Mom will find it!

“Mom will find it.”

This is a recurring phrase from my life; we could even call it a leitmotif of motherhood.  Along with its companion phrase:

“Mom, I can’t find my [insert any item]“

The latter is usually accompanied by shouts, whining, a bit of hysteria; the former by conviction and (a perhaps misplaced?) optimism.   I have spent much of the past 21 years finding things that no one else seems capable of seeing.   In my general experience these are frequently things that are right in front of our proverbial noses.  Why can’t they see these things?

Since I manage a cognitive neuroscience lab, I am aware of visual neglect, a condition often following brain damage, which affects vision on one side.  Here is a definition from WIkipedia:

“Hemispatial neglect [...] is a neuropsychological condition in which, after damage to one hemisphere of the brain is sustained, a deficit in attention to and awareness of one side of space is observed.”

What I am describing in this post is not a form of brain damage but is nonetheless a well-documented phenomenon which I shall call “Mom-is-in-the-room neglect”.

Mom-is-in-the-room neglect is a neuropsychological condition in which, when one’s mother is in the room, a deficit in attention to and awareness of any item which one wishes to find is observed.”

This condition is unrelated to the size of the object one wishes to find.  For example, while I frequently hear “Mom, I can’t find my glasses!” or “Mom, I can’t find my homework!” it’s not unheard of to hear “Mom, I can’t find my cello!”

The condition is also notable for the inherent ability of moms to see whatever it is that others can’t see.  What is it about the condition of mom-hood that mediates this?  My own opinion is that it is a Superpower, along the same lines as Superman’s ability to fly, or perhaps a more relevant analogy, his x-ray vision.

My kids have both flown the coop and I am now an empty-nester.  Yesterday, I had the house to myself, and needed my laptop.  I looked for it everywhere.  I looked upstairs and down.  I searched every room; not once or twice but three times.  I looked under things.  I looked around things.  I finally gave up.  I ate lunch.  I did some knitting.  Then, I walked into the living room and saw my laptop right in the middle of the couch.  Right out in the open.  Not disguised or hidden in any way but so apparently obvious that only someone with a neuropsychological impariment could fail to notice it.  Could it be that there is a statute of limitations on Mom Superpowers?  Do they fade away when one’s kids leave home?  Have I developed a new condition, called The-kids-have-left neglect?  Or maybe I just need my eyes checked….

Knitter’s eye candy

Today is a gorgeous sunny spring day; a bit nippy but the skies are very blue.  The perfect day to throw on a sweater and sit in the back garden knitting.  Having just finished my Carpino sweater, I was feeling a certain knitting freedom.  What to work on?  I started by taking out the half-finished Soumak Scarf Wrap, which had been sitting in the corner for a while like a naughty child.  Instead of knitting, however, I decided to spend some time weaving in some of the seemingly thousands of ends:

1-IMG_8688This is a portion of the edge of the shawl; on the right hand side the loose ends have been painstakingly woven in.  The little pile is of the cut-off ends.  I wove in 51 ends today.  Yes, I counted; I am obsessive that way. There are still quite a few loose ends to weave in (not to mention another 100cm of shawl to knit) but I feel a sense of accomplishment after spending some time on the task.

2-IMG_8690Alas for the Soumak Wrap, I was once again enticed by the lure of the NEW.  Yesterday afternoon, the postman had delivered yarn for a new project.  Who am I to resist?  WIthin an hour of ripping the package open, I had swatched and cast on.  As you can see, I have spent far too long today sitting in the sun knitting.  Hopefully my wrists won’t make me  sorry tomorrow.  And what, you may ask, is this new project?  That, dear readers, is the topic of a future post.  This post is merely for eye candy.

3-IMG_8692At some point, I got up to make a coffee, and in so doing tossed my new knitting at my feet, on top of the old knitting, and what should I see but this:

5-IMG_8695And this:

6-IMG_8698Oh my! Be still my heart!  For inquiring minds: the Soumak Scarf Wrap is designed by Lisa Richardson for Rowan 54 and is knit in 10 beautiful shades of Rowan Fine Tweed.  The new project is knit with Noro Silk Garden Sock in shade S356.  The fact that they have a very similar colour palette?  Totally serendipitous.

8-IMG_8696I had no intention of posting today, but having been dazzled with eye candy, it was impossible not to share.  Now I’m off to soak up the last of the sun and do some more knitting.  Or, maybe I will just sit and stare at it…..

