August 7, 2012
i am frustrated. (get your head out of the gutter and focus, please)
i have literally been swatching for days for my rhinebeck sweater,
and frankly i’m thinking of throwing in the towel.
i want to make dale of norway’s liberec,
but i cannot for the life of me obtain the proper gauge.
(things might get technical and mathy after this)
the pattern was designed for either falk or heilo,
both of which are listed as sport-weight yarns.
i’ve decided to use blue moon fiber arts bfl sport
(which is amazing and if i ever figure this out,
you’ll get to see my amazing colors).
the gauge i’m supposed to obtain is 24sts/4″ on 3mm needles.
(my needle gauge says that’s a u.s. 3 but the internet says a u.s 3 is 3.25mm. anyway) on that needle, i was getting 30-32sts/4″.
i began to worry.
after swatching 5 times (5 times!!),
i’m up to a size 5 needle (3.75mm)
and i’m still not on gauge.
not to mention the fabric is loose for my taste.
how on earth are these norwegians getting that gauge on that needle?
then it hit me.
it’s not a sport-weight yarn. it’s dk.
ravelry says it’s sport.
the dale of norway website says it’s sport.
but it’s not. it can’t be.
i returned to ravelry. yep. heilo and falk are listed as sport.
then i saw the little ‘comments’ tab and my heart sank a little.
i clicked on it and what did i discover?
ravelers say it’s really more like a dk than a sport,
and even thicker than some yarns that are listed as a dk!
the only thing i can think of is dale of norway is calling their yarn sport-weight because they are knitting a dk yarn to a sport gauge on a smaller than standard needle (which will of course make a lovely thick fabric for skiing and improve stitch definition) rather than look at the actual diameter or wpi of their yarns.
in my despair, i considered just finishing the vest i was knitting/spinning for rhineback last year (and have secretly been working on this summer) since i was unable to complete it on time and has been hibernating ever since. then i remembered i’ve been emailing the designer because the pattern is wrong. i found one big error, and they sent me a corrected pattern. then i went to continue and found another. what really baffles me is how several people have ‘successfully’ knit the vest. how? the pattern it wrong! and it’s not something one can just figure out. i need the information from the designer!
(at what point should they offer me a refund?)
i have a decision to make.
since ravelry tells me the only colorwork sweaters i can knit with sport-weight yarn are by dale of norway, i must either do some math to make this sweater happen at the gauge i’m getting (we won’t even go into the horror of row gauge and color work). or i can just give up.
i have a significant amount of extra yarn for the main color.
maybe i’ll just forget colorwork all together.
i need to decide soon if i have any hope of finishing by rhinebeck.
i could use the advice.
August 3, 2012
we all have skeletons in our closets.
as dude who grew up with pack rats,
mine is perpetually at capacity.
my recent retirement at my parents house*
allowed me to wade through and eliminate some of the actual crap
that my room has accumulated over the past twenty-seven years.
in the depths of my closet i discovered, among other things**,
a horrifying treasure from my knitting past.
i found my first knitting/yarn.
i thought it long lost, cast off and out of my life.
i should’ve*** known this yarn would haunt me for all of my days.
if you dig around my blog somewhere at the beginning,
you can find the story of how i first learned to knit.
i won’t reiterate that (awesome) story, now.
iet’s just say it was two in the morning,
i had a limited selection from which to choose,
and i like green.
because i love you, blog, so very much, and maybe because no amount of sin can ever wash the catholic completely from my blood, i feel compelled to confess my most grievous of knitterly sins to you. i just hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for buying this yarn.
t’was ignorance, the folly of youth.
however, i refuse to post a photo of that yarn on this blog.
that shame would be too great to endure.
i’ll link you to it;
follow at your own risk!
post continues after the jump. nsfw!
i think i'll be ok now.
i needed to get that off my chest.
seriously, though, i was totally happy to unearth this yarn.
how many people have the first thing they've ever knit?
(don't burst my bubble and tell me it's a totally common occurrence)
and while the idea of finishing the project is beyond appalling,
i'm happy to keep this fun fur on their size 10½ boyes
rather than quietly disposing of the evidence.
i found my second piece of knitting/yarn, too!
the seed of a stash that never grew.
there’s no ball band for this yarn,
but the receipt says its an alpaca/silk/cashmere blend.
