Jolly Green Noggin - Xmas Gift 5 (boy)

Pattern: "Koolhaas," by Jared Flood, available in many places, none of them free, most recently Interweave Knits Accessories 2009
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted (Vaa)
Needles: US9 circular, worked in the round
Size: large

Plus: Finally, I made a hat for a man that is actually big enough for a bonafide dude head! It's too big on me, hence the lumpy cone-head appearance. The subtle waves of deep water black, green, and teal in this colorway positively mesmerize me. And I love that Jared based this stitch pattern on the fabulous architectural work of Rem Koolhaas. The building below is currently under construction in Beijing. Look familiar???

Delta: The itty-bitty single-stitch cabling was really tedious and unpleasant. Looking at the hat, you think it's going to be some basic knit-purl stitch action, but nooooo. Cable needle up, cable needle down, cable needle up, cable needle down, cable needle up....it sort of made me batty. After a while, I didn't need the chart at all, and the whole thing became very intuitive, but I still wouldn't do another one of these. As for the yarn choice, I think something with multiple plies would have served this pattern better, making the twisted stitch cables pop more. After all that work, I want it to look magnificently complex!

I've been reading a lot of people in the knitting world gripe about Christmas knit giving, and it seems like left and right people are proclaiming, "I absolutely refuse. No knitting for anyone but me!" I certainly understand granting yourself a break from extra stress. The holidays have become such a flurry of fear, guilt, and obligation, I start breaking out it cold sweats even thinking about THE MALL. I think when knitters set totally unrealistic goals for themselves, start eight hundred projects and invariably finish none, it adds to that cycle of frustration in the same way that conventional mass gifting does. Christmas morning becomes the "Thank God it's over" Day or the "I failed" Day or the "Did I keep up?" Day. Not to mention the added stress of, "Do you REALLY like it?" Day or "I wasted my time" Day. Without a doubt, that is no kind of manifestation for the divine art of knitting.

However, this Christmas I made a modest handful of generic knits with care, knit each one at a time, alternating boy style and girl style, and meditated on the love of my family and friends (in general) while creating each one. Some knits serendipitously paired up with their owners before I could second guess them; others will be laid out for snatching at an upcoming party. To round out these offerings, I purchased a few gift cards for our local, independent bookstore, an establishment which I am determined to help survive. Overall, I'd say it was a satisfying approach to honoring my loved ones while preserving my nerves. I, too, received a few precious handmade items, and I plan to share them in my next post, along with a few more knitted gifts.

Getting into the spirit of things, Ellie insisted that she help out and knit afghan square #13. Consequently , she is totally worn out.


Baby, It's Cold Outside - Xmas Gift #4 (boy)

Pattern: "Dashing," by Cheryl Niamath, available free here
Yarn: ShibuiKnits Merino Worsted (Seaweed)
Needles: US7 dpns (worked in the round)
Size: small

Plus: I can't help it. I'm literally sexually aroused by these. I've always had a thing for a nice male forearm, the kind where the muscles wrap lengthwise down from the elbow and curve seductively around the wrist, the way those sinewy layers would ripple over one another ever so slightly when in movement. Yow. These mitts are dead sexy forearms translated into knitting, and I couldn't be happier with them. My husband, who has been vehement and irritating in his skepticism against fingerless mitts, broke down and begged me not to gift them to anyone else but him. BEGGED! He's been wearing them everywhere and has expressed considerable anxiety regarding needing an outfit which will show off the cabling detail best. What a homo, huh?

Delta: Because it is a hand-dyed yarn, there is a little more pooling (particularly a spiral of lighter green that wraps all the way up the arm and hand) than I would have ideally wanted. (Jake thinks it's just another asset and points it out to people when showing off his mitts.) Additionally, the thumbs could be prettier; I always have a hard time with gaps around picked up stitches or reclaiming live stitches from a scrap-yarn slit.

