Archive for the ‘Nifty Stuff’ Category

Only photos

April 2, 2010

Keyboard still broken.  Avoiding words with forbidden letters.  Only photos, today.

My meanderings, let me share them with you

February 7, 2009

I know.  I’m the slowest of slow pattern writers.  Maude Louise II, though, is almost graded and finished, and all the secret projects are coming along well.  I just hestitate to set a date when a particular pattern will be done now, because my record is terrible.  Even when I think I’m done, I find more issues I want to resolve.  However, I’m working on Maude, and I’m feeling really good about the changes. Changes, like, you know, making it a finished pattern with a lot of different sizes.

In the nifty news department, I had my first pattern accepted for publication in the Spring Popknits!  I love the Popknits concept…updated vintage clothing is right up my alley…and I love so many of the patterns in the two issues that have come out so far, so I’m very excited to get to be a part of it myself.  I hope you all like the new pattern!

Hey, you remember how, almost a year ago now, I made my mother a Drops swing jacket like mine?  Well, she was up visiting recently, and we finally got pictures of it.

I think it looks adorable on her.  Her sweater is far lighter than the version I made for myself, which is fitting, as the weather where she lives is usually a good bit warmer than the weather here.  The color is off in the above photo, and it’s hard to see the minute variations in the yarn I used, but I think the color is very flattering for her as well.

Sorry, this is a bit of a mess of a post.  I’m trying to post daily or nearly daily, but writing after attending a five hour Algebra class (for which I consumed an inordinate amount of tea in order to stay awake) makes my brain sort of pulpy, so you’re getting the mushy brain version of what I wanted to write.

Um, what else?  The Spring Interweave preview is up, and I’m pleasantly surprised!  I let my subscription to Interweave expire after the Spring 2008 issue, and I have not regretted it, though I think Interweave’s quality has remained high.  It just hasn’t been much to my personal taste.  I also had low expectations after seeing the Spring Knitscene preview.  The patterns look good, but I hate the styling so much that I have trouble seeing past it.  But the Spring Interweave looks great – a lot of variety, and a lot of very pretty designs that aren’t overwhelmed by the styling.  There’s a lot to like, but I was immediately struck by the Petal Halter, the Sweet Tee, the Zickzack Tunic, and Bettie’s Lace Stockings.  I think I’ll be picking up the issue when it hits the stores.

Owls later today!

Nature’s first green is gold

November 18, 2008

Zombified birthday boy.

Zombified birthday boy.

Liam went ahead and turned seven this weekend.  Just before the big day, I remembered a passing request he’d made for a “jungle hat with an Ewok on it”.  I had this bee-yew-tee-full yarn that The Lady sent me in his favorite, and very jungley, shade of green, so I doubled the yarn for speed and whipped up this green gem of a basic little hat.  Then there was the untutored embroidery of the Ewok.  I love embroidering things, but in truth I don’t know how.  I’ve glanced at little pamphlets explaining what to do, but have never bothered to read them.  But it seems to me from my limited and not very skilled experience that embroidery is a lot like both drawing and painting, and that if you have any skill with either of those areas, it is very likely that you can at least make a small pictoral patch.

Mine was drawn freehand, so to speak.  I printed out a few simplified pictures of Ewoks and went to work with three colors of thread: white, brown, and navy.  Those were all the thread colors I had that seemed to work with what I had in mind.  Here’s a tighter view of the result.  It’s not neat embroidery, but I think it works as a picture.

Liam’s birthday was a lot of fun, and very low key.  We had a small family celebration, and Liam helped me bake a cake.  I’m not the world’s best baker, but my cakes tend to taste pretty good, even though they usually turn out sort of flat and sad looking. Yesterday’s cake was a minor exception to the rule.  It didn’t turn out perfectly, but it also did not look as though someone sat upon it.  We watched James and the Giant Peach and ate of cake, and then we listened to Little Richard singing Happy Birthday to Martin Luther King, Jr., because Liam wanted to hear a birthday song on the radio, and that was the most rocking birthday song I found on last.fm.

It’s very hard for me to believe that my younger son is seven!  He’s built on a smaller scale than his big brother, and his developmental delays sometimes make him seem younger than he is, so it’s a little bittersweet to have him grow up.  I sound like such a stereotypical smothering mother here, but I love having him little and young.  At the same time, I am so, so proud of all the leaps and bounds he has made in the past year, and I am so thrilled at the young man he’s growing into.  Those of you who love someone with an autism spectrum disorder will understand what big news this is: he’s been making multiple friends.  On his own.  I could pop with joy and pride!

