Sunday, April 29, 2012

3KCBWDAY7 - To Knit or To Crochet?

I'd say that about 95% (if not more) of my planned projects are knit rather than crochet. Actually, my queue on Ravelry tells me that I have 356 knit projects saved and only 8 crochet projects planned.

I started this whole fiber insanity with crochet. I'd been taught how to do some very simple crochet when I was 7 or so. I somehow talked Lynn into buying me a visual guide to crochet and as a reward, the first project I finished was a scarf for him. That poor sad scarf, it's uneven and grows or shrinks in width depending on which end you start with. He loves it. 

In my poking round online I found lots and lots of knit things as well. I loved the look of them so much that I had to teach myself how to create them. Thus began round two of this fiber love, particularly when I found knit socks. Wait, you mean I can pick the colors 'and' the pattern 'and' make them fit my feet exactly? Sold!

I've always loved color. I have a form of a degree (I'm not sure how well it holds up when nobody will accept it) in an Associates in Interior Decorating. I love socks and the different patterns and designs on them. My sock fascination only got worse when I realized I could dye my own yarn ... wait ... I can spin it too? Hello Rabbit Hole, Goodbye World.

I looked at crochet socks but they just didn't seem to be what I was looking for. Commercial socks seemed to always be too thin but I didn't think the best combat to that was to create such a bulky fabric, particularly when I have a lot of foot pain to begin with. Knitting seemed to fit perfectly into that niche. And call me a snob I prefer the look of knitting for 'most' things. In my world (it's a world of one but I still have problems getting a unanimous vote at times, go figure) crochet is typically left to little stuffed animals or small things like borders. Perhaps it's from seeing way too many badly done afghans in clashy 60's and 70's colors. Or maybe it's caused by nightmares of those various toilet paper, teapot, and tissue box cozies chasing me down. Who knows. 

For the most part I plan to make things for me to wear. And I'm a big girl, on the plus side, I don't need a bulky fabric adding to my size. I work out to reduce that size. I want drape and smooth that whispers over my curves. But that's just my $0.02. 

Besides, you ever try to poke somebody with a crochet hook? It's not nearly as satisfying as using a knitting needle. *wink*

Saturday, April 28, 2012

3KCBWDAY6 - Learn All The Things

I have what I've termed fearless knitting. I don't know if this is because I'm self taught (thanks to youtube) or because I'm a touch crazy at times. Either way, it means that knitting patterns don't scare me. There are skills I still need to learn of course but the main reason I haven't learned them yet is lack of time, not reluctance to try.

I figure it's string and sticks. 'Very' pretty sticks and gorgeous string, to be sure, but still just string and sticks. They may be pointy sticks but unless I'm doing something very wrong they won't be poking me. (I, however, am not above poking others with them when needed. Just ask my poor Husband Man or try to cut in line in front of me.) The lovely string will not rise up and wrap around me. If it's a very expensive yarn I will make sure I have the skills down by practicing on something less expensive but that's the extent of it.

My first completed knitting project was a lace shawl. My second was a blanket. My first socks aren't elegant .. but I love them and wear them often when it's time to wear socks. With opening myself up to commission and requests I'm picking up new skills even faster.

A friend asked me to make her a beret, I was gleeful to take a stab at cables! When I was asked to make wrist warmers in two colors I didn't even worry about how I'd make it happen. More complicated colorwork for a piano? I can do that! A scarf with double knitting on the ends? It's working up fantastic!

I will confess to a bit of a panic when I first looked at the instructions for the Chinook Shawl but I quickly got control back from the silly brain and reminded it that it's one stitch at a time. And that's all I ever have to worry about. The one stitch that I'm currently working. The other time I panicked was while blocking the Haruni. There was so much love put into that shawl and I was so afraid of the yarn snapping and then I couldn't get it to pin out correctly no matter what I did and ... and ... breathe. I took pictures of it before I blocked it, just in case. At least then I'd be able to show my Sorcha what it'd looked like if I managed to ruin it. (Spoiler: I didn't.)

