Saturday, April 30, 2011

Under the wire

It was time to cowboy up and do something about the lone sock that was slowly sinking to the bottom of my knitting basket. I can't stand to see a handknit go to waste (unless it's really, really ugly). One of the nice things about the Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn is that the skeins come in amounts suited for one sock. I searched for "possum merino sock yarn" in the "Martha's Vineyard" colorway (the colors do represent MV now that I think about it. Blue like the ocean, green and purple like the grapes, and brown like my sister-in-law's upchuck that time she drank too much on vacation).

Checking through some sites like Yarn Market and Yarndex Knitting, it became clear that the Martha's Vineyard colorway had been discontinued--in 2005. Little late for that one, eh? More troubling was it seemed that the possum-merino sock yarn had been discontinued. I started to internally panic...the sock might linger forever without a mate, going through life desperately lonely.

But BargainYARNS came through for me:

A pretty decent match, if I do say so myself. My anal-retentive half wants to take apart the first sock and mix the two yarns together, but that would be the third time that I've knit this damn sock. MUST RESIST THE PSYCHOSIS.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that.

Last weekend I found myself on a three-hour flight to SC armed with a knitting project utilizing cables, cables, and some more cables ('twists' really, but same concept) but no extra needle for cabling. 'Why,' you might be saying, 'don't you just cable without a needle?' I've been down that road. I've been referred to the tutorials and expected some big revelation about craftily switching stitches around--then learned that the big secret is 'just try to hold on to the loose stitches'. Apparently this works for some people, but they must be pretty loose knitters (you hussies). I didn't find this technique any faster seeing as how half the time I was picking up dropped stitches and inventing new combinations of obscenities. Pretty much any time live stitches are parted from the needle, my heart rate doubles.

So it was time for a little improvisation. Pen? Too thick. SkyMall magazine? Entertaining, but no (do people actually buy that stuff?). The only thing I had that was remotely stiff and pointy was a key ring. Since it seemed like such a terrible idea, naturally I tried it out. And it was actually pretty sweet--faster than a conventional cable needle and much more convenient for travel. I wanted to share in case there were other tight knitters out there looking for cable needle alternatives.

Therefore, I present to you:

Something in between cabling with a needle and cabling without a needle (working title)

Key ring inexplicably attached to my Wisconsin Public Radio water bottle. Carrying that bottle automatically ups my hipster cred approximately 5000 points.

Easily bent to allow access to one of the ends.

Slip the stitches to be cabled onto the ring.

Let the ring dangle in front or in back of the work, depending on what type of cable you're doing.

Slip the stitches back onto the needle (I tried not to knit too tightly, but if you do, at this step you can give the ring a gentle pull to get some more slack in the stitches).

The ring rests conveniently on your thumb as you go your merry way. This was the part that majorly sped everything up.

I think I'm going to call the ring my 'cable key'. I won't be traveling without it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Breaking the rules

Alexandra over at Wool & Cotton had a post a few days ago putting words to a problem that I didn't even consciously realize I had: a set of self-imposed rules. "Don't buy more yarn, you already have plenty you haven't used." "You can't make that, it's the middle of winter and that's a bikini." "No, not that yarn for that pattern. You won't use all of it, so it's not practical."

Well screw you, brain--I'm paying you to think, not to be a total buzzkill. I saw that Leah from Good Enough published her first pattern recently--it was a pretty cowl and looked soft, and I wanted to make it. I don't care that a) it's not winter any more, b) I'm using the last of my yarn from my NZ honeymoon, or c) it probably won't use the whole ball of yarn.

This is what rebellion looks like:

Soft and wavy, apparently. Viva la resistance!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ace Fingerless Mitts

The Ace Fingerless Mitts pattern is up and running on Ravelry! Thanks again for the photo selection advice. Here's the spiel:

The Ace Fingerless Mitts will help you stay warm and cozy while keeping your fingers free to grip your morning coffee or pet a friendly pup. The unique construction of these mitts allows the cables wrap all the way around from the back of your hand to the palm, while buttons add additional flair.

Our furry friends give us a lot (including much of our yarn!) and sometimes we need to give back – all proceeds from this pattern will be donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (

Required skills include - knitting and purling through the back of the loop, picking up stitches, and crossing and cabling stitches.

The pattern is $2.00 US, and is available as a PDF download. Knit on!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Back in the saddle

Can I show you something I'm proud of?

This has to be the fastest I've ever knit a pair of socks. Granted, it's probably the simplest sock type one can do, top-down stockinette, but I really like them. In fact, I'm wearing them as we speak.

These were knit on the fly: no real pattern to speak of except a little heel advice from my Folk Socks book. After 'the incident' I thought it was going to be a long while before I started another pair of socks, but I have so much sock yarn in my stash and sock projects travel so well, I couldn't resist the siren call.

