Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fugly sock

Okay, so it's not Fugly Friday yet. But I'm going to be incoherent in Japan at that point, so I thought I'd bring you this tidbit now. I'm in the mood for some fugly.

And aparently so are the people at Crystal Palace Yarns.Now, I'm all for interesting socks. But...why? Why would you put this much time and effort and colorwork into something this hideous?
The individual patterns aren't so bad, but altogether, I'm about to go blind. And what is with the ruffle at the top? The designers said to themselves, "Hey, you know what this needs? A ruffle. There's just not enough going on in this sock yet. "
Also, can anyone explain what this has to do with bunnies? It's called the Bunny Hop OP sock. I see no bunnies! Or anything even bunny-like.
And you know what else? It's a sock. You get to make two of them.
One just wasn't enough.

Off to Japan

Well dear and faithful readers (Mom), I'm off to Japan.
Before I go though, I must say one thing.
I love the internet.
The boy sent me a huge shopping guide to Tokyo (he's a keeper) and I found all sorts of goodies on the knittyboard about yarn shopping in Japan. It certainly didn't fail me in Prague (seriously, how much yarn did I come back with?), so I assume I'm going to do pretty well in Japan too. And I didn't speak Czech either, so I'm not going to be that much worse off.
I'm sure I should feel guilty, because I should go learn something blah blah murble schmurble, but they want me to "get the cultural experience." I'm sure purchasing lots of Japanese yarn will help me to understand the Japanese cultural zeitgeist. (Although I am convinced shopping is a universal language.)
See you all in two weeks, if I don't blog before.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh, so that was the point

What's that on my feet?

Why, it's a pair of handknit socks! And I knit them!

My sock issues are over, and with a vengence.

See, like many people I used to think, what's the point of knitting socks? You can buy them at the store for about $1 a pair. It's so much work on something so little.
Well, that was the point. It's simple, but not so simple as to make you want to dig your eye out with a spoon. At the same time, it's complicated, nearly as complicated as a sweater, but little, portable.
And they fit really really well. Like a glove....or...a sock. Truly, until you have worn a pair of handknit socks, you have no idea. Storebought socks are usually about half an inch too long on me. Then you have to figure out what to do with that extra squishiness. Do you mush it up at the front and have your toes squiggling around in it? Or do you pull it all the way back so the heel is actually riding up somewhere around the ankle? Well, no more, I tell you. No more. These fit exactly to my foot.
This are in the lovely German sock yarn Opal, which I bought in Nurnburg this summer. It was on sale for 9 euros, and I think I only used about half a skein. I might manage another pair. The striping seems pretty consistent, though the two socks aren't exactly identical. If I had been obsessive about it, I suppose I could have made them match. But that's just silly. I'm glad I finally have a pair of socks that works.
And this joy has inspired me to keep knitting socks. Seriously, I was excited to cast on the second one. It went faster than the first. No second sock syndrome for me.
I'm going to repaire the gigantic pair. I'll only have to rip back the gusset, and I can redo that in a day. I even started the second sock of that pair, so I could have another pair of lovely German sock yarn socks quite soon. That is, if I didn't have too much to do before I left for Japan.
Oh, did I mention I was going to Japan? I leave Wednesday and I'll be back in two weeks. We'll see if there's any blogging to be done. There will certainly be knitting. Possibly socks.
In summary:
Yarn: Opal sock yarns in color 1437 (it seems to be based on some art piece) (75% wool, 25% polyamid)
Pattern: Basic template from the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Rules!
Needles: Size 1 dpn (surprisingly fun, except for minor breakage issues)
Cost: 9 euros made one pair, possibly two
Total time: This pair - about a week
Victory over socks in general - about a year

Saturday, February 24, 2007

In Summary

Friday, February 23, 2007

Fugly Friday

Happy Presidents' Day!

Okay, it may be a little late, but yesterday was George Washington's birthday. And what better way to celebrate than to wear this beautiful creation from Berrocco yarns? And it's not just Presidents' Day, you could wear this on the Fourth of July, Flag Day, Election Day, Veterans Day, Memorial Day.....any patriotic holiday! It's a year-round sweater!
I'm only here to serve.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Once again, a spiffy new website has been brought to my attention, this time by my Stitch n Bitch a Day Calendar:

The rest of the website is nice too, there are some knitting patterns, and even some things for crochet and other interests. But this, the /homework part is the spiffiness. It's modern translations of vintage knitting patterns, particularly vintage lace. It's really beautiful. It's not as visually stunning as, say, Victorian Lace Today, but once again, it's digital, so it's better.
One of these days I'm going to design myself one of those fancy pants shawls with all sorts of complicated lace patterns, and this is so going to be one of the sites I consult. But it will also come in useful if I want to put a cool lacy border on a washcloth or something.
Go knit this. Now.

