Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finished Objects: Azapa Scarves

Azapa scarves are done! (Well, okay, they were done a few days ago but I was too lazy to get the pictures up.) In time for both Hanukkah and the recent cold snap we had -- the morning after I gave them, we were in the single digits!

Pattern: Pattern, what pattern? Seriously, I cast on 28 stitches using the long-tail method, knit 3 rows, *knit 3 purl 22 knit 3, knit across*, repeated from ** until it was long enough, then knitted 3 rows. Easy!
Yarn: Araucania Azapa in color #819 Malted Cocoa, I couldn't even begin to tell you! 3+ skeins for both scarves.
Needles: Boye interchangeable set, size US 9 & Susan Bates 14" size US
Timeline: 11.1.09-12.13.09
Modifications: Well, I made up the pattern!

Opinion: Azapa continues to impress me as a yarn. It blocked quite nicely. I originally knitted the scarves to about 60" x 7", and they blocked to about 78" x 8".

Random Thoughts: If doing this again, I would probably alternate skeins from the beginning of the project. The skeins are different enough that it's tough to get an exact match. Some of them had a lot more red than the others, for example.

Also, I can't tell them apart!


Scarf #1.


Scarf #2 ... I think.

Oh, and guess what I learned how to do?


I was just playing with practicing, so it has no actual pattern or anything, but I'm impressed with myself! I used two great videos from YouTube to teach myself how to knit with a strand in each hand: this Knitting Daily clip with Eunny Jang (who I may officially have a knitting crush on) and this video from KnitPicks.

Now if only I could find where the heck I put the Binary Scarf pattern!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

IWTMT: Dipped Infinity Scarf

Introducing IWTMT: I Want To Make This. I'll be featuring cool patterns that I really, really want to make. Some may be mainstream, but some are hidden gems.

This week's IWTMT is the Dipped Infinity Scarf from cosmicpluto knits! I won't link the picture since I don't have her permission to, but pleasepleaseplease go look at it and love it like I do. It's worked with different colors of fingering-weight yarn and it looks dip-dyed.

There's even a kit out for it from Tanis Fiber Arts. I need this in blue or green.

It's not often I want to shell out money for a pattern or kit, but I'd scrimp and save for these!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Vant to Suck Your Blood

Your blood-red yarn, that is.

I signed up for an appointment to donate blood next Tuesday. There's this big marathon-type thing going on, and since I get out of work early on Fridays, it seemed perfect. Only problem? I haven't successfully donated blood in three years.

I tend to get deferred for a high heart rate -- though who wouldn't be at least a little nervous in a situation like that? I've tried several times, and no go. I've decided to bring my iPod and start a new charity hat, since knitting is soothing (when I do it right). And if it turns out I can't donate, at least I'll have gotten something productive done.

And, if I do donate, I think I'm going to reward myself for helping to alleviate my donor issues. I'm thinking beautiful blood-red yarn. What's the nicest blood-red yarn you've used? I'd love to try a yarn I haven't used yet -- maybe Malabrigo? Something in a lace-weight, even? Mmm, possibilities. Any tips on keeping calm while waiting? Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Very First Knit

That's right, your special treat for today is to see what my very first knit looks like. I was putting stuff away the other night and found my first scarf, which has mostly been used as a draft blocker these days. I look back on it in shame, but now you get to look at it and laugh, so it's all good.

First, a little background. I inherited some knitting and crocheting supplies back in October of 2004 (aka before YouTube). I looked up how to knit on the internet. I was working with Red Heart Super Saver. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Red Heart, but it was basically a recipe for disaster. I think these were knit on some size 15s I bought from Stitchy Women, which was my local yarn store at college. (Yeah, I went into a yarn store, bought nice bamboo needles, and worked this up on them. No, I don't know why either.)


Hey, it's not that bad! I like the colors, it's kind of funky ... wait, what's that at the bottom?


Ah, yes. The abort-o-fringe. Why I decided on fringe, I don't know. Why I decided on inch-long fringe ... I must have been drinking.

I still wore it, because it was MY FIRST PROJECT OMG and I was a KNITTER. I imagine back then I even probably loved it. I also made a matching hat.


(The hat came out a lot better.)

It also has a hole in it. I don't know how that happened.


Well. I went on to knit many other pieces of crap, but this holds a special place in my heart for being the very first.


A special, locked-up-so-no-one-can-see-it place.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time for some changes!

I've been thinking that the blog needs a new name for a while now. I mean, you read "Nitzie's Nutty Knitting Blog" and maybe you think I'm crazy. Or that I only knit (untrue). It's kind of limiting, actually. I mean, what if I branch out into scrapbooking or something? Ain't no way I'm making a new blog for that. I have enough trouble updating this one.

Part of the trouble is coming up with a new name -- after all, you see what a bang-up job I did the first time around. I'm the kind of kid who came up with the dorkiest names for bands, like the time the Northeast had a huge power outage and I decided "Niagra Blackout" was a good name for a band. (Well, I think it is, but maybe not for the blog.) I have difficulty titling poems too. Ugh. Anyway, at some point this name is outta here. I plan on keeping the URL the same, just because I'm lazy.

Anyway, suggestions are much appreciated. I started brainstorming, but all I could come up with was Panopticon, and no wonder it sounds familiar, it's already a crafting blog. I don't even have the guts to plagiarize consciously. Maybe I'll just steal a line from one of my poems, and then no one would have any clue what kind of blog this is.

I finished a hat.


