Monday, January 30, 2006

Life Is Good

Well, I've had a productive weekend! On Friday, I felted the kitty pi, and blocked it on my husband's djembe from the Ivory Coast. Of course, I wrapped the djembe in plastic & a towel first, so it was completely protected, but it turned out to be the perfect size. It dried remarkably quickly (I suppose that's saying something about how bloody dry the air in my apartment is), and Crazy Kitty loved it immediately. I'm really pleased with the Kitty Pi, though it is a bit of a deep-dish. Maybe I should get a second kitty to help fill it up...

Friday afternoon, I got to hang out at our local yarn shop with a great group of knit geeks & yarn addicts. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the light filtering through the windows onto the yarn was just beautiful. While I was there, I managed to cast on, knit, and actually complete my second knitted project! I made a super-teeny hat out of Katia Nordic, in black, on circs & dpns. Everyone at the shop SWORE that it'd stretch & be just fine, but omg, it's way too teeny for any of the large-headed types in my family. I'm holding it on my fist in this photo...that's how little it is. The brim rolled up a bit more, so it looks more normal, and less conehead-like now. It sure would look cute on a baby, though. The husband doesn't understand the logic behind having another baby to fill up a little bitty hat, so it will be shipped off to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where there are already babies premade & ready for little hats. Convenient, no?

In other awesome news, I'll be making a family jaunt to the yarn store tomorrow (yay!). Dh has an unusually good sense of color & style, and I'd like his opinion on some different yarns before I make any more new-project plans. Also, they're having a great sale soon, so one must be prepared, of course. My six year old son is very excited about the yarn store, because he REALLY wants me to make a hat for him, after viewing the teeny baby hat. The eldest wants a blue one, the youngest has requested a purple one...except the purple hat over a navy & yellow coat might look a bit odd, so we'll see if we can't steer the little booger towards some more agreeable colors. I gotta tell ya, it is SO COOL that my sons are excited about spending time in a yarn store! I imagine the four year old's patience will wear thin rather quickly, but hey, it's the thought that counts. Even cooler than all that, though, is six year old son asked me to teach him how to crochet & knit. How awesome is that?! I told him we'd start with crochet (easier for a little guy to pick up, I think), and he already has plans for some little pink scarves for his stuffed animals. I can hardly wait! He's soooo excited about it, too...he's been talking about it ever since he woke up this morning.

My kids are awesome.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Yay! Finis!

Finally!!! The Kitty Pi is complete! Well, not completely complete, as it still needs to be felted & blocked, but I'm done knitting on it. I'm really quite pleased. Even Crazy Kitty approves.

Keep in mind, this is pre-felting, so it's really floppy (like the cat) & really huge. I'm quite pleased with the overall results, though, and I'm even more pleased that I managed to do it properly. Here's hoping I don't kill it in the wash.

The big question now is what to make next? The ribbed scarf must wait till the Olympics start, which is still a couple weeks away, and lord knows we can't just sit around projectless until then. So many options...the super-bright socks, the malabrigo hat, the baby grande alpaca anything...what to do? I'd like to pick a pattern yet this morning, too, because I'm meeting with a gaggle of other addicts this afternoon for a little stitch & bitch time at the local yarn store. The idea of going to a stitch & bitch at a yarn store with no project in hands is just scary...if I don't have something else to focus on, I'll wind up spending our rent money on yarn for God only knows what super-ambitious project I'd find there. No, we must go prepared, lest our husbands decide that we can't be trusted in yarn stores unsupervised anymore.

In addition to the stitch & bitch this afternoon, I also have a big honkin' load of laundry to do (as well as the kitty pi!), groceries to get, and dishes to do. Not to mention figure out something for dinner for my family. Busy day ahead...suppose I should get started (though I'd much rather just knit!).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Edited for clarity

Okay, in the interest of clarity & honesty, I must amend my entry into the Olympics. Originally, I'd signed up to make a ribbed scarf, which was to be my First Project Ever, but unfortunately, my impatient nature just couldn't wait till February to start knitting (as evidenced by the kitty pi). My entry will still be the ribbed scarf, and I'm obviously waiting on that one till the Olympics start, but can't dangle all this interesting knitting information in front of me and not expect me to make something with it!