(I find the Stitch n Bitch a Day idea rather funny. I definitely stitch and bitch more than once a day, each. Maybe some people are just nicer than I am.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A new link, old links

It's like Barbara Walker, but better, cause it's digital.

But the truth is, I would have rather not found it.
I need to knit a prayer shawl for a funeral on Tuesday.
Prayer may not be the word for it. I don't really pray, as such. But my views on religion are a rant for another day. No, my high school basketball coach had a stroke and died last week. He was only slightly older than my own parents and in better physical shape (sorry mom, but it's true). Enter mortality issues.
But we've all had loss, we've all faced those same issues. I'm not going to go through mine. They're the same ones everyone goes through when we're confronted with death, especially when it's unexpected like this.
We hadn't really spoken since I graduated high school. I had seen him maybe twice since then. Still, I have several years of memories of him, and beyond that, there were more things he represented to me on a philosophical level.
The girls on the team knew his family, his wife and the two daughters who are a bit younger than me. I don't know if his wife would remember me now, it's been so long. I'll be sure to introduce myself to spare her the awkward moments of trying to remember. But still, I have all the aching hopes for her that we all have for anyone who is grieving. Comfort, peace, strength. Even some sadness, because the sadness is necessary for a little while.
I don't have the right words to express it to her, or the time with her to say it I did. There are so many people who are so much closer to them that are better deserving of her time. I can't share all the memories I have of her husband, or all the things he represented for me.
So I'll knit her a prayer shawl. I knit. It's what I do. It's how I cope. Better than smoking, right? I'll knit those thoughts and memories into it, and even though she'll never know the details, I hope she can appreciate the symbolism.
It's as much for me as it is for her.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Secret Pal 10

Look what I stumbled on - it's Secret Pal 10!

I'd seen people posting about these things on their blogs, but I'd never signed up. It looks like a lot of fun, a non-holiday chance to spoil and be spoiled. All you knitters out there should sign up.

And here's the mandatory survery.

The Questionnaire

Here are is the questionnaire for SP10. Please be sure to post it in a spot on your blog where your pal can easily find it. Since your pal will use this to help create your packages you'll want to have it posted to your blog no later than the last day of February.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I like natural fibers, the softer the better. I would kill for handspun. (Okay, maybe not kill. But at least commit a major felony, like bank robbery or something.) I do not like most acrylic yarns, or even blends.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

I have a cool roll-up case I made for my straight needles, one my friend made for me for my dpns, and a spiffy one from Della Q for my circular needles. They all live in the Mobile Knitting Command Unit, the rolling tank that is my knitting bag.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I've been knitting for about 6 years, and I learned out of various books. I'm somewhere between intermediate and advanced. See the post on knitting paranoia.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

No, sorry.

5. What's your favorite scent?

I like citrus scents and lavender.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Oh, but I have a sweet tooth. I love chocolate cherries and anything chocolate mint.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I crochet fairly often. I can sew, but don't do it very much. I'm very much a beginner at spinning, but I have a really cool wheel. Other various art projects make an appearance from time to time.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like just about any music but rap or country. I can certainly play MP3s.
Know what's really cool? Audiobooks and clever podcasts.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

My favorite color is red, but I like pinks and purples too. You really can't go wrong with neutrals either.
Not a fan of green, really. Or oranges and yellows.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I have two pets, one cat and one boyfriend. Only the cat lives with me though.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I do not wear ponchos, the rest are cool. (I'm rather on the small side though, especially my hands.)

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I really like bags and hats, especially if they have an interesting construction. Sweaters are fun too, but very much a long term commitment.

13. What are you knitting right now?

I'm not at liberty to discuss that.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Are there people that don't?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I prefer circular needles. I like bamboo or wood best, but I usually wind up with Addis. Not really a fan of plastic, but if there's something really cool out there I'd try it.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

No, but I use the one at the LYS.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Oh god. Since I started knitting?

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I like birthdays (and I don't mean just mine).

