Tuesday, March 31, 2009

WIP: Not So Blue Snowflakes

Cross posted at Sally Comes Unraveled and hot pads! and potholders - the swap.

I'm "remote blogging" from my parents' house right now. I left my potholder stuff at home, but I took some pictures before I left.

Two completed potholders

So far I've finished two potholders, and I have four to go. (I plan to make an extra for myself.) I decided to go use the Patons Classic Wool that I have in my stash and the Blue Snowflakes pattern from Woman's Day Prizewinning Granny Squares.

Potholder Overlay

The squares are crocheted in two layers. You start by crocheting the top part.


Then you crochet the first few of rounds on the bottom part of the pot holder. On the next to last round, you start crocheting through the top part. You can see where I've connected the first point in the top portion.

Too short

The only problem right now is the size. Six inches across is the minimum for the swap. I'm about half an inch short from side to side...

Long enough?

...but well over six inches from corner to corner. Does that count? (If not I'll add a spiffy border.)

What do you think?

Monday, March 30, 2009

From De-stash to Me-stash

Saturday morning I went to Emily's Destash Sale, and I made a haul.


Here's Emily with the cash box. All the stuff at the sale belonged to her, her Mom and her sister.

I was the only knitter when I came by. Emily said a bunch of knitters came right when they opened at 10. Several other random people swung by while I was there, although I think most of them weren't expecting so much yarn.

Knitting Machine

Let's start with what I didn't buy. I didn't even get a good look at the knitting machine. I didn't want to make Emily pull it out when I knew I couldn't buy it. Besides, it would have been way too tempting. I also passed on the combs, even though they were a good deal. I managed to leave behind some vintage Patons and some wonderfully eighties (maybe seventies) Dazzleaire. Those would have been worth it for the labels alone.

Sock Yarn Bargains

Emily also had some very reasonably priced sock yarn.

Estonian Yarn

I did leave with some of this stuff. I'm not sure exactly what type of yarn this is, but it's from Estonia, apparently. It's kind of scratchy, but the colors were beautiful. When Emily said it was like Kauni, I was sold.

After much debate, I filled my box and left. Here is the yarn I ended up with:

Yarn from the Destash Sale

The yarn on the left is Rellana Luna yarn, a self striping wool/acrylic blend with a Noro feel. The middle yarn is Filanda Supersport, a very practical wool/acrylic blend that will be great for baby knits. On the right is my Estonian yarn, of course.

I got some non-yarn stuff as well, including Ecospun, a fiber made out of old plastic bottles, a shawl pattern and a wonderfully retro copy of Knitter's magazine from 1992. I think the magazine was worth the dollar for this old Lily Chin pattern alone.

And of course, there was this:

Kiddie Loom

A fully functional loom for $2. Of course, it's plastic, designed for kids and missing the accessories and directions. But for $2 I can figure it out.

I can't wait to get weaving!

(All my pictures of the destash sale are here.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Potholder Inspiration

Cross posted at Sally Comes Unraveled and hot pads! and potholders - the swap.

I wanted to contribute my own inspiration to the hot pad swap. I went and found two of my old books and took some pictures. (I did a little research, and based on what I found, and my past experience, I think I'm well within copyright laws.)

The first pictures come from Illustrated Patchwork Crochet: Contemporary Granny Squares for Clothing and Home Decorating, a book I found at a garage sale in Florida.

"Newfangled" Techniques

The book has some "newfangled techniques" in it. (I love the title of this chapter!)

Granny Squares from Illustrated Patchwork Crochet

I like the squares on the draped afghan here. I also like the squares in the rug. They created "diamonds" by turning them 90 degrees. (The book also had some interesting hexagons.)

Women's Day Prizewinning Granny Squares

The other squares are from Woman's Day Prizewinning Granny Squares. Unfortunately, Bunny Foo-Foo got to the cover of this book. But you can still see the "Sierra Pinwheels" on the front. I think this is a good example how much of a difference color choices can make.

Windmill Squares

I don't think the entire "Windmill Square" would make a good potholder, but I'm looking at just the center. The book says this pattern combines several small squares in the middle.

Blue Snowflakes

I also really like "Blue Snowflakes." The 3D effects are gorgeous.

I'm still debating what to do, and I'm considering some online patterns as well. But I wanted to share some of my finds from books that (I think) are now out of print.

