Friday, February 29, 2008
Thursday, February 28, 2008
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
(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
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?
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
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.
I have asked StringTheory2.0 to teach me to knit.
[pauses for all the gasps, murmurings of disbelief, and projectile objects thrown by CLF members]
ST2 says she's "highly amused at [my] feelings of pseudo guilt and betrayal." All I can say to that is, it ain't pseudo. Wasn't I dedicating myself to finding all the awesome in crochet? Didn't I insist I'd rather be really good at one fiber art than mediocre at two? Haven't I just caved to the pointy-stick peer pressure?
Entirely possible. I would tell you why I've decided now is the time to learn how to knit, if I had any idea why I'd decided that myself. For unknown reasons, one of the voices in my head has declared that it is time to learn to knit. It's not explaining why, I'm just grateful it isn't telling me it's time to run around with a raw turkey on my head.
So there are really two questions at this point: how quickly will I take to knitting, and will I like it? I know more about how yarn works than the average beginning knitter who hasn't worked with yarn before; will that help or hurt? And what if I like it? Won't I be betraying the crochet cause? I think I need to go chew on my fingernails now, and I don't even chew on my fingernails.
If nothing else, I'll be better able to speak to the differences between crochet and knitting once I learn to do both. Also, I'll probably get more of the knit jokes I hear. I'll find out what an ssk is. That's got to be worth something, right?
ST2 is trying to tell me that the fiber arts are all one big happy family, and I'm not cheating on crochet if I learn to knit. If I find a dismembered amigurumi head in my bed, I'll know she was lying.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Secretly I am convinced that each new stitch guide I see contains special, super-secret stitches that cannot be found anywhere else and will revolutionize my crochet once I find them. The fact that I haven't really found any of these new special stitches in any of the last five stitch guides I've bought does not dissuade me. It just makes it statistically more likely that they'll be in the next stitch guide I buy, right? And so the cycle continues.
And I don't even really want to buy all these stitch guides! I'd rather save my book money for books with actual patterns to make cute clothes and adorable little amigurumi! Probably the only two of my stitch guides I use on a regular basis are The Crochet Stitch Bible and Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet. And yet I keep looking at every new stitch guide I see and half the time I order them anyway.
I think the saddest part of all this might be that I've even read the part of Crocheting in Plain English where Maggie Righetti explains how she fell prey to thinking a stitch guide would solve all her problems and then when she got it it was all just variations on filet crochet and I still fall for it.
It's a relief to realize that even though it's not the perfect image I had in my head, it's still something I can be proud of. I'd never made a wristwarmer before, and I wasn't working from a pattern. And the next one will be that much better for what I've learned.
In fact, I probably wouldn't be bummed at all if it weren't for the fact that now my beautiful Road to China is all fuzzy...
Saturday, February 16, 2008
(The Mad Husband is confused. "Weren't you making it up as you went along?" Well, yes, but that doesn't mean I'm happy with it.)
The really special thing about these gloves is the yarn -- it's Road to China by the Fibre Company. Well, I really should have contained myself and practiced these in crap yarn first, because now the lovely lovely yarn has fuzzed. And the more it fuzzed, the less willing I was to frog and try again, because I didn't want to mess up the beautiful yarn any more. This is a problem. It's no good to have beautiful yarn if you're too scared to use it. I'm so bummed. Also, the thumbhole is too big and looks unwieldy. I might have enough Road to China left to make an all-new pair once I get my pattern figured out, but I'm not sure.
I made pattern notes, so I guess now it's time to get out some crap yarn and fool with it until I feel like it's refined enough for another try with the Road to China. I might also look at some other wristwarmer patterns to see how various designers handle the thumbhole. I thought about it earlier but really felt it would be cheating. I still kinda feel that way but now that I've tried it myself, I want to learn about better ways of handling it.
I may have to walk before I can run, but I don't have to be happy about it.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
The Five Stages of Grief Over the Relative Unpopularity of Crochet
Stage 1 -- Denial. "There must be other crocheters out there... somebody said somewhere that there are three times as many crocheters as knitters. I don't know who said it, but I've heard it everywhere so it must be true!"
Stage 2 -- Anger. "What is wrong with all these knitters? Why don't they like crochet? Why do some of them make fun of crochet? What's wrong with them? Is the Mad Crocheter going to have to choke a bitch?!"
