May 01, 2012
Lolcats–you gotta love them.
April 28, 2012
I know knitters are wonderful. I know they’re kind. I know they’re generous. I know they’re thoughtful. But I still get blown away sometimes when I experience those traits in action.
Consider this scenario—
I wanted a one-skein shawl to work on for meeting knitting. I chose Vlad and decided to knit it in some lovely Tosh Sock in the Georgia O’Keefe colorway. There’s enough yarn in a single skein that I was tempted to live dangerously and do an extra repeat of the body pattern before moving onto the edging.
“I’m a tight knitter,” I told myself, “Surely I can squeeze out a bit more.”
You know what comes next. I could not squeeze out a bit more. In fact, I was stuck with about ten rows to go, plus the bind-off, and I only hand about five rows worth of yarn.
After brooding, self-recriminations, and time spent trying to redraft the pattern without ruining the design, I turned to Ravelry and posted on two discussion forums asking if anyone had a bit of leftover yarn they’d be willing to sell.
I didn’t get any responses offering the yarn I needed, but I did get one exellent suggestion from another Raveler: “Go to the Tosh Sock page, click on ‘projects’ near top of page, then search for your color name. That’ll bring up all the projects that have used that yarn. You can then send PMs to some of those to see if they have leftovers they’re willing to part with.”
I did as she suggested, sent out my plea—and, wow!, did I ever get responses. MistySnow had a response in my in box before I’d even gotten off of Ravelry: “I have only 2.8 grams remaining but it is yours (no cost – I’ve been rescued several times on other projects so I’m paying it forward).”
TheSpinningDaisy offered me another few grams. Lezzel and TelaCat did, too—again without asking for payment, just saying they’d had knitters be generous when they needed it and asking that I do the same someday when the chance offers itself.
I also hear from bflaible, who offered to send me 60 grams for ten dollars (over half a skein and a great price, given what Mad Tosh usually runs), so I said “yes” to her too.
Here’s what I wound up with—
Look at all that wonderful, wooly generosity!
MistySnow, SpinningDaisy, Lezzel, Telacat, bflaible—thank you, thank you, thank you for coming to the aid of a fellow knitter. I’ll promise you I’ll do the same.
Of course, now I’m thinking about tinking back to the body section and working another few repeats before the edging…
April 25, 2012
[Note: I can claim no credit for the contents of this post. I am merely taking advantage of the brilliance of my wife and the cats that came along with her as part of "the package deal."]
Since Bob is an outdoor cat, he engages in the occasional contretemps. Last week involved a particularly operatic one. Damian was good enough to provide a translation for Bob’s parts of the lyrics (we can only imagine what his partner in song was offering in reply), and Melissa was quick to write them down.
The title, of course, is from the Italian and roughly translates as “I Hate You Down to the Very Hair Between My Toes.” Enjoy!
Ti Odio Verso, Perfino i Capelli tra le Dita dei Piedi (as performed by H. Bob-Jacques Endlessseafoodbuffet Pelerin and translated by Damian Vaslav M. Presario Pantalones de Queso ¡y Qué!)
Oh, you miserable creature
You horror who dare to call yourself a cat
You are baser than a dog
You are no better than a dog
And a chihuahua at that.
I am not afraid of you
You are no more terrifying than a squirrel
Who sits chattering in the tree
And vainly throwing nuts at my head.
I laugh at your threats:
Ha ha ha ha ha!
You weaker than a kitten
I spit in your eye
I pee in your bed
I kick excrement into your food bowl
But only after eating what’s left.
I dare you to try anything
Look! I am puff!
My tail is greater than all of you put together.
Get out of my yard.
Get out of my yard now!
April 20, 2012
1. Choose one type of knitted object (socks, cardigans, dishcloths—whatever suits your fancy), then select “free.” Odds are, you’ll wind up with 20-60 pages of patterns that can all be added to your queue without bringing its total price up at all. (Do not, however, add all 20-60 pages worth; this would demonstrate a lack of discernment.)
2. Look at the “Designers Show Us Your Stuff” topic threads that appear on many of the Ravelry forums (shawl knitters, lace knitters, fingerless glove fanatics, etc).
