Friday, April 29, 2011


I’m starting to think blocking is one of those knitting skills that will always remain something of a mystery to me.

Sweater, ok, pretty easy. Socks? That’s what sock blockers are for.

But lace.

Lace perplexes me.

I’m not an obsessive shawl knitter, I think I’ve done four or five. But when I get that final misshapen blob in my hand after it comes off the needles, I always become a little apprehensive about the next step.


Perhaps I could make this easier on myself if I brought blocking wires. There’s no shortage of them as far as I’m aware, and when I see photos of people using them to block shawls, the shawls look uniform and perfectly-shaped, so they must work.

But something is holding me back.

I suspect it’s the idea of having a safety net.

If I try to block something and winds up looking like a cobweb wrapped in fly paper, I can always say, "Oh, you know, I’m sure this would’ve turned out better if I’d used blocking wires."

You see? I’m not to blame. It’s the lack of materials.


So I soldier on with my regular pins.

I usually start at the top, and try to pin it out nice and straight. It usually ends up looking more like a spine afflicted by scoliosis, but I really try my best.

Then I stretch out the center, and pin that down.

Then I start on the sides, working a segment on each side evenly.

And here’s where I seem to fail.

Because no matter how hard I try, the segments never seem to work out evenly. And by the time I work up to the corners, I’ve got a bunch of extra fabric and no space to pin it out.

So then I have to unpin the top and try again.

Or if I determine there can’t possibly be anything wrong with the top, I unpin everything, and try again, working down from the corners, rather than up from the center.

Until it’s become a drawn out exercise in unpinning things, which is no great skill, and I fail to see any advantage in practicing it so much.

And finally it’s done, but it's asymmetrical, with random bits sticking out in odd directions.

And also, the edges look so . . . pointy. What that about? It’s a shawl, not a dog collar.

If anyone is looking to start a business blocking other people’s shawls, I will be your first customer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Water, water, everywhere


We woke up Saturday morning to a water outage--water main break outside the condo. OK, not a major deal. Sure, I'm in the middle of moving, so showers are pretty important after spending all day hauling boxes, but the water was supposed to be restored within a few hours.

And restored it was. Around 2pm, the pipes started gurgling. Hurrah, a maintenance issue that didn't turn into an epic disaster!

See how naive I am?

Around 3pm, I stepped into the bathroom and noticed the bathmat had a large wet spot on it.

"Well, that's unusual, I don't recall pouring a glass of water directly onto the bathmat."

"Darling? The bathmat is producing its own water. Please call the Vatican, I think this might be a miracle."

I then walked into the bedroom and --squish-- found a large puddle in the carpet. That's . . . not right. Clearly disaster is afoot.

I followed the gentle tinkling sound of water-falling-onto-metal-when-that-definitely-shouldn't-be-happening, and, what do you know? There's water dripping out of the exhaust vent over the shower--I'm no plumber, but I'm pretty sure the water's supposed to come out of the showerhead.

At this point I may have gone into a rage blackout.

El Peruano ran down to the front desk to inquire about what, exactly, this water main break repair entailed. Did they decide to whack a few pipes open for fun before they left?

No, it turns out that our upstairs neighbor is, to put it delicately, a moron.

A complete, utter, unstoppable moron.

We already dislike Upstairs Moron. In the evenings around the time we arrive home from work, he seems to enjoy weight lifting. He also enjoys weight dropping. The weights hit the floor with a loud boom, and our entire condo shakes. Repeatedly. For a half hour.

Either that or he's got a bowling alley no one knows about.

We've also been awakened at 3:30am by a loud, irritating buzzing sound coming from Upstairs Moron's condo. He's apparently unaware that his condo is NOT soundproof, and thought vacuuming at 3:30am was appropriate.

But this takes the cake. Upstairs Moron apparently woke up to discover there was no water, and his unparalleled reasoning skills led him to believe that if he turned the taps on ALL THE WAY, water would come out. It didn't.

So he left them on. FULLY OPEN.

And left the condo.

This act of astounding intelligence came back to bite him in the ass when the water came back on, and flooded his condo.

And ours.

And the two below ours.

And now we've got repair people tramping in and out, a giant, industrial-strength dehumidifier running all day, some other, even louder contraption trying to suck water out of the hardwood floor. Not to mention rooms full of boxes, because did I mention I'm in the middle of moving? And, oh, two terrified cats.


Needless to say, very little knitting time.