Pattern: Ann Budd's Basic Hat pattern for a 20" head circumference at a gauge of 4 st/inch
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft, blue & gray (probably Country Blue or Dark Country Blue and Grey Heather) held together, less than one skein each (I can't find the scale to measure)
Needles: Boye interchangeable set, size US 9 for ribbing, 10 for the body; Takumi Clover DPN set, size 10 for decreases
Timeline: 11.14.09-12.7.09
Modifications: I accidentally knitting the ribbing to 3" instead of 2". But we'll get into that.

Opinion: The third basic hat I've made. I think it's a great pattern to use, especially for these charity hats I'm making.

Random Thoughts: You know, you think that by the time you've done something twice already, you might think "hey, maybe I should read the instructions real carefully just in case" but no, I'm just an idiot who likes to go full steam ahead. I started the thing in k2p2 rib, which seemed fine until it was done and fit on my husband's head. Yeah, not made for his big melon. I ended up ripping the ribbing and reknitting it, which was something I'd never done before -- usually when I rip, I rip from the top so all the stitches are oriented the same way. I think it looks fine, especially since the ribbing will probably be folded up anyway. Of course, having already made the first mistake, I then knit the ribbing to 3" instead of the book's recommended 2". In my defense, I'd originally thought I was supposed to knit it to 7". Did I mention that I have some awful reading comprehension? (Or lack of reading the pattern at all.) It seems like it will fit someone, at the very least. I figure they will find a head for it.

Oh, by the way, this is Sally's blog debut! I am seriously hoping Sally is just small-headed and the hat isn't like bag-sized. I still need to wash it; maybe that will help.

Poor kid who gets it. I'll probably do better next time.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Craft Fail

Today we're going to have a pictureless, whiny post in the spirit of keeping me blogging. Just what you wanted to read, right?

I've been sitting here thinking about all the projects I have going on, and those I want to start, and it's a little overwhelming!

1. Araucania Azapa scarves -- I started the first one with the remains of the second skein leftover from the second hat, then had to wait for a third skein to keep going. Then I started to run out of that one, so I went to the store and bought 2 more skeins to start the second scarf to get it up to where the first scarf is. I just measured them both and the second scarf is about a hundred rows behind the first and I'll definitely need the fifth skein! (Did you follow all that?) Once I catch the second one up, I'll divide the leftovers and finish each scarf with its own mini-ball. Oh man, these need to be done now.

2. Charity hat -- I knit a few rows when I get a chance. Turns out I misread the ribbing instructions and did it in a 2x2 rib, which I think is cute but is a little loose -- this hat is the 21" size and fits on my 22" head. Oops. Once I finish the top, I'll probably frog the rib and knit it on a smaller needle size. Maybe I'll even go for a smaller needle and 1x1 rib. Sigh. English major's reading skills for the lose.

3. Hubs' binary scarf -- Poor hubs. He puts up with me so well. He bought me a spinning kit for Valentine's Day this year and I bought him the yarn to make the Binary Scarf. It's been in my Ravelry queue since January 27th. I keep getting distracted by things like summer and Noro Striped Scarves and making stuff for other people. But I've promised him once I'm done with these Azapa scarves, his is the next project I start.

4. Socks. One day.

5. Lace. Maybe the next day.

6. My project binder. Actually, I've been keeping up with this, putting swatches in and stuff. I even bought hole protectors for it, but I can't find my hole puncher. The universe is laughing at me.

7. Mother-in-law's present. The math on this went wonky and while I'm sure I can figure it out very easily, I have a hissy fit when I'm in the same room as math.

8. Holiday presents. Let's just say no one's getting them. I had a goal of making one of my work colleague's a coffee cozy, but then I decided all the ones I found wouldn't work so I started brainstorming and am now in the process of designing one. She'll probably just get a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts or something, but I do plan on actually writing up a pattern and offering it at some point. After I finish my husband's scarf. Maybe. I love you, honey.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Language of the Craft

I've always loved language: loved learning bits and pieces of new languages, loved figuring out my native tongue. I've taken Spanish, Italian and Chinese in a school setting, and tried to teach myself French and Welsh. I have degrees in English and writing. I love language.

But what I especially love is what I call regional dialect -- what people call things and how they pronounce them. I'm from Connecticut, born and raised in the same house for the first eighteen years of my life. It wasn't until I was in college that I met people who called soda "pop" and sneakers "tennis shoes". As it is, I married a Massachusetts-Vermont-Michigan hybrid who calls a water fountain a "water bubbler" and chocolate sprinkles "jimmies". (But at least he still calls it soft-serve!)

Until I started crafting, I didn't realize that there were other ways to pronounce words I thought were pretty clear to say. I'm still not entirely sure what the difference between a hank and a skein is. One of my pet peeves is people calling yarn wool -- up until I posted this on a Ravelry thread, I had no idea yarn was called wool in other countries! To me, wool is a specific fiber. I can go into a store and say "I'm looking for the wool" and the associate can lead me straight to it, Merino to Icelandic and all the kinds in between. How does one differentiate this in another country? Obviously "I'm looking for the acrylic" is still pretty easy to say and understand, but do you have to say "wool wool" when looking for sheep product? Fascinating! (And I have no idea what the answer is.)

If you crochet, you probably already know that the terminology is a bit different across the pond. This article takes a quick and interesting look at the differences: for example, what I would call a slip stitch is a single crochet in UK notation. There do tend to be standard symbols for charts, but I don't tend to work from charts, so knowing your terminology is helpful!

However, possibly my favorite crafting term is worsted. Worsted. Oh, worsted. I think it's no mistake you have the word "worst" tucked away in there.

First, an interesting fact, and entirely not the reason I have a love-hate relationship with the word: did you know that worsted can refer to the way a yarn is spun? Had no idea! I read about it in one of Clara Parkes' books.

