Thursday, September 28, 2006
Then I wanted to make a present for a faculty member who was leaving my department. He worked here for 4 years in an auxiliary position (which is little better than adjunct) and, believe me, he was the most overworked, underpaid teacher in our department, and arguably, the entire University. Nice guy, and a damn good professor. Well, lucky for him, he got a nice, tenure-track position in London at Imperial College. I hated to see him go, but he's going to be better off. So anyway, I wanted to make him something.
Guys, I think, are difficult to knit for. Because a lot of knitting always ends up looking feminine to me. Or, it ends up looking like something only your significant other or your dad would wear out of sympathy for the hours upon hours you spent slaving over it. With that in mind, I decided on a scarf because a) I only had about 5 days to do it, and b) I knew that a scarf was the only thing I had knit enough times to guarantee that the end result would be worthy of giving as a gift! Not the time to experiment on a sweater, you know?
So I cannibalized that blasted poncho, which I knew from the get-go I'd never finish. The yarn was Lion Brand Kool Wool. Nice yarn. I loved it. Good combination: 50% wool, 50% acrylic. It was so easy to work with. Too bad the asshats at Lion Brand discontinued it! So I managed to take a picture of the very beginnings of the scarf. It's just a simple garter-stitch scarf in charcoal gray with a red and a black stripe running thought it. The "pattern" I devised was:
Cast on 22 stitches on size 10 1/2 needles
1. knit 20 rows in gray
2. knit 5 rows in red
3. knit 5 rows in black
4. repeat steps 1, 2, and 3
5. knit 50 rows in gray
6. repeat steps 2 and 3
7. repeat steps 1, 2, 3, and 5
8. repeat steps 2 and 3
9. repeat steps 1, 2, and 3
10. knit 20 rows in gray
This ended up being about 7 inches wide and 54 inches long. I didn't put any fringe on it, either.
I think the weight and look of this yarn make it perfect for knitting up a masculine-looking scarf:
Now he's from Australia. And his dad is a SHEEP FARMER. And apparently his mom can knit like 14 cabled, intarsia, fair-isle sweaters a day or something. And he LOVED the scarf. I was so happy---and relieved! I might try to e-mail him and ask him for a picture of him wearing the scarf. That would be cool.
So somehow, in the midst of 2 Christenings, being in my friend's wedding, and being addicted to CRACK, I managed to complete 3 baby sweaters and the scarf in about 2 weeks time.
I did start on that market bag, too. I have about half of the bottom square done. Once I get it onto the circular needles and start to make progress up the sides, I'll take a picture!
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Titus is cute. What with his football head and big paws and fuzzy, spotted belly... I could go on.
He's especially cute when he sleeps---extra-especially when he's in the cat perch. See?
Sometimes, I wish he'd be like Rip Van Winkle and sleep for 100 years.
Because when he's awake, Titus is bad. Seriously, he's a holy terror. He is the most destructive force that I have ever encountered. How could an animal as absolutely precious as this be responsible for the following atrocities?
Persons on heart medication and pregnant women might want to surf to another blog now.
You've been warned.
It gets worse, oh yes, much worse....
No, don't turn away...that's right...you can't turn away....
Remember the felted mice? Remember I told you that the kit came in a clear plastic cube? Let us now pause for a moment of silent remembrance of the felted-mouse kit cube....
The sadist in you wants more, more, MORE! BWAA HAA HAA!
And now, the be-all, end-all of annihilation. My friends, I present to you...
All ye who hear me, take heed! The face of evil often shows itself in rather pleasing form! Stay strong; stay frosty.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Poor Sophie. Once the stalwart epitome of docile cat behavior, she has succumbed to the pure evil that is Ophelia and Titus, evidenced by the huge glowing eyes. Sigh. Why don't the BAD cats pick up the behaviors of the GOOD cat? WHY? Must it always be the bad influence that reigns?
|You Are 48% Evil|
You are evil, but you haven't yet mastered the dark side.
Fear not though - you are on your way to world domination.
Monday, September 25, 2006
So this market bag will bring a new challenge for me: the "pick-up and knit" maneuver. I've never done this before, and this seemed like a fairly low-rage way to learn that new skill.