I’m feeling rather introspective, and looking back, it’s a little shocking to realize how very young I was when I had each of the boys.  Heck, how very young Mr. Kninja was, too!  It’s been amazing to watch them grow up, and terribly sobering to realize, as Mr. Kninja put it yesterday, that Gabriel is already half grown.  We’ve faced a lot of challenges along the way, but we’re a lucky little family, because every one of our children is wonderful and delightful in different ways.  Happy birthday, Liam!

In less introspective news, I have finished Maude II, save for the buttons.  I have some buttons that are the right size, and I may attach them, but Mr. Kninja thinks, perhaps rightly, that they do not look right with the yarn I used.  I’m torn.  I’d love to simply finish it altogether, write up the new pattern, and move on, but while the buttons in question are inoffensive, is inoffensive the best I should hope for with a lovely new cardigan?  The answer, as I type it, seems obvious enough, and I suppose I’ll have to seek out new buttons for Maude II.

Well, then, tomorrow will be all about the hunting and gathering, I suppose.

Writing my memoirs – briefly

April 6, 2008

I got tagged for a really neat meme by Michaela at Dollar Knits.

My six word memoir: With care for words and people.

This was really hard to do, actually. I considered putting people first, because I do care deeply about people, but I decided that my shyness and social anxieties sometimes prevent me from putting people up front the way I want to. I always worry about words, though – my words, the words of others, and what words mean. It’s what is and what I hope will be and what’s wrong and what’s right all in one place. The picture is a segment of a self portrait I did in art school. It’s slightly larger than life size, done in acrylic, and the odd expression on my face is due to standing in a dark-ish basement night after night, staring at the mirror I’d taped to the wall, and trying to remember what I looked like before I turned back to apply paint to paper. The paper itself has a collage of images and leaves (actual leaves) covered over with gesso. I also have a less successful portrait under the gesso. I’d planned to wipe it out entirely, but found that I liked it as it became ghostly, so my own ghostly face is staring over my shoulder. I darkened that side of the picture by writing all of the bad poetry I’d written that year on that side. While this portrait is over 10 years old, I still think it represents me pretty well – what’s embarrassing and silly and sincere and startled about me.

This NPR story inspired the meme, and here are the guidelines:

Here are the guidelines, should you choose to participate in this yourself:

  • Write your own six word memoir.
  • Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
  • Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
  • Tag five more blogs with links.

I hereby tag the following folks:

Orata
Ellen
Giff
Cirilia
Amanda

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! I wish mine was funnier – maybe next week!

Mitts! And stuff!

March 30, 2008

Pattern: Axel Mitts by Blue Garter Sarah
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Autumn Forest colorway
Yardage: about 100 yards, possibly less
Needles: U.S. size 6 Knitpicks Double Pointed Needles
Modifications: Made on a much smaller scale, what with the worsted weight yarn and the size 6 needles

My hands, they are toasty. I finished my second pair of Axel Mitts, these ones for me, and I must say, I lurrrrrve them. Warm, cozy, pretty, and thanks to Mr. Kninja’s awesome choice of yarn color, they go with pretty much everything I own.

I made them really small. There’s two reasons for this. One, I have small hands, but two, last time I made these, I took into account the fact that I was using thinner yarn than the pattern called for and I used size 10 needles to get gauge. What I didn’t take into account is my own experience with Malabrigo. It stretches. Everything I’ve knit in this yarn has turned out, after a few wearings, rather larger than how it was when it came off the needles. I suspect that this has to do with the fact that Malabrigo is one ply and has less support than a yarn with more plies. The Malabrigo mitts I made for Mr. Kninja are too large for my hand, and they’re almost too large for his, even though they appeared to be in gauge when I knit them. This time ’round, I knit on size 6 needles, and they came out the right size, though they looked really small while I was working on them. I didn’t change the pattern at all, other than in sizing down.

I’ve also been knitting the Baby Surprise Jacket from The Opinionated Knitter. All this month, I’ve been experimenting with my poor Colinette Jitterbug. It looked beautiful when I saw it in skein form, but everything I’ve tried to knit with it has looked awful. There are so many color changes that any interesting stitchwork disappears, and I think I’ve attempted about five patterns before realizing, when looking at Jared’s garter stitch scarf , that this yarn wanted to be garter stitch. I’ve been wanting to try the Baby Surprise Jacket for some time, so I cast on, and sure enough, the yarn looks great in garter stitch. Finally.

The brown stripes are Panda Silk. I accumulated a couple of skeins of it while trying to make the Jitterbug work. I have enough of both colors to make a whole baby set. I don’t have a specific baby in mind for all of this, but it will be fun to knit, and several friends are currently knocked up, so it will surely find a home in the end.

