Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A quick tour

It rained yesterday, and it was dark before we made it over to the house, so we didn't get to take pictures until this afternoon. Unfortunately, this is going to be a quicker quick tour than I'd intended. Tonight was my last night of teaching, and after dinner we worked on packing the kitchen, so it's suddenly much later than I'd expected it to be. But anyway. Pictures. Here's the outside:

The livingroom (you can see we've moved over the really important things already...)

The very bright, sunshiny dining room. This is one of those design decisions that I'd never have made, but I think we can work with bright yellow walls. They're even beginning to grow on me a little, which is something of a surprise. And the built-in china cabinets are nice. (Look at the window! I love windows.)

Here's the kitchen (twice our current cabinet space, at least)

The smaller downstairs bedroom, which will be Branden's electronics room, and currently houses the library. (Like I said, we've moved over the most important stuff already)

The upstairs, which will be a spare bedroom (I don't think we could get our bed up those stairs if we tried). Of course, we don't have guests very often, so this can also double as a craft room. The yarn and fabric are already taking up residence.

The backyard is small but sunny, and we're just in time to plant a garden! Those bushes in the back are apparently all lilacs; we should have quite a display in a few months.

There's also a garage and a pretty big basement (the utility sinks and large work area might just come in handy when I get brave enough to try dyeing this summer...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Timing is everything

Sometimes you're right in time with the universe, and sometimes you're just one beat out of step. I think we must be out of sync right now, because things seem to be coming in unexpected bursts lately. Our little houseguest moved on to his new home yesterday, so we are down one furry friend. My last day of teaching for the quarter is Tuesday, so work should be less hectic for the next couple of weeks, and I am planning to get a lot of research work done once finals are over. Branden's robotics competition is in two weeks, which means that we'll have someone staying with us for a week during my "spring break" (in quotes becase spring break in grad school means that you have a week of uninterrupted research time, not that you get a break). So far, all of this sounds pretty normal, and it finally felt like things were getting a wee bit less crazy.

And then plans changed this morning. There's been a house on my bus route to school with a "for rent" sign. On the way back from getting the kitten adopted yesterday afternoon, we noticed that there was an open house, and decided to check it out, even though it was probably way outside of our price range. Well, it was. But not by so much that we managed to leave without looking. It was outside of what we wanted to pay, but it's not outside of what we can easily afford. And, our neighbors have been very loud lately. They like to turn their stereo up at about 10:30 pm and keep it going until about 2 am, which tends to make us a bit grumpy, seeing how we have to be out of the house by 7 or 8 every morning. And, there's the small factor that I happen to be allergic to half of our apartment. Don't know why; it's not even the side that the cats are on, but it smells musty, and I have a strong asthma response to mold. It's been this way for quite some time, and it's really annoying to not be able to use the bedroom as anything more than a walk-in closet. We should have moved a long time ago, but this place is cheap and we didn't really want to go through the hassle of moving. And then yesterday, a very nice house (house, not apartment) opens up a few blocks away on my bus route, and is a good price, though a little high. Guess who signed a new lease this morning?

We stayed up really late last night talking this over and over and over, asking if we should go for such a big place (it's a small house, but the smallest of houses is bigger than our apartment), if we want to spend the money, if it's worth it, saying how it would be nice for me to be able to breathe again, etc. This morning we went to see it again, and we sprung for it. I don't think we'll be sorry. It is really expensive, but it's also much nicer, and there will be craft rooms and more windows and a yard all our own (and did I mention craft rooms??). We're still in a little bit of shock, I think, but we're getting over it now that we've started filling boxes.

The one little catch? Well, our current landlord would like us to be out by the end of the month, rather than taking the full 30 days notice. This is fine with us, as it saves overlapping rents by a full month. But then there's the whole visitor thing...

So yes, we will be moving ourselves into a new apartment between now and a week from Tuesday in order to be out of the current apartment in time and to have more room when Mike visits. I'll also be wrapping up the quarter, grading a final exam, and catching up on research. And then, just maybe, things will get back to normal again. Maybe. And, we will be in a new house. Yay!

I was a bad blogger and didn't take pictures today when we visited the house. I think we didn't really believe that we were going to take it, and so we were not prepared with a camera. I will try to take pictures tomorrow to show you.

For tonight, I do have a picture of some knitting. (Bet you didn't see that coming...it's been so long!).

The sleeves are almost done. This is precisely why I work the sleeves first, especially on a sweater for Branden. They go on forever. We measured, and decided that 22" should be enough. I got to 15, frogged back to 5 as already mentioned, worked back to 22", and realized that it just wasn't going to be enough. I made it to 24" this morning, and then realized I'd made a mistake 2 inches back, and had to frog again. At this point, I'm having a very hard time being enthusiastic about another 3 inches of sleeve. I know, I'm being a baby. This is heavy yarn in stockinette, and another 3 inches won't kill me. It shouldn't even be worth mentioning, really. But it's at the stage where they just feel like they should be done, already. Once I get to this stage with a project, every row feels like an eternity. And, for some reason, the sleeves are always the part of a sweater that ends up feeling this way. If I were at the end of the project and just needed to attach the sleeves and be done, it would be near impossible to make myself go the extra few inches. I'd convince myself (probably with Branden's help) that they're fine as they are, attach them, and then hate them forever. Fortunately, the rest of the sweater isn't done yet, and so I'm not almost done. Because I am so far from done, it is somehow easier to make myself do things right. So, the sleeves are not yet finished as I had hoped they would be last night. Instead, there are a couple more inches to go, and I can start the body tomorrow night, after packing. Once I get into the body, I'll be fine and I'll probably even be excited about the project again. It makes no sense, but that's how it will be. And, this time, the sleeves will not be too short. (In fact, just to spite me, fate will probably make them turn out too long, but that's what rolled cuffs are for!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


See this? It's a book.

