Author Archives: susanwritesandknits


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In Which I am Ever So Excited

What a long strange trip it’s been in Foreman’s basement…

This is the line I think of whenever something is winding down and ending. Usually it doesn’t apply, and no one knows what it’s from (bonus points if you do), but 2011 has in fact been a strange, strange year. No other year has been quite like this one. 2011 started on the highway back from Boston, listening to my boyfriend’s best friend and sister tell stories about the high school version of him, and I don’t know if I ever laughed that hard. I went to bars with my friends, where Emily taught me about Tequila Sunrises, and I ate pints of ice cream with Casey under the Christmas lights in her dorm room that never made their way off the walls. I got engaged in April. I moved back home with my parents. I started to wonder about Tourette’s. I wrote 60 pages of a young adult novel for my BFA thesis. I decided to rethink my hatred of hand knit socks, and fell in love with them instead. My boss, one of my best friends along with his wife, moved six hours away. I got a full-time job. I graduated. I left my old job. I cried all day. I learned about things I can’t control, and things I can, and how to handle the difference.

Learning about control has been a huge part of this year for me. There are so many things that are out of my control, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about them, like having Tourette’s and OCD (to be fair, the OCD is probably responsible for this need for control, but that’s besides the point), or when Dan gets sick, or when the train is late, or yadda yadda yadda. And that’s just not healthy.

2012 is going to be about taking control of the things in my life that I can, and letting go and accepting the things I can’t. My therapist calls this my “empowerment.” She’s a knitter too, for the record. She made a cowl out of Twinkle Chunky that I’ve been coveting since she showed me. Sometimes we talk about knitting. She’s the best therapist in all the land!

At any rate, I made a list of goals for 2012. They are all a challenge, but easily attainable if I work for them. Working for them will give me something I can control, so the things I can’t won’t seem like such a big deal. And can I just say, I am SO EXCITED about these!!!

Here goes:

1. Knit at least 3 sweaters

I don’t knit too many sweaters because I hate spending so much money on yarn all in one go. But I just finished a Central Park Hoodie sweater out of Malabrigo Worsted, and basically haven’t taken it off since I seamed it together. I make so many hats and gloves and scarves that they don’t always get worn, and if I add up how much money I spent on that yarn, combined with how long they took me to make, and how much use I get out of them, then sweaters might just be more economical.

I definitely want to make the Kara sweater and the Fairisle Dolman. The third is yet to come.

2. Design and publish 3 patterns

I have the Mrs. Buchanan gloves pattern out now, I have a pattern for a bag in the soon-to-be-released Fresh Designs series from Shannon Okey’s Corporative Press, and I have two free patterns to post once I get my ass in gear. I always forget how much I like designing until I do it, though, so I have several ideas that I can’t wait to release.

3. Knit a pair of Cookie A. socks

So far I’ve only knit the Vanilla socks from the Knitmore Girls. Many pairs of them, but still. I like socks because I can throw them in my bag, and work on them without having to think about what I’m doing. They’re perfectly mindless. I would, though, like to knit a pair of fancy socks, preferably by Cookie A., preferably out of Malabrigo Sock yarn, and I don’t think that will happen unless I make a conscious effort, since I get so wrapped up in simple socks.

4. Knit something from hand spun yarn

I very recently got a Turkish drop spindle from KnitPicks, and I LOVE it! I’m having so much fun spinning on it, and I’m excited by the prospect of spinning enough yarn to knit mittens or something out of it.

5. Knit a fingering weight sweater, designed to fit me exactly

This is not to be included in goals 1 or 2. It’s on it’s own. Ever since I knit a shawl from Malabrigo Sock yarn, I’ve been a craving a sweater made of the same fabric, that fits me in the exact right places. Just a basic stockinette, crew neck, raglan pullover, maybe with a little bit of negative ease so it hugs me. Oof. Seriously drooling over that now.

6. Make a quilt

I don’t get enough use out of my sewing machine, possibly because whenever I do pull it out, it’s to make a dress, and none of the dresses I’ve made have come out very well (I have deceptively broad shoulders. My waist is a good two sizes smaller than my shoulders, which makes it very difficult to figure out sizes. Buying prom dresses was a real treat). But I’ve always wanted to make a quilt, and I think it would the perfect use of my machine. I wouldn’t have to worry about size and fit, I’d just be able to pull it out and go.

7. Yoga 2-4 times a week

Because a girl’s gotta have curves, but also a girl’s gotta get her ass in gear. For reals.