I bought the yarn, Plymouth's Fantasy Naturale from an e-bay store called Roxy's Yarns. Excellent service. All yarn purchases come with free shipping! I highly recommend them. And the yarn was very reasonably priced. I think I got it for $4.49 a skein and you need just 2 skeins for the market bag pattern. I bought 4 skeins; 2 each of different ombre colors (9708 and 9258); so I can make 2 bags. Now, the yarn itself is really very nice. It's 100% cotton and it's mercerized, so it's super soft and has a sheen to it. Very attractive. I hope that it's as easy to work with as it is nice to look at. And I hope it makes a fairly-sturdy, useable bag!
Tonight, I cast on! WOO!
Thursday, September 21, 2006
What is it? A hilarious daily comic comprised of Victorian-esque etchings and lithographs and scathingly witty comments. I literally have laughed until I was in pain over their comics.
Here you go:
And these are just a few of the many, many rib-wrenchingly funny comics on Married to the Sea. Bookmark it! And visit every day for a daily dose of coffee-spitting humor!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
So put yer eyeball on these here websites and enjoy: http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html
ARR! I be SO SURE Anne Bonny looked like this here lass....
Yarr! And in honor 'o this special day, I fed me felines vittels called "Sea Captain's Choice." I told them, "Eat up, me hearties, or else you'll be walkin' the plank!" I considered dressin' the beasts up like this, but I be not ready to give meself up to Davy Jones' Locker yet!
Aye, and if ye scalliwags 'aint got nuttin' better to do wit yer time, I recommend to you this addictin' card game.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
That name totally rocks! The only way that could be cooler is if it was "Yeargh! It Be The Knitting Pirate-Ninja."
And she has the coolest little ninja cartoon character on there.
And DAMN she's a super knitter.
I suddenly feel really inferior...I'm going to go stand over there in the corner now.... K? Thanks, buh-bye.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Ok, no one enjoys seeing unique knitted/crocheted items more than I do. However...
I can't believe there is a pattern for THIS.
Guess what? I have a much easier pattern for this very same thing:
2 skeins of any super-bulky weight yarn
Using 2 strands simultaneously, cast on 85 stitches on size 17 needles
Row 1: knit
Row 2-end: give the entire knitting project to Titus and Ophelia for 5 minutes
Um, in theory, it's kind of a nice idea, but in actuality...hmmm...
I'm going to have to say NO. Just...no. I mean come on, you can't use it. Seriously. here is no way anyone would use this as a replacement for a real -- or God forbid, pair of real -- breasts. You know the intent of this type of knitted item could really be misconstrued. It's like, "Oh sorry to hear that you lost your breast(s). Here's a gaudy, hot pink, lumpy, crocheted facsimile of a breast, which is probably NOT in any way imaginable the correct size for you to use (choking back laughter) and/or cherish."
WHY? And WHY is it on a piano?
Surely there must be a better way to express joy and pride over one's womanhood than this. In the introduction to the pattern, the person responsible for bringing you this travesty says, "It's not completely anatomically accurate. " NO! Really? Sorry, do it over. And THIS time, make in anatomically correct. I will accept nothing less! Oh and I'll have you know that MY uterus plays the french horn, thank you very much!
And now, some of the ugliest garments ever created. Brought to you by Elann.com
Want to commit a crime against humanity, but just don't know how? Try knitting THIS!
What is THIS? Whatever it is, it's horrible. Period.
This is a most disturbing combination of shapes, lines, and colors that I have ever seen. Basically, a complete nightmare. No, I take that back: this is. Maybe? I don't know. Talk amongst yourselves. Both get an F-.
Anyone caught wearing this should immediately be placed in psychiatric care. Anyone caught knitting this should be shot on sight by firing squad.
Aww, even an 89-year-old grandma would think this was TOO OLD for her.
I just don't even know anymore. I mean...hmmm...ok, not only is the sweater bad, but what kind of dude wears pants like that? Are those even PANTS? And what the hell is that poor kid wearing?
I take you now back to 1983. Ah yes, I can envision it clearly in my mind's eye, as if it were just yesterday: me, riding home in a metallic-green Ford Granada, after seeing Mr. Mom for the 3rd time, the subtle musical stylings of Duran Duran gently floating out of the car's speakers and into my blissfully adoring ears. Idyllic, yes. This is how I want to remember the early 1980s: that wistful time in my youth of Knight Rider, the Eurythmics, and Atari 2600. Thank the Lord above that I was 11 years old in 1983 and did not have to succumb to the fashion of the day. Else I would have nothing nice to say about the decade that brought us THIS. The description says, "...sleeveless top for a woman or a man...." Wait, wait, wait. Stop right there. A MAN? Oh no, no, no; I don't think so. I really don't see---unless...he was Greek...and over 40...with a waxed moustache...and lived on a houseboat...in the Caspian Sea...with severe myopia...and it was 1983.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Saturday, September 09, 2006
What's best about it is that it's knit all in one piece, using one set of needles (as you can see in the pictures), all garter stitch. I imagine that you could make it ribbed or add some kind of pattern to it pretty easily. The original pattern actually has a hood attached, but I modified it to get rid of the hood. I think that hoods aren't practical for babies. I always worry about them turning their heads into the hood and smothering or something. Good thing I am not a mom, or else I'd worry myself to my grave, probably!