19. Is there anything that you collect?

Dust, but I don't need any more of it.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I can't wait for the next Yarn Harlot book. Someday I'll invest in the Barbara Walker books. Also, all the EZ books besides Knitting Without Tears. I have a subscription to Cast On (but I can't say I like it that much).

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Some day I'll get past socks.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I am not a sock knitter, and you can read my many laments to that fact. I wear a US women's 7.5.

23. When is your birthday?

October 8.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Fugly Friday

Ah, You Knit What?, you are gone too soon. May you rest in peace.
But there are still hideous knits out there, and they need to be mocked. So in homage, I bring you Fugly Friday (fugly = effing ugly)(their term, not mine)(but it's appropriate).
I mean seriously, people. What are the knit designers thinking? Who do they think is going to wear this?
This lovely creation is brought to you by Lion Brand, free pattern here.
Where do you begin mocking this? The fact that it makes the probably very thin model look like some sort of very well coordinated bear? Or maybe it's a Santa coat that took one too many trips down a chimney.
Its title is "Rich 'Fur' Coat." Yep, totally fooled me. I thought it was real fur all along. Not to mention the fact that the "fur" is 27 balls of Fun Fur. I shudder at the thought of Fun Fur at all. But 27 entire balls of it? Not to mention that it's Wool-Ease as a base? Oooh, comfy.
Please feel free to join in the mocking. In fact, I encourage it. And if you want to send me a contribution for a future Fugly Friday (I think I'm going to make this a regular feature) you know the address.

Quantum Yarn

A well-known thought experiment in modern physics is the story of Schrodinger's cat. Suppose, Erwin Schrodinger said, you put a cat in a box. The box is rigged with a system that will release cyanide to kill the cat, based on a completely random trigger. We seal the box; it is soundproof, it is sturdy so we do not see it shaking. We have no way of telling if the cat is alive or dead at any moment. Common sense would tell us that, considering the trigger is completely random, the cat could be either. But quantum physics takes it a step further. The cat is both dead and alive at the same time. It is only when we observe the cat, by opening the box, that the we force an outcome one way or the other. (Don't worry, this is only a thought experiment. No one has done or will do this to a real cat. ) (Especially not my cat.)
It sounds far fetched, but that's how the real world works at a subatomic level. When you look for an electron orbiting a nucleus, it could be anywhere. In fact, it is everywhere, until we pin it down to one place by observing it. We're used to a deterministic view of the world - things are the way they are and we passively observe it. But it's just not the cast - our decision to measure something actually changes the system.
This is coming back to knitting, I promise.
In many situations, it is far more probable that the electron will be one place instead of another when we measure it, but this is just a probability. It still exists in a very fundamental way at all the other possibilities. Everywhere that it can exist, it does. Kind of mind-boggling isn't it? Einstein didn't like this idea. "Gott spielt nicht!" he proclaimed, "God does not throw dice." Well, aparently he does. (And Einstein got himself in trouble with an awful lot of women, so maybe that whole "smartest guy ever" thing could use some re-examining.)
Here's how this comes back to knitting. When I have a certain project in mind, I've already made a measurement on the system. This yarn is destined to become whatever I choose to make with it, it's pinned down to one place. But there are other yarns that exist with infinite possibilities. These tend to be the more precious yarns, the cashmere that I horde, that beautiful handspun. I probably will never knit them. Why? Because I haven't found the right project. Sure, I have lots of ideas, but my resistance is deeper than that. As long as I haven't actually chosen a project, all those possibilities exist in reality still. It's improbable that the skein of cashmere is going to be part of a luxury scrap sweater, but on a quantum level, it already is. It's also part of a gorgeous bedspread, a snuggly collar on a cool cardigan, a delicate lace pillow. Until I pin the yarn down to one project, all these wonderful things still exist.
That's kind of hard to give up. Viva la stash!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hat for the Boy v. 2.0

The previous hat for the boy was made when we had just started dating. It was near both our birthdays (he's one year and two days older), and this hat was going to be his gift.
That was in October.
I made that hat, but somehow it defies the laws of physics. I have a very small head. I'm fairly comfortable wearing children's sizes. He's Irish, and therefore his head has its own gravitational pull. Yet somehow, through some warp in the space-time continuum, it fits me, yet is too big for him. You'd think someone with as much physics under their belt as I have would be able to figure this out, but it's still a mystery. I think his head actually bends spacetime in a gravity well.
So I kept that hat, and it looks adorable on me. (Although my mother likes to say I look like a sailor when I wear it, particularly with the black pea coat. Well, ahoy, matey.) I finally (!) got around to making him a replacement. To his credit, he actually asked for it. (A man who appreciates handknits! Back off! He's mine!)

