Tuesday, January 31, 2006


My cat Worf, looking incredibly cute as he helps me model a baby hat I'm working on. I learned a really great word in German the other day, to describe a cat, "graugetigert." It means grey striped, but it's really more of grey tigered. I told Worfy and it made it him feel ferocious. Can't you tell?

Friday, January 27, 2006


My cat Worf is really cute.
That is all.

A hand(wash)y thing

So I was shopping for yarn today. Not that I can afford it, but I can just look, can't I? At any rate, each yarn was followed by all those incomprehensible washing and care directions. Okay, the basin of water with the hand it make sense, but those other ones? I realized that while I had no clue what those meant, surely Google had the answer. I found this link very helpful. The triangle is not an iron, as I had suspected, but bleach. Now you know.

Proof That I Am Completely Insane

Basically, my current projects.

Projects I have Actually Cast Something On For

Crazy Intarsia Blanket
Since the intarsia disasters of yore, I have actually become rather good at it. I swatched a couple of very complex flower patterns that were fun to knit but too ugly to ever make anything out of. I made a really cute monkey backpack from Stitch 'n' Bitch This lead me to believe that I was the Queen of Intarsia, and could therefore tackle Nicky Epstein's 26-color Royal Tapestry afghan. No, you read that right. Twenty-six colors. And she doesn't make it easy. While there may be only [sic] 5 or so colors per row, some of those same colors are on opposite ends of the afghan. This means I am working with something like 10 bobbins per row. So far. After one false try, where I tried to sneak entirely too much Fair Isle in, I'm doing this blanket again from scratch. I say blanket, but I really mean tapestry, because there is no way I am weaving in all those ends. They will be hidden by a nice carpet backing, then mounted to the wall. (At first I thought about untangling things for the picture, then I realized that it summed up the situation quite well.)

Branching Out Scarf #2

I did one Branching Out scarf in baby alpaca and I was so happy with how it came out . It was my first serious attempt at lace, but I highly recommend it. I was so pleased that I decided to make another one, out of electric blue mercerized cotton. This scarf is almost done. In fact, it could be done right now if I decided I wanted it to be. But I made a mistake about 5 rows ago and I'm too lazy to go back and fix it, but too stubborn to just cast off now and pretend it didn't happen.

Adrienne Vittadini Tank
This is the aforementioned tank. I was shopping with a mission at the best knitting store in the world, Sheep's Clothing in Valparaiso, IN, when a small ball of hot pink yarn started calling me from the corner of the store. It had 400 yards a skein, it was on sale, and it was made of bamboo. "Bamboo?" I said. I had a momentary vision of knitting the bamboo yarn on bamboo needles while eating bamboo shoots with bamboo chopsticks. It could be done. But the yarn was kind of stiff, and a little waxy, soI decided the best thing for that was lace. (Note: I had not actually done any lace at this point.) I found a really cool tank top by Adrienne Vittadini (which I had to look up to spell). Not only is it lace, it also involves cables, and a twist at the front that involves knitting on two pair of needles simultaneously. Although clearly insane, I was happy with this, but it went to the back of my project pile for a while. I was hanging out in Sit and Knit one day, when one woman, clearly an experienced knitter, told me, "One designer to definitely stay away from is Adrienne Vittadini." And yet I'm doing lace and cables in bamboo.

Ribbed Tank
I'm also making a bright blue ribbed tank called Tank Girl from Stitch 'n' Bitch. The Goa was on sale, and I think I'm determined to knit everything in that book at least once. Yes, I've even made the bikini. As for this tank, I've knit the front, and now must move on to the identical back. The only trouble is the 12" of p2k1 ribbing I have to do before I can do any shaping. The thing about ribbing is that not only is it easy, by which I mean boring, it's also rather irritating to switch the yarn every stitch or two. And there are 12" of it. At the moment, iIt's languishing at my boyfriend's house, waiting for me to get involved in a good movie and sit there knitting mindlessly. Due to the knitlist protection program, no photo is available.

Aran Sweater that Hates Me
My mom, who is so incredibly lucky that I knit, requested an aran cardigan out of cotton (she has a thing about wool). Having just completed a fairly nice cashmerino sweater with two large braided cables down the front, I decided I was also the Queen of Cables. Unfortunately, this does not qualify me to be Queen of Bobbles and Other Aran Motifs. My pattern choice is also a vintage one off the internet with one black and white picture, no diagrams, and called for a yarn that has not been made for about 30 years. Still, I was determined. After 2" of ribbing, which we've already discussed, the back piece, of which there is not even a picture, begins its 16-line stitch repeat. The first line calls for bobbles. I don't get bobbles. The other night, reading the directions like a book before bed, it may have finally clicked. Look! Two things that sort of look like bobbles! But I will conquer this beast. Or my mom will get a much simpler cardigan with two large braided cables up the front.

