Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Yarn Pyro

So I had this really great blog for you guys. It involved a mystery yarn out of my stash, and pictures, and a burn test video! It was going to be like a murder-mystery party!

And then I went and figured out what it was all on my own. Boo.

Three or four years ago, when I first learned how to knit, I went to Stitchy Women and bought the neatest yarn ever. It was pink and fuzzy. I loved it.


I didn't do anything with it. Well, I made an iPod case. But otherwise I didn't want to waste it when I knew it was waiting for a time when I'd have the skill to make it into something cooler than an iPod case. Like a hat! Or wrist warmers. But because I was a fool, I didn't keep the ball band. Years later, I had no clue what I had, or even how much I had.

I decided to be smart and use the scientific method. I did a WPI test. I got 6 wraps per inch, making it bulky. I did a burn test. All that really accomplished was my boyfriend saying "cool!" and me using a metal nail file to scrape the remains off my sink. But I took a video, and so you can watch that.

Look, I am such a cool blogger I make videos for you. (Things learned, by the way: never let your boyfriend be the last one to use the lighter.) Results? Inconclusive.

So I went online. I plugged in as much info as I thought I had to the Yarndex. Nada. I went on Ravelry, joined the Mystery Yarn group, and made a post. In order to amuse myself until somebody came and magically knew the answer to my question, I went looking through the yarn index on Rav, which I had just learned existed (well, or at least had learned how to navigate better). I slogged through 30+ pages. Amazingly, I found a yarn that looked like my yarn ... but it wasn't. My yarn wasn't variegated and this one was. I went to the manufacturer's page anyway and took a closer look. Nope. Wasn't that.

But on a hunch, I clicked through the rest of their yarns. When I got to the last one, I went "that's it." Except it didn't show up in the color I had. I went back on Rav, plugged it in, and took a look at everyone's stashes. Still none in my color, but I suppose that doesn't mean much, because if that isn't my yarn, I'll eat my hat. (Not my new hat, I like that one.)

By the way, I apparently don't know how to do WPI correctly, since according to Rav it's a DK at 11 WPI, not my measly 6. I knew there was a reason I didn't major in math.

So, ladies and gents, once upon a time ago, I'm pretty sure I bought Catnap by Artfibers. Ta-da!

Please don't be too disappointed that I took away the fun mystery from you. If you think I'm wrong, feel free to keep up the sleuthing! But for now, I'm going to gloat and feel like yarn's version of Sherlock Holmes.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Second Hat!

Once upon a really long time ago (hey, I'm young, four years is long) I learned how to knit, grabbed a pair of needles, grabbed a pattern, grabbed a yarn and made a hat that fit. Don't ask me how. I think the fiber arts gods were on vacation that week. Other than an utterly failed attempt at making another one for my sister, I haven't made a hat or hat-like object since, despite having Calorimetry queued for ages. (Holy gods, is that word impossible to spell.) What can I say, I'm afraid of doing something I haven't done before, no matter how cool the outcome.

On the plus side, I found my Klutz book yesterday. It was on the bookshelf underneath a shower caddy. Don't ask, I don't get it either. I finished the hat pattern in it in a few hours (less than five). I love it. I love that it was easy but looks cute. I love the yarn and wish I knew more about it, other than that it's 100% viscose, made in China, and 2.5 oz/71 g. (It came with the book.) No yardage or anything, but I was crocheting on gauge (yes, I swatched it out!) and the book says it uses 115 yards of DK yarn, so that's definitely a one skein wonder.


Ignore the dumb look on my face, by the way. I wear glasses, but I took them off in case it made for a better picture, and trying to take a picture of yourself by looking at the reflection of the viewfinder in your mirror is hard enough when you're not horribly near-sighted.

It's a little long on me, but I don't care because it covers my ears better and I think I look cute. (Plus, there is no way I'm going back and frogging any of it. My ends are woven in. Do you know how rare that is?) In the meantime, I'm looking for hat-appropriate DK yarns so I can make one for my sister and cousin. I'm open to all suggestions, but I know my sis doesn't do well with wool or angora. Ideally, I could do it in a worsted weight, but ... I'm scared of trying to figure that out. Do I get gauge and hope the bigger yarn doesn't make it too much bigger? I know people have made this hat with like, Simply Soft, so maybe I'll suck it up and ask them. I would gladly own ten of these hats.