I decided to make this one ribbed all the way to the brim, so it would stretch in any direction, and super long, so he could just roll up the brim as high as it needs to go.
Turned sideways, it also looks like the giant bullets from the pirate ship in Mario Bros.

I'm not cheap enough to give it to him for Valentine's Day (aka Single People Awareness Day and Senseless Slaughter of Flowers Day, as I learned in the LYS last week). He got a proper gift, and he's coming over to cook me dinner tomorrow. It's a dangerous path, this knitting. First it's a hat, and before you know it, you're headed the way of the sweater curse.

In summary:
Yarn: Cashsoft Aran (oh, look it up yourself, I lost the ball band)
Needles: Size 7, 16" circ and dpn
Pattern: basically a k4, p4 rib
Time: about two days, once I got on with it
Cost: ~$18
Guilt level: Orange

Knitting Paranoia

Every once in a while, we all take a minute to step back and doubt ourselves.
For most of us, this comes naturally.
"Is this a good haircut?"
"Do I need to lose some weight?"
"Am I being productive at work?"
"If I wear this shirt right after I washed it even though I did laundry last week are people going to think that I just don't do laundry and I'm wearing a dirty shirt?"
Sure, probably, not enough and who the hell thinks like that?
Clearly, taken to the extreme, this is a terrible idea. But every once in a while, it's actually far from it. We need to take a moment to examine ourselves, and ask the big questions. Maybe it's not about things like clothes or a haircut, but the bigger questions, like if our lives are really on the right track, a quick progress report to ourselves.
So I find myself asking the question, "Am I a good enough knitter?"
Am I? And how do I judge?
I started the master knitter program months ago. Do you know it's really boring to knit all those swatches? It's kind of fallen by the wayside. And a lot of people make the very good point of, "Why do I need someone else to tell me I'm a good knitter?" At some point, I'm going to have to finish it just because I paid the money for it, so there's that. But what will that master knitter level 1 really give me? A blurb in a terrible knitting magazine, something I could list on a knitting resume, if for some reason I ever needed a knitting resume. Does it put me on the inevitable path of finishing the entire master knitting series, just to prove I can? Yeah, probably. I'm a little OC like that.
But beyond some outsider's label, how do I prove to myself that I'm a good knitter? I was pretty impressed with myself back when I was making scarves. Now I'm churning out sweaters, and I'm reasonably convinced there's no pattern I couldn't do if I really wanted. I follow directions pretty well. There are still the patterns I shy away from, particularly those knit on microscopic needles or with massive patterning.
Is that a preference or failure? I used to think basic cables were hard, now I don't need a pattern for the simpler ones. Does that mean once I really am a good knitter I should think a massively textured Aran sweater is easy?
Or how about lace? When I finally understood it, it was a like a light going off. But I don't really want to follow all those gigantic charts. I don't like charts. Does that mean I'm not good at lace? Are there multiple layers of lights that would go off in the future if I really applied myself?
What about time? Do I knit fast enough? I have a reputation for being a rather quick knitter, but I think that's mostly because I have a lot more spare time than the other ladies at the LYS, what with not having children and all. I've never timed myself. Is that really something to strive for?
Maybe I'm not a good knitter as long as I keep following patterns. Shouldn't a really good knitter understand every piece of clothing and be able to make her own? I used to follow hat patterns, now I make my own. Sometimes I even scoff at hat patterns (though that's condescending and wrong). Do I need to get to that point with sweaters?
And are sweaters really enough? I don't make blankets. Is that a downfall?
And let's not even talk about socks. I know that's something I need to get past. It will happen eventually. But I'll probably never enjoy it. Do I need to enjoy knitting socks to be a good knitter? Certain yarn harlots would have you think so....
But enough of the knitting paranoia. What it really comes down to is that I'm good, but I'm not good enough. That's how it always has been, and that's how it's always going to be. As long as you enjoy what you're doing and you like what you've done, you're a good knitter. But there's always room to grow.
And the paranoia, as long as it's brief, is actually a good thing. It makes you stop and take stock of where you are. One of these days, I'm going to conquer socks. And I'm going to make that complicated Aran sweater, and I'm going to finish that stupid intarsia blanket, and I'm going to do ridiculously complicated lace. I'll be a better knitter for it.
(And in case you missed the point here, a better person too.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Instant Gratification

You know what's great about chunky yarns?