When I think of worsted yarn, I think of worsted-weight: that nice, kinda middle-of-the-road stuff that knits up pretty quick without having to use broomsticks for needles. It's probably my favorite yarn weight, and I know I'm not alone. In fact, plenty of people I know go on and on about their woostered-weight yarn.

Wait a second, hold the phone. Woostered? Well, if you moved the r and added a few extra vowels, I guess I can see how you get that. There's actually a linguistics term for this switching of syllables: metathesis. If you've ever heard a little kid call spaghetti "psketti", or the infamous "nuculer", that's metathesis.

It makes me wonder. Is woostered an example of metathesis, or is it accent-based? After all, there's Worcester Massachusetts, which to me should be pronounced "wor-chest-er" but is actually pronounced "wooster". I have no idea why. (Then again, I lived in Kuh-neh-ti-cut!) Is woostered a regional thing?

It's times like this I think about what a great paper topic this would have made. :)

(EDIT: I spelled Worcester with an "h". Oops!)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Crazy for Crochet

I did learn how to knit first, and generally prefer the look of a knitted garment, but let's face it: crochet can certainly be faster and easier! (And it can be a great way to eat up stash.) The other day I was taking pictures in the craft room and decided to try to document past and present projects. Today I'll share 3 projects in various stages.

WARNING: There will be a project in the shape of some female internal organs, but I'll put that one last.

#1: DSC03435

As usual, I have to be careful with what I say about #1 because it's a gift and the possibility exists that the recipient may stumble upon this blog! I need to get cracking on this one. I will say that I love working with a yarn that has so many colors in it!

#2: DSC03444

Ah, #2. This one's been on hiatus for a while. This is the Liquid Gold Chain Mesh Scarf designed by Kathy North. I thought it would make a great holiday scarf, but for whatever reason I had to go up like 4 hook sizes to get gauge, so I'm probably not doing it right. I'll probably rip it out soon since I would like to have it for winter -- it's so sparkly!

WARNING! You're about to see a crocheted uterus. :) Scroll no further, ye faint of heart!

#3: DSC03454

#3 is the Uterus Menstrual Cup Cozy Pattern designed by kelguen. I'm not going to get much into menstrual cups or alternative menstrual products here, but if that's something you're interested in learning more about, I'm going to refer you to the Wikipedia page on them and also the DivaCup & Lunapads websites.

It's basically a cute little drawstring bag in the shape of the uterus. :D You can use it to carry menstrual products, loose change, or whatever your heart (or uterus) desires. A quick & cute project that I would make again.

So that's all for today! I hope you've enjoyed a look at some of my crochet projects!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Qiviut & Florida & Fifty?

You may be wondering what the heck the three words in the title have to do with each other. All in good time, dear readers. All in good time.

Hubs & I jaunted down to Florida last week in a joint vacation/celebration of our first wedding anniversary. It was quite nice and relaxing, once I felt better! I came down with a cold or something right before we left, so I had no energy. No energy to pack, no energy to go out, and no energy to try to find something project-y and small that would fit in my luggage. Suffice it to say I did not knit or crochet in Florida. I'd read about a yarn store in Palm Harbor (where we were), but either their hours and our hours didn't mesh, or I just didn't feel up to going out.

A week passed, and suddenly it was the day before we left. Knowing I'd regret it if I didn't go, Hubs bundled me into the car and I dutifully plugged the store's address into our handy-dandy GPS system, which then proceeded to not get us there several times. Certain it didn't exist anymore, I was ready to give up. Hubs called and asked where they were. (Duh.)

We eventually found the place: Uncommon Threads in Palm Harbor. (Okay, so it's not the most updated of websites, but if we'd bothered paying more attention we would have known it was behind Outback Steakhouse! Oops.) It was a cute little store that used white milk crates as shelves. I saw a lot of fun yarn there that I haven't seen too much (or at all) up here, including Malabrigo, Flat Feet (which were sooooo tempting), and qiviut.

If you're like me and don't really know what qiviut is, I provide you with this handy Wikipedia link. (Please don't tell my English profs! I know it's not a reliable source!) I'd read up on it a little but hadn't had the chance to actually touch it before. Hubs actually came and found me in the store and dragged me over to touch the sample. It doesn't feel that soft in the skein, but it softened up considerably in that swatch! Since it was our last day in Florida and I didn't have a lot of money left (nor any idea what I was going to do with it), I bought one skein of Jacques Cartier -- well, I'm not sure what it's called, but it's floating around on Ravelry as Qiviuk Majestic Blend. It's a little laceweight blend of silk, qiviuk and merino. (There are also apparently like 10,000 ways to spell qiviuk/qiviut/whatever.)


Isn't it pretty? I think I went into a coma because while I remember going to the cash register and paying for it, when I got to the car and opened the bag, I went "I got THAT color?" Heh. No idea what I'm going to do with it, but do you really need to know? Nope.

(So that explains the first two words in the title. Happy fiftieth post, blog!)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thanks, Ann Budd & Yarn Harlot!

Hat #1 made from the Araucania Azapa is finished! (Well, except for weaving in the ends, but whatever. You can tuck them up in the hat to take pictures.) I ended up mashing up two patterns, the Basic Hat from Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's No-Pattern Hat from Knitting Rules!. I used Budd for the basics of the ribbing and body, and used McPhee's "Type A" decrease strategy to create a wonderfully custom-fit hat for my colleague. Now that I have all the little details figured out, hat #2 should be a breeze to knit up.

I may also have a hard time taking this thing off my head and giving it to my pal.


Isn't it adorable! She's planning on wearing it with the ribbing down, so I had to frog back some of the body of the hat so it wouldn't be too big.

