in the spring/summer ritual practiced by most people, but absent from my life for over a decade -- Cutting grass. I've lived on a college campus or in a major city for the last almost ten years. I forgot about cutting grass. But when the grass at my house here got about knee high, and my next door neighbor told me he was wondering if I'd moved out, I decided it was time to cut the grass. My landlord came by and weedwacked the stuff to a manageable height (and bought me a lawn mower!!!!) and yesterday, in a fit of warm-weather induced frenzy, I cut the whole thing (and I only had t call my dad once to figure out how to turn the thing on!). Now I understand why people have "yard goats." My front yard is an absolute bitch to mow -- up the mountain, right the road. I bruised the palms of my hands pushing the mower up the hill and look what a crappy job I did!

But I did a nice job on the backyard and it looks so pretty and neat and smells so good. I finished sweaty, grassy, hot and feeling more accomplished than I have in a looooong time.

3. Home

Man, it feels good to be at home. I love my space, my stuff, my kitties, my time. I've been reading (The Nation and Confederates in the Attic), knitting (Anthropologie Sweater and T-SALP), and listening to the radio (WMMT - Voice of the Hillbilly Nation). Oh, and don't worry, I've been

4. Working, too.

Yep. Work made it onto the list of things making me happy. How lucky am I? I spent a bunch of time yesterday transcribing an interview I did a week and a half ago. It's an amazing interview and typing it up has been a pleasure. Tomorrow, I'm going up to the Ralph Stanley Memorial Hills of Home Festival, which is just up the mountain from my house. This is my job. I thank my lucky stars.

5. Orangina

I love orangina. What a pleasurable knit. I'm generally frustrated with T-SALP (gauge issues, needle issues, yarn issues), but Orangina makes me smile every time I pick her up.

Oh, and I've done an Amazing Lace post -- so check it out!

21 May 2006

Back Home in the Blue Ridge Mountains...

I feel like I owe the four people who read my blog regularly an apology. I stink. I've not had a substantive post in well over a week, and virtually no photos. But, to my credit, summer is a crazy time for my research -- I've been bouncing from one festival to the next, home for two nights at a time and then running out again to another. This weekend is festival-free, but I'm home in Charlottesville, visiting with my parents, tagging along while my friend attends her sister's UVa Law graduation. It's nice to be home, and I've (finally) been getting some knitting done. When I get back to my part of the world, I'll have photos, I promise. The "new advisor" footies are coming along well. I finished one this afternoon and am casting on right now for the second in the hopes that I'll actually finish this pair (it's been almost two months since I finished a pair of socks, despite the fact that I have five in progress right now. sheesh!). Question -- Does anyone have any suggestions for a good elastic cast off for socks? I knit these footies toe-up and a regular cast off makes for a really tight ankle. I can squeeze my foot in, but it's really not comfortable.

I hope for an Amazing Lace update/introduction on Tuesday over on my Amazing Lace page. I've been making good progress on Orangina and feel optomistic that I'll be able to finish her by next week (fingers crossed). I'm thinking of her as a sort of warm-up teamate for the Amazing Lace, though I'm not sure she'll really help prepare me for the T-SALP. I will continue to post links to that page here and probably most of the content except for the T-SALP. Mom has been very respectful of the secret page. We all like surprises...

16 May 2006

If I were a different person..

[warning -- there is no knitting content in the following post]

You know how there are those times in life that call for the perfect comeback, but you don't think of it until three hours later, when it's waaaay too late? I had one of these today. I was sitting around the appalshop, waiting to go help out on a film shoot. I struck up a conversation with one of the nice, young interns about coffee (one of my first serious loves). I was telling her how I used to regularly get three or four hours of sleep a night when I was in college (keep in mind, she's a sophomore in college now). She nodded. I then said that I stopped being able to do that when I reached twenty four or twenty five. Her eyes got wide and she asked me "How old are you?" I said that I would be twenty seven in July (because I will be). Her response? "Wow. Twenty Seven. What does it feel like?" I kid you not. I think this is the first time I have ever felt old. Or almost felt old, because how can you feel old when you're not?

This was at lunch. At five o'clock today, I came up with the perfect response to this question. What does it feel like to be twenty seven? It feels just like twenty, but much, much smarter.

14 May 2006

Seriously, I thought it was spring!

