Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby Burp Rags

It is funny. The most praise and gratitude I ever received for anything I ever knit came from a pair of baby burp rags that I knit for Wake last year.

Honestly, just the other day, AVB remarked to my mother how useful and wonderful they had been. (Wake no longer needs them, but she had been packing up his baby stuff and came across them.)

The thing is, these were REALLY low-key, brain-free, super fast knitting projects. I used the genius baby pattern out of the first Mason-Dixon book, and two colors of Cottentot yarn by Bernat. They took me a couple of movies each. The main reason I went with burp rags instead of my usual quilt was that AVB, at the time, lived far far away, and I needed something I could mail for cheap.

Lately, with the huge spate of babies being born or about to be born around me, I have been frantically looking for cute sweater patterns, planning baby blankets, baby beanies...lots of teenie tiny things.

Really though, I don't have a lot of time on my hands between school and work. So, why mess with perfection? Baby burp rags may not be all that impressive, but they sure are utilitarian. And most important...they are FAST and EASY!!!!

One baby's down:

A zillion more to go!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Earlier today, I went with Blondie and +H to the Great Mall in Milpitas to shop for a dress for Blondie to wear as "guest book attendant" at an upcoming wedding.

Blondie is not shy. Neither is +H. Nor do they care what people think of them.

As we left Kohl's and walked out into the mall proper, Blondie began to sing. Loud. Top of her lungs loud. And dance.

I believe the song was "Do You Love Me?", but that might have been later. (She sang several times throughout the afternoon.

I on the other hand, trailed after the two of them. Quietly amused. Self-contained. Knitting a sock. (The yarn ball was in my purse.)

People, understandably, were turning to stare as we walked by.

That's when I heard a woman, with a shocked gasp, elbow her boyfriend/husband/brother and say:

"Can you believe her? She's knitting."


It might just be me, but in the above situation, which should draw more public censure and criticism? The quiet knitter, or the boisterous teenager?

People are so weird.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Forced Purchases

Confession: There are times when I have purchased yarn, not because I liked it, but because it was the least offensive yarn I could find in a store.

When I go into a new yarn shop for the first time, I often feel as though I am intruding on someone else's territory. All eyes turn to me, and I feel as though I am being judged. Part of this stems from my own personal insecurities and anxiety issues, but part of it is based on fact. I am younger than a lot of knitters, although that is changing as I age and knitting becomes more socially acceptable. Also, as B1 pointed out at Stitches West, I don't exactly look like your run-of-the-mill knitter either. I have been followed in shops because the owner thought I was going to shoplift, I have been questioned, I have been informed that the shop only sells yarn, etc. I have developed a wee bit of a complex.

As a result, now when I go into a new shop, I feel compelled to buy justify my presence there. This isn't easy to do since I am very picky. (Do not laugh...I admit I have a lot of yarn, but I love all of it...imagine how much I would have if I was less discerning!). In the end, I buy yarn that I don't really care for. And it's hard. If I am guilt buying, then I look for yarn that is fairly inexpensive, but not so inexpensive as to be obvious that I am only buying under compulsion. I also look for yarn that comes in skeins large enough to make a scarf, but small enough as to leave NO leftovers.

My most recent forced purchase occurred when I went into the yarn shop in Dublin. I had just moved here, and already had a delightful experience at the Pleasanton shop. Unfortunately, the Dublin shop was a dud. I got the judgemental stares, the following, the constant "can I help you find something?". (Advice to store owners: If I tell you I am just browsing, let me walk around and squish the skeins. I am more likely to impulse buy by touch than by your constant pestering. Asking once is good customer service, asking repeatedly is just annoying.)

On top of the behavior, the yarn just wasn't what I like. Also, it was organized by brand rather than type. Brand organization is even less accessible to me as a knitter than organization by color, which I also dislike! (Note: I don't intend on going back there. I love Knit This, Purl That! which is closer to my house anyway, so why make the effort?)

I had to buy something. I didn't like anything. They didn't even have a good needle I ended up purchasing this:

Its ok, but not really my thing. I ended up making a scarf out of it using a simple pattern from "Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair." The scarf turned out pretty well. The variation in the weight and texture of the different yarn elements made the stripes droop in places as heavier parts pulled it down. That is annoying. Also, the style of the scarf isn't really my thing. It is going into the gift stash, or perhaps to a consignment shop or something. We'll see. At least I finished it, and my stash now has more room for a wanted yarn.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Packing Projects

I have a really hard time deciding what knitting projects to take on trips with me. I don't want to take too little and be left with nothing to do, but I also don't want to over pack. It is an issue that has been coming up a lot lately.

Last weekend, for example, I went to my brother and sister-in-law's house for one night. I repeat, ONE NIGHT.

I took three projects.

I can justify this though, because not only do I have to take enough projects time-wise, I also have to take enough projects type-wise. Here are things I take into consideration:

Purse Projects: Always need one of those. They must be compact, and can involve some thought, but not tons. Socks work well here too. Purse projects are what I work on when I am in the car with people, in line somewhere, waiting for a bus, chatting at a friend's house, that type of thing. Last weekend it was a coffee cup cozy.