Christmas--all three days of full on feasting and gifting--was lovely and fun. We had a actual, honest-to-God snow on the ground in the morning--a first in my memory. Everyone got a few things which elicited squeals of delight (for my sister, this was a Coach purse; for me, it was an obscene amount of gift cards for my LYS). In addition, both of our families have really embraced the idea of philanthropic Christmas gifts. Among several such gifts, Jake and I were given a $100 gift certificate for Kiva, our favorite "charitable" organization. If you have not looked into this micro-financing institution and their unique approach alleviating poverty all over the world, GO NOW.

And, you probably saw this coming: afghan square #12


Achoo! Wheez. Sniffle. - Xmas gift 3 (girl)

Pattern: "Cafe au Lait Mitts," by Paula McKeever, available as a free download on Ravelry here
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino (Topaz)
Needles: US 4 dpns (worked in the round)

Plus: What an easy yet impressive lace pattern! I positively adore these, and they were a genuine pleasure to work on, since the pattern was very rhythmic and quick to memorize. I didn't even need a lifeline, which is pretty amazing for a goofball like me. I think the silky merino matches the style of the project quite elegantly.

Delta: I'm not sure if it was the yarn or the needles or me, but this project felt exceedingly tight and rigid on the needles. I frequently had to yank and squeeze the stitches down the needle, something I haven't really done since I first started knitting. I'm thinking it's the needle choice. Also, I have read before that when you see a yarn spring up and twist all around itself when you're working with it, it means the yarn in improperly balanced. Well, if that's the case, silky malabrigo needs to work on that. I guess it wouldn't be a problem in this lace pattern, but the fabric would bias terribly if knit it basic stockinette? Am I understanding that principle correctly? I'm sure Clara Parkes checks my blog everyday and will get back to me on that.

So, a few months ago, a dear friend floated an important philosophical question: "You know how when you're sick, your spouse is absolutely obligated to wait on you hand and foot?" I solemnly nodded, and he went on to recount how his spouse had failed to live up to this simple expectation, and had instead followed my friend around with Lysol and Purel, whining repeatedly about not wanting to catch anything. Uncool. Well, I would like to amend that rule: "When you're sick, your spouse is absolutely obligated to wait on you hand and foot, and for that reason, he/she is not allowed to be sick at the same time as you." Nothing is more irritating than suffering away in the dark silence, waiting for your beloved to come home and sweep you off your feet with soothing gestures and hot tea, only to be greeted like this:

"Hi, baby. Uh oh. What's wrong with you?"
"I'm sick."
"Oh, me too."
Pause. "I had a fever earlier today."
"So did I."

Later that night:

"Okay, I'm gonna go pick up dinner."
"Thank you so much for doing that. I feel bad, since you're sick, too."
"Well, it seems like you're more sick than me."
Long Pause. "It's good to hear you say it."

Plaid Square.


Lez All Be Generous

Just about a year ago, I knit a very simple, seed stitch hat for my sister's boyfriend in a very manly, understated, cheapo gray yarn from JoAnn's. Because I still did not understand the whole "gauge" thing yet, the hat came out way too small (as did everything I knit before I understood and respected that vengeful ho-bag, the gauge goddess). It was too small to fit any man, and too man-ish to be worn by any woman. Enter the perfect recipient: a teensy, tiny butch lesbian who works with my husband. Fits her child-sized cranium AND flatters her buzz cut! SWEET. Well, a month ago, she thanked me again for the hat and explained that she wears it every morning to walk her dogs. She complained, however, that it's awfully hard to walk them without a matching scarf. Yeah, yeah. I can take a hint.

I've been seeing these "eternity" or "infinity" scarves/cowl/wrap thingys everywhere. Hence:

Pattern: my own design (CO 25 stitches and work in seed stitch until totally bored or out of yarn. Seam the sucker into a loop.)
Yarn: NaturallyCaron.com Country (charcoal)--held double
Needles: US 13 (worked flat)

Plus: It's very squooshy and soft for a project that's mostly acrylic. Great stuff for gifts to people who will balk at "hand wash" instructions. Also, I like that you have a couple options with how to wear this. Here it is doubled up around the neck.

Delta: Nothing. I'm a genius. Okay, okay, the seam is hideous. I was anxious to move on to something else, apparently.

And in conclusion, SQUARE.


