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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Published (in my other life)...

Physical Review B

Not much new here, working under a slog of deadlines...

Monday, July 23, 2007


A while back, my brother gave me a cute, knitting related T-shirt (Georgia) from Threadless - a website where people can submit their ideas for graphic T's with the possibility of having them printed if there's enough interest.

Now he has something up there which I love - a very moody piece filled with romance and history -- very noir-ish, very In the Mood for Love-ish (that too cool for school movie by Wong Kar Wai, starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung).

Here it is:

Click to see it bigger. My brother's style is very subtle and it can be easy to miss the details if the picture is too small.

And if you're so inclined, you can vote for his design at the website.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Boring Post

As Jen recently noted, knitting blogs without knitting are kind of boring. I've been working on a few things lately that aren't bloggable. But I think I can show snatches here and there.

Here is a swatch of something that I'm working on for JCA. It's almost done and I'm working on writing up the pattern.

Since I have several projects that are due in the next couple of weeks, I've been doing some parallel processing - swatching for one while finishing up the knitting for another while writing up the pattern for another.

Some yarn that I wound a couple of days ago for the next things in the queue:

The lovely charcoal is for a One Planet project. The purple one is some swatching yarn that Lisa kindly sent me to try. And the off white one is yak down for my second project for Yahaira's book - which is, incidentally, also almost done knitting-wise.

Have I said already that I love love love my new swift and ballwinder?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Go see Sicko

My husband and I just came back from watching the new Michael Moore film - Sicko - which was mysteriously billed as a comedy at our local theatre (if only!). I'm not a political person - I'm ashamed to say that I've only voted in one election - but this movie really must be seen by everyone in the U.S.

As usual, Michael Moore overdoes it - he certainly tends to oversimplify the situation until all the shades of grey disappear and you're left with just black and white - but I think the issues he touches on should be discussed and debated and pondered, both by people in power and by the electorate that puts them there.

A really good Slate article analyzes some of Moore's missteps in the film while acknowledging that it highlights real and disturbing attributes of our failing system.

In my own mini version of Sicko, I just received a letter from my insurance company - Blue Horizon of New Jersey - denying further visits to my physical therapist for treating my knees. They had only approved 9 visits which amounts to a month of therapy, hardly enough, in my and my therapist's view, to even begin to address the problem. In their letter, they claim that since my therapist's progress report indicated that my pain is now on a scale of 4 out of 10, I have achieved the parameters necessary for daily life. Well, I beg to differ. My daily life used to consist of some exercise. Now, I can barely walk for a prolonged period of time. My heart rate has gone from 60 to 85 and my level of physical fitness and general sense of well being has deteriorated quite a bit in the 8 months since I've been sedentary. I do plan to appeal the decision by the way.

I used to be incredulous when I heard that insurance companies would reject a relatively inexpensive procedure to arrest a problem in its initial stages, thinking (naively) that when the problem worsened, they would have to shell out that much more money to make up for lost time. After seeing Sicko, I realized that insurance companies aren't worried about more expensive problems down the line because their strategy is to always deny care.

There's a very "Moore" bit in the film where his film crew follows a woman who was denied treatment by her insurance company and heads to Canada where she's "married" to a Canadian friend, giving her access to Canada's health care. It's played partly for laughs, but watching it made me glad that I'm married to an Italian. From him, I know that a nationalist health care system isn't the cure-all (no pun intended) Moore tries to make it out to be. Still, I think I will try to get that Italian citizenship through my marriage to him after all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A thoughtful gift & a late night film

Fellow bloggers are the nicest people. I made an offhand comment several weeks ago to Edna about the deplorable state of my circular needles. When I first started knitting again 7 years ago, I was overly enthusiastic but on a grad school budget, so I bought several huge lots of needles from ebay estate sales. Over the years, I've acquired some needles of my own (mostly addis) and just added them to the collection, which is housed in a brown paper bag punctured through in places by the straights I no longer use. Any time I start a new project, it's a frustrating treasure hunt through unmarked, tangled needles. Edna took pity on me and kindly offered to send me a circular solutions holder that she claims she never uses (I really hope that's the case!). Here is the package I received yesterday from her - note the cheerful wrapping and the cute card:

And the goodie inside with two of my addis in them:

There's a velcro fastening at the top where you can insert a coat hanger to discretely stow your now organized circular needle collection in an out of the way closet. Thanks so much, Edna!

