Thursday, December 29, 2011

New toy!

I'm happy to report that I got a new toy for iPad! I'd post a picture, but I haven't figured out yet how to do that from the iPad!

If any of you knitters and crocheters out there have any App suggestions for me, I'm all ears!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tall Cables Jacket complete!

I'm happy to report I've FINALLY finished my crocheted Tall Cables Jacket.  It's a pattern from Herrschners.  The cables were very easy to do.

You can find the pattern at Herrschner’s website:

The only thing that I had to do was to widen the button band and band on the other side a bit more than what the pattern specified.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hectic Holidays

I find, every year, that this is a season of hustle and bustle—that has NOTHING to do with the usual holiday preparations people make.

Never mind the tree-trimming, wrapping, cooking, baking, etc. If you are a crafter of any kind, this is the time of year where stringent deadlines MUST be met. Knitted and crocheted items must be finished, washed, blocked, and, in some cases, shipped to other parts of the country. I have three things I’m frantically trying to complete for this year.

1) I have a baby blanket and baby sweater I made for a coworker that needs to be washed and dried. I have to find some sort of box for this, wrap it, and then find out if we are doing a shower for my coworker or if I should just give this to her.  If this is the case, I need to find out her maternity leave date—unless I want to ship the entire thing to India.

2) I have an afghan knitted in washable wool that I need to toss into the machine and PRAY that it is indeed as washable as the label claims. It’s enormous, so I have to figure out somewhere to dry it, too. Then I have to find a suitable box, bring it to the post office, and hope it’s not too much money to ship to my niece.

3) I’m also engaged in selfish crafting. I’m finishing up a crocheted jacket that I’m hoping to have ready for the holidays. I’m still struggling to get the collar and button band crocheted correctly. You can’t tell from the picture (the model has long hair that is obscuring the collar), but it appears I’m supposed to be making a shawl collar. The pattern is a little fuzzy on how to go about this, so I’m actually winging it.

Next year, I plan to start this process in JANUARY…

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seriously, I’m the authority???

I don’t know about the rest of you, but since I’ve started knitting and crocheting in public (KIP or CIP), I’ve discovered an odd thing. People start to think of you as the authority on your craft.

Now, I’m not even close to being the authority. While I love to knit and crochet and love a good challenge (my next plan is to learn Entrelac), I’m far from being an expert. I have one friend who’s capable of not only knitting two sleeves at the same time using two circular needles—she’s capable of doing this and carrying on a conversation at the same time! I have as of yet to figure out how to knit garter stitch and talk, let alone anything else. I have friends who have mastered the art of felting, lace, and still others who are complete experts at stranded knitting. I can do these things, too, but there is usually a liberal use of life-lines, swearing, and honestly, I’ve only ever felted by accident.

In spite of this, I find I constantly have people approach me about knitting, like I’m some sort of ambassador the Kingdom of Yarndom. I’ve had people come up to me at doctor’s offices, Starbucks, support groups, work—work is the funniest. One time, a manager burst into one of my work meetings, clutching a granny square afghan. She spread it out on the conference table, and asked, “Why is this CROOKED?” Just recently, one of my coworkers asked if it would be possible for me to teach her how to knit. Right now, I have her checking the needles she bought for size, so that I can bring in suitable yarn for her. One person came up to me yesterday, wanting to know how to sew knitted sweater pieces together.

In some cases, it doesn’t even matter if they’ve seen me KIP—sometimes, the people are complete strangers who just happen to have heard about me through a coworker or friend.

Now, if I could just figure out how to make money from this…

Friday, November 4, 2011

Knitting, Crocheting, and “Snowpocalypse”

Last Saturday, we in New England were all hit by Storm “Alfred.” What started out as a freak snowstorm, where we thought the worst would happen was that we’d have to shovel our way out of 8” of snow, quickly turned into a nightmare. Due to heavy snow on limbs still covered with leaves, several of our trees came down; along with enormous pine branches (we have 100-foot pine trees on our property). The entire night you could hear popping and cracking up in the trees as more and more debris rained down onto the house. About two hours into the storm, we lost our power—which means we lost our electricity, our heat, and our running water.

The next morning we ventured outside and found that our two beautiful trees in the front yard were decimated to the point where there’s hardly anything left but the trunks. The ENTIRE front yard was filled with debris. Dogwood trees came down in the backyard, and again, the entire area was covered with branches and limbs. The roof was covered, to the point where I couldn’t tell the people at CL&P whether or not our electrical wires were still attached to the house. It was the sort of fall-out that we couldn’t possibly clear out ourselves, but would need professionals ($$$).

Despite all this, we count ourselves lucky in that a) we were unhurt, and b) the house and cars were fine. We STILL don’t have power, but there is a shelter in town where we can get warm, charge up things, get coffee, etc. The seniors in town are bunking there overnight.

An odd thing happened…I didn’t want to knit or crochet. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because I usually do my yarn work with others, and that was impossible, as NO ONE had power, and certainly not the usual hangouts at which we congregate. My other favorite thing is to knit or crochet in front of the TV (out of the question), or listening to a podcast (I couldn’t waste the battery power on my Blackberry listening to podcasts). Also, everything I’m working on, except for the socks, is sort of complicated, which means I can’t work under low light, and I didn’t feel like doing the socks—too boring.

Also, I think I was (and still am) in a state of shock. At most, in the past, we’ve lost power for a day or two—not SEVEN, and we’ve never had the house and yard in the kind of shape they’re in.

I’m hoping to get back to normal yarn work next week, when (hopefully) we’ll have power and things will be (quasi) normal again.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Peer Pressure...not just for teenagers

I confess there was a yarn transgression last night...

Our LYS, Creative Fibers in Windsor, CT, was having a "Booth in a Store" party last night, as they are not going to be a Stitches East this year. It was a fun time! There was food, raffles, knitting and crocheting, community, and yes...much yarn purchasing.

My original idea was to spend around $100 (probably a lot less) on some yarn for a baby blanket for yet another pregnant coworker--I'm convinced there is SOMETHING in the water at my workplace. Anyway, I didn't see the Encore colors I was looking for, but just then one of my friends saw a sweater displayed. I confess, I've been looking at the same sweater for months. It's make out of Misti Alpaca Chunky Yarn - very simple, but elegant. 

Before I could say "I'm on a budget!" my friend was summoning someone over to find us the pattern, which turned out to be the Bulky Neckdown Pullover for Women by Knitting Pure and Simple. I kept protesting that I really shouldn't spend this kind of money on a sweater for myself, but one of my friends suggested I try on the display sweater. I looked in the mirror and had to admit it looked good on me. Also, bulky alpaca will probably be just the ticket for surviving yet another winter in ill-heated spaces.

So...I ended up buying the yarn and the pattern. I don't really regret it, as I DID need another easy project as a take-along project, and it WILL make a nice sweater...

Who says peer pressure is only for teens???

Friday, October 7, 2011

Helpful Hint #20: Simple projects don’t necessarily require a pattern

I had a spiritual awakening the other day.

