Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"No socks until tenure!!"

It sounds coockoo, right? But I'm not kidding. "No socks until tenure!" has been a mantra of mine for *years*, ever since the whole sock explosion began and knitters everywhere started spending their hard-earned savings on fingering-weight wool/nylon blends and obsessively carrying their sock projects around with them. At first it was just dpn's, but soon the alternate techniques came along and the Great Debates arose: magic loop vs. 2-circs, toe-up vs. top-down, heel flaps vs. short-rows vs. afterthought heels, etc. People took sides on these questions, and you couldn't visit a yarn store or knitting website, or open a knitting magazine, without bumping into another disquisition on why such-and-such was the most revolutionary and life-changing invention/discovery since the yarn swift. And don't get me started about all the hand-painted sock-yarns that suddenly flooded the market...

For a long time, though, I was only dimly aware of these momentous developments, because I had inured myself to the entire world of sock-knitting. I had heard just enough about the allure of sock projects that I instinctively shied away from them ("Beware the sock...") and vowed that I would continue to steer clear until I was granted tenure, and with it a measure of freedom and autonomy to accommodate passionate hobbies in my life, if I chose. Until quite recently (see below), I didn't buy sock yarn, read sock books, download sock patterns, or even fave sock designs on Ravelry (although oddly enough other people's knitted projects were in a different category from the work of sock designers). Mind you, I had nothing against sock-knitting per se. Quite a few of my best friends are avid sock-knitters, and I agree on principle with this fellow blogger's recent apologia for hand-knit socks. Yet nevertheless I came to view sock-knitting as Something That Happened to Other People, for the time being at least.

The problem was that my attentions, as a junior faculty member, were already spoken for. I needed to get my career stabilized before taking on either the financial burden or the massive time commitment that I knew sock-knitting would entail, because it would never stop at the first pair, or the second, or the third. One thing was bound to lead to many more, and I simply couldn't afford outside interests. To make matters worse, my first professorial "gig" was in a dysfunctional department. All my activities were closely scrutinized, and knitting too much, especially in public, would have been frowned upon as an indicator of insufficient dedication to my research. I was hired by a state university primarily for my skills as a teacher, and given responsibility for large lecture classes with 100's of students, but then judged strictly on the basis of my scholarly productivity. Juggling all the conflicting expectations and demands became a professional nightmare. I did what I could, but under those conditions, not getting tenure did not come as a shock in the end, or even as a disappointment. Honestly, the predominant feeling that I had was *relief* at being set free from an unpleasant work environment, especially since the job search eventually brought me to a small liberal arts college where I am MUCH more at home and have been both happier and, oddly enough, more productive as well. So no hard feelings remain, just gratitude at having arrived in a better place. It is remarkably easier to get along in life when you *belong* where you *are*...

But as more and more years went by without my getting tenure, I established an identity for myself as Someone Who Does Not Knit Socks. I had been chanting the mantra for so long that it simply became a fact of life, something taken for granted, like gravity, or tax increases, or the onset of presbyopia. My husband had heard tell of "Beware the sock" too, had seen the credit card statements from my other knitting exploits, and could do the math. So every time the subject of hand-knitted socks would come up, or sock yarn, or sock patterns, etc., he would roll his eyes and thank his lucky stars that I had not yet succumbed.

Staying away from socks per se did not prevent me from knitting. Lace emerged instead as the perfect alternative for my lifestyle, since each purchase of gossamer yarn, though by no means cheap, would yield hours, weeks, months, even years of contented handiwork. It was a process knitter's dream: once or twice a year I could spend a bit of money on gossamer yarn, and then settle down again for the long haul, putting in as much time on the project, or as little, as I happened to have available from day to day and week to week. After switching jobs, I found that I could actually knit during faculty meetings, or between classes, or after dinner, or whenever I needed a break. The eventual result was the Wedding Ring (see photo at left) and Princess shawls. Not too shabby, hein?

In 2006, after a year at the new post, the decision-date for tenure was set for several more years down the road. I did not object or try to accelerate the pace, because I was happy to concentrate on enjoying my work and let the rest take care of itself. All in due time, eh? And no socks for MRPP until 201o-2011.

Which is this academic year.