Speaking of the kitty pi, it's coming along quite nicely. It's still on the circs, so it looks more like a large, deflated mushroom cap than any sort of a comfy bed, but I'm hopefull. I've got about 15 more rows to complete before bindoff, and I hope to felt it on Friday (I hate having to wait till I can afford to run the washing machine! Laundromats suck.). The intended contents of the kitty pi is doing her best to assist, and by assist I mean park her furry bum right smack in the middle of everything as often as possible.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The addiction groweth

I'm nearing completion of the Kitty Pi. Knitting, once I got the hang of it, has become remarkably rewarding to do. In fact, I even picked up some loud & obnoxious self-striping sock yarn in Krazy Stripes, and some new dpns, so that I can try my hand at socks sometime soon. Yowza.

Meanwhile, I'm really excited about teaching myself all the ins & outs of knitting, like increasing & circular knitting & splicing two skeins of wool together (which is SO cool!). Progress was hampered somewhat by the Migraine from Hell on Sunday night (that lasted through most all of Monday, too), but I'm still very pleased with the whole thing.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

For Jamie, you know I love ya

My dear friend Jamie has admitted to Yarn Envy, that longing of the uninitiated to become one of the few, the proud, the yarngeeks...yes, folks, she wants to take up knitting!!! Yay, Jamie!! She's asked for book recommendations for the brand-spankin-newbie, so if anyone out there has any suggestions, please feel free to post a comment. In the meantime, Jamie, I don't have any personal experience with the Knitting/Crocheting for Dummies book, so I can't really say on that one. However, I can highly recommend Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Knitting, as well as Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet (and also her Encyclopedia of Needlework, should you ever choose to go that route too). I also like the cheesily titled I Can't Believe I'm Crocheting (also a knitting version) books from Walmart. They're really slim, and only have a couple projects, but the instructions are clear, concise, and the crochet one is all I used to learn, so many moons ago. Another great knit resource, imo, is Mother of Purl, by Edith Eig. She seems really into name-dropping, which can be annoying, and I'm not entirely fond of the patterns, but the instructions are fabulous, and she's very detail-oriented (like as in how to get as professional a finish on your sweaters as possible...very handy!). That was the book that made English knitting click into place for me recently. Y'know, while you're at it, you should check your local yellow pages, or google for local yarn stores in your area. I've not known a yarn store yet that didn't offer lessons, some for very cheap, and there's always somebody really knowledgeable around to help you through any rough patches you may have. Oh, and check your local library, too...that's a GREAT way to try a new book before paying for it, and libraries often have classes in such things too (ours has knitting & crochet classes for less than five dollars, which is a steal).

Now, on to your tools...Walmart carries a decent selection of needles (for knitting) and hooks (for crochet). Pretty much everything at Wally World is either aluminum or plastic...personally, I prefer the aluminum, but that's just me. Once you get into it, you'll find that there are bamboo, birch, rosewood, basically all manner of gorgeous tools out there, but for just starting out, the walmart cheepies are perfectly suitable. Hooks are dirt cheap at walmart, too, so that's a bonus. Choosing the right yarn for a beginner is fairly important, since aggravating yarns can discourage a newbie pretty quickly. For right now, stay away from the neat homespun yarns (it actually says homespun on the label, so you'll know which ones I mean), and also avoid the fur types. You want a nice worsted weight wool or acrylic, which you can find in millions of colors at either Walmart, JoAnns, or Michaels for a very reasonable price. Personally, I started out on Caron Wintuk yarn, but it's entirely up to you. I'd avoid the walmart brand Mainstays, though, as it has a nasty tendency to come untwisted, and occasionally break. Not fun. Anyway, pick whatever color thrills you, though it doesn't have to match anything, since you're just going to practice for a little while anyway. On the paper wrap, called the ball band, there should be a series of symbols telling you what size needles & what size hook are appropriate for that particular yarn. Most worsted weight yarns are likely to call for G or H hook, and 10 1/2 needles. (Hooks have letters to designate size, needles have numbers.) Pick up a hook or some needles, depending on which you want to learn, and you're off!

Oh, and one more thing I'd like to stress...see if you can't set aside a small corner of your house that's just for you. You KNOW how tiny my apartment is, but my beloved created a warm, snuggly, inviting corner for me in the bedroom, and suddenly needlework is just SO much more enjoyable now! There's a comfy chair, a good lamp, a side table for patterns & books & tools, a little shelf to hold my drink, and all my books are near's just wonderful! I can even watch tv while I knit. It's turned knitting into a sort of escape for me, a comfy little sanctuary where I can create, and when I'm done, leave the knitting out & waiting for me to return (rather than put it away so people might actually sit on my couch, like I used to do). Of course, that's a good thing to have whether you knit or crochet or not. Even just a little reading corner is so very valuable, in my opinion.

Okay, I think I've babbled enough for one post...I hope this has helped get you going a bit, Jamie! If you ever have any questions or anything, please feel free to email, too. Good luck to ya!