Once again, we have a coworker who is showing every sign of having a little bun in the oven. I’d love to knit her a baby blanket, but in keeping with my earlier post, I really want to make a very SIMPLE baby blanket this time around. I stumbled upon a blanket online that completely meets my needs–Stockinette Stitch with a Seed Stitch border. It looks like one can just either knit two worsted weight strands together or use a bulky yarn. It’s just PERFECT.

I remembered that I had this pattern in a booklet at home, but after scouring my entire book and pattern collection (this took a while); I came to the conclusion that I must have either tossed it out with the recycling or accidentally given it away with all my old knitting and crocheting magazines. I contemplating spending more $$$ to buy another one…but then I had my spiritual awakening. Wait for it…wait for it…


The way I figure it, I usually knit 2.75 per inch in Stockinette Stitch for worsted weight yarn, using Size 13 needles, and 2.75 x 30 = 82.5. Therefore, I’ll need to cast on 82 stitches for a baby blanket that’s 30 inches wide. Actually, to account for the differing Seed Stitch gauge, I will just cast on 8 less stitches (74), do 10 rows of Seed Stitch, and then add the 8 stitches evenly across the row when I get to the Stockinette section with 5 Seed Stitches on either side. I’ll keep going until I get to around 38–39 inches, then decrease 8 stitches evenly across the row before I do another 10 rows of Seed Stitch. DONE.

As far as colors go, I may go crazy and buy more yarn, or I may just take yarn I already have and mix and match for stripes.

There. I just saved myself money on a booklet that I’m probably going to find again someday when cleaning…

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Helpful Hint #19: Lifelines...not just for lace

I discovered the "life" saving value of a lifeline the time I was knitting the Estonian Lullaby Baby Blanket (pattern here: It's a beautiful pattern, but I was fairly new to knitting, so I was just mortified when I had to rip back several rows because I had made a major mistake further down the blanket. It was even MORE mortifying when I had to then put all those stitches back onto the needle. It wasn't very long after this that my yearly eye exam revealed that I needed reading glasses. Coincidence?

Anyway, a friend suggested that I use a lifeline for the rest of the project. For those who do not know, a lifeline in knitting is a long piece of yarn that you thread through the live stitches on your needle for a row. It doesn't affect the gauge (I usually use a much thinner piece of yarn than the working yarn). The beautiful thing is that if you make a mistake, you can just rip out the knitting down to that row, and then easily thread those stitches off the lifeline back onto your needle. After you've completed your project, you can then gently pull the lifeline out. No more picking through the knitting, using a crochet hook to pick up all the stitches that you're trying to get back onto the needle, because of course they've dropped--cursing and swearing the entire time.

People usually associate a lifeline with lace, but you can use it for any complicated knitting pattern. In choosing a row for your lifeline, it's best to pick one from which it's easy to start over, say Row 1 of an 18-row repeating pattern. For instance, if you have to rip back any cable pattern, it's almost impossible to figure out how far down "Row 1" is, I don't care how easy the repeat. Ditto for any "holey" pattern or any complicated repeating pattern.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Helpful Hint #18: It's not a mystery the pattern through!

Stop me if you've read this before:


Then the next row:

"k2, p3, p2tog..."

THEN you read:

"At the SAME TIME" or "Concurrently"...

...and then you throw the pattern across the room and scream a bunch of bad words that would have gotten your mouth washed out with soap, once upon a time (some of us are older knitters than others).

We knitters and crocheters have all, at one time or another, been zapped by "simultaneous instructions." A very common place for this is in a pattern where you are making a sweater or a vest with a V-neck, where you are supposed to be decreasing for the set-in sleeve and for the neck at the same time.

This is why it is always best to read a pattern from beginning to end before you start. Some crafters are of the mindset that this will only overwhelm you and make you less apt to persevere. My feeling is that if you read ahead you can be alerted to:

a) Those pesky concurrent instructions.

b) Any stitch patterns you are unfamiliar with.

c) Where you are supposed to change yarns, if applicable. In other words, do you need to buy ALL the yarn at the beginning of the project, or is the pattern going to go on and on with the "MC" for 14 inches? This may necessitate multiple trips to the yarn store, but this is only to the good...

d) Any other odd instructions. Now is probably the time to know if you are going to need to felt the item (some of us would need further instruction on this).

Now, get reading!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Helpful Hint #17: Wearables—aim for complimentary over complex

You know how it is. Some book, magazine, or on-line pattern comes out, touting some new knitting or crocheting technique. You get excited, thinking “WOW! I can make an entire sweater using Bavarian crochet!” Sometimes it’s a tried-and-true older technique.

Before you get too crazy, you need to step back from the yarn and implements. You need to THINK.

I found out a while back that it’s possible to knit an adult-sized “Baby Surprise Jacket.” Upon an honest, searching, and fearless appraisal, I decided that—while I thought the IDEA of an adult-sized “Baby Surprise Jacket” was really awesome and would probably be fun to knit—there was no way I’d look well in multi-directional stripes, especially seeing as the horizontal stripes fall at the hips. I don’t think I know anyone who would look well in multi-directional stripes, except maybe a Size 4 model, or the baby for whom the sweater was originally designed.

Ditto with any other unusual sweater design. I fell in love with the “Spoke” sweater from Knitty when it came out. I’m sure it would be a wonderful and challenging pattern to knit, but really, I’d look like a moose. I also have a granny square sweater in my Ravelry queue that I’m probably never going to make, for the same reason. I think the idea of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Hurry-Up Last Minute Sweater” is a cool concept, but again, I’m guessing that a man would look better in this than a woman—probably a male model.

So, the next time you see some fascinating wearable design—THINK before you cast or chain on!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Helpful Hint #16: When it comes to any handmade presents, adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle

I’ve recently had a spiritual awakening about all the yarn-related items I’ve gifted over the years…less appears to be more.

For instance, I’ve noticed that there is an inverse relationship between the complexity of a baby afghan and the frequency of its use. When I first began crocheting, a dear friend became pregnant. I wasn’t very proficient yet, so the most I could churn out was a shell-stitch baby blanket with alternating sea foam green and white stripes. Heirloom quality, it was not—if anything, it was one of my worst designs. However, when I went to see my friend a few months later, I was pleased to see she was using my blanket. You could tell it was actually being used and not just hastily thrown over the baby at the last minute before I came to the door. It was crumpled up, well worn, and the baby appeared to love it!

On the other hand, any time I knit or crochet anything more complex, the item—while people ooh and aah over it at the baby shower—doesn’t seem to be used on a daily basis. If anything, people tend to use larger, simpler blankets for their babies, ones that you just know are going to graduate into the baby’s “binkie” years from now when they are toddlers.

I’ve found that this is also the case with adult-sized items. My partner adores my first afghan and still uses it, even though it’s hands-down the WORST thing I’ve ever made. It’s cobbled together with Lion Brand Homespun. The squares are sewn together very badly, and I didn’t understand back then about leaving long tails to weave in, which means the squares are coming apart and ends are popping out all over the place. But this afghan gets way more use than my other efforts—like the one that my friends were keeping in a big garbage bag, stowed away somewhere, because they were “afraid of getting it dirty.”