8. Run

This one isn’t necessarily for exercise, even though it’s good for that too. I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who could “go for a run,” and come back feeling great, and be all, “oh man, what a good run! Running makes me feel alive! I’m so glad I can run and not have my lungs cave in.” I’m not one of those people. My lungs cave in basically half a block from my house, then I have to walk the rest of the way wheezing and holding my side. One of my tics from the TS is that I breathe out a lot, quickly and shallowly and loudly. This makes it tough to breathe in any kind of normal pattern, which is fine for just sitting around, but not when I’m trying to exert myself. Dan, who is a runner, is going to help me this spring by teaching me how to breathe when I run. Being able to control my breath in a way that allows me to use my body productively is going to make SO MUCH difference in terms of how much control I have. Me controlling my breath, instead of vice versa. What a novel idea!

9. Get a tattoo

Self-explanatory. I have a whole year to not chicken out.

10. Go into everything with a positive attitude, open mind, and sense of humor

Also self-explanatory, but important to remember.

11. Finish the novel I started for my thesis

60 pages done. Many more to go. But it will be so rewarding when I finish it. Also, I would like to feel like I’m doing something creative that could make money, in addition to my office job.

12. Podcast

Oh, that’s right! Next week, I’m starting a knitting podcast. I kept thinking I would do one sometime in the future, with no specific idea when, but then I found myself thinking, “I’d like to knit this, but I think I’ll wait until I start podcasting, because then I can talk about it.” Which seems to me to mean PODCAST NOW! My brother’s writing me a theme song as we speak, I’m going to buy podcast hosting, and I’m going to start recording next week. Which brings us to the last goal:

13. Blog 1-2 times per week

Now that I’m not in school, I’m working, but my free time is mine. This means homework won’t get in the way of blogging and knitting and doing whatever it is I’d rather be doing than reading Hawthorne. WHICH BRINGS US TO MY REALLY BIG AWESOME ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

This blog is going to be moving to it’s OWN DOMAIN!!!

Dan just told me that this is what he got me for Christmas. I could not be more excited! I’ve been thinking about moving over for a long time, but never looked into it enough to do it. But as soon as he can help me figure it out, I’m going to be at


I’ll give more information when the time comes, and I’m pretty sure this will automatically redirect. But for now, just EEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy holidays everyone, and may your 2012 be everything you want it to be!

In Which is that Christmas Morning Creeping?

I’m only doing a few Christmas gifts this year (because oh man did I learn my lesson last year),  and the recipients know not to expect them before Christmas. So while I’ve been putting those gifts off, I’ve been finishing this:

Please forgive this picture. It's late on a Friday night. It's a wonder I'm even awake right now.

The fiance wanted a scarf, and damn if I can resist a chance to bust out some Malabrigo! Irish Hiking Scarf for Irish Dan.

The pattern was super easy, it was a nice change a pace from some of the other stuff I’ve had on the needles recently (more on that on a later date). And after a long, hard week, sometimes Malabrigo scarves are important. I think I’ll keep it on for tonight. It’s so very warm.

Also, can we take a second to talk about this song? I’ve listened to it AT LEAST 50 times since I downloaded it two days ago. I heard it from Jackie over at KIPing it Real, and GOOD GRACIOUS does it make me feel things!

In Which…

I have a lot of knitting related things to tell you about, but first I have to get this post out of the way. I want to explain my absence here over the past several months.

I found out recently that I have Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I have a long post written with all of the details, but I realized that’s more for me than the world. Maybe someday when it’s not so new, I’ll publish that post. But for now, I just want to make it known. It’s been taking up a lot of my energies, so I know it’s going to come up in my blog posts, and I’m thinking about getting into podcasting, and I know it will have to come out there. I don’t want it to be a surprise then, or something that’s just slipped in. I don’t want to keep this a secret, because it feels wrong not to be honest about it. And ignoring it here would be dishonest. So there it is. Nothing is different because I’ve had both of these things since I was eight. Now they just have a name, and they’re being helped.

I made a cabled afghan in the absence as well. Get ready for that in the next post!

In Which I Am Still Alive, Just Hibernating

Conversation with my brother after my mother announced her new diet:

Andrew: But this is the season to be a glutton and drink.
Me: Just like Jesus wanted.
Andrew: Hey! He turned the water into the wine!

I hope everyone who celebrates it is having a great Thanksgiving, and a great first day of the Christmas season (in my book anyway)! I’m thankful for my fabulous family and friends, my wonderful fiance, my new grown-up job, and for getting through the last few months in one piece. I’m celebrating by knitting an Etta out of Malabrigo Worsted in Alpine Pearl that Dan gave me for my birthday a few months ago. He gets it.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

In Which My Love of Lists Finally Comes to Light

1. I don’t know if I have the brain capacity to write in paragraphs.

2. I don’t know why that is. Probably because it is Thursday, and I am sleepy, and thinking about waking up early again tomorrow is making me even sleepier. I’m a wuss.