The stripes meant lots of ends to weave in, which is no one's fave thing to do (undoubtedly there's someone out there who's like, 'I love sewing in the ends!'. Well hush, you're a crazy person). I enjoyed just about every other aspect of making these though, so I'm back in the sock saddle again (I don't know if that would be a saddle made out of socks, or a saddle for a sock. Either way).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Letting Go or: Why are there so many tiny balls of yarn rolling around the house?

If cable TV was a proportionally accurate representation of society, you'd think America has a hoarding epidemic--everyone a perilous moment away from becoming trapped under a fallen stack of newspapers from the 1980's or dying of mold related illness from that months old sandwich we were saving 'just in case'. While this might be a bit of an exaggeration, I think it's just human nature to treasure and want to hold on to certain things. I know plenty of knitters have massive stashes of yarn, such that they might as well open up their own yarn shop. My stash is pretty small. But I do have a little (heh heh get it?) confession.

My name is AC, and I'm a tiny yarn ball hoarder.

Mmmmm. Wool/alpaca blend. Hand-painted. From Truckee, CA, I love Truckee. But it's not like I don't have two, count 'em, two items made from this yarn if I want to reminisce. I know that there's little chance that I'm going to make anything with this. And yet, I can't seem to get rid of it. I have a whole bucket of these:

And I don't see the supply getting any smaller. Maybe eventually I'll have enough for one of those ball play pits....that would be pretty sweet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


That would be an awesome superhero name. Alas, I knew that there was a possibility the SOSHSBP may have been premature (and nobody likes that). It's snowing.

And intermittently hailing.

And thundering while it does these things.

I like to think I'm a good sport about cold weather, but come on. I was describing the situation via the interwebs to a friend in Denver, who replied that it sounded like a real shitstorm. Now that I think about it, the only way it could get worse would be actual feces descending from the sky.

Thanks for all of the great comments so far on the mitt pictures. People have raised some really good points, and I've decided I need to get some additional pictures that show the palms. I'd go outside and take some, but you know. Nature be hatin'.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Calling for opinions!

You remember these guys, right? The Ace Fingerless Mitts. I wrote up the pattern and had it tested, and had a little idea--I know that I'm not going to make a living from writing patterns, so why not sell the pattern through Ravelry for a pittance (say, one or two bucks?) and donate all of the proceeds to the ASPCA? I feel like it's a non-controversial non-profit, and that many knitters would have an appreciation for animals since we get a lot of our materials from them. So question 1: good idea or totally lame?

The pattern testing on them is wrapping up, so the copilot and I did a little fashion shoot last evening. Which brings me to question 2: which photos would entice you to make some fingerless mitts? Keep in mind they can be cropped. The copilot cleverly suggested to include the dog in the shoot to go with the ASPCA theme. Here are a few that I think are pretty OK, but I feel like I'm not very objective:

You can tell I start to crack up at one point during the faux 'coffee drinking' section.

I love the pics where he's pawing at the mitt, but his wang is kind of front and center. He's self-censoring a little in this one.

If you're bored at work, check out the whole set here. You can refer to the photos based on their ID number. Thanks for your professional assessment!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Felted Dog Toys: Awesome Knitting Application or Gastrointestinal Obstruction Waiting to Happen?

Purchase: 100% NZ wool Bonzees felted dog toy.

Thoughts: "Oh, a dog toy would be fun to knit!"

Back off my bone, beeyotch.

After about 1 min.

After 5 min.

After 15 min.

Conclusions: Hand knit toys not a good idea for destructive alligator-esque dog jaws.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knitting related news

A couple items of possible interest to my fellow knitters:

Apparently Katherine Heigl is starring in an HBO adaptation of the 2007 novel The Knitting Circle. I've never read it (I think my mom may have? Sounds like something she mentioned at some point. Yes, I listen when you talk, but it doesn't all make the cut to long term memory). I'm not sure if my interest in the subject matter negates my (possibly irrational) extreme dislike of K. Heigl. To my credit, she does usually sound like an enormous douche in interviews, but let's be real here - I think I just like to give celebrities elaborate back-stories that may or may not actually be true.

This next tidbit came to me by way of the radio show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! in their Listener Limerick Challenge:

Knitting Fates, to me, sounded like bull.
Yet, like them, I now have my hands full.
As I'm ending my years, my sheep meet the shears.
And I'm knitting a coffin of?

Photo from the Toronto Star.

Wool! Apparently a UK company is pitching the concept as environmentally friendly, I feel that it just looks comfortable. It would take a pretty long time to make your own though, and then you'd need an industrial sized washer to felt it. If you're really dedicated, I'm sure your boss or mother-and-law would would love one.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Semi-Obligatory 'Spring has sprung' Blog Post (SOSHSBP)

It seems like everyone has been doing some version of the SOSHSBP for quite some time now, and considering that it had not sprung here yet only served to make me more jaded and bitter. I need some kind of vengeance--so take THIS, readers from the Yukon Territory and Finland--spring has reached Wisconsin, bitches.