I have a rather laid back approach to things , in terms of ruining them. I take a picture of completed things before I throw it in to soak. I remind myself that I'm going to ruin it when I do so. Then, when I pull it out of the water and pin it out for blocking, I'm always pleasantly surprised to see that I didn't break it.

At the end of the day, it's loops around loops. It is awesome to watch it grow, thrilling to finish, and beautiful to behold. It's not fear inducing. And that ever growing list of things I want to learn? I just need more time. An few extra hours in a day sounds like a great solution to that, by the way.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

3KCBWDAY4 - Seasons Change - Knitting Doesn't

I don't think I'm a seasonal knitter. I knit year round despite living in Houston, Tx. We're not a place that's known for cold. And yet I knit in wool and alpaca, only occasionally dipping into cotton. Last summer I knit gloves for my husband, they were an 80/20 blend of wool and acrylic. It was over 100 outside. I briefly wondered what brain damage I had that was causing me to knit something so ... sticky when it was so hot out.

It wasn't that I was planning for particular times, though I suppose I could lie and look all organized and such. Really my knitting is deadline based, not seasonally based. I work on commissions as they're requested. When I work on personal things I have so many that I have yarn for that I generally just blindly grab yarn and check my list to see what it's for before starting.

My stash is organized into three sections. The first section is customer related. It's all numbered and waiting for it's turn. Then there's a box of yarn that I know exactly what pattern it'll be for. I keep a list of how that matches up in Word. When new yarn comes in I hit up Ravelry and hunt down it's pattern, so that it doesn't get relegated to the Bin. The Bin is random yarn that I have no real idea of what's going to happen to it, it's just there.

So my knitting could be shawls, gloves, hats, whatever depending on what's been ordered or what I've grabbed from the box. I knit for people living much further north. I knit for people living further south. I knit because I have yarn on hand. Special occasions often get a line jump pass, like for Kid's birthday mitts. Perhaps when I knit up all the yarn I have on hand I'll start planning my knitting to be more seasonal.

I still only work on the Lagoon afghan in the winter time though. That much yarn on my lap in Texas heat? Insane. I may be off my rocker at times but I'm still sane enough to recognize that.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Autobots and Magic Balance

Magic Balance (Working Title) - Rewrites
Previous Word Count: 14,156
Current Word Count: 17,196 (Up 3,040)

That's a nice healthy number! The main characters are fitting into the Fey society and finding ways to be useful, even if there is a relationship snag. I've cut a lot too. It's amazing how much I refused to use contractions when I wrote this, just so that I could hit that magic word count. I also cut a couple of scenes that were ... not necessary to the story but a lot of fun to write. They might come back.


Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I'm about halfway through and still enjoying. It's really interesting to see her world building and how her characters interact. Because I've read the author's journal for so long there are bits I'll recognize scattered here and there which is always amusing, though wouldn't cause anybody else confusion. I can't wait to see how the movie plays out as I think it's going to be really awesome.

Well ... There was knitting sadness yesterday, which I posted about. I was really happy with my progress in terms of row count and looking forward to sharing those pictures today. But the more I thought about it ... the less I liked what I held in my hands. It was wide, bulky, and a lot of stitches seemed wonky. I knew some of the wonkiness would be fixed in blocking and I considered felting the logo sections of the scarf a bit to lock the stitches in a little closer. But it was still just too wide at a little over 10.5 inches and wouldn't have been something I was happy to mail out to a customer. So I went back to my design, poked at it a bit to make it smaller, went down a needle size, and ripped it all out.


That's how much I managed to get done yesterday before going to a book signing. Well, a couple rows were done when I got home too. The stitches are still a bit wonky but blocking comes later so I'm not worried. It's about 7.5 inches wide and I'm a lot happier with that. Plus the fewer stitch count should mean that I make up for the lost day a bit faster, provided I can follow the chart which apparently I was having major issues with last night.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wave Goodbye


Look at all that progress...