3. Go to your “friends” page. Pick someone. Spy on her queue and her projects. Be a copy-cat.
4. Find the forum for fans of a particular yarn you have that you haven’t been able to figure out how to use. Start a “what would you do with ____ yards of____?” thread.
5. Look at the “finished objects” section in 12 Shawls in 2012. Favorite shawls seem to come and go in waves, and you’ll see the same pattern worked in multiple colors (and probably weights).
6. Do a pattern search using “free” and specifying a particular amount of yarn. This is good when you want to be guaranteed a project that can be done quickly—just limit your search to patterns calling for, say, 100-120 yards. Limit by yarn weight as well, if you want.
1. Search your existing queue using tags. (You do tag patterns as you queue them, don’t you?) For example, pull out just “cardigans” or just “fingering” or just “mom” or just “colorwork.” Pair like patterns with like, then delete semi-duplicates until only the best of each kind remain.
2. Go to “Patterns,” click on “in my queue” and then on a particular yarn weight. Again, prune semi-duplicates. Or ask yourself, “Given the other lovely things here on this one page, how likely am I really to knit _____?”
3. This isn’t really a shrinking thing, but if you’ve queued a pattern because you like a single design element, add the tag “no,” then in the notes section remind yourself what one bit of the piece you like.
4. Not really sure you’ll ever use a pattern—but it’s free and you can’t resist? Add it to your library, but not to your queue. Every so often compare your library and queue and see if patterns need to be moved between both.
5. Click the “love” button, when you suspect it’s a particular project, and not the pattern itself, that’s caught your eye. Like your library, your favorites can be browsed occasionally without eating up queue space.
6. Be honest. If you’re like me, you can only bear so much stockinette. Do a brutal purge of everything that’s more than 75% stockinette (or lace or mosaic stitch or whatever it is that can look pretty, but that you really don’t enjoy).
I can testify to using these techniques myself, and I’ve kept my queue to a
perfectly reasonable, mere, not-too-insane 543 items and 19 pages.
April 17, 2012
You may remember the Bobhus, the rather quirky house Melissa assembled for Bob after he rejected the more sensible design she started out with—
The Bobhus has served Bob well, but new times call for new huses (so to speak).
Bob has been in a fair bit of trouble lately because he has decided it is his personal responsibility to chase Miss Timmy whenever she’s allowed out for a bit of rec time. And Miss Timmy does not appreciate being chased.
Bob came, oh, so close to being evicted. But we’re trying another strategy now. We’ve assembled a new Bobhus—
(I cannot believe how old I look in this picture. In my head I am still twelve years old and 65 pounds or so.)
We labored. (Actually Melissa did most of the laboring.) Bob supervised—
—which is utterly exhausting work.
Once we’d finished, we “encouraged” Bob to check it out.
A few sniffs, some trial naps, and it appeared Bob was giving his approval.
What the discerning viewer may note, but what we haven’t yet informed Bob of, is that this Bobhus has doors. And doors can be shut.
So the next time Miss Timmy wants to sun herself on the deck (which doesn’t happen all that often), Bob’s going to get a little “private time” in his hus. With enough treats we think he’ll go for it.
P.S. for all you Harry Potter fans out there: we have christened the new Bobhus “Azkabob.”
April 04, 2012
In terms of my knitting lately, I have not been feeling it. And I’ve been feeling that not-feelingness, if you know what I mean. Every project feels a little bit off, sort of like that great shirt with the itchy tag or the comfy shoes that unaccountably rub the knuckle of one toe. And I am feeling cranky and tired and thoroughly sick of projects that are nice, but that do not make my heart sing.
• Green and purple cape I’ve been trying to decode from the Japanese knitting book—you are history. I am done with your mind-boggling charts.
• Swing Cardigan in the delicious alpaca yarn in just the right shade of yellow green that was given to me by my college friend Christina—I am unraveling you and saving as much as I can of your yarn. I will no longer tell myself that if I slouch the right way no-one will notice the one-inch difference in the length of your sleeves. I will not pretend that I didn’t go crazily off-gauge at some point and then have to awkwardly rework the cable charts in hopes of winding up with a garment that fits.