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I seem to be stuck in a purple theme

I finished knitting my Carpino sweater weeks ago.  After doing all of the finishing and trying it on, I decided it was too short, so I ripped out the ribbing, and re-knit it a few inches longer.  With my busy schedule, that took a while.  Then, it took an entire week to get some photos of it.  So, here, a little delayed but better late than never, is the finished project:

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This is my first time knitting with Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  I must say the yarn is not what I expected.  The knitted fabric is very fleece-like; it really has the feel of a sweatshirt.  I am not sure what I think about this – after all, if you wanted to wear a sweatshirt then why knit a sweater?  On the other hand, I’ve only been wearing it a week so I would still like to reserve judgement.  There is no denying that the colours of Loft, like its sister worsted yarn, Shelter, are rich and tweedy and lovely.  I wish I had used one of the lighter colours to knit this as the lovely lacey pattern on the front is somewhat obscured in this dark purple.  I tried wearing it with a white tank underneath so that the lace would show up, but it wasn’t the most successful of styles:

1-IMG_8626 Still, it is a nice photo of the shape of the sweater.  If I were to knit this again, I would use a different yarn and a much paler colour (I keep imagining it in a silk blend in a very pale blue or pearl grey).

The pattern is Carpino, and is designed by Carol Feller of Stolen Stitches.  I really like Carol’s designs, and as this is the third one I’ve knit, I knew that the fit would be good and the pattern would be clear.  I was not disappointed.  Except for making it longer and using my normal bindoff (rather than the super stretchy one she recommends) I made no changes to this at all.  It’s knit exactly to pattern.  It is an extremely well-written and intuitive pattern and quite a fun knit.   I have at least two other Carol Feller sweaters on my short list, so its unlikely to be my last.

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I realize that my last three projects have all been purple.  I seem to be stuck in a purple theme here.  In a complete and total change of subject, for some reason this reminded me of the purple man, a character from my childhood.  When I was in junior high school, my dad lived in Manhatten, just off Central Park West, and my sisters and I used to visit him on the weekends.  One of the neighborhood characters was a man who was always dressed entirely in purple – purple coat, vest, shirt, trousers, socks, shoes, hat, tie.  He even rode a purple bicycle.  We would see him frequently and to us he was a beloved part of New York – like the pickle man on the lower East Side.  Once, after many years of seeing the purple man on his own, we were out walking with Daddy and came across the purple man walking hand-in-hand with a purple woman, also dressed head-to-toe in purple.  It was a magical moment, one in which I really thought that there was someone special out there for everyone.

4-IMG_8640Doug took the above photo in our back garden, just as the light was going, late in the evening.  I think its kind of pretty.   In fact, Doug took 171 photos of me in this sweater, so that I could find a few good ones to show you.  I’ve put on weight since I started knitting it (business school should come with a warning label – “Business school makes you fat!”).  There were photos that looked like this:

2-IMG_8627And photos that looked like this:

3-IMG_8641And there were about 150 photos that vanity won’t allow me to publish.

I submitted a big paper this week for b-school, so tonight I am on holiday.  I have poured a glass of wine and plan to pick up my needles and knit something not-purple.

 

Double feature

Perhaps some observant readers noticed that my last two projects used the same yarn?   I knitted both the Tolkien-inpired pillow for Leah and the super Batman-inspired mitts for Lizz with Quince & Co Chickadee yarn in the colours called Carrie’s Yellow and Frank’s Plum.  And, yes, I did manage to take a few quick shots of them together before giving the mitts to Lizz.

2-IMG_8305When I was planning the pillow, I hadn’t decided whether I would be knitting the back or whether I would use fabric instead.  So I ordered lots of yarn.  Then, when I realized that I had only two weeks to knit the mitts for Lizz’s Viva, and announced to Doug that I had to go buy yarn right away, he reminded me I had plenty of leftover purple and yellow.  “Will that work?,” he asked.  “Yes, quite nicely.”

1-IMG_8303I like the contrast in these two projects – the pillow is knitted with yellow on purple, and the mitts with purple on yellow.  The Chickadee is a wonderful yarn for colourwork.  The definition is really crisp and the yarn is sturdy and smooth and feels good on the hands.  You can find my previous posts on these projects here and here (the second link gathers all of the pillow posts in reverse order).

I also love the contrast between the medieval style script that Tolkien invented, all graceful and flowing, and the in-your-face graphic pop of the mitts, which anyone my age cannot help but associate with the 1960s Batman TV show.  From the elegant to the comic book.  Ain’t knitting grand?

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One gift to rule them all

Regular readers of this blog will recall the saga of Leah’s birthday present.  Well, it’s  finished!

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I made her a knitted pillow with the words from Tolkien’s ring (yes, the One RIng to Rule Them All) knitted in gold.  I finished the knitting in time for her birthday in December, but fretted about how to sew it to the fabric and how to do the finishing.  I am a pretty good knitter, but have little sewing experience.  I really didn’t want to wreck it.

04-IMG_8563You can read all of the posts I wrote about this project here.  This was a big step for me in many ways.  I am pretty much a beginner at two-handed stranded knitting, so it was a leap of faith.  Also, it was my very first time steeking.  Bringing a pair of scissors to bear upon one’s knitting, especially a piece so special and time-consuming, is not for the faint of heart.  Having put so much effort into the project, I decided not to rush the sewing part, even if that meant Leah having to patiently wait a few more months.  I asked for suggestions on the blog and many of you were kind enough to reply.  The consensus was to find a professional to sew it for me.

