posts tagged: travel

the spinster slouch

pepperknit | spinster slouch

Andy Goldsworthy’s art piece Wood Line inspired me to post a picture to Instagram with the caption “sinuous.” The Spinster Slouch by my friend Val is also most aptly described with that word. I love the way the ribbing seems to dart this way and that on the hat—achieved by crossing 9 stitches at a time.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

I grabbed this yarn—Malabrigo Arroyo in Regatta Blue—and cast on for the hat when I was on my way to the movies one Saturday. I worked on the ribbing on the subway and before the movie started, and then it was my go-to project for the week. The following Saturday I cast off, a finished hat in hand. I worked the cable crossings 4 times because I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and worked the first crossing too soon, and then I wanted the ribbing to be back to normal before I decreased for the crown (this would make sense if you were knitting it). Also with this yarn and needle combo (size 5 needles), it needed that extra length. I wanted a toque more than a slouch in any case, and my yarn was not nearly as drapey as the luxury blend of silk and yak that Val used in the original.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

The hat proved quite useful on a trip to San Francisco, where despite the May date it was frigid at times (note my wool coat!), and particularly on this morning at the Presidio to visit Goldsworthy’s art pieces. (He has 3 others in the park; one was closed to the public because it was a weekday and we hadn’t called ahead, but the other two were easy to see.) Photos were taken by my old friend and professional photographer Andrea Ismert, who I got to spend the day with!

bulky topper!

Nothing beats a knit that comes together fast, wears super easily, and uses up a good deal of yarn from your stash! The Bulky Topper by Mari Lynn Patrick was one of my favorites from the Fall 2011 issue of Vogue Knitting, and Lauren suggested in January that we do a little mini knit-along together. Circumstances conspired to give me long stretches of knitting time in February, so I finished up my new most favorite knit in one quick week!

When I visited Lauren in Chicago for a weekend, she excitedly pulled out her yarn to show me, and I’ll admit, I was downright jealous. Hers is the most lovely of grays, a color that I’ve been obsessed with lately. But I wanted to use something from my stash, and I have no gray in a sweater quantity. I had this dark brown I bought at Rhinebeck years ago, when I was in a long-lived brown phase. I harumphed but plunged ahead on a gauge swatch, not even sure if the yarn would work. But as I worked it, the brown started to get into my brain: I love brown! Why had I forsaken it for gray! But damn, did I need a pair of brown boots to wear with this sweater.

Before I’d even finished a single piece (it’s knit flat and seamed—and that’s important to the design, actually), I was out shopping for boots. I found the pair in the photos, and I’m in love! They’re the perfect color, comfortable right out of the store, and exactly what I wanted. They’re from some Italian brand I’d never heard of (I bought them at Century 21). We ran around on the beach and they held up just fine; I splashed around puddles in them recently and nothing calamitous happened. But wait, this is a post about knitting a sweater, not about a pair of boots? Okay then.

So yeah, my knitting of this sweater is actually fraught with some drama. It has been years—literally YEARS—since I knit something flat. It’s also been I-don’t-know-how-long since I knit something that was in reverse stockinette. And you know what? I row out. If you’re not familiar with the term, rowing out is used to describe an effect that comes about if your purls and knits aren’t quite the same height. I must be a touch looser when I purl, so I get slight troughs that are visible on the reverse stockinette side (they’re not visible on the stockinette side for me). I fretted and faffed and ultimately started working my knits on 10.5s and my purls on 10s and it evened out significantly. I even tried different hand positions (going back to knitting English; purling combo) and nothing else helped. In the end, I only worked this two-needle trick for the front and the sleeves; the back was done all on size 10s. Honestly, there’s still evidence of the rowing out even having used that trick. Apparently I need some remedial knitting lessons!

The other reason I raced to get this knit in a week was that I was on a weekend away with my best knitting peeps, and one of them is photographer Caro Sheridan, who I knew could get some awesome photos of me in the sweater. Of course, I finished the damn thing on a beautiful sunny Saturday with blue skies (the same day that I took that picture of Pam in her dragon mitts). But I conveniently finished it that NIGHT. And the next day? A Nor’easter came charging through. It was cold and wet and felt a bit like a hurricane at times. So we hunkered down in the house and there was no photo shoot. The next day, when it was windy as all heck, sand was stinging its way down the shore, and the sea was more churn than water, we dashed down to the water’s edge and had us a photo shoot. Her hands were red and our faces were freezing within moments, but I gotta tell ya: My torso? Not cold at all. Bulky Topper FTW!

Here’s video evidence of the windiness! I say “It’s really windy out here!” And then I ask her if she can even hear me, suspecting that you can’t hear anything over the wind hitting the microphone. And I was right!

mary jane

mary jane

I’ve taken a new philosophy on my stash, and hope to work it as best I can: yarn in, FO out. It’s not rocket science, but since my stash is getting more than a little absurd, it’s time to only take in yarn that I plan to turn around into something right away. And by “right away,” I mean as fast as humanly possible. Take this sweater: 8 days of knitting, start to finish (AND I had to take most of it out partway through).

folded in the fjords

along the fjord

Have you ever visited a place about which all you can really say is that it’s cute? Cute, that relatively condescending adjective. I have to admit it: That’s how I feel about Norway.

But then, I also identify as cute myself (I mean, aren’t I?), so I’m in conflict. And Norway probably outdoes even me for pretty.

god jul!


Merry Christmas all! I’m here in Norway celebrating with my parents. It’s been freezing and snowy pretty much every day. But I suppose that’s a lot more Christmassy feeling than what we had the last time we were together for the holiday.