Stage 3 -- Bargaining. "I can show people! I can get knitters to love crochet too! I can crochet really cool things and learn to design and then they'll all see that crochet is cool too!"
Stage 4 -- Depression. "This sucks. I'm going to quit Ravelry. And hide under a rock. A really big rock. No wait, screw that. I'll just hide under my yarn. It's softer."
Stage 5 -- Acceptance. "Ah well... now I have more time to crochet!"
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I just frogged the whole thing.
I'm not sure what keeps going wrong with this one, though I'm starting to suspect it's the short deadline. First I forgot to take it to knit night, then I kept missing up my stitch count, then I found out I don't know nearly as much about crocheted cables as I thought I did, plus the yarn is fuzzy so fibers started sticking together, and I think that's the part that made me decide to let 'er rip and come back to it later with fresh eyes because honestly, that yarn is too nice (and too expensive) to screw around with.
It's times like this when I really wish I knew more local crocheters that I could turn to and ask what I'm doing wrong. My knitting friends and I can coo over each other's projects and discuss yarn and snark on bad patterns and all that, but while they can turn to each other for stitch advice, I'm on my own. While in some ways I think it's been good for me to have to figure things out myself, I can't help but think I could really use some help right now. I visited a really awesome crochet meetup recently so I think that will change soon, but it's not much help tonight.
If I can get this concept out of my head and onto my hook, I think it'll be my best piece of crochet so far. The problem is getting it out, but I guess there's only one way to learn that. In the meantime, I've still got a Valentine to take care of. I wonder where I can get a copy of Ocean's Thirteen at this hour?
Monday, February 11, 2008
I was feeling so proud of myself for not being tempted at all... until this morning, when I got the email announcing the KnitPicks fall yarn clearance. Oops. Pride goeth before a fall yarn clearance.
It's okay though. I'm hanging in there. Mostly because my stash boxes are overflowing and I've got to get some of this stuff crocheted up before the cats eat it.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
But you know that feeling you get when you realize that something is just never going to happen? Yeah. While theoretically I could knock out that lace edging in one evening, I just don't think I ever will.
I was so excited when I started that sweater. I picked it out of The Happy Hooker as my first "real" garment, as opposed to hats and scarves. And that was right around the time I started going to Knitch, and I was so excited because they had the recommended yarn, Cascade Sierra, in dozens of gorgeous colors. And it was the most I'd ever spent for one project, but that was okay because it kinda felt like my first real project, with sleeves and everything! I was so proud when I brought that yarn home. I felt like I was finally becoming a real crocheter.
And I learned a whole lot from that sweater. The initial chain stitch was way too small, and I did the seed stitch in the middle section all wrong and had to take the sweater to Needle Nook and ask Beth for help. I had to frog that thing so many times.
And back then, I thought I just couldn't figure it out and it was my problem, but now that I'm on Ravelry and can look at other versions of the sweater other crocheters have made and posted, I can see that a lot of people had some of the same issues I did. So later on this sweater helped me learn about design flaws, and trusting myself and finding workarounds (or, actually, begging on the internet for workarounds).
So the Unseamly Sweater is a bit of a nostalgia item for me, but it's also a sweater that I doubt I'll ever wear because I don't think the tight-fitting seed stitch middle is particularly flattering on me. And now that I've admitted I'll probably never finish it, I find myself thinking about what I could do with 1300 yards of Cascade Sierra in ruby.
It'll probably take a while for me to take the leap and actually frog the sweater, but I'm something of a packrat (actually, a huge packrat would be more accurate) and the fact that I'm willing to tear up something with sentimental meaning to get at the yarn really speaks to the depths of my yarn addiction.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Once I wound the yarn (and that was a project in itself), I got started. It was my first time working with linen, and I was really pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed working with the Euroflax, especially considering how different it is from the yarns I usually prefer. It's rough, and very splitty. But, I don't know, there's just something about working with linen... cultural memory, maybe? I remarked to StringTheory2.0 about how I had always thought of linen as being very fine, since all the Renaissance poets wrote about "flaxen hair," and I guessed it was just because it was the only fiber they had. ST2 pointed out that making linen is really elaborate and time-consuming, so it could have been the expense that made the poets think of it.
But you don't want to hear about a couple of English majors geeking out on Renaissance poetry. You want pictures!