3. So I will write this list.

4. Dirty Little Secret: I like when the train is late. My train to work is already an hour and a half on a good day, and ever since I started knitting socks a few weeks ago, that hasn’t felt like enough time. It’s kind of sick.

5. Today the train was stuck behind a disabled train for half an hour. We were told it would only be a ten minute delay, but such is life, and I was pleased. Everyone should knit. Everyone would be much more patient.

6. In what universe am I the kind of knitter whose heart melts while working on a basic sock? A man sock, no less. Granted, it is self-patterning yarn. That’s delightful. But still. I swore off socks when I started knitting. Stockinette bored me to tears. But now I find myself on the verge of joyful tears after a stretch of particularly well-executed stockinette. I don’t recognize myself anymore.

7. If you read my old blog, you might remember how I got half way through a Beaded Cami (minus the beads) before I realized that it would fit a line backer better than me. I frogged it and the Rowan Cotton Glace spent a few years in my knitting basket, ready for its second try. I finally got around to trying again, this time doing a better job of swatching, and also knitting it flat like the pattern says because somehow I think converting it to circulars was where I went wrong. It shouldn’t have been, but alas, I had only been knitting for a year or so at that point (I know, that’s not that short. Shut up.) It’s stockinette, just like the socks, but somehow it’s not as interesting. Whatever. I’ll just have to keep plugging at it. If nothing else it will be a good back-to-basics projects, because my finishing skills can, admittedly, use some work.

The abandoned Cotton Glace

8. I’m on my second cup of coffee today, something I haven’t done in weeks. So my heart’s beating kind of fast, and I apologize if this makes no kind of sense.

In Which I Have Tangents Part II

The fiance just reminded me that I designed two patterns recently that I’m going to be publishing FOR FREE on here once they’re tested. Remember when I promised a free pattern back in October? Remember when that was delayed by many months? Remember how I wrote two to make up for it? Does it make up for it? One is an impossibly cute baby blanket, and the other is a cabled cowl made of Malabrigo Rios. STICK AROUND FOLKS!

In Which I Have Tangents

I was going to write a post last week about how on my way to work, I accidentally flashed a train station. It was going to be a hysterical addition to my series of accounts of why I am the most awkward. It was going to be cringe-worthy and deliciously self-deprecating. I thought about it all the way to work. But I didn’t write it. Because if I’m being honest, it’s just not that funny. I went to work in a black sundress with a high neckline and a low hem. It covered everything, unlike my Old Navy sundresses from three seasons ago that seem to have shrunk to the point that they are no longer work-appropriate, even with a cardigan. I thought I was doing really well on the dressing-appropriately-because-I-am-almost-a-grown-up-who-is-not-in-college-and-who-makes-over-ten-dollars-an-hour-and-who-is-married-and-who-gets-to-eat-ice-cream-wherever-she-wants-be-that-on-the-couch-or-otherwise front.

Then my L.L.Bean messenger bag made my dress ride up and a lady politely tapped on my shoulder to alert me of the problem.

That was it. The skirt was so long that I’m fairly certain no one even saw anything, I just looked silly. I certainly didn’t look like a grown-up, even with my L.L. Bean bag which is certainly very mature of me because you can replace it for free if it breaks. Buying from L.L. Bean is the same as Being Responsible. Never mind that this is the third replacement bag I’ve had because I keep busting the zippers. NEVER MIND THAT. The point is that even my mature buying habits (fine. My mother’s mature buying habits. But, to be fair, I was 14 or so when she bought the first one, and I did not even pitch a fit that L.L. Bean bags were lame. That’s pretty mature in and of itself) could not make me look like a grown-up here.

So you’re welcome that I didn’t write and post it.

On a similar note, my knitting is just as disinteresting. I’ve been on an inexplicable stockinette kick. Two pairs of stockinette socks, two Citrons, and half of a Beaded Cami. So. Much. Stockinette. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because 90% of it is done on the commuter rail to and from work? Most likely it’s just that I’m gone for about 97 hours a day and just don’t have the brain power to focus on anything interesting.

I think the point of this largely irrelevant post is that I have two big writing projects to work on (oh you know, just the other half of “With Pointed Sticks.” Nbd), and am in quite the little creative funk.

In Which I Have a Knitting Identity Crisis

Okay. Well. Since last we spoke, there were… events. And now I knit socks.

“So what?” you say.

I have NEVER had a single desire to knit a sock. Feet are gross. Socks go on feet. There’s a mathematical concept that says that if feet are gross, and socks are for feet, then socks are also gross, but I don’t remember the name of that concept because I’m just an English major. I digress.