>>gulp<<

Suddenly the familiar landscape is changing. It was one thing to keep saying, "No socks until tenure!" when that basically meant "for the foreseeable future." But now that I am actually *up* for tenure this year — have indeed filed all the necessary paperwork and am only waiting for the Powers That Be to reach a decision — the possibility of knitting socks has started to loom larger and larger in my imagination. In many ways, sock-knitting has become the symbol for me of what tangible difference, if any, finally getting tenure will make in my life. I certainly don't want to jinx anything by speaking too soon, but the omens for tenure this time around are truly very encouraging. It's a totally different world. I feel extremely confident that the process is going to end with a verdict in my favor. So as far as sock knitting goes, we are no longer talking about a remote possibility. It could actually happen sometime in the next few months.

Incidentally, it can be an interesting challenge to decide precisely *when* tenure happens. This is more than just a semantic question. The specific procedures and protocols differ from one place to another, but there are typically several stages to the process. On our campus it goes something like this...

First the candidate prepares and submits a dossier and colleagues write letters (that was back in August), then an elected body known as the Faculty Evaluation Committee reads through all the materials (this is going on now) and eventually drafts a letter to the Dean with a recommendation, yes or no. That will happen most likely sometime before Thanksgiving. The candidate gets to read the letter before it is sent, and can make comments or suggestions for the record that are also sent along to the Dean. Next there is a meeting with the Dean (sometime in December?), who in turn makes his/her own recommendation to the President, who eventually presents a slate of candidates for tenure to the Board of Trustees at the February meeting. Only then, with a vote from the Trustees, does the tenure decision become official and final, although in practice that vote is almost always a rubber stamp. Deans and Presidents have been known to go against the recommendations from earlier stages in the process, but generally speaking, if the system is working right, the committee's recommendation should prove to be decisive.

So when do you celebrate? If you throw a party when the letter is initially drafted, the whole deal could still go sour at a later stage, which would be a devastating blow. But if you insist on having everything signed, sealed, and delivered, you have to wait until after the February meeting of the Board of Trustees, by which point the results are old news. It's a real dilemma.

Since I intend to mark the arrival of tenure with the knitting of socks, I have decided to celebrate in stages, by taking baby steps in that direction as each successive stage of the process is auspiciously concluded. My birthday comes in August, and this year it happened to fall right after I submitted my tenure dossier, including the grueling self-evaluation, which came out to a bit more than 12 pages single-spaced (I chose to be deliberately anti-superstitious about the page-count). My mother sent me a generous birthday check, and so I spent a chunk of the money on sock-related materials to mark the completion of the dossier.

First of all, KnitPicks was having the magnificent 40%-off sale on books. At the recommendation of a friend who is a veteran sock-knitter, I ordered Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch (AMAZING tutorials and tables to calculate stitch-repeats for feet in all shapes and sizes), along with its sequel More Sensational Knitted Socks. These books are the perfect place to start in learning about basic sock construction and how patterns of color and/or texture are worked into the various parts of a sock. And then, once having taken the plunge, I lost no time in acquiring the two irresistible sock-knitting books by Janel Laidman: The Eclectic Sole and The Enchanted Sole. The latter in particular is about as eye-catching a pattern collection as I have ever encountered, so I knew it would be at the top of my list when a portal opened for me into the magical realm of sock-knitting.

I bought a few experimental skeins of KnitPicks sock yarn too, in order to have some on hand. My purchases included two colorways of Imagination (hand-painted merino/alpaca/nylon, right), two colors of Risata (solid-toned cotton/wool/elastic, lower left), and one skein of Stroll Tonal (merino/nylon, upper left).

And I arranged for a "sock yarn petting-zoo" with my friends from a knitting group that gets together at the Barnes & Noble in Louisville twice a month or so. The experienced sock-knitters in the crew (i.e. everybody except me) went stash-diving and brought in sample skeins as well as finished socks in a whole variety of different yarns and fiber combinations, and then we spread them out on the table and discussed them one by one, drawing lots of comparisons and contrasts. It was so much fun!! I loved getting to see and touch and learn all about the different yarns from people in-the-know. I took notes. It was a fabulous hands-on experience, and by the end I felt a lot more confident about shopping for myself over the internet. I have a great big wish-list of sock-yarns now, as well as a growing queue of amazing patterns that I can see are in my future.