It's a book from the library, with a big band on the front which says "do not remove" in big red letters. I am banned from removing the band by the band. But enough bandying about. You wanted to know about the book. Well, you may or may not have wanted to know about the book, but you can be quite sure that I'm going to tell you, given that I took the trouble to upload it to the blog through the non-server route (my computer is still on holiday with a virus...hope it feels better soon...).

About a month ago, I whined about the price tag on the out-of-print Alice Starmore books. And then, I did the only thing that a self-respecting knitter with access to a large university library could do; I ordered them via interlibrary loan. The first one came yesterday. The second will hopefully appear just as magically out of the blue next time I need something to make my day better.

Needless to say, I spent last night reading the book. It is quite good, and I would heartily recommend that you ILL it (just as long as you don't steal it from me...wouldn't want to start any library wars, now would we?). I am especially intrigued by Starmore's section on incorporating color into Fairisle. This is one of those things that just escapes me. I can't look at a pattern and imagine it in 3 different color motifs right away. The really gorgeous pieces sweep me away with their taste and intentional design in using color, and yet I have no idea how to go about creating such a thing. Starmore's solution? Go to LYS, find a yarn that comes in many, many colors. Buy a skein of each. Swatch. I'm serious...read the book! Starmore says that the best way to figure out how colors work (and don't work) is to go buy some of each color and have at it. She sounds like my kinda girl. Except for the extensive swatching thing. I'm not so big on swatching. But the just get some yarn and have at it bit, that I understand. Still, that method is very, very bad for those looking to avoid stash expansion. I am not sure I can just jump into a full-sized stash like that. It's a slippery slope, I tell you. (No, I know...I don't need to tell you...you already know.)

The other stunning thing from the book? Did you know that a Fairisle knitter could whip out a complete adult sweater in a week or less?

Take a moment. Let that sink in. Full. Sized. Sweater. One. Week. Crazy.

I consider it a good month when I manage to get a stockinette sweater in bulky or worsted weight yarn completed, never mind a complicated color pattern in fingering weight knitted, finished, blocked, and ready to sell. Simply insane. I realize that I have a full time (plus) job, but even without a job I don't think I could pull that off, and these women had farm chores to manage! My mind boggles, and I bow deeply to their superior talent.

And that, I must say, is a great way to announce that I have no knitting to show for myself, yet again. I have gotten the sleeves back to the 15" mark (from whence they were frogged back to 2" on Friday), but that's about it. Fortunately, today is Wednesday, and Wednesday marks the day when my schedule lightens up a bit and I can start knitting again. So tomorrow and Friday I should manage to make some progress. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 3, 2008

PIP, PIP, Hooray!

I may or may not have mentioned that things have been a bit crazy around here lately. I believe that I did mention that I submitted a fellowship appliction (to the Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy, or PIP) at the end of January, which was responsible for at least a couple of weeks' worth of craziness. Well, somewhere in all the hubbub of the past 2 weeks I forgot to mention that I got an interview for said fellowship. It's somewhat remarkable that I forgot to mention it, as it had me bouncing around lab for at least a day trying not to do a happy dance and break the serious scientist demeanor that must be upheld at all times in lab (this would be very funny if you'd ever been to our lab...there's not much serious scientist to be seen...I could probably have danced around all over the place and not gotten much more than an odd look).

Anyway. I had an interview for the fellowship on the 20th. It went well. The committee was very nice (I didn't know it was a committee until I walked in the door...I was surprised to be given the full attention of three professors). And, this morning, I had an acceptance form in my email! Yay!

This is a teaching fellowship that will allow me to design and implement three classes for undergraduates at UW Bothell next year. It's going to be a less than fun commute, as Bothell is a good 40 min bus ride away, but I get to have three classes of my own! Yes, I know. This is not easy, it isn't always fun, and 6 months from now I am going to be questioning my sanity for signing up for something like this while I'm trying to write my thesis. But that's 6 months from now. Until then, I get to be giddy at the prospect, and revel in all the good things that it will do for my experience level and my resume (plus, of course, it's just fun to teach). So, until the hard work hits, I am celebrating! (Of course, I am also trying to get all the work done that I won't have time to do when I'm teaching...I'm nothing if not practical while being gleeful.)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Marching right along...

Ok, so it's a bad pun. But really...am I the only one that thinks 2008 is flying?

In case those of you in more wintery climes than mine have doubted whether or not spring will ever arrive (which is pretty much everyone except the northwest and the south), it arrived on my doorstep this week.

I noticed the crocuses on Wednesday morning, but haven't had time to grab the camera until now. I have no idea when the daffodils arrived. They were just suddenly there. It's so strange to me that spring is so subtle here. I've lived here for 4 years, and yet I always expect something more dramatic. I miss real winter. (I can hear you scoffing...I really do!) As a result, I also miss real spring. When nothing ever freezes, a little bit of the miracle and excitement is taken away from rebirth. I notice the return of the sun much more here, and I notice all the little plants coming back to life a lot less.

Crocuses are my favorite spring flowers, I think. They're such brave, hardy little souls. Even now, when I see them in the front yard in the Land of No Snow, I think of them pushing their way up through the snow and frozen ground to be the first to greet the spring. Daffodils are usually a little bit behind, and tulips are the real latecomers. It's the crocuses and the snowdrops that signal that winter is over, even if it hasn't quite given up the fight yet. So, take heart, all ye in frozen lands...the crocuses have arrived in Seattle, and will soon be coming to a yard near you! (I'm not sure why I'm so amused by such an odd mixing of old English and TV ad, but I am)