Adventures and exploits with yarn, knits, crochet and other crafts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quick update

As my camera has been dead and my charger lost in my still-partially-unpacked apartment, I thought I'd leave a quick update of my knitting untilI can bust out Andrew's camera (which will happen tomorrow).

Finished projects (to be displayed soon):
  • My first color knitting project! The pattern is the Op Top and mine is knit in a maroon and white instead of the brown and white...I couldn't be happier with it and it's been fast-tracked to being my favorite hat.
  • A picot-edged scarf. I made one before, which you can see on my facebook album (for my mom) and decided I liked it enough to give it another go. I used the state fair yarn (the variegated one) which I had tried to use for about three other lace projects and it was uncooperative (llama+mohair does NOT make for a good sturdy yarn), so I decided to just let the yarn do the talking and be its beautiful self which thus required...crochet!

In progress:
Well...naturally about a zillion things, but I have decided to quit horsin' around, this is serious...I put ALL of my other projects, scattered haphazardly around the apartment AWAY into the stash, leaving me ONLY with the Emerald Isle Cardigan. Something just told me I needed this goddam thing finished, and finished soon. I re-started (OK, basically started as I only had about a half inch of ribbing done that I'd started months ago) on Thursday or Friday and finished the entire back two days ago. I've been working on the left front, which is giving me a hard time (keeping track of waist, bust, neck, and armhole shaping at the same time---not fun) and is also...dare I say...slightly boring as it's entirely stockinette. But I don't care. I'm in love with the look of the yarn and I know it's going to be great. I would *love* to have it finished before class starts up next week. I'm a little concerned about the sewing and the neck stitching, but that's what Ravelry's for.

Any quick updates from you, while we wait for my opus to be finished?

Sunday, November 15, 2009


UPDATE: Bust didn't take the comment very well either, and wrote a response, penned by knitting/crocheting déesse Debbie Stoller. Another blogger posted an honest "WTF?" in the Feministing community, which then reposted Jessica's response that she left in the comments at Bust. While I appreciate the "whoops my bad," I still think "me and crafy don't mix, sadly" is a poor representation of the way craftiness and those who don't directly participate can mix as I outlined below.

Jessica Valenti, no! Seems like "making things out of yarn" is one of those phrases that's only okay when we say it (re: blog title). Is it just me, or were you also a little put off by her dismissive attitude towards Bust's craftiness and towards knitting (crocheting, et al.) as activities in general? Do I have to get all oh-no-she-didn't on the Internet's greatest voice of feminism? Yes? Okay I will.

First off, she may have meant nothing by this. In fact, she probably just thought it was a cute joke to make, about her own clumsiness and inability to craft, etc. But by making it out to be some sort of silly thing to laugh at, she's adding to the perception that women's hobbies are something to be dismissed, petty, insignificant, nothing else.

"I'm not a D.I.Y feminist," she says in the interview. "Why not?" was my reaction to that. Knitting (and crocheting, etc. which I'm getting back into by the way, new scarf to be posted soon) are often critiqued as being too expensive, more expensive than just going out and buying a sweater from Wal-Mart. It's only middle class people who can afford to do this. Rightfully so, I say, to make a nice, solid, hand knit sweater you're gonna have to drop at least $50 or more on yarn. But you know what? I know whose labor went into making it--my own, plus the hands of the woman (usually) who handspun my yarn, shorn from the sheep/goats that she and her husband raised at their farm in Minnesota or Wisconsin or wherever. Even when I buy yarn from a shop, I know the middle (wo)man. I'm supporting a small business; there is only one Bella Lana, only one Depth of Field. When I go into those shops, the women there know me. They run their fingers along the hat or scarf I'm wearing, compliment my work, ask me about the pattern I used, inquire about what I'm going to make with my purchase. They give me deals when I come in and say I've had a bad day. This sort of emotional and physical closeness never happens in a Wal-Mart.