After the marathon of Christmas knitting, I've been drawn to projects that aim for instant gratification. Enter the lovely book One Skein. Ah, One Skein. So many cute items, all in just one skein of yarn. Granted, that may be a skein of lace weight that has 1450 yards, or a chunky yarn that knits to an inch a stitch, but it's one skein nevertheless.

Here's the Spiral Knit Bag in Malabrigo chunky. The bag itself is super cute, and a decent size for a little purse. I was suprised at how well it worked with the yarn. I had no idea what the recommended yarn looked like, I just saw that it said chunky, and I had been looking for an excuse to use the Malabrigo chunky anyway. I can't say enough about it. One night, one bag. It's soft and spirally and very fun.

Of course, my mom can take one look at those colors and know it's for her. She's gone a whole month without getting anything knit, so it's about time.

In summary:

Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky (100% merino wool, $11.95)

Needles: Size 11 16" circ and dpn

Pattern: Spiral Knit Bag from One Skein

Time: a few hours, honest!

Cost: $11.95

Go knit this bag!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Knitting Quiz

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Goddess. You are constantly giving and are unconcerned with reward, you simply want others to love knitting as much as you do. If someone wants to knit miles of novelty yarns, you are there for them. If someone wants to learn short row shaping, you can help. There are no taboos in knitting, only opportunities to grow. Everyone should have friend like you around if they want to learn to knit, and there's a good chance that your passion has rubbed off on a few others.
Take this quiz!

He he he.

I'm it!

Kristine tagged me with this meme. I think it's my first official tagging. Be excited.

Six Weird Things About Me

THE RULES: Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

As Kristine puts it, weird is relative. So I'm going to stick with the knitting things, otherwise this would be way more than six things.

1. I don't knit socks. Reasons why are here, here, and here, in addition to several places in my closet. There are far too many things that I want to knit to waste my time on something I don't like. I may do at some point just for the sheer joy of conquering it, but I don't expect it to be soon.

2. I read knitting books like most people read regular books. I read them in the bath, in bed, when I need something to read, always.

3. I taught myself to knit out of a book. My aunt tried to show me when I was younger, but she knits continental, and I knit American. Mostly it was the "I taught myself to knit!" pamphlet from Walmart, with grating metal needles and squeaky acrylic yarn. The book that made me a knitter was Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n' Bitch.

4. I classify my (many) projects by how much attention they require. Things that are large and/or complex, such as blankets, serious lace or charted projects, stay at home. Travelling projects can involve minor shaping or counting rows, like basic sweater pieces. Movie theater projects must be so simple you can knit them in the dark. (Not knitting at the movies is not an option.)

5. I have a hope chest. This may seem strange for a card-carrying feminist, but it mostly started with adorable baby projects I couldn't bear to give away. I make no apologies. Even if I don't have children, there's bound to be a special child in my life at some point.

6. Unless I'm doing something very complex, I don't look at my knitting. I love how this freaks people out.

And now for the tagging others part. Kristine already got most of my blog friends.

I'll try tagging Amanda, but she seems to think law school is more important than knitting right now. Pfffhhhht.

Also, consider yourself tagged, friends:




And random Science Knits cohorts:

Knitting Like Crazy


Underwater Knitting

because they like the Bears.

Ah, Metaphors

Those of you who read this blog regularly (Mom) may have noticed a trend here. There is a flurry of activity, and then no posts for a week or worse.
Clearly, there is a metaphor here.
Yes, this is how my life generally works. So when I manage to complete an entire project in this initial burst of energy, I look amazingly productive and astounding. If I miss the window, even by a little, such as say, the weaving in of ends, the project sits on the shelf (metaphorically that is, it's usually my floor or couch) for perhaps weeks on end, no further progress being made. Then I look like a slacker.
It's not necessarily that (though it is sometimes), it's just that I've been consumed by a new project, that I must temporarily throw all of my creative juices into.
These things happen. I can only hope to occasionally circle back to the old projects until they finally get done.
Also, my laptop no longer likes to add photos to blogger, which puts a damper on things. I have several posts all written up, but since I forget to add the pictures at home, they're stagnating.
Yeah. It's all blogger's fault.