Inevitably…

I finished my second Jane sock! I have a pair! Of matching socks! You have no idea what a big thing this is for me. I have started and frogged about a thousand pairs of socks in the last two years. Anything more complicated than a vanilla sock has died on the needles; anything as complicated or less so has been on life support in a project bag while I recover from hellish boredom.

Of course, at 11 PM, it’s still 80 degrees and so humid that I can feel beads of moisture collecting on my skin, so any wearing or photos will have to wait. On days like this, it’s terribly difficult to think ahead to a day cold enough when wearing wool socks would feel amazing. I long to be cold again. Cold and cozy in bed at night. Cold and dry. Coming home to stew or chili, wearing sweaters, only warming up with brisk activity…ahhh.

It is somehow time for me to really, really make up my mind about Ravelympics Ravellenic Games (dammit. Sigh). A single pair of socks in two weeks might be a bit much, especially since I’ve knitted socks all summer. I have some nice JoJoland Melody I could use, or some Zauberball. I also have that yarn for Sanderling, but if socks are too ambitious, a whole sweater is just crazypants. I could knock out some Christmas gifts. I had some things in mind for people and it’d be good if I got them done now, so I could knit those sweaters for myself once the weather cools off. I don’t know.

There are some interesting things in the works for this fall. I don’t want to talk about specifics now, but I might be getting into a thing where I can do some more writing. And my amazing cousin is finally, finally going to start her cooking blog, so that’ll be terrific. This way, I can get cooking advice without having to bug her personally. I’m sure that’s a factor in this decision altogether. More on that when she launches. I had to put off my Codman research from last week because of a household logistical hairball, but I’m working on something else that doesn’t require me to go out to an archive, so I’m hoping I can get that going soon as well. It may be stupid hot, but things here are never dull.

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I’ll take that September now.

The heat has been getting hotter all week, but in such tiny increments that it’s not noticeable by the day. And then I looked at the weekend report. Ugh. I don’t know how the weather always knows when the auto show is, but it is never not miserably hot for the auto show. Historic house museums are not generally where you want to be on a miserably hot day. The air circulation is minimal and the sun beats in through the windows with ferocity. I am grateful that I am not also obligated to wear a heavy wool costume of any kind, and also that I am not hugely pregnant like I was for this event two years ago. On Saturday, at least, we can camp in the office between tours, where we have a room air conditioner. 

It really says something about what the city must have been like in the heat that The Grange is where the Codmans spent the summer months. It was bad enough when I lived there long after the age of horses and public sanitation. 

I’m still knitting; #2 Jane Bennett sock is taking off. After this, I have to work on some sweaters to wear while teaching. I was going to do that last year and never got around to it, and then I had to make Christmas gifts. It always goes like that. Rocky Coast is great, but it’s warm. I need a lighter layer for the fall days when it’s chilly in the morning but too warm at lunchtime. That’s my perennial problem, since I always teach at 8 AM. Walk out of office hours at noonish and get heatstroke on the way back to my car. 

This week, while knitting, I’m re-watching The IT Crowd, which is the bastard love child of Seinfeld and the U.K. version of The Office. If you haven’t seen this, I cannot recommend it more. I’m only sorry I can’t see it again for the first time. The humor’s fairly broad, but it mercilessly lampoons goths, and for that alone is worth a shot. My sister, who recently launched Nerdise On Books, put me on to it. She has excellent taste! Plus, Roy and Moss’s two central questions (1: Did you turn it off and on again? and 2: Are you sure it’s plugged in?) have made me an IT hero at my volunteer gig this summer. It’s pleasant to occasionally be of value in a workplace, you know?

Second recommendation: I’ve been loving the Knitmore Girls’ podcast. I picked up a bunch of new podcasts from the list in the sample issue of Knit Edge, and this is my favorite so far. It’s a mother-daughter duo, and they have a nice energy and their conversations are about a wide range of crafts. I wish they were from my coast! Their events sound terrific, but since they’re in San Jose and I’m in Massachusetts…no. I’m really glad people are still making podcasts, honestly. I have no real need for regular radio, and this way, it’s like I have a radio show about knitting whenever I want to listen to something about knitting. Plus, they give honest book reviews rather than advertorials, and sometimes it seems like everyone’s selling something and nobody is willing to say something isn’t worth buying, so that’s really valuable to me. I take their reviews seriously for that reason.

Next time, I hope to have a second finished Jane sock! Really determined to conquer this, and before the Games-that-shall-not-be-named. 

Sock…fail?

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am on the verge of producing two wearable socks. They are not the same as one another, but my diabolical plan to avoid SSS is going smoothly. I finished the first Jane last Sunday and immediately cast on a Francie. Aside from the cast-on being a shade too tight on Francie (it is not unwearable, but I wish I’d made it looser), they are both going incredibly smoothly. I’m really improving at picking up stitches and doing lifted increases. I’ve been knitting for over thirty years and it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I’ve been ashamed of my pickings-up for as long as I’ve been knitting socks (at least a decade now). I could just never figure out how to get it right. Other people would have gone into the yarn store and asked someone by now. I can be special that way. I’ve even been reluctant to ask my own mother. It’s possible my grandmother doesn’t know.

While all of this has been going on, I have been avoiding finishing the pinwheel blanket for two reasons: I have to graft garter stitch, and it’s awfully hot to have the thing on my lap. My cousin reports that she’s having some contractions, and I find myself unmotivated. This isn’t a pretty newborn blanket; it’s a play blanket for rolling around and looking at toys. That buys me another couple of months at least.

Update: In the very short time since I wrote this draft and edited it, my cousin had the baby! Welcome, Declan! Your blanket is…indisposed…and you will have it before you’re old enough to remember not having it.

Last Wednesday, I went in to the Historic New England archives to look at the Codman women’s knitting papers. There was far more than I could see in one visit, so I’m going to have to go back (I have an appointment on July 18). So far I have discovered two things: my French is only as good as my ability to read nineteenth-century handwriting (and vice versa), and grafting in either garter or kitchener is the perennial problem, since I found handwritten instructions for both (in English, thank goodness) among the papers. One thing I’m thinking about now is how to take what’s there and turn it into some kind of interesting story or how to explain its significance to the history of the family. I don’t want to get too esoteric. It was a time when a lot of women knitted; the fact that they did isn’t significant in and of itself. And a lot of women knitted for the WWI soldiers and collected garment donations to be sent overseas. It seems like a rather prosaic activity for such a well-known family. I wonder if there are journal entries that I’ve missed. I should look for that when I go back.

I’ve been interpreting that house for five years this year, and the experience of really knowing the family continues to elude me. It’s sometimes strange, trying to be a historian after many years of being a literature scholar. You can be much more free with interpretation in literature. The characters are fictional; you can’t offend them. But with real people, I’m much more concerned with fairness, and to some degree, with sympathy. I work in their home; I want to like them, or at least understand them. I’m very conscious of not projecting anything on to them that isn’t there. It’s difficult.