Sunday, November 28, 2010

Traveling with Oread, remembering Mary

This past September, Michael and I took a trip to Paris so I could participate in a colloquium at the University there. Edward was just starting show, so I dressed accordingly--you never want to look just chubby in Paris. Enceinte, on the other hand, is OK.

I love traveling with a shawl because it serves so many purposes, including emergency airport/airplane blanket. Plus, they look cool, like you are effortlessly fashionable even when living out of a suitcase half-way around the world. (And I am not effortlessly fashionable.)

Here's a picture of me (and the small thing that will hopefully be Edward come April) in the Place St. Michel where we stayed. There's some big church in the background:

See how good Oread is doing helping me look fashionable?

One other thing:

The reason why this trip was possible at all was because Mary took care of Adrian while we were gone. She invited some of her girlfriends to come stay some of the days, but mostly she just parented our son for us while we were away.

Readers: Appreciate the people in your life and all of the large and small things that they do for you every day. Please, please, appreciate them.

--Katie Rose

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Free Pattern: Oread Pi Shawl Recipe

I've received a number of requests for the recipe I used to make my Oread Pi Shawl [Ravelry].

Of course, the first thing you'll need to get is the original pattern from one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books, such as the Knitter's Almanac (the best eight bucks you'll ever spend). The Pi Shawl formula is the pattern for the month of July.

This Pi Shawl formula is a quick knit (for a Pi Shawl)--I think it took me 2 weeks.

Oread Pi Shawl Formula by Katie Rose Pryal

Lots of Mohair held with a strand of lace-weight yarn in a similar color. Like this:
One cone of Valley Yarns Alpaca-Silk in an olive green, held with:
A light green kidsilk haze,
A variegated green Fiesta Yarns Heaven (color: Catalina),
A gray GGH Soft Kid.

US size 10.5 circular needles. (You'll need the needles EZ requires for her pattern to get the circle started, though--I used double-circulars, or 2 sets of 10.5 needles.)
Size 6.5mm crochet hook.

Stitch Pattern

Simple. Every 6 rows, do a round of eyelets. If you are working an increase round, you just k1, yo, k1, etc. If you are not working an increase round (read the pattern, you'll know what I mean), then you just k1, k2tog, etc.
To get the stripes of dark color like I did with the gray, you change to the gray 2 rounds before the eyelet round, then do the eyelet row, then work 2 more rounds in gray.

Ruffled Edging

The last few rounds I worked with extra eyelets and other things to make sure the edge ruffled up good. Here are the final rounds I worked:
1. Work an eyelet round as usual: yo, k2tog, etc.
2. Knit 1 round.
3. Work 1 round like this: k3, yo, k3, yo. This will increase your stitches by 1/3. (right? or is that by 1/4? whatever.)
4. Knit 1 round.
5. Work 1 increase round as usual: yo, k1, yo, k1. (This will double your stitches.)
6. Knit 1 round.
7. Purl 1 round.
8. Knit 1 round.
Now it's time to bind off.

Bind Off

Work a crochet bind-off like this: Use the size 6.5mm crochet hook. Stick the hook through one loop on the needles and work a single crochet, then chain one st, then work sc into the next loop, then chain 1 st, etc. etc. Very simple but effective. This puts an extra chain stitch between each knit stitch to make sure that the edge of the circle is plenty flexible and adds to the ruffle.

That's it. Super simple.

Thanks to all who have sent me your thoughts, prayers, and sympathies for Mary's death. I really appreciate it. The funeral is on Saturday. Today, Thanksgiving, my parents brought the entire meal to my house (they live 1 hour away) and all of Michael's family came over and partook. It was a sad but also wonderful day.

Enjoy the pattern. It's good holiday knitting.

--Katie Rose

Monday, November 22, 2010

Never Shop Alone...

It's hard to shop when you are pregnant. At least it is for me. I might walk into a store feeling actually cute, but when the pants come off in the dressing room, and my thighs look like bloatation devices, I want to cry.

Today, I did three very, very stupid things: I went (1) shopping while pregnant, (2) for a funeral dress, (3) alone.

Never, ever shop for a funeral dress alone.

Just as importantly, NEVER DO IT alone while pregnant. I need to send a bouquet of flowers to the dressing room attendant at Nordstrom Rack who listened to me bawl and told me I looked good in the dress that I finally found. She never batted an eye despite my semi-hysterics.

Here's the dress (with a tie I found for my husband in the background):

I really love this dress. The flower/ruffles at the neckline make it dressy, and the box pleats at the empire waist make it fit over my belly. It's just to my knees (not easy to find since I'm 5'11") and doesn't cling anywhere. Perfect 3/4 length sleeves. Stttrreeeetchy. In a word, perfect.

It's really important to me to dress up VERY nicely for the funeral of my husband's mother--out of respect for Mary and for him. I feel like I owe her so much and it's going to be really hard to live up to her for my kids. Plus it sucks that she's dying so damn young. I want to show the world how much I respect her.