Now wave goodbye ...

it was coming out to be 10.5 inches wide ... and that's ... a lot. So I poked around, revamped the chart, ripped it all out .. and started over.

We'll see tomorrow if it's looking any better and living up to my quality expectations.

3KCBWDAY2 - Protect the Stash

Here we see the rare spinning hydra protecting its stash of precious roving. In the background you can also see some of the completed spinning and a small bit of yarn. The minotaur is obviously on his bull quest, if he's successful he'll be welcomed back into the clan with full adult rights and be given a voice in the clan. If not, well, there's no returning from the inside of a hydra belly.

I've yet to spot the spinning hydra actually spinning but they assure me that the finished product is one of the most rare and luxurious fibers available. I didn't dare argue with them. This reporter would like to keep her bits intact and un-nommed on, thank you very much.

Monday, April 23, 2012

3KCBWDAY1 - Color Color Everywhere, Not a Drop of White

It may have been a form of rebellion against the white walls. It may have been hatred for the pastel flowers covering my bedspread which was replaced with an equally annoying sunshine yellow version.

I was determined to have a purple bedroom when I grew up.

Nanny and Grandad had already painted my bedroom once, white of course. I turned around and recovered them with as many posters, puzzles, and brightly colored masks I could get my hands on. I even had posters on the ceiling, and never once used a ladder. A ladder would have alerted Grandad to me being "up to something" and he'd complained loudly about all the holes in my walls when he painted the room. If he didn't see the posters until they were already up there then he'd let it go.

I'd made my clothing preferences clear from the time in 2nd grade when I said I didn't want to wear the yellow pants to school and Nanny shrugged and said "fine, pick your own clothes". I proceeded to choose dark, jewel tone colors. Dark purple, black, and navy blue took over my closet. Nanny shook her head over my choices (she looked amazing in her pastels) but let me have my way.

I moved out, married, and bought a house. Still no purple bedroom. The ceiling though was painted a gorgeous shade of sapphire blue when we bought the house, a quirk of the previous owners. Later, when my husband moved downstairs to the guest bedroom after we agreed to divorce, something inside connected. I went to the store and bought a can of paint, two actually. When I was done the trim of the room matched the ceiling, the walls were a deep, rich purple, and the dark hardwood floor glowed. With the addition of black sheets for my bed, a jewel toned comforter, and imitation iron candle holders ... I felt like I slept in a jewelry box.

I've moved since then. Life has moved on, as it does. I no longer have my jewelry box bedroom. But my husband has promised that I'll have it again when we have a house of our own. Meanwhile I continue to adorn myself with purples, blues, and blacks. Hunter green and rich browns have crept into my wardrobe over time. Still no pink though, that's one rule that won't change.

My knitting stash holds the same rich colors as my closet. When my husband asks me just how many pairs of purple socks can a girl need he gets a funny look. All of them, of course, she needs all of them. I ignore him when he points out that I don't wear socks for 9 months out of the year. As I look through patterns I'm instantly drawn to the bold colors, the purples and blues. When I look at patterns I envision it in my choice colors if it's not shown in them.

Until I can have my jewelry box bedroom back I'll just adorn myself in my colors, one stitch at a time.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Secret Socks

I always have a travel project. Sometimes it's my main project too ... sometimes not. It depends on if I have the means to carry it around. This project lived in a crown royal bag hanging from my purse for many months as I worked on them, a row here and there.

I almost felt guilty working on them at times because they were a personal thing, a gift for later in the year. But that was always when my main project was way too complicated or large to carry with me and quickly set aside while out walking around. I got over the guilt pretty quickly.

I think I love everything about these socks. I love the little mock cables. I love the seed stitch up the leg. I love how the pattern crosses over across the foot. I love how it's reversed on each sock.

These are off to the gift box. I can't wait to give them to my friend but I'll have to. I think she'll love them.