Furthermore, there's the (and this one is great, considering it's assumed I'm middle class since I'm in college, an unexamined bias which contributes to the culture of assimilation for working class students in university) argument of "Only middle class people have time/money/energy to devote to buying yarn/learning to knit/knitting up their own clothes. It's a paternalistic "save the poor" mentality, that, frankly, people can shove up their asses. Learn a little bit about the working class, please, before speaking about what kind of time we have. Most people in working class jobs have free time. They even have money to buy clothes (*gasp!* what? we're not all homeless??!!) Here is why these activities don't appeal to them:

1. Free time: As I said, working class people have free time. Problem is, American culture defines "free time" as being parked in front of a television, being sedated into complacency because at least you made it home in time to watch "Dancing with the Stars". This is the sort of isolationist mentality that is sold to working class people as "what it means to be American". Learning to knit would require, for most, entering a yarn shop, asking for help (and if the blue collar disdain for welfare programs says anything, it's that my people want to show we don't need help from anyone), showing that you don't know something and then spending time in a community with others to learn a new skill. But...what happens when you spend your time watching TV? Well, inevitably, you're going to run into a few commercials which tell you to what? SHOP! of course! Which leads me to...

2. Money. Truly, unquestionably, it is cheaper to buy clothes pre-made than to make them yourself. Fact is, the argument of "no one has time to make all their own clothes" is 100% spot on in our society. Middle class people included (Christ it's not like the working class are the only people who work) do not have time to make all the clothes necessary to get by. But that's the problem--the definition of the word "necessary" here. In America, you can't wear the same outfit more than once a week (hell, in some circles it will be noticed if you wear the same thing within a 2 week or more period). It's a sign that, you know, you can't afford nice things. Additionally, our fashion trends are always changing to let people know when you aren't being a good consumer/American and keeping up with the look dated and, well, poor. (The "Story of Stuff" has a good breakdown of how the fashion industry keeps us in check as consumers). So, on that note, what it means to me to be a D.I.Y. feminist is...

3. Fashion! There are really no options for the socially minded among us when it comes to the clothing industry. Either our clothes are manufactured by children/underpaid foreign women or they're manufactured by some douche bag "American only" brand (here's looking at you American Apparel) which capitalizes on that social consciousness, but doesn't really do much for American industry (or women, look at their ads) and we all know American garment workers aren't much better off (see: Real Women Have Curves or the Forever 21 Boycott.)

So what do I do? Well, for one, I knit. I spend all the money I would spend on clothes (I have budgeted a saintly $50 a month for yarn, which, full disclosure of privilege here, I can afford due to my dirt cheap deal on rent, which may not last me past July, but I'm enjoying now). Why? Because I HAVE ENOUGH FUCKING CLOTHES. I have so many clothes. People buy me clothes! I have clothes I bought from years ago. And, fuck it, I don't need to keep up with some corporations stupid definition of what it means to be "well dressed" or "in style."And then what do I do with those clothes? I wear them the fuck out. That's right. I wear clothes until I have ripped jeans, until my shirts are too stained for me to handle it. Clothes (again, see "Story of Stuff") are among the 90% of items manufactured that are not in use six months later. And why? Why throw out perfectly good items?

Ah, you say, but perhaps we don't all have all the clothes we need. This is true for some, and a beautiful, wonderful solution exists--second hand stores. One (wo)man's trash is another (wo)man's treasure. These items need not go to waste. Sure, I don't look particularly stylish (although, Christ, you'd be amazed at what you can find if you don't mind hanging out with the poor for awhile in a second hand shop, which I don't at all). But here's the beauty of it all--since I knit, no one pays any fucking attention to what I wear. They're too distracted by that sweet-ass scarf I've got around my neck, as my defining accessory. They're too busy ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the wild hat I knit with my own hands.

I am simultaneously subverting normative fashion, while reappropriating and re-valuing women's work (art) of the past. To be a consumer in our society is not to do anything yourself. Consumption implies service, something must be done for you not by you. Yes, this requires a huge shift in attitude--we really, really must get over this stupid following fashion bullshit. Create your own fashion, I guarantee you will find something at the thrift store that sets you apart. If you can't, get down and dirty with a sewing machine or some knitting needles (another note on second hand: almost every one I know knows someone with knitting needles or a sewing machine they're not using because of this shift away from hand-made...reclaim them! That's how I got my needle collection and how my friend got her sewing machine). The internet is an incredible, incredible resource (as are public libraries) for those who want to learn. Or, you know, the communities out there ready to teach.