If you hear a story about a man in the Washington, D.C. area stabbed to death with a knitting needle, you'll know why. Please come defend me in court.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dream a little dream of me . . .

The other night, I had a dream that I met Jasmin, one of those lovely Knitmore Girls. I'm not sure why, because with moving, my mom being hospitalized (again! She should just buy a room.), and meetings at work, I'm way behind on my podcasts, and haven't listened to the Knitmore Girls in weeks.

The odd thing about this dream was that I didn't meet Jasmin at a fiber festival, knitting camp, or something normal. No, for some reason my entire family already knew Jasmin, and  was going over to her house, and only upon arrival did I find out that Jasmin was, well, THE Jasmin.

Dream Jasmin immediately grabbed my knitting project and started asking about it. What was I knitting? "Oh, it's a [insert name of sweater pattern that does not, to my knowledge, exist]!" And what yarn? "It's [insert name of sock yarn I've never used and would not be at all appropriate for a sweater unless you were insane]." Then Jasmin started knitting on my sweater for me! So helpful, that Dream Jasmin.

Then a baby deer hopped through her kitchen and out into the backyard, to face her two enormous boar hounds.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easier access!

For those who just can't step away from Ravelry, my Dungarees cowl pattern, in addition to being available on my pattern page, is now also available as a free Ravelry download.

It was pretty easy to set up, but I had to resist the urge to type "eleventy squillion dollars" in the cost field.

But resist I did--it's still free. ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Reader is not your friend

Actually, it probably is. I adore Google Reader because I'm constantly forgetting which blogs I read, and then find myself thinking, "Hey, whatever happened to . . . ?"

And then I discover that nothing happened to him/her, I just forgot s/he existed. 

But if you're reading this post on Good Reader, that means you can't see all the spiffy new changes I've made around here. I've fixed up my blog, it's a little more customized and a little less . . . blue. (But still some blue, because blue is my favorite color.) Nothing too crazy, I'm no designer and don't have the spare cash to pay someone to redesign a site no one looks at because you're all reading this on Google Reader.

But, check it out anyway!

p.s. I am aware there's some kind of annoying, absurd glitch with the download of my Dungarees cowl pattern. Working to resolve it!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The one where it's too big

My vest, that is.


I've been steadily working on Mina's Tuxedo Vest for about a month. I finally finished knitting last night, wove in all the ends, blocked it--I was quite eager to wear it today, since I suspect this may (hopefully!) be the last really cool day of the season.

And it's too big.

Miles and miles of twisted stockinette, tortorous short rows, lots of scratchy yarn with bits of barnyard detritus in it . . . I even CROCHETED the buttonholes. Look, crocheted:


(I didn't say well)
 And it's too big.

Like, a lot too big.

It fits through the chest, and then disaster strikes. The waistline is more appropriate for a linebacker than for me.

I don't know exactly what happened. (Yes, I did knit a gauge swatch--after that disaster with Delphine, I learned my lesson.) The sizing options were not to my liking--32" and 36", but no 34". Since many pattern commenters indicated that the twisted stockinette didn't have a lot of give, I thought it would be best to go for the larger one.

But I've got a good 4 too many inches around the waist here, which doesn't really logically flow from knitting something that should've been at most 2" too big.


So, perhaps it's the yarn, which many knitters have said stretched after wasing--though I did not get that at all from my (not-so?) trusty swatch.

Now, what to do? It's knit from the top down, so I could rip it out to the waist and reknit, but the yarn doesn't have much elasticity--I fear it won't reknit well.

I think I'll just weep quietly into my vest for now . . .


Tuesday, April 5, 2011


For those who love a good Ravelry link, my Dungarees cowl can be found here.

Sadly, I'm just a smidge obsessed with checking the page to see how many hearts my little cowl has and how many times the pattern has been queued. I suppose eventually the excitement will wear off, but today, it makes me smile.

Other things that make me smile: the Orioles are 4 and 0, and in first place in the AL East. Yes, we're only about 5 days into the season, but myself and most Orioles fans are aware that this can change very quickly, so we have to enjoy it while we can. Which may explain why people were cruising around Baltimore with their heads hanging out of their car windows like puppies, screeching and hollering after yesterday's win, as if we'd just won the World Series.

Or they were drunk.

And based on much of the behavhior witnessed at the game, I'm going with the latter.

