Friday, November 9, 2012

Joining the Unravelution

I don't know if it's because I'm cheap, because I enjoy vintage items, or because I love one-of-a-kind things, but I love thrift store shopping. There are treasures untold in a Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Saver's store, and I want to go discover them.

While I enjoy perusing just about every section, I always seem to spend a little extra time with the knit sweaters. They're usually machine knit, but I still can't resist the feel and smell of wool, angora, and cashmere. Not too long ago, I was wandering the sweater aisle and admiring a lusciously soft angora and wool blend sweater. The color was beautiful. The halo effect was beautiful. The sweater? Not so beautiful. I bought it. 

Why would I buy a sweater when I don't even like the way it looks? For the YARN, of course. I picked apart the seams, carefully unraveled it, measured it into a hank, washed and dried it. Now I had all this fabulous high-end yarn- 1,100 yards of it! 

I had so much fun, I've done it several more times and started my own Etsy shop in the hopes that someone else who loves high quality fibers might be interested in knitting green with me. 

So if you have a minute, take a look at Join the unravelution!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Salvaging an Ugly Bib

While knitting one of my five bibs for the Ravellenic games, I realized the yarn I was using had some nasty color pooling going on. It was a yellow-and-white variegated yarn, but instead of having a nice progression from yellow to white and back, there were big yucky patches. I considered pulling it out and starting something else, but since I was on a car trip, that would mean wasting my last few hours of valuable knitting time.

So I continued on, periodically showing my husband the ugly progress, confidently claiming I would definitely be able to salvage it. He was skeptical. Secretly, I was a little skeptical, too.

I finished it in the car.
Yucky color pooling. Not a fan.

Determined, I made up a quick fish applique using the only other yarn I had with me. Cute! Then when I got home, I made up an octopus applique. Cute! Last but not least, I made this starfish from the Stitch London blog. The result? I think I pulled it off!
Just a little beach scene. Pretend I did it this way on purpose :-)

In case anyone else wants to replicate this easy fix, or just things it would be fun to have some beach appliques on a knitted item, I have included free patterns below.

Yarn: Scraps of Sugar and Cream Cotton Worsted
Tools: Size 6 double point needles
Special abbreviations:
M1L- Insert the left-hand needle, from front to back, under the strand of yarn which runs between the stitch just worked and the next stitch on the left-hand needle, knit this stitch through the back loop.
M1R- Insert the left-hand needle, from back to front, under the strand of yarn which runs between the stitch just worked and the next stitch on the left-hand needle, knit this stitch through the front loop.
P1 f& b- Purl the front of a stitch, then purl the back of the same stitch
Ssk- Slip 1 stitch, slip another stitch, knit two slipped stitches together.
K2tog- Knit two stitches together as if they were one stitch

Fish applique

CO 12
Row 1: knit all stitches
Row 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: purl all stitches
Row 3, 5, 7, 9: k1, ssk, knit to 1 before end, k2tog
(You should have 4 stitches left on the needle
Row 11, 13, 15, 17: k1, m1L, knit to 1 before end, m1r, k1
Row 12, 14, 15, 16, 18: purl all stitches
(You should have 12 stitches left on the needles)
Row 19: knit all stitches
Row 20, 22, 24, 26: purl all stitches
Row 21, 23, 25, 27: k1, m1L, knit to 1 before end, m1r, k1
Cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail, and thread through remaining 4 stitches.

Octopus applique
CO 6
Row 1: knit all stitches
Row 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12: purl all stitches
Row 3, 5, 7, 9: k1, m1L, knit to 1 stitch from end, m1r, k1
(You should have 14 stitches on your needles)
Row 13: knit all stitches
Row 14, 16: purl all stitches
Row 15, 17: k1, ssk, knit to 1 stitch from end, k2tog, k1
(You should have 10 stitches left on the needles)
Row 18: *p1 f&b, p1* to end
(You should have 15 stitches on the needles)
First tentacle: knit 3, work these 3 stitches in an i-cord for 6 rows. Cut yarn.
Second tentacle: Reattach yarn to remaining 12 stitches. Knit 2, BO 1, knit 2, work these 3 stitches in an i-cord for 6 rows. Cut yarn.
Third tentacle: Reattach yarn to remaining 8 stitches. Knit 2, BO 1, knit 2, work these 3 stitches in an i-cord for 6 rows. Cut yarn.
Fourth tentacle: Reattach yarn to remaining 4 stitches. Knit 2, BO 1, knit 2, work these 3 stitches in an i-cord for 6 rows. Cut yarn.

Weave ends up into main body of octopus- you can hide them under the body when it is sewn on. Sew octopus onto bib and embroider french knot eyes and a chain stitch mouth.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ravellenic Games Update: Revised Goals

As I mentioned in my last post, I was a little worried that my goals for the Ravellenic games were a bit too ambitious, especially because I still have to work and takecare of my 5 month old baby. (Said baby is in my lap now, so blame any typos on him!) So I decided to get rid of goal #3- finish a pair of socks. Seeing as I've never knit a pair of socks before, and they really are time-consuming little monsters on tiny needles with thin yarn- this seemed reasonable.