I also bought a tie for my husband. Some stupid brand that had cost 150 bucks (for a tie?!?!) and was marked down to 20:

I also bought this mounted photograph for my husband. This is a picture I took of Mary holding Adrian (my son) when he was just a few days old:

I love the professional print processing site It is WAY better than the dumb consumer sites. This is where wedding photographers and other pros go for their online photo processing. And they're really fast.

I love how the mounted photo came out. I'm going to hang it over Adrian's crib and tell him all the time how much his GrandMary loved to hold him.

And later, I'm going to tell Edward that GrandMary is holding Adrian in her arms and Edward in her heart.

And finally, here's a better picture of my Ginevra--I'm calling it Hospice. According to the OED, the word "hospice" used to refer to a home where travelers could stop to rest on their journeys. I really like thinking about the word that way.

I cast on for this sweater at Duke Hospice yesterday and knit all of this until late last night. It was so soothing to knit a simple top-down raglan. The Duke Hospice home is beautiful, by the way, and we really appreciate everything they've done for Mary and for us.

--Katie Rose

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Knitting from Hospice

My sister-in-law is a knitting dabbler and she asked me to hook her up with a scarf project for while she was sitting by her mother's bed in hospice. I gave her a skein of worsted-weight Wool-Ease and a pair of size 10 needles. I think the scarf is nearing five feet in length at this point.

Then yesterday she came to my house for a break from everything and I had my new issue of Interweave Knits on the kitchen table. She just loved Ginevra's Pullover [ravelry] by Amy Polcyn. So I'm going to make one.

I reached into my stash for some blue heather Cascade 220:

and a cone of Jaggerspun merino laceweight in a solid royal blue that I found on Craigslist:

These pictures of my yarns suck. The photos are old ones that I took for my stash on Ravelry and were only meant to be seen by me. My Nikon is over at Hospice for taking pictures of Mary and her kids and grandkids.

So, crappy old stash photos for the blog today. Sorry.

I'll take more pictures as I go along with Ginevra. It's been a while since I knit someone else's pattern. I think the last one was Jordynn's Tenley Cowl [pattern page on Ravelry / my version]:

(Hey--I took that picture of Jordynn. It doesn't suck. Feeling less guilty now.)

Knitting from a pattern is just far more relaxing than designing, and so much better for when your (my) brain is occupied with other things. I'm packing up my knitting bag and heading over to hospice in a little while.

--Katie Rose

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another kind of Baby Surprise, plus a Tragedy

Yesterday (Monday) was an impossible day. I'm not sure how I made it to Tuesday. Here's how it went.

Prologue: At 10pm Sunday night, we had to rush my MIL to the ER because she was losing mental function. They scanned her brain and found cancer there, too.

7:30 am: My husband and I visit the OB for our ultrasound (I'm 17 weeks) and diagnostic screening. Everything looks great. It's a boy. We're calling him Edward. Here's a 3-D ultrasound, which is both cool and weird at the same time:

I made my next appointment with my favorite midwife; we are overjoyed that our son will have a baby brother. My husband goes to work.

11:00 am: I meet my sister-in-law at the hospital after she drove down from D.C. Things with my MIL are way worse than we thought. I give my MIL the print out of the ultrasound images and she shows them to everyone who comes in the room. So proud.

1:00 pm: We meet with my MIL's doctor and she tells us we're looking at "days to weeks."

3:30 pm: We meet with the hospice coordinator with my FIL and it's the saddest effing thing I've ever done.

6:00 pm: We move my MIL to the most beautiful hospice home in the world. The second saddest effing thing I've ever done.

8:00 pm: My husband and I go to visit my MIL at her new home. I leave him in the room alone with her and wait. Then I take him outside to the porch to sit in rocking chairs and cry.

And that's it. My impossible day. Such joy and sadness, all at the same time.

Thanks for listening, folks.

I promise I'll talk about knitting again, soon. I've already made a sweater for Edward. I made it blue (back when the baby was still Rose-Edward), because I just had a feeling. I'll show you next time.

--Katie Rose

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Baby Surprise

Yesterday, my husband, son, and I celebrated a beautiful Sunday morning by having a lazy breakfast together at home and then taking a walk around our neighborhood. We're practicing extra hard to appreciate all of the wonderful things around us in the world, especially since we're dealing with a current tragedy.

It was a warm morning for November, so we wore sweaters instead of coats:

Perhaps, after all of this practicing, we'll get really good at appreciating things and will stop wallowing in stupid stuff.

Two years ago, I knit the Baby Surprise Jacket that Adrian is wearing (an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern) when I was pregnant with Adrian. I knit a toddler size, hoping that he would get to wear it a lot. He was 1.5 years old on Sunday (Happy Birthday, Adrian!), and although the sleeves are a little long, he'll definitely wear it this winter. Next winter, we'll unroll the sleeves, and he'll wear it again.

To make this jacket, I used some store-bought worsted-weight wool (the cream color) and a skein of my own handspun--a dappled icelandic fleece that I dyed purple and then spun into a two-ply.

(One note on spinning Icelandic: I'm not a huge fan of the outer scratchy stuff. The inner fuzzy stuff is AMAZING. Think angel wings, kitten fur, and baby bottom all mixed together.)