So, the next time I need to make someone an afghan, I’m going with either a log cabin design (knitted) or plain old half-double crochet stitches—I’m going to aim for comfort over flash. I’d rather have my stuff crumpled up and much loved, rather than stored away somewhere. (A HEFTY garbage bag? HEFTY???)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Helpful Hint #15: Presents—Ask before executing!

Now a word about presents—specifically, knitted and crocheted presents. Actually, this applies to any craft present upon which you have devoted hours upon hours of your free time—forsaking food, sleep, and bathing in some instances—to get it completed by the appointed due date. For us procrastinators, this would be Christmas Eve, the night before the wedding, as the baby is being born, etc.

Always, ALWAYS, check first to see if the recipient is interested in a handmade item. Over the years, I have heard horror stories about people who suffered terrible disappointments over the reception of their present. One woman I met once told me that she had sweat blood for SIX MONTHS making a shawl for her prospective daughter-in-law. She triumphantly presented the finished item to her at the bridal shower. The bride-to-be’s response? “I’ll never wear anything like that!” Another friend of mine once found a handmade item in the local thrift shop. Yes, you guessed it…she had given the item to someone several months back.

I find the best thing to do is to either wait until someone requests something, or just ask. It is better to find out ahead of time that either the person would LOVE something handcrafted by you; or, frankly, they’d rather have a Playstation.

Then I go into Business Analyst mode. I ask them what they would like for colors, how large or small they want the item (“blanket” usually means “afghan” – check, to make sure they don’t want something large enough to cover the bed), what type of fiber (some people do not want wool in any form, other people would sooner pet a live tarantula rather than touch acrylic), etc. Just ask anything that occurs to you, no matter how trivial. Clarify statements like, “I want the colors mixed in together.” This could mean they want a variegated yarn, or they want big blocks of color or stripes—you just don’t know until you ask.

Then go for it! I’ve had very good results sticking to the above technique, so much so that one person has asked me for more than one thing…LOL!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Quick and Dirty iPad Cover - Free Pattern

If you went wild and crazy and bought an iPad for yourself or a loved one (as in my case), and you suddenly realize you should have bought a cover (you thought that rolling, accordian thingy Apple promotes for the cover would suffice), and UPS is due at your front door ANY TIME NOW, then you need a quick and dirty iPad cover that can be whipped up in no time:

Quick and Dirty iPad Cover

Measurements:  8" wide x 11” long
Gauge:   12 stitches = 3” in garter stitch.  Row gauge is not critical.
2 skeins of Plymouth Encore Worsted in #0848, or color of preference
Needles:  Size 13 (9 mm) needles
2 buttons, size 7/8”
Stitch explanation:
Garter St Patt
Row 1 (RS): Knit across.
Patt Row: As Row 1.
Seed St Patt
Row 1 (RS):  *k,p; rep from * across
Row 2 (WS):  *p,k; rep from * across
K2tog:  knit two together
SSK:  Slip, slip, knit.  Slip first stitch as if to knit, slip second stitch as if to knit, then return both stitches to left needle and knit them together through the back loop.
Inc:  knit through the front and back of stitch 
NOTE:  You will be knitting holding two strands of yarn together.
Cast on 22 stitches.
Rows 1 – 5:  Seed St
Row 6:  inc 1, k across, inc 1 on last stitch.  24 stitches.
Row 7:  k
Continue in garter st until the article measures 20.5 inches from the edge.
Next row:  k2tog, k across to the last 2 stitches, ssk the last two stitches.  22 stitches.
Next 2 rows:  Seed St
Next row (button hole row):  K5, k2tog, yo,k8, yo, ssk, k5
Next 2 rows:  Seed st
Cast off in pattern.
Fold the article over (Button Holes on top) and sew up the sides.  Sew buttons into place.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Helpful Hint #14: It’s in the bag!

I realize I’ve posted a hint before concerning project bags, but it occurs to me that I have another hint concerning size…

You see, for ages now, I’ve always misjudged what size my project bag should be. For my take-along projects, I hate bringing a large bag out places, so I always optimistically try to cram a large project into a much smaller bag. I confess I’m doing it right now with my Autumn Stripes Afghan. Eventually the afghan is going to need a bigger bag. The question is: How big?

This is where my hint comes in.

One day, I came to a realization…the yarn I’m using for a project IS going to be the final project (if anything, maybe a little less). SO, if I can fit all the yarn I need for a given project into a bag comfortably (without squashing it down and forcing the zipper closed), then ergo, I can fit the project into the bag!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Helpful Hint #13: Keep your supplies organized!

The other day, I decided to make something that required doubling up worsted weight yarn—which in turn required Size 13 knitting needles. My original idea was to do the project in the round, but using a 16” circular wasn’t going to cut it. I dove into my under-the-bed bin to search for my #13 dpns (double-point needles). Yes, you guessed it…I couldn’t find them! I rooted around in the bin for ages. I found every other size dpn in creation, in every conceivable material (wood, bamboo, aluminum, etc.), but NO SIZE 13s! I ended up having to go with Size 13 straights and just knit the project in a different way.

This brings me to my hint: For God’s sake, organize your supplies!

This is a clear-cut case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” I have my circular needles in my closet in one of those hanging organizers, I have my yarn grouped according to quality (nice yarn in one large bin, rot-gut acrylic in another), and all my crochet hooks are in a special pouch I crocheted. My straight needles and dpns, however, are in a haphazard MESS in one of the bins. The best thing I could probably do is to find containers for the straights and dpns, and perhaps rubber-band needles together so that I don’t keep ending up with one size 8 and one size 13.

Finding the time for this is another matter…

Friday, August 5, 2011

Helpful Hiint #12: UFOs…frog or finish!

Okay, this is clearly a case of “Do as I say, not as I do.” Seriously, though, UFOs (Unfinished Objects) are a sad reality in craft-dom. We start out a project with the best of intentions. We spend oodles of money on the yarn (the LYS was having a sale—$100—a bargain!), we scour the earth for the perfect pattern, we spend MORE money on just the right needles, we cast on or make the starting chain, and then—   

Well, there are many reasons why a project becomes a UFO. It could be that:
    1. You suddenly needed to make something else for someone’s shower (people always seem to be breeding), tossed this project aside, and just never got around to it again.
    2. You quickly discovered that the stitch pattern is almost impossible for you to master, short of an advanced degree from MIT.
    3. Partway through, you discovered that the item is just NOT going to be quite what was advertised—that model looked WAY better in that sweater than you ever will, even if you go on a crash diet.
    4. You ran out of yarn and not only can’t you find the same dye lot again—you can’t find the same COLOR period because it’s been discontinued! 
This (d) happened to me recently (okay, months ago) with the Granny Stripe Afghan. Patons no longer makes one of the colors I was using. So, I’m faced with my own helpful hint. I need to either find the other yarn colors and at least crochet up to the point of the missing color, and just have the item be a Granny Stripe Shawl instead of an afghan; or I need to just rip out the whole thing and use the yarn for something else.