It feels minorly ridiculous to be working on lace when it is 54 degrees outside. What happened to spring? We had a brief teaser and now it's back to winter for us for another week. People down here call this "blackberry winter", "redbud winter" (which makes no sense, since the redbuds have long ago stopped blooming), "dogwood winter" (ditto the last one) or "indian winter" which is funny, because I've only ever heard of "indian summer." In any event, it's cold.

I've added an additional teammate to my Amazing Lace adventure -- well, not a "new teammate" per se, but rather one that tugged on my sleeve and said "Why not me too?" So, Orangina has begged her way onto Team Twinknit. She and top secret Amazing Lace Project (from here on out T-SALP) took a trip to the Breaks Interstate Park on Friday night for the first Crooked Road Music Festival. My friends' band had a gig there and I got to dance a little. It was pretty fun, but a long drive from east Kentucky. I got another inch or so worked on the front of Orangina. I'd post pictures, but, as I've said, an inch or two added looks pretty much the same as it did before, and besides I'm using dial up right now and it's too slow to wait to download pictures.

I'm almost done making Macaroni and Cheese. I'm embarassed to post this for a few reasons. 1) my previous and confidently expressed disdain for just-add-water-type food (see my rant about cake mix), and 2) the fact that I just finished reading this book, "Julie/Julia" about this woman who cooks her way through all of the recipites in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol 1 (a book which I feel 99.99% positive is on my parent's cookbook shelf). But the Mac and Cheese I'm eating now is Kraft. Yep, it's "Disgusting but good macaroni and Cheese Product". Mmmmmm...

But, before I go, a few of you asked on the page I created for T-SALP whether the name "Twinknit" has anything to do with me being a twin. As a matter of fact, it does I've got a twin brother, named Adam. We're fraternal twins. This may seem like an obvious thing to say (if he's a boy and I'm a girl, there is no way we can be identical. Duh.) but I had a doctor ask me this once during a check-up. Needless to say, this made me feel a little wary her skills as a medical professional. When picking a name for my blog (and not being clever enough to come up with one that makes a pun about knitting) Twin-Knit seemed like a good fit. It's also got this nice almost (well, okay, not at all) pallendromic quality to it. So yes, I do have a twin, and no, I haven't knit him anything yet (he's not one for wool). More on that later... my Mac and Cheese is getting cold.

12 May 2006

A solution...

I've been frustrated with my inability to post about my Amazing Lace project, and this morning I came up with a solution. First, some beans to spill:

Mom, my Amazing Lace project is for you. I'm sure this is not a surprise. So for the next few weeks (months?), I'm going to be posting about this project elsewhere, and linking to this blog. Please, if you want to be surprised, don't click on the links. If you don't care about the surprise, let me know, and I'll just start posting here. I love you. Happy Mother's Day (a little early). Thanks.

So, for the first installment of the Amazing Lace update, click here. (again, Mommy, not for you).

In other news, I did not finish the orange blob last night because I was too busy winding yarn. For hours, I wound (and wound and wound). Lace weight is kind of a pain, huh? Hopefully more progress today.

11 May 2006

A Walk in the Woods

Oh Oh Oh! I got my Amazing Lace (yarn) in the mail today. It has taken every single ounce of self control I have not to post pictures of it all over this blog, I love it so much. But it's a gift and I'm trying to make it at least a bitty bit of a surprise. But... it's a Sundara yarn and it crunches like freshly fallen snow in the middle of winter (my favorite sound, by the way, next to the sound of the screen door at my grandparent's house on Lake George slapping against its frame -- now that's the sound of joy). And someday, I'll find a way to post pictures where the gift recipient can't find them.

In the meantime, a knitting update -- This

orange blob is on it's way to becoming a modified version of Peony's Anthropologie Sweater. I'm messing around with it a little -- longer sleeves, slightly longer body. We'll see how it turns out. I'm hoping I'll finish it tonight.

I've been working slowly on my Lorna's Laces "Freedom" socks (with yarn I bought to celebrate my new advising situation). No pictures yet. They're coming very slowly. When I finish one, I'll post.

In the meantime, my friend Jennifer from Memphis is visiting with her husband. She and I took the afternoon off, after the rainstorm passed, and went hiking to Bad Branch Falls, on the Kentucky/Virginia border. Since folks have remarked that they like the "scenery" photos, I took a couple on our hike today.

