Friday, August 8, 2008


In light of a shift in topics, I'm moving my blog over to Yarn or Death. Hope you'll check it out!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crochet does too have advantages over knitting

Yeah, I know. I have been totally neglecting this blog. I could argue it's because I've been doing things instead of writing about them, and that would be a good defense if everyone didn't know I love to babble.

I had a scare tonight. I went out to rifle through my crochet bag in the car looking for DPNs. I was actually worried they were missing, but I found them right off, no problem. The problem came when I came back inside and Good Kitty went running out. She hasn't tried to do that since a few years ago, when she dashed out and got menaced by the landlords' Jack Russell (oooh, scary!) and cried for her daddy to come rescue her. (Good Kitty adores the Mad Husband and only tolerates sharing him with me because otherwise the box would never get cleaned.) Luckily for me, she just wanted to wander around and gripe loudly for a couple minutes. Silly Good Kitty. I may have to give her a new nickname.

So anyway. Back to the yarn...

I'm discovering one reason that I'm better suited to crochet than knitting -- wait, two: crochet is faster so I have less time to get bored and start wondering what else I can start, and crochet hooks don't have to stay with a WIP like knitting needles do so I can start something else when my willpower fails.

Now would be the perfect time to start crocheting something, but I'm still burned out on crochet from the Customer Spotlight Sale so knitting it is.

I want to start some way-easy socks for the Mad Husband out of Trekking XXL. I have a free set of #0 DPNs, and a free set of #2 DPNs. The #1s are occupied (and I need to post a picture of what they're occupied with). The #1s would probably be the best choice for Trekking, but they're not available. I'm leaning toward the #0s because I tend to knit loose, but at this point I'm still rooting through all the Trekking socks on Ravelry trying to see if there's a clear favorite. Actually, there is: the #1s. Ooooops.

ETA: Tried the #0s. They sucked. Frogging and getting out the #2s now. If those suck, I'll just have to wait till I'm finished with the project using the #1s.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This is another one of those Murphy's Law corollaries, right?

Now that I have all this beautiful sock yarn, what I really want to knit is... linen hand towels.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

See, I have my bases covered.

StringTheory2.0 says you should always have three projects on the needles.

One that's about at your current skill level... that's a bit of a challenge...

...and one that you can do while drinking.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Klingon crud

So I managed to drag my sorry butt to the Customer Spotlight Sale on Saturday, where I made a grand total of... ten bucks.

Oops. I guess people don't need chapstick cozies.

But I had a good time hanging out with Lizardsmells, who sold a ton of her awesome stitch markers, and visiting with other crafters. And overall a lot of money got raised for ovarian cancer research, though I probably would have helped raise more if instead of making my own things, I had used the money I spent on supplies to buy everyone else's lovely wares!

So now the sale is over and I'm free to work on whatever I want to, which would be totally awesome if I actually felt up to knitting. Whatever bug I've got (I'm calling it the Klingon crud) has wiped me out to the point where I needed a nap after watching a basketball game and knitting. Whoa, really intensive activity there. Worse, I've managed to misplace one DPN. I'm close to done on the first Saucy sock (the one I posted a while back) so I'm faking it with four needles until I can get a replacement, which feels weird. I see why StringTheory2.0 keeps pushing the circs. I'd lose my own head if it weren't screwed on.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

This is not good.

I'm down to 38 hours till the Customer Spotlight Sale, and I thought I was prepared for the last push to the finish... I've got the yarn, I've even taken a vacation day tomorrow so I can stitch all day. So what's the problem?

I'm sick. Some kind of unidentified crud. My throat is killing me.

I'm not saying this is the worst possible timing or anything, but it's not promising.

Also, hand felting? Not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

what I want to do vs. what I need to do, and The Sock Yarn Mania

I've been crocheting exclusively the past few days trying to make things for the Needle Nook's Customer Spotlight sale, which is May 3. That is, this coming Saturday. And I am so not ready. And I am so wondering why I thought this was a good idea. Both StringTheory2.0 and the Mad Husband have informed me that they knew this would happen. I procrastinated, as I tend to do with everything, but I still think I would have come out okay (if you're going to make a habit of procrastinating, you had better be good at it) if I hadn't fallen victim to The Sock Yarn Mania.

And when I speak of The Sock Yarn Mania, I'm not just referring to my own. If it were just my own, it wouldn't have nearly so many capital letters. It seems to be the season of the sock; I hear rumblings about Red Heart and Lion Brand introducing new sock yarns, Malabrigo sock yarn is already on its way, and my friends are constantly telling me about some new sock yarn, frequently indie, that I have to check out... I see lots of people knitting socks at every knit night, and if sock yarn is about to invade the big-box craft stores, The Mania is likely to grow. (And to shatter our illusions that we're cool and hip because we knit socks. As Natalia says, "trends go to Wal-Mart to die.")

This might be me overthinking it, but I wonder if it's these uncertain times that make sock knitting seem like a sensible thing to do. You only need one skein, which can be had for less than you'd spend making all but the cheapest sweaters, and it keeps you occupied for hours. Then you can show off the finished product! I imagine the stalwart matrons of wartime England putting on a kettle of tea and knitting socks while scanning the sky with binoculars. Kind of like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but substitute knitting for magic. (That would be a very strange knitter cult movie that everyone else would fall asleep during.) Could something in our cultural memory recall schoolchildren knitting socks for the Great War, and thus it makes sense to knit socks, even if they're actually handpainted merino treats for ourselves and those we choose to spoil this way? (I was thinking the ultimate symbol of devotion would be to knit so many socks that the Mad Husband could wear hand-knit socks every day, but I was also thinking that there's biting off more than you can chew, and then there's biting off so much that you choke on it. Anyway, I don't think he wants pink socks and I've got an awful lot of pink sock yarn to knit up...) And it's a sensible way to indulge your passion for colors without getting stuck with a finished sweater that looks like a clown threw up on it.

Or is it all actually the market itself, cleverly playing on our economic worries and suggesting that we can feel good about knitting socks because they're solid and practical... thus absolving ourselves of guilt as we binge on handpainted merino and gleefully reassure each other "it's sock yarn, it doesn't count."

It's not that sock yarn doesn't count as stash. It's just that I have an entire separate stash of sock yarn.

See? Even when I'm refusing to allow myself to knit socks because I need to crochet for the sale, I'm still obsessing over socks. That's just sad. I am so regretting this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jayne is a girl's name.

Carat asked which pattern I used to make my Jayne hat. Well... I haven't exactly made one yet. It's on the to-do list, and has been for some time, as evidenced by this conversation from a couple months ago...

Me: ...and I need to make [the Mad Husband] a Jayne hat...
StringTheory2.0 (confused) : Why are you going to make your husband a lady's hat?
Me (trying to sound all River): Jayne is a girl's name.