I need to do this soon as UFOs do have a tendency to haunt you…and they DO attract MORE UFOs!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Helpful Hint #11: When knitting two—just knit two!

This is by no means a new concept, and certainly not a new problem. For socks, I’ve seen it called “SSS” (Second Sock Syndrome). I’m talking about that issue of…the OTHER one—the other sock, the other sleeve, the other cardigan front panel, etc. For some, the issue is the daunting task of doing what you’ve just done…AGAIN. For others (myself included), the issue is trying to make item #2 look like item #1. Theoretically, it could be months between the time when you finish item #1 and when you cast on for the next. In that time, your gauge could be wildly different. Months ago, you could have been knitting during a family crisis, which caused your knitting to be tight to the point where item #1 is now bulletproof; whereas when you cast on for item #2, you could be on a vacation with out a care in the world—or visa versa.

So, I’ve hit upon a solution. Whether it is two socks, two sleeves, two sides to an article of clothing—I just knit both at the same time. I have not yet learned the art of knitting two at a time with the magic loop or even 2 circulars, so what I do this: I have two separate sets of needles going with an item on each set. I either go back and forth, doing an inch or so apiece, or I alternate which days I work each item (Monday—item #1, Tuesday—item #2, etc.).

This sounds insane, but in the end I end up with 2 items fully knitted, instead of 1 item fully knitted and 1 item still in an old knitting bag stuffed under my bed for all eternity. But, of course, this brings us into UFOs (Unfinished Objects), a subject best left for another day…

Friday, July 22, 2011

Helpful Hint #10 – Your sleeve as your gauge swatch

I’m going to confess this right now…I HATE doing gauge swatches. I’m one of those knitters The Yarn Harlot calls a “Product Knitter” (as opposed to a “Process Knitter”). My big thrill comes from the knitted item in question shaping into a beautiful finished project, which is why muddling along with little knitted squares just makes my teeth grind involuntarily. I’ve tried various things to stave off the boredom: knitting them in front of the TV, knitting them listening to music or a podcast, and my personal favorite – knitting them in public. Yes, there is nothing worse than some stranger, who knows NOTHING about knitting, coming up to you and saying something like:

“Oh, is that going to be a scarf???” Suuuuuuure…all 4” across of it.

“Is that your first project? How cute!”

“Is that going to be a little doll blanket?”

So, I’ve hit upon a solution that, come to find out, has already been thought of by several thousand other people in the world, but I figure I’ll share it anyway: If you are knitting a sweater, do a “gauge swatch” by starting on a sleeve. This has the advantage of getting you to do your “swatch” according to how you are going to knit the garment. If you are doing it in the round, you’ll most likely be doing your sleeve in the round. This is ideal for determining gauge for this type of knitting, vs. trying to knit back and forth, hoping that your back-and-forth gauge and your in-the-round gauge are going to be the same (Spoiler Alert…they’re NOT). Conversely, if you are working back and forth, you will end up with a nice representation of your gauge that way.

This way, if you are off on your gauge, it’s not going to be a major hardship to rip it out and start over again. If you are right, then you can keep going!

Haven’t hit upon an ideal gauge workaround for other types of knitted articles…I’ll have to get back to you on this…

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Helpful Hint #9: Managing your spouse…sneaking yarn into the house

I will preface by saying that my Sweetums is very supportive of my yarn hi-jinks, so there is really no need to hide anything—we generally make a joke out of this (“Oops—I seem to have MORE yarn in my project bag!), but it occurred to me that the tongue-in-cheek tips below ARE legitimate ways to sneak yarn into your home…

Try to plan for your yarn purchases to enter the house when your spouse is not at home. This may be a little tricky with on-line purchases, but can be suitably planned for if you keep checking the package tracking. Either that, or get packages delivered to you at work. If you don’t work, this is better, because 9 times out of 10, UPS and FedEx deliver during the day (when your spouse is at work). If a package DOES arrive when your spouse is home, race to the door first, exclaiming that “Darn it all, I was hoping your Chrismas/Hanukkah/Birthday/Anniversay present wasn’t going to arrive NOW!” Perfect excuse to wisk said package away into a hiding place without anyone being the wiser. Note: This excuse will only work so many times…and for God’s sake, get RID OF THE PACKAGING somewhere other than your own garbage. Also, use Paypal or some other method of payment that isn’t going to send up red flags.

If it is not an on-line purchase, it is actually a little easier. Just go shopping and get a bunch of other things you need. One more grocery bag isn’t going to arouse any suspicion. If your spouse wants to be helpful and bring in groceries for you, just quickly stuff the Michaels or LYS bag to the back of the trunk (always put bags in the trunk) to pull out later. Make it a point to use old Big Box plastic bags for other things in your trunk and no one looking in there will be suspicious.

And for local purchases, most importantly, always remember: PAY CASH AND BURN THE RECEIPTS!

Another tactic is to simply bring individual skeins in by stuffing them into your WIP bag. No one is going to question more yarn in your project bag. Women in my SnB group sometimes arrive with leftover skeins of yarn they don’t want. Many skeins have made it into my house via the WIP bag.

In order to throw off suspicion, every now and then actually bring a bag of yarn into the house openly. Try not to make it something expensive. Red Heart Super Saver will be much less coronary-inducing than say, qiviut…

Friday, July 8, 2011

Helpful Hint #8: Counting on Crochet

Over the course of my knitting and crocheting life, I’ve experimented with various row counters. I’ve tried electronic ones, the Kacha-Kacha type ones, plain old pad and pencil – hands down, my favorite ones are those little plastic barrel counters, either the kind you slide onto the needle or hang by the loop onto circular needles. I have many, many of these in various project bags, as you never know when you might need one. I like the fact that it’s a row counter that stays WITH the project. Also, you can play around with it. If you have, say, a pattern where you need to repeat rows 1-8 six times, you can turn the barrel numbers independently of one another.  I know, there’s probably an App somewhere that will do this much more efficiently, but like I said, I like a counter that stays with the project. If you do a lot of crafting in public, like I do, you want a counter you can turn discreetly, versus having to whip out your Blackberry to punch in the next row repeat. 

This, however, poses a bit of a problem for crochet. Some have argued that you can just slide the barrel counter onto a crochet hook, but this is assuming two things:

1) I’m able to keep my crochet hook with my project. Sometimes I end up using the same hook for multiple projects, or I just misplace it.

2) I use a hook that’s of a size to accommodate a barrel counter. Being a tight crocheter, I tend to use a larger hook; and, because of my wrist/thumb issues, I like to use either those foam rubber hook covers or the Susan Bates Bamboo Handle hooks.

So, I’ve hit upon a solution (that I’m sure is not unique). I take a safety pin and fasten a looped barrel counter onto my crochet project. I either fasten it at the very bottom, or I keep moving the safety pin up as I go along. The latter is a more practical solution if you’re working on a very large project like an afghan.

Happy Crocheting!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Helpful Hint #7: Managing your spouse…Get them to buy the yarn

In the years AL (Anno Lana – Year of our Wool), I have come across friends and acquaintances with spouses or significant others. These spouses/significant others are either supportive of their better half’s yarn exploits, lukewarm, or downright anti-craft.