Felted Bag
Here's the thing about felting. No matter how interesting the pattern actually is, there is generally a portion on any felted bag pattern that reads "Knit in the round with stocknitte stitch until the second coming of Christ." I thought this would be a quick and simple project to distract me from the things that give me brain freeze. It was, in fact, a little too simple. There was a point where it became about as fun as the Spanish Inquisition (which according to one of my very Catholic friends, "wasn't that bad"). It was that horrible, terrifying moment where knitting became work. Fortunately, I have knitted past that point of terror and the body of the bag is nearly done. Now I get to knit the straps until whatever theological event follows the second coming of Christ (the third coming?) and the pockets (which are probably related to minor prophets, or until I run out of yarn). And the particularly cruel thing? I will get less fabric than I actually knit. Although I love dropping the finished item in the washer like a naughty child destroying an expensive toy, I have put about 30% more work into this project that I will actually get out. Curse you, second law of thermodynamics!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Things I should not have knit.

Now this is a blog. This is a forum for me to share with you the good and bad of my knitting life. Lest you think I'm going to take this opportunity to brag, I will first share with you the bad. It's more fun anyway. And besides, what better way to get to know someone than to revel in their past mistakes?

The Mrs. Clause Sweater
Now, on the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with this sweater. Sure, it's novelty acrylic, but it was my first sweater. I still think I look good in hot pink. I can be forgiven for bad yarn choice, can't I? So when it comes down to it, there is nothing wrong with this sweater. If your name is Mrs. Clause.

The Ugly Sock
Again, technically there is nothing wrong with this composition. I have no problem knitting in the round on dpn. It makes me feel smart. However, I knit the sock right off the ball band pattern without looking at any pictures or seeing any samples. And it's ugly. So ugly I will not make another one. Please understand, this is not a case of One-Sock-itis. I could knit another one if I wanted to. I've knit a complete pair of gloves. I plan to knit a different pair of socks. I simply will not knit this ugly monstrosity again. Two of these do not need to be unleashed upon the world.

Reinvented Intarsia afghan
This is a mistake from my very early knitting days. Do you see what this is a photo of? It was supposed to be an intarsia block afghan. However, I did not take the trouble to really learn what "intarsia" meant. So when I needed to change colors, I cut the yarn. every. single. row. This created bizarre end fringe in the middle of the afghan block.
Why haven't I scrapped this project yet and used the rest of that nice cotton yarn? Because I am compeltely insane, and I've convinced myself that I can do it right from now on, and the first blocks can be salvaged simply by weaving in ends. No problem, right? It's only four ends over 50 rows, twice. It could be done, and for that reason will sit in my stash until the end of time, or I'm so broke I can longer afford even Walmart yarn. Did I also mention the colors are kind of ugly together? And I'm no longer following the original pattern? And I probably don't even have enougn yarn to finish it?

Cabled Itchy Noro Armwarmers of Doom
This is a case of "But it looked cute in the book." In the book, the gradiation of they yarn was subtle and lovely. In the book, the cable pattern showed. In the book, the model was smiling, not scratching her arm with a crazed look on her face. And yet I followed the weirdest cable chart I have ever seen to wind up with ugly armwarms that don't even show the cable pattern. The color is not at all even, and they itch. They itch like allergic reaction meets chicken pox meets "maybe you should see a doctor about that". And I just noticed from the photo they actually make my hand look fat. That's not even fair. But at least there are two of them.

Not making a photo appearance is:
The Incredible Expanding Hat
Now, I love cotton. More importantly, my mother, who gets 78% of all my knitted items, loves cotton. So when my best friend wanted a hat for Christmas, I used the leftover cotton yarn I had. I didn't follow a pattern, I just guessed the circumference of a head, and started knitting, making decreases when I thought appropriate. It worked, for a while. And then she started wearing it. If you don't know, cotton expands. It expands like a sorority girl with an engagement ring. And the hat proceded to expand on my best friend's head, until I'm pretty sure she could have turned it upside down and used it for luggage. I heard no end of it until this year, when she got the replacement hat she wanted. One with ears.

Please, stay tuned. I'm sure I will knit more hideous or useless things in the future. And once in a while, I might even come up with something nice.

String Theory

Well, okay, I owe you a brief explanation of what string theory really is. And it is (drumroll please....) exactly what it sounds like. It's a (real) theory in physics that postulates that everything is made of up of tiny strings that vibrate back and forth. It can involve all sorts of sci-fi sounding things like extra dimensions (that are too small to measure) and quantum gravity. The trouble is, we have absolutely no way, as of yet, of knowing if it is real or not, because it's all too small to measure.
This is not at all the area of physics I work in, for one main reason and several correlations.
The reason is:
It is theory.
This means:
1. There is no funding for it.
2. It involves really hard math, even compared to normal physics.
3. Theorists tend to be a little weird, even compared to normal physicists.
4. It is really esoteric, by which I mean "sounds made-up."
5. There will be no chance to confirm any of it anywhere within my lifetime.
So why bother? Because physicists like to think we know it all. Until anything about it is proven wrong, which won't be possible for a very long time, string theorists can run around thinking they have The Answer to Everything. That's more or less why anyone does physics.
So what does this have to do with knitting? Very little. There is only one correlation, and by now I think you've got it. What is your sweater made of? Tiny strings that you can't see unless you look really closely. What are you and the rest of the entire universe possibly made of? Tiny strings that you can't see.