Manly Knitting

Recently I find myself teaching people to knit left and right.  I love it.  I love watching how people approach a ball of yarn for the first time, with the hopeful intent to turn it into something purposeful.  Some are quite hesitant, while others jump straight in.  Some people make stitch after stitch, not caring how many mistaken yarn overs and dropped stitches appear on their needles.  They are delighted and tickled, watching loops form and multiply.  Others are slow and deliberate, focusing on every new stitch, being precise and intentional with their movements.  There are so many different ways to approach knitting, and I love being there when friends fumble their way through their first stitches.

I love watching a select few become so smitten with knitting that I know they will be knitting long after I leave.  Others only knit when I’m around.  I’m not sure if that says more about me or them, but I can’t complain because it seems I always have company when I knit these days.

Which is just lovely, especially after having no consistent knitting crowd for the first two years of my knitting life.  I had one good friend who knit on the island, but she lived far enough away that knitting dates were hard to come by.  At Squam last June I was introduced to the wonderful world of knitting with others who are as into the art as I am, and since then I have been dreaming of finding this community of knitters in my life.  With frequent relocations in the past few months and not knowing where exactly my home will be (oh the life of an archaeologist) this has been difficult.  So instead I have started to create knitters in the people around me to satisfy this need.  Currently a few of the Monticello archaeology crew have been willing and eager to learn how to knit.  The girl I am staying with learned to knit less than two months ago and has already finished a hat, bunny slippers, and is on her first sweater now!

Perhaps one of the most interesting experiences has been teaching my first guy how to knit.  Now, I know that every male is just as capable of knitting as a woman, and both genders produce equally interesting and beautiful knitting.  But I do feel that it takes some guts to go against the grain and actually learn to knit.  In honor of Craig’s interest in learning to knit we had a “Manly Knitting Night” last week in which we balanced yarn and needles with beer and banjos.

Craig was an amazing student.  It was interesting, not only teaching a guy, but to teach someone left handed.  Plus, Craig falls into the very precise learners.  It required a lot of time to get each movement down, but he insisted on doing every step perfectly in order to get the correct muscle memory.  I think it worked, because his product is beautiful!  These are his first stitches ever folks!  Look how nice and even they are.  He even ended with the same number of stitches he started with!

A few days later we had a pumpkin carving party.  And look who isn’t carving a pumpkin – but practicing his knitting in the background.  Awesome!

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Ghostly Knitting

I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween – with at least a little knitting!

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FO: Honey Cowl

Pattern: Honey Cowl

Yarn: Madelinetosh Sport in Dried Rose

This pattern was the perfect social knitting project.  As I am currently helping a few people learn or relearn to knit, I needed a good mindless, yet not boring, project to knit.

The pattern is so simple, but so rewarding.  I think the stitch really shows off the yarn color perfectly.  This is my first project with Madelinetosh, and I can see us having a pretty serious relationship in the future.  Thanks to Sarah from Happy Knits for the yarn.  It was perfect.

The photos are all thanks to my mom.  They were taken during a hike along Skyline Drive last weekend.  I keep meaning to post pictures, as the mountains are just lovely in their fall colors.  I think she did a pretty good job for her first knitting photo shoot.

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WIP Wednesday: Autumn in Garrison

I have been wanting to knit an Autumn in Garrison  for myself ever since I saw Jessa’s hat at Squam.  Yesterday morning I found myself with nothing currently on the needles (I am going through a bout of massive finishing of projects at the moment) so I went ahead and cast on.  I am knitting it with a skein of Malabrigo that has been sitting around in my stash for awhile now, waiting to be knit into the perfect hat.

I cannot really imagine my life without knitting.  I sometimes forget that I started knitting less than two years ago, and still have so much to learn.   I find that knitting lace is where I see the cumulative increase in my knitting skills and knowledge reflected most vividly.  My first lace project was an Ishbel scarf a little over a year ago, and it was a disaster of a project in the sense that I was not able to yet visually keep track of a pattern, which is essential to lace knitting.  I could not really recognize a YO or a PSSO, or any of those classic lace ingredients, and thus could not figure out a way to make quick fixes when I messed up (which was a lot.)  There was a lot of frogging, until I discovered using lifelines, and even that only prevented ripping back from being a total loss.  Lets just say that there was more frustration and cussing during this project than any other.  There might have even been a moment where, in an unladylike fashion, I threw my needles and yarn across the room.  The experience was so traumatic that, though finished, I still have yet to block the damn thing.