And then I had to go and find this for her. Though if you have no clue what I'm talking about, this will probably be more helpful. If you're not inclined to watch YouTube and don't know what Firefly is, the short version is Firefly was a Western set in space, and Jayne was the shoot-first-ask-questions-never mercenary. His mother made him this hat and he thought it was the greatest thing ever:

Not surprisingly, Jayne hats are all the rage with Firefly fans. I think I actually squealed at DragonCon last year when I realized one guy in costume as Jayne had an honest-to-goodness crocheted Jayne hat. Purists may insist that the hat must be knitted out of the most dreadful acrylic you can find. I think I'd go more Cascade 220, but to each their own. At any rate, I'd better make sure the Mad Husband has one of his own by DragonCon or he'll be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday, and it's one of those landmarks... it's the big 3-0. And despite my past claims that I was just going to stay 29 for a few years, I'm pretty excited about it. My twenties were so weird, in particular the beginning and middle, but improved so dramatically towards the end that I figure the thirties will continue the trend. I've become more confident in myself, and less concerned with what others think. You know what that means? Much more knitting and crocheting in unusual places to come. Possibly while wearing a Jayne hat and feeding birds and laughing maniacally for my own amusement.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No time for love, Dr. Jones

I am totally in love, or at least in lust, with sock knitting. I frogged the cuff on my Saucy Sock (k3, p1) because I didn't like it, and I'm liking the more conventional k2p2. But alas, I must set aside my lovely socks and get to work, because the Customer Spotlight Sale draws ever closer and I haven't done even a fraction of the work I need to do. Yet I keep surfing The Loopy Ewe and Etsy to look at the pretty, pretty hand-painted sock yarn.

Tonight I got out the hooks and got to work on a smaller version of the Jester Bag. I'm making it with Plymouth Happy Feet, and this stuff is terrific. I'm looking forward to using it for socks at some point. Man, though, now that I know how to knit, crochet just seems to rip through yarn. Maybe that's because it's so much faster, so my ball of yarn is gone that much quicker. The colors are beautiful!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Houston, we have sock!

Hi! I'm a sock!

Sock has personality.

Now I, too, can stick my foot up on the table next to people's food and drink to show off my SOCK!!

Pattern: Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula
Yarn: Numma-Numma Saucy in Marinara

Monday, April 14, 2008

little help?

So I mentioned that Needle Nook is having a Customer Spotlight Sale to raise money for ovarian cancer research. (You can click that second link for more information on the sale!) I hope lots of you will come check it out.

But I need your help. What sort of things would you like to see at a sale like this? It's spring in Atlanta, so I don't think anyone's looking for hats or scarves. I've got a few different ideas (that I'm not going to spill the beans on just yet), but I'm curious to find out what people are interested in.

Oh, No No Bad Kitty has a new favorite snack -- bamboo DPNs. Plus, this morning she pounced on Good Kitty while Good Kitty was trying to use the litter box. I'm starting to suspect that No No Bad Kitty is the devil.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13

Today the Mad Husband and I celebrate our first anniversary.

We had planned a big wedding, but ...stuff happened, and we told our parents "we're going to the DeKalb courthouse next month, show up if you wanna." Less than twenty people, a two-minute ceremony, and lunch at Wahoo! Grill.

And you know what? It was just about perfect.

Love you, sweetie.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sock progress

First of all, I've learned never to say "I'm knitting a sock." Because then every smartass in the world will say something along the lines of "just one sock?" and think they're hilarious and oh-so-original. I've even gotten it from my mother. Gee, thanks Mom.

I've learned how to fix my dropped stitches with a crochet hook (thanks Lizardsmells!) and I'm getting better at it, but they still look kinda wonky so I'd rather just not drop them at all. Practice, practice, practice.

Sock yarn is the fiber artist's equivalent of Pokemon. Gotta catch 'em all.

I'm really loving knitting with numma numma Saucy. It's a little splitty, but the fabric is to die for -- wicked soft and I love the interplay of shades of red, pink, and orange. Don't worry, pictures soon. Oh, and when I try on the sock it feels so nice. Okay, I finally get the hand-knitted sock thing.

It's getting much easier to work on the double points. I'm not jabbing myself with the extra needles nearly as much as I was. I have had some issues with letting stitches fall off, but that's where I got the practice at fixing them, so I guess that's not so bad.

I'd say I'm about halfway done with the foot of sock #1. Sadly for my newfound addiction, I'm going to have to set the sock knitting aside in order to make inventory for Needle Nook's Customer Spotlight Sale. It's to raise money for a great cause -- ovarian cancer research -- and I'll be badgering you all to come out and see the cool stuff. Badger badger badger. (Wow, that link just totally freaked out No No Bad Kitty.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another cool thing about Ravelry

I figured out something else I like about Ravelry tonight: If I see a nifty-looking indie yarn or something else I'm not familiar with, I can go to the yarn's Ravelry page and click on "stashed." Then I can see lots of pretty yarn, but I can also see if any of it's up for sale or trade. If absolutely no one who has it is willing to consider parting with it, I have a feeling it's good. (And then I want it. I really need to spend less time on Ravelry.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I need to have my head examined.

I frogged the sock.

To tell you the truth, it sort of happened by accident. I'd made a couple of mistakes on the foot, and I was warned I'd be able to feel them when I wore the sock, and I had one on each side so I couldn't just make the side with the mistake the top, so I started frogging, and then I was so close to the toe that I said screw it, I'll start fresh.

I'm now trying yet again. I just finished the toe and started working in the round (joy!). I think I've made fewer mistakes this time around, but I know they're still there. But I'm pretty determined that I need to finish this sock come hell or high water. Otherwise I'll never learn anything about knitting a sock start to finish.

At this point, my only hope is that the sock is wearable.

In other news, I like knitting with double points (bamboo, baby!), but I don't like dealing with the three double points I'm not knitting with. I guess I'll get used to it. It'll build character.

Monday, April 7, 2008

can't sleep, sock will eat me

Now that I'm about three inches into the sock, I'm starting to feel like I know what I'm doing. Which means I'm starting to see the mistakes I've made. And the insane stubborn perfectionist voice in my head wants to ditch it and start over and do it better this time. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, right?

The sensible voice in my head says this is a ridiculous idea, because even if I do the toe right this time I'm bound to screw up on the heel. Because it'll be the first heel I've ever made. Just like this is the first toe I ever made.

Natalia said I should just keep going and I "can always make this first sock into a foul-mouthed sock puppet." I like this idea.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stupid cast-ons

The good news is I'm making my progress on my first sock.

The bad news is everything else.

Eve valiantly endeavored to teach me Judy's Magic Cast-On today. Multiple times. I could just not get the hang of it. Maybe it's because I was working on dpns rather than circulars, but first I couldn't get the loops to interlock, and then once I finally managed that, I couldn't manage to knit between the two -- it was too tight. I think the most I got was six stitches before the whole thing fell apart.

After watching me rip, curse, and try again for about an hour and a half, Eve pronounced me "stubborn as a mule." I told her that was one of the nicest compliments I'd gotten in quite a while.

The provisional cast-on as directed in Knitty's Toe-Up Sock Formula drove me crazy (me not liking a crochet cast-on? There is clearly a disturbance in the Force) so I was really hoping the Magic Cast-On would do the trick. Curses, foiled again.

So the upshot of all this is I've decided wrap-and-turn toes aren't so bad after all. I'll have to post a picture of my first one so you can see what happens when you forget to slip a stitch on the second half of the toe. I might have frogged it and tried again if I weren't already so sick of frogging, but since this is my first sock and I know it's going to have mistakes no matter what, I decided to suck it up. Lizardsmells tells me that's easy enough to fix. (Oh, there is good news! I got to hang out with Lizardsmells which definitely makes me cooler than you are. Envy me!)

Oh, and in other bad news, the tip of one of my #1 dpns has been chewed on. *looks meaningfully at No No Bad Kitty*

Friday, April 4, 2008

Six (long-winded) things about me

DeuceMom tagged me for this meme. I don't usually do memes, but with this blog I've made a concerted effort to just talk about yarn, so I thought it might be fun to reveal a few non-yarn-related things about me, especially the ones I'm usually doing while knitting and blogging. (What can I say, I like to multitask.)