As you can see, we’re still in the weird shapeless stage, but I’ve been cheating and folding the material over and over while I knit, and I’m relieved to see that yes, it does fold into a jacket. It’s hard to imagine the sort of clever mind that could come up with a pattern like this one.

Lastly, I thought I’d pass on a tip. I accidentally discovered some months back that Amazon.com does carry yarn. It doesn’t, however, have any sort of yarn or craft section, so the yarn is craftily hidden away in Apparel, and searching “yarn” doesn’t bring all of it up. The company affiliated with Amazon in this case is Alpaca Direct, and you can find all of their products by searching for the company name. (They have needles and top and clothing as well as yarn.) Or you can search for specific yarn brands. They carry Lorna’s Laces, Cascade, Misti Alpaca, and Catalina alpaca, to my certain knowledge. There may be more.

I’m behind on emails, and I apologize for that, but I’ll try to catch up this week. Take care!

Everyone else is

February 2, 2008

You cannot argue with the power of other people’s knitting. I realize that everyone and her brother have already knit Saartje’s bootees, but you see enough adorable photographs and you find yourself compelled – yes, compelled – to take up needles and make your own. If you haven’t knit these yet, beware. You’ll soon be sitting, working feverishly on the cutest little shoes you’ve ever seen. Let me add that the pattern is easy, fast, well written, requires very little yarn, and is about the closest to actual newborn foot size of any bootees I’ve seen. Join our zombie knitting horde. Join us!

The yarn used here is some of my left over Dream in Color Smooshy. This yarn only improves on further use, and I had kindly impressions of it from the start. I had originally used this yarn to make one garter stitch mitt, but upon realizing that I had just under enough to finish the second mitt, I frogged the whole project. This left a mess of curly ramen-esque yarn, but all it took to straighten the yarn out was a dunk in the sink. I hung it on the door knob to dry and the resulting small skein is as good as new. Not many yarns hold up to frogging.

Still on the needles is the Drops jacket that everyone else has already knit. I was late on the bandwagon. Pam at Flint Knits made a really stunning example of the jacket and that was what first brought it to my attention. When you consider the many many knitting failures of last week, I was very ready for something easy and successful. Combine fabulous Rowan chunky tweed, big needles, a free pattern, and many examples of success over at Ravelry, and you have the recipe for a happy knitter. This is whipping by like the wind. I cast on on Sunday and finished the back of the jacket the same day. I finished my first sleeve today, and expect to have the second done tomorrow. Hooray for fast, simple knits!

I used a three needle bind off for the shoulders. The very first sweater I ever knit (a wee babby sweater for Nora) used three needle bind off on the shoulders, and somehow that imprinted itself in my mind as the Right Way to Make Shoulders. It may not be the Right Way, but it sure is convenient.

Speaking of first sweaters, Maude Louise was mentioned briefly on the really fun knitting podcast Stash and Burn on their recent episode about first sweaters. I enjoyed listening to the podcast very much, and it got me thinking about what I count as my first sweater. Technically, the baby sweater I mentioned is my first. This one.

However, it was so simple, and I was such a bad knitter at the time, that I tend to think of it as a practice run that doesn’t count. The pattern, Red, Set, Go, from Monkeysuits, is supposed to be knit in moss stitch, but I hadn’t figured out how to carry my yarn at that point, so I changed it to stockinette. I hadn’t figured out gauge, but I was lucky and used a chunky enough cotton and rayon yarn that laid flat even in stockinette, and it worked out to the right size. Totally coincidental, and because it all was so random, so boxy, so confused, that I don’t tend to think of it as my first sweater.

My next sweaters were child sized as well, but my very first adult sweater was Maude Louise. In retrospect, this was a pretty silly ambition – to design my own sweater from the bottom up as my first major adult sized project. However, it was so much fun, and it represents what I like so much about knitting. There’s little risk in trying something new. I messed up dozens of times knitting Maude. Even yet, I find little things I’d change if I ever knit it again, but it’s still my most precious knit item, because it contains so much of ambition and silliness and it’s so personal. I wanted something very specific, very me, and I made it. I had to tip it out repeatedly. I had to swatch for days. But I made it. And then other people made it, too. Magic.