Check out Baby Surprise on Ravelry.

For those of you familiar with the Baby Surprise pattern, adding stripes really emphasize the nifty construction. Here's the back view:

I made this one a little longer than usual by picking up and adding the band of cream stitches at the bottom of the coat.

Adrian took to wearing it right away, which allayed my concerns about babies and wool. He didn't care at all that it wasn't superwash or cotton blend or (urg) acrylic "baby yarn."

For those of you who've had more practice than me appreciating the small things in life and ignoring stupid $h!t, care to share how you got there? I've heard about yoga (daytime classes, anyone? Mom's can't go to yoga classes at 6pm, duh), acupuncture (love it!), and therapy (doing that, too). What else? In these rather desperate times I'm getting, well, desperate.

(Raptwithfiber, you could always come visit and let your chill rub off on me. That ALWAYS works.)

Still working on the knitting book, and still hoping to have it out before Christmas. We'll see.

--Katie Rose

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vera in the News

Thanks, Hoxton Handmade, for this excellent write-up of our Vera Rubin cardigan.

Vera Rubin is one of mine and Jordynn's joint patterns. You can check it out on Ravelry by clicking this button:

If you are unfamiliar with Hoxton Handmade, they do this groovy podcast called "The Electric Sheep." You should check it out.

**One last note: Thanks to all of you who shared your well wishes with me. I'm overwhelmed.

--Katie Rose

Friday, November 12, 2010

Life Hits Hard, or Why I Need to Stop Complaining

Two weeks ago, my mother-in-law had a sore back. She was having a little trouble lifting my son out of the pack-and-play.

Today, she's in a wheelchair, and the doctors tell us she has metastatic bone cancer all over her body.

This is my husband's mother, a woman born to be a grandmother. She bakes pies like it's nobody's business. She grew up on a farm in a small town in Texas, the youngest of five kids and the only girl. She's a health nut and tough as steel.

My husband and I want to see her hold our new baby in the spring. But now, nothing is certain.

Nothing is certain.

Conclusion: I need to stop complaining and bake my boys a pie.

-Katie Rose

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Futility, or Why Grading is Like Frogging

Here's the deal.

Every semester I get a bunch of new students. My job is to train them to be good researchers and writers. Around this time every semester, I grade their "big" projects, and I'm usually very, very frustrated. Here's what I'm thinking: Why didn't they do the reading? Why didn't they follow the basic instructions on the assignment sheet?

Why was I so naive to think they would do the reading or follow the basic instructions on the assignment sheet?

By the end of the semester, they somehow get it together, but inevitably, in early November, I hit this nadir of grading doom.

And next semester, I get to do it all over again. When I think about that, I start to freak out.

I think I'm doing something wrong.

Here's a metaphor:

Imagine knitting a complicated lace scarf, with impossible-to-memorize charts, teeny-weeny needles, and spider-web yarn. You have your face buried in the pattern and close to your tiny needles, and it seems that the fabric that is coming off the needles way too slowly.

Then, imagine that someone rips out the whole scarf and you have to start over again.

Now imagine that this happens every four months for your entire career.

That's what grading papers feels like to me. At least it does today.

Boy am I in a bad mood.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More on the Knitting Book

I'm shooting to have my knitting book, titled Knitting Like a Professor, available in print or as a Ravelry download by December 1st.

Okay. This is probably wishful thinking.

It will have 15 or so patterns (maybe more). Including some that you've never seen before, and some of my readers' favorites (including Nella and Liliane).

Here's another taste:

Stay tuned for more previews and information on the launch.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Life of a Knitty Professor

5:30am First alarm sounds.
5:45am In the shower.
6:00am Getting dressed. Must be extra snazzy today because I'm helping host a lauded visitor to our department and taking him to dinner.
6:30am In Kitchen. Brew coffee for DH (still sleeping) and make Chai for pregnant me. Still no cries from Adrian. Make Adrian's lunch. Make my lunch. Eat breakfast.
7:15am The boys are still sleeping?!? Answer some emails!
7:30am Still sleeping? Seriously? Write a blog post!

And here I am.

The rest of the day goes like this: meet new TA, teach, break, teach, break, meet other new TA, teach. Meet with book company rep for afternoon coffee. Seminar taught by previously mentioned lauded visitor. Take lauded visitor to dinner. Eat yummy food. Take lauded visitor back to the Inn on campus. Home by 10pm.

And when do I knit? Good ****ing question.

Jordynn and I have mentioned in the past that as the semester winds to a close, schedules squeeze. But for some reason, this semester has been so busy from the get-go. I know that I was dealing with the first-trimester-coma, which is a tough one.

Perhaps I need to cut myself some slack.

I did have a book come out in September:

and I have another book under review by a press. That's not nothing.

Sometimes, though, I wish I were doing more of what I love and less of what I feel I should. Like when I read Ysolda's blog. <>envy<>.

I think this is a common feeling, though.

Is there anyone out there who can say she is doing exactly what she loves (at least most of the time)? And care to share how you got there?