Also, if you're here from Post Mortem, hi! I've got an ego-boost now, even though I think we may have turned into those people who read each other's blogs to boost reading stats. Not like I care.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of Catghans and Lost Books

Alas! So we finally pretty much completely unpacked me, which of course means that the one thing missing is one of my books! My Klutz Learn to Crochet book, actually, which is a little annoying because I really wanted to make the hat in it. It's probably packed in one of the boxes perilously perched in the closet now. Sigh.

Yes, I know that crocheted hats aren't exactly hard to make (or even design), but I liked that hat! Thankfully, I've found what I've decided will be a fair substitute: a hat by Kathy North (http://www.designsbykn.com/), who has made some lovely things for charity that she's put up on the Lion Brand group on Rav. She has some great free patterns up there for both knitting and crochet. There's also a really neat earwarmer that uses the PRETTIEST yarn, Caron Glimmer, which is apparently discontinued. Boo. I love blue with silver sparklies.

In other news, I have finished the catghans, all three of them. I am going to show you pictures of them. However, it is not my fault that the cats take up the majority of the space in my pictures! Look closely. You will see yarn.

Dorian photographs so well. He's such a haughty boy.

Phoebe is cuter than that, but she saw my hand and got excited that I was going to pet her. She's also sleeping in baby kitten's box. Oops.

I've also decided that I need to get rid of some of my stash. I inherited a lot of yarn without ballbands from the person that I bought a bunch of stuff off of freshman year, and while some has been used, most of it hasn't. And I keep buying more variegated acrylic (seriously, shut up, I like it) that I just haven't used because I saw it as "practice yarn". Well, no more. I am going to use it up in The World's Ugliest Stashbusting Afghan. I'm just throwing on a ball, crocheting until I'm done with it, then throwing on another one. No carefully matching colors, no striping, none of that crap. This thing will be hideous, super-functional, and amazing. The hope is that it will be queen-bed sized, though if I have that much acrylic, I might be slightly afraid. So far I have one row done. One. This is gonna take forever.

And then when I use up all the fun yarn, I can buy more pretty yarn, like trying to find blue with silver sparklies! I have a problem. I know.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Kittens, Acrylic and Catghans

Abandon all hope, Yarn Snobbes who enter here. But there will be talk of kittens. And maybe a picture.

Hey, guys. It's 5:53 AM and I can't sleep (whoo-hoo headaches). Much like drunk dialing, I am of the firm belief that nothing good comes out of early-morning blogging, especially when you haven't been to bed, but it's 5:53 AM and I can't sleep. Hence, I blog.

Well, and craft. I worked on the Comfort Shawl with a bit more dedication last night, and finally finished the first skein (minus the part at the end that unraveled when I moved the bunched-up yarn down the line. Hello fringe.). I know a lot of people hate Homespun, but I like it. Sure, it's a little annoying to work with if you want mindless crafting, but I don't mind looking down every once in a while. Keeps the neck active.

But I promised there would be kittens, and I guess I'll deliver, because I'm so nice like that. To make a long story short, my boyfriend sucks at surprises and caves and tells me because usually I guess it and he has no poker face or ability to lie to me. I'm getting a kitten in a few weeks. We've already got two cats, and I have another two that I grew up with living with my family, and I suppose I can count the one my mother adopted last year even though I've seen her maybe twice, because she has pounced on my face while I'm sleeping and if that's not a sign of cat ownership, I don't really know what is. If you're good at math, you've been counting and you'll see that in a few weeks, I will have somewhere between 5 and 6 cats. (My mother's cat is like the Schrödinger's cat of ... well, cat ownership.) That's a lotta cats!

Having not had a kitten in a while -- the sole boy kitty of this lot was four months when we adopted him -- I thought it might be nice to make it a little bed out of a cardboard box and a blanket. I was going to ask my boyfriend for a small spare blanket to use when I realized duh, I knit and crochet. And have a ton of acrylic. Stash-busting away!

This is important, so I am going to say it in all caps: I LIKE ACRYLIC YARN. Seriously. I have voluntarily bought acrylic yarn on many occasions, and used it. Now, don't get me wrong. I have also bought and been given other yarns that were not acrylic, and liked them and used them. But sometimes I'm scared to. I'm a knitter who doesn't know how to do a yarn-over, for Pete's sake. I have to frog sometimes and I don't want the yarn to look less pretty when I do.