Finished bib #1
So... I sewed the buttons onto the baby sweaters Friday afternoon (after seeing a tweet that the games had officially begun!), and cast on for the bib during opening ceremonies that night. When I finished the bib on Saturday morning, I realized maybe my goals were a bit wimpy. If you finish your goals one day after the Olympics start, that's not really much of a challenge! 

So here's the new goal: I want to finish FIVE bibs for my brother and sister-in-law's baby. I'm well into bib #2 now, many thanks to watching the women's gymnastics competition last night. Speaking of which- my favorite is Gabby Douglas. Her uneven bars routine? Amazing! Her floor routine? I know there was that huge out of bounds slip up, but the dancing and tumbling flowed together so naturally. Gabby Douglas ftw.

Any updates from others on team Sasquatch? How are your goals coming along?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

My Aspirations are Bigger than My Ability

In my family, Thanksgiving was and is all about the side dishes and the desserts. My grandmother does many things well, but cooking is not one of them. I would usually take only a small pity piece of her dried up turkey, and totally pass on the store-bought lemon meringue pie she stuck into the broiler, lit on fire, cut the top off, and lit on fire again (this happened multiple years). The side dishes would steal the show: I would pile my plate with Ritz casserole, cheesy potatoes, mashed potatoes, and rolls, making sure to leave room for dessert. After finishing my plate of food, I would greedily choose 2 or sometimes even 3 desserts. Inevitably, I would end the meal sitting with a somewhat pained expression on my face, ice cream melting on my plate, and nearly-whole pieces of pie and cookies floating in the ice cream soup. My grandfather, quite correctly, would then quip: "I see your eyes were bigger than your stomach!"

This is about knitting, I promise. Read on.

This will be my first year participating in the Ravellenic Games. (I suppose it's everyone's first year participating in a competition with that title, since it was formerly called something else, but you get my point). When choosing my goal for the games, I wanted to challenge myself, and I also wanted to tackle some things from my queue. After a little thought, I settled on three goals:
1) Add buttons to two baby sweaters I have already completed: The Gramps Cardigan and the Puerperium Cardigan.
2) Finish one I love Stockinette bib for my brother's baby girl due in October
3) Complete my first pair of socks, Hermione's Everyday Socks.
I was SO EXCITED about these goals. I printed the patterns, got the yarn and needles ready, bought the buttons, and put up temporary pictures on my Ravelry projects page. Yay!

Then I remembered something I read in one of the Stephanie Pearl McPhee's books. She said that it took her something like approximately 17-20 hours to make one pair of socks. This is someone who knits socks all the time, and could probably turn a heel in her sleep. Between working and taking care of my 5-month-old son, where am I going to find time to finish socks, a bib, and finish those cardigans?

My eyes, it seems, are still bigger than my stomach.

In a recent podcast, Alana Dakos talked about the things she plans to knit in her "knitting fantasy life" (e.g. stuffed animals for everyone in her daughter's class!). I can relate. Again, with the introduction of a baby to my life, I spend a lot more time thinking about knitting and dreaming about all the things I'd like to make than actually knitting. I think some modified goals are in order.

I really need to do the buttons, but either the bib or the socks have to go. The big is the more realistic commitment, and there's more of a deadline for that one (my sister-in-law's baby will not wait on me!). However, the socks would be a big challenge, and I already bought a beautiful skein of Malabrigo sock at my local yarn store to make them with. I have until tomorrow night at 6:30 to decide. I'm really looking forward to casting on during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics!

What do you think I should make for the games- socks or bib? Do you have any plans for the Ravellenic games?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Have a Cow

Chick Fil A was giving away free meals if you dressed up as a cow yesterday, and free entrees for a "partial" cow costume. Never one to resist free food, I decided we needed to go. I spent a good deal of my day making cow t-shirts for my husband, baby and I. The shirts turned out cute, but they just didn't seem complete, so I decided that some quick and easy knitted cowbells would be just the ticket. I searched Ravelry, and could not find one pattern for a cowbell (how is this possible?), so I whipped this one up. If you're in need of a last minute cowbell for a costume, enjoy this one on me.
Still not sure how I feel about baby's picture being on my blog/twitter

Sizes: Baby Cow (Mama Cow, Papa Cow)
Gauge: Unimportant
Yarn: Whatever yellow scraps you have lying around (mine is Hayfield Bonus Toytime DK, leftover from this project)
Tools: Size 9 double point needles, Size K crochet hook (optional)
Special abbreviation: To work a bauble, do as follows: in same stitch, K in front, K in back, K in front, K in back, K in front. Turn work. Purl these 5 stitches. Turn work again. [K 2tog] 2x, then pass these two stitches over the remaining stitch. Only one stitch remains where you increased to 5.

CO 12 (16, 20) stitches using the long tail cast on

Row 1: Knit all stitches
Row 2: Purl all stitches

Repeat these two rows 3 (4, 5) times

Next row: K1, ssk, knit to 2 stitches from end, K2tog, K1
Next row: Purl all stitches

Repeat these two rows 2 (2, 3) more times

Cast off stitches until only 3 stitches remain. Slide these three stitches to the end of the double point needle and work a 3 stitch i-cord for 10 (12, 14) rows.