1. I love to watch so-called reality TV, the trashier the better. I watch most of the VH1 Celebreality block, snarking the whole way. I know it's fake, and in a way that makes it more entertaining -- it's a genre like comedy or drama, and as an English-major genre-freak, I like to try and figure out how the storyline's being manipulated. (English major moment: Trashy genres are nothing new. Bloody revenge tragedies, which frequently ended with everyone killed in ridiculous ways, were all the rage in Jacobean England.)

2. I also like to watch sports while I'm yarning. The NBA is my absolute favorite -- it's just as nutty as any reality show -- but I have a passing familiarity with just about anything covered by SportsCenter. I also gripe a lot because even in the middle of a really tight and exciting NBA playoff race, SportsCenter would rather talk about baseball and football. No one's even playing football right now! Steve Nash is my favorite player (I've actually followed his career since he was a skinny college freshman hitting all his free throws to give Santa Clara the upset win in the NCAAs) and I refer to him as my "basketball boyfriend."

3. I was a contestant on Jeopardy! My episode aired in June 2004, during Ken Jennings' reign of terror. I really think I could have contended if he hadn't had the buzzer timing down perfectly after two weeks of filming. I was the only contestant to get the Final Jeopardy question right. I wore a red jacket and Alex Trebek called me "the lady in red." I made the studio audience laugh by complaining about an email forward I'd gotten titled "Things You'll Never Hear a Southerner Say" which included the line "I'll take Shakespeare for $1000, Alex."

4. The Mad Husband and I like to think of ourselves as tea connoisseurs (kinda like wine connoisseurs, but less drunk). We're constantly making trips to Teavana to stock up on loose-leaf tea.

5. I collect rubber duckies. I have a row of them on top of my desk at work and they're really a great icebreaker.

6. I swear like a drunken sailor. This blog is one of the few places I try to contain it, because I don't feel it's appropriate here, but sometimes a few words slip out. As the makers of Gone With the Wind discovered, "frankly my dear, I really don't care" just won't do, and frankly "darn it to heck" out of the mouth of anyone over the age of twelve just sounds ridiculous.

I'm not tagging anyone specific for this, but let me know if you decide to list yours.

In lieu of actual content, pictures of my stash.

Because I know you guys are all about the yarn porn.

This Creatively Dyed sock yarn was the skein I fell in love with during Lent and wouldn't shut up about. Now it's mine!

Natalia kept taunting me with how awesome the Dream in Color Smooshy was until I just had to try some for myself. I justified it by having the Mad Husband pick out a color he'd like for socks. I didn't expect him to go so purpley (not that you can tell from my crappy photo).

Trekking XXL, with bonus swatch.

Numma-Numma Saucy, with bonus toe. (plz ignore ugly scrap yarn, kthxbai)

Fibre Company Canopy, which is going to make some awesome fingerless gloves.

Handmaiden Sea Silk, from a Ravelry destash. I think this will make a lovely shawl (not that I'm exactly a shawl person, but the yardage dictates it on this one).

And now that I have these lovely yarns... it's time for another yarn diet. *sigh*

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stuff I Don't Get: Crocheted Food

I love amigurumi. At least, I love the finished product that is amigurumi. They're so cute and kooky, and I love kooky. But the process of making amigurumi... I just haven't been in a hurry to make any more after the first two, because the tight gauge is hard on your hands. I play with yarn because it feels good, so something that doesn't feel good is low on the priority list no matter how cute the finished object is. But I still love looking at amigurumi and amigurumi patterns.

But there's a popular type of amigurumi that's just lost on me: the cute little food with eyes. Especially cupcakes. I see them everywhere. And yes, they're cute. But when I look at them all I can think is, "mmmm, cupcake." If I crochet a cupcake, well then I'm going to want to eat a cupcake, and if I keep my crocheted cupcake around, I'm going to end up either eating cupcakes all the time or craving cupcakes until I go crazy. And I don't even really like cupcakes that much. I mean, I like cupcakes, but they're not chocolate mousse or tirimisu or something like that. If I'm going to put myself in a position that's going to lead to me craving desserts, cupcake doesn't even crack the top ten.

Why did I think this was a good idea?

I've been absent lately owing to my inexplicable desire to knit some socks.

First of all, sock yarn is crack. I think the fascination with socks on my part is mostly so I can justify buying lots of pretty sock yarn in outrageous colorways. Who was it that pointed out that you can get away with color combinations in socks that would blind you in a sweater? I'm going to have to go on another yarn diet. Sadly I'll probably be sick of all these pretty colors by the time they're all made into socks, but, well, whatcha gonna do? At least with socks you only have to buy one skein to finish a project, even if it is a $20 skein. Three pairs of socks are still cheaper than a sweater and will probably provide hours more entertainment. And being entertained means I'm not running to the LYS. I hope.

I picked Knitty's Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula as my first sock pattern -- straightforward enough, custom fit, seemed like a good introduction. Well, it is a good introduction to sock knitting -- the frogging, swearing, and wondering how the hell these stitches are ever going to resemble a foot parts of sock knitting. I've lost count of how many times I've ripped out this thing and started over.

I had probably the most issues with knitting the double-wrapped stitches, but Eve and this utterly adorable little book called Knitspeak helped. I think I know what I'm doing now -- well, at least I thought I did, until a few minutes ago, but I'm tired and I'm hoping it'll look better in the morning. I sure hope so. This thing is finally resembling a toe and if I have to frog it I think I'll cry.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Home again, home again

The good news is, I'm back. The bad news is, I brought the Mad In-Laws strain of viral bronchitis with me. This means I have no energy and can't really do anything that involves being away from my bed for more than an hour. That's okay though... I have plenty of yarn.

(Interrupting this post to bring you Breaking News: I really can't believe how much I enjoy knitting on these tiny little bamboo DPNs. Oh wait, that's only news to me. Carry on.)

Through the wonder of Google I learned a fast and easy way to swatch "in the round." I spent most of my knitting time on the trip swatching the Trekking, and NeedleNut said it looked ready to go, so I could be starting on socks for the Mad Husband right now... if I hadn't misplaced my tape measure. Again. I'm starting to wonder if I should invest in one of those really nice decorative tape measures because maybe if I spent that much on something I'd make more of an effort not to lose it. On the other hand, anything that would cut into the yarn budget is questionable, and I'm not sure if it would even work anyway. By the way, Trekking is much nicer than I used to think it was when I saw other people working with it. It's nice and soft and the color changes are awesome.

So since I can't start his socks yet, I'm doing another fake-in-the-round swatch with Saucy. This stuff is sooo nice and now I really want to hurry up and make it into socks before I switch to sandals for the summer. I'm really starting to understand why so many people claim sock yarn doesn't count as stash.

By the way, Good Kitty is delighted with our return and is requesting lots of pets and lovin'. No No Bad Kitty is... well, being bad. She stopped just long enough to scarf down the guilt treats, including Good Kitty's share. Good Kitty was uninterested in said treats because her love is freely given, not bought. Whoops, gotta go, No No Bad Kitty is trying to eat the Saucy. It's just called Marinara, you dumb cat!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Why hello there!