Pattern: Bubble Stream by Cailyn Meyer
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Deep Waters
Ravelry Page
Mods: None

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Yarn Annoyance

Caron Simply Soft is supposed to be Soft. When I'm knitting with it it should be cushy and feel good under my fingers.

It should not be wiry. Or hard.

I just cut about 3 feet of yarn out of a skein because it was gross.

Last night I was knitting along while watching tv. Something didn't feel right. I chalked it up to being 'very' tired and went to bed. I picked the knitting up again today and knit a few stitches. Nope, still off. So I did the silly thing and looked. The black yarn is about half the thickness of the white yarn nestled next to it.


So I begin working my way down the length of yarn back to the skein. I pass a little bump where some of the yarn has been pulled awkwardly. On the other side I compare it, still undersized and hard. Further down is a tangle of fiber fuzz so I cut that off but the yarn hasn't returned to plump and fuzzy happiness. Even further down is a knot. And there is where my expected yarn returns. Out come the scissors, snip snip, and I've cut away the offending bits. Now to unpick the 8-10 stitches with the bad yarn and redo them with the good.

I'd complain more but out of the 7 or 8 skeins of this I've used in the past, I think this is the only problem I've found.

In brighter news, I'm on the last repeat of the piano scarf so it should be done very soon. Perhaps even later today.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Scarves & Magic Balance

Magic Balance (Working Title) - Rewrites
Previous Word Count: 13,685
Current Word Count: 14,156 (Up 471)

Killer migraine for a couple of days puts a huge kink in productivity.


Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. I haven't had a lot of time to read, since we were out of the house most of the weekend and I was pretty useless the last two days but what I have read I've enjoyed. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes and reading more. I enjoyed the last novel I read by the author, though it was a different genre. I have high hopes for this one as well,

You kind of get a two for one special here:

Yes that's the piano scarf as the background. I decided not to focus on that for this week's picture because, honestly, it looks the same as last week, only longer. I'm a bit over halfway through repeat 5 out of 6. I predict it being done very soon.

I couldn't take it with me this weekend though and I finished my traveling project (pictures on Friday!). I needed something to do. So I got Lynn to help me wind up the yarn for the Autobot scarf I was commissioned for. Why yes, I am the freak that takes a ball winder with her when she sits in line for tickets, it's easier that way.

Anyhow, while we traveled or waited for various things I played with the yarn to figure out how I wanted to do things. I cast this on 3 separate times while trying to nail down the technique. I'd get part of it but then have to figure something else out. I wasn't bothered by having to start over though. 1. I knew it was something new and 2 I never knit more than 3 rows before I ripped back. Less pain that way. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Shawl Complete Round 2

The third time around this pattern was still fun to work up and watch come together. I think it's the different colors each time and the way they blend together.

The colors in this one make me think of spring and bright gardens to while away the hours in. The last few rows seemed to take longer than before but in all fairness that's because it was sitting next to me while I thought about knitting them instead of actually knitting them. Funny how that makes a difference.

Pattern: Chinook Shawl
Yarn: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud and Shadow Tonal
Ravelry Page

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Piano Scarf & Magic Balance The Return

Magic Balance (Working Title) - Rewrites
Previous Word Count: 13,254
Current Word Count: 13,685 (Up 431)

Woo! Look at that word count soar! </sarcasm> *sigh* Not been very free to write lately and it bugs me. Tomorrow's another day though, no?


Pretties by Scott Westerfeld Still enjoying this world and the way the people interact. If I could figure out a way to prop the book open while knitting I'd be thrilled.

So ... you may not have believed me about the Piano Scarf last week. Can ya see it now?

Still no? But it's right there! Oh fine .. How about now?

Play me a song! *laugh* I'm having entirely too much fun with such a simple knit. Sure I'm juggling 5 balls of yarn (Which Dragon says is far too many by the way.) but it's still fairly simple. I'm nearly done with the 2nd repeat of 6. There have been some learning moment, such as I must twist the yarns together every time I switch colors because otherwise I end up with a big hole that I'll have to go back and fix but once I got the numbers figured out I was pretty much good to go. 