Pattern: Ann Budd's Basic Hat pattern for a 21" head circumference at a gauge of 4 st/inch, with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's No-Pattern Hat's "Type A" decreases
Yarn: Araucania Azapa in color #819 Malted Cocoa, less than one skein
Needles: Boye interchangeable set, size US 9 for the body; Takumi Clover DPN set, size 9
Timeline: 9.29.09-10.9.09
Modifications: Obviously, the mash-up of two patterns. I did not knit the body of the hat as long as Budd suggested since the recipient will wear it in a different fashion. I didn't like how Pearl-McPhee's method left me with 14 stitches to draw together, so I did an addition K2tog row, leaving me with 7 stitches to draw together. (Not symmetrical, but it eased my mind a bit!)

Opinion: The original hat pattern I chose was for worsted-weight, but since Azapa is heavier I decided just to go with a custom-fit hat, and I'm glad I did. It's super-cute, fits well, and looks good. I'm going to have fun making a second, and I want to make one for myself!

Random Thoughts: It reminds me somewhat of a fisherman's watchcap. I think it's the ribbing! Also, it's really hard to take a picture of the top of your head.


Friday, September 25, 2009

A Bloggish Milestone

Happy 1000 hits, blog! While I'm sure that 501 of those hits are from me, it still pleases me to know that 499 spambots visit the page occasionally. Thanks, spambots!


When I write in my personal blog, I tend to "dump": aka I write about everything that's on my brain. I don't compartmentalize or break it up at all. Since the blog is private and about my life, and since life happens just about every day, I figure I won't exactly run out of things to write about. But in a crafting blog, I have to resist the urge to dump. I am seriously like a five-year-old returned from kindergarten: "I want to tell you about this, and this, and then this happened and lookit me!" And that, I think, just isn't fun to read. I don't know about you, but I've started getting annoyed with long news articles -- just get to the point! If I have to scroll, forget about it! (You haven't had to scroll yet, have you? Thanks for sticking around.) Hence, I try to break things up so I have more to blog about in smaller portions. However, often this leads to me forgetting what I was going to post, since I also have the attention span of a five-year-old fresh from kindergarten. And then I don't blog, 'cause I don't have anything to blog about. It's a vicious cycle.

Anyway, the point of all this is that I finished my NSS #3 yesterday because I went to the yarn store and managed some social interaction and yet also managed to knit enough that I was able to finish when I got home. I went to the yarn store (are you seeing the logical break for new blog entry here?) because of one of my work colleagues. She's a lovely woman who has been nothing but incredibly nice and patient and helpful to me and, miracle of miracles, she thinks I'm a good knitter and wants me to make her a hat. (Blessed lady obviously doesn't knit.)

(You've had to scroll by now. You still with me? [And have I mentioned that I adore parentheses? And apparently brackets. What comes after brackets?])

ANYWAY, we went to the yarn store yesterday, and she petted, and, because she is a lady of supreme taste, she picked some Araucania Azapa in malted cocoa, and that stuff is not particularly inexpensive, and I'm kind of geeking out because this is really nice soft yarn and it's got merino and alpaca and silk and and and -- I'm five. Seriously.

I'd sent her some hat patterns and she chose a nice easy one but it was in worsted weight and Araucania is not exactly worsted, I have some fudging to do. I think it's going to involve math. Crap!

Did I mention she wants one for her daughter too?

(If I write it down, maybe I'll remember to blog about my Christmas list in the yarn store. I'll title that one "How I Managed To Stretch One Day Into Three Blog Posts".)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NSS #3


I do so love my Noro Striped Scarves.

Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf as popularized by Jared Flood of BrooklynTweed.
Yarn: Noro Kureyon, 2 skeins each of color 149 & color 211.
Needles: Boye interchangeable set, size US 7.
Timeline: 7.10.09-9.24.09
Modifications: I used Noro Kureyon instead of Silk Garden. I also only alternated two colorways, not three. (Actually, I've done this in all my NSSs. [That's a lot of s-es.])

Opinion: Well, I've made three! I continue to love the pattern. The neutral colorways were a big shift for me, because I love bright colors, but I'm glad I chose them because they're very classy and the scarf could easily go on a number of people. I'm sure I'll make more.

Random thoughts: I have no idea who this scarf is for! I bought the yarn and started it without thinking "this is for me" or "this is for so-and-so". I just had to make it. I wove in the ends today after I finished it. I have a scarf that is months and months old that I haven't woven the ends in yet! All I need to do is wash and block a little, but this scarf is effectively done.


Maybe I will just keep it for myself. :)

(Oh, and I'm totally getting better at taking pictures of myself in my bathroom.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ravelry Dork

So here's a total dork moment for you: the picture of my earflap hat is being displayed on the pattern's Rav page!

For those of you not in the know, Ravelry has pages for designers, yarns, and patterns, often with user-submitted pictures for the latter two. It's a neat way to see a pattern right off the bat in a couple of different types and colors.

Granted, this isn't the first time one of my pics has been used on a project page. I made a Basic Diamonds (Ravelry link) dishcloth from Leisure Arts #3824 Kitchen Bright Dishcloths & that pic is still being featured. (And I'm quite proud of it!) But there's something about that hat -- it was tough, and I loved that yarn to pieces, and ... well, it's not a dishcloth.

Sure, it's not exactly a superstar pattern, but I'll take it while I can get it.

(Rav link to the Earflap Hat Pattern Generator from The Knitting Fiend.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lake Champlain's Quadricentennial

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Champlain's "discovery" of Lake Champlain, Green Mountain Fibers in Rutland, VT is hosting a "Four Hundred Years of Green Mountain Fibers" event this weekend. I was able to sneak in this weekend and it was lovely to see so many people turn out for the many activities going on. My main interest was the dying workshop, and as I was waiting for the yarn to prep, I was treated to a one-on-one spinning wheel demonstration! Fun, but definitely still frustrating. I haven't taken out my drop spindle in months. One of my options for Christmas is a wheel, and it was nice to get the opportunity to see if it would even be worth it for me. Not sure ... at least it still looked like yarn most of the time!