11-IMG_8557The only tailor I knew in the area was Sally Stevens, who runs a tailoring business out of her home in Berkshire.  Sally had done some work for me a number of years ago.  I called her and explained what I needed.  “Let me send you a link to my blog posts about this, so that you can have an idea of what I am looking for,”  I said.  The next day, I set off with the knitted piece and the fabric to take it to Sally.  I was a bit worried about whether I was doing the right thing.  What if she couldn’t envision what I wanted?

07-IMG_8573When I got there she said “I was up past midnight last night reading your blog posts.  I think we need to sew the pillowcase out of a plain cotton fabric and then sew the knitted panel to it.  That will reinforce it so that you won’t need to use any facing.  Then, we can sew the fabric to that.”  The pillow would thus have an inner lining to give some structure to the piece.  She also suggested a long zipper along the back, instead of the alternatives of a side zipper or an envelope closing.  “Here,” Sally said “I’ve made you a sketch”:

08-IMG_8561When I got home, Doug said “Do you think she gets it?” “Oh, yes,” I said.  “She’s going to to do this just right.”

09-IMG_8558I don’t know how to say this without gushing.  I think this is absolutely the greatest thing I’ve ever knitted.  I love it!  It’s perfect!  I want to keep it!  (Just kidding, Leah.  Maybe.)  I think it’s the greatest birthday present ever.

01-IMG_8583Every part of making this was fun, from conception through throwing it up into the air for the above photo.  Even the steek!  (At least, in retrospect.)

05-IMG_8565You can probably not help but notice that this pillow is huge.  It is defintiely not a standard size pillow.  I spent a long time searching for a pillow the right size to fit this case, and finally found one here.  This is a duck feather and down bolster pillow measuring 51x100cm (20″ x 39″).

10-IMG_8552I love the fabric I chose for the back as much as I love the knitted panel.  They compliment each other so well.  (In one of the previous posts, see above link, I wrote about finding the fabric; it was a remnant so I have no details.)  See how it shines in the sun?  And the yellow yarn (Quince & Co Chickadee in Carrie’s yellow), while pale with slightly brownish  undertones on its own, gleams against the purple like burnished gold.  Leah is a Tolkien fan but also a medieval history fanatic and I love the way this project has a very medieval look to it.

02-IMG_8596Happy Belated Birthday, Leah!  I’m holding the pillow hostage until you come home to visit.

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Tour de bunting

I saw this article in the Guardian this morning and it made me smile.  Thus, I bring you a short and fast edition of Surfing the Knit.

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Photo: Baa Ram Ewe

Last November, Harrogate Borough Council asked members of the public to donate little knitted jumpers to make a bunting for the town’s hosting of the Tour de France.  According to the article, the idea was put forward by students at York University and the pattern for the bunting jumpers was designed by Baa Ram Ewe, a local yarn shop.  The Council were hoping for 3,000 mini-jumpers but have so far received 22,000.

I particularly liked this comment:  “and of course, there has been a significant amount of testing to see just how much rainwater they can take before they become too heavy for their supports.”

“Holy Viva, Batman!”

My friend Lizz defended her PhD dissertation yesterday.  In the UK, the defense is called a viva (short for viva voce, ‘living voice’ or oral exam).  In honour of this milestone event, I knitted her a present:

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Aren’t these mitts cool?  The pattern, called Fightin’ Words, is designed by Annie Watts.  You can find them here (along with lots of other cool designs) or on the Ravelry link here.  I first saw the pattern a few years ago and instantly decided that they were destined for Lizz when she finished her PhD.  As time passed, I had them continually in the back of my mind but always thought “Oh, I have lots of time to knit these up.”  Stupidly, even when she submitted the dissertation, I continued to procrastinate knowing that it can take awhile to schedule the actual exam.  And then, two weeks ago Lizz said to me “My viva has been scheduled; it’s two weeks from today!”  Eek!

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Luckily, I had the perfect yarn sitting at home.  This is Quince & Co Chickadee in Carrie’s Yellow and Frank’s Plum.  I think they look awesome together!  Both colours really pop in this design.  (Forgive the early morning, just rolled out of bed shot; I finished knitting these mitts just in the nick of time.)

Can you think of a more perfect gift for a PhD defense? (Well, other than, perhaps, a job…or maybe a car…a holiday in Fiji…..)  Here is a photo of Lizz taken post-defense, with my phone, after we both had consumed some champagne:

1-20140318_163014How did your Viva go, Lizz?  Bam! Pow!  Slam dunk!

I absolutely recommend this great pattern.  They are so much fun to knit and look so cool!  Make sure you pick two high contrast colours, they really need to pop in order to carry the design.

I’ll be at b-school on the weekend and won’t post, but I have two more finished projects to show you; coming up soon!  Kapow!

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