So anyway, I used Red Heart Baby Clouds in the color seashore, which is knit on size 15 needles. Gotta LOVE those quick, big yarns. Just one skein makes a sweater with a good bit left over. The pattern calls for using yarn that works with size 11 needles, but I did the math and worked it out for the Baby Clouds yarn. Even using the slightly smaller yarn/needles, this sweater is still a quick knit. I imagine a very industrious knitter could crank out one of these sweaters in less than 3 hours. Really!
Here's the finished product with the buttons on it:
Now, what I'd really like to see, is a picture of one of the actual babies wearing the sweater. I still have yet to see what one of these sweaters looks like on a cute, little, infant body!
Thursday, September 07, 2006
This is going to be a very long wrap/shawl when I get it done. Thankfully, it's just about finished. This is my first real crochet project. I did not follow any pattern in particular, just made this sort-of a sampler of various basic crochet stitches. It's really looooooooooooong. I haven't even measured it. I used Lion Brand Suede yarn in the color coffee.
And a close up:
Next is a little shoulder purse that I knit. Again, I didn't follow any specific pattern, I just got a mental image of what I thought it might look like and I went with it. This is also done in Lion Brand Suede, but in the mocha color. I still have to attach the strap, which is actually the only part of this purse that did follow a pattern. I used a pattern for a belt! I'm trying to figure out if I should go ahead and make a little quickie cotton lining for this too.
I had a little trouble with the button hole. Not exactly they way I thought it would turn out, but I think that once I put a fancy button on there, it will look ok!
Close up of button hole in front:
Speaking of purses, this next project will send me to an early grave, I am sure. It's a kit to make a purse. It called the "Little Taupe Bag" kit made by BagSmith. And it comes in several colors, but I liked the taupe the best. I bought it on sale at Yarnmarket.com a few months ago.
Below are pics of the package and what the bag is supposed to end up looking like in the crochet version, whose directions are infinitely less complicated than the knitted version, but still a little challenging for me. I actually started this on vacation in Vermont. Working with this yarn is not easy, especially making the initial chain. But once I got going for an inch or so, it was fine. I crocheted about 4 inches worth of the bag when I realized that I just did not add the first row of SC stitches correctly to the initial chain. I took the whole thing out to start over. And now I am having worse difficulties than before trying to make that initial crochet chain. But I'll keep trying!
I can only hope that my finished product comes out looking HALF as good as the one pictured below!
I am also working on a baby sweater for a Christening that I have to go to this Sunday. I WILL take a picture of it when it gets done and post it. I've made 4 or 5 baby sweaters so far and everyone loves them! People tell me I should quit my day job and go into business making them. But I am a SLOW knitter! I'd never make it if I had to sell my knitted goods as my livelihood.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The internet is a wonderful thing. It truly is. Especially nowadays. I recall being employed in a university library's computer lab back in 1995. The internet, while available, was just NOT the veritable Mecca of information and commerce that it is today.
So over the past 2 years, I've been doing a lot of knit and crochet researching, yarn buying, pattern finding, question asking, etc. And I'm passing on to you what I think the best bits are.
Ah yes, everyone has to feed their little demon known as the infamous "yarn stash." If you can stand to wait a few days for a package to arrive and not run yourself to Joann, Michaels, or AC Moore in desperation to feed your habit (which I will refer to as JMAC from now on), then here are some of the best places I've found to buy yarn and accessories:
I love this place. They offer the cheapest prices on a lot of the commercially available yarn brands (way cheaper than JMAC), and even a couple of the more frou-frou yarn brands. They have a wide array of needles, hooks and other accessories too. They have flat rate shipping, which is reasonable, too. I've ordered a lot of stuff from here.