• Creature Comforts Cardigan that is not a cardigan, damn it, but a pocketed shrug that looks like a potato sack when worn—I am turning the lovely oak leaf panel up your back into a throw pillow and tossing the rest of your without regrets.
• Anemie Shawl that I just started knitting two days ago—I am quitting you. Your pattern is lovely, your yarn is lovely, but combining them diminishes them both.
• Giant cabled entrelac stole—who was I kidding? Yes, if I work on you for hours a day, every day, I might finish you by the end of June, but, frankly, I do not love you that much. I am walking away.
I had dreams for all of you, but those dreams will never be. And let me tell you this, my little wooly friends: it’s not me; it’s you.
March 31, 2012
At the moment, I have the luxury of being sick during spring break. Not that being sick is fun—but it’s such a relief to have it happening over spring break, when I can just stop everything and curl up in bed while I wait to feel better. My two favorite sick-in-bed activities (no surprises here) are reading and knitting. For the reading part, I’m working my way through the full Harry Potter series again; I’ll get to the knitting in a moment.
This past winter, I used a gift certificate to pick up the Harry Potter series in hardback and read them straight through for the first time. (I’d read them individually when they came out, but hadn’t read most of them since.) One of the surprises was how different they are from the movies.
Now, the movies are good adaptations, but they’re just that—adaptations. Without tripling their length (at a minimum), it would be impossible to include in the movies everything that occurs in the books. And making cuts sometimes requires making other changes: giving a particular role or responsibility to a different character, carefully excising one thread of the tapestry. I’m not complaining about the movies. I’m just saying that the movies are less rich than the books. You can’t see on film all that you can see in your mind’s eye while reading.
As those of you with children (and those of you without children who share my mania for all things Harry Potter) know, ABC Family Channel frequently has Harry Potter weekends, during which they broadcast the first few films in sequence. When it’s Harry Potter weekend, I’m glued to the tube.
What I hadn’t realized, until I reread the series this winter was that the film versions had replaced the book versions in my head. The narratives that came to me most readily were those from the films. Rereading the books felt like deepening a long-standing friendship, coming back to a truth that had been obscured by more everyday occurrences. So I’ve become determined to make my internal, personal version of the Potter series the book version, which requires rereading them regularly. I don’t want to give up watching the films; I just want to make sure that they’re secondary in my memory.
So I’m in bed, working my way through Harry Potter (I’ve reached The Goblet of Fire) and enjoying myself immensely, despite the cough and the mucous, and the sore throat.
But a proper take-to-bed, self-indulgent illness also requires knitting, so I’ve cast on for Anemie (the blog is in German, but you can find an English-language version of the pattern on Ravelry). I’m knitting with a USSY—Unidentified Skein of Sock Yarn— so am not altogether sure I’ll actually have enough yardage for the project. My plan is to work the body of this shawlette and the pointed edging in the yarn I’ve begun with, which is a dark, variegated brown/purple/blue. I’m planning to work the cabled section in a complimentary solid-color yarn, which should make the cable pop, and should keep me free from worries about running out of yarn.
Right now, I’m on the large ribbed section with short rows, which makes for excellent sick-bed knitting. The stitch pattern has a regular rhythm to it, and the rows get shorter as the piece progresses, so the pace of progress quickens as I move along.
A chapter of Harry Potter. A few rows of knitting. A chapter of Harry Potter. A few rows of knitting. Mucous be damned—I feel like one very lucky woman.
February 03, 2012
If you do a Ravelry pattern search for
Has Photo: Yes
You will find yourself with 62 pages of free fingerless mitt/glove patterns to peruse—which is how I’ve been spending my afternoon in between loads of laundry.
So my queue is now longer by eleven patterns (but it’s still under 20 pages!). I’ve been thinking about fingerless glove design lately—and while I know I can do it, I still feel a bit fuddled by the shaping. And by the business of writing such patterns up, with the marker placement and the increases, and the need for separate, mirror-image patterns for the two hands.
