Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What does this yarn want to be???

I’m in the middle of knitting some bed socks, and I’m facing a crisis…

I bought this beautifully colored yarn at the CT Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival for the expressed purpose of making socks. The picture (the two skeins at the bottom) really doesn’t do the beautiful colors justice. I really wanted to get enough yarn to make a sweater, but the vendor only had two skeins. I knew the yarn was going to be a bit too thick for conventional socks, so I settled on the idea of some bed/house socks, knit on #3 needles.

I cast on with great excitement, but now my excitement has been replaced with a gnawing, combined sense of dread and panic.

The yarn is WAY too rough for socks. It’s way too rough, in fact, for ANYTHING you’d want to put anywhere near your skin! If I were knitting brillo pads, it would be ideal, but somehow I don’t see creating utilitarian kitchen scrubbies with $$$ wool.

I posted to that wise and trusted Oracle, better known as Ravelry, and have gotten various responses about washing the article after the fact in shampoo and putting conditioner and vinegar in the rinse water, which sounds like a good suggestion. However, I’m panicking, thinking to myself, “What if it DOESN’T WORK???” What if I end up with nasty, scratchy socks that, far from providing warm tootsies on a cold winter’s night, cause the recipient to spend half the night frantically scratching themselves?

I keep thinking perhaps I should just create something else with the yarn, but what? It’s too thin for a hat, and again, it’s too scratchy for mittens, gloves, or a scarf.

My best course of action may be to just carry on, knitting away, hoping that I can remedy the situation after the fact, as all those kind people on Ravelry are insisting I can. It may be just a matter of having faith…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Afghans for Afghans Vest Finished!

I'm happy to report that I'm FINALLY finished with the tiny vest for Afghans for Afghans!

I used the Baby/Toddler Vest pattern by Plymouth Yarn Company and Cascade 220 Tweed yarn. My sticking point was sewing on the buttons. In a later post, I'll elaborate on just how much I hate to sew--especially buttons onto a vest or cardigan, seeing as I always obsess over making sure they are sewn on evenly and right where the corresponding buttonholes are on the other side.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the organization, Afghans for Afghans is humanitarian project that sends hand-knit and crocheted vests, sweaters, socks, hats, mittens, and blankets to the people of Afghanistan to help them survive the winter months. I am, of course, paraphrasing from their website, which is at:


You can go to the site to review all the criteria for sending an item. The most important thing is that it be a natural fiber like wool or alpaca--something that will keep people warm--they don't want acrylic. I've made socks and sweaters for them in the past. You can send items right to the address on the website. It's usually best to find out specifically what they need. This summer, their campaign was for socks. At other times, they are looking for children's clothing. A while back, they were looking for women's shawls, and they had to be certain dimensions, so that the women could wrap them as head coverings. It's always important to read the guidelines carefully to make sure you understand exactly what they are looking for--there are certain restrictions when it comes to clothing for Muslims.

Right now, our LYS, Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT (http://www.creativefibersonline.com/), is collecting children's vests to send to Afghans for Afghans. The store's deadline is September 12, 2010. They have the Baby/Toddler Vest pattern by Plymouth Yarn Company available, which last I checked was free ($1 donation suggested to help with their shipping costs). Their number is 860-687-9931 if you want more information.

Whether you are for or against our involvement in Afghanistan, I think we can all agree that innocent people are suffering and need our assistance--especially the children. I find that, all too often, I get so caught up in my everyday life and drama that I forget about others who need help. This is one small way for me to give back...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Too sick to knit?

I'm lying in bed with a headache that's threatening to be a migraine. It's at that stage where you're not quite sure...it could just develop into a "headache" headache, or a full-blown migraine. Not sure at this point. Sometimes I get the aura, but if I wake up with a migraine, I usually don't. Do I go work out, or do I rest? Do I go out of the house for ANYTHING, or do I not chance it?

I'm tempted to go ahead with my day for one reason:

I still feel like knitting...