Kentucky is beautiful. This is a view from the top of Pine Mountain.

We saw lots of small, beautiful flowers on the trail, like this woods violet:

and this blackberry flower.

There were also a lot of really interesting mushrooms.

The falls were beautiful as always, but the highlight was the walk there. The trail to Bad Branch is damp and dark, with bits of woods peeking through the dense, tree-like canopy of rodedendron. I love it.

We also saw a lot of wildlife, like this snail:

and, the highlight (literally and figuratively):

this little, fluorescent orange newt. He was very patient and photogenic, though my camera kind of freaked out about his color (notice, not in focus).

I love spending time in the woods, particularly after it rains. I've grown to love it here, and feel so connected to this place, it's hard to imagine leaving. I made the deicison, after my last trip to Philadelphia, to spend more time here. Originally, I had planned to return to Philadelphia this fall. Now I think I'll stay through the winter (and lets be honest, who could leave here in the spring when it is so beauatiful), and write here, stretch my legs a little, get some chickens, and see how long-term rural life treats me. I feel really good about this decision. I just don't feel ready to leave...

09 May 2006

Thoughts related to the Amazing Lace,

or (One Reason) Why I Knit

Since I've signed up for the Amazing Lace, I've been thinking all things lace. Since my project for the Amazing Lace is, for now, top secret, and since my progress on other knitting projects isn't exactly page turning (how many pictures of the back of orangina, slowly inching along to look exactly like the front, do you really want to see?), I thought I would post a little differently about lace. This is a post I've been promising for about three months, but now I have an excuse, because it starts with lace. It also seems appropriate, considering that sunday is Mother's Day. So...

This is a sweater made by my maternal grandmother. She was born in the Ukraine, moved to Germany as a child, and then to New York as a teenager, where she met and married my grandfather and raised my mom and my aunt. I never met my grandmother -- she died when my mom was in high school. But when I think back on my childhood, I feel like she was always a presence. My grandmother was amazing with her hands -- she was an artist and an amazing seamstress. I wore dresses my grandmother made my mom to several dances in high school and I remember what a treat it was to go into the attic and carefully pull them, one by one, out of the trunk in which they were stored. My grandmother was also an incredibly gifted knitter. We have pictures of some sweaters she knit for herself and, as an adult, I have come into possession of two of them. This pink mohair sweater is one.

My mom taught me to knit when I was little (10 or 11, maybe). I'd been sewing for years (like my grandmother, my mom also sewed a lot of my clothes when I was a kid, and I can't remember a time when I wasn't putzing around with a needle and thread, inventing patterns for my dolls and making little quilts for my dollhouse), but had never tried to knit. Like my grandmother, my mom knits in the continental way, and this is how she taught me. At the time, I had a friend, Gretchen, who knit what I always understood to be the "American" way (holding the yarn in her right hand and wrapping each stitch). As is the way with 11 year olds, I decided to knit the way Gretchen did. Although I don't remember the details of the conversation, I have a vivid memory of sitting on the stairs in my old house, talking to my dad through the rungs in the banister. I remember that he explained to me the importance of carrying on family traditions, and how meaningful it would be to learn to knit in the same method as my mother and grandmother. Although I don't remember knitting much after this (I made a couple of mangled attempts at knitting in middle school, and again a long, ugly salmon pink scarf in high school), but this conversation made an impression on me. I don't know if this was the beginning of my obsession with family and tradition, or if it just fueled a pre-existing fire. But when I picked up knitting again after college, I made a point of proudly learning continental method, and teaching it to several of my friends. When I knit this way, I always think of my grandmother and my mom.

After I started getting serious about knitting, I pulled out this sweater (I'm too afraid to wear it) and started looking at it more carefully. It is one of the most amazing knitted garments I've ever seen. My grandmother's attention to detail is mind-boggling. It is an incredibly delicate cardigan -- the entire sweater is beautiful, perfect, even cables.

It is perfectly pieced, with no "wonkiness" in the shoulders or side seams. She even made buttons to match.

And then, what seems to me the most amazing thing, she sewed and set a lining in the entire sweater.

Sometimes, like now, when I look at this sweater, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of care and detail that my grandmother put into its construction. It makes me feel sloppy and lazy about my own work, and reminds me that there is a Craft to knitting and a great deal of value in creating heirloom quality pieces. This is the love and dedication that I strive for, to make something that can be passed on, that my granddaughter can wear and admire and that will hopefully inspire her to knit too. It is this sweater that makes me take a deep breath and rip out inches of knitting when I make a mistake. And this sweater (and my mom, and the sense of tradition and continuity that I feel when I pick up my needles) is one of many important reasons why I knit.