My not-too-distant future. WOW. Tenure means *socks*. Stay tuned for more...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Frejya at the Crossroads

Some projects just seem to drag on and on for no good reason. My Frejya sweater is one such. I've been working on it — or more to the point NOT working on it — for several years now. Whenever I have actually managed to devote some time to it, the progress has come quickly, but then weeks or even months go by between sessions. It keeps happening. First I stalled over weaving in all the loose ends left behind by the intarsia on the front. That took forever! Then it was the embroidery and embellishment on the front, and some more loose ends on the back. Blah blah blah.

But today, knowing that with Stornoway finished I really have no excuse anymore, I finally put my foot down and made myself get through what needed to be done on the front. Or so I thought...

I was using eyelash yarn with duplicate stitch to give the cat "long hair". It is supposed to be a Maine Coon, after all. My plan was to add orange hairs to the body of the cat and ivory ones to the pale segments at the underside and extremities (chest, abdomen, paws). The *face* posed a real problem, though, because I soon realized that the dangling bits got in the way of the intarsia design and gave the whole thing a muddled appearance. So I had stopped short with the body basically done, while a debate raged internally (literally for months) over what to do next.

Last week I finally filled in the lower part of the abdomen with the ivory, but then on Friday and Saturday, when I tried to do the same with the upper chest, the result looked more like an old man's beard than a fluffy cat's neck ruff. *Ick*. So I took the embellishment away from the chest area. BIG improvement. And today, looking at the whole thing with the cold eye of reason, I came to the same conclusion about the paws, face, abdomen, and entire lower edge. After all that time spend trying to *add* stuff to the sweater in order to get it finished, in other words, today I took a whole bunch of stuff AWAY again. Go figure...

Here is what the "new & improved" front looks like (click for a larger view). Believe it or not, there is actually LESS embellishment on it now than there was a year ago. But at least you can see the adorable pussycat underneath it all, and the effect is more authentically Maine Coon-ish than before too, since the long hair is confined to the places where it would appear on a real cat. I could grumble all day and all night about why in the world it took me so @#$^!! long to decide that less is more, but the observation would be moot. Clearly I needed time, and a string of failed experiments, to reach this point. I will probably still use embroidery floss to outline the face and pick out certain details of the features (eyes, nose, ears, whiskers, claws, etc.). Or not, I suppose, depending on how it looks. But that final experiment means another trip to the craft store, and meanwhile I am done with the eyelash yarn. Huzzah!

Moreover, I am also done with the intarsia on the back of the sweater: a whimsical goldfish bowl motif for which I used some interesting textures (ribbon yarn held double for the fish scales, and a wonderful nubbly green yarn for the aquatic plant) in addition to the blue of the water (a different color of the same Wool of the Andes that is providing the black background) and the silver gray that represents the glass of the fishbowl (a bit of wool/rayon blend from my stash). As of this evening, the ends are all woven in too.

Which means that aside from the little bits of embellishment remaining to be added, which will have to wait for a shopping trip to purchase appropriate colors of embroidery floss (i.e. orange, rust, white, black, and ivory), and the cat's fluffy tail, which is a separate little knitting project all on its own, to be set aside for some afternoon/evening in the not-too-distant future, whenever I feel like it, it is now OFFICIALLY a matter of plain black stockinette knitting to finish the upper portion of the back and then the sleeves.

So we've really turned a crucial corner here. I feel totally confident now that this baby is going to be done done D-U-N DONE by Hallowe'en!!! :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Holy fisherman's sweaters, Batman..."

Brace yourselves, people. Not only am I channeling the silliest superhero sidekick of all time (as evidenced by the headline on this post). I actually feel like leaping for joy and doing a happy dance. For Stornoway (i.e. His part of The Great His & Hers Guernsey adventure, which began on July 11, 2009) is now 100% complete. I finished the second sleeve on October 3rd after about 3 1/2 weeks of pleasant and uneventful knitting, and immediately set the sweater to soak while I put together the brand new and quite literally shiny woolly board that I bought from Camilla Valley Farm with some of my birthday money (thanks, Mom!!).