Last night, my husband and I took in a late showing of the new Harry Potter film. The film felt really rushed in places (the book which the film is based on is 800+ pages!) and some details (relatively insignificant) were changed, but in general I liked it. I especially liked the exhilarating nighttime broomstick ride through a lit up London towards the beginning of the film. Seeing magic set against the backdrop of a modern city is very thrilling for some reason - I thought that scene was really well done. Unfortunately, I thought the film deteriorated a bit from then on. But I did enjoy seeing all the lovely sweaters that we've come to expect from a Harry Potter film. In particular, I liked the vest Ginny Weasley wore on Christmas morning. And some of Hermione's sweaters were great too. I found myself thinking of sweater construction for most of the film. Now, that's obsession isn't it?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Knit blogger meet ups and marathon knitting

Several Fridays ago, I finally went to one of the weekly Spider meetups at the Point Cafe. Olga and Vanessa were in town from DC and the Bay Area, respectively. The meetup was a little overwhelming (lots of people to meet!), but fun. Olga was fresh off her Knitty debut and Vanessa had the most tempting of Habu yarn (something silky and mohair-y) that she was swatching. I also met Veronique and Melissa, both of whom I've been eager to meet for a while, as well as Cara, Virginia, Lisa, and Sandra . It was really nice to be among like-minded (read, obsessed) individuals. Here's the group of us who went to dinner after the meetup. Veronique has a similar picture on her blog where she swapped places with me:

In other news, the monster skein has been conquered and is now literally a shell of its former self:

This is the result of a solid weekend of knitting. My hands are quite sore, but one design is almost finished.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

That's what I call a *big* skein

Last week, I finally bought a ball winder to go along with my new simple swift from Italy. And today, I used it to wind one of the largest skeins of yarn I've ever seen (aside from those mega-huge laceweight skeins from Handmaiden). For comparison's sake, here's the skein next to a piddly skein of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift yarn:

And here's the wound ball, still sitting on the ball winder:

The yarn is for my next project, something for Yahaira's PureKnits book. It's a lambswool, angora, and cashmere blend - very dry to the touch, but interesting. I think the final fabric it'll make will be lovely.

Hope everyone in the States had a happy fourth! We ate blueberries and strawberries to commemorate the occasion. I wanted to get Cool Whip for the white part of the red, white, and blue, but had to settle for some lemon yogurt that was already in the fridge because all of the grocery shops nearby were closed.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Coming up for air

I've been completely swamped the last two weeks, buried under a mountain of yarn and a fast approaching (and then receding) deadline. I think I finally managed to send in something I'm happy with and that I hope they will be happy with. It's the most difficult project I've done and I was second guessing my choices the entire way. I think I've knit 3 sweaters worth just for this one project!

Inspired by Kate Gilbert's another look at her winged top from the summer's Interweave, I thought I would post a picture of me wearing Auburn Mist (from the summer Knitter's) and compare it to the Knitter's model wearing it:

See how short the sweater is on the model? The sleeves come down to the tops of my hands, but they reach only her upper wrists. Originally, this was supposed to be a moderately shaped, tunic-y sweater, but it ended up being a lot more sleek than I intended - which is okay, but not what I was thinking when I first sketched this out. The yarn is Trendsetter SuperKid Seta, a twin of one of my faves (Kidsilk Haze), but it's not a yarn that I would choose to make a fitted garment out of. I'm in the process of making this for myself out of Kidsilk Haze in the ice cream shade, but I had to put it aside a couple of months ago. The last time I worked on it was in April, on a car trip from Ithaca to NJ:

It's good car and TV knitting - most of it is in stockinette and the lace, once you get to it, is very easy to memorize. And Kidsilk Haze is always yummy to work with.

Anyway, my petite stature (which sounds better than just saying I'm short) makes it really difficult to design sometimes. I always have to keep in mind that my arms and torso are a little shorter than an average woman. I should just get a dress form, shouldn't I?