I know I promised you yummy stash pictures, but I ran off to join the circus went to visit the Mad In-Laws. (And I know what you're thinking, and don't bother, because not only is my stash booby-trapped, but No No Bad Kitty might follow you home.) Having a great time and learning lots of interesting things:
  • You never know when stash will come in handy. The perfectly lovely Louisa Harding Kimono Angora in brown, blue and green that I picked up at the Needle Nook post-Christmas sale and ever since have wondered what I was going to do with? Turns out it's the perfect color combination to match the Mad Brother-in-Law's wardrobe.
  • When stash does come in handy, you'll curse not having the whole stash with you. I've got more of the Kimono Angora at home, but in the meantime, I'm not sure who's getting the one hat I can crochet while I'm here, the Mad Brother-in-Law or his girlfriend. If only I had a bag of holding...
  • Most people really don't know the difference between knit and crochet. This means you will look like a genius when you crochet most of a hat during one movie.
  • Robert De Niro is an adorable cross-dressing pirate. If you don't know what I'm talking about, treat yourself and watch Stardust.
  • New rings will throw off your gauge. The Mad In-Laws gave me a lovely early birthday pressie: a beautiful tanzanite ring, and it even fits! However it must go on my left index finger, where it is currently confusing the yarn.
  • The Mad Husband does not think it is adorable when I MST3K a bad movie he's trying to watch. You think you know a person...
  • I do not care how much it will cost me in Euroflax, I want the After-Dark Nightie and Robe. The bad movie was not all a bad thing, as it drove me upstairs to enjoy Mason-Dixon Knitting.
  • Drinking is hell on your gauge. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I can has yarn!

Happy Easter! And you know what that means: Lent is over and I can buy YARN!! I swear for the past few days I've been like the dog in the commercial, only instead of "BACON!!" I've been jumping around going "YARN!!" So this afternoon I headed to Knitch for a little retail therapy. I kept telling myself on the way there that happiness doesn't come from material things and I didn't have to buy anything... I'm sure you can imagine how well I stuck to that.

What a great day! I ran into lots of fellow fiber junkies and ducked out for yummy sushi at Harry and Sons with the illustrious Megan. And oh, the yarn! I got to touch lots and lots of pretty yarn. I was gravitating toward the sock yarn, because 1). I'm obsessed with learning to knit socks and 2). I heard somewhere that sock yarn doesn't count as stash. The Mad Husband was all "so. Will you knit me a Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf?" and I was like "how about some socks instead?" I found some beauteous Trekking XXL in blues that will match his Hawaiian shirts wonderfully. (He really likes Hawaiian shirts with dragons on them. Basically, he's Wash from Firefly.) Funny, I had never really thought that much of Trekking before, I didn't think it was very soft, but this feels really nice and I'm thinking about starting these first. But then again, I am really impatient to play with my Numma Numma Toasty (a Knitch exclusive!), in Marinara. The colors make me think of strawberries more than marinara. I tried to convince myself that it would still be there after I used up the other yarn, but in the end my lust for yarn won out and I convinced myself that it would be okay since my total would be about the price of one of the Mad Husband's video games. It's sooooooo pretty.

But I've saved the best find for last: New Fibre Company! I am totally obsessed with the Fibre Company, and their new yarn, Canopy (so new it isn't even on their website yet), may be their best yet. It's fingering/sport weight, 50% baby alpaca, 30% merino, and 20% bamboo, so I can make love to my alpaca and continue my torrid affair with bamboo at the same time! I picked the Purple Passion, which fades beautifully between lavender and pastel blue. It's going to make me some yummy wristwarmers. If you've avoided the Fibre Company because of the price, Canopy is $13 for 200 yards. Which I know is still more than some of you will want to pay, but it's so soft and pretty and luxurious and life is too short not to spoil yourself sometimes. Pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sometimes you can get what you want

I was walking out the door at Needle Nook last night when I said something along the lines of "wouldn't it be great if Malabrigo had sock yarn?" and NeedleNut said "here!" and reached behind the counter and handed me a tiny sample skein of Malabrigo Sock Yarn. It's superwash, very soft, and lovely Malabrigo color as always. I'm really looking forward to this one.

Actually, I'm really looking forward to a lot of yarn. With Easter nearly here, I've lost sight of the contemplation that should go with my yarn fast, and I'm just acting like a really hungry person who can smell dinner cooking. I'm really a little afraid that I'm going to lose it and go on a massive yarn binge. I guess it's a good thing that yarn stores will be closed on Easter to slow me down.

....Oh, it's gonna be bad. I just found out Knitch will be open on Easter.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I confess

Light Wading called it. I'm not going to make Fuzzy Feet.

GottaKnit made a really convincing case for Fuzzy Feet as a first sock project: it's felted directly to the feet, so there's a lot of leeway. But while talking with Natalia, she said "if you made them, would you ever wear them?" And the answer is totally no. The designer lives in Norway, but I live in Atlanta and I already run to hot. Full booties like that, in wool to boot? My feet would sweat and it would be gross. The Mad Husband might like that. Hey, maybe that's an idea for an anniversary gift -- fuzzy slippers personally felted to his feet while he plays video games? Yeah, I think that beats paper.

But yeah. I agree in principle that it's good to start with all the basics and then build on them, like a set of blocks. But honestly, I can't think of a way to lose interest in knitting faster than making myself knit a garter-stitch scarf. (I'm not the only one who thinks garter stitch is ugly and bumpy when used as a main stitch pattern rather than an accent, am I?) I practiced the knit a lot before I learned the purl, I purled a lot before I learned to cast off, and I tried knitting some increases and decreases in scrap yarn just to get used to them, but then I had to start a project. For me there's just no other way to learn how to swim. And I think I'm learning a lot more from trying things in a pattern, where they do stuff and I can see how they work with each other, than just practicing them into a void. Plus, a finished object I can actually use and show off is always a good motivator.

This is all a long way of me saying, I bought my first DPNs tonight. Bamboo, two sets, sizes 0 and 1, from Needle Nook. I thought about taking a learn-to-make-socks class, but that called for worsted weight yarn and I just don't want to make worsted-weight socks right now. I was flipping through Into the Wild, and Krakauer's prose is seductive about the joys of doing crazy things, and socks on DPNs seems like a reasonably crazy thing to do that doesn't involve anything actually unpleasant or dangerous. As long as I remember not to sit on the DPNs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Do or do not, there is no try.

I can't believe I just said that, because after the prequels where he behaved like a complete jerk (and a total wuss in Episode III), I've got a bone to pick with Yoda. Bail Organa was the only real hero (and likable character) in all three of those ill-considered Star Wars prequels. And I never thought I'd have reason to mention this here, but since I'm on the subject, Light Wading has been after me for a long time to blog this, so I'll call it her birthday present: After the prequels, Princess Leia represents the triumph of nurture over nature. Look at the genetic material she was saddled with: whiny, violent Anakin and whiny, passive Padme. Neither one of them could string together a coherent sentence! The whininess was full force (pun intended) with her twin brother, but at the same age he was whining about wanting to go to Tashi Station, she was a diplomat, a Rebel Alliance leader, and a better shot than any stormtrooper I've ever seen (as opposed to her mom -- was the entire character of Padme proof that feminism is dead?). Bail Organa, you did good. You'd be the reigning Father of the Millenium if you hadn't gotten blown to bits in Episode IV.

But I digress... (and how!)

As I was saying to Nell earlier, jumping into a pattern truly seemed like the best way to learn. I can practice increases and decreases till the cows come home, but I'm not really going to learn anything about them until I put them into practice. And so far, the experience is bearing this out. Not only have I successfully increased, I've made short rows. Short rows!! The way I hear knitters going on about short rows, I thought they were the hardest thing on earth. I was surprised when StringTheory2.0 and Natalia explained how simple they were, and even more surprised when I navigated some with no difficulty, save knitting into the wrap and twist, and I didn't do that the second time. It's like magic!