Brain-free Projects: These projects must be able to be done in the dark, and not require looking in any way. This is what I work on during movies, while reading, or while watching tv. They are usually scarves, beanies, or dishcloths. Some purse projects can also, depending on where I am in them, be socks. However, brain-free projects do not have a definite size restriction. Last weekend it was a scarf.

Pattern Projects: These are "involved" and generally require that I have the actual pattern handy and am able to read it. I do this type of knitting while listening to books on tape, lying in bed, or (depending on who I am with)sitting around chatting with people. (My family and some close friends are used to my knitting, and don't mind my not making eye contact while also works well when I am not actually part of a conversation, just listening to others or watching them play a video game or something.) Also, pattern projects tend to get larger and more unwieldy than the other two types.

Once I have picked a project for each pattern type, I need to take into account the length and nature of my trip. If I am going somewhere for 4 or 5 days, I might need to take more than one purse or brain-free project depending on what the itinerary is. Long plane trips both ways might even call for 2 pattern projects.

I am going back to Brother's house for one night this weekend, and then to the parents' house for 4 days and 2 plane rides next weekend. Better get planning.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cashmere Mulligan

My favorite yarn store went out of business a couple years ago. But, a la Pollyanna, I found a silver lining. I was able to get the orange variegated cashmere that I had been eyeing for several months at a ridiculously reduced price (not to mention the fact that I was able to use my “frequent customer” gift certificate…).

When I got the yarn home, I literally just sat petting it for a while. I love cashmere. I was very excited because I had recently come across a stitch pattern called “dragon scales.” I love dragon books, and decided to wed my love of cashmere with my love of fantasy and make myself a scarf.

I cast on, and started out enthusiastically, for about 4 inches. Then I set the project aside and never picked it back up. This was over a year ago. I love the yarn. I love the stitch pattern. I do not love them together.

“Dragon Scales” is a semi-intricate/fussy pattern which is not shown off to its best advantage by the yarn’s coloring. Also, I started to realize that I might not have enough yarn to make the scarf a length that I would wear. (I tend to lean toward loooooonnnnngggg scarves.) As I got the yarn on sale from a now defunct LYS, I can’t just go out and buy more…and I can’t really afford to buy more online. So, what to do?

I am taking a Mulligan.

I have known I needed to for a while, but just couldn’t bear to admit defeat. I pride myself on my eye for color and design, and to say that something I envisioned just won’t work is hard. But, it needs to be done. I am unraveling the scarf.

I will still make the dragon scales scarf, but out of a solid colored koigu that I had in my stash. I will still make a scarf out of the cashmere, too, but using an adaptation of the waterfall lace pattern I used on Mom’s Christmas present. (The pattern highlights, rather than fights against, variegation.)

In the end even Superknitters need to admit their fallibility. I tried something. It didn’t work. Being a Superknitter means picking yourself up, moving forward, and not letting beautiful yarn languish due to your own pride.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Want to be the Yarn Harlot

Apparently, I really DO want to be Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.

Not only was I inspired to make the Wunder-Scarf based solely on her samples...she has dictated yet another project.

She mentioned a sweater she wanted to make on her blog, it's called the February Lady. Then she went about discussing all of the spinning, and swatching, and knitting she was doing for said sweater. I thought it looked neat. I thought it was even better after I read the pattern itself.

I went out. I bought the yarn. (It was almost free since I had a full stash card discount to use!)I ended up choosing Cascade 7809. It took 5 balls.

It has been a lovely sweater to work on. I started it just before I left for DC, and got a lot done on the plane. Unfortunately, I didn't find buttons for it at the convention last weekend, but I am keeping my eyes peeled.

I was unable to finish it in February, which had been my goal, due to the amount of school work and time-essential projects I have had. However, it is with great hopefulness that I reset my goal. Now I am wanting to have it done in time to wear when I am back in Seattle for grad school the first weekend in April. Can I do it? Yes I can!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

B1's Birthday Beret

B1's birthday beret is finally finished! And only 3 months after her actual birthday! Actually, it isn't as bad as it sounds. We didn't get a chance to buy the yarn for it until the convention a couple weeks ago. So, it has actually only taken me 2 weeks to make. That's amazing considering the end of quarter projects and everything that I've had going on.

She wanted it done before her trip to FL. It is done before her trip to FL. That's all that matters.

As to the particulars: I made "Le Slouch." It's a great pattern that I got off Wendy Bernard's blog. It is one of her freebies, and is actually amazing to make. It is well written, very stylish, fairly easy, and fun. I appreciated that a lot of it was "brain-free" knitting...knit seed stitch in the round for 4 inches or so, for example. This made it great for American Idol night or school lectures.

The yarn was purchased, as I mentioned earlier, when we went to the Stitches West Convention. It is Full Thread Ahead's 100% Merino Jewels DK in Garnet. It had a great color and feel, but not the right weight, so I actually knit with two strands held together at once. The only tricky bit was after I had used all of the first 2 balls, since the whole thing only took three. I had to divide the last one in half, kind of a pain...but worth it.