I feel that this sort of thing can be managed if one employs a certain degree of–well, I hesitate to say “manipulation.” Let’s just say…persuasion.

One sure-fire way to enlist the help and goodwill of your spouse is to get them in on the project. Ideal projects are some sort of present that neither one of you wants to buy–your spouse, because he/she doesn’t know the recipient very well, and you because you really would rather knit or crochet a present rather than buy one more fondue set or one more Winnie the Pooh-themed baby shower present. You can start by showing your spouse the pattern you want to make (or at least outline what you’d like to accomplish–if your spouse is a man, goals are very important). Explain that if your spouse buys the yarn, you will be more than happy to SLOG along for a good EIGHT weeks, TOILING away on said project, working your FINGERS TO THE BONE. All they have to do is front the money.

If your spouse is agreeable, you can bring them along to the store to get said yarn. My Sweetums usually likes to do this, and can be quite entertaining.  She once declared, in Wal-Mart, in a very loud voice, that I shouldn't buy the blue and pink variegated baby yarn because, “THE BABY COULD HAVE ISSUES.”

Overall, as they love to say in Corporate America, this is a win-win. You get yarn to play with and your spouse gets to avoid shopping for baby things or bridal registry items.

You know they’d much rather go to Home Depot…

Monday, June 27, 2011

Easy Striped Summer Tee Done!

At long last, I finally have completed a "Summer" WIP in time to wear it during the Summer!

This is from the Plymouth Yarns pattern #1601. It was very easy and all in garter stitch. I used Plymouth Kudo yarn, which is a blend of Silk, Cotton, and Rayon. I used Size 8 circular needles.

Thankfully, it fits me just right.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Helpful Hint #6: Is this yarn a good deal?

…or, they should really teach this sort of thing in Calculus.

Did you, like me, tear your hair out in school over the following:

“Jimmy is traveling by train, going 80 mph, and Suzie is traveling by car, going 55 mph. Jimmy is 100 miles from their motel and Suzie is 50 miles from the same point. How many minutes will it take each to reach…”

And people wonder why our children have no math skills.

Instead, they should be giving our young entrepreneurs of tomorrow word problems like THIS:

Brand Name Yarn is on sale at your LYS for $5.99 a skein. It is also advertised on your favorite on-line site for $6.99 – this is the cheapest you’ve been able to find on-line.

Shipping for the on-line site, if you buy 10 skeins: $5.99

Your LYS is 10 miles away. Your car is currently getting 24 miles to the gallon, thanks to the A/C, and gas is running at $4 a gallon. So, $.17 * 10 = $1.70. Oh, and tax (if your state taxes yarn at 6%) would be roughly $3.60.

LYS total = $65.20 and the On-line Site = $75.89.

Even if you get some sort of on-line deal to waive shipping, you’d still end up paying $69.90 for the on-line option. So, in this particular instance, the LYS wins out, hands-down.

This is the sort of thing I figure out every time I try to decide where to buy my yarn. Sometimes the LYS wins, sometimes an on-line site wins—depending on the price/shipping/gas/tax combination.

Of course, there are a myriad of other variables to consider:
1) The aggravation of driving vs. getting yarn delivered right to the door.
2) The actual driving cost is actually higher, when you figure wear-and-tear to the car.
3) Do you want the instant gratification of getting your yarn RIGHT AWAY?
4) Do you need a particular color that your LYS may or may not carry, which would necessitate a special order and ANOTHER car trip back again to pick it up?

Of course, there is also the most important issue facing us all (yarnsters and non-yarnsters alike)…do you want to support your local business?

And, also, is Jimmy’s girlfriend Marsha aware that Jimmy and Suzie are messing around behind her back?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Helpful Hint #5: Tips for Arm/Wrist/Thumb Strain and Tendonitis

I first contracted tendonitis, not by knitting or crocheting, but by scooping ice cream, of all things—I was working at a summer job. My right wrist was in agony for a very long time. I ended up having to get a cortisone shot just so I could pass my driving test that summer.

Years later, at work as a developer, it flared up again—this time in both wrists. This time, the culprit was too much typing at a workstation that wasn’t ergonomically correct. That was back when ergonomics was first a hot issue, so the minute I called personnel I had someone at my workstation within the hour. Again, it took a very long time to get over that particular bout.

Imagine my shock years later to discover that my favorite new hobbies, knitting and crocheting, also aggravated my tendonitis…

After much trial and error, I finally hit upon a strategy for dealing with my condition.

First of all, I get medical attention, which I strongly recommend to anyone who is having any sort of strain from knitting and crocheting. I’ve been lucky, in that I haven’t required any surgery for my condition, but everyone is different. I’ve had physical therapy off and on over the years, which seems to work fine for me.


1) In general, I take frequent breaks—especially when crocheting. My rule of thumb is to knit or crochet for 15 minutes, then rest for 15 minutes, alternatively. This works especially well if you’re watching TV, as you can time your breaks for the commercial breaks and keep track that way!

2) When I have a nasty flair-up, I use one of those firmer wrist braces at night and a more flexible one during the day (Futuro puts out good ones–you can get them either online or in the drug store). Now that the tendonitis has spread to my thumb (too much texting), I wear one of those flexible thumb splints for daytime activities, again by Futuro.

3) I changed the setup on my laptop at work so that I now mouse on the left-hand side of my workstation (if you’re left-handed, do the opposite). It took a good three days to get used to the change, but overall, the incidence of flair-ups has decreased dramatically.

And, most importantly—REST!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Helpful Hint #4 – Pack all the essentials you need for each WIP into each bag

In honor of World Wide Knit in Public Day (Saturday, June 11, 2011), I thought it might be good to have a word about take along projects and supplies…

Take the rubber band off the money and invest in all the essentials you need for each WIP and pack them into each separate bag. This may seem like a lot of money and redundancy, but believe me, it’s worth it.

In the past, I found that I was constantly bringing projects out in public, minus some crucial tool. I’d be out somewhere happily knitting a sweater sleeve, when suddenly I’d come across a knot in the skein, which necessitated cutting the yarn. You guessed it – no scissors or any device of any kind with which I could cut wool, and depending on the wool, sometimes you can’t really break it manually. Another time, I was at the allergist’s office. I had come prepared with a baby blanket that I was crocheting for Project Linus. I was all set to wait 30-40 minutes for my allergist to get his act together and get through all 20 people still sitting in the waiting room (I had the distinct feeling that little “Jimmy” in the corner with the wheezing and sniffles was going to take a while), when I opened my bag and made a horrible discovery…

I had brought the WRONG crochet hook!

So, this is why I’m now a great proponent of being prepared with every conceivable tool needed for each project. You don’t need to break the bank – just go out to your local discount or dollar store and stock up. The one thing I don’t skimp on is the row counters. I like to get the little barrel ones that you can either attach to a straight needle or hang off a circular needle. Or if you’re one of the idle rich, get a bunch of those cute little “Knit Kits.” See for details…you can find them at the LYS or on-line.