I found myself recently wanting to work on something mindless and quick, so I started a making a simple sock. I didn't have enough sock yarn left from either of two skeins of PacaPeds (a delightful wool/alpaca blend) to make a full pair of socks after making this and this, so I decided to put the colors together.


Economic factors have led me to some poor yarn color choices before (as in, 'well this is the color I really want, but the hunter's orange is on sale!') so I was fairly skeptical of how this was going to turn out. My copilot was dubious as well, but after I started them I started seeing the color combo everywhere. Neighbors' houses:

And in their flowerbeds:

When these guys appeared last week, it finally felt safe to say we were in spring. I remember feeling excitement every year the crocuses (croci?) started coming up in our flower bed, heralding the first shoots of life following the big chill.

The lake is also completely liquid, so that's nice. I do miss the having ice as our dog's personal playground.

The crocuses seem to be popping up in places where people didn't necessarily plant them, but you couldn't really ask for a nicer looking weed.

This concludes the SOSHSBP.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 7: Your knitting and crochet time.

I travel a lot for work (and fun!), so a lot of my knitting is done on the road. I like to work on smaller projects (hats, mitts, socks) when traveling, for ease of transport. Usually I keep two projects with me, the necessary needles, and any extra flotsam needed for that particular project. One thing I've learned--people find knitting with a set of double pointed needles to be extremely impressive. Must just be the mass of needles and all the pointy ends.

And here comes somewhat embarrassing confession time. I really like to knit while watching TV. But you know, only educational programs.

Bum bum.

I can't help it! I know it's the mental equivalent of junk food, but it's my favorite show to knit to. First of all, it's on pretty much all the time. I've probably seen them all, so I don't have to give it my rapt attention. And what can I say? I love every over the top twist and knowing that the SVU squad is ON THE CASE.

And that wraps up the week...I've had a lot of fun participating in the 2nd Knit and Crochet Blog Week, thanks for reading! I've found a lot of new blogs to read, and I hope you'll visit me again too.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 6: Something to aspire to.

This is an easy one: complicated colorwork. We're talking multiples colors, complicated patterns - basically traditional fair isle. Specifically, I really want to do a project from this book:

Knit Your Own Norwegian Sweaters

Old knitting books, patterns, and pamphlets are awesome. This little gem was published in 1974. The pictures are my favorite part, I think.

What's with the random Norwegian dude?

No clue what's going on with the chick in the middle wearing a crown.

Star Wars won't come out for five more years, this particular Leia iteration was well ahead of her time.

What's mainly holding me back, though, is this part:

Just reading through the first paragraph, it's clear that there is going to be a decent amount of translation involved. The needle size required is something like 10, when the gauge indicates that it really should be something more like a US 1 or 2. Those are pretty freaking tiny needles to use for a pattern I'm not 100% sure I can follow. Maybe someday if I find myself snowed in in the Alps, I'll start on a Norwegian sweater.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Knit and Crochet Blog Week Day 5: And now, for something completely different

Here comes the interpretive dance! Kidding. For something a little different, I wanted to try to answer a scientific(-ish) question about knitwear.

About a year and a half ago, I bought my husband a book about back-country skiing. It included a figure that seemed to imply that wearing a hat with a tassel or a pom-pom on top was advised because the tassel/pom would wick moisture away from the head and evaporate faster than a hat without. Since then, I've wondered if that was really true. The tipping point came when someone, without naming any doggie names, chewed the tassel off of one of my hats.

Was it worth the time to sew it back on? So I present to you the experiment:


My first thought was to do some sort of exercise with a tasseled hat and then a tassel-less hat, and see which one was sweatier. But that a) assumed I would be exercising exactly the same, the temperature outside was exactly the same, and a lot of other variables that could change and b) I would have to exercise. So I got a stand-in to wear the hat.

In order to speed up the drying time and simulate movement (i.e. exercise), I hooked up a fan to blow over our set-up.

First, I tried spraying the hat a set number of times (30),

and measured dryness by pinching the brim with a paper towel.

If the paper towel soaked through, it was still 'wet'.

But this actually dried too fast. I decided to try a 1 sec dunk in room temperature water instead.

Then I tested the brim every 15 minutes. I waited.

And tested and waited.

And waited and waited.

after three hours of blowing (both literally and metaphorically) I decided to end the test (when the batteries on the fan died). The brim was still wet, but I would try the same thing with the tassel after the hat dried (and more batteries were obtained) and see if there were any dramatic differences, or if I would feel a qualitative difference.

I gave the hat a 1 sec dunk in the water, and attached the tassel.

Three hours later and the hat was actually, surprisingly, much drier. The paper towel test yielded just a bit of moisture. I was shocked. I truly expected a negative result. One of the most exciting things in scientific research is an unexpected positive result. Who doesn't love a surprise? Well, maybe not a surprise root canal. Or surprise punch in the face. So the results are in: tassels and pom-poms are more than just frivolous flair, but actually serve a big purpose in keeping you warm and dry!