You can see all my pictures here.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Yarn Pr0n: KnitPicks

I got my KnitPicks order on Monday. At the time I was distracted by the thing with the flies, so I'm just now getting around to posting pictures.

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I was really excited when I found the note in my mailbox that I had a package. I waited in the hallway where I was hardly acknowledged. I could see the package with the KnitPicks tape on it sitting there. I contemplated just taking it. I finally got someone's attention. (The management is not known for customer service.)

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Here's the big reveal...

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...and all the goodies inside.

Ball Winder

The ball winder came in a nifty box. I'm going to find a good use for this.

My new ball winder

I'll probably put it together this weekend. I'll be winding some yarn soon.

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I got color cards for all the yarns I'm considering, so I can choose the perfect color for Decimal. I was psyched because they include all the new spring colors.

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I also got my first set of Harmony dpns. I can't wait to use them. I was pleasantly surprised at how heavy and hard the wood was.

(Wow. That sentence sounds bad out of context.)

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Finally, here is the yarn itself. On the far left there's is a skein of Shadow in "Vineyard Heather." I got that so I can have some lace weight on hand. The rest are candidates for Decimal. From left to right, the other yarns are Gloss in "Cosmos", Cotlin in "Key Lime", Shine Sport in "Grass" and Merino Style in "Hollyberry."

I'm already swatching the Merino Style. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No!!!! They be stealin' mah screen!

I got my KnitPicks order and I'm ready to crochet potholders, but something has been distracting me for the past few days.

It all started Monday night when I came home to find a big black flying buzzing around my bedroom. And I mean buzzing in the literal sense. It was like a cartoon.

I wouldn't have given this much though, except there were two of them. Then suddenly there were five or six. Where were they coming from? I've never had flies like these in my apartment. And they were creeping me out. Mostly because they were so loud.

I started with the natural "home remedy." I set out bowls of apple cider vinegar. Then I tried a cup with a paper funnel. Then I tried adding soap and sugar to the vinegar. They didn't even come close to it.

I started reading about homemade fly paper. I decided this was getting ridiculous, so I put on my shoes and headed to HEB.

I was hoping to find flypaper, or some fancy fly trap. But all I found for flies besides Raid was something to hang from the ceiling that emitted "odorless vapors" to kill flies. I did not like the sound of that.

I decided to try Walgreens, but the easiest way to get there was by driving through the parking lot of a different shopping center. On my way, I decided to try my luck at a dollar store.

They had exactly what I needed.

Fly Ribbon

Four of these cost a dollar. They're like sticky Chinese Yo-Yo's that you hang up, like this:

Fly Ribbon in Action

(The dollar store required a $5 minimum for debit cards, and of course I didn't have any cash. So I ended up buying duct tape, salt and pepper shakers and a hangy basket thing to make up the difference. Still, all the candy bars I *haven't* bought from the vending machine have saved me a lot more than that.)

I hung two in the bathroom and two in the kitchen, the two places the flies seemed to want to hang out.

But the flies continued to creep me out, and none of them were sticking. I finally got tired of it and tried another online remedy. I mixed water, vinegar and a little dish soap in a spray bottle and started going after the flies.

This was effective. They started dropping like, well, flies. But it was a lot of work. And the whole house smelled like soap and vinegar. (It was still a better choice than any of the toxic chemicals I could have bought at HEB.)

I finally gave up and went to bed. I left the light on over the stove to attract the flies to the fly ribbon. It helped some. When I woke up Tuesday morning, I had caught several flies in the kitchen and one in the bathroom.

I thought my drama was over, but when I got home yesterday I heard that buzzing again. This time it was from behind the blinds in the bedroom. The seemed to like to hang out there.

I sprayed the fly behind there.

Then I heard another. I sprayed that one too.

Then I heard another. What was going on? The flies had to be coming in through my bedroom window. I went outside to investigate. Which brings me back to the title of this entry.

They be stealin' mah screen!

I don't open the windows much, but I have opened them enough to know that I had a screen on the bedroom window. And now it was gone. I'm in a high traffic area, so who know who took my screen. And I'm talking about the whole thing disappearing. It wasn't lying on the ground or anything.

I figured these two had to be related. (Although I did seal up a small hole in the wood with some caulk I had lying around, just to be sure.)

I reported it to the management. I heard back saying they are working on it. So far, no flies today. I'm hoping the fly drama is over.