At cast-on edge, with RS facing you, pick up and knit 11 (15, 19) stitches.

Row 1 (WS): Knit all stitches
Row 2 (RS): Knit 5 (7, 9), Work a bauble, Knit 5 (7, 9)
Row 3: Knit all stitches
Row 4: Bind off all stitches


Crochet a chain stitch long enough to fit around the wearer's neck and loosely tie into a bow. Alternately, you could make an i-Cord long enough to fit around the wearer's neck and loosely tie into a bow. 

Last minute Cowbells

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I have never purchased a disposable diaper.

Once upon a time, I thought only hippies used cloth diapers. I thought of cloth diapers as complicated, leaky things with lots of folding and safety pins involved, and wrote them off. However, when my son was about a month old and we were nearing the end of the disposable diapers people had given us as baby shower gifts, I started to re-think my position. He was going through a 72 pack of diapers in about a week (about $20 worth every week. What are we made of money?). Soon, I found myself researching cloth diapering.

The kind we ended up going with are very simple and quite modern, something called "all-in-one" pocket diapers. I'll spare you the details, but here's the key: there are no pins and no special folding involved. For the most part, they operate just like a disposable diaper- I just have to do laundry more often.

The biggest problem I've had to face with cloth diapers is nighttime diapering. My now 5-month-old son now goes to bed at around 8:00, I wake him for a quick nighttime feeding at 10:30, and then he sleeps until 5 or 6 the next morning. This system works great, but almost inevitably when I come to his crib in the morning there is a big wet spot on the front of his pajamas. This is despite the fact that he is wearing triple the protection he wears during the day (for those experienced in cloth diapering- this means 1 microfiber and 2 bamboo inserts). What to do?

I went back to my trusty friend the internet, and found that many cloth diapering moms (and it's almost always moms on these boards, where are all the men? I digress...) use something called a soaker over the diaper, especially at night, soak up the... well, you get the point. Their purpose is exactly what it sounds like. Being a knitter, I quickly decided that something small and made of wool to go over my baby's bum was right up my alley. I purchased the pattern for and cast on the Vanilla Soaker. I'm very impressed with the pattern- it gives instructions for 5 different sizes and three different yarn weights, and the end product is very practical (read: stretchy in all the right places!) with no seaming.

So now should be the time when I tell you how great the soaker actually works. I finished it up just the other night, but as you can see...

A little large, don't you think?
The fault is all my own. when a pattern tells you that the finished measurements they have given are for when the item has not yet been stretched you should pay attention to that. I was wondering why my 5 month old was already in the large size. I think I could wear this thing it's so big! Maybe he'll wear it in a few years.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Straw Man

By now you've probably heard: A few days ago, the US Olympics committee sent a cease and desist letter to Ravelry over their use of the term "ravelympics". Twitter went crazy, and the story was picked up by Gawker and NPR picked up the story. The committee wrote a somewhat lackluster apology, followed by another apology which seemed to calm everyone down, myself included. Amid this indecent, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the yarn harlot herself, wrote her own blog post on the issue, which was quickly and widely circulated. Her post was generally more level-headed than most of the other blog posts and passionate 140-character words of indignation I came across. I respect and (mostly) agree with her take on the issue: the committee had every right to defend their name, and to send the sheep and desist letter (couldn't resist- thanks to the Savvy Girls for the great pun). However, I still feel like much of the anger over the incident was totally justified.

The Yarn Harlot's post, at least if she was looking at the same arguments I was (which is a big if), was actually somewhat of a straw man argument. A straw man argument, as I learned in my Freshman-year logic and critical thinking class, is when you distort or misrepresent someone's position and then argue against THAT position, not their actual position. Here's a (somewhat silly) example:

Person A: I just don't like sock knitting. I like than I can get a nice, inexpensive pair of socks at the store. Person B: Aha! So you think that anyone who knits socks is wasting their time? I knit socks, so you're saying that I'm wasting my time!

Person B is upset, but he/she is not representing person A's argument accurately. Person A never said that it was a waste of time to knit socks, he/she just said 'I don't like it'. If person B likes it, rock on. So the Yarn Harlot's point is totally valid, IF the argument was that the committee was wrong in protecting their trademark, that we should all boycott the Olympics, and that knitting is just as hard as being an Olympic athlete. I'm sure that some of the arguments going around were just that, and I can get behind her in her counterarguments for that. There seems, though, to be a big chunk of the argument left out here. There was a particular outrage that wasn't about trademarks, or profit, or even about hurt feelings. It was about the very non-boilerplate language used in the letter (which is why people were still upset after the first apology), which was incendiary and belittling. The passage people were particularly up in arms about was:
"We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work."
This language is incredibly condescending. It not only implies that knitting is not work, but more more importantly, in the words of the knitmore girls, it "address[es] a group that is primarily made up of women and treat[s] us like we're foolish, stupid, and easily bullied."

We collectively decided to not be the easily bullied, sweet little grandma knitting in a rocking chair. Even many who were actually grandmas, and/or knitting in rocking chairs. I think we can be proud of that.