This lovely piece of fiber-functional woodwork came completely disassembled, and although I found the assembly instructions very clear and easy to follow, it still took a while to figure out what went where and get all the hardware properly situated. When the moment arrived to place the sweater onto the frame, however, I was not even remotely prepared for how easy it would be to stretch it out. My experience with blocking lace — and having to apply torque on edging points with pins & blocking wires — had led me to expect something similar here, especially given the density and tight gauge of the fabric. In fact, the sweater basically stretched itself. I'm not kidding... All I had to do was drape it neatly along the upper crossbar, and gravity took care of the rest, ably assisted by the weight of the water that the wool had soaked up during its washing. Of course much of that liquid ran right to the bottom and started dripping all over the place, so I laid a towel across the base of the frame to catch the run-off. But the fabric required no additional persuasion and instead opened up naturally and effortlessly to its intended measurements. Truly remarkable.

Here are some photos of the sweater during blocking, including a couple of closeups taken after a day or two, as the fabric began to dry and the details of the textured patterning became more visible. As always, click on any of these images to get a closer look.

My husband has longish arms. I had already added about 1/4" to the ribbing at the cuffs of the sweater in an attempt to allow for this, although when he tried it on before blocking, the whole thing obviously needed so much stretching in all directions that it was hard to tell whether it really fit him or not. But after it had dried and I removed it from the frame, he tried it on again, and we verified that the sleeves were still a tad short, not a huge amount, but enough to warrant some attention. This was where the traditional guernsey design, with its sleeves knit downwards from the shoulders, showed its true genius, because there was nothing simpler than ripping out the bind-off, placing the 64 ribbing stitches back onto dpn's, and adding several extra inches to each cuff. I basically doubled the length of the ribbing (from 26 rows = 2 3/4=” to 50 rows = 5 1/4”), so that now he can fold them over and adjust their length however he likes. I certainly had plenty of yarn to make this modification to the pattern. In fact, the entire 3rd cone of the Frangipani 5-ply in the Cedar colorway remains untouched in my stash, along with the tail end of the 2nd one.

One effect of using a woolly board is that the ribbing gets stretched out, especially at the cuffs. One can easily re-soak the sweater's "extremities" after removal from the frame and allow them to dry unencumbered so that they will bounce back to their normal elasticity. I had been planning to do just that. But with the cuff extensions it was not necessary. I simply left the new portions unblocked, and when folded over, they hold everything nicely in place from the outside. I also made sure to bind off with a needle one size larger than I had used to knit the ribbing, so that the bottom edge would sit right.

Here are a couple of pictures of the end result, which do a good job of capturing the elusive gray-green too. As it turns out, DH & I both happen to think that the sweater looks better (i.e. more stylish and finished somehow) with folded cuffs than it did with plain ones. As I wrote on my Ravelry project page, mischief managed. :-)

I could not be more pleased with the way this project has turned out, or with the fact that completing it has officially lowered my WIP-count from 8 to *7*. WOOHOO!! Now to finish Frejya and Elm Row (perhaps by Hallowe'en??). That would allow me to reach my elusive goal of getting that number down to *5*. Muhahaha....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Stornoway: almost home!!

I really don't know in all honesty quite *what* possessed me, in the summer of 2009, to launch *three* small-gauge sweater projects by the same renowned British designer with a penchant for brilliant yet meticulous details, but there it was. Before I fully realized what I had gotten myself into, I had Stornoway, Eriskay, and Peggy Tudor all going at once. A wise and perceptive friend of mine says she chalked it up at the time to the symptoms of "post-Princess withdrawal," and that explanation makes as much sense as any other. But with a trio of St*rmores on the needles, NO WONDER it's taking me so long to whittle away at my list of WIP's!!

Progress does come, though, bit by bit, if you work at it steadily enough. I couldn't quite bring myself to sit with a heavy pile of wool in my lap during July and most of August, but in the last couple of months I have managed to put in quite a bit of time on the sleeves of my husband's Stornoway, since of the three it was the closest to completion, with a real shot at being done in time for the upcoming winter.

And now — happily, happily, HAPPILY — it's almost there. The first sleeve was all done as of September 11th, and I have only 10 more patterned rounds left on the second one before the ribbing of the cuff. Sometime in the next few days, in other words, I am actually going to *finish* the project!! And then I can put my shiny new woolly board to good use and rejoice in the countdown from 8 WIP's to *7*. Not quite yet, but very soon...

Meanwhile, as proof of my bona fides (as Anna Russell used to say in the midst of her classic analysis of Wagner's Ring, "I'm not making this up, you know..."), here are some pictures of the first sleeve and its lovely gusset at various stages of completion. As always, click on any of these images to take a closer look.