If you lean more towards---ahem---yarn snobbishness, then you will appreciate this webstore. You get all the snobby goodness of 100% wool, silk and wool blends, cottons, alpaca, nary an acrylic in sight, etc., but at insanely reasonable prices. I mean CRAZY cheap. For example:
Wool of the Andes: 100% wool, worsted weight, 110 yards, about 5794873270 colors and it's $1.99 a skein. ONE DOLLAR NINETY-NINE CENTS. Oh, and free shipping over $40. Knit Picks also has some free patterns and they tell you the estimated cost to do a project using the recommended yarn. I found this webstore as a link from one of my all-time favorite websites, which is now defunct: You Knit What?
Nu Mei Yarns
Sort of like KnitPicks, NuMei offers great quality yarn at very good prices. Also, they manufacture all their own yarn. So, you can get cool, novelty yarns that are comparable to the major yarn companies or the stuff you can get at JMAC, but higher quality and a lot cheaper. And when they have a sale, or clear out some of their yarn, you can get a super-good deal.
Ok Elann is pretty unique in that you can get some hoity-toity yarn really cheap. The catch is that sometimes you might have to buy that luxurious silk/cashmere blend from the following stunning array of colors: "litterbox clump," "parakeet poop," "satan's magenta frappe," and "white on rice." Also, the models they use are a tad on the scary-beyond-human-reason side. Oh, and if you can tell me the difference between the last three yarn colors listed here, you win. What do you win? I don't know...um...how about a cat? I've got a couple to spare. Take my Titus, please. But they do offer free patterns too (although some are a bit dated-looking or just plain old bizarre) and good prices.
Sometimes, presentation is everything. And I don't know of any webstore that presents its products more lovingly and beautifully than Purlsoho.com. Here's an example of what I mean: Terra yarn. Nice, right? Kind of makes you breathe out with a little sweet sigh. They are pricey, but they do have some decent sales. And the yarns they offer are very high-quality. Overall, the furthest point in the universe away from the JMAC experience.
Yarn By The Bag and Discount Yarn Sale
These sites are great resources if you plan on buying a large quantity of a specific yarn. They only sell yarn in grouped packages---not quite bulk, but they sell yarns in "5 skeins per bag" or "10 skeins per bag." So they can give you better pricing this way. Which is great if you are knitting a blanket or sweater.
Jimmy Beans Wool
Lots of unique yarns all in one place. Interesting accessories, funky patterns and some cool ideas. $4 shipping and free over $75, a nice plus. They have an extensive sale section, which is probably the only stuff I can afford.
Super cool webstore. Offers an "online punchard," which is like the cards you get at coffee or sandwich shops. You spend a certain amount and your card gets automatically "punched." You get a discount based on your level of purchases. Once you spend $250, you get 20% off everything on the site, even the stuff on sale! They have some really unique yarns from some companies I've never heard of. Pricing is good and they also have $5 flat-rate shipping.
How many times have you found yourself just dumbfounded by some knitting or crochet project? For me, more times than I care to recall. I have a bunch of books at home, but sometimes it's great to be able to get the super-quick low-down after just a couple of keystrokes. Here are some informational resources that have helped me:
I've used all kinds of knitting needles: bamboo, plastic, metal, rosewood, resin, casein, etc. And by far, the best needles I've ever used are Bryspun, especially the circular needles. The joint connection between the needle and the cable is great; it's seamless. The cable is nice and wide too, so you don't get that twisting, tangling thing going on. Yarnzilla has a wide selection of these needles.
Want to know the nitty-gritty on yarn? Visit Yarndex, the penultimate web resource for yarn information. The Yarndex has an encyclopedic array of current (and not-so-current) yarns out there on the market and explains them in detail with full pictures and everything. Sweet.
When I was an even greener knitter, I visited About.com's knitting stitch glossary all the time. I still go here when I need some guidance. Great place to start when you want to try some new stitch and you just aren't sure what you like, or what the heck a "purl barred scallop" stitch looks like.
Ok who doesn't like FREE patterns? I am constantly on the hunt for free patterns. Sometimes you just want to see a pattern so you can do some tweaking and make it your own. Or maybe you need a quickie pattern for a project that you need to give as a gift. I ran into this problem regarding a baby blanket. I wanted a super-fast and easy baby blanket pattern to be done in time for a baby shower I got invited to. There are a bunch of patterns for baby blankets in some books that I own, but most of them involve the words "finger weight" and "lace." Sorry, I don't have 8 months to knit a blanket; the baby shower is in 3 weeks. Enter the internet, in all its glory! Here are just a few sites with free patterns:
Whew, I'm spent....