Once the sock yarn was ready, a couple of us commenced the "class", which mostly consisted of "go at it!" My "lab partner" was a lot more relaxed about it. I like to follow directions, but it was taking forever so I just started splashing dye on and hoping it wouldn't suck. We used dyes from the Ewe Dye It kit from My Favorite Thimble, which GMF is now carrying. It was a fun low-immersion method that wasn't complicated at all. Considering I have never dyed yarn before, I'm pretty happy with how it came out!


Actually, that doesn't really do it justice. This is my favorite shot of all the ones I took:


Isn't that fun? It's sock-weight. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. Maybe I'll actually try socks!

Since I already had the camera out, I decided to take some shots of the Crapghan, which is much farther along than the last time I showed it.


See that greenish strip towards the top? That's the Bernat Glow in the Dark yarn. I think it's seasonal; I found it around Halloween at Michaels. It really does glow, too! Sorry, no night shots.

And, since I'm in a sharing mood, here's a sneak peek at my latest Noro Striped Scarf. So neutral ... so unlike that sock yarn I dyed!


It's been a fun fiber-filled weekend. Have a good one!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Twitter Knitter

Hubs has been continuing to work on the craft room. Today he is (hopefully!) going to paint the closet, which will make it all painted. We do need to rent a rug cleaner for the two spare bedrooms, but we've already moved some stuff into there anyway and I've spent the past few days organizing my big plastic containers. I bought them when I went to college and for the most part all they contain are old bank statements that I'd never opened! Now I'm going through them and shredding them. It's amazing how much space that clears up. I'll hopefully have pictures soon.

In the meantime, I went and got a knitting Twitter account. You can follow me there at norolinde, which is also my Ravelry name. I'm hoping it will encourage me to blog more often, and it's been fun updating it with content that's really too short for a whole post.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Well, no, it's actually not. Not at all. This is the first warm, sunny day we've had in a while. But the title seemed apt for this post.

Since April, I've been working on a surprise present for a pregnant co-worker. This thing got shoved under the bed and forgotten about after we moved in May, and I very recently realized that while the blanket was not even halfway done, the baby was more than halfway done! This has led to some frantic weeks of knitting, but, amazingly, I got the thing done before the baby got here.

Of course, in the moving process, you lose everything, especially if you haven't really unpacked any of it yet, and in my case, that means I couldn't find a single yarn needle to weave my ends in with. I also couldn't find my interchangeable needle set or my crochet hooks, both cases which I knew contained yarn needles. So I had to go out and buy some more, upping my yarn needle count to something like 20,000 or so.

Last night hubs and I went to the laundromat to wash the blanket. I was terrified. I've hand-washed knitted items before, but never machine-washed any. However, I knew the item needed to be cleaned, and if it was going to fall apart after all my hard work, it might as well happen to me. However, my knitting apparently doesn't suck and it came out just fine.


I took some not-awesome pics last night since I knew I had to wrap it up and give it today, otherwise I would have tried harder. But hey, it shows the blanket. It didn't suck. And the recipients didn't seem to hate it, either. :)

Pattern: Reversible Basketweave Blanket by Chrissy O'Malley of Yellow House Designs
Modifications: None. I followed this pattern pretty much to the letter, including number of basketweave repeats: 17.
Needles: Boye interchangeable set, size 5 (I knit loosely)
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease, color stone, a little over 3 skeins. I joined new yarn at the edges of rows and ran out of my third skein with five finishing rows of seed stitch to go.

Opinion: This made a very nice blanket. I had some issues with the pattern, but that's because my brain was not at a problem-solving stage at that point, and I can rely blindly on a pattern even when it doesn't make sense to me. The yarn felt nice and washability was the biggest draw for me. I think it washed and dried very well. I would make this pattern again.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gotta Love Michaels!

This is going to be a semi-cryptic post, because yet again I'm making something for someone who doesn't know about it.

A little over two months ago I purchased the yarn for this gift at Michaels. I bought 3 skeins of one color and one of another, thinking I was going to make two presents and wanting to give myself options. Well, I decided on one project and have been working on it for ... well, two months. I realized the other day I was not going to have enough yarn in color #1. Even if I went back to the store, what were the odds of them having the same dye lot? I headed in tonight with my receipt and my errant skein, hoping for some kind of miracle.

First of all, Michaels has revamped its yarn section since the last time I was in there. Because I had a time limit, unfortunately I couldn't take my time looking through the aisles. I located my yarn -- only 3 skeins in the color I needed.

I checked the first one. No go on the dye lot. I felt dejected. Seriously, two months later? Who was I kidding? But because it would have been silly not to have checked the other two, I did. Jackpot! Skein #2 was a dye lot match. The lady at the front was quite nice and we did a clean exchange. And now I have enough yarn to finish this project. Now to find the motivation ...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Triumphant Return To Blogging ... Not


Yet again, I've let this blog languish for two months. The only thing I have to say in my defense is that I'm lazy. Well, and I've been in the process of moving. Changed hours at my job led to an increase in cash flow and that meant hubs and I could afford a bigger place. We're now renting a 3-bedroom fixer-upper. It took us 21 days alone to get completely out of the old place, and we're not even unpacked here! Let's just say it's been a process.

One of the benefits to this bigger place, though, is the fact that I get my own spare bedroom, which is going to be a craft room. :) We have to paint it, though, and it's third or fourth on the painting priority list. Once that's up and running I hope to do a lot more crafting (and blogging).