Which begs the question, why would anyone want my screen?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Tens: Ten Reasons why Ravelry Should Hire Me

In case you missed it, Ravelry is hiring! It's a part-time community support position, and I think I'd be perfect for it.

Candidates must answer three questions:
1.Why do you want to work for Ravelry?
2.What qualities, technical experience (computer and crafty!) and skills could you bring to our little team?
3. If you were a yarn-producing fiber, what would you be and why?
According to the website:
"You don’t need to write a formal cover letter… heck, you can make a video, upload it to the internet somewhere, and send us the link. :) Whatever works!"
So I decided to use a blog entry for the "cover letter." Here are ten reasons why Ravelry should hire me for their community support position.

1. I want to be part of "the industry." I want to make the fiber arts a career, and I've been searching for a way into the industry. I want a career like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Amy Singer or Norah Gaughn. I want people to come to me and ask me to design, write or speak. And I can't think of a better place to get in the door than Ravelry, the collective brain of all the knitters and crocheters on the Internet. Best of all, this position would let me get my foot in the door without leaving the financial security of my 8-5, Monday through Friday job.

2. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone. I love the idea of meeting knitters, crocheters, spinners, designers, yarnies and everyone else I'll meet. I know it will be a blast, and I'll see all sorts of new yarns and patterns.

Kid n Ewe 26

3. Have I mentioned that I love yarn? I love discovering and learning about different yarns. I think working for Ravelry will allow me even more opportunities to get to know yarn.

(Here is a picture from when I first discovered Brooks Farm Yarn at Kid 'n Ewe 2007.

4. This position has the flexibility I want in my dream job. Someday I want to work from home on my own schedule. I'm hoping this position will allow me the flexibility to decide exactly how I want to organize my responsibilities, when I do certain tasks and what time of day I work. And I could work in a coffee shop with wifi or in my pajamas with the television in the background.

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Bunny Slippers

5. I've been knitting and crocheting for a while now. My Mom showed me how to crochet a chain when I was four. Knitting finally "stuck" when I was in the third grade. Serious crochet came not long after that.

I'm including this picture of the Floppy Horse Family as an example of something I knit in the third or fourth grade. It's not the best craftsmanship in the world, but I've come a long way since then. The slippers were crocheted when I was in the sixth grade. I think it's fair to say that I know my stuff in both knitting and crochet. And I'm learning to spin.

6. I speak the language of knitters (and crocheters.) I love talking with other knitters. I can strike up a conversation with strangers in a yarn shop. Or I find myself helping people pick out yarn. (Occasionally they think I work there.) In a more literal sense, I know knitting, crochet, spinning, fiber and the slang terms associated with them.

7. I have a bachelor's in Mass Communication and I have call center experience and retail experience. I've been around long enough to realize the diploma alone doesn't mean much. And it may seem weird to mention my current call center job and the retail work I did in college. But between being a newspaper reporter, dealing with inbound calls and helping people look for the right size, I know something about communicating with strangers. (Often angry strangers, although I doubt there will be much of that on with Ravelry users.)

8. What I lack in knowledge, I make up for with an ability to learn quickly. I know my way around Ravelry pretty well, and I know a little basic html. But I think my biggest asset is that I can often figure things out for myself by playing around with things. In the ninth grade my Science and Technology teacher told us that "you can't blow up Toledo." If you've ever tried to help someone who was afraid to touch a computer, you know how important this is.

Two Sources of Legal Hemp

9. If I were a yarn-producing fiber, I'd be hemp. (And not because I'm a stoner.)

According to Amy Singer in No Sheep for You:
"...the charm of hemp comes in the washing-wearing-washing-wearing cycle of a garment. Hemp is strong so washing doesn't hurt it; each cycle just makes it softer...Would you be surprised if I told you that fabric from knitted hemp has "sproing?" It does. Knit a big swatch and give it a tug. It doesn't just surrender to your touch..."
I fell in love with hemp when Amy Singer came to Hill Country Weavers a couple of years ago to promote "No Sheep For You." Hemp is a misunderstood and underrated fiber, and I think people underestimate me. Hemp is tough, flexible and it can be surprisingly soft, similar to the way I am both tough and caring.

Most of all, washing hemp makes it better, and I think I get better with experience.

(FYI - The washcloth in the picture above was knit with allhemp6.)