Yes, this is the great barometer that determines just how sick, depressed, or frazzled I am. If I don't want to knit, that's an indication that it's time to just rest and just be.

Because, if I don't want to knit...then it's very, very bad...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Yarn Sirens Beckon...

The Yarn Sirens Beckon…

…or is it the voices in my head???

Once again, I'm sitting at work, happily sipping my morning tea, going through the morning's emails, and generally trying to relax before the onslaught of endless meetings that seems to pass as my workday lately.

All of a sudden, I begin to hear them…

"The yarn store…the yarn store…the yarn store…"

I try to ignore them, as I scroll through all the 100 emails people have decided I just HAD to see.

"The yarn…the yarn…you must go buy the yarn…"

I try to reason with the Sirens. I explain that my project won't run out of yarn until at least a week from now, if that. There is NO NEED to go to the yarn store before then.

"The color might not be there…you must go…now…now…NOW!"

I remind them that probably no one is going to have a sudden, urgent need for bright yellow-orange Plymouth Encore between now and next week.

"It may be gone…the dye lot may be GONE…you must go…now…"

I sigh, realizing they have a point. Granted, it wouldn't be the end of the world if the dye lot for the edge differed from the body of the blanket, but you never know.

"You never know…you never know…"

I have these conversations frequently with the Yarn Sirens. It all began years ago, when I was knitting a sweater for a dear friend and was running out of yarn. It was Patons Classic Wool in Palais, a colorway that was fairly new back then, so you couldn't find it anywhere in our area except for AC Moore, 40 minutes from here. That day at work, the Yarn Sirens made their debut. They implored me to "go to AC Moore…go to AC Moore…"

On a whim, I picked up the phone and called AC Moore to find out if they even had Palais. The good news is that they did. The bad news is that they couldn't hold it for me until I could get there at 4:30. I considered just taking a chance and waiting, but the Sirens nixed the idea.

"You must go now…now…NOW!"

I asked the woman on the phone if she could at least hold the yarn until Noon, and she agreed. The Fates (or the Yarn Sirens, perhaps) were on my side, as everyone was either out of work that day or at endless meetings. I raced out of there, hauled a** down the highway, and got to AC Moore just before Noon. True to her word, the nice woman had held the yarn for me.
To make this an even sweeter deal, IT WAS THE SAME DYE LOT!

This is why I always do what the Yarn Sirens tell me…and which is why I got my butt out the door to go get that yellow-orange yarn. ("You never know…you never know…")
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Idea...or, why I'm just not like other people...

I've decided I'm just not hardwired like other people...

In my daily existence, I'm surrounded by people whose idea of a good time is yelling their lungs out at a sporting event, (whether this be pro-ball or little league, and whether this be in person or on their own sofa with a bag of Doritos), going to some far-flung part of the globe, but somehow losing their luggage in Albuquerque, or drinking themselves into a stupor and dancing the night away. Okay, I do get the dancing...this is probably the only “active” activity I share with my fellow people...I adore dancing.

However, no one around me, except for the select few who know but tolerate my oddness, appreciates my excitement over completing the Saturday crossword without peeking at the answers on-line. They don't get enjoyment of an entire afternoon reading a Dan Brown book, and getting sucked into Robert Langdon’s crazy existence of conspiracy theories and Pagan symbolism, while sitting in a lawn chair outside, listening to the animal life in the backyard. Between the squirrels, the chipmunks, the myriad species of birds, the deer, the wild turkeys, and the occasional bear, we have more wildlife than Animal Planet.

Most importantly, no one quite gets the excitement of puzzling out a pattern...

