Lopi sweater

I finished the colorblock sweater I started (and ripped and restarted) back in November!


I am 95% happy with it. The sleeves are a little more snug than I’d prefer. But because knitting sleeves onto a top-down sweater is such a pita (having to pause frequently to rotate the sweater body so the whole thing doesn’t get all twisted up), I’d like to avoid redoing them if possible. Here’s hoping that blocking can save the day!


Blizzard Jonas 2016

“Snowblowers?! We don’t need no stinking snowblowers!”




Mourning the loss of a friend


Last week, my friend Nancy Abelmann died. I am feeling this loss keenly and have wanted to write about but for a while wasn’t sure what to say or how to say.

Nancy was my advisor in graduate school and the first person who made me feel that I was a scholar with something important to say. She was an incredibly generous scholar and mentor who spent countless hours helping me hone my grant proposals to the National Science Foundation and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, encouraged me during the dissertation-writing process (even after I moved far away), and was totally supportive of my decision not to finish my Ph.D. (and would have been equally supportive if I’d decided to complete it). As both a friend and a mentor, she was a huge influence in my life, and I’m sure I would not be the person I am today if I hadn’t known her.

I last saw Nancy in person right before I moved to Pennsylvania about a decade and a half ago. We kept in touch, though, especially during the past four years as first Bill (my friend and one of my committee members, and one of Nancy’s closest friends) and then she were struck by cancer. This past fall, she did not have much energy for extensive communication, so we exchanged haiku.

She had been very forthcoming about her illness and treatment, sending out updates via e-mail and Caring Bridge, so this final event in her journey doesn’t really come as a surprise. One small consolation is that she knew how much she was loved: she was incredibly supported by local friends and family, and her far-flung connections, too, reached out with whatever support they could offer from afar. (One former student—and friend and former colleague of mine—even flew in from Korea for three days to be with her at the end.)

But it’s still hard to accept that she’s no longer here. She was (as many people have described her) “a force of nature,” and I’m sure she will be long (and fondly) remembered both professionally and personally.

It has been amazing to read the tributes about her over the past week, from all corners of the world—universities, former students, colleagues, academic units, publishers, neighbors, friends.  She had a direct positive impact on so many people! She truly made the world a better place.

(This video was made by Nancy’s daughters and posted a few days ago.)


Mystery lemon

Is giving giant* lemons with the next year’s date written on them some New Year’s Eve tradition that I just haven’t heard about before?



One of the guests at our New Year’s Eve party brought this decorated lemon. (I didn’t know about it until after he left, and he isn’t someone I know (he’s the friend of a friend who was invited), so I can’t really contact him to ask.

*Seriously, this thing is the size of a small grapefruit!


Happy New Year!

 We welcomed 2016 with about 100 friends crammed into our house! Actually, we welcomed it twice: we always toast with everyone at midnight GMT (the very family-friendly hour of 7 p.m. EST), and then again at midnight EST with whoever is still here (which ended up being about 20 people this time).

There’s a lot of food (all vegetarian), a lot of beer (thanks to the six-tap keg freezer in our garage), and lots of music.

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We had a scheduled concert at 5 featuring various friends performing different songs and everyone joining together at the end for a rousing rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (damn straight we demanded our figgy pudding, too!). And there was plenty of other impromptu singing and noodling around on the piano and ukuleles as well.
What fun! And how lucky we are to know so many wonderful people! I’m confident that 2016 will be a very happy new year indeed!
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Best knitting gif ever



In hot water

Today’s tea, in my second-favorite mug. (This is my favorite of the ones I’ve made. But one that Sylvia painted for me when she was three will always have the top spot.)



Last week’s drama

We found out he was missing in the early morning, while getting ready for school and work. In the early afternoon we posted about him in our neighborhood online group, and I made a flyer to distribute to our nearest neighbors.

One neighbor put us in touch with a friend of hers who is very good at finding lost cats and dogs. Seriously, she’s like a cat whisperer with magic powers. Brenda stopped by our house that evening, explained some cat behavior stuff to us (which culminated in her firm belief that “he is almost certainly within one house of this one, probably hunkered down under a deck or a bush”), and gave us some suggestions (and some extra-stinky cat food) for luring him back home.

On the front porch, we put some of our clothes (with our smells on them), one of the litter boxes, Widdershins’ favorite sleeping pillow, and some of the stinky cat food. The hope was that he’d follow those familiar odors home.

We also left a cat-sized opening in our back slider door and planted another bowl of the stinky food just beyond it. And to provide another option for shelter, we left the garage door open about six inches and put yet more cat food in the garage. And then we went to bed.

Around 5 a.m. I heard some meowing outside my closed bedroom door. (We had our other cat, Aisling, locked in our room with us so she wouldn’t run out through the open slider door.) Sure enough, it was Mr. Widdershins! His thirty-six-hour-long adventure had concluded, and he’d come home. Needless to say, there was much rejoicing here!

P.S. Of course he ate ALL of the stinky cat food we’d left out for him, first. (I am pretty sure the 5 a.m. meowing was him saying, “I want more food.”) We just knew that his hunger would bring him home!


Before and after

Back in March I wrote about a bowl I’d made in porcelain and decorated with a ginkgo leaf. At the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with it.

In late September I participated in a wood-kiln firing and included this bowl in my share. I glazed it uniformly in “Ash Grey” and am pretty pleased with how it turned out!



Frogging my new project!

I’ve been knitting merrily along on my colorblock Lopi sweater, and yesterday afternoon I knit to about two inches below the armholes and started thinking, “I wonder if this is too large.” So this morning I put the stitches on my 52″ Denise cable and tried on the sweater. The results were comical:





Yes, I do believe that falls in the “too large” category! What happened?

I had very carefully knit and measured a gauge swatch and ended up at 3.5 stitches per inch. When I dug out my ruler this morning, though, I found that the actual sweater was coming in at 3 stitches per inch. And no, it wasn’t a matter of knitting flat vs. knitting in the round. I had knit the swatch flat, but the first section of this sweater (the gray part) was knit flat and only when I switched to the blue yarn did I start knitting in the round. When I measured this morning, both of those sections came in at 3 stitches per inch. And my sweater was sized to fit someone with a 44″ chest!

I am pretty sure I’m cursed when it comes to gauge. Whatever number I get on my gauge swatch ends up being different from the number I get on the actual knitting. This happens almost every single time. I think rulers and measuring tapes are all conspiring to gaslight me.

I have ripped out the whole thing and will start it anew tonight, this time following Ann Budd’s numbers for the 38″ sweater at the 3-stitches-per-inch gauge. I’m actually not feeling too discouraged about this. Bulky yarn knits up fast, and I really want to be sure I’m 100% pleased with the final result. So it pays to take the time to do it right!

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