I suspect that the best way to do it may be to work out a template for charting, which I what I did when I first wanted to play with sock design. When I made sock charts, I’d do an ankle/leg chart, a heel chart, then a foot chart. In this case, I’d want an arm/wrist chart, then a set of front of hand, thumb gusset, and back of hand charts. The hands would then be nothing more than two rectangles with a growing triangle between them, and that would give me a surface for playing with stitches—and wouldn’t it be fun to think up something interesting for that thumb triangle?
Just in case you are compulsive, like me, here are links to the patterns I queued.
November 03, 2011
Here we have this year’s Halloween portrait of the kitties, courtesy of Melissa.
Back row, L to R: Beatrice as the night sky, Archy as Cotton Mather, and Mickareena (one of the next-door’s kitties) as a rocket.
Middle row, L to R: Olive (another next-door kitty) as Jenny Linksy, Damian as Mr. Clean, Miss Timmy as a roller derby queen, Bob as Tinky-Winky from the Teletubbies, and Maggie as Amelia Peabody, female Egyptologist extraordinaire, from Elizabeth Peters’ excellent novels.
Front row, L to R: Sparky as Ferdinand the Bull, and Zuzu (the last of the next-door kitties) as a very tiny cow.
They would like you to know that they all prefer treats to tricks.
September 19, 2011
For several years now Melissa has been hoping for a knit vest. And as many of you knitters know, as soon as someone wants something, even if it is someone you love very much, you lose all interest in that sort of project. So Melissa has been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
But the waiting is over. Here is her Reversible Cabled Vest, knit using a pattern from Andrea Knight-Bowman.
This was a straightforward knit, and the cables kept it from becoming mind-numbingly boring. I also learned how to knit backwards on this project—something my BKFF Chris has been urging me to do for years. I still turned the work to knit the cables from whichever side I was on, but after the first few inches, I started knitting all the return stockinette rows backwards, instead of purling them. What surprised and delighted me is that my knitting is much more even when I alternate forward and backwards knitting than it is when I alternate knit and purl rows. If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see the spot (about 4″ from the bottom of the vest) where I began knitting backwards.
And here’s a close-up of the cables.
One issue that I had with this pattern was that it contained a number of errors of the sort that an experienced knitter can catch pretty easily, but that might throw a beginning knitter. Early on the Ks and Ps for the cable are reversed in one line, which would insert a single row of moss stitch if not caught. And in several places I had to redo the stitch counts. I was knitting the size 40, so I don’t know if that’s the case with other sizes, but—trust me—you’ll be happier if you double-check the math before moving into new sections.
This observation about needing to double-check patterns instead of just following them takes me back to Woodbine, which I’d begun knitting last spring. I had, in fact, begun knitting it out of the yarn that is now Melissa’s vest, so clearly it’s been frogged.
Woodbine is knit top down, so one works X number of rows and then separates sleeve and body stitches before moving to working on just the body. The gauge for this sweater is 24 rows per 4″. The top half of the sweater is worked in a stitch that has a six-row repeat. The instructions for my size said to work 7 repeats of the six-row pattern for a sleeve depth of approximately 10-12″ inches. Well that math just doesn’t work. Seven repeats would equal 42 rows, which would equal only 7″ if one is knitting to gauge. And 7″ doesn’t equal 10-12″. It just doesn’t. Can’t. I emailed the designer who assured me that the arm hole would stretch out some and/or I could increase the number of rows worked before separating body and sleeve stitches. Yes, I could have. But that did nothing to address that glaring difference between gauge and instructions. I thought for a while about continuing to work on it, putting it on waste yarn every few rows to try it on, and knitting it to fit me—but that’s a lot more work than just following a well-written pattern, and I didn’t feel like doing all that work. So Woodbine is no more.
One of the lessons of Woodbine is that one is better off choosing a pattern that lots of folks have already worked and that is well-represented with commentary on Ravelry. When I began Woodbine there were (I believe) four projects listed on Ravelry. There are now eleven. None of them mention this issue with gauge. But I suspect that if 30 or 40 people had knit this sweater that issue would have come up, and I could have considered it before deciding to cast on. Similarly, when I cast on for the Reversible Cabled Vest, no-one had worked it and posted their project on Ravelry, so I had no-one to warn me about double checking instructions and math. Bottom line: I’m now a lot less willing to cast on for a pattern that’s newly published; there’s too much risk of frustration.