This included a Moron jumping onto the field. The Moron, unfortunately seemed to have misjudged his athletic ability. He jogged from center field over toward second base, already looking winded, zigzagged around the outfield a bit, then started heading back toward the bleachers, as if he were going to somehow be able to jump back into his seat (apparently Moron has never watched a game where the outfielders have to execute Herculean jumps to get their gloves over the fence and rob homeruns). Realizing this wasn't going to happen, he jogged a bit more along the fence, then, determining that there was no easy way out (duh), and his tummy full of beer and hot dogs wasn't going to permit any more running, he just stopped. Then flopped on the ground.

And he wasn't even naked; naked people doing stupid things is always funnier.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pattern: Dungarees cowl


My first pattern, the Dungarees cowl, is now available for download!

(I'm trying to find a balance here between giddy euphoria and cool professionalism. I may be failing.)

Pattern details:

Yarn: Approximately 225yds sport weight, such as madelinetosh Pashmina
Needles: US size 5, 16" circular or DPNs
Gauge: 6st/in in seed stitch; gauge is not essential


Sportweight yarn makes this a light cowl for breezy spring days. madelinetosh pashmina has a lovely sheen, and the cashmere makes it soft enough to wear close to the skin.

In contrast to the soft, light feel of this cowl, I was actually inspired by a pair of jeans--my favorite pair of Lucky brand jeans. The structure along the inseam led the dye to pool into gathers, and the crosshatching in the fabric is reflected in the knotted openwork section of the cowl.

This cowl is knit with two columns of stockinette stitch on either side, which provides just a hint of structure so the cowl isn't too loose-fitting.


Comments welcome, and enjoy!

Download Dungarees

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Days 6 and 7

Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? 

I keep saying I'm going to steek something, but I haven't gotten there yet. I fully intend to do it, though, because it seems to useful.  Very intricate colorwork is of course impressive, and I don't know that I'll ever have the patience for it, but I don't want to rule it out yet--I hope I have many years of knitting ahead of me!

Write about your typical crafting time. When it is that you are likely to craft – alone or in more social environments, when watching TV or whilst taking bus journeys. What items do you like to surround yourself with whilst you twirl your hook like a majorette’s baton or work those needles like a skilled set of samurai swords. Do you always have snacks to hand, or are you a strictly ‘no crumbs near my yarn!’ kind of knitter.

So far, I am not a social knitter. I just don't feel comfortable whipping a WIP out during social events. But that said, I do take my knitting with me a lot. I'll knit in the car, on the subway, at the office during lunch, anywhere I have to wait idly. Most often you'll find me knitting on the couch, watching documentaries about Ancient Egypt and other nerdy shows (I adore Ancient Aliens! Something lacks a scientific explanation? Must be aliens!). In fact, right now I'm watching Eating With Cannibals, and knitting, instead of doing laundry.

I usually don't eat and knit, because I have enough stray cat hairs finding their way into my knitting, I don't kneed anything else getting in there. 

So, that's it--Knit and Crochet Blog Week draws to a close! Hope it got everyone thinking about their crafting, and their blogging.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Days 4 and 5

Day 4: Whatever happened to your __________?

There aren't too many items I've lost track of, with the exception of gifts sent along in swaps. I knit primarily for myself and my family. And when knitting for my family, I tend to pester them about the fate of any beloved items I notice they are not wearing--I'm not a very gracious knitted-gift giver. Sometimes I seriously consider breaking into homes during the night to steal back gifts I don't think are being treated right. I haven't done it yet, but . . .

Items I knit for myself are used frequently. Here's what came to work with me today:

No tragic fate has befallen any of my handknits, not even holely socks, but I know it will happen eventually. I'm trying to mentally prepare for it.

Day 5: There are no rules of a topic to blog about, but this post should look at a different way to present content on your blog. This can take one of many forms, but here a few suggestions:

•Wordless, photographic post (oops, missed the boat there)
•Video blog post (I think my colleagues might question my sanity)
•Podcast (ditto)
•Cartoon/sketch of an idea (ummm, I'm finding being in the office kind of limiting; perhaps I should try this topic another day . . . )
•Write about a subject from a different perspective (for example, you could write about a day in the life of a knitted sock from the point of view of the sock). (It's 4pm on a Friday, I have way too little brain cells left for that)
•Interpretive modern dance (heh. no.)
•A poem or piece of rhyming verse (we have a winner!)

A haiku, by yours truly:

My knitting saves me
From boring mainstream clothing
White socks are no fun