I am completely enchanted by the back side, a side that once I finish and sew it up nobody will ever see. It's good that I'm charmed by it though. Currently the scarf and I are at that awkward stage where's it's too big to just sit on my lap and wants to keep slithering off. Then all the weight is on the needles and makes it hard to keep even tension. It's also just a touch too small to fold up to fit on my lap easier. Hopefully soon it will have a growth spurt.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birthday Mitts

Friday was Miss Kid's birthday and the party was Sunday. We'd already paid for her ears to be pierced as part of her birthday present but I wanted to be able to give her something to open there at the party.

But what to give? Miss Kid has shown interest in the fingerless mitts I've done. So we went to the yarn store and looked around. I told her that I had to make a pair of those mitts but the color was up to me, but I needed help in finding the most awesome color possible and I wanted it to be really soft.

She finally settled on a yarn and color that seemed awesome to her. Then we got home and the yarn was put away. Before I left, while she was at school and with her mother, I whipped up a pair of the mitts. I managed to get them blocked before she visited the Thursday before my vacation so I could get pictures of them. 

She opened them Sunday and was 'very' happy to have her very own set of mitts, in the awesome color she picked out. There's a bit of yarn left over so I promised we could look into something to be made with it as well.

Pattern: Firework Mitts
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima
Project Page

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Piano Scarf & Magic Balance

Magic Balance (Working Title) - Rewrites
Previous Word Count: 11,214
Current Word Count: 13,254 (Up 2,040)

Yep, I'm back home and vacation is over. At least I'm still getting in decent writing time. Monday and Tuesday of this week though have been pretty full of stuff that had to be handled. Story-wise the two cultures are learning about each other and trying to make it work.


Pretties by Scott Westerfeld. I read Uglies last year and really enjoyed it so I was glad to add this one to our library when I found it on sale last year. I've just started it so I've not gotten very far but I'm glad to be back in this world and enjoying aWesterfeld's portrayal of it.

It's a piano scarf. Yes it is. Don't look at me like that ... it's totally a piano scarf. It'll just take a little while before it's obvious. Trust me okay?

The observant of you will notice that it's 'not' a giant shawl, as I posted about yesterday. That is because it's currently stretched out in my living room floor taking up room as it learns how I want it to drape. If it behaves pictures will be forthcoming. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Things I Learned on Vacation

Point the 1st:
You must find zen and come to the realization that it will be you and giant shawl forever, always knitting those "last few rows before bind off". You must understand that there is no bind off for giant shawl. Giant shawl will forever live on your needles and never be complete. It is only then, when you find peace with this, that you finish the last rows and begin the triangles for bind off. Not a moment before.

Point the 2nd:
I have crazy beliefs on my knitting speed. I took enough yarn for 6 projects, the aforementioned giant shawl, 3 scarves, my travel socks, and yarn to cast on another pair of socks, just in case. Did I touch any of the projects other than giant shawl? Nope On the other hand, had I only taken 1 or 2 projects I would have flown through them and been sitting on the couch ready to knit with Nox hairs.

Point the 3rd:
I can design things ... if given enough quiet time to think. I must also come the realization that putting it off for after I finish giant shawl is futile and will only result in frustration. See Point the 1st.

Point the 4th.
Shadow must have something on the needles that is for Shadow. Shadow loves knitting for others, absolutely adores it to be honest. But Shadow is finding that knitting her little heart out and then mailing every single thing away is a little hard. She needs to keep something once in a while. Shadow will set up scheduling so that in the future she has room for personal side projects ... like designing and trying new ideas. 

Point the 5th.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is the perfect knitting companion as you can listen as they give you more story line. Doing this means you fall more into the story line and are more invested. It's a great compromise. Life, and yarn, are good. Shadow's knitting brain is reset and extremely happy to have things in order.