So there it is. So far it seems very nice and sturdy, and I plan to use it for grocery trips. See? It's green and it's green! And now I feel energized to tackle something new.
Oh! And since this was yarn that had been in my stash since last August, I've finally gotten started on Stash Knit Down 2008!
So I'm giving up buying yarn for Lent.
(Natalia: "Oh honey, are you going to be okay?"
Me: "I thought about giving up booze, but I didn't want to totally set myself up for failure.")
There are spiritual reasons I'm doing this, but I'm not going to bore you with them. Unlike American presidential candidates, I think there's something to be said for keeping one's faith a private matter. But I have practical reasons too (are you allowed to have practical reasons for what you give up during Lent, or does that negate it?):
- I have made no progress on the Stash Knit Down 2008. In fact, I've bought more yarn in the new year, so I've actually made less than no progress.
- I'm running out of places to put yarn. Also, I'm running out of the not-really-places I put yarn when I've run out of places to put yarn. It's either this or storing yarn in the sink.
- Likewise, I do not need to be spending money on yarn. Or anything else, for that matter. I'm going to have to watch myself carefully to make sure I don't fill the yarn-shaped void with BPAL.
I had myself a mini-Mardi Gras of sorts on Monday, when I dropped by Knitch for one last purchase. Tempting though it was to drape myself in beads and go wild, I only got four skeins though, all for projects I'm going to need to finish in the near future. Believe me, I thought about the wild spree, but then thought if I did so I would be quite probably missing the point.
I'll probably chronicle a little bit of this here, and yes, if I fail I will admit it. And I fully acknowledge the irony of the co-mod of lazy, stupid and godless giving up something for Lent. I've already gotten laughed at quite roundly, so I don't mind if you laugh too. It builds character.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
First impression is always how the yarn looks. I saw a beautiful display of colorful yarn in an old-style washbucket and asked Nell what it was, not realizing it was the very yarn I've been so eager to see. Nell was casting on with one skein and offered me another to hook with. I pulled a G hook (the yarn is sport-weight) out of my purse (crochet hooks, don't leave home without 'em) and went to work.
Skinny Cotton is reallllly nice. The texture isn't as fluffy as BSA Dyed Cotton, but I guess that's probably not feasible with such a small yarn. I was so excited that I think I crocheted too tight, but I'm really looking forward to trying it with different hook sizes to see what happens. I think this is going to be a really great yarn for crochet.
Monday, February 4, 2008
See what I mean? Not so much gloves as an elementary-school friendship bracelet gone horribly, misshapenly wrong.
Don't cry, pretty silk lace yarn. You're going to a better place, as soon as Mommy finds herself a steel crochet hook.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
This is Laurie Rossbach's Cold Shoulders Capelet, from Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker. I'm generally not big into capelets, but I was really taken with this pattern, and I'm really, really pleased with how this one turned out. I was afraid the Suri Dream from KnitPicks might be too heavy to be a good substitute, but I think it worked out just beautifully. The alpaca is light but very warm. The pattern is clearly written and very easy to follow; I think it would make a good first garment project. I plan to keep this at work for days when the air conditioning is just too chilly.
I have a bit of a sentimental attachment to this project because it was the first thing I brought to knitting group that got passed around the table and cooed at. Though I dare you to pick up some Suri Dream and not coo. It's so soft.
Thanks to the co-worker who volunteered to model (the shirt I was wearing would have clashed horribly).
Friday, February 1, 2008
Originally I was worried the socks were going to come out too small; now it seems like the left one (the only one that's gotten past the cuff) is probably going to be too big. And I should have learned more about the anatomy of socks before getting started. I'm not sure where the heel flap is supposed to end. Does it go to the bottom of the heel and then stop? What if I don't have the right number of rows yet? Normally I'd probably set about experimenting and making it up at this point, but it's been a long week and I'm tired. And I don't think I have any mindless crochet projects currently going, aside from a baby blanket that I'm just not in the mood for.
I'm wondering if I should just frog the whole thing and start over. I think making that decision tonight would qualify as rash, though. I guess I'll just go back to screwing around on Ravelry. Carpenoctem invited me to co-moderate the lazy, stupid, and godless group (intentionally lowercase because we're too lazy to capitalize), founded to mess with those who declare anyone who occasionally enjoys a good swear as "lazy, stupid, and godless." It's off to a smashing start!