08 May 2006


Look at this! I want it...

In search of warmth...

Seriously, what happened to the weather? Not that I'm complaining (too much). It was awfully nice yesterday to curl up in bed and watch movies and old episodes of West Wing all day. But today, when I have to work, and my fingers are practically freezing to the keyboard -- then I start wondering where spring went and when it's coming back. Saturday was hot, beautiful beyond belief (and I got a little sunburn on my nose, a sure sign of summer). And today, I should turn my heat on (notice I say should; I refuse to turn it on again until fall. No matter how cold it gets). I'll just drink a lot of tea today and take advantage of the cold weather to wrap my hands in some wool and try and finish some of these permanent WIPs. Like Batman's Jaywalkers, which were supposed to be a Christmas present. Or the second Potomatus sock. Or the second Blue Sock. Hmmmm... Or maybe I'll just make myself another pair of wrist warmers :)

I have a question -- does anyone have a suggestion or a good pattern for socks (or anything else) that can be made with one skein of Lorna's Laces (215 yards)? I'm not happy with what I have and am looking for ideas.

I leave you with my favorite "discovery" of the weekend. I was at my friend Laura's house this weekend and, while skimming her bookshelves (one of my favorite activities while visiting other people... other people have such interesting books), I pulled down a volume of Rilke, opened it up, and read this poem. I'm so in love with it, I thought I'd share it. I'm including it in both German and English, because all "foreign language" poetry deserves to be read it its native tongue (and this one is truly beautiful in German).

To Say Before Going to Sleep

I would like to sing someone to sleep,
to sit beside someone and be there.
I would like to rock you and sing softly
and go with you to and from sleep.
I would like to be the one in the house
who knew: The night was cold.
And I would like to listen in and listen out
into you, into the world, into the woods.
The clocks shout to one another striking,
and one sees to the bottom of time.
And down below one last, strange man walks by
and rouses a strange dog.
And after that comes silence.
I have laid my eyes upon you wide;
and they hold you gently and let you go
when something stirs in the dark.

Zum Einschlafen zu Sagen

Ich möchte jemanden einsingen,
bei jemandem sitzen und sein.
Ich möchte dich wiegen und kleinsingen
und begleiten schlafaus und schlafein.
Ich möchte der Einsige sein im Haus,
der wüßte: die Nacht war kalt.
Und möchte horchen herein und hinaus
in dich, in die Welt, in den Wald.
Die Uhren rufen sich schlagend an,
und man sieht der Zeit auf den Grund.
Und unten geht noch ein fremder Mann
und stört einen fremden Hund.
Dahinter wird Stille. Ich habe groß
die Augen auf dich gelegt;
und sie halten dich sanft und lassen dich los,
wenn ein Ding sich im Dunkel bewegt.

05 May 2006


I've got a long post written, awaiting some familial approval before I can post it, but I thought I'd write and share my excitement that I just bought some beautiful yarn for a beautiful, top secret, super hush hush gift that I will be knitting this summer as part of the Amazing Lace. I cannot wait until it comes... I want to touch it, rub it against my face, ooogle it over and over, and, most importantly, knit something gorgeous with it. Excitement bubbles... I can't wait until I can share for real.

In the meantime, I participated in somewhat local politics last night by heading out to Letcher County, Kentucky (where I'd say I spend 75% of my time) for a little debate. The candidates for magistrate (or some of them, anyhow) duked it out in rhetoric last night and I went to catch the action. To be honest, it wasn't the most exciting debate ever. This was probably due to a combination of the following: 1) I sat in the back (so as not to get on camera -- the beekeeper et. al. were filming), and it was sometimes hard to hear; 2) so many candidates did not show up, so the heated debate between multiple candidates running in the same district was kept to a minimum; 3) hearing stagnant and rote answers (with the exception of a few firey candidates) to the same questions over and over was, honestly, boring. These were big and important questions, like how people feel about putting a prison in Letcher County (for those of you who don't know, building prisons and importing inmates is big business in Appalachia right now... talk about economic development. Ha!), whether there should be a decrease on the carrying weight limit of coal trucks (who regularly overload and then drive 60 mph on windy, two-lane back country roads -- this is why my car insurance is more expensive in rural southwest Virginia than it was in West Philadelphia), whether the new candidates will support the recently imposed ban on smoking in public buildings (people here consider this a rights issue -- as in their right to smoke while eating and shopping over my right to breathe... sorry to all who smoke, but I feel pretty strongly about this), and whether there is a viable solution to the (environmentally destructive and morally questionable) practice of strip mining. Most answered so blandly as to not answer. Some answered in a way I found so morally egregious, it made me angry, and few, very very few, answered with balls and social consciousness. I guess this is politics. And it's always interesting to watch it happen at the local level.

