Friday, January 29, 2010

Felted Purse Session I: Recap

The felted purse class went really well.


And the peasants rejoice!

I set the projector up in the center, with a table on either side. One of the tables had a selection of "inspirational" knitting books from the library's collection, and the other had my swift set up and samples of things I had knit. I tried to mostly use samples that were garter stitch or garter stitch variations.

There were 28 people at the one more than at the dishcloth class. One of them mentioned that a similar class was being offered at one of the local yarn shops for $60. The shop probably limits the class size as well...I doubt their teachers have more than 10 students at a time. Maybe that is why I get such a good turn isn't my sparkling personality, it's the bargain prices of, well, free!

Volunteen came again, and was a tremendous help. She has helped me out often enough that she knows my little sayings/lingos/teaching style. After my initial demonstrations, we both walk around and help individuals. Volunteen takes one side of the room, and I take the other. If she comes across someone really struggling, she gets me and switches to my side. This means that I can focus my attention on those who need it most, while she helps others with the little things. We are like a well oiled machine. (I really should get her a little something, since she does this voluntarily!)

In addition to the general public, some of my co-workers came. YaYa was there, and graciously helped me set up and clean up...even though she wasn't "on the clock". She was funny. She knew how to knit, but hadn't done it in about 20 years. But after a few stitches, it came flooding back and she was off like a shot. I guess knitting is kind of like riding a bike. You never quite forget.

I was excited by how quickly they all seemed to catch on. They were willing to branch out from the standard pattern. Some decided to make flap purses, instead of the standard one...or to try striping. The coolest innovation occurred when one student saw the bamboo drop stitch scarf I had out. She had accidentally brought non-feltable yarn, so once she had the knit stitch down she attempted the drop stitch. By the end of class, she had a good start on a scarf!

By the end of the class, EVERYONE was knitting. I made sure they all had my contact information in case they needed additional help between now and the next session. (A couple have made use of it, which I appreciate. I truly want to help them become successful knitters.) Next session they will bring back their completed pieces, and I will go over how to seam them up, felt them, and customize them.

And, not only do my students have homework...I do as well! I have between now and the end of February to finish up several more purse samples!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They Came!

On January 19, I had a teen knitting program scheduled at the other library branch.

No one came. Which had NEVER happened before.

There were several logical explanations for this: one of our display signs had the wrong date; Ya-Ya had been sick and unable to promote it as much as normal; it was the first day back to school after a three day weekend.; etc...

So, we rescheduled it for yesterday...and this time people actually showed up!

Two very nice tween girls actually. One of them knew how to knit, but wanted some support and encouragement. She brought a scarf that she had started and I helped her fix a couple of mistakes, and showed her how to bind off. Another girl came, and brought a ball of rainbow colored cotton yarn...but no needles. It seems that she didn't have any, and was unsure of where to get them. So instead she had taken two large wooden paintbrushes and sharpened the ends with a pencil sharpener. (It was creative, innovative, and worked surprisingly well. The only problem was that one brush was slightly bigger than the other, and the brushes got fatter as they neared the bristles. Not ideal, but functional.)

After approximately two hours of knitting and singing along to my American Idol I-tunes mix, both girls had made great progress on their projects, were excited about continuing, and felt confident in their own abilities. (...and had eaten through 3/4 of a box of oreos.) I gave them my standard contact info/online tutorial links/blog address and sent them on their way. I expect to see them, and their projects, at upcoming events at that branch.

Now, tonight is the first session of the felted purse Adults Get Knittin' @ the Library program. (I am a little bit nervous...but mostly just about whether or not my technology will work this time! [click here for entry on previous tech failure] I have borrowed a presentation kit from another library branch, which should work. Fingers crossed!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

How Did That Happen?

Somehow I have a pressing queue of time sensitive projects.

A queue which is bordering on the insanity of a Christmas queue!

It includes:
  • Additional samples for the felted purse class

  • Baby burp rags for friends who continue to reproduce

  • The birthday gift for Sis-In-Law, which I am really enjoying making

  • Commission wrist warmers and fingerless gloves (technically these don't have a due date...but it would probably be best to deliver them while it is still cold!)