Maybe I'll even weave in the ends on that scarf I finished back in April.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Thankfully, not the biting or stinging kind, but the kind that's an awesome color on the hat you just finished making.


We'll ignore the fact that it's pretty much warm enough now not to need an earflap hat. It's so darn cute I'm going to wear it anyway.

Pattern: Earflap Hat Generator
Needles: US 7 (16" circular on my Boye set and DPN)
Yarn: Schaefer Miss Priss in colorway "Bugs!". I had 24 grams leftover.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April is the cruellest month

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month?

I haven't written a poem in what must be almost a year. Part of this is due to what we like to term "real life," which involves work and doing chores and socializing and sleeping and that's about it. Who has time for a multitude of hobbies these days? But I think a lot of it is due just to life. You know, that thing you live every day.

Life is full of stuff, even if sometimes you feel empty. You work, you sleep, you play, you do your hobbies. Things you used to love fall by the wayside, and things you once thought you couldn't stand you now find yourself enjoying. Recently I've thrown myself into knitting and crocheting, and because of that, other things I loved to do I ... well, don't. Not now.

These things are reading. Singing. Writing. I made a conscious decision to focus on fiber-craft, but at the expense of my other hobbies. It's easy to read a magazine while waiting in the doctor's office, and it's simple to sing along a little in the car, but writing poems has never come to me like that. It's not a five-minute task. It takes creativity, time, and effort: three things I haven't felt like I've had in a long time.

My goal for April is to write one poem. Just one. I used to write at least a couple a month. Not all were any good, mind you, but at least I was writing them. For a multitude of reasons, recently life has kept me from living.

My challenge to you is the same. One poem. You can "write" it however you like. It would be neat if you wrote it in words, like I'm planning, but you don't have to. You can write it in paints or pictures or yarn if you like. Just make something beautiful that has meaning to you.

By this, and this only, we have existed
Which is not to be found in our obituaries
Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider
Or under seals broken by the lean solicitor
In our empty rooms

(Apologies to T.S. Eliot for appropriating his great opening line from "The Waste Land", but it just seemed appropriate. So did that last stanza.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

21st Birthday In London!

There is a project that I've been working on that I've been (mostly) avoiding talking about here because it was a surprise for the recipient and I didn't want her stumbling across it and finding out. Today she got it and opened it, so I can't wait to blog about it!

A bit of backstory, however. I am not 21, nor am I in London, so obviously the title refers to my sister, who is in fact now that age in that place at this exact moment. I am very jealous. Months back, as I was completing my own Noro Striped Scarf, I decided I wanted to make her one because turning 21 in London was such a special thing.

Not in Kureyon, since she'd probably find it too scratchy, but in Silk Garden, which I hoped she could wear. (No wool allergies that I know of, but she is sensitive to scratchy stuff.) The store I work in didn't have a ton of Silk Garden colors to choose from, and when a few more came in, I took my chances and picked two out. (By the way, Silk Garden is on like, ridiculous backorder, so if you find any BUY IT NOW.) I knew it probably wouldn't be as striking as, say ... Brooklyn's or the Harlot's, but I figured I'd give it a shot, hopefully it wouldn't suck, and maybe she'd even like it.

(By the way, I feel horrible name-dropping. If you got here expecting a different blog, I apologize!)

I knitted. I knitted for over a month. I wove in ends before I was done. I washed and blocked (and drying took days and I still have towels that are stinky from it. Need to do some laundry.). I planned to go to the post office and mail so she'd get it on time. And then I got sick.

I was sick for a whole week. I could barely drag myself out of bed, let alone to the post office. I would have sent my husband, except that I hadn't written her birthday card yet and I wanted to make sure to get all the info right, since mailing to another country is kind of crazy. Finally, 2 weeks before her birthday, I was able to get it in the mail, hoping against hope it might get there so she could have something to open on her birthday.

4 skeins of Noro Silk Garden aren't exactly cheap, even with an employee discount. The customs form asked me to list everything in the box and its value. "One birthday card," I wrote. Be specific, the instructions stated. "Handmade silk/wool/mohair scarf, 21st birthday without family, we've had a hard year, I want her to have something special, priceless"? Wouldn't fit in the box. Instead, I wrote "wool scarf".

I spent more than I intended to. My box, bought from Wal-mart in the hopes that it would save me some money, ended up being just over the cheaper mailing option, so I spent twice as much to ship it. Thankfully I didn't have to buy additional insurance, since the actual retail amount of the package was covered.

I felt like I was in a MasterCard commercial. I'd just spent all this time and money. Would it get there on time? Would it get there at all? Would she even like it? Would it be cold enough for her to wear it, or would it get there and she'd forget to pack it for the trip back?

The time and effort you took to craft something unique for your sister's 21st birthday in England: priceless

Not knowing if it'll even get there, let alone if she'll actually like it?: materials+shipping+ohmygodwhydidn'tIsendagiftcard?

Amazingly, she got the package on Friday, only 10 days after it shipped. (So amazing. Go Post Office!) She opened it today.

She loves it.


Thank God.

4 skeins Noro Silk Garden, 2 #275 & 2 #245
Size 7 US to cast on and size US 6 to knit with
The Noro Striped Scarf pattern as popularized by BrooklynTweed

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Smooshy & Silky

Told you I'd be back! The naughty earflap hat has been removed from the naughty pile (wow, naughty is a hard word for me to spell tonight) and the earflap has been frogged back completely. I tried tinking, but it got confusing -- too many wraps and bleaugh. I've started again, though I haven't gotten back to the problem area. Miss Priss is doing beautifully, though.