So why, Ms. Valenti, is "making things out of yarn" not a worthy goal? Why give up on your scarf after 15 minutes? That's all the time you devoted? It astounds me how our corporate society has convinced us that you, educated, with your Master's degree, cannot make something for yourself...and then outsources the work to poor, illiterate children? Even if all of this sounds distasteful or not-quite-your-thing (that is, second hand shopping, knitting, crocheting, or sewing) there are people out there ready to do those services for you. They'll talk to you like a human being, not like a cost-benefit analysis in process. They'll labor over making something special for you just because you want it that way. You may not be a D.I.Y. feminist, but you can certainly support those who are. Of course, though, it requires getting over the mentality that we must consume what we are offered and define ourselves by how many outfits we can wear in a week, rather than what we can create for ourselves out of the raw materials others can (personally, not corporately) offer us.

Monday, October 19, 2009


What are your thoughts on a yarn swap/project swap next month?

Okay, okay I'm back.

So sorry for my absence the past few weeks. I just started a second job and I am just beat most days. My knitting is suffering too, which, needless to say, upsets me. I have about five projects on needles at the moment.

But before I get into them, I just wanted to respond to your posts that I hadn't gotten a chance to comment on yet.

RE: Progress

I like that cowl a lot. I prefer looser ones, which is why I'd probably block it. But if you like how snug it is, leave it be!

I'm glad you're enjoying student teaching. If you didn't, I'd be worried, since you're training to be a teacher and all, haha.

And how is your mom doing? All better I hope?

RE: Couple of tips
I had never heard of the"split-splice" method, but it sounds very useful and I will definitely try it out the next opportunity I have.

I must say, your method for estimating how many rows you can do with the yarn you have left is much more productive and efficient than my just going for the gold and hoping I have enough, just to discover I've come up short.

As for tips that I've planned on using...One of the projects I currently have on needles is a hat that I'm going to attempt to use the "magic circle" on when I have to few stitches to continue knitting in the round.

RE: Silk Therapy.

I'm sorry about your worst day ever. I don't know what I'd do in a situation like the one at the bus stop. I'm glad you had a long weekend to recover. That pattern is gorgeous. You better finish it quickly and blog about it soon after.

Next time you have the worst day ever, feel free to call me if you need to vent.

So since I don't have any completed recent projects, I'll post some old ones.

Here's a neck warmer I made for a friend of mine, who's going to grad school in England.

The stitch pattern came from a post I found on Rather than take the time to redesine the pattern so I could knit button holes, I finished it then crocheted some.

As per usual, I ignored the gauge of the pattern and ended up with something entirely too long. So instead of starting over again, I just folded the non-button hole side over until it was the length I wanted it to be. Since I used left over cotton yarn from the summer, I figure the extra layer would add to its warmth. The used embroidery thread to sew the folded edge and to add some embellishments around the button holes.

And if you can't tell from the pictures, the buttons have eagles on them. I included them so my friend can literally wear his Amurican pride, hehe.

Last is the fidget, which I actually made over the summer for myself, though I did make one last winter for a friend. I believe the only changes I made to the pattern was to have 21 stitches instead over 17 to make it a thicker and warmer.

That's all I have for now. If I ever go a week without blogging, feel free to send me angry texts.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Silk therapy...warning: major splurge ahead

Yesterday I had what can only be referred to as the worst day ever. After feeling frustrated with student teaching when I had no idea what to do during a fight, I left to go downtown and transfer buses to go to class. I stopped at the public library where I knew that Boutique Knits, the knitting book I've been waiting for for over a month was finally on hold for me. I went in, paid my fines, and even bought myself a cheer-up coffee and then went to the bus stop. I just missed the bus I usually take to class and sat down to wait for the next one, thinking that it wasn't too cold and besides, I had lots of wool on (ha!).

I wasn't waiting five minutes before a woman started abusing her daughter for horsing around at the bus stop. I'm talking grabbing her, shaking her, screaming about what "mother fucking stupid kid" she was and slapping her, all the while yelling about how people would tell her to stop abusing her kid but she didn't care. A few minutes later she yells at me for "looking at her." Then she threatens the guy next to me with the knife she supposedly had in her pocket saying that when that comes out "she won't stop." Christ. I had no idea what to do and just froze like a useless idiot, feeling incredibly depressed when my bus drove away and I made eye contact with that little girl, still waiting and crying, thinking about how I was just another adult who failed her that day.