Happy Knit in Public Day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Helpful Hint #3 - For Take Along projects, avoid needles that make noise of any kind.

If you are going to have a traveling project that you work on during an event, where you are supposed to be quiet, this is a necessity. The worst offenders are aluminum straight needles. They do have a tendency to click-click-click as you are knitting. To us knitters, this is music to our ears. To mere earthlings this is, at the very least, annoying—to others, it’s akin to nails scratching on a chalkboard. No one is going to be able to concentrate on the event. The non-knitters in the audience (or congregation) are going to want to kill you; while the knitters will be shoving people (read: impediments) to one side, craning their heads to see what you are working on. There will, of course, be RESENTMENT, as they didn’t think to bring a project to the event themselves.

The simplest way to avoid this would be to just crochet; but again, you would still have to worry about dropping an aluminum hook on the floor. These, and aluminum needles, make the loudest noise if you accidentally drop them—don’t ask how I know this or how many times I’ve repeated the same mistake, thinking that “this time will be different.” I always tell myself that THIS TIME I’m going to be very careful…it’s always inevitable, too, that the one place you are going to drop a needle or hook is onto a hardwood floor. If there is carpeting, you will miraculously carry on without so much as a near-miss. Sometimes, the best idea is to use circular needles, even for back-and-forth knitting, so that you won’t drop a needle.

This is, of course, a perfect excuse to proceed directly to the nearest yarn store. Bamboo or wooden needles don’t make a noise. My all-time favorite, Addi Turbos, don’t make a noise. I know people balk at the price of Addis, but honestly, just weigh any cost against the prospect of dying of boredom during an event because you don’t want to bring noisy implements. Besides, they aren’t too expensive if you buy them at the rate of one per project.

Okay, some of us do more than one project at a time…LOL.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Helpful Hint #2 - Take-Along projects—bring a project that is easy to do.

When I first started taking along my knitting and crocheting projects to do in public, I made the mistake of choosing ANY project I happened to be working on, hoping to impress people with my "advanced" skills.

I quickly discovered that a complicated cable stitch pattern with an 18-row repeat was NOT the way to go for someone who has trouble remembering a 5-item grocery list.
This gets even iffier if you are crafting during something to which you are supposed to be paying attention, such as:
1) A lecture
2) A sermon
3) A 12-Step meeting
4) A sporting event
5) A movie (a major problem, seeing as this is in the dark)

I could continue on, ad infinitum, seeing as we yarn and thread people have discovered any number of venues at which to practice our craft on the fly. 

The point here is to bring along something that is relatively easy to do, so that you can pay attention to the activity at hand.  I find projects that involve endless rows of stockinette stitch, garter stitch, or single crochet are ideal candidates for this.  These are the sort of projects where one is in serious danger of death by boredom, unless they are executed while listening to a lecture, a sermon, a movie, etc.  Also, projects like these make it easier to get into "the zone"—that perfect synergy of creating while taking in the world around you that we crafters know only too well.
In addition to long, drawn-out cable patterns, other public no-nos include:

1)  Projects that require that you follow a pattern, whether it be on paper or on a pdf file off your laptop, eReader, or PDA. 

2)  Projects that require multiple color changes. 

3)  Projects where you are unfamiliar with the stitches and/or the technique—for instance, don't pick the next baseball game to decide you'd like to experiment with DPNs.

4)  Fair Isle Knitting, unless you are REALLY good at it.  There is a woman I know who can not only do this and listen—she can do this and TALK at the same time.  Usually, for us mere mortals, this goes back to #1 above (following a pattern).
Happy KIP-ing and CIP-ing!*

*KIP = Knit in Public and CIP = Crochet in Public

Friday, May 20, 2011

Helpful Hint #1 - Selecting a pattern

Thought it might be fun to start putting down all the various tips that have helped me out over the years.

Hint #1 - Selecting a pattern.

I know everyone always tells you to pick out a pattern in relation to your individual skill set; but, honestly, if we all did this we would be knitting and crocheting scarves forever and would never get beyond the "easy/beginner" phase of our development.

My advice is this.  If you see a pattern in a magazine, in a book, or on-line somewhere and you instinctively gasp, "Oh my God!" (or in the words of my favorite coworker, "OH MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!"), then that's the pattern you should work on.  I don't care if the skill-level is "advanced" and the title contains the word "heirloom," it's still the pattern you must do.

Case in point - I've been searching feverishly for ages for a pattern to make my niece an afghan for Christmas.  I searched through the Patons Decor booklet All Seasons Afghans.  The afghan on the cover is a crocheted afghan, done in rows.  It's nice, and I could probably knock it off in my sleep.  HOWEVER, inside the booklet is a knitted afghan called "Autumn Stripes Afghan."  Yes, I took one look and said, "OH MY FRICKIN' GOD!!!"  Granted, it meets all the criteria for "step away slowly":

   a)  It's knitted in worsted weight yarn (Decor), so it's going to take ages to complete.  I'm probably going to still be knitting it on Christmas Eve, screaming, "I'm almost done!  I SWEAR!!!"

   b)  It contains colors I don't presently have in my stash, so I'm going to have to buy more yarn.  Okay, this isn't necessarily a hardship... 

   c)  It's got two-color knitting, which I've never attempted for something flat. 

But, it's GORGEOUS!  I just know my niece is going to love it.

So, this is the pattern I must use!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby Tree of Life Throw Done!

Now that the intended recipient has received this, I can post!

This is the Baby Tree of Life Throw, from the Lion Brand site.  It's a miniature version of the adult-sized Tree of Life Throw. 

I used Size 8 needles instead of the recommended Size 7, as I found I got gauge with 8.  I used Lion Brand's Pound of Love in Antique White, which was fine to work with.  I have a lot left over!

After consulting with some mothers, I decided to forgo the loops in the pattern and the eyelets in the border pattern. Instead, I did a cabled border and for the Flower Bed, I ended up going with a tulip pattern I found here:

It’s called “Bloom” by Lindy Meeker. I took the basic tulip design and multiplied it across the blanket.

The cable border came out nicely, but it took me the ages to do.  I sewed it onto the blanket as I went along, to save myself a lot of sewing at the end.  I then connected the ends of the border by kitchener stitch.

The recipient was overjoyed and plans to use it as a carriage/stroller blanket!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Walk

Now for something completely different:

My sister Bea is participating in the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure 60 mile Breast Cancer Walk. Each participant must raise $2300 dollars in order to be able to actually participate. If each of you go to the Susan G Komen 3-Day for the Cure website, click on “find a participant” and type in Beatrice Whitney-Dean and donate $5-$10 it would be a huge help for such a worthy cause. Then if you could email all in your email address book to do the same we could raise a lot of money to fight this deadly disease.

We all know someone whose life has been touched in some way by breast cancer---it has to stop. The Susan G Komen Foundation raises millions of dollars each year and God willing, maybe this will be the year we find a cure!

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Scarf from He**, finally done! Pattern included

I'm happy to report I'm FINALLY done with the scarf I'm fondly referring to as my "Scarf from He**" (see my post "Scarf with Boucle...for my sins..." for further details).