So I can actually talk about the pattern and have it make sense, I will reveal here that I'm knitting Norberta. At this point it only needs to stay secret from the Mad Husband, because he loves dragons and I want to surprise him. I came across her and it was like fate. She's made with KnitPicks Crayon, which I actually had in my stash -- I'd gotten it on sale, but the one time I tried to crochet with it, it was a mess because it's boucle and I couldn't see where to put the hook. Turns out that whatever its failings for crochet, it knits up beautifully. The pattern calls for two strands held together and it makes such a lush, velvety fabric. And it's machine washable! At $1.99 a ball, I'm going to have to reconsider this one.

At this point I've knitted the main body up to the neck. I'm curious to see how the head's going to come together, but the pattern's been so well-written so far that I'm not worried. I am a little nervous about the decreases, since I'm combination knitting, but the boucle texture should disguise any decreases leaning the wrong way. The Ravelry project gallery has been totally helpful; I even modded the pattern a little to make the tail longer after reading other knitters' suggestions. I'm having so much fun! I hope I can finish her before the Mad Husband figures out what's going on.

Never mind

I found the missing knitting needle this morning. I'm not sure what happened, but I'm going to blame it on No No Bad Kitty, because when you have a cat named No No Bad Kitty, you blame everything on her.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Oh no...

I want to work on that new project I was talking about. But I can't. Because I seem to have lost my needle. One of my new #6 bamboo straights that I really, really liked. That's going to cost me $4.50. And now I can't knit.

(The Mad Husband: "Don't say you don't have anything to crochet. Because that's a lie. A dirty, dirty lie. Kitty slaps you for lying." Good Kitty allows him to pick up her paw and smack me with it.)

Okay, now I understand why StringTheory2.0 was encouraging me to invest in some circulars. Damn, this is embarrassing.

This is a momentous occasion

Last night I was multitasking, which is to say I was gabbing with Natalia (what did we do before cell phones and the ensuing free long-distance?) while surfing back issues of Knitty. And lo and behold, I came across a pattern I liked, which called for a type of yarn I had in my stash. And just like that, without getting anyone's opinion on whether I was ready for it, I started knitting it.

It's tough. It's exhilarating. It's the best way I can think of to learn how I need to do my increases and decreases. This is going to be fun!

And no, I'm not going to say what it is just yet. It's a secret.

I want socks.

The day I started learning to knit, I came home and was sitting on the couch trying to knit and failing when the Mad Husband turned to me and said hopefully "So. Knitted socks?" (That night he also told me to give StringTheory2.0 a message to teach me better so I wouldn't be so cranky, but I digress.)

And now I'm thinking "yeah, socks." NeedleNut said "Mad Crocheter, no" but I can't help it. I keep thinking about socks. Light Wading is always so happy with her socks. And I bet if I made the Mad Husband some socks, I might even get taken out to the Brazilian steakhouse or something. (Screw flowers. For me, the epitome of romance is the Brazilian steakhouse.)

And I don't just want socks, I want real socks. Made with pretty sock yarn. I don't wanna make big bulky worsted weight socks.

I know GottaKnit said I should wait on the socks and my first socks should be Fuzzy Feet. Intellectually I know she's totally right but I'm being all pouty about it anyway. I can't exactly show off Fuzzy Feet to everyone I meet during a day. Which will lead to me fishing for compliments from the cats. "See, No No Bad Kitty? Aren't Mommy's Fuzzy Feet awesome? ...No, don't eat it."

So where should I start? I'm debating ordering the Tsarina of Tsocks' Learn to Knit Socks Kit, but maybe I should start simpler than that. Like figuring out how to knit in the round. Okay, I promise I'll try and do the Fuzzy Feet first.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Swatching, continued

Though I wasn't so sure about the Rowan Damask for the Shapely Tee after my swatching session, I took it in and showed it to StringTheory2.0 anyway. She agreed that it might not work for the pattern, but thought it was worth trying to knit more tightly. (Actually, she looked at the loose part and asked if I'd been drinking at the time.) I've been trying that, but I think I'm about ready to set it aside for a while, especially after finding out from NeedleNut that it's really more sport than DK. But I'm not freaking out about having that project delayed, since I picked up a copy of Knit Simple (which coincidentally has one of the most adorable crocheted hat patterns I've ever seen) and it's got a adorable and very straightforward pattern called the Rolled Edge Tee. I want to knit it in Mission Falls 1824 Cotton -- my knitting pal Risa passed me some of her surplus and I fell in love. Now I just have to wait till Easter so I can buy the yarn.

Giving up yarn for Lent
has been... interesting. It's been a good lesson in self-control and a valuable reminder that happiness does not come from material things (though as NeedleNut pointed out, "but happiness does come from yarn!"). It really hasn't been that hard up until the past week or two, but now I'm very ready to be done with it. I just hope I'll be able to hang on to some of that self-control, because over the past five weeks I've seen a lot of yarn that I want.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

So this is why we swatch

I started my swatch for my first "real" project (the Shapely Tank from White Lies Designs, though I may add the sleeves and make it the Shapely Tee) tonight, and man am I glad you all convinced me I needed to swatch. I'd planned to use Rowan Damask, and I'm learning all sorts of stuff about it. Like it doesn't like me that much.

I didn't realize this yarn had such a thick-and-thin texture to it. It doesn't seem so pronounced until you realize how small the yarn is in general, so relatively it does make a difference. My only crochet experience with thick-and-thin was Araucania Magallanes, and it was a disaster. So far I can't say I'm liking the knitting experience much better. It seems to be messing with my tension, which StringTheory2.0 says is very good for a new knitter, and that makes me unhappy. Also, the suggested needles are making a much more open fabric than I expected or am really comfortable with for a pullover. I can get smaller needles, but I don't know that that will fix all the problems.

Also, I'm becoming less enchanted with the colorway (Silicia) as it knits up. It becomes less pink and more magenta, which isn't what I had in mind. I knew I should have gone with one of the blues instead. Maybe it will grow on me. And maybe I'll swap it for something else.

Plus I've discovered for myself just how much tension can vary depending on the amount of tension you have -- the part I knitted right after I got home this evening is much tighter than the part I knitted right before bed.

I plan to use combination knitting on this one. I was just overwhelmed by the response I got to my post on combination knitting, all the kind comments and especially the help, both in person and virtually. I'm embracing combination knitting, and will buy my own copy of Confessions of a Knitting Heretic as soon as it's back in stock. StringTheory2.o got me started on binding off and increases and decreases today, and I was kinda amazed when the increases and decreases were just as "easy" as someone declared to me at Needle Nook yesterday. ST2 is encouraging me to look at the different increases and decreases in my knitting books and try them so I can discover which ones work for me. I'm increasingly thinking that I really can figure out how to make patterns work for me in combination knitting. This is all kind of amazing to me; I'm used to crochet, and crochet doesn't really have so many different ways to do one thing.

It kind of feels to me like crochet is playing with Legos, where individual blocks snap neatly together, and knitting is more like working with live wires, where things are much more intricately connected and easier to screw up. I'm getting a little more comfortable with the wires though.

Finished object sighting!

Presenting... my dishcloth!

And the back!

Yes! It is just a boring dishcloth made out of Peaches 'n Cream cotton! And it rolls up on the sides! But it is MY dishcloth, and I knitted it! Combination knitted it even! I am so thrilled with my stupid little dishcloth!

