Monday, March 9, 2009

Things I did on my spring break

Flew to Portugal, where we

Admired the boats:

Cascais Harbor. (Icarus Shawl, in Misti Alpaca Lace--my first big lace project and favorite, most-worn knit.)

Visited the Boca do Inferno:
"Boca do Inferno" translates to "Hellmouth." But no Buffy sightings, even though we walked out to it six times.

Saw peacocks:
Taken at the Castle of St. George.

Wandered around Lisbon:

Even found a yarn store, and bought some yarn. No pictures of that yet, though.

Walked for miles along the beach:
There's a lovely quay from Estoril, the town we stayed in, to Cascais, the next town over, and beyond. I think we averaged about eight miles a day!

Saw the casino that inspired Ian Fleming's Casino Royale:

Ate tons of seafood:

Wandered around the towns:
All the sidewalks of the larger streets and most of the smaller, pedestrian walks were paved like this, with interesting designed.

Knit some, read some. Mostly just enjoyed being with the husband, who's in Kyiv for the semester--Portugal seemed like a sunnier option for the first week of March, and I found a great deal online. So we had a romantic tryst in Estoril for a week, and now it's back to snow, classes, and missing him.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lace Love

Some lace love:

Elizabeth Zimmermann's February Baby Sweater, aka the Baby Sweater on Two Needles, from The Knitter's Almanac. 4 skeins of Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Apple Green, almost entirely used up--I have enough for the stem of an upside-down daisy hat left, I think. I have some really cute buttons that look like white flowers, and I'm going to use yellow embroidery floss to attach them. For a friend, who's due in May with a little girl.

Evelyn Clark's Lace Leaf Shawl (Fiber Trends pamphlet), in Mountain Colors Bearfoot "Ruby River." 11 pattern repeats, and I didn't knit the last two charted rows of the border (which was a very good decision--I have about 7 inches of scrap yarn left after weaving in the ends). I love Clark's patterns--they're great for knitting until you run out of yarn. The final measurements on this were 51 inches along the top, and 26 inches down the spine, which is totally respectable. The recipient seemed quite pleased with it, and put it on immediately, which is always nice!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Silent Poetry Reading


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That love me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea. I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known, -- cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honor'd of them all, --
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one t me
Little remains; but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bounds of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle, --
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labor, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail;
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me, --
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads, --you and I are old;
Old age hath yet beyond his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men who strove with Gods.
The light begins to twinkle from the rocks;
The long day wanes; the slow moon climbs; the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are, --
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seak, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred, Lord Tennson (1809-1892). Poet Laureate of England, 1850-1892.

"Ulysses" was first published in 1842.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cambridge Jacket!

Not one but two FOs! The first I knit in a day, while the sleeves to my Cambridge Jacket were blocking:

Thorpe (this is the second one I knit--the first I made for my Dad for Christmas in a ginormous size, as his head is really bit. But the DH did something to the photos I'd taken and now they're lost on his computer somewhere.), in Louet Riverstone Chunky (color: bright blue). Destined to warm my mom's ears.

And Cambridge Jacket, seamed and zippered:

I'm pretty pleased with the way the zipper went it--this was my first zipper attempt. The DH seems to like it, as he's worn it several times already. He's off on his next excellent adventure in ten days, and I'm happy that he'll be able to take it with him. I might not be able to go with him, but at least I can send him wrapped in hand-knit sweaters.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sleeve Island

While the Husband is home, I decided it was time to knit him another sweater. I bought the yarn a while ago (Valley Yarns Williamstown, in a rust color), and he picked out the pattern (Cambridge Jacket by Ann Budd, from IK Summer 2006). I even swatched last spring, but didn't cast on until Dec. 28.

The back and the two sides knit up pretty quickly--lots of time in NJ hanging with family, plus several car trips back-and-forth to Boston, helped:

I'm working on the sleeves now, for what seems like forever, although I know I'm getting close to done. (Okay. I'm telling myself I'm getting close to done. 'Cause, really, how much longer can I keep knitting sleeves?) I decided to take a little break today, though, and pin out the fronts and the back to block. That way I can start seaming while the sleeves are blocking.