Because, really, I simply don't have enough to do

I must be completely out of my mind. I have at least half a dozen UFOs*, another half dozen WIPs, and a list of things I want to make a mile long (no kidding!). I'm also in the Knitting Olympics, which means I'll be starting yet another project as soon as the Olympics start (though honestly, I have no idea when that is...sometime in early February, maybe?). And, of course, we'll not even mention all the millions of non-needlework things I have to do...housework &cooking & childrearing & all that rot. Regardless, against my better judgement, I started yet ANOTHER project last night--the Kitty Pi. Not only does this look like something that Crazy Kitty would just love, but it's a great opportunity for me to work on several aspects of knitting that I thus far have no experience with. Also, if I foob it up too much, it won't matter...the cat can smash herself into most anything, regardless of size or fit. I'm using Lamb's Pride bulky weight wool in Chocolate Souffle, a lovely deep shade of brown. I'm a sucker for fat needles & fast knits, so I'm using size 13 dpns*, and lemme tell ya, they're weird to get used to! I think I've about gotten the dpn thing down, but I've never increased or decreased before, so this oughta be interesting. I'll post pics when I'm done, assuming I finish this thing anytime soon.

Oh, cool side note...the Kitty Pi needs to be blocked on something round, and of the correct size. One lady had posted a picture of her kitty pi blocking on an upside down garbage can, and that's just brilliant, but I don't have any nice clean garbage cans like that. It suddenly struck me last night...dh's drums are the PERFECT size & shape! I'll have to wrap them well with plastic & a towel to keep them from getting wet, but how cool is that? I've got tons of sizes to choose from, and they're fairly portable (thus keeping them out of the main route of traffic through the house). I'm really looking forward to trying my hand at felting, too. Yay!

*UFO=UnFinishedObject, the bane of my existence. WIP=Work In Progress, or that which I am actively working on, in various stages of completedness. Yes, that is a word. So says I. Dpn=double pointed needles, used for working small rounds, like socks or hats or dopey kitty beds.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Let the geeks begin

Okay, so I am quite possibly the LEAST athletic person I know, but this is an event I can handle! I've officially joined the Knitting Olympics, thanks to the evil lures of the Yarn Harlot. Basically, it's a personal challenge type thing, where everybody picks a project that would be reasonably attainable, but still a challenge, to complete during the Winter Olympics. That gives us sixteen days to fully created any knitted object, which for many folks, is no big deal, but frankly, I've not actually completed ANY project EVER, so it's a heckuva thing to me. The project I have chosen is the ribbed scarf that I *tried* to make for my mom for Christmas. It's been fully frogged, and is now sitting in a peaceful green ball in my knitting basket. You aren't allowed to cast on until the games officially start, though, so in the meantime, I'm practicing my knit & purl stitches on the pink rectangle of doom. Remember, I'm a brand spanking new knitter, so no laughing!
I started working the knit stitch from the bottom, and you can see where I switched to purl...for some reason, I have a hard time keeping my tension accurate in the purl stitch. Anyway, after arguing with purl for a few inches, I switched to stockinette, which is very satisfying, in a dopey sort of way. ("Look honey, it's like a real sweater!")
Closeup of the loose, floppy purl, and the pretty little knit V's hiding in the shadows. Someday I'll get the whole lighting thing right. Anyway, that's my little pink rectangle of doom training/practice. I'll be working on it some more this evening, as we've got quite the snarly-looking cold/snow front coming through, and honestly, what better way to spend wintery days than knitting?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Bosnian crochet fun

I have no clue who the heck named this Bosnian crochet, or if it even has anything to do with Bosnia at all, but whatever. This is a trivet/potholder that I've been working on for my mom for too freaking long a few months. It's made out of cream colored worsted weight cotton, which is awesomely offered by the ounce here. I used a size F hook, in case anyone cares. It's worked so that it will be like a square pocket, and when I've finished, I'll turn it inside out & stitch the opening closed, which will make the pretty stripey pattern be on the outside, and also make it a double thickness of cotton so Ma doesn't burn up her countertops with hot cast iron pots. This is a picture of the outside (well, it's the outside right'll be the inside when I get it finished.

Here's a pic of what is now the inside, and will someday be the outside...

Note the pretty stripey/slanty pattern. It really will be neat when it's finished, it's just a pain in the butt to get there. It's UFO #364, I think.

Oh, and for the record, I don't really have fat hands. It's just a crappy angle from the camera. Really.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Oh, crap

I've always been fairly particular about language in front of my children. Apparently, however, I've missed a phrase or two...