But what I'm even more thrilled with is that StringTheory2.0 thinks I'm ready to tackle a pattern! I showed her the one I had in mind and she said to go for it! And I've got the perfect yarn waiting for me at home! I'm so excited I'm going to run out of exclamation points! I didn't even realize I had used one to end each sentence!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Bear with me, because this is going to sound ridiculous.

For the longest I was stubbornly monocraftual. Others might hop into the yarn store with every technique they met, but not me. I was faithful to my first love and insisted to everyone in earshot that the charms of crochet alone were enough to keep me satisfied.

The louder we are, the harder we fall...

Now I'm sneaking out to knit nights for fast and furious stockinette sessions. I'm intoxicated. Heedless of the danger, I want to learn everything about my new paramour -- increases, decreases, the works. The Interweave Crochet preview leaves me cold; I'm too busy adding knitting books to my Amazon wish list.

I'm getting careless. I'm leaving all my supplies in the same craft bag. I know I'm going to get caught but I just don't care.

And if that weren't enough to deal with, there's this new craft coming around, whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I'm trying to stall spinning as long as I can, but I just don't know how much longer I can hold out...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blasted different knitting techniques

I should don my flame-proof jacket for this one...

I was knitting at Knitch the other night and sitting next to Kim, the owner of Knitch, and she happened to mention Annie Modesitt to me. I'm not really sure who Annie Modesitt is, but I do know she's a Knitting Goddess and Most Definitely a Big Deal. In particular, Kim mentioned that Annie was going to be teaching a class on combination knitting. Since combination knitting was what I was accidentally doing recently, I was pretty intrigued that a class was being taught on what so many knitters had told me I was doing wrong, and I finally remembered to go check out the class description. (It was a busy weekend. And by "busy weekend," I mean "lots and lots of video games.")

This is not the knitting you are used to! Learn to knit using the Combination Method -- easy to learn and quick to execute, this method is a combination of the Western or German/American/English style of knitting and Eastern/Islamic knitting. Easier and quicker than traditional Western knitting, this method, creates a very even tension with less "rowing out" less wrist strain. If this method is different than how you've been taught, give it a try and you may discover a new love of knitting blooming! If you're a first time knitter - enjoy! You can master this right away!

So I'm reading this and going WAIT A SECOND!!! I was doing this wondrous technique and people kept telling me I was doing it wrong! And now I'm not even sure if I remember how to do it now that I know it's the best thing since sliced bread!

So now that I know that combination knitting is actually a totally acceptable way to knit (and a technique people will pay a lot of money to learn), I'm determined to learn the tricks I need to know to use it. I was already planning to use it for dishcloths and such, but I'm going to figure out how to do the increases and decreases (which I haven't actually learned in any style yet because StringTheory2.0 believes in getting the basics down first) too. I really like combination knitting, for the simple reason that when you're combination knitting, purling doesn't suck.

I know that all the advice came from a place of good intentions, but I just wish someone had taken a minute to explain what combination knitting was (though in all fairness, Nell did explain about the orientation of stitches and how it would be problematic when I started trying to follow patterns) and how it wasn't necessarily wrong per se. I wonder if some people didn't think I knew anything about different knitting styles? I know I'm just a crocheter, but give me a little credit. Isn't it counterproductive to say "knitting must be done this way!" when everyone already knows about variations -- i.e., English vs. continental? A couple of people even implied the person teaching me didn't know what she was talking about, which really made me see red.

Maybe it's just that as far as I know, there's only one way to crochet, but I've never seen this behavior from crocheters. The most you'll get is a "oh, you hold the hook differently than I do," and half the time that's said because the speaker is considering trying that hold herself. One person (and I will not say who, other than to say it's absolutely not me and it's a knitter) surmised that maybe crocheters are generally nicer than knitters. I'm not making it up, folks, just reporting what I'm told.

Also, is it just me, or do some knitters seem to subscribe to a "it's not a real technique until one of the Knitting Goddesses approves it" theory? That doesn't seem to happen in crochet, maybe because we don't really have Crochet Goddesses. Except people who can crochet really fast, we like those.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Out to conquer the world with Teh Cute

Introducing... Sabrina the Pretty Kitty!!

Sabrina (impulsively named a few minutes ago) is actually the first amigurumi I started, but I set her aside while waiting for her eyes to come in. (Aren't her eyes great? I think they make the whole amigurumi. You can get some of your own at Suncatcher Eyes -- they have fast shipping and great prices as well as a beautiful product.)

I embroidered her face, and I think it turned out better than the Big Blue Birdie's. Here's a close-up:

Hi! I see you!

The pattern is Cat and Mouse by Ana Paula Rimoli. If you like it, you'll want to check out her new book, Amigurumi World. I only got my copy last night and haven't gotten to look at it much yet, but I'm thinking it's seriously the best of the amigurumi crop so far.

Oww, my wrists

As fascinated as I am by the two newest obsessions, amigurumi and knitting, I have really got to make some time for one of my old-style loose lacy crochet projects. Afraid of getting rusty? Not really, but the extremely tight single-crochet gauge used in amigurumi is rough on my fingers and the unfamiliarity with holding the knitting needles makes me clutch the needles till my hands hurt. I really need to do a project that's going to feel good. Yes, I love the creativity of amigurumi and I feel erudite learning the basics of knitting, but part of why I got hooked (oww, pun not intended but staying anyway) on crochet is the sheer sensual pleasure of doing it. I wish that didn't sound dirty but I can't think of another way to describe it. Well, maybe I could compare it to a fine meal, but engaging the sense of touch over taste. Sensual isn't synonymous with sexual, after all.

I should have a pair of compression gloves around here somewhere, if I can dig them out from under the piles of yarn. They've never really worked for me before, but if there's a type that's worked for you, let me know. Or maybe I just need to get the hand muscles into shape? (Do we even have hand muscles?)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's like the Crochet Corollary of Murphy's Law or something

My F hook went missing. I looked in all of the obvious spots and in the meantime used my E hook and finally I resigned myself to the fact that it was gone, dropped somewhere along the way or perhaps ferreted away by No No Bad Kitty (or even Good Kitty, she likes stuff) and I just couldn't keep using the E hook. I mean, I could, but I didn't want to.

So I bought a new F hook, Susan Bates, same color as the last one, totally indistinguishable from the last one in fact. And I said to Eve as I paid for it, "Now that I've bought a new one, I'll go home and find the old one."

Sure enough. Within mere hours, I opened a purse pocket I never use (and I don't even remember why I opened it) and found the original F hook.

The crochet gods are laughing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy

So since I started knitting in public I've discovered that knitters are not shy about telling you you're doing it wrong. I know it comes from a good place, but that still doesn't stop me from wanting to cry and fling my needles. (I tend to take these things personally, can you tell?) Not to mention I was getting extremely confused by all the different terms flying about. Combination knitting? The heck is that?

Finally after having to relearn some stuff (with Nell's patient guidance) I came to my senses and surfed over to Oh my gosh. Suddenly things started making sense. Turns out I was combination knitting, which is fine for stockinette dishcloths but not so great for patterns that call for increases and decreases because of the way stitches are oriented on the needles. So it's probably best to learn straight Continental now rather than have to figure out workarounds for combination knitting.

It was totally amazing to me to watch the little videos and finally understand what was going on. The motions of knitting have never made sense to me, but now they do. It blows my mind how quickly I'm picking up things. Not that I can do anything beyond knit and purl yet but... I think part of the reason I was so anti-knit was because I didn't think I could do it, that it was too hard, and I'm so happy to be proving myself wrong.