Color-coordinated Progress

A sleeve.

A mitt.

A square.

Too puckery. Harumph. Will try blocking out the tension issues. I keep trying to assure myself that I will only get better at color work by doing more color work.

So, I'm a Buddhist now. I've read the first 8 chapters of Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart, and I'm pretty confident that I'm an expert.

In all seriousness, I'm amused by how peacefully this fits with my current world view, or in some cases, how it scratches my most insistent itches. I had always enjoyed the way that existentialism picks you up and dusts you off on the other side of the nihilistic worm-hole. However, after wandering the world with pragmatic, existentialist humanism as your only companion, Buddhism seems like a sort of graduation of the soul, a moving on from the fits and starts of fleeting passions and the burning desire to be better (for what you know, deep down, are arbitrary reasons). The groundlessness and angst are acknowledged as friends rather than foes, the dread of impermance treated with respect and awe. No lies. No self-deception. No anti-intellectual manipulation of the emotions. Just naked truth. I could get used to this.


Lost my Mojo - Xmas gift 2 (girl)

Pattern: "Urchin" by Ysolda Teague, available free here or as a nice, free downloadable pdf on Ravelry
Yarn: Spinning Wheeler (006D)--this was a hand-spun/hand-dyed single skein my mom picked up at the "First Mondays" flea market in Canton, Texas. It's a 2-ply merino, alpaca, kid merino blend with an intensely thick-and-thin texture and a million different Monet-esque colors (primarily sage green and lavender)
Needles: US 10.5 circular (worked flat YET seamless)
Size: large (with a slightly tighter gauge)
Mods: picked up stitches around the brim and added three rows of k1p1 ribbing. Bound off with a US 13 needle so it would fit a human head.

Plus: Despite being a "novelty" yarn, this was an absolute joy to work with; each stitch was a fresh combination of shade and shape. However, I could always see what I was doing, something I can't say about most novelty crap. The pattern construction is rather inventive as far as hats go, and it was fun to watch it take shape.

Delta: I really hate it. I'm not going to bore you with all the sad details of how I tried to save this hat, but let me assure you I ran through every trick I know. Part of it is probably in the knitting/blocking skills. Part of it is my large head which looks good in very few hats. Part of it is the overabundance of colors. I know it's not this bad, but I keep thinking of those god-awful Ozark Llama Barf Hats. Oh well. Maybe it will fit and flatter someone else. Meanwhile, I'm just feeling discouraged.

To brighten my world right in time, I got a cute little mini-skein and pattern from Eat.Sleep.Knit (aka The World's Coolest Online Yarn Store).

Pattern: "Mini-Sweater," available as a gift to Yarn Marathoners at the 5K mark
Yarn: The Unique Sheep Sushi Sock (Spunky)
Needles: US 2 dpns (worked seamless in the round)

Plus: It's adorable AND versatile!

Delta: Just a TAD fiddly....

I already fashioned a paper clip into a coat hanger to make it Christmas Tree ready! Wheeee!!!!


Mmmmmanly - Xmas gift 1 (boy)

Pattern: "One Row Handspun Scarf" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, available free here
Yarn: Handmaiden Fine Yarn Lady Godiva (Ebony)
Needles: US8 straights
Size: CO 26 stitches; 3.5 inches wide and 7.25 feet long (from one skein, suckah!)

Plus: I am totally psyched about this FO! The color is subtle and masculine. The pattern evokes pinstripes on an expensive suit. The fiber is lusciously smooth on the neck thanks to the silk, while the merino mutes the finish to a warm velvet (rather than a girly, lacquered gloss). I thoroughly enjoyed working this pattern, even if it wasn't riveting--just clever enough to make me smile, just simple enough to keep my hands busy while watching a great movie.

Delta: Umm...this yarn ain't worsted weight. It's DK. No one can convince me different. I would have switched to size 6 needles for a sturdier fabric, but I wanted to milk this expensive skein for all the length I could get.