I went to class and was bored and shaken up only to find out afterward that my health insurance coverage is ending starting next year because my birthday is coming up. Fan-damn-tastic.

Clearly: Worst day ever. I resolved to haul ass down to my favorite LYS. I was going to feel better, and in perfect American fashion, chose to cheer myself up through consumerism. Here is my therapy:

Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple 100% spun silk, in American Beauty. I already have a pattern in mind: the Vines and Leaves Scarf.

Unfortunately, silk highs only last so long and this morning I woke up nauseous and feeling sick all day, probably psychosomatic considering I'm an anxious person, but feeling terrible nonetheless. I missed student teaching, but luckily they have off school tomorrow and Friday, so I have a long weekend to feel better, collect my bearings, and well, knit.

Finally, an update on my Meret:
It looks like something that fell off a sheep in a dirty, mangy, clump (Do sheep get mangy?). I'm using a yarn I got at an open air market in Ohio, close to my hometown. It's *clearly* handspun in that sometimes the thickness of the yarn goes from "Bulky?" to "basically sewing thread" which annoys the cats out of me, but is a characteristic I've seen in some commercial yarns as well. I got it in a gigantic hank hanging off a wall, and you know, call it the novelty of the whole situation of being surrounded by miles and miles of people's junk and finding yarn, but I got it for cheap too! In any case, as you can see, it looks terrible. That being said, I'm allowing the blocking process to redeem it. It is a lace pattern which makes blocking inevitable, but I'm hoping it will smooth out the gauge madness issues as well.

Speaking of blocking, I have surrendered the cowl to the blocking process, where she lies now in wait. It was just too scrunched up and uneven on the edges.

Well, here's to better days and much more silk, I'm off to take an exam!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Couple of tips

I think Sunday is going to become knitting blog day. Twice in one day? Scandalous! In any case I just started casting on for the Meret that I've been ogling for awhile and didn't realize I had some yarn that should be great for it (I'll photograph once it's done). Anyway, I realized I've been using a couple tips a lot recently, and thought I'd let you know about them in case you hadn't heard.

1. The "spit-splice" method. If you've never heard of this, you must. It works with (supposedly) only 100% wool yarns, though I'd say anything with a significant wool content, maybe with the exception of superwash and synthetics would work. Anyway, it's a method for joining to yarn ends seamlessly (i.e. no knot). Take the two yarn ends you want to join and fray the ends. Then, (only for those truly dedicated to yarn arts, as you will be tasting wool, and get little fibers in your mouth) lightly suck on the frayed ends to get them nice and spitty. Then, join the two frayed ends by laying them overlapping on each other. Lay them on your jeans or pants or whatever and roll the newly joined yarn back and forth by rubbing the yarn vigorously to create friction and take advantage of wool's natural tendancy to felt. Voila! One uninterrupted strand of yarn. I didn't believe it until I tried it so...try it.

2. The how-much-yarn-do-I-need trick. I used this for my cowl, because the pattern called for "less than 150 yards" and well, I had 82 to work with which, shall we say is significantly less than 150 yds. So, I had to figure out, as my yarn was winding down, how many rows I could do without getting stuck in the middle with no yarn left. Solution, if knitting in the round, wrap your yarn around the length of the knitting 4x. If straight, just lay it across the needles. Again, four times is about the magic number. So, for me, I was able to wrap my yarn around my cowl about 20 times, so I knew I could do about 5 more rows (using the 4 times the length equals 1 row theory). Consequently, I knit four more rows and bound off on the fifth. The result? About 2 1/2 feet of extra yarn--not bad I'd say.

3. Safety pins instead of straight pins for blocking. Seriously, if you don't have some sort of blocking surface (and I don't) I don't get how people get anything done with straight pins. Just make sure it doesn't pull the fabric in weird ways making the fabric pointy where the pins were...but you have to think about that with straight pins anyway.

Well that's that for now. Anything you've learned?


After my last wah wah post, I felt unusually inspired to stop being so goddam mopey and feeling sorry for myself. So, I hustled around on Ravelry, dug through the stash and emerged determined to make the Candle Flame Cowl out of some (formerly mystery) baby llama yarn that I had bought way back in March.