My sweet, innocent four year old is playing a game, and was apparently losing. Usually, he says "rats" or "oh, man!". After recent repeated viewings of Harry Potter, however, that has clearly changed. What did my darling little baby-faced boy say just now?

"Bloody hell!"

"Meme" is a bizarre word

But anyway... I've been tagged by Kathy with a meme, which is completely new to me. Apparently, they're weird little listy things that go around the net from blog to blog, kind of like a cold, but with no vaccinations. Frankly, I love 'em. But y'all already knew I've got a dork streak a mile wide, so no surprises there.

Seven things to do before I die...
1. Visit Ireland & England
2. Take the weasels & the hubby to Disneyworld
3. Get a dog
4. Knit a sweater that actually fits well
5. Take the hubby to Arizona
6. Own a little house in the country
7. Learn to bake bread compentently

Seven things I can't do...
1. Swim (no, really!)
2. Go braless
3. Play the drums
4. Speak Aramaic
5. Reach the wine glasses in the cupboard without standing on a stool
6. Wear a bikini in public
7. Stand up to pedal on a bike

Seven things that attract me to...
1. sweetie...his wonderful, if seriously warped, sense of humor
2. ...books...the ability to go anywhere in the world, or even farther, without spending a bloody fortune
3. crazy kitty...her infinite patience with my children, and the amazing calming effect she has on me when she purrs
4. ...knitting & crocheting...the idea of creating something with my own two hands that will last, and keep my loved ones warm
5. ...the country...the solitude, and the smell of fresh, green corn in the fields can't be beat
6. peanut butter fudge...omg, it's bloody addictive! Killer easy to make doesn't hurt, either
7. adorable little boys...their wide-eyed innocence & trust. They are so completely guileless, and it's incredibly refreshing in an often cynical & jaded world.

Seven things I say most often...
1. Oy vey.
2. No, we do not have any pizza!
3. Poopie!
4. I love you, my sweetie (um, to my sweetie, obviously, about a million times a day).
5. Freaking cat!
6. You have to have at least two bites of everything on your plate...
7. I love you, my guys (to my cutie boys, who started the wierd "my guys" thing years ago. It's really adorable.)

Seven books I love...
1. Mental Floss Presents: Condensed Knowledge
2. Mental Floss Presents: Forbidden Knowledge
3. Mary Thomas' Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches
4. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
5. More of a series than a single book, but the Diane Mott Davidson books
6. Again, more of an author in general than any one single book--Ann Rule books
7. The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

Seven movies I watch(ed) again & again...
1. Road To Perdition
2. Shawshank Redemption
3. Indiana Jones Trilogy
4. Chicago
5. Ghostbusters
6. The Green Mile
7. Muppets Christmas Carol

Memes are more fun than they ought to be. I hereby tag Brandie and Shanelle. So there.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Here comes the sun, doo doo doo doo...

After decades of darkness (well, okay, not really...but it feels like it), the sun is finally making an appearance today!! 'Bout freakin time! It's supposed to be unseasonably warm here, which is awesome, and I hope to take the weasels out to play for a while, assuming it's not *too* muddy out.

It's interesting what relativity does to you...the high for today is all of 48, but considering that last month at this time we were in negative numbers, 48 ain't looking too shabby.

Meanwhile, back in Yarntopia, the pink rectangle of practice stitches grows ever-longer. Purl is beginning to finally tighten up & not look so sloppy, which is good, and I may do a couple inches of stockinette today, just for kicks. Let the dorkiness descend.

Monday, January 09, 2006

It makes sense!!!

Hallefreakinlujah!!! It's about darn time... I finally picked up my knitting needles after a rather long, and much needed, hiatus over the holidays. The ribbed scarf that was *supposed* to be for my mom for Christmas languished in a basket all this time, waiting for me to figure out just what the hell was wrong with me (I'm not a stupid girl, so WHY was knitting melting my brain?!). I finally ripped the scarf this week, wound everything back onto the ball, and vowed to start over from scratch, practicing a good deal before attempting any sort of project again. Well, yay for me...I made another attempt at the knit stitch the other day, and am very pleased to say that it FINALLY makes sense! I'm doing it correctly & everything! And, as it turns out, I prefer the English style to the Continental, and I wonder if that didn't have something to do with my ineptitude before. I've spent a good part of my day knitting today, which is wonderful, and while I have no actual object to show for it, the pink rectangle of garter is just wonderfully uniform, and that makes me happy.

I realize that it's been a while since I've posted, and there's much updating post-holiday to do, but I'll save that for another time. As for right now, the knitting needles await. :)