This project has been a joy from start to finish, and can't wait to show it off, as the Great Guernsey Adventure continues.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Frosted Leaf Necklace

In early August, my in-laws sent me a birthday check: $43. I will leave it to my clever readers to guess the reason for that peculiar amount. At any rate, I wanted to use it to buy something pretty but couldn't decide between yarn and jewelry. A familiar dilemma... Then I remembered the beaded jewelry kits from Earthfaire, which had intrigued me for a long time, although I had never quite gotten the nerve to take the plunge. This seemed like the perfect excuse, especially when I discovered the Frosted Leaf Necklace, the focal point of which is a genuine oak leaf, coated in sterling silver. I could not resist, since the house in CT where I grew up was nestled in the woods and surrounded by oak trees, with a state park on two sides of the property.

In addition to the leaf enhancer, the twig-shaped cross-bar that it hangs from, and a magnetic clasp, the kit consists of silver thread and 5 different types of beads: Matte Vitral Crystal daggers (basically pale green/tan, with a gentle metallic cast to them), 4 mm and 6 mm Twilight-Sapphire Fire Polish Crystals (pale purple with a fascinating smoky quartz overtone), Silver-Lined Crystal megatamas (pure and clear, like ice), and Silver-Lined Crystal AB 8/0 (like little soap bubbles, with a rainbow sparkle). The beads are threaded in advance in a particular sequence and then knitted into a self-twisting rope using 2.0 mm (US size 0) needles. There are enough materials for a 32" necklace (i.e. a 16" strand on either side), but Ellen says right on the website that she thinks "shorter looks better," and given my own smallish stature, I knew I would end up with lots of leftovers. So I went ahead and purchased an additional silver leaf-clasp to make a matching bracelet, and some sterling earring findings as well. So far, however, I have just the necklace done. Here are some pictures. As always, click on any of these photos to take a closer look.

WIP count on Ravelry = *8* and holding. This was a very quick project and extremely enjoyable. I spent a contended hour stringing the beads and another ~90 minutes knitting the strands and attaching the findings. My necklace was 12.5" top-to-bottom at first, and then after wearing it a bit, I shortened it even further (to 11"), so that the leaf would hang at the right spot on my breastbone. It makes a VERY striking statement. Such fun to wear!! I look forward to fashioning the additional pieces and pursuing other beaded jewelry projects in the future. :-)

Friday, October 1, 2010

I'm BAAAAAAACK... with the end-of-summer wrap-up!!

*TWO* MONTHS??! Wow. I knew it had been quite a while since my last blog post, and that in the interim I had completed my tenure dossier, a new school year had started, and a whole lot of other momentous things had happened around our household, including a flea tsunami that engulfed our 100% indoor cat and rabbit population (go figure...), and the arrival of two little rescue kittens (4-5 weeks old), who turned out to have ringworm, a fungal infection that is terribly contagious to cats and rabbits, and to humans as well. So in the last two weeks, just as the flea situation was finally getting under control, we have had to implement a vigorous new regimen of quarantine procedures to protect ourselves and our other pets while the ringworm decontamination runs its course. There are now "plague kittens" by the names of Ghost and Goblin holed up in what used to be my bathroom.

In other words, I have had a lot on my mind lately. Along the way I have been knitting a fair bit, although not as continually as I did in June and July. I have also been keeping track of my progress on Ravelry, and even posting the occasional picture on my project pages. I received a generous birthday check from my mother in early August, which led to the purchase of many yummy and long-coveted things, including yarn and pattern books and even a woolly board, about which there will be more to say eventually. But in all honesty I did not realize how long I had managed to let the blog lie fallow while all of this was happening. It nagged at me, though. I kept telling myself to do something about it and not quite getting around to it, and time just kept going by...

Apropos of which, I learned something interesting a day or two ago. Apparently Mark Twain did not say, "The rumors of my demise have been exceedingly exaggerated," as I have so often heard it quoted in various contexts. What he really wrote (and you can click here for an image of the actual handwritten page) was this: "James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness. The report of my death was an exaggeration."

Fascinating tidbit, yes? And having set the record straight, let's see what we can do to breathe some life into this blog of mine. Ever since the completion of the wedding gift in late July, my energies have been concentrated on continuing to wrap up as many WIP's as possible, and delightfully, we can now check three more items off my long list of unfinished projects.