I was visiting Minnesota and knew it would be risky to bring knitting needles on the plane, but hadn't heard of anyone saying that they'd had crochet hooks taken away. So I stopped over on the way and visited my friend Jenn, who knew how to crochet, and asked her to teach me. She did (though I remembered her instructions wrong, and crocheted incorrectly for awhile) and I bought some yarn with her, losing the label. Thanks to Ravelry's genius though, turns out the yarn is Mirasol Miski, which is only 82 yards per skein. It didn't work out with me crocheting it because, admittedly, baby llama is way too slippery for a metal hook, and plus I didn't know what I was doing, so it sat around until this cowl pattern/the desire to stop pitying myself came around.
Results, modified because I couldn't do the rib border the second time around:

Can't decide if I want to block it or not. I think the pattern will be a lot clearer, but I wore it last night and it's so warm I don't know if I want it out of commission for two days, especially since it'

Also, I started student teaching this past week and I really, really like it. My coordinating teacher is awesome, to say the least. Despite how crazy busy I am, she made me realize that my classes are probably not that important, and definitely not something to get stressed out about. It was very refreshing, and ask you can see, allowed me to realize some very therapeutic processes.

By the way, my mom actually has swine flu. I'm going to finish her scarf soon!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Well, well, well

I am very sad to report the incredible lack of knitting that's been going on round these parts. The worst part is that, despite the fact that I have a pretty heavy courseload, my student teaching hasn't even started yet (I stop in tomorrow and Friday for observation and officially start Monday), I haven't been knitting like I used to. I think it's due to some sort of weird latent depressive feelings, and knitting is something I can only attack with the utmost vigor.

I cast on for the stole 2 weeks ago and haven't touched it since. I did manage to finish the back of my tunic, which isn't particularly interesting since it's only a back. I cast on and knit about a foot of a scarf for my mother, who was supposed to visit this weekend. I'd planned on going on a knitting frenzy and knitting her second handwarmer and hooded scarf. Unfortunately she's been diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis and can't come. That, coupled with me being convinced that teacher education the country over is a miserable shithole of courses that dumb down basic enough material for "those who can't do, who teach" and that student teaching schedules designed to drill it into our heads that "this is hard, you know!" without providing any kind of mental stimulation, guaranteeing that even those of us who are the most passionate will be pacified into not thinking for one half of a split fucking second about what we do. It's all very depressing, and naturally those aren't even the only things going on in my personal life leading me to not even be able to enjoy my favorite thing in the world (wine is second). I don't know where I'd be without Andrew, Emma, and Jess.

Wah wah; oooh look here's a pretty beret!
It's a little big on me, but I'm pretty sure Jenn doesn't have the freakishly tiny head that I have, so I hope she enjoys it. It's a raspberry beret (finished a while ago just haven't posted it) in honor of my new home.

Hope all is better with you, and here's hoping the sudden influx of too-much-to-do with student teaching will make me revert to my usual obsessive knitting to deal with stress. Though is that much better? A la prochaine...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Some more embroidery

Here's a new one that incorporates a two herringbone stitch along the top and bottom and some asterisks along the side. Trying to get all fancy on you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mark My Works

Here's an embroidered tag that I created to add to whatever projects I give/sell to someone in the future. I used the font from the upcoming "Where the Wild Things Are" movie.

And fyi: I shortened my last name to match my shortened first name.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Knits, knits, knits and needles

Okay since our phone call yesterday, which was so extremely helpful and I can't thank you enough for explaining the Springtime Bandit chart to me, this is what I have so far.

Not gonna lie, I did have to frog it twice before I finally got through the start-up chart, but I definitely have the hang of it now. It's gonna be so pretty!

In other news, this is the hoard of needles I bought off ebay for ten bucks last week. They range from 1-15. I think the only way I'd feel more excited about getting a bunch of needles this cheap was if I got them for free, ahem haha. What kinds of needles did your grandma's collection include? I don't think you ever said.

I can't wait 'til my circulars arrive!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I am going to cast on for this beauty right now...It's totally inappropriate that I should be doing this, considering I have significantly decreased my needle supply since so many are in use right now.