A year later I find myself finally ready to begin dabbling in lace again.  A large number of people have told me how much they enjoy knitting lace, and I can’t imagine that that many people can be crazy, so I have decided to give it a second shot.  I am pleased as punch to say that I am finding myself that much closer to joining the other team.  The ability to follow along visually with what I am doing, and being able to see right away when I do something silly has made this whole lace knitting, dare I say, ridiculously fun.  The pattern itself is both delightful and addicting.  I haven’t been able to put it down.

My other work in progress is the second book of the Hunger Games Trilogy.  I am so close to finished!

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Marshmallow Art

Last thursday the archaeology crew had a bonfire in our backyard, complete with s’mores.  Marshmallows lit on fire turned into an oppurtuity for a silly creative moment.  This is why I love archaeologists:

“The First Attempt” by Craig

“Marshmallow Movement” by Jenn

“Don’t Catch Paul on Fire Doodle” by Michelle

“Marshmallow Masterpiece” by Katherine

“Almost ‘SSK’ Because Even Marshmallow Art Should Have a Knitting Reference” by Christina

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Stitch Markers

Knitting at a party and need a stitch marker?  No problem.  I call it upcycling.

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Digging at the ‘cello

The weather has finally cleared up and it was back up to the house for excavation today.

From our unit we have two amazing views.  One is, of course, the house itself.  In the other direction we have the gardens and a beautiful vista of the mountains in their fall colors.  This picture was taken two weeks ago, so the colors are even prettier now.

Our unit is right next to the house.  There is nothing like two people shoveling a hole in Jefferson’s lawn to invite curiosity.  I have found I really enjoy answering people’s questions and explaining the archaeology to them.  Which is good – because this close to the house we get a lot of visitors!

These are two beautiful pieces of porcelain that popped out of our square today.  Notice the gilt overglaze on the lower sherd.  Now when people ask if we have found any gold I can finally say “yes!”

Isn’t it lucky to love your job?

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Today was a day of good company and hands knitting

Hands knitting their first sweater.

Hands learning to stripe.

Hands crocheting.

My hands.

Hands with other hands.

Finished hands.

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A Perfect Rainy Day

Wednesday was a rain day – so no excavation or work.  Generally that would be a bummer, but I spent the day doing all those little things have been thinking about doing but not.

I finished The Hunger Games, cooked down a pumpkin, cleaned the house, played some banjo, blocked a sweater,

made a pie, enjoyed crust cookies,

wound some yarn, made some tea,

and then sat down to knit.  Who doesn’t love sitting in a big comfy couch while surrounded by knitting notions?  There might have even been a little Dr. Who watching.

In the end the day was a much needed combination of catch-up and creativity.  There was even a little rest.

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A Wandering We Go

Yesterday we had a day off of excavation due to rainy weather.  However, the afternoon cleared up and turned into a beautiful Virginia fall day.  After being cooped up inside for the past three days, I needed some sunshine and a good wander.  A fellow archaeologist and UVA graduate offered to show me around grounds.

I have missed the magic that is fall while living on the west coast.  I am glad to be experiencing it in the mountains of Virginia this year.  Fall foliage and the Jeffersonian buildings of UVA are perfect compliments to each other.  There is something so correct about being on a college campus when the leaves are changing.

The highlight, and most serendipitous moment, of our amble was attending a Quidditch game.  We had seen a small hand-written sign on a message board and realized the games were going on right then.  We could not resist going to watch them.  I mean, what Harry Potter lover has not dreamt of watching a Quidditch match?  After talking with a few people it seems that this is a widespread college phenomena, with real rules and tournaments, which makes me quite happy inside.  I am sad that this was not played while I was in school because it looked like pure fun!

They even had butterbeer for sale.  Who could resist?  It was quite yummy, but I am sure it was just about a diabetic coma in a cup.

By the time Craig and I made it back to the car it was sunset.  I decided this summer that there is no sky more beautiful than a Charlottesville sky.  Last night did not disappoint.  It was lovely to watch the day fade from the top of the car park.

There was even a house with a perfect attic window, covered in moss, to imagine living in.

I am smitten with Charlottesville.

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