I have an idea for a sweater pattern. I want to make a yoke sweater, but—speaking of Langdon—I want to put Pagan symbols all along the yoke of the sweater and around the sleeves. I have searched on-line, I have asked the 200 kajillion knitters on Ravelry, I have asked sentient, in-the-flesh human beings, and no one has any idea where I can find exactly what I’m looking for. I knew it was going to be a crap shoot to find an actual sweater pattern like this, but I figured I could at least find some motif patterns to incorporate into a basic yoke. No dice. Anything I’ve found so far is entirely too large. I want small, subtle shapes that will make a large, beautiful final design.

On my way to the hairdresser the other day, it hit me...I’m going to have to create the pattern myself!

As I drove along, I began puzzling out in my head how I would approach this—what symbols to use, how to arrange them, how large should they be, etc. Do I want to go with one row of each design, or do I want the rows that are varied? Do I want this to be multi-colored, or do I want to do just black and white? Do I want this to be just the yoke, or do I want to do something different with the collar? Do I...?

In this frame of mind I walked into the hair salon.

“So,” my hairdresser cheerfully asks, “What have you been doing with your summer?”

You know telling her that I was in the process of designing a Pagan sweater wasn’t going to be Answer #1...

“Not much...”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

KIP-in' Around!

I love the things people say when I’m knitting or crocheting in public:

“I’m telling myself that, NO, I don’t have to ever knit with those things EVER!!!” – This from a knitting friend, watching me knit a sock with DPNs (double pointed needles).

“Is that a scarf?” (It’s long, it’s not wide, it’s wool – what did you think it was???)

“Why are you knitting socks??? They’re on sale at Wal-Mart this week!”

“Are you having a baby?” – I was crocheting a baby blanket in the dentist’s waiting room.

Oh, and my all-time favorite…I was knitting in the allergist’s waiting room. My allergist is notorious for keeping all his patients waiting, so I always plan ahead and bring something to work on. On this particular occasion, I decided to bring a sweater (me knit a sweater…surprise!) I was working on—the Hourglass Sweater pattern. As I was happily working away on the sweater, a woman approached me.

“What are you doing???”

This was a fair enough question, seeing as I was knitting the sleeve, which didn’t really look like a sleeve yet. When I explained it was a sleeve to a sweater, she stared at it, incredulously, and said,

“But WHY all the needles?” I explained that I was knitting it in the round on DPNs.

She continued to stare at the sleeve on the four DPNs, looking like she fully expected it to attack her at any second.

“Why aren’t you using normal needles and knitting it the NORMAL way?” I told her that a) the pattern isn’t written like that, and b) even if the pattern called for the “normal” way, I always convert sweaters to in-the-round.

“Are you sure?”

“I’ve done several sweaters in the round, just like this.”

She stared for several minutes more, and then said, “Well, I guess that could work…”

The only thing that saved me from busting out laughing was the doctor calling my name!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Walks like a duck...

I'm knitting a dear friend a baby blanket...

I could base an entire post on the fact that I'm getting rather alarmed by the fact that so MANY of my friends and acquaintances appear to be warming little buns in the oven. In my case, seeing as I bat for the other team, it would have to be the immaculate conception to come even close to emulating them, but it's alarming all the same! LOL...

That being neither here nor there, I'm making the Hooded Duck Blanket by Susan Backus Starr. This is what it's ultimately going to look like:

This is how far I've gotten so far:

In fine honored tradition, I've already frogged it completely once, due to not liking how the increases were looking. Using a bar increase was causing the edges to pull in, which made the entire blanket pucker horribly. I decided instead to use the Elizabeth Zimmermann method of increasing (the backwards loop), which looks much nicer.

As you can see, while the ending parts are going to be fun - the alternating color I-cord edging, the ducky hood, the tassel, the bill - the main part of this blanket is a major snooze. I've been knitting row upon row upon ROW of ENDLESS garter stitch. I've been doing a lot of KIP-ing (knitting-in-public), knitting in front of the TV, knitting while listening to NPR podcasts, and knitting at my SnB group. If I thought I could knit and walk the treadmill at the same time, I'd do that, too - anything to relieve the mind-numbing boredom. My only consolations are that a) I love the look and feel of garter stitch, and b) this should be adorable when it's finished.