And yet, like any true addict, I sat down, found this, unrolled some yarn, got the great math mind that is Carl to help me reduce its size for my yardage. And here I go!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Non-knitters say the darndest things

To inject a little humor into your day, here is a list of a few amusing quotes my obsession has incited. Most of the time, anonymity will be maintained to protect the naive:

"Why did the baby llama have to die for you to knit a tie?" While props for the poet-and-don't-know-it rhyme of this one, it is always a treat to run across someone who doesn't catch on right away to the idea that the animals are getting haircuts and not skinned. I've had the equivalent of this one more than once--including others who have claimed to have been told not to buy certain yarns because the age at which they shear them...kills them? What? Quickly dispelling this rumor is the only appropriate course of action, though the bleeding-heart naitvite is to be respected.

"I thought moth balls came from moths" This, along with its other variations of "Why are you freaking out, it's just a moth?" or "Why can't you put that in the washing machine?" stem not necessarily from the ignorance of the speaker, but from a cultural shift in which we have almost completely stopped wearing wool fibers, because of cost and ease of production (Why buy 1 really good sweater when we can buy 10? Woo-hoo consumerism!) so mostly introducing this person to the superiority of wool is the best course of action. Bonus: Take advantage of the green trend to note the better-for-the-environment properties of wool over oil-fabric. Burning Question: How exactly does one imagine a moth would go about creating a moth ball?

"Will you knit me a...hat, scarf, onesie, snuggie etc.?" Any knitter gets this--how have you handled it? This goes along with the related question "Why don't you sell your knitting?" (It should be noted that I think the whole "don't sell knitting you made with my pattern because its my copyright" thing is bullshit) I don't sell my knitting though, because I don't think the hours of work could ever really be compensated. Usually I just suggest the person pay for the yarn (totally fair, also ensures they choose it) and bring me over some wine to enjoy with them (which makes me also like them more and want to knit for them). Some people I just love so much they get knitted things without those two processes--they know who they are.

"I realized today that dreadlocks are felted hair" While wholly unique, and almost shocking in its perceptiveness, strange statements like this from non-knitters are to be revered and respected. People who apply knowledge learned from your knitting to everyday occurences have internalized respect for the knits. Keep them around. Also, statements like that are really funny.

OK, this one I'm just going to be frank and say that it was Andrew, but it's more of a reflection on his sense of humor and my lack of skill on skinny yarn. In response to my asking if I had joined a sock, in sockweight yarn, on size 0 needles without twisting it: "It looks like one of those Escher paintings". I clearly had a sneaking suspicion (OK, was 90% certain but wanted some validation, some sense of hope) that it was twisted, one never hopes one's knitting will be compared to an impossible object.

Well there you have it: Any silly phrases from your friends?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Strings n' Tings (but mostly strings)

I am glad to see that some finished objects have managed to emerge from your ADD bout; I, however, am still roaming aimlessly around the land of non-commitment. The thing is, though, that I really don't care. I just keep picking up yarn, scouring pattern sites, and casting on things and I haven't been remotely distressed about my lack of finished product. I blame it on the heat--oh damn, I haven't finished my tunic yet. As though I'd be wearing a 100% wool A-line with a long sleeve shirt underneath in 80 degree weather. Maybe when the heat is gone (literally), it'll be on (figuratively) for finishing these things up.

But in the meantime, there's no harm in taking a look at the many things that are lying around unfinished in my apartment.

First up: The Cabled Kanga Tunic. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why there are only 2 people knitting this on Ravelry (me included). I think it's one of the most unique pieces in the latest Knitscene, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. The yarn I chose was the Berroco Peruvia the pattern called for (not heinously expensive, by the way) and the color is the prettiest purple. It's practically a neutral its so muted, but when you're up close you can see the heathering of the yarn, and variations of pink, blue, and yellow come out. Gorgeous.

The pattern has been pretty easy thus far. Despite some ambiguity in when to decrease toward the top, it's been no problem. This is just the back of it though, which I have about 15 more rows on and it will be DONE and I can start the front, with the very exciting, very adorable pocket. So, of course, being this close to completing something, what do I do?

Cast on for this cowl. It's the State Fair yarn. The pattern is a lace repeat the is worked on decreasing needle sizes (8 to 7 to 6 to 5). Unfortunately the hairy mohairy-ness of it all is making it slightly difficult to keep track of where I am within the repeats, and I've had to frog some rows (the whole thing after the first repeat, ugh).