Jess, me (Sally) and Casey

Mary-Heather, me and Jess

10. We'd make a great team. Don't you agree?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Is "Extreme Sheep" an Oxymoron?

This one's been making the rounds on both knitting and non-knitting blogs alike. If you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a treat.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Jules Comes Home

Me and Jules

I've known this for a couple of weeks now, and I've debating the best way to blog the news.

Jules has a plane ticket. He's scheduled to land in Austin around 10:30 p.m. on April 18.

It's a one-way ticket.

Jules has talked about coming to Austin to stay since after he visited me for the first time for Christmas in 2007. After visiting Austin, he decided he'd like to stay. I was relieved we didn't have to try to decide if I would move to California or if he would move to Texas. (For the record, he brought it up first.)

There's been a lot of ups and downs since then, but things are finally coming to fruition. I know he's had his doubts at times. Los Angeles is his home, and when he gets started in Austin his only support system will be me and the people in my life. If our relationship wasn't at least somewhat stable, he'd be running a big risk.

He'll be staying with me until he gets a job and a place to live. That's a little scary too. This isn't a good time to be looking for a job. We both felt better after see this map. It shows that Travis County is doing much better than Los Angeles County.

We're both excited and scared. Sometimes I think it is incredibly unfair that we can't have a "normal" relationship, where we could take more small steps and less giant leaps of faith.

But soon we'll be a little more "normal." We'll be able to get together all the time, and we won't have to cram everything into short vacations.

After all, he's been sockworthy for more than a year now. It's time for the next step.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

KnitPicks as an Antidepressant

I just went outside to check the mail. And it's a beautiful day. For normal people.

But as I mentioned last year, I'm convinced that I have Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. Today isn't bad, but I'd still prefer it cooler. And I know the miserable heat will be here soon.

So I decided I should jump on the Decimal cardigan while I'm in the mood. I think it will break me out of my knitting funk.

Unfortunately, I'm broke and I don't have sweater amounts of anything close to appropriate in my stash. So I put in an order to KnitPicks last weekend. I'm starting out by swatching different yarns. I got color cards and swatching balls of Gloss Sock Yarn, Simply Cotton Sport, Shine Sport, CotLin and Merino Style. I can knit the largest size of Decimal in any of those yarns for less than $50.

While I was at it, I ordered a skein of Shadow Lace to scratch my itch for lace, a set of Harmony DPNs and a badly needed Ball Winder. This was just enough for free shipping. (It's been more than five days now, so I'm anxiously checking the mailbox everyday.)

I consider this a medical expense. I think my mental health will benefit from it. (I wonder if my FSA will cover it.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

WIP: Tapestry Cowl

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I'm rolling along on the Tapestry Cowl. As they say on Knitting Daily, I'm trying to "make time for yarn everyday." That's the only way I've managed to make progress.

Right now I'm working on some online training for work that's taking up a lot of my free time. The courses aren't Mac compatible. (This isn't the first time I've had compatibility problems with my Mac.) So I'm trying to work on the break room computer at work and Aaron's laptop. That's cutting into my break room knitting. It also gets into the way of Wednesday night knitting group at Bluebonnet, because that's when I get together with Katie and Aaron to use Aaron's laptop.

So it's been a challenge, but I'm trying to do at least half a round a day before bed, if nothing else. (I'd say it takes 15-20 minutes to do one round. Double knitting tends to go slow.)

My goal is to finished the training by April 1. Then I can get back to knitting (and get my bonus.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Scarf Circle Time

I hadn't been to Gauge in ages, so it was especially nice to spend some time there on Saturday.

I came in because I got an e-mail about the store's scarf circle (aka the traveling scarves.) Everyone in the circle starts their own scarf. They knit five inches, put their knitting on a stitch holder (or scrap yarn) and pass it on to the next person. The next person uses their own yarn and knits five more inches. The scarves rotate around until everyone has knit 5 inches on each scarf, and you end up with a scarf that everyone has knit on.

The interesting thing is that I actually don't remember signing up for the scarf circle, but my name was on the list. I'm glad though, because I do want to participate.

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I decided to use the yarn leftover from Katie's Beret for my scarf. (I used Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Amy's Vintage Office.) Unfortunately, the leftover ball had been bouncing around my knitting bag since I finished the beret, leaving me with a tangled mess. I tried using the ball winder, but winding by hand ended up being a better choice.