I got around the sticky boucle issue (pun intended) by knitting the boucle yarn together with Caron Simply Soft, which made the boucle slightly easier to deal with.  Needless to say, the Simply Soft palette boasted no "camel" or "beige" color choices, so I decided to go with "Bone."

Believe it or not, people actually think the scarf looks all right; so, I figured, why not put out the "pattern," such as it is, for people:


Measurements: 6" wide x 62" long, excluding fringe.

Gauge: 2.5 stitches = 1” in garter stitch

Row gauge is not critical.


     1 skein each

     Bernat Soft Boucle - Natural (#06703) - A

     Caron Simply Soft - Bone (#9703) - B

     Needles: Size 13 (9 mm) needles

     Hook:  Size N15 (10 mm) crochet hook

     Using A and B together, cast on 15 stitches, using a knit cast-on.

     Work in garter stitch until the scarf measures 65” long.*

     Bind off.


     Double up Color B and, using a size N15 (10 mm) crochet hook, crochet into the garter stitch "nub" selvage at the row ends.  Crochet in slip stitch up the scarf and all the way around, making a border.

     Bind off and weave in all ends. 

The length shortened due to the crochet border step, which is why a length of 65" is knitted, but the finished result is 62".

Friday, April 1, 2011

Yarn Crisis!

Yarn emergency!

I ran out of yarn making The Granny Stripe afghan and need more! Am willing to either pay or trade. These are the colors/dyelots I'd need:

Patons Decor Yarn:

Barn Red - 205809
New Lilac - 199739
Chocolate Taupe - 214851
Rich New Lilac - 211245 09
New Green - 208447
New Teal - 211242 09
Dark New Green - 205117
New Rose - 199741
Rich Periwinkle - 202338 08

The Rich Periwinkle I'll take in any dyelot, seeing as I can't seem to even find it online anywhere other then eBay - has the color been discontinued?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Finished my Heartwarming Scarf!

The finished Heartwarming Scarf for WomenHeart - an organization that advocates for women's heart health, and also distributes scarves to women who have heart disease.

The pattern can be found on the Red Heart site, at:

More information about the WomenHeart organization can be found at:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Scarf with Boucle...for my sins...

My dear friend, who was so kind last year as to give me a stitch pattern book I didn't have, met me for dinner the other night.  After a spirited discussion over whether or not her sandwich was really supposed to taste vinegary, she pulled out a bag and dumped it on the table.

"My mother wants you to knit her a scarf. She's willing to pay." to say, I was interested. I opened the bag to find boucle yarn. May we pause here to say that of all the yarns I've worked with, boucle has to be the ABSOLUTE WORST. It's one of those yarns I vowed NEVER TO USE AGAIN. It's a nightmare to crochet with, as you can't see the stitches. One of these days, I'll devote an entire blog post to my adventures crocheting the Bernat Easy Pullover (easy, my a**). There was a note from her mother in with the yarn, explaining that she wanted me to also use Caron Simply Soft in a "beige" or "camel," and just "mix" the colors.

Figuring that perhaps the boucle might be easier to knit than crochet, I agreed. Not that I was planning to say no to my dear friend...

Well, as I quickly discovered when I did the gauge swatch, knitting with boucle isn't much better than crocheting with it, as the yarn sort of sticks to itself and the needles - and FORGET about frogging if you screw up. I know you're not supposed to, but I usually pull out the gauge swatch and use the yarn for the project.

Yeah...that wasn't happening here.

I was left with two pathetic little squares. The stockinette square was sort of mangy-looking on one side, and the other side looked like a fuzzy teddy bear someone had put through the washing machine entirely too many times. The garter square didn't look much better.

I frantically called my friend, asking if perhaps her mother might not notice if I just bought the "camel" or "beige" Caron and then another skein of Caron in the same color as the knotted mess from hell in my lap masquerading as workable yarn. I even offered to swallow the cost. "Oh, no!" She exclaimed. "My mother SPECIFICALLY picked out that yarn because she just LOVED it!"

So, this is my current predicament. I'm thinking maybe of either knitting two strands together of each type of yarn in garter stitch, which might be easier; or I might alternate the two yarns by row.

Either way, it isn't going to be pretty...the things I do for my friends...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Necessity (and Yarn): the Mother of Invention

Our mailbox gets clobbered every winter.

The first year I replaced my mailbox I was SO proud of myself. I did it completely on my own, with instructions from the local hardware store (that sold me a boatload of tools, the board for under the mailbox, the screws, the brackets, and of course the mailbox). Several hours and much colorful cursing later, I was done. It was a beautiful sight. It was a lovely dark green mailbox that looked new and sleek next to our neighbor’s mailbox (for some unknown reason, their mailbox is always pristine and unblemished).

Sadly, the following winter the new mailbox got pummeled, as the first one had. The little red flag was knocked off and there was a massive dent in the side. After all that work to put it up, I was heartbroken. The next few winters battered it some more. This winter, as you all know, we’ve had a major “snowpocalypse” up this way in New England with more snow than I’ve seen EVER, ANYWHERE. I went out to the mailbox one day and discovered that the only thing holding it to the post was one rusty nail and the mound of snow piled on top of it.

Sure enough, now that the snow has finally started to melt (the Christmas lawn deer are finally visible), the mailbox was now hanging over to one side. It’s a wonder the mailman was still delivering to it. I’ve been in a quandary over what to do, seeing as there’s still too much snow and it’s too damn cold to be out there replacing the mailbox again.

And then, I thought of it…YARN!

I went out there with some Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice yarn in “Rose Mist,” which I thought would go nicely with the dark green, and tied the mailbox back onto its brackets. It was still tipping, so I took more yarn and tied the yarn around the mailbox to the small tree right by the mailbox (the errant tree is another issue we are probably going to need to address this spring, too, unless we want to eventually have no place for a mailbox at all). I tied some nice bows to make it look pretty.

The neighbors probably think I’m insane, but that’s okay…people with more yarn than insulation in their house probably are…

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My niece wants an afghan

My niece wants an afghan for Christmas.

This is exciting news…usually my relatives never request yarn-related items. No, I take that back. My sister requested knee socks a while back, but I haven’t yet found a pattern that’s easy enough. That’s my lame excuse. Actually, I’m putting it off, as I can’t imagine knitting on #1 dpns for a whole calf’s worth of length. I swear I’ll do it someday!

Anyway, in the meantime, my niece has requested a “blanket.” Upon further inquiry, I figured out she meant a standard-sized afghan, but in earth tones. Now, I’m one of those people who is a “Summer” and I look positively dowdy in earth tones, so I generally don’t have them in my stash. Of course, this can only mean one thing…


This got me to thinking of all the excuses we come up with to go yarn shopping, when people around us can already see that we have almost enough yarn to insulate the entire house, even if we moved said house to Siberia.


1) Christmas is coming and you have to make presents. Okay, Christmas isn’t coming for another 11 months, and Uncle Fert may not want another scarf, but a person has to be PREPARED!