Now, if I could only think up other things to do while knitting before I slip into a coma...zzzzzzzzz...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nook/Kindle Cover Pattern - Crochet

As promised, here is the pattern for my Nook/Kindle Cover:

Hook: 8.0 mm (L)

Yarn: Reynolds Lopi, 1 skein, 110 yds, LOPI-0738 Cranberry Heather

Gauge: Row gauge is not important, as you will just repeat until piece measures 20". The stitch gauge would be approximately 1 shells = 1" with the entire width measuring 6 1/2" across.

Adjust the gauge, if necessary, by adding multiples of 3. Basically, you want to make the strip wide enough so that when you fold it over and sew it, your Nook or Kindle will fit snugly inside.

Ch 19

Row 1: sc in 2nd ch from hook & sc across (18 s.c.)
Row 2: ch 1, (sc, ch1, dc) in 1st st to form V, (skip next 2 sts, sv in next st) across to last 2 sts, skip next st, hdc in last st. ch 1 and turn - you should have 6 V stitches.
Row 3: (sc, ch1, dc) in each ch 1 space across, hdc in turning ch 1 of previous row. Ch 1 & turn - again, you should have 6 V stitches.

Repeat Row 3 until strip measures 20”. Fasten off.


Fold the strip around the Nook/Kindle, to make sure you have the right measurement for the “pocket.”

Keep the strip folded, start at the bottom, and crochet the folded strip together (using sc), to create the pocket.

When you get to the "flap," crochet around in sc for a border.

Then, continue connecting the folded strip on the other side, forming the other side of the pocket. fasten off and cut yarn.

You can then sew snaps for the closure, or just crochet a long chain to use as a cord to tie up the bag.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Amigurumi - Who, me???

Those who know me well know I'm not one to follow the herd. I'm probably the only person left on the North American continent who has not read the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or whatever the book is called, because I just can't bring myself to read what everyone else is reading. I refuse to knit a shrug, on account of I just don't GET shrugs--they look like you couldn't quite afford the whole sweater. Ditto for capri pants, and don't get me started on those weird shoes with no backs...

Having said this, I've had a change heart about one craze...the Amigurumi mania currently sweeping the knitting/crocheting world. You can't cruise a website, peruse a catalogue, or darken the doors of a LYS without running into patterns for or people busily knitting/crocheting cute little stuffed creatures. I've seen patterns for snakes, dragons, dogs, cats, bunny rabbits, teddy bears (I haven't seen one for an iguana yet, but it's only a matter of time). I had previously SWORN up and down that I would NEVER make one of those things because, for one, it's just not practical. I'm mainly a sweater maniac. Knitting sweaters is fun, challenging, and new clothes all at the same time. If something doesn't have a useful purpose, I'm just not interested.

For another thing...well, I hate to admit this, but our house is overrun with cute little stuffed critters. We have this sickness where every time we're anywhere--on vacation, in the drug store, at the supermarket for God's sake--we're instantly drawn to the stuffed animal display and are just COMPELLED to add yet another addition to our already large inanimate family. If this were cats, the Board of Health would have been here by now. I'm just praying that the local facility my mother would have called "The Happy Hatch" doesn't get wind of us...It's gotten so out of control that at this juncture, we have declared a moratorium on any more purchases that could possibly be a playmate for "The Bandit Bear."

Okay, where was I? Oh, yes, I found an Ami critter that was too cute to pass up:

He's the Lion Brand "City Mouse Toy" from the knit patterns on their site. Is he, or is he not the cutest little fellow you've ever seen? The beautiful thing is that I got a killer deal on the yarn at Michael's Arts and Crafts (out-of-control stash-building is another topic best saved for another time). I'm rationalizing this by swearing that I'm going to make him as a present for someone else...that is, unless The Bandit Bear takes a shine to him...