I spent time writing about why I would never knit socks. I pretended not to think sock yarn was the most beautiful of all the yarns (aside from Malabrigo, of course). I thought I liked coming up with alternative projects for sock yarn when the yarn was just too beautiful to pretend.

Then the events happened.


Event #1, Or Where It All Started

I just moved out of my dorm, where I had drawer full of yarn. I also had clothes that wouldn’t fit in the my dresser, but since my priorities are in order, one whole drawer was just for yarn. All of that came home with me, and when added to the yarn I had at home, became problematic.

I’m not a stasher, per say. Not like some people are. I only buy yarn when I know what I’m going to do with it (mostly), and when I don’t know, I only buy one skein. I don’t hoard sweaters worth of wool. It would be the most fun ever if I did, but I just don’t have the space or the resources. College. Wedding. You know.

So now I’m on a yarn diet. I have enough yarn to keep me entertained for several months, mostly worsted weight (read: not sock yarn). But then the next event happened.


Event #2, Or Where the Real Problems Start:

At fiance’s house. Fiance is getting ready to drive me home. Stops to download a boxing podcast. Not working. Suggest fiance listens to knitting podcast. Chuckles all around. But wait. Knitting podcasts are a thing. I knit. I have an iPod, filled with music I’m totally sick of due to large amounts of commuting time. Perhaps…

(I know I’m 10 years behind on the idea of podcasting. That’s not the story here.)

Go on Ravelry. Find group about podcasting. Knitters like the Knitmore Girls podcast. Take a listen. They’re going on hiatus for the summer, right as I’m getting into it. Story of my life. But they are spunky, so decide to listen to from beginning, back in 2008. Two podcasts in, don’t remember what I did without Gigi and Jasmine in my life.

The Knitmore Girls knit a lot of socks. Talk about socks a lot. 90% of the time, maybe. Make it sound real nice. Make yarn seem even better than I pretended it wasn’t. Make having a stash of sock yarn seem like a good idea. Never leave without a sock in your purse, they say. I have a purse. Why is there no sock in my purse? Is this brain washing? It happened so fast.

Next thing I know, in frantic search through my stash for any fingering weight yarn that could go on feet. Lots of KnitPicks Palette. Won’t do. Doesn’t make my heart sing. Knitmore Girls say heart should sing. Find leftover Malabrigo Sock yarn. Pull out scale. 50g. Knitmore Girls say 100g needed. Ravelry!

Find pattern. Start sock. Finish sock. Put sock on. Will never stop knitting socks.


The sock is too big, and that’s my own fault. I didn’t use the right yarn the pattern called for, I didn’t use the needles it called for, and then, to top it off, I didn’t swatch. I was in such a desperate hurry to make something that resembled a sock, fit didn’t matter. And that’s fine. This was a practice pair. A stash-buster. I can wear them as slippers around the house like an old woman, because they are the comfiest! So soft and squishy.

So now the new summer goal is to use up as much of my stash as humanly possible so I can knit more socks later.

In Which I Am Good at Background Selectivity

Last Christmas, I got a yarn swift and ball winder. It ended like this:

Hi grumpy Dan.

Granted, it’s very possible that I didn’t watch the video on Knit Pick’s site before I started, and it’s also possible that this yarn is just too heavy for the swift (Malabrigo Rios in Sunset. Have yet to use it, but periodically take it out and touch it, now that I’ve managed to turn it into a ball). So now that I’ve finished the Citron I spoke of previously (need to block before I can get pictures), I pulled out the other skein of Malabrigo Lace I stashed away.

Have you ever wound a skein of lace-weight merino wool over your knees, the old fashioned way? I do it a lot, and it usually results in several lost yards because at some point I give up because it’s too tangled. The idea of spending hours with this skein was enough for me to try the swift again.

Side note: swifts make yarn cakes. Not balls. Cakes. As if I don’t love yarn enough.

My father came in while I was taking this picture, and told me I wasn’t being selective enough about my backgrounds. My background selection was really just the result of my keyboard being the only surface that I didn’t have to clear off before taking a picture of it. But after that, I became much more selective of the backgrounds for yarn cake.

In a pile of old cds.


In a clearance mug from Crate and Barrel, next to a sparkly horse snow globe that plays, if I remember correctly, "Memories."

In a different mug, this time featuring dirty words by Shakespeare (thanks Colin!)

Next to some 1920s rubber ducks. Everything in the '20s was black and white. Obviously.

If background selectivity is any indicator, I am getting MIGHTY good at picture taking, yes sir.