I've also been aquiring more yarn--I stopped at Webs (again) last week. For my mom, really, who wanted some yarn for baby blankets. So I volunteered--it was only right, since she is my mom. In addition to the yarn she wanted, I got:

Louet Riverstone, in bulky (and in the warehouse!). Destined to be a Thorpe for my mom.

Araucania Ranco Multi, in a brownish-pinkish-greenish swirl. One of my favorite pairs of socks is out of Ranco Multi, and for the price (warehouse: $8.99!), I couldn't resist a hank.

And two balls of Adriafil Knitcol. For nephew-the-elder knee socks; he saw a pair with faux fair isle, and really liked them. And he likes bright colors--this looks like it will meet both requirements!

Friday, January 9, 2009



If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"

Then would I bear, and clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased, too, that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted out the tears I shed.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
--Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan . . .
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage than pain.

--Thomas Hardy. 1886.

If we begin as we mean to go on, I'd like a do-over. The semester started off well enough in terms of classes and students--nice kids, willing to put some effort and cheerfulness into a required class.

But other things seem to be stacking up--the unexpected loss of a colleague, and of a former student, and of a friend's mother. The former student, in particular, is hitting hard; he was a really nice kid who just wanted to live his life like any other eighteen-year-old, but cancer got in the way.

Hardy's poem, with its rage and sorrow, says it far better than I can.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spring Term

It always strikes me as funny that the spring term begins in early January, often with snow on the ground. We used to be on a quarter system, which meant we'd be starting our more aptly named winter quarter this week, but we switched to semesters a few years back. Which means we have a fall term (starting quite sensibly in September), a winter break (a few all-too-short weeks barely stretching over the holidays), a spring term, which starts tomorrow, and two short-but-intense summer sessions. (Summer 1 starts at the beginning of May, though, so that doesn't really make sense, either.)

This year, the winter break didn't even stretch far enough to include Orthodox Christmas, which we celebrate, and which occurs on Jan. 7. My first class is on Tuesday--I'm on a Tuesday/Friday schedule again this term, hooray--so the plan is for me to drive from NJ to MA tomorrow, teach on Tuesday, and head back down for Christmas Eve festivities after classes. G will stay here--no sense in both of us missing all the fun.

Of course, we'll have to be back in Boston on Thursday, so it will be a short trip, but certainly better than not coming back down.

I'm looking forward to my classes this term--two upper-class writing courses, and one first-year. I didn't have any first-years this fall, and I missed them--there's more notable progress with the upper classmen, since what I want them to accomplish is on a lot of levels more measurable. But first-year students--especially in the fall--have a sort of bright-and-shiny joy to them which is lovely. They love being in college--the freedom, the new experiences, the chance to reinvent themselves--and it shows. And their enthusiasm for classes* is catching.

The upper-class courses should be good, too--I had three sections in the fall, which was too much. But two sections should be fine--enough to keep my on my toes, but not so much I run out of steam before the end of the day. Since the first-year class and the upper-level class require totally different kinds of energy, I find that the change in pace is enough to make the day less tiring.**

And I have a new knitting project to look forward to--I cast on for the Cambridge Jacket for G on Dec. 28. In a feverish burst of knitting, I've already finished the back, the left front, and about a quarter of the right front. (Saying this will probably doom me to sleeve-island hell, but I'll take my chances.) I want to finish the knitting by 12/15, so I can block the pieces, seam them, and have at least a week to deal with putting in the zipper. The whole thing needs to be done by Jan. 31, which is when G leaves for the next leg of his research trip. I want to send him off (this time to Kiev) wrapped in a new sweater!

*Granted, not all freshmen are enthusiastic. And not all freshmen want to be in college. But I got super-lucky last spring, and had an amazing bunch; I'm being optimistic about this new group.
**Maybe not less tired, but at least a different kind of tired--I'm not nearly as walleyed with fatigue at the end of it.