Two more afghan squares. As you can see, I'm starting to get into the funkier, colorwork squares. This was my first attempt at embroidery, so go easy on me. Actually, what you see below is my second attempt at embroidery. The first version was cut out earlier today after much sighing and excuse-making. This still isn't perfect, but I'm going to pretend that the "rustic" look makes it charming. The square above was also my first foray into bobbles, which were surprisingly easy and fun. I'm glad my knitting group pals urged me to give that square a try, despite how intimidating it seemed.

I've had quite a few minor knitting failures lately, mostly linked with my determination to knit a pair of fingerless mitts for both my mom and sister in time for Xmas. I started Susie's Reading Mitts in some handspun mom bought at the Canton Flea Market, and they looked bizarrely huge and "rustic" in a very, very bad sense of the word. Jake walked by as I was trying one on and commented that they look like an ax-wielding executioner's gloves. RIP. I cast on some Rhineback Mitts in Lorna's Laces sport; half-way through I realized that, even though I was concentrating so hard steam was coming out of my ears, the pattern was totally screwed up. And the gauge was off. RIP. Yesterday, Mom and Bec told me they didn't want mitts at all, but rather these capelet/ponchette thingys they had checked out at TJ Max and taken pictures of for me. SO, drafting out a pattern for those now. Que sera, sera.


Ruby Hand Slippers

Pattern: "In a Twist Wristwarmers" by Claire Compton, available in The Knitter's Bible: Knitter's Accessories
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted (Amoroso)
Needles: US6 circular (worked flat)

Plus: Malabrigo is knitter's crack. Ruh-diculous. I'm not sure whether this cable is much more simple or if I'm getting smarter, but these were way easier for me than the "Princess Mitts." Also, I'm super-duper proud of myself, because I took this opportunity to finally teach myself the mattress seam, and I think it looks pretty smooth. I didn't even hate seaming them.....that much.

Delta: Why, oh why, Ms. Crompton, create this pattern to knit flat?! I was so tempted to rewrite it for seamless construction, until I decided to seize the day and learn the aforementioned and much overdo skill. Still. Stupid. Also, I was disappointed by how these fit. I had selected the yarn and project as a Xmas gift for Mom, but these came out a bit short and tight, particularly in the thumb. However, when showing off the first mitt at knitting group last week, my dear friend Shelley tried them on and immediately gasped with delight; she had never found a mitt that fit her tiny, freakish hands so perfectly! I grudgingly admitted that the color also matches her new scarf to a T. So...new mitts for Shelley....coal for Mom.

In the TMI department: the doc and I had a long talk about my steadily increasing pain and our similarly mounting fertility frustrations. We came up with a great plan. Go get a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to determine whether or not that left tube truly IS blocked. If it's not, try harder to get myself knocked up (e.g. IUI, clomid, charting). If it is, abandon the baby track for a while to go on Lupron, a medication which would actually fight endo by basically forcing me into a false menopause (fun). In the meantime, we could try to surgically correct Jake's issue.

Well, apparently, when God closes a door, he also shuts all the windows and jams the remote for the garage. The tube is definitely blocked. My insurance won't pay for Lupron. Jake's particular issue is evidently genetically linked and doesn't respond to surgical therapy. In short, we're screwed.


Happy Knitaversary to Me!

One year down. Who knows how many more before restlessness or carpal tunnel overcome my new passion?

To celebrate, I bought myself my very own ball-winder and swift. Cuz I'm hardcore now. And hardcore knitters don't drape skeins of yarn around their knees to wind it around their thumbs like some kind of ANIMAL! NO! They whip that sucker into a tight, little cake in 10-seconds flat and keep right on knitting.

Perhaps that sounded unreasonably macho. Blame it on the fact that I've spent about 8 hours today swimming through the bizarre land that is a 6th grade mind. Roaches negotiating peace treaties between people and magical forests; secret underground lairs that contain creature-making machines; Santas that morph into Hannah Montana only to be slaughtered by an anthropomorphic banana; Man-Cow-Bird blend creatures who wreak havoc on the pharmacy section of Target; pet chinchillas who solve crimes while their masters are out; dinosaur eggs discovered by zoo employees in a pile of Rhino poop....it's been the weirdest day at my desk EVER.