So that naturally being frustrating (though looking very pretty) I merrily moved along to this:This is my swatch for my Heather Hoodie Vest. In a freakish moment of luck, I got stitch gauge perfectly, but row gauge was slightly off. It shouldn't be a problem though, since the pattern is mostly based on measurements and blocking. In any case, I cast on for that, promptly got pissed at the cable pattern (a set up row mistake, plus lame symbols) and moved on. I don't have a photo of the scarf I've been knitting on the bus though (a post in itself) so maybe I will post that when I write about my bus experiences. Suffice it to say, another thing was in the mix. I also bought yarn/swatched for the Emerald Isle Cardigan, but my stitch gauge was way off, and that puppy is tight enough already.

Today, I am going to finish my second handwarmer, goddamit!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I tend suffer from project ADD most of the time, which means if something takes a long time, I am very likely to get bored of it after a while.

Exhibit A: The baby blanket.

Even though this should have only taken me about three days to make, working on it exclusively, it took me about two weeks due to boredom (though on day four and 3/4 of the way I realized that I had a huge fail side and frogged the whole thing and started again). The second time around everything was much straighter (I just kind of flopped it down to take a picture, so don't be mislead).

I still haven't decided if I'll put flowers or any other embellishments. I'm waiting for some inspiration. I have two months before I'll be seeing my cousin, so I definitely have some time.

I find the perfect remedes to project ADD are hats. They can be challenging and interesting and take much less time then other projects.

So I have two to show, though I've made four in the past three weeks (and some other things, but I'm waiting for pictures from the people I gifted them to).

First up: The Durango

I need to put up some embellishments on this one as well, but I don't think it looks unfinished without them. I usually prefer slouchier hats, but I like the vintagey-ness of this pattern.

Next: The Retro Rings Tam

I fell in love with this hat as soon as it was completed, no lie. I think the yarn is partly what did me in. I think its Red Hart: Collage. I totally missed a row while I was crocheting it, but I don't think it's lacking anything. I'll definitely be wearing it most of the time this fall.

I've decided to not allow myself to crochet for at least a month, because it's been ages since I've knitted.

First on my knitting list is this pretty vest.

That's all for now, hopefully next time I'll post all those things I gifted.

Friday, September 4, 2009


So knitting time has been greatly reduced lately by the insanity that is moving. We moved into a new apartment, subleasing from a professor. However the good thing about that is that I get my own space dedicated solely to my crafting. For starters, my sewing machine is finally set up.

Here it is in all its glory, surrounded by a mountain of my acrylic yarn, 99% of which I got for free from my grandmother. Unfortunately, none of it is really worth putting any significant time into it. However, I was able to crochet Andrew and his friend two pretty sweet Renaissance caps for the festival they're working at from the brown yarn (each during two wine-filled evenings).

In any case, it's not sweater or hat or really even scarf yarn. I'm thinking pom-pom rug.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

Next up we have a very special place for my actual stash, which is so beautifully remaining contained in a single tub of yarn, with my needle box on top of it (aka, the floor).

What has been knit with this recently though? Aha! Moving and unpacking also bring out things that got buried under mountains of stuff, and today's find was (*drum roll*) my first pair of socks, made of Cascade Yarn that I got in a local yarn shop during one of my "reconnaissance missions" (on sale) when I first moved here.

Naturally they're for Andrew, as I've been diligently working away on "pretty socks" for myself made out of sock weight yarn that will probably be finished some time in the next year. But I wanted to give some quicker socks a try and this is what I came up with.

I think he wears them well. Stay tuned for a tunic update.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Warning: this post is not about yarn or stuff made with it but about...


Yesterday, I returned home from Philly to find the embroidery kit I ordered from Sublime Stitching had arrived. Needless to say I was super excited.

I thought embroidery would be a neat thing to have a go at. I'd like to make some wall art, personalize some of my stuff, and possibly start creating tags for all the knitted/crocheted items I make for other people. Plus venturing out of your craft zone is never a bad thing in my book.

The kit comes with all this snazzy stuff, like a five inch embroidery hoop, those fancy pink scissors, a reusable pattern, embroidery needle and embroidery floss, a scroll to embroider on, and instructions to boot.