B1 had asked for a beret a la Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown. I think that I was able to deliver that. The beret is slouchier than I had originally intended (even though I quit knitting after 5 inches instead of the 6 in the pattern), but she was happy, so I am happy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finally, Someone is Having A Girl!

That sweater, that lovely peach baby sweater, the one that I have been avoiding like the bubonic plague ever since I realized I had to frog back about 3 rows, is finally going to have to be faced.

All of my friends, up until now, have very accommodatingly all been expecting boys. Until now. Both Dessert and Belle are expecting girls now. Also, Red doesn't know what she is having, but it might be a girl. So the excuse of no baby to knit for is now out the window.

I do have the added excuse of my book with the pattern being in the display case at the library...but while that might keep me from moving forward, it can't really keep me from frogging back. (Besides, the display comes down tomorrow, so not much of an excuse.)

In other words, I am going to have to bite the bullet and frog. The impending babies are just the motivation (gun to the head) that I needed.

I will put it off a few hours longer though. I am babysitting Ark and Fish for Belle tonight, so I think I will wait until then. Maybe being faced with as-yet-unborn Blossom's big brothers will give me an additional kick in the pants.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Itty Bitty Knitty

I am apparently over at Preach and Psych's house often enough that their kids (Wiz, Spaz, and Angel) are totally over me. I am there so often that I even have an assigned seat on their living room floor. It doesn't matter whether I am there for Idol Night, Monday night Bible Study, the Oscars, or just cause, I always sit on the floor to the left of the fireplace, with my back against the wall. And I am almost always knitting. Angel doesn't even come look at me anymore, she just toddles around and occasionally throws a ball at my head.

A few weeks ago I noticed Wiz staring at me. Actually, to be more correct, he was staring at my hands. I could just tell what he was thinking. It was something along the lines of, "Hey, that doesn't look too hard. I bet I could do that!" So, I offered to show him how. I was working on Broseph's scarf at the time. Seeing as how he is their cousin and lives with them, I figured he wouldn't mind. Wiz ended up knitting a few stitches, proving to himself that he could do it, then he lost interest and went back to whatever tv show we had on at the time.

Well, last night was American Idol night, and so I found myself in my spot on the floor working on B1's birthday beret. Psych took Angel upstairs to bed, but Wiz and Spaz were allowed to stay downstairs for a while. (Which was good since I had brought ice cream cake over for them!)This time it was Spaz that was staring at me. All of a sudden he scooted over next to me and just kind of looked at me. I asked him if he wanted to try knitting. He nodded, and I had him crawl into my lap. With great concentration, he knit a stitch. The beret is seed stitch, and I was not about to teach him the difference between knitting and purling. We ended up knitting for a while, him in my lap, and alternating stitches. He did the knits, and I did the purls. It was, I kid you not, one of the sweetest things I have ever done. Blondie even snapped a couple pictures for me.

Eventually he lost interest and went back to his pillow. Still, several times throughout the night he came back to do a couple more stitches. At one point he rummaged around in my bag trying to find something he could do by himself. Unfortunately, I didn't have anything to give him. All I had on me was a lace scarf and my sweater.

After a few minutes of him rummaging, and Wiz watching us knit, I asked the boys if they would like me to bring them stuff to make their own scarves. They both nodded. Wiz, to be exact, actually said "That would be cool." So, next Tuesday I will bring 2 sets of small needles (I think I have some red heart kid's 8's and 9's somewhere), and a skein of blue yarn for Spaz, and a skein of green yarn for Wiz. I will probably go ahead and cast on for them both, and maybe even knit the first two rows or so, before I get there. Then, before we turn idol on, I will show them the knit stitch and set them free. Between Jester, Blondie, and I (all who will by that point be able to knit), we should be able to help them out. Even if they never finish the scarves, or if they only work on them when I am there, its OK. I am just excited that they were excited about it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

Well...I am able to cross another request off the list of requests I made in January. Friday was BigOne's birthday, and while I was unable to attend his sixteenth birthday bash that night, I was able to complete his birthday beanie. (Yes, I know, I should have probably finished B1's beret first, but her beret takes concentration...his beanie did not.)

I used lion brand wool worsted weight yarn in black from the stash, and a plain old vanilla 2x2 rib knit on size 8 circulars. I decreased as I deemed fit while trying it on repeatedly during construction. (He seemed to have an average head size, so I figured mine would work pretty well for a dummy model.) The things with hats for guys is that you can't make them too long because they don't want to flip the end up and make a brim. At the same time, you can't make them too short or they look like overgrown yarmulkes! I think I managed to make his the perfect length. It hit right above his eyebrows and covered his ears.

I gave it to him at services this morning, along with a card that was HILARIOUS. It was all about how being raised by wolves wouldn't be so bad if they could make you sandwiches. The hat was a hit, as evidenced by the fact that he wore it all day. (No small gesture considering it was around 70 here today.)

I am not sure who the next person on the list is. I should probably double check that. I know the next THING on the list is to finish the beret for B1. Off to knit!