I. The "Other" Niebling

The first thing that I did, knitting-wise, when we got home from the wedding at the end of July was to go back and finish up the other Niebling square. This was originally meant as practice for the wedding gift, in white no. 10 crochet cotton as opposed to the silvery gossamer silk, but I had to abandon it partway through, because there were only 3 weeks left until the wedding day and I needed all of that time to finish the "echt object" in good order. I had gotten through the first chart (rows 1-90), though, so all the cotton square needed was the 42 edging rows, which took only a few days. I had known all along that it was going to be a substantial piece, just from the heft of it on the needles and the fact that it used up two full balls (= 800 yards!!) of the thread. But nonetheless I was amazed to see it block out to a full 36" square. Here are some photos of the finished object, which brought my total # of WIP's on Ravelry down to *10* once more, where it had been before the onset of the two Niebling projects. As always, click on any of these images to take a closer look.

I would like to display this piece of lace in my home someday, if I can just find a way to put it under glass and away from those mischievous kitty claws!! ;-)

II. Candlelight Kimono

At one point I had been hoping to wear my scaled-down rendition of this sweater to some part of the wedding festivities, in order to show off my handiwork that was nearly two decades in the making, but the intricacies of the Niebling project — which clearly took priority — soon put paid to that idea. On our return home, I had the back all done and the lace section of the two fronts as well, which meant that I still had to finish the fronts and knit the sleeves (including Japanese short-rows, which were a new technique for me), then block all the pieces stretched out flat, and carefully sew the whole thing together. The pattern called for the back neckband to be knitted as a strip and sewn in place, but instead I used a technique similar to the one by which a perpendicular edging is grafted onto the live stitches of a lace shawl.

It took several weeks and some painstaking work to complete the project, but I was absolutely THRILLED with the end results. I felt especially proud of the sewing job that I did, because the seams turned out nearly perfectly, giving the sweater just enough structure to show off the magnificent drape of the silk fabric. All the loose ends also had to be invisibly tacked down by hand on the wrong side of the fabric. The photo gallery includes a picture of the sweater when worn, which was shot from below (because I stood up while my husband with the camera was sitting down) and thus emphasizes my natural curves to an unusual degree. But I think the glowing smile on my face pretty much says it all. For of course I now had only *9* WIP's left on Ravelry. Getting that vital number into the single digits felt really, really good. As always, click on any of these images for a closer view.

III. Fiddlehead Mittens

Adrian Bizilia's Fiddlehead Mittens are ENORMOUSLY popular, with 1068 projects currently listed on Ravelry. It's not hard to understand why either, because they make for a relatively quick and easy knit. The clever stranded design incorporates traditional elements and yet has a snazzy contemporary feel, and the pattern leaves lots of room for creativity in the selection and arrangement of colors. The luxurious lining is just icing on the cake (or perhaps more aptly filling in the jellyroll, given its position on the inside rather than the outside), adding a sybaritic extra layer to the stranded fabric that is already pretty cushy by itself.

I made the outside of my first mitten way back in March, but then it got too hot to think about snuggly warm things anymore, or so I told myself. I certainly would not have any use for them until the depths of winter anyway, so I waited until the mood was right to finish the job. Oddly enough, despite the heat, the moment arrived in late August, right before school started, when I had a brief window of opportunity to blitz through the remaining steps in quick succession — 2nd mitten body, 2nd thumb, 1st lining, 2nd lining — and check off another completed project from my list, bringing the total # of WIP's on Ravelry down to an eminently manageable *8* (where the tally stands to this day). The mittens fit me perfectly, cozy and comfy on my small hands and not too much like giant oven mitts, since I went down a needle-size from the pattern specs to make sure that the gauge would be just right. The jewel-toned yarn on the outside is Swedish wool from my stash, purchased long ago (Borgs V√§vgarner S.N.2 garn), and the lining is buttery soft alpaca from KnitPicks (Andean Treasure).

Here is the third and final photo gallery for this post, showing my Fiddleheads in all their matching glory. As always, click on any of these images to take a closer look.

As this last photo shows, if you look closely, each mitten laid flat is nearly an inch thick!! I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to the sovereign protection that these mittens will provide for my hands on those frozen winter walks to and from campus. Bring it on, Boreas...