In addition to these items...I also have several things that I would like to make for me!

I am only one knitter. I can only do so much.

(Breathe in. Breathe out. Remind myself that the fate of the world does not depend on my completing knitting projects. And be grateful for it.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yarn Shop Review...and Mom!

Mom is in town this weekend...mostly to visit Nephew. However, today she is all mine!

I picked her up at the airport, and we went into Lafayette...which is very cute! I wish I had gone there sooner.

We parked at the new library, and enjoyed it's wonderment. We walked to a little diner called Squirrel's Cafe...which inexplicably served traditional English fare.

Then we did what we came to do. We went to the yarn shop.

Yarn Boutique was a very nice store. It had a huge selection, and high quality luxury yarns that I had never even heard of. I will definitely be going back because the selection was astounding. Also, the staff were friendly, knowledgeable, and knew their stock. (This was particularly important since they have a TON of yarn stuffed into a very small space. I sort of figured out the organization system, but not quite. If I had needed something specific, I would have needed a lot of help finding it.)

I asked Mom to sum up what she thought of the Yarn Boutique in a few words...and here is her review: friendly, great selection, crowded.

We rounded off our day with dinner at Sweet Tomatos, and a couple of quilt stores in the area. Tonight I will drive her up to Brother and Sis-in-Law's and leave her there.

Today was fun. I love being just Mom and I!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

But Excuse Me, You Are Wearing My Hat!

I was working at the reference desk the other day, and a lady walked by in a lovely scarlet beanie. It was beautiful, stylish, intricately cabled...and awfully familiar.

I looked at it.

I looked again.

I was positive.

"Excuse me" I said. "That is a lovely hat. I have one just like it!"

"That's impossible!" she replied, and looked at me like I was crazy. "I made this hat. You can't possibly have the same one."

"You got the pattern out of the 2007 Holiday Interweave magazine, right? The Koolhaas hat that the Brooklyn Tweed guy based on the architecture of the Seattle Public Library, right? I made the same hat...just in navy. Tricky pattern. You did a nice job!"

She looked stunned. I could understand why. It is fairly rare that I run into someone with the same handknit...unless of course I made it for them...

In honor of the occasion, I went home and put on my hat.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MLK Gifts

I love my coworkers.

I love Christmas.

I love giving gifts.

There was no way on earth that I was going to be able to give my coworkers Christmas gifts. The Christmas queue...alas...I was just not up to it.

Also, since I work at the library, we tend to celebrate non-controversial, not at all associated with any religion, government ordained, holidays.

So...I decided to make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day gifts for everyone.

What to make was obvious...since we walk to Starbucks almost everyday...

Happy MLK, Jr. Day San Ramon Library Employees!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Well...That's Interesting...Now What?

So, I have been diligently working on the Martinelli Sweater...between all of my time sensitive projects.

I have completed the body, and the straps.

The whole pattern was very clear and straightforward, so I didn't encounter any real snags...until now...when I tried it on before picking up the sleeve stitches...

I had known all along that I was going to have to a camisole under the sweater because the lace pattern is fairly open. What I hadn't banked on was the immensity of the neckline. I feel very exposed. The neckline is high enough that it covers all the important is just very very very wide. There is no way to not show bra and cami straps. I would have to wear a strapless and a tube top.

Had I realized earlier that this would be the case I would have knit much wider straps.It wouldn't have been that big a deal. Now I am wondering if I need to un-graft the straps, unravel them, and start over with 20-30 stitches instead of the 9 the pattern called for. I hate working backwards. I would rather just cobble together a fix than backtrack. (Remember the peach baby kimono that I put off frogging for a year or two? Yeah. I don't backtrack well or willingly!)

I think I may have a solution...but if it doesn't work, it will just aggravate the problem. The sleeves, which are stockinette, have a six row garter stitch border. So, I'm thinking, that I can pick up stitches all around the neckline and do a 6 row garter there too. I think that I will need to mark the corners, since the neckline is kind of square, so that I can miter there...otherwise the border will poof out. Not sure.