Half a Skein...

Ta da!

The beginning of my scarf circle scarf

I considered more complicated stitch patterns, but the seed stitch looked so good on Katie's beret, I decided it would look good on my scarf. I used US size 7 needles, the same ones I used on the beret. I left it at the store for the next person, along with a note with all the pertinent information. On the 27th, I'll be able to pick up the next scarf to work on.

Mystery Mohair

I had some time to hang out while I was there and talk to the other knitters. This pile of mohair locks was in the background the entire time. No one knew why it was there, including the staff. I had to get a picture of the mystery mohair.

Are you ready for OPP? (Other People's Projects)

OPP: Simple Yet Effective Shawl Two

Alexandra had two Simple Yet Effective Shawls that I fell in love with. She is knitting this one out of Be Sweet Bamboo.

OPP: Simple Yet Effective Shawl One

Here's the first one she knit out of Noro sock yarn. (I don't remember if it's Kuyeron Sock or Silk Garden Sock.)

I definitely want to make one of these shawls.

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I'll leave you with the swirlies. Forgive me, but I forgot who was knitting this (if it was you, let me know), what pattern it was and what specific yarn it was. I do know this is a JoJoLand pattern, and I think it uses their yarn as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hot pads! and potholders - the swap

With the amount of time I've been spending in the kitchen, I've begun to notice my lack of potholders. As much time as I've spent making potholders in the past, I'm embarrassed that I don't have any of my own in my own kitchen. I know I have two that I bought at Big Lots right after I got my first place in Florida. However, they seem to have disappeared. I keep finding myself using kitchen towels.

Now I don't need something as powerful as an Ove Glove, but I can do something more protective than kitchen towels. And something prettier.

So I joined hot pads! and potholders - the swap. You crochet 5 potholders, send them in, and get five different potholders in return. I'll probably crochet 6 and keep one of my own.

I do swaps sparingly, since it's easy to get overwhelmed and spend a lot of money. I'm excited about this one. I'll get something I really need, have a chance to try out new techniques and be able to use up leftover yarn.

I'm also excited because Grumperina of Jaywalker fame has joined the swap. I hope I get one of her potholders.

If you want to join the swap, the deadline is Saturday, March 21. All the details are here.

*I wrote this ahead of time, since I'm going to be busy tonight. Oooo....I'm blogging from the past*

*ETA - Why won't it wait to publish? Oh well. Enjoy,*

xkcd gets it right again

I had to share this comic from xkcd before I went (back) to sleep.

Yes, I am still having this dream. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How'd I miss this?

I've had a piece of cross stitch sitting on the table by my green chair for more than a year now, collecting bunny fur. The stitching is finished, but I haven't figured out a way to frame it properly.

I was originally submitting it to The AntiCraft after the Beanis* (adult themes). I submitted a chart, but I never quite did a proper submission. I procrastinated and procrastinated, and I assumed they gave up on me.

So I feel a little ashamed of myself every time I see that piece of cross stitch.

But today I was Googling myself (come on, everyone does it) and I came across this.

It's been two years, and I just realized my pattern had been published as a surprise.

I feel pretty dumb. And yet, I'm relieved. That piece of cross stitch won't bother me anymore.

I just need to frame it.

Friday, March 13, 2009

OPP - Katie's Crochet

Last Thursday we celebrated my sister's birthday, where I overwhelmed my sister with a lot of Crockpot Monkey Mix. (I also went overboard with the powdered sugar.)

Katie gets a lot of Monkey Mix

(BTW - That's Mom's wheel in the back with some of her yarn draped over it.)

Things were a little backwards that night, because I forgot my knitting, but my sister pulled out an afghan that I haven't seen her work on in ages. It's time for OPP (Other People's Projects.)

Katie Works On Her Afghan

It's a fairly simple chevron crochet afghan made with Caron Simply Soft Brites. I'm not quite sure where she got the stitch, but it's not a formal pattern. It's lengthwise, so the rows take a long time.

There's a closer look at the afghan here.

Katie's Crocheted Mug with Whipped Cream

I'm not sure where Katie got the idea to crochet amigurumi-style mugs, but that's what she's been doing. She just goes for it without a pattern. This one has whipped cream on top. (There is another view of it here.)

Katie's Birthday

Katie also got some "latte-colored" yarn so she can make more mugs.

There are more pictures from our birthday celebration here.