New afghan square:


Red Fish Blue Fish...finally!

Pattern: "A Recipe for Fish" by April Broken, available free here
Yarn: Shibui Merino Worsted (Chinese Red and Dragonfly)
Needles: US8 dpns (worked flat)
Mods: added an i-cord bind-off around the edge, which I think looks very clever

Plus: This was a piece of cake, instantly memorized, and supremely portable. The yarn is surprisingly soft for a superwash and even smoother after a gentle run through the machine. I love that the hand-dyed merino gives the blue a "watery" quality, enhanced by the natural ripple curve of the fish. I also love that this fits the nursery theme so perfectly, one could LITERALLY die of cuteness once the blankie is actually placed inside this room. Yikes! Be careful!

Delta: I suck at seaming, and this obviously requires a lot of seaming. I know that lots of people used a mattress seam on this, but I thought that would defeat the purpose of those nice selvedges (not to mention the fact that I don't know how to do a mattress seam). So I used all the attached tails and sewed each fish pair along the selvedges with a running stitch, then wove in the ends for at least 6 stitches. Well, we can see how that turned out in the previous post. Maybe running stitch was a stupid choice on my part, but give me a break. I'm learning! I went back and repaired holes and reinforced seams with every last scrap of yarn I had, and I'm praying HARD that this won't fall apart any further.

Also, another afghan square:


I shall build an army!

I have been waiting and hoping and saving up to reveal my newest FO, Red Fish Blue Fish baby blanket, for quite a while, and guess what? We'll all have to wait a bit longer because this morning I pulled it from the washing machine after a cold wash/rinse/low agitation cycle to find this:

Oh, the horror!!! I don't even want to think about how this will fare further washings. I will try to repair this the best I can and offer the mother free hand-washings to stave off future unraveling. I can't even say how or why this happened, except that I have always sucked at finishing a piece. Totally bummed.

Also in the "I don't wanna" pile:

It's absolutely adorable and a quick, pleasurable knit. I've grafted the shoulders together, and now all that remains is setting in the sleeves and seaming up the sides. Blech. I think I have some laundry that needs folding instead....

So, I've accidentally started a knitting club. A few of the girls at school have marveled over my meager handful of knitted clothing and accessories and many have asked for me to teach them, to which I always answer "of course." Now, that cycle of swoon--question--answer has repeated uneventfully for several months, but one dear, pushy child, C, showed up in my room during recess with itchy fingers. A delightful lesson took place, and we agreed to meet up the next day. That recess rolls around, and sweet M scurries in to join C and me for knitting. As we leave my room that afternoon, D and S spy our armfuls of yarn and request a lesson next. The next day, C, M, D, and S all knit happily while H and A drift in saying, "Oh, I learned to knit once. I'll come tomorrow, and you can reteach us." So now my hands are full with 6 chatty, uncoordinated, but earnest tweens, oohing over each other's bright plastic needles and pink-swirled acrylic yarn. They're knitting at lunch, cheerleading practice, in the car, standing over the toaster in the morning. It's causing so much attention and buzz, random 5th, 7th, and 8th graders have started coming up to me asking, "So, I hear you're starting a sewing club?"


Take THAT, Evil Golden Square of DOOM!

Yes, those are Xs and Os. Yes, it's very cute. Yes, this lovey-dovey square almost killed me.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, the most recent square of the Watt afghan, in this gorgeous golden hay color, originally started as a "Joyful Children" square. After attempting and ripping, swearing, knitting, ripping, yelling, ripping, ad nauseum, I hoisted the white flag and began on the "Hugs and Kisses" square. Things immediately improved...until row, oh, 36, when I became very sleepy and made some silly mistakes. I then tried ripping back a FEW rows, and subsequently remembered why Jake's laptop sweater and Liz's mitts stressed me out so much: you (at least I) cannot rip back multiple rows of braided cables and hope to know where you are when you start up again. The whole thing came out and went to the bottom of the knitting basket for a week.