I guess I will go ahead and knit the sleeves, see how it looks with them somehow the problem will magically fix itself (I am the queen of wishful thinking)...and then reevaluate.


Friday, January 15, 2010

I wish I were...

working on this:

instead of working on this:

But I have no choice. I have friends coming over for dinner, and I have put this off for far too long as it is.

Housework! How I hate thee!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Magic Word


Knit This Purl That is having a pre-inventory sale this week. And they were kind enough to send out an email letting me know.

I went. I shopped. I bought.

In my own defense, I didn't buy as much as I could have.

And I did go in with a plan.

Which I stuck to.

(Although a better plan would have been to avoid the shop like the plague until after the sale had passed.)

Oh well.

What can I say?

I am a weak willed woman!

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Needles

For Christmas, Mom gave me 2 pairs of nickel plated circular knitting needles from knitpicks to use for sock knitting. She thought it was silly that I only had one pair of sock needles, and she loves the knitpick ones.

She, of course, was anxious to get my opinion on them. I, however, didn't have spare sock yarn with me on my trip.

What's a girl to do?

(Buy more yarn of course!)

I went out to coffee with my friend Spirit that Saturday morning, and sweet-talked her into taking me to Pacific Fabrics. There I was forced to buy some Crystal Palace Panda Superwash in "Dark Night" just so I could test drive the needles. What a hardship!

I cast on my boring old plain vanilla 2x2 rib socks. This not only gave me a purse portable brain-free project, but it allowed me to focus more on the needles than the yarn or pattern.

Needle Review: These are AMAZING. I HIGHLY recommend them. I like these more than...gasp...Addi Turbos. (And they are a fraction of the price!) The points are sharp, the needles slide gleefully into the stitches, and the purple cable makes me smile. So...thanks Mom!

(FYI: The color "Dark Night" -sounds like- Dark Knight -another name for- Batman -who lives in- Gotham...thus the socks are called the Gotham Socks...)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It Always Fits Baby Burp Rag

I love giving burp rags as baby gifts because they are useful, can be gender neutral, and no matter what size the baby turns out to be...they ALWAYS fit! I have a new "standard" burp rag that I have been making of late, which has become very popular with my child-rearing friends. I decided to share the pattern here.

It Always Fits Baby Burp Rag

Finished Size: 8"x14"

Approximately 150 yards of 100% cotton or cotton blend worsted weight.I recommend avoiding any yarn with will not absorb. And, after all, isn't absorbency the whole point of a burp rag?
My favorite yarns to use are:
Bernat's "Cottontots" (very soft and very absorbant(
Lion Brand "Organic Cotton" (also very absorbant...and eco-friendly!)
Debbie Bliss "Pure Cotton"
Queensland Yarns "Hyacinth" (great stitch definition.)
1 - pair US size 7 straight needles

Gauge: 20 stitches = 4 inches in garter stitch

Cast on 50 stitches

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Knit
Row 3: K3, P to last three stitches, K3
Row 4: Knit
Row 5: K3, K2 tog* to last three stitches, K3
Row 6: K3, Kfb to last three stitches, K3
Repeat Rows 3-6 till burp rag is approximately 11.5" long, ending with Row 4.
(In general, I knit 20 "ridges" in the pattern.)

Knit two rows
Cast off loosely.

Weave in ends, block if desired, burp baby.

(Prior to developing this pattern, I almost exclusively used the "Genius" pattern in the first Mason-Dixon book. I highly recommend it as well.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nephew's Baby Shower

I drove to Brother and Sis-in-Law's house on Tuesday to attend Nephew's baby shower. In a fairly predictable and possibly boring move, I took burp rags.

Seeing as how Nephew is family...he got 3 burp rags instead of my standard 2. (I had every intention of making 4, but can't seem to find the skein of blue yarn anywhere...and since I know I bought it, I refuse to just buy another. I guess I will just owe him one till it shows up.)

Also, I gave him the off-the-top-of-my-head-no-fore-thought toy. It is a baby block. Sort of. Once I stuffed it it morphed into more of a ball.