To spin this back around to knitting content, I did get a significant amount (four inches) done on the back of Orangina at the meeting. I hope to plough away and maybe, just maybe, have her done by the end of next week. That would involve some pretty serious dedication and, like Laura, I've been having a problem with knitting mojo recently. Things aren't working out, or I'm just not excited about them. I've lost some steam with these sock projects, stacking up and up and up (five, count them, five pairs of socks on the needle, and no motivation to finish any of them). This is why I'm doing the happy dance for this yarn just recently ordered. It's got inspiration written all over its lovely, silky self!

Meanwhile, I flatfoot...

04 May 2006

Spring craving

I'm craving a cardigan... a cute, spring, bright little cardigan. I want to make it right now, but I've got too much on my plate. But I'm thinking something with three-quarter sleeves, a cute, subtle pattern, something in pale blue or pink or lavendar (a color I've only recently been converted to), something very girly that I can balance with jeans, cowboy boots, and a tee shirt. hmmmm...

I finished side one of orangina. I want to finish it before the Amazing Lace starts, partly so I can focus all of my attention on the overly ambitious project I have selected (secret, secret, secret) and partially because I want to wear orangina now. I woke up this morning wanting to wear it. It's time for it to be done.

In the meantime, I have other things to distract me. Like this:

(wow - that photo is REALLY washed out!) Can't see it? Want a better view?

(Equally washed out -- it was sunny this morning!) This is one of the two sweaters the beekeeper wears all the time. How do I fix this? If it weren't such a runaway train of dropped stitches, I know I could just pick up the loops and work my way down. But some stitiches are ripped and others are just... freed (?) and I'm not sure how to proceed. There's a part of me that just wants to order some cotton yarn in navy blue and knit a patch for it. What do you think? Ideas?

When I went out to photograph stuff this morning in the (insanely) bright sunshine, I found this on my porch.

Ahhh spring!

03 May 2006

I swear, I'm still here...

Wow. This whole writing once a week thing is getting old. Sorry! I've just been running around like crazy and haven't had much knitting content. This summer is going to be a wild pull from one festival to another. I went to MerleFest this past weeked down in North Carolina, and this weekend I'll be in Kentucky for a series of smaller festivals and celebrations. This is the fun part of work, but it's also a little crazy driving someplace new every weekend. I've put A LOT of miles on my car. On the knitting front, I've started my Lorna's Laces footies on size 0 (gasp!) needles, but I think they're gonna be too small (I'm working without a pattern) and dread having to rip them out. The good news, though, is that my new Addis got here and I can continue work on the long-neglected Orangina. I hope to have it finished soon so I can wear it!

Several of you have asked in e-mails and comments what it is that I do down here. I'm a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology and I'm down here doing research for my dissertation on bluegrass and old time music in southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky. I'm dealing with a bunch of different issues, but I'm focusing on the relationship between music and place. So -- think about how many times you've heard someone say or read in some magazine article that a particular kind of music "comes from the mountains." This is a phrase that gets repeated again and again in reference to old time and bluegrass music (particularly the music of Ralph Stanley). I'm trying to get at what that means by talking with people and observing role that music plays in life down here. I'm particularly interested in the history of Appalachia as a region, the way music fits in to this history, and the way in which the contemporary relationship between music and place is complicated when this place is rapidly being devastated by destructive surface mining practices. So... at this stage in the game, I participate in bluegrass and old time jams, go to concerts and dances, talk with musicians and individuals interested in music, and (this summer) go to every festival taking place in the area that I possibly can. I'm talking with as many people as possible, both formally and informally, and observe as much as I can, and out of this will come some kind of book. We'll see where it all goes...