Let's face it, shall we? Acrylic is cheap and forgiving. Some of it is really nice and soft! It can be washed and dried with little fuss. My cats can puke on it or chew on it and I wouldn't feel terrible about throwing it out. I also love variegated yarn -- have I totally alienated all of you with this, by the way? Since my nearest good yarn store is half an hour away, I can get cheap variegated acrylic in town. And I have done this, repeatedly. Right now I have four full skeins of Red Heart Super Saver and partial balls that I inherited from a friend that are likely the same.

But I haven't been using it. While a lot of me is going "Yay cheap! Yay, I can make a really awesome bright pink blanket! Or a rainbow coaster!" another part of me is going "But it's going to look like a Care Bear threw up on it. It's not all that soft. People will look at it and run screaming away or lie and tell me they like it even as they're suppressing the gag reflex."

But ... so what? Apparently it takes a 5:00 AM realization of "Why the heck should I care?" If somebody really wants to come up to me and criticize my choice of yarn, I will smile, show them the nearest exit, and throw scrap yarn at them. My cats don't care about the color or type of yarn I use to make them blankets. If a thing has a useful function, it doesn't matter how it looks or what people think of it. Clearly, a genius breakthrough, and enough to get me to break out a Super Saver skein (variegated, of course) and a crochet hook and get crackin'. I have three catghans to make, after all.

(By the way, I would like to think that I am clever enough to have invented the word "catghan", but I know I am not. But let's pretend, because I'm tired and cranky and have acrylic I can throw at you if you disagree.)

Of the cats that do or will be living with me, one is a boy, one is a girl, and one is a who knows? Well, we have an idea, but in case it's wrong I won't sweat it. Because I feel like it, I'm being gender stereotypical and making them in "girl"/"boy" colors. One will be pink. One will be camouflage. And one will probably be rainbow. Not like the cats will actually pay attention to which is their assigned catghan, but I like color and would get bored working them all the same.

Because you've been such a good reader, I shall now introduce you to Baby Kitty. Please notice the barcode on the top of the head, as I have been told this means that it is Satan. Duh, it's a cat. Satan is a collective feline middle name.

"I can has gender time now pleez?" "No, you are two weeks old and we can't tell if those are testicles or not."

A la the Yarn Harlot, I will now shamelessly ask people to guess its gender. This may all be a ploy to make people comment and see if anyone is actually reading. Screw it, it's totally a ploy. The colors of the catghans will not help you! Name, gender, and catghan will all be revealed when we get it and know for sure.

Thrilling, I know. And potentially more humiliating than drunk dialing, because all of this is written down and you can read it whenever you want. My acrylic may squeak with shame, but I do not.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More sock news!

I live in a kind of not-big-on-the-industry state (::coughcough::Vermont::cough::). There's a local yarn store half an hour away, but I don't drive and there's no public transportation there. Generally, unless I want to order it online, my local options are Wal-mart, K-mart, Big Lots, Michael's, and Jo-Ann's. Lately I've been scouring the last two in hopes of finding Lion Brand's new sock yarn, Sock-ease, but no luck.

Until today.


Okay, it's not Sock-ease! It's Red Heart's Heart & Sole. I haven't seen anything claiming to be sock yarn in any of these stores, so when I came across some today in Michael's, my jaw dropped. I walked right past it at first, because there was so little of it there. There were only 3 skeins of the particular color I got, so I feel bad for whoever else sees that yarn and wants to make a pair. I thought about buying the third, but $5 for 50 grams of yarn (while a good sock yarn price) gave me enough pause for my boyfriend to point me in the direction of the checkout line and out I went.

Then I had to go back to Jo-Ann's and get US size 1 and 2 DPNs. I have size 3 and size 5 already, but I want to be sure to make gauge here. If a yarn can look pretty and all I have to do is get a certain stitch count per inch, I'm all for that.

What about that other sock you were knitting, you ask? Shhh. Shhh. It's alright. I'll just keep the yarns apart and they won't fight.

(Don't tell the other sock I'm frogging it. It won't understand.)