I will admit to starting another (mindless) project in the meantime. I don't know if I like it enough to continue it yet, so I'll hold off talking about it until I've made up my mind. It deserves its own post, though.

I made Hubs dig through the closet to find me one of my old binders. Man, I haven't even needed a binder in almost a year, which makes me a little nostalgic. I love Ravelry, but I do want to have a place to put printouts, so I bought some sheet protectors and am going to make a project binder. I should have bought some hole-punch protectors. My plan is to swatch (or at least have samples) and then punch holes in each pattern or paper, put the protector on, and then tie the ends of the swatch together in the back. That way I won't need glue or staples and the swatch will stay with each project. Did that make any sense?

I did promise more stash pictures, and I will deliver. First up is the Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which I bought hoping they'd be Rose's Wrist Warmers by Christina Slattery.


However, now I might do a 180 and make them Branching Out, which actually calls for Silky Wool. I don't know! I haven't knit any lace yet, and I was hoping to practice cables with the wristwarmers. For now, though, Silky Wool lives safely in the stash.

The second thing skein I debated over. I pulled a ton of other skeins off the shelf. Other colors. Other brands. I agonized. I plunked two of them on the table and ignored them until about five minutes before closing before I picked one. I'd been going for the shocking pink, but surprised myself by buying the blue. I figure if I don't make socks (which I probably won't!), I can make a nice small shawl or something.


(Dream in Color's Smooshy in Blue Lagoon.) It was either that or Ruby River, which is also amazingly gorgeous, but I've been drawn a lot to blues lately. Don't even get me started on the Jitterbug I gave up. Only so much money to spend on yarn, you know.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Very First Mittens

So I finally finished my very first mittens ... just in time for the weather to warm up! Okay, actually I finished them up ten days ago, but the weather has been very up-and-down to the point where I can wear them one day and then walk around without a coat the next!

It was a fun process, and I'd definitely make them again, but probably with some changes. Even going down a needle size on the ribbing, it's very loose, so I'd probably decrease the number to cast on with and just increase to the right number when I got to the hand. Hopefully it's partially just a characteristic of the yarn being thick-and-thin, otherwise I'd go down another needle size! (The body was knitted on 10s and the ribbing on 9s.) The thumbs are a little tight right around the thumb base, but still wearable. Not bad, considering I made the 6-year-old size!


You'll notice that they are pretty much fraternal. I have 33 grams left, which means each mitten is about 33 grams -- so about a third of the skein. If I hadn't made them, I wouldn't have believed that they'd come from the same skein! Though you can't see it in the photo, I just started to repeat the green at the tip of the blue mitten's thumb. The gray one was made first, and I think the blue one is better for it. All in all, a really good pattern that I will make again. The Iro is also quite warm! Too bad that by the time I finished them, I didn't really need them anymore! Oh well, there's always next winter.

I ended up buying a ball of Cascade Fixation because my co-worker found the cutest hacky sack pattern and had made a couple of her own. I wanted to try! Though I'd done short rows before while making Anna Hrachovec's Hearts, I wanted to practice them for the hat I was making (yes, I also started a hat) and the yarnball was a great way to do it. The pattern is by Judy Gibson and several versions can be found here. I made the small yarnball.


How cute! And great for spring. I don't know how to "do" hacky sacking, but I figure it's a stress ball if nothing else. :) I still have plenty of the yarn and should be able to get at least a few more out of it. Next time I think I'll go up a needle size though (I worked this on 4s); this one was quite tiny!

Finally ... my earflap hat. Started in the Schaefer Miss Priss I bought ages ago but never showed a picture of. A lovely lady who comes into the store had made one and let us keep it as a sample, and as soon as I put it on my head (yes, I sometimes do that with samples ... don't you?) I knew I was going to make one too. Bought Priss in the awesome color "Bugs". Okay, so it may be defined as a "kid" color, but I don't care! It's been knitting up beautifully, even if I'm having some difficulty with the pattern.


You'll notice I was smart enough to put in a lifeline before starting the short rows for the earflap. I was not, however, smart enough to put in another lifeline before I got to the part that confused me. The hat is in the naughty pile right now, despite being gorgeous. I have not had the will or brainpower to try to tink it back. But seriously, it's based on this awesome earflap hat pattern generator by Lucia of The Knitting Fiend, and it certainly isn't her fault I decided to tackle something awesome but challenging.

I have some new stash photos too, but if I share them now I won't have another update for a while! Expect them soon, though. They're too pretty not to show off!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Being a Good Knitter

I'm shivering in pain right now. While it has a little to do with the cut on my finger (go-go washing knives stupidly), it mostly has to do with what I've got soaking in the sink right now: a gauge swatch.

I'm not a huge fan of the gauge swatch, but I understand its importance in making things the right size and all that. I even knit them occasionally, but then I rip them out so I can use the yarn. I never ever actually wash the swatch or anything.

I know I should, of course. But in a project like a scarf, it doesn't really seem to matter.

Of course, I want to branch out from scarves, though scarves are absolutely lovely. In fact, my Christmas yarn has been taunting me lately, saying "Don't buy anymore yarn! Knit with us! Please?" And I've been putting it off, saying "I don't have a project for you yet! I don't have the right size DPNs! I have to finish other stuff first!" But that's not fair to those yarns. Almost two months they've sat in my stash, waiting patiently for me to get my butt in gear and do something with them, and that's what they deserve. Today I bought appropriately sized DPNs for them and decided to start with the Iro. I'm going to make fingerless mitts/gloves (I haven't decided yet) with them, and that kind of necessitates having a good idea of your actual gauge. You know, that whole "they need to fit around your hand" thing and all.

(I just took it out of the sink! This is final! Holy crap.)