This week I was smart. I was careful. I only tackled 16 rows per night and made sure to do so only when alert and free of distractions. I was on track to finish Thursday night (leaving Friday for blogged glory-seeking), when I noticed a rather ugly mistake...12 rows prior. I tried to breathe deep and convince myself it was nearly invisible. I passed it to Jake to see if he could find it, and the jerkface pointed it out right away! I promptly stuffed the square in my bag and sent myself to bed.

This afternoon, I was very calm and adult as I went about tinking back through 12 tedious rows of cables. My shoulders were just about to turn to stone by the time I finished, but the sweet relief of the finish line soothed the pain (okay, advil and a beer helped, too!). Before The Great Yarn Spirit could thwart me again, I whipped up the rest of the square and photographed it to document my awesomosity for all to acknowledge. Admittedly, it's not the most technically difficult thing ever; just personally elusive. This square was my Moby Dick. How's that for self-stroking hyperbole????

In the meantime, most of my energy goes toward this, due on Halloween.


The funky twins

Pattern: "Basic Sock Pattern" by Ann Budd, available in The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (River)
Needles: US3 dpns
Size: woman's large at 7 st/in

Reader, I have not only completed a sock that is functional and true, I have completed two! Ann Budd's customizable pattern is a great place to start for newbie sock knitters. I was looking to get a plain vanilla sock under my belt before tackling the crazy stitch gymnastics of popular Cookie A patterns and the like. I wanted confidence in my mastery of basic sock architecture for cuff-down patterns, and this did it. Next stop, toe-up construction.

Delta: These socks are fraternal twins. The cuffs match, which is all most people will see, but I had to start a new skein after the heel flap, and it clearly threw off the spiral pooling pattern. There's a big splotch of purple on the bottom of the foot like I stepped in paint or something. If I use this yarn again, I will start each sock with a fresh skein, resulting in two, tiny, left-over balls from each sock. Also, these are a teensy bit big for me, and I have size 9.5 feet, which I thought would qualify as large. Overall, they're not beautiful, but I'm durn proud of them.

On an unrelated note (well, except for the pride), I attended the one year anniversary "Food Creates Community" event last night, and it was as fabulous and intoxicating as ever. Read all about how well I ate here and bookmark the blog so you can hear about upcoming dates. I cannot recommend it enough.



Pattern: "Split-Neckline Cap Sleeve Tee" by Stefanie Japel, available in Fitted Knits
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Worsted (Marmalade and Butter Pecan)
Needles: US7 circulars (worked entirely seamless and mostly in the round)
Size: 42" bust, shown with zero ease
Mods: I didn't bind off the turned picot hem, but rather sewed down the live stitches the way EZ recommends in Knitting Without Tears. I didn't knit as many rounds on the collar hem and could/should have done even fewer since the neckline hits so high. I joined the sweater after the shoulder hole a few rounds early to see if it would reduce the gaping problem some people had. Not really sure if it helped. I also added many inches to the bottom edge because I have a super long bod.

Plus: Definitely an easy, mindless knit for when you need one of those. The yarn is soooper soft and cuddly. The split-neckline adds a little more bang for your buck, considering this is basically a shapeless tube, otherwise. It detracts from, and balances, the simplicity of the shirt.

Delta: As I was warned, the yarn sheds little orange wispies while you're knitting, which gets irritating after a while. I decided to try EZ's advice on end-weaving: work a couple stitches with both strands together and then weave in diagonally (no knots). Well, it worked great on Jake's wool "Cobblestone," but on this shiny cotton stuff, each woven end sticks out quite prominently. The stitches worked together are very noticeable. The ends I wove in frayed with washing and stuck out the FRONT of the sweater. I had to pull them from the back until a good 1/2 inch was sticking out on the underside. The collar is too high and not shaped enough; a few short rows would have gone a long, long way, but I understand that she was trying to create a sweater that one could make as a beginner. I get it. Similarly, the waist has no shaping, which is why many people on Ravelry gripe that it knits up too big.