I mentioned in my last entry that Orata tagged me for the You Make My Day award that’s circling the blogosphere at the moment. Since then, I’ve been tagged by Elin and Wazz as well, both people who were on my list of folks to tag! I’m too slow. However, I said I’d pass it on, and I intend to. I’ve decided to give up worrying whether someone’s gotten it already or not. So, without further ado…

* Adventures in Domesticity

* Burbler

* The Cat’s Tongue

* Cotton Deer

* Expat Knits and Crochets

* Fricknits

* Lynne’s Fabulous Knitting

* Ramblings of a Knitting Obsessive

* s i x o n e s e v e n

* Whitknits

Not all of these are knitting blogs, and these certainly are not all the blogs I read – just a few that jumped out at me right now.  I have to tell you guys how very much I enjoy reading blogs.  Shamefully much.  I owe thank yous to all the people whose blogs give me such joy.  You may not know who you are, but thank you.

MacGyver

December 10, 2007

So, I’m minding my own business, working on a few last minute gifts, listening to the radio on iTunes, and a song comes on that annoys the bejeebus out of me. I set down my size 1 needles and my project on the couch, walk over to the computer, change the station, and in the five or so seconds that I’m up, Eleanor runs by the couch, trips, falls over, and lands smack on my needles. She’s not hurt at all thanks to the fact that toddlers are made up of at least 63% Rubbermaid®, but I look down and see one of the needles lying in two pieces.

I’d like to think I’m a calm and sensible person, but in actuality, I turn a funny shade of blotchy pale and start sputtering incoherently. Then I say something well thought out like, “Argh!” or “Blerg!” Then I storm to my bedroom to cool down for a minute, and while I’m in there muttering about how everything always happens to me and wondering why toddlers can’t try to fall in more convenient places, it hits me that my needles are made of bamboo.

I’ve got some sadly broken and bent metal needles that will never be restored. I’ve snapped the entire bamboo segment off of a pair of Addi Natura circulars. But a small segment off of a bamboo straight needle is thoroughly manageable. I sternly remind myself that Elizabeth Zimmerman had occasion to sharpen needles on flipping rocks in the middle of nowhere, and what is a broken bamboo needle to your only pair of knitting needles on a fishing expedition, anyway?

Luckily, I have tools in the bathroom. With the help of a nail file and buffer, I soon have a working pair of needles again. They’re of entirely different lengths, but so what? I feel like MacGyver.

I organized my stash this weekend. Compared to many knitters, I believe my stash is relatively modest, but I’ve still accumulated a fair amount of yarn. The stash organization was a two hour undertaking, but well worth it. I laid out all the yarn I have and separated the yarn that already has a purpose. Then I recorded the amount and purpose of those yarns in a little notebook. I also rewound a lot of skeins that were taking up too much space or getting messy. The nice part of this was realizing that most of the yarn I have that does not have a specific purpose is leftover yarn. I’m not just acquiring for the sake of acquiring. The bad part of this is that I now have a list of projects that I have yarn for, a prioritized list, and no excuse to buy more yarn until I’ve made a nice dent in the list.

The largest segment of stash without a specific project in mind is my collection of fingering weight wools. I love these yarns, and have acquired them whenever I’ve had opportunity, but they’re a very motley collection of colors. Actually, the colors are a lot like motley. Since I was organizing, I tried a swatch of several of these colors together and found that while I love the colors I have, I do not love them together. I have several options, but I think that I will eventually need to acquire more fignering weight wool (oh, the hardship) if I want to use the wools for Fair Isle. Anyway, judge for yourself – here’s a swatch based on the Enid cardigan from last winter’s Interweave Knits. And my apologies – I was unable to get a good shot of the true colors, but I think the weird combos are obvious enough.

The background color is Rowanspun 4 ply in Jade, the greyish color is Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4 ply in Sheer, the purple is Rowanspun 4 ply in Turkish, the grassy green is Jamieson Spindrift, the bright red is Rowanspun 4 ply dyed with various shades of red Kool Aid, and the dark red is Rowanspun 4 ply in Blood. I have seven skeins of Blood, ten of Jade, three of Turkish, two of Sheer, and one each of the Kool Aid and grass yarns. Basically, a lot of lovely yarns, but not so lovely together. I suppose I could also try doubling the Jade to make the Tangled Yoke cardigan or something, but I’m not really sure what to do. If anyone has ideas, either of additional colors or projects, I’d be more than happy to hear them.

One final picture, yet another in the handknits in action series. I wore Maude Louise this weekend, and one of the things I like most about this cardigan is that there are so many ways to wear it. I’ve never really shown this in any of my previous pictures. I tend to leave some portion unbuttoned, but no matter how you wear it, it’s really quite flattering. So here’s Maude, prim and buttoned up on top.

I hope you’re having a fairly stress free holiday season thus far! Take care.