So ... I knitted a cheating gauge swatch (gotta love the mock circle gauge swatch), bound it off, snipped the yarn (do you have any idea how long I debated with myself whether or not to actually go through with it?), pulled it through the last stitch, and tossed it in the sink with some Eucalan.

It's drying on the bookshelf. I think it's a good thing I won't be able to measure it until morning. I'm sitting here kicking myself. What if it's like, two stitches to the inch? What good does that do me? Then I'll have to buy new needles and waste more yarn trying to get it to a gauge that'll work for my pattern. Why the heck didn't I measure the gauge before I snipped the yarn and merrily tossed it in the sink to grow twelve sizes larger? God, I'm an idiot.

I'm sure I'll be fine, of course. It's probably this painful because it's my first time, and when I make mitts that are actually totally awesome because I took this time and effort, I'll be quite thrilled. And if I have to do it again? Not a huge deal. I've got small hands. I won't need a ton of yarn. And if I do? Oh well! Not the end of the world. Yarn pretty.

(I'm going to sneak off and measure it right now. If it's a huge sucess, I'll be back crowing it to the rooftops. If it's a failure, you will not hear from me for several days while I sulk. I consider this fair.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Everyone Likes a Good Yarn!

Astute readers of my blog may have noticed my (intentional!) leaving out of some things in the last post. Like ... what books I ordered! Pictures of the spindle! And so on. All done for one good reason, dear readers: it gives me something to write about next time!

I honestly don't know much about the spindle kit. It appears to have been put together by one of our consignment dealers and included four different rovings, a half-box (to drop the spindle into?) and an Ashford spindle. Looking at their page, it appears to be the 2.8 oz student top whorl. As for the roving ... not a clue. I got four pretty colors of it, though!

My books came yesterday. Both of them focus more on the wheel than I thought they would, but do contain useful information for using the drop spindle. I purchased Hands On Spinning by Lee Raven (which I've mostly left alone, to be honest) and Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, which I've had a lot more luck with.

So ... I attempted to spin some yarn last night. Let's just say it didn't go so well! I've tried to watch YouTube videos, but either there aren't enough good hand close-ups or they go a little too fast for me. I did try, and it kind of looks like yarn, but I was disappointed that it wasn't perfect the first time around (me, a perfectionist? never!).


Wait a minute ... I think that IS yarn! Look at that! It's not very good yarn, and it's not a lot of yarn ... but that looks like a single to me. Not too shabby! Though I forsee a lot of money getting sucked out of my wallet going to more practice fiber ... Sigh. The sacrifices I'll make!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tales From the Yarn Store

At some point, I need to write up a post about how working at a yarn store rocks. That day is not today. However, I'd love to share this hilarious moment with you, and hope to make it a regular feature of the blog ... if you like it, of course!

Today was hoppin'. We had a lot of people from out of state. This one woman plops a ton of books and magazines onto the counter. "You going for all of this?" I ask her, and she confirms it. I ring it up and ask her if she wants to know the damage, which is almost $90 (!!!).

"My husband told me I can't bring any more yarn home," she says. "So I'm getting these instead!"

Classic. And so, so smart. Filing that into the back of the excuses folder!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love is in the air!

Spring is in the air, blogland! It's a summery (:D) 52 degrees, the ice and snow are melting and little rivers are running pell-mell for lower ground. I've thrown open all the windows in order to introduce a little much-needed fresh air into the apartment. What a great day to have off! With a day like today, you want to run and get some silk and cotton and start on some new projects! But I must resist.

Did I mention I got my Valentine's day present early from hubs? He asked for a few ideas, and I came up with some, never thinking he'd go out and get something before I was done brainstorming! The LYS I work at has started carrying local consignment items, and he bought me a drop spindle kit with roving! I can't wait to learn how to spin it. I haven't come across anyone who can teach me yet, but I just ordered two books from Amazon. I can't wait to get them.

By the way, blog, I have neglected you for far too long. You deserve awesome pictures of colorful fibers and all that jazz. Here, have some Noro Striped Scarf:


(Best section of that scarf, by the way.) That's the beauty of Kureyon. May not be as soft as Silk Garden, but sure is a heckuva lot more gorgeous. Speaking of Noro, wanna see my Christmas Iro? Yeah, I thought so.


I'm thinking ... mittens.

But then ... there's the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk.


(Something with cables.)

And the Rowan Kidsilk Night.


(I want to do Ice Queen.)

Too much, blog? Have these cold, dreary, picture-less winter months left you gasping "The color! Enough!" and shielding your eyes? I suppose we wouldn't want to overload you, dear readers. No, don't want the warm weather and my awesome photographs to cause you pain or harm. SO I'll stop. But I'll be back.

Oh yes, I'll be back.


(Oh, Cotton Kureyon. I couldn't resist. I'm going away for real this time! I'll be back ... again.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Stash Enhancement

Whoops! In all the holiday hustle and bustle, it's the poor crafting blog that gets shafted, I guess. I did finish hub's hat and scarf, even if I was weaving in the ends on Christmas Eve! He says he's very grateful to have them -- especially when he walked home in an ice storm without them! I also was commissioned to make a co-worker a scarf, which I managed to complete this morning and hand off. It's only two weeks late ... right? :) And one of hub's co-workers is interested in a scarf. But now that I work at a yarn store, I have no time to play with yarn!

Speaking of, I've engaged in some serious stash enhancement lately. I bought two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Night on sale (and no, I don't get the employee discount on sale items!) in a gorgeous gray, and I just know they're going to make a beautiful Ice Queen. Now to learn lace ... I also bought four skeins of Noro Silk Garden to make another Noro Striped Scarf, even though I'm not done with mine yet! I have a lot of crafting to keep me occupied ... and warm. :)