It knits up to EXACTLY the size the schematics (and basic algebra) imply...they just didn't imagine what a shapeless sweater would look like in positive or zero ease. You know...because your boobs are probably bigger than your waist!!! Do you want it to hug your boobs and drape over the waist, or drape over your boobs and flow a few inches from the waist? Ease issue. The model in the book is clearly wearing hers with many, many inches of negative ease, but this is not explicitly mentioned. I personally am very self-conscious about my belly flab and wanted mine to have a relaxed, comfy fit.

Overall, I'm happy, but it's nothing to write home about. Good experience. Good top-down seamless raglan experience.


All the Dragons Will Be So Frightened!

Pattern: "Cobblestone Pullover" by Jared Flood, available in Interweave Knits - Fall 2007
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed HW (Orca)
Needles: US8 circular (worked SEAMLESS and 100% in the round)
Size: 43" chest with 2" positive ease

Plus: This pattern was a cinch! Great first sweater. The yarn is soft and cozy and tweedy and manly and cheap, cheap, cheap. Jake likes that the sweater resembles a chain mail tunic and therefore disguises him as a terrifying knight!

Delta: I think the neckline is too wide and may eventually pick up some stitches and add a few more rows there. It looks a bit...femi. I also wish that I had knit the smaller size. Jake insists that he likes the size I made, but I know that he looks better in sweaters with less ease. My gauge was a bit tighter when I started, so I was aiming between the 41" and 43". Instead, it turned out exactly 43". Ah well.

He loves it (or says he does like a good, little hubby) and wore it to work today. Evidently, many people complimented him on it, even before he mentioned that it was handknit by his ball-and-chain. One conversation actually went like this:

"Jake, do you pick out your clothes or does your wife do it?"
"Well, you always seem extraordinarily well-dressed for a guy."
"Are you saying I look gay?"
Awkward pause from her.
"Actually, I often have to help Kat pick out her clothes."

Last night I dreamed that I sat next to Stephanie Japel at a knitting conference but couldn't work up the courage to ask her to sign my copy of Fitted Knits. I'm the biggest dork I know. Fo sho.


You Just Gotta Laugh

Pattern: "Bigger (and Biggest) Booga Bag" by Julie Anderson, available on Ravelry
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky and Worsted (Aztec Turquoise, Gold Glow, Desert Rose)
Needles: US 10.5 circular (bottom worked flat and then the sides are knit up in the round)
Mods: decided to make mine "cool" by practicing my stranded knitting technique and adding some "Henna Inspired" patterns from Hip, Graphic Knits by Rochelle Bourgault and Lisa Evans.


Plus: I learned a lot. I learned that my washing machine does not actually use hot water, even when I put it on the "hot wash/cold rinse" setting. Need to call repair man. I learned that stranded knitting felts way, way tighter than straight stockinette. I learned that color work is stupid in felted things because you can barely see all the hard work, and if the colors run, the design looks muddy. I learned that if you fear a project is ugly before it's felted, abusing it in a washing machine does not magically beautify it. I learned that you cannot stretch an item once you over-felt it, no matter how many grocery bags you rip up and stuff in it. I learned that I do not heart the felting process, even though so many knitters do. I found it stressful, messy, and loud...everything that is anti-knitting.

Delta: My knitting group buddy, Shelley, is a total whore. Not only did she felt her bag without me after promising to walk me through it....and not only did she announce that she had done so on her blog...........it looks perfect. It's the Gisele Bundchen of Booga Bags. I hate her so hard. (ahem, love you, Shelley.)

No, I did not bother to poke holes for straps in this odd little thing. I do not plan to carry it around. I am, however, open to suggestions for how to reincarnate it as something useful or funny or otherwise not-depressing. Jake thinks it looks like a strapless prom dress from the 80s. Maybe I could stuff it and make a really weird, headless doll!


It's a thrill

The husband has taken up a new hobby. This activity involves regaling all of my friends, in melodramatic jerkface fashion, with exaggerated accounts of my yarn stash. They all laugh and shake their heads as he impersonates demon yarn monsters hunkering down in all livable corners of the apartment. Now, I ask you, is this so bad?:

No, friend, it is not. I admit, it's not very attractive, spilling all over that corner of our bedroom. In private, Jake and I have agreed that whenever either of us verbally recognizes the rapidly growing size or containment issues of my stash, the unanimous, undisputed solution is that I knit more. (One time, the poor man suggested that I purchase less yarn. It's possible his ears are still ringing.) However, I am a woman of quality and style; I work hard to knit gifts that change people's lives and give them a reason to wake up in the morning. Therefore, I deserve a yarn storage system with more panache. Presto Change-o!