I had actually seen patterns for baby blocks, but they all seemed to involve knitting the 6 sides separately, and then seaming them up. I hate seaming up.

Then I remembered back to my elementary school days, when I used to make paper dice with my friends by cutting cross shapes out of construction paper. So, I knit a cross, and then seamed and stuffed it. (Yes, seaming up was required, but not nearly to the same extent.)

It came out pretty cute. Maybe I will type up the pattern and post it. (And maybe if I used foam instead of stuffing it would stay a cube...)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Get Knittin' @ the Library: Felted Purse

Here is the information on my next adult knitting program, if you are free and in the area please feel free to join us:

Two Session Adult Knitting Program: Felted Purse

Wednesday, January 27, 6:30 PM & Wednesday, February 24, 6:30 PM
San Ramon Library, 100 Montgomery Street, San Ramon CA 94583

Join us at this fun two session adult knitting workshop for first timers and beginners. Learn the fundamentals of knitting in the first session, and then bring your completed pieces to the second session where you will learn how to seam them up, embellish, and felt them!

Bring Your Own Supplies:

-Approximately 400 yards of worsted weight yarn. (Can also use 200 yards each of 2 different colors.)
Most feltable yarns will say they are feltable on the label.
Suggested yarns:
-Cascade 220
-Lion Wool
-Patons Classic Wool
-Noro “Kureyon”
-1 pair US Size 9 straight knitting needles, any material.
-Darning needle
-Measuring Tape

Here is a picture of my sample. I used four skeins of Wisdom Yarn's "Poems" in color 576. This yarn is VERY similar to Noro "Kureyon." It gives a similar coloration effect, still felts nicely, and was actually softer on my hands. I am also working on the second sample that will use two different colors, a sample that I won't felt till after the first session, and an additional sample to show how to customization options at the second session.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Proud of my Productivity

Today was a good day, knitting wise. Actually, this whole weekend was very productive on the knitting front.

-I wove in the ends and delivered two baby burp rags at a baby shower this afternoon (Bounce's mom, Vintage, is having a baby boy).

-I designed, knit, then fiddled with and redesigned the purse for the next adult Get Knittin' @ the Library program.

-I started the felting of said purse...unfortunately, it is still really cold, so the booger is taking FOREVER to dry.

-I winged it on yet another gift for Nephew...I will post pictures and pattern once it is delivered.

-I completed the body of Martinelli, one strap, and have started the second strap. It should be done by the end of the week. (Fingers crossed.)

-I got some more burp rags done to replenish the stash.

-I did a wee bit of work on my Gotham socks. (Have I mentioned those?)

-I lined up some knitting lessons with Mama L. I guess learning to knit was one of her resolutions.

-Finally, I picked up several commissions at church last night. 2 sets of luxery yarn wristwarmers, and a pair of fingerless gloves. (I have a new pattern I found for fingerless gloves that I am anxious to try out.)

Not bad for four days...especially four days in which I did endeavor to have some semblance of a social life (shopping trip, New Year's party, baby shower, girls trip to San Jose, dinner out with friends...)!

Friday, January 1, 2010


Some of my knitting resolutions for 2010:

1. Learn to knit on double pointed needles. It doesn't matter that I love using circulars. It doesn't matter if I never use them for anything ever. Just knowing how will make me a more well rounded knitter. (Kind of like everyone should learn to drive a stick shift, even if they only ever own automatics.)

2. Finish a project before I purchase a new one.

3. Check the stash before I make a purchase.

4. Do not over commit myself with commissions, gifts, etc. and neglect my own personal pleasure knitting.

5. Post a blog entry every odd dated day. (Which I have actually been pretty good about lately!)

6. Teach an average of one person to knit per month. (This one should actually be ridiculously easy since I tend to get good turn out at my library programs.)

And other goals, that can't really be considered resolutions:

1. Look into opening an etsy store front.

2. Keep trying to possibly get published.

We'll see how these go...

Days Off

I don't work today.

I don't work tomorrow.

In fact, I don't work again until January 4.

What to do with all this lovely time?

...need we even ask?