Saturday, September 02, 2006
A couple of days ago, I was loading the felted mouse pictures onto my computer. I was sitting where I am now, at the dining-room table. And the cats were all very curious, even Sophie. Hercules kept walking back and forth across my keyboard, knocking into my face broadside with his body. He does that. It's kind of cute. Even after the mouthful, noseful, and eyeful of fur.
Well not to be outdone for attention, entered Squinty McFootball Head, his tail up in the usual curious, question-mark stance. He jumped up onto the server/buffet we have near the window in the dining room. Then he attempted to find his way onto the windowsill, which is something he hasn't tried to do in months. Well, he got confused by the curtains, as cats often do. So he decided to abandon that endeavor and to just situate himself on the buffet, half-way behind this large, ceramic platter I had on display.
"Titus...be good," I cautioned. As if THAT ever worked. Then I returned to my work. A few minutes went by and I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Titus was fidgeting or something. I looked up. "Tiiiitus...what are you dooooing?" Something caught his attention behind the platter. He was pawing at it. "Titus! What could you possibly see back th--- TITUS! NO!"
He knocked the platter off its stand. It careened off the buffet, and it broke upon impact with the floor and, probably more significantly, that damnable camera-dock adaptor that was plugged in. If it didn't hit that, it might have had a chance.
We have a phrase here in South Philly, which is grammatically bizarre, but really fits this situation so I am going to say it: I remained.
Literally, I just stood there agape. I guess I was half-way in shock. Titus also remained. He stood on the buffet, looking from me to the floor and back. Todd came running up from the basement, saw the devastation and said, "Oh no...who did that?" I looked at him and snorted, "Heh, guess?" And I thumbed toward Titus. Todd grabbed the water bottle and sprayed him with it, yelling something like, "BAD! BAD! BAD! NO! NO!" Titus left, temporarily.
So Todd and I had a conversation about "Can you fix it?" "Hell, no." "Can you get another one?" "No clue. I doubt it." "You're taking this rather well." "Well, what can I do about it?"
Understand, gentle reader, that I absolutely LOVED this platter. It was an item done by Nina Lyman, who has a line of ceramics called "Cats By Nina." She also has "Dogs By Nina," too. I have several (something like 30 or 40) items from the Cats By Nina line. But this was my favorite. And I would also venture to say that this platter---the Ying-Yang platter---was one of my most favorite things in my entire possession. And I have A LOT of stuff....
So Todd went into the kitchen to get some paper bags for the big pieces, and I went to grab the dustbuster to suck up the shards of my fallen beauty. Titus came back to examine the scene of the crime:
He must have been rather pleased with his handiwork, because he then parked himself smack-dab-in-the-middle of the debris and proceeded to give himself a bath! Herc came by to see the commotion. He started sniffing around Titus and had this look on his face like, "Titus, dude, what the crap? You are in SO much trouble. Get out of the debris, man!"
And he would NOT move! I was shoving him off with both hands and he was still firmly planted in the spot. Finally, Todd grabbed the water bottle again and that seemed to do the trick.
SIGH. So I am on the hunt for this piece again. I got it from e-bay about 4 years ago. So I am doubtful that I will find another. :-( If anyone stumbles on it, either online or in a store, please let me know and I will try to re-purchase it!
I sent an e-mail to the address given on the Cats By Nina website I mentioned above. Lo and behold, I received a response from none other than Nina Lyman herself!
Hi Gina, I am so sorry that happened to you. Those platters are no longer
made but I am trying to track one down. I am having my own manuf [manufacturing]
done now and it will be a long time before I have the selection that was once
available. There are a few things on my new webstore www.ninasbigstore.com
in the classics area. I assume you looked there. The company that was manuf
really almost ruined me and my brand so I am not renewing with them so
everything will be retired. I have the new Cats In Hats coming out this
month and the beginning of the Rescue Me-ow series next month. Please keep
checking the webstore for new items. I will keep looking for you and let you
know if I find any. So sorry. I always loved the Eddie Yin Yang platter. It
was one of my earliest and most favorite designs. I hope you enjoy my new
website. Have you seen the pets of the month and Simons blog on it? Let me
know what you think. Keep in touch. Nina
I think it was incredibly nice of her to reply to me so quickly with such a nice e-mail. So I will keep my fingers crossed and my eyes open for another platter.
Oh, and Titus still lives :-)! The End.