Friday, May 7, 2010

On the needles: Constance

It's amazing what you can do with leftovers. After that intense spate of baby-blanketing, I had four balls each of Simply Cotton in Marshmallow, Malted Milk, and Toffee left over, and a new idea for a sweater, so I put 'em all together and here's what I've got so far. She's called Constance (in honor of Constance McCormick, whose phenomenal collection of cinema scrapbooks is now housed at the University of Southern California library, and Constance Winchell, probably best known for her work as Columbia University's reference librarian and her authorship of the comprehensive ALA Guide to Reference Books--but she also worked early in her career for the Merchant Marine supervising lighthouse libraries, which is probably one of the coolest jobs ever).

Turns out this prototype is a practically perfect match for the lovely brown mother-of-pearl vintage buttons my pal Margie C. sent me the other day, too. Margie is a fellow collector of buttons who really understands my fondness for them and sends me ones she thinks I'll particularly which I mean, of course, that she is a total enabler. (Thanks, Margie!) I'm on the threshold of needing a larger tin for my ever-growing collection right now, but if I use these ones for this project, I can probably put that off until after I've come home from my next visit to my parents' place.

Although it used to be one of my favorite playthings, it's been years since I pawed through my mom's button tin, and I'm looking forward to poring over it again soon. Many of the buttons in it reportedly came from my great-aunt Marguerite, who was profligate in peculiar ways (for instance, if a button fell off a coat, she would just get a new coat--but she would save the buttons from the old one). My mom's been adding to it for decades now, and it's one of those things that I would probably try to grab if the house were on fire.

Monday, May 3, 2010

On blocking, being blocked, and (future) blockbusters

Well, I didn't see any Myrtles in New York, although apple trees were in bloom everywhere, and all the city's charms were pretty much at their peak. I did get to School Products for a lunch-break snoop-around, and Purl Soho was cute as a button but also crowded as hell--while their quilting-fabric counterpart down the block was oddly deserted. Nothing grabbed me this time around at any location, but browsing was an end in itself and I fully expect to return and dump a bunch of cash there on some future visit. The exception, of course, was Tender Buttons, where I scored some vintage emerald-green glass jobbies and some indigo shuttle-shaped shell buttons that I plan to use with fabric I got at Fancy Tiger in Denver and will, I swear, make a blouse of. Someday.

On the same "someday" list, but much closer to the top, is my dissertation proposal. After qualifying and advancing to candidacy, and then forcing my nose to the grindstone immediately after that to finish a dissertation grant application on time, I felt...tired. The grant application required me to sketch out my dissertation project in some detail, but not quite as much detail as the actual, formal proposal submission requires, and getting over that hump has proven to be pretty daunting. So daunting I haven't done it yet, even though it's been months since I qualified. (I didn't get the grant, either, as I found out a couple weeks ago.) Blech, right? Worse yet, I haven't been feeling particularly productive on the other side of my brain--the knitting side--so it's been a time of genuine doldrums, at least until recently. I've been cranking away on a proposal draft that is not there yet, but GETTING there, and I have a new sweater project (Constance--Rav details here, Flickr pics of WIP here) underway. Whew. As good as it feels to block a finished project, or to turn in a finished draft, it feels even better to be UNBLOCKED at last and starting on something new and exciting.

Also exciting, but not very new--it's been in the works but under wraps for over a year now--is the forthcoming Knitting It Old School book, edited by the lovely and talented Caro (aka Splityarn) and Debbie (aka Stitchy McYarnpants). That's the cover above, and you can pre-order it from Amazon now to ensure that you get it ASAP after the August 30 release date. I've got a sweater pattern in it, which I can't show you in its entirety (you have to buy the book, sillies!) but will give you a little tiny peek of here to get your motors running:

St. Moritz

It's lovely, if I do say so myself--WELL worth buying the whole book just for that ONE pattern, really! That said, I've also seen lots of the samples and some sneak previews from the photo shoot and I can personally guarantee that this one is worth spending your pennies on. It's got all the flavors of yesteryear, but the designs are definitely up-to-date in terms of execution, sizing, and yarn choices. And the other contributors' names? Oh man, I'm keeping some very good company here. Almost out of my league, you might say. It's enough to put me back to work on that dissertation proposal--with a PhD in hand I *might* just feel like I'm qualified to be in this club!