I was just thinking this morning that the Internet is such an amazing resource for knitters and crocheters. I can't even imagine how much all this information has increased my learning curve, to say nothing of the joy of looking at other people's beautiful work and sharing my own. It's a really good time to be a fiber artist.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Meet the Big Blue Birdie

Over the weekend I decided I really wanted to finish an amigurumi NOW, so I grabbed some yarn and got to work on the first amigurumi pattern I'd added to my queue on Ravelry -- Birds of a Feather by Hannah Kaminsky.

Meet the Big Blue Birdie.

He's a big birdie. That's what happens when you feed your birdies bulky yarn.

He likes sunshine, lollipops, and getting drunk.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I still have to walk before I can run and why is knitting so complicated?

Biting off more than I can chew is nothing new to me. O RLY? I can hear StringTheory2.0 rolling her eyes from over here. So it was only a matter of time till it happened with knitting. The basic stitches are starting to feel natural, so I'm naturally starting to think about what I can make with them. I can now hear StringTheory2.0 beating her head against the wall.

The really funny thing is, ST2 and I were just having a conversation with a third party the other day about how people want to learn to knit and crochet so they can make pretty things and then a lot of them aren't willing to learn the basic steps first. I believe at the time I reassured ST2 that if the urge got to be too strong, I could just go crochet a finished object. See me sticking to that right now?

So I've been doing a little scouting on Ravelry tonight looking for the perfect first knit pattern. And the more of these patterns I try to read, the more befuddled I am. Use a what kind of cast-on? What's wrong with the cast-on I already know? You mean I have to learn another one? I'm starting to remember why it took so long for me to give knitting a chance. I better go crochet a bunch of stuff before my head explodes.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Happy National Crochet Month!

As I learned recently from the Crochet Liberation Front, March is National Crochet Month. I had some great ideas for promoting crochet this month, but then I got distracted by shiny things like amigurumi eyes and learning to knit and Vanderbilt basketball and half-price Valentines chocolate.

So I am going to go with one small idea: If you can track me down in person during the month of March, I will do my utmost to teach you to crochet.* I cannot make guarantees as to my skills as a teacher, as so far the only person I've taught is my ex-future-sister-in-law, and I only managed to teach her the chain stitch. I still consider this quite an accomplishment on my part, as ex-future-sister-in-law is as dumb as a box of dumb rocks.

(I just realized I have two ex-future-sisters-in-law. Both of whom have the intellectual and moral fiber of Cheetos. I think I feel kinda white trash. Oh wait. I am white trash.)

So if you've ever thought you might like to learn to crochet, even if only for edgings on your knitting, by all means, hit me up! I even promise not to smack you if you say things like "crochet sucks. Knitting is better." Though since I am the teacher, I might tell you to write "I will not disparage crochet until I finish learning how to do it" a hundred times.

*This offer available on first-come, first-served basis. Bring your own yarn. Offer not open to ex-future-sisters-in-law. No morning classes. Other restrictions may apply. Offer void where prohibited by law.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Something fun for Leap Day

This picture makes me so happy:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

No, NO... bad kitty.

No No Bad Kitty has had ambitions of mountain climbing recently. This is not good. She'll climb to the top of the cat tree (that is supposed to amuse her so she won't do dumb things like this) and look longingly at the top of the entertainment center where things made of glass are... The Mad Husband and I both yell at her to stop, but she totally ignores us and does whatever she wants to. Occasionally this involves knocking something over.

She just killed my piggy bank.

Of all the things that she could have broken, you would think a piggy bank would be one of the least problematic... it cost four dollars at Wal-Mart and is still available. But I'm all sorts of bummed, because I got that bank in 2000, the summer that Natalia and I lived in Nashville with a guy known as "Chow" (wasn't Asian, but wanted to be) in a crummy house that smelled like dog pee. One night we went "wild" at Wal-Mart (we were so innocent then, we actually drank wine coolers while watching "Pokemon: The First Movie" which we had rented to see how bad it was) and bought a bunch of dumb stuff for the house, including that piggy bank. It always made me think about that summer, and it just kinda broke my heart a little bit to see it lying in pieces on the floor. I didn't know I could get that nostalgic. I must be getting old. ;)

Maybe I should crochet a piggy bank. Bet No No Bad Kitty wouldn't be able to break that. She might eat it, though. No no, Bad Kitty.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Look Mom! I'm purling!

So today StringTheory2.0 decided I had the knit stitch down well enough to move on to purling. Naturally we had to liveblog this too.

Says StringTheory2.0: "The purl face isn't as happy as the knit face."

And getting less happy by the minute.

Now we move on to the swearing.

StringTheory2.0: "Finally, a smile!"

Though really it's more of a sardonic "I can't believe I'm letting this yarn get the better of me" smile.

But even though purling hates me with a passion, it's okay because ST2 says she's never seen anyone work so hard and learn so fast at knitting and I'm "a bit of a fiber prodigy." It's one of the best best best compliments I've ever gotten and it's from the best knitter I know so I wanted to brag a little. Thanks ST2!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Fun with amigurumi

The first meeting of the amigurumi group at Needle Nook was a smashing success. I had worried it would just be the organizers staring at each other, but we had a full table. It was a very fun, relaxed atmosphere (it's hard not to have fun when you're looking at cute, cute amigurumi animals). And bawdy too! I was supposed to blog some of the naughtier moments, but now I can't remember exactly which ones I promised. Two words: willy warmers.

I'm getting close to finished with my first amigurumi -- the cat (but of course!) from Ana Paula Rimoli's Cat and Mouse pattern. I've just got two legs and the ears to go. Of course, I've run out of yarn, but providentially I was using the leftover yarn from my Cupcake sweater. The gauge was off on the first sleeve I made for that sweater, and I almost threw it out a couple of weeks ago, but now I can just frog and finish. For the finishing touch, I'm ordering cat eyes from Suncatchers Eyes, an amazing website I found through the amigurumi group on Ravelry.

It's kinda ironic that I'm so taken with amigurumi right now, considering they use single crochet, my least favorite stitch, and the gauge is so tight that crocheting them is kinda hard on my hands (I'm thinking about making felted thimbles). But all the cute little creatures I want to make keep me going. I'm normally much more of a process crocheter than a product crocheter; I primarily crochet for the pleasure I get from the process, and the finished object is just a nice bonus. But I've always loved cute little toys -- so many times during my childhood, I came up with an idea for some little doll and begged my grandmother to make it for me. I wish I could show her the things I'm making now.

Haven't gotten much crochet or knitting done tonight, but I have a good excuse: I was watching my alma mater, Vanderbilt, whip our cross-state rivals, Tennessee, who just happened to be ranked the #1 basketball team in the nation. Heh. When Tennessee beat Memphis on Saturday night, I turned to the Mad Husband at the buzzer and said "good. That means Vandy will get to beat another number-one team on Tuesday." We'd beaten the last three number-one teams that came to Memorial Gym, so I knew it was just a matter of time. And thank you for indulging me, because I know this paragraph is complete jibberish to most of you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stitch-Stirrers: Tools of the Trade

The latest prompt from Stitch-Stirrers:

Hooks, yarn needles, and stitch markers are all common tools of the trade, but are there any other things you use with your crochet that might not be so common?

Ha. Hahahahahahahaa.

Sure, I have crochet tools. I just rarely have any idea where they are. I'm notorious for saying in a really pitiful voice, "Does anyone have any scissors I can borrow? And a tape measure?" The only reason I manage to keep track of my hooks is I carry them all in my purse. Which can get me some pretty funny looks.