I paid $30 for it, which may sound steep to some, but I get to support an independent business. If I had bought all of this stuff separately (most likely at michael's too), they probably would have run some where around $20-$25 and would lack all the personality this kit has.

In the center there is an old pillow case I cut up to practice on. I'm in the process of figuring out how to make my lines really crisp and neat, while experimenting with different thicknesses of floss.

I guess we'll see where this takes me.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Minnesota State Fair

Yesterday I got the chance to go to the Minnesota State Fair on its first day. Naturally, my biggest motivation? Yarn. I got to see some other cool stuff, like baby pigs and 4-H kids' artwork (it took me back) but mostly the yarn was why I went.
My favorite yarn stop was the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association. One of the women who was selling yarn was there spinning, which only increased my unholy desire to get a spinning wheel and learn how to do it. (OK, that and the fact that raw wool is way cheaper than yarn). Here's her website. She's responsible for the handspun yarn on the far left. I'm not sure what the weight on it is, but I'm fairly certain it's in the DK range. It's 50% llama, 25% wool, and 25% mohair, and it's incredibly soft.

Next up we have some gorgeous merino from Fleecewood Farm, another local producer. It's undyed and also "DKish" in my opinion. Still need to do a wraps-per-inch test on it though.

Finally, there's another (I think) undyed, 100% shetland wool, which I'm pretty sure is worsted. It's from Honey Gold Acres.

Anyway, the excursion highlighted one of my favorite parts of knitting--knowing where the materials come from. Especially since these were very local yarns, I really enjoyed the connection with those around me (seeing the farmers, spinnres, etc). I've made it a goal of mine to stop buying fabrics/clothes that I don't know the source of. This should be easier once I get my sewing machine unpacked and working, but for now I have some fun yarns and cool future mittens/socks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

When good knitting goes bad...and somehow comes back again

This project epitomizes my hit-and-run knitting style. When I got back into knitting again (shout out, WMNST 401) I had my eye on it for awhile, and screwed it up several times in a sport weight acrylic, before honing in my skills enough to take my new-found "can do" attitude to the yarn store to find a "nice" yarn for my special project. The goal was the Argyle Lace Hat.

I picked myself up two skeins of Ella Rae Bamboo silk thinking it was "sport weight-y enough" and paying attention only to the fact that it was pretty colored and probably (still) the nicest feeling yarn I have ever worked with. First mistake. Who takes a pattern for a hat made out of 100% alpaca, substitutes it with silk and bamboo, and thinks this will be ok? Particularly when the hat is meant to retain a shape, as obviously as this one does.

Pattern calls for sizes 2 1/2 and 4 needles. Not having the grandmother-stocked needle collection I do now, I think, "3 and 5 are close enough". Gauge swatch? I think not.

Everything was going well enough and I was enjoying the softness and sheen of the yarn, impressing myself with my first lace chart project (and not screwing it up) even knitting while in the car, because I was just so confident. I barely had to pay attention.

Fast forward to the crown decreases, the excitement for my opus-hat is building. Everything goes fine until genius me, in a fatigued state induced by cross-country RV-tripping, reads "SSK, knit across" as "SSK across". Oh boy. Suddenly my fears of not having enough yarn disappear as the crown decreases about 25 rows too early. Still thinking I could do no wrong, I carried on, finally binding off a few minutes later.

And this is what I came up with.

By all means this should be the worst looking hat in the world. It's definitely not what's pictured, but I added in those conveniently matching buttons my mother had found and given to me, and I think it looks great. I've gotten tons of compliments on it. And of course, I only managed to do 2 pattern repeats in the lace since I decreased so early. Oh well, Nambooge, learn from my mistakes!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Whoa baby

Right now I'm attempting to crochet a baby blanket for my cousin's 6-month-old, Maya. I started sometime yesterday. I'm on second skein right now.

I used the Car Seat Baby Blanket on ravelry for inspiration. I chose to make a more traditional baby blanket, but I really liked the stitch pattern. And the color in the sample picture matched the yarn I just bought.

Here's the progress so far:

I like how lacy it looks. I plan on crocheting some flowers for it and possibly stitching 'Maya' on it. And I want to crochet the border in gray off-white too.

I can't wait to finish it.