2) Someone’s birthday, anniversary, wedding, or baby shower is coming up. Especially if it’s a baby shower—if you knit or crochet, it’s the LAW—you have to make something.

3) In fact, you should have a stock of some sort of baby yarn at all times. If you don’t, go out now and get more!

4) There is a sale at your favorite yarn shop or at one of the stores that make up the Holy Trinity – Michaels, Joann Fabrics, or AC Moore. We don’t have a Hobby Lobby up our way, or I’d probably call them the Four Pillars. Yes, I know the Four Pillars of Destiny are something entirely different, but not to rabid crafters.

5) There is a major STORM coming, and you have to be prepared with enough yarn to “weather” through it. Notice I say “enough.” If you already have what everyone else might see as enough yarn for a three month siege of snow, but you still don’t feel you have enough, then it is your prerogative to go get more. After all, people are all out there getting milk, bread, and eggs they probably don’t need—why shouldn’t you be allowed to go get yarn??? Notice we are not specifying the type of storm…

6) You vow to go on a yarn diet, but then the next day you find out that there is a worthy cause asking for knitted or crocheted donations. I mean, really, wouldn’t it be just HEINOUS to refuse??? Says the person who just got her yarn in the mail to knit a scarf for WomenHeart again this year…

7) And, finally, a dear, kind relative, who has never asked you for ANYTHING, wants an afghan. That’s enough of a reason right there to run out and lay in only the best yarn…

Friday, February 4, 2011

On second thought...

It has come to my attention that perhaps I was a bit hasty in my acceptance to knit something for $$$.

I had an ugly feeling about this, anyway. A friend pointed out to me that one more than likely can't sell anything one makes from a pattern that is not one's own. I thought it would be okay, seeing as I'm charging for the yarn and my time, and I'm by no means passing off the design as my very own. However, it looks like I'm going to have to go back and read the booklet to see what the legality of this is.

At the very least, I'm hoping that I can at least recoup my expenses for the yarn...

Shoot, even if I end up doing it for free, it will be worth it, as this woman has been a very good friend to my partner.

Holy Cow…someone actually wants to pay me!!!

I’ve had a request…my partner has a work friend who saw the Leaf Pullover sweater I just completed and wants to PAY me to make her one!!!

For those of you who are curious, it’s from the leaflet Bernat #530165, All Alpaca (to knit). It calls for Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends, which is a wonderful yarn. It’s thick, but not too thick, and very soft.

Anyway, if I use the same yarn (and she is the same size as me), then it’s going to run to about $35 + tax. It seems like such an odd thing to charge for something I adore doing anyway for a sweater that I can probably knock off in a few weeks, but one must be practical…I settled on $100, as someone suggested I charge around 3x the cost of the yarn. I managed to find the yarn cheaper at the Knitting Warehouse site, so the grand total, with shipping, would be around $33.

One woman online suggested I charge $300, but I knew that would be a little steep...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

So, What’s New With You?

Last Friday night, I was at an event. It had been snowing all day and the roads were horrible, but I managed to make it there and back in one piece. All in all, it was worth it, as I had a wonderful time with good friends.

Now, I knew it was an “event,” because a friend of mine was there who is guaranteed to show up somewhere if it’s an event. It has to be a damn good one, too. Facetiousness aside, she’s a wonderful, intelligent woman and a lot of fun to talk with. I hadn’t seen her in a few months, so the first words out of her mouth were:

“So, what’s new with you?”

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you obsessive yarnsters, but that is often a difficult question for me to answer. This is what I REALLY wanted to say:

“Oh, my Goddess, what a time I’ve had! First of all, I’ve spend months knitting a ducky blanket for a dear friend…RIGHT UNDER HER NOSE…passing it off as a blanket for a coworker. She loved it, but the Gods do have a sense of humor. No sooner had I completed that then a coworker REALLY did turn out to be expecting. I had two weeks to frantically knit a baby sweater and hat for her. Now this was no ordinary little hat. I had to use MULTIPLE short rows, which is something I’d never attempted before. It took three tries, but I got it done, and my coworker absolutely loved it. In the meantime, I was working on designing and knitting a Rune Sweater for my partner. Again, something I’d never attempted—I’ve knitted yoke sweaters before, but I’ve never designed one, much less one with runes, using stranded knitting. It was a crazy challenge, but I got it done. She was so thrilled when she opened her present Christmas day, because—yes—I’d knitted this RIGHT UNDER HER NOSE, pretending it was for me. Now, I’m working on a sweater for myself, using the yarn I got for Christmas. Oh, yes, and there was my wild excursion to Creative Fibers the other weekend for their big Winter Sale on all their yarn and patterns…”

I knew this would bore her to tears, so I said:

“Oh, not much.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

Okay, show of hands...

How many knitters and crocheters out there prepare for a big storm, not so much by perusing the stash of canned goods and water, but by checking the YARN stash???

We are due for a nasty storm of "mixed" precipitation tomorrow. My first though was to make sure I enough WIPs to keep me going. I have one main project - a sweater I'm knitting (natch), a more complicated project involving many cables and odd stitches I've never attempted before, the granny stripe afghan project, and of course TONS of stash (you never know when the urge will hit to cast on or chain up for yet another WIP).

I had the mad idea of using the time to rifle through my supplies and tidy up...yeah, I dismissed the idea, too, when I took one good look at the bedlam.

I started out my crafting life with one crochet hook and one pair of Size 8 straight Boye aluminum knitting needles. I now own hooks and needles to the point (no pun intended) where we could probably sell them out of the house and make enough money for a trip to Cancun. I have an ENTIRE bookcase filled with books and miscellaneous printed patterns (again, we could sell all of this on eBay and retire), plus we won't even go into the yarn stash (at least without riot gear).

So, my plan tomorrow, after working from home, will be to sit happily and work on my WIPs, while watching the weathermen having orgasms over THE BIG STORM!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Knit Pattern for the Special Olympics Scarf

At long last, I'm posting the pattern for my Knit Special Olympics scarf! Keeping with the basic guidelines at the site I decided to create my own pattern...

Measurements: 6" wide x 60" long, excluding fringe.

Gauge: 11 stitches = 3” in garter stitch
Row gauge is not critical, as the rows are repeated until almost 6” is reached.

1 skein each
Red Heart Supersaver Blue (#0886) - A
Red Heart Supersaver Turqua (#0512) - B
Needles: Size 10 (6 mm) 24” circular needle

NOTE: The scarf is worked lengthwise.
Do not break off the yarn when changing to a new color. You can carry the other color up the side and pick up again, as needed, for each color change.

Using A, cast on 220 stitches, using a knit cast-on.

Row 1: k
Row 2: Using B, k
Row 3: k
Row 4: Using A, k
Row 5: k

Repeat Rows 2 – 5, until the scarf measures almost 6” wide.

Repeat Row 2 one more time (B), and then bind off in B.
The scarf should now be 6” wide and 60” long.

Cut 12” lengths of both colors of yarn.
Taking one strand for each stripe, tie a fringe across the ends of the scarf, using an A strand for an “A” stripe and a B strand for a “B” stripe.

Trim all the ends to be a uniform length.