But what's really entertaining is when I start improvising. Like the time a few months ago when I was at a Stitch 'n Bitch at a bar and grill and I cut through a piece of yarn with a butter knife. Don't try this at home, kids.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Too much to do

I should be asleep. Instead I'm torn between practicing my knit stitch and making an amigurumi for tomorrow and writing a long comment on Ravelry that actually has nothing to do with yarn.

The wonderful thing about learning to knit is now there is a whole new world of patterns opening up to me. The bad thing is... there's a whole new world of patterns and I want to make all of them and my Ravelry queue was already so out of control even before I started looking at the knit patterns that this is not looking good for me actually finishing anything anytime this year.

I've been dutifully practicing the knit stitch this weekend -- for one thing, StringTheory2.0 won't teach me the purl stitch until I get the knit stitch down cold, and for another, I'm just kinda amazed by the whole process. I could barely do this or even figure out how it worked on Tuesday, and I'm still not sure how it works, but I'm doing it, pretty comfortably even, though the sharp points are hurting my fingertips. I wonder if it would be overreacting to get some thimbles. Also, my right arm is sore, probably from the way I'm holding the needle. I hope that goes away soon.

Even though I'm still irritated over the whole Son of Stitch 'n Bitch debacle (notice I don't even bother explaining it anymore, because I've griped about it so much that I figure anyone who's talked to me in the past three months has heard about it), and even though I don't think the definition of "edgy" is "put skulls on it", I picked up a copy of the original Stitch 'n Bitch today. What can I say, when it comes to beginning explanations and diagrams, Deb Stoller's the best in the business. That I know of. Feel free to disprove me by sending me other books. :P

In other news, my cousin's picking up crochet again after a long break and just posted her first project to Ravelry -- a super-cute grocery bag. So awesome!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A tragic tale with a happy ending

Last night I was practicing the knit stitch (which is going better -- Eve also learned to crochet before learning to knit so she was able to give me some good advice) and then finished a row and put the yarn, with the needles sticking up out of the ball, on the coffee table. Good Kitty got curious and climbed up on the table and started gnawing on the rubber bands around the ends of the needles. It was absolutely the cutest thing ever and I just regret that I didn't have the camera handy so I could share the cute.

This morning, it had ceased to be so cute. Because someone had, in the dead of night, dragged the yarn off the table, removed the needles, and generally made a mess.

This has happened to my crochet in the past. But crochet doesn't have to keep the hook in place. Knitting has to stay on the needles. Talk about learning the hard way...

So you may be wondering, what's the happy ending in all of this?

I looked at what had been my learn-to-knit swatch, realized it was beyond salvaging (and covered in cat hair), shrugged, cut it off, and guess what?

I know how to cast on!!

Continental cast-on, even!

In fact, I had so much fun casting on that I cast on way too much and ended up having to frog it because it was falling off the needles.

I had no idea! Maybe knitting-by-osmosis does work.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

You got me to knit. Don't push your luck.

Natalia has been tremendously supportive about the whole learning-to-knit thing -- she even soothed my feelings of betrayal with "I'm going to crochet a baby blanket. We can be bi-crafty together!" So I thought I could use her advice:

Me: So I was wondering if you could recommend a good beginning knitting book.

Natalia: Oh yeah! I've got just the book for you...

Me: And I don't want a book by anyone who makes fun of crochet, so Elizabeth Zimmermann is right out.

Natalia: ...Oh. Well, I guess I don't have a book for you.

She was going to recommend Knitting Without Tears. I'm sure it's quite wonderful, I'm sure there are very good reasons that EZ is the goddess of knitting, I'm sure I will check out her work eventually, but right now I'm just not in the mood to learn from someone associated with the phrase "crochet is for servants." Of course I cannot find backup for that incident right now and at any rate I'm sure I'll be accused of blasphemy and burnt at the needles. I'm working on it, people! You don't reorder your worldview overnight!

...The Mad Husband just told me the reason I've had more blog hits lately is because I started talking about knitting. See, I'm even getting it from the non-yarnies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mmmmmm, amigurumi

Eve is a crafty yarn pusher (pun intended). She lured me out to Needle Nook's knit night tonight by calling to let me know that the book I've been anxiously awaiting, Amigurumi Worldby Ana Paula Rimoli, had come in today. SO FREAKING CUTE. I think it's my favorite of the amigurumi books so far (though Eve and I are both impatiently waiting for Creepy Cute Crochet.I mean, who doesn't want to crochet a ninja?). Between all the amigurumi books and the needle felting cute animals books,it's a really good time for people who want to make cute animals. Though I must confess some irritation that the cutest kitty cats I've seen are knitted. Good thing I'm learning to knit, huh?

(Speaking of cute animals, Good Kitty is sitting on my feet to keep them warm. No No Bad Kitty is trying to sit on the space heater. No No Bad Kitty is also known as No No Dumb Kitty.)

I hadn't been to the Needle Nook's knit night before and I think I'm going to start making a habit of it, as the location is extremely convenient and Wednesday is the Mad Husband's night for tabletop RPGs with the boys. Everyone I met was really nice and I'm looking forward to learning from them. (Can you learn to knit by osmosis? Because if you can, I'll just handcuff myself to StringTheory2.0 and save some time.) Unfortunately I was running late tonight and just about the time I felt like I was getting a groove on in my sad little learning-to-knit swatch, it was time to leave. Also, while I've felt very little temptation to break my Lenten vow the past couple weeks, there were some beautiful new shinies that turned my head tonight. In fact, I asked Arlene if Needle Nook would be open on Easter Sunday (answer: no). I'm pretty sure that by Good Friday I'll be sitting on the sidewalk outside the yarn store scaring the people coming out with their purchases. "Hey man... can I sniff your yarn?"

Speaking of, now's a good time to mention that Eve and I are starting a crochet amigurumi group at Needle Nook this Sunday at 4 and if you're local, we would love to see you there! Actually, we'd love to see you even if you're not local, but we'll understand if you can't charter a plane to fly you out for an hour and a half.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Stitch-Stirrers: Favorite Thing About Crochet

And to think that before I started trying to learn to knit, I was going to pass on this prompt because I couldn't think of anything that wasn't cheesy and boring.

What is your favorite thing about crochet?

My favorite thing about crochet is that I get to use a hook to grab that yarn and pull it through, as opposed to a couple of slippery sticks that I'm supposed to grab yarn and transport it with, but instead the yarn slides off and so do a couple of stitches and then I stab myself in the fingertips with the double points and MAN does that hurt.

*huff, huff, huff*

No, of course I'm not cranky. Whyever do you ask?

Look, Mom! I'm knitting!

Well, kinda...

StringTheory2.0 says it's a compliment to me that she started with trying to teach me to cast on instead of casting on for me because she didn't think I could handle it. I choose to believe her, because the alternate is she's trying to drive me crazy as quickly as possible.

Don't let the smile fool you. I was swearing like a sailor. "In, sweep... shit!!"

The face of frustration...

At one point I dropped a stitch and let out a noise of frustration. ST2 was all "you just meowed when you dropped that stitch!" I wasn't intending to meow, but in retrospect, that is what it sounded like.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Valentine Wristwarmer #1

Here's my poor, tortured wristwarmer:

Those loopy things? Those are supposed to be cabled X's... you know, XXX for kisses. Since I was making this as a valentine and all, per Stich-Stirrers' challenge. They look pretty darn lopsided in the picture.

Also, the picture mercifully doesn't show it, but the thumbhole is way too big. As in, half my palm was uncovered. Gotta fix that next time.