Ta-da! Pretty, huh? I even stuck a little lavender sachet in each box to ward off the mothies. I was so pleased with myself after this, I went after my circular needles, all crowded into a rumpled ziploc back. Ewww...

Fibracadabra! PooF!

I was on a roll. I crouched down on the floor and hauled out all my yarn books and magazines from under the bed (I can't keep them on the bookshelf down the hall....they're too far away) and stacked them neatly in the basket-formerly-known-as-yarn-stash.

Now, before I leave you to swoon in private envy, I should tell you one more delicious thing. Friday afternoon, I left campus convinced that I had to drive by Woolie Ewe for a little post-traumatic-school yarn petting. This conviction made zero sense since I had just been there the day before to buy a needle, and I had already spent my yarn budget for the week (don't laugh...it's necessary). I argued with myself all the way there, "Why are you doing this? You'll just make yourself crazy." But when I arrived, I saw what my subconscious must have known: Jared Flood and Cookie A were just milling around MY yarn store, looking fabulous and being genius right there next to the wall of alpaca. They each taught classes here all weekend, and I guess Friday evening was just their chance to spend some quiet time in the store. I should have introduced myself, but I was too shy and concerned I would come off idiotic. Besides, just spying on them was thrilling enough. No need to let either know that they have yet another rabid, dorky fan. Just know, I was close enough that if I wanted to, I could yank one of Cookie's green strands of hair, or lean over and sniff Jared's handknit sweater. I know, my self-control is astounding.

I will probably post several more times this week. "Cobblestone" is off the needles and blocking; "Split-Neckline Tee" is a few hours from finished; my "Booga" just needs felting; first pair of socks nearly finished. So freakin' exciting.


The Long Slog

Sadly, I have no finished objects to share today. Only progress on many, many current projects. Above is my rather bizarre, as yet still unfelted Booga Bag. My knitting group plans to felt ours all together next weekend. Until then, I will ponder over whether the final product will be something I'll ever use. It's so pink and cheerful and girly right now....I can't imagine carrying it around without feeling foolish.

And here is one of my newest projects: A Recipe for Fish, a baby blanket for a pregnant cousin-in-law. The nursery is all made up in a Dr. Seuss theme, so I thought this pattern would be precious done in only blue and red fish....get it? I'm going to make most of the fish blue, and sprinkle a couple red fish throughout to give the impression of red fish in a blue sea...until you look closer and see that they're all fish. This Shibui worsted superwash is a gorgeous, yummy, velvety dream! I can't wait to order more. Eat Sleep Knit, YA'LL!

Jake's Cobblestone is progressing nicely, if a little slowly. It's funny how once you join in the sleeves you feel like you're ALMOST there, until you realize how large the yoke truly needs to be. And then if it's all in garter stitch? Fagedabawdit! Did I say that right?

The other sock looks just like the first only not as big yet, so no picture. The split-neck tee looks just like it did in my last picture except for slightly longer, so no picture. The Watt afghan has bested me all week, since I have been working on this stupid square, with no progress. I never get past about 12 rows before I have to rip back again. Right now, it looks like a rewound ball of pissed off yarn, so no picture. I'm officially moving on to a different square next week. I finished another bridesmaid shawl, but it looks exactly the same as the last one, so no picture.

In other news, I attended one of the best concerts of my life this Wednesday, Ben Folds with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson. Positively magical! If he's coming anywhere near you for the rest of his tour, I strongly urge you to go. You won't regret it. I've been so crazy busy at school lately, I keep imagining my head spinning right off my shoulders and whirling into the stratosphere. Friday evening, I came home after doing a quick errand and promptly fell asleep for 15 hours straight. Also, I'm really depressed lately. This, however, made me feel a wee bit better.