(talk about going from yarn zero to sixty, right?)
though, the astute observer can still tell this is the work of newbie.
notice the yarn is still in a hank and i’m knitting directly from the skein!
i can’t tell you the number of times i’ve warned new knitters never to do this unless they want tangles and heartbreak,
and yet, somehow, it worked out for me.
i guess when you don’t know any better,
you just go for it.
shortly after knitting that patch of garter,
i stopped knitting.
there were a lot of reasons, really;
the yarn was wicked pricey, and i thought if this is what real yarn cost, i was in trouble (i didnt realize of course, there was a range of yarns from which to choose) more than that, i didn’t have a positive experience with the store from which i bought it.
but if i’m honest, all of that didn’t matter.
it was the purl stitch.
this was back before you could google anything and learn how to do it from watching a video online. (i think it’s important to remember such times) i don’t know how i was learning to purl, but it wasn’t working. years later i would realize the crucial information that was missing was to move the yarn forward.
constantly doubling one’s stitch count
whilst knitting green fun fur
would make anyone quit.
i’m just glad it was only a temporary condition.
à demain, mes amis!
*i always write ‘home’ and mean ‘my parents house’, but it confuses people. i makes me sad to have to make a distinction.
**like my louis vuitton shoes, bitches!! i miss the old economy. *sigh*
***for all you fellow grammar nazis, i’ve noticed a trend among my students. they write could’ve/should’ve etc. thusly: could of. i remember one student being shocked when i corrected them. makes me want to die.
June 21, 2012
in case any of you worried about my week-long silence,
i was fulfilling the familial duty required of all sons:
i helped clean out the garage.
now while for most people,
that would be a job for one person
and could be completed in half a day,
our garage is larger than most apartments.
it’s really more of a huge barn where the cars live
(it has a second floor)
my mother and i spent a few days
and tossing aside with reckless abandon a couple decades worth of all things found in a country garage. a dumpster that could house an elephant was our ally.
a weekend of generally manliness,
where my y chromosome shone with pride,
left little time to blog about my life of fiber.
first, a f.o.
yarn – socks that rock medium weight
colorway – rare gem dyed by yours truly
this cowl has been done for ages but honestly, i’ve felt a little ambivalent about sharing it. this is my first go at a design (sort of). i learned a whole lot while i knit it, but it didn’t come out as i envisioned it. some things exceeded my expectations, others,
i couldn’t get to do what i wanted.
with a few tweaks,
i can imagine it being something i could be proud of.
time will tell.
next, another f.o.
yarn – luscious silk
colorway – copperline
now this, i’m proud of!
it’s a simply-woven scarf, true,
but there’s something beautiful about perfecting simplicity.
think about how long it took you to master your knitting gauge
and how lovely a flawlessly executed stockinette sweater is!
that’s what this scarf is about to me. (check out that sexy fringe)
i was really worried about the evenness of this scarf.
i’ve never woven with silk before
and it was difficult to manage;
it lacks wool’s forgiving nature.
it was especially difficult to maintain the selvages.
but for once in my fibery existence,
that shit blocked right out!
just in time to give it to its intended recipient.
i’m headed to the knot hysteria gourmet retreat (jealous?)
whenever i go to a fiber event,
i check my stock of business cards.
i use them to promote the blog (bien sur)
and make it easy for people to friend me on ravelry.
since i was running low,
i placed an order.
i may have over done it.
i don’t remember ordering this many.
i bet it was after midnight.
(the box is full too)
as you can see,
the loom is re-warped.
(the color in that photo is so off as to be laughable)
this is supposed to be a gift for this weekend.
i haven’t started weaving or anything,
but i can finish,
so i’m a little out of touch with reality. big whoop.
i mean, it’s not like i think i can finish this sweater.
but i am going to try to pull it off for rhinebeck.
let’s check the facts:
yarn weight – sport
needle size – u.s. 2 & 4
size – fuck that shit!
like i’m telling you my size.
let’s just say,
it’ll be dude-sized.
this will be an extreme test of my knitterly endurance.
but hey, it’s rhinebeck.
and it’s not like i’m the only delusional knitting blogger around.
June 9, 2012
i have a f.o. to show you,
and another one is soon to follow.
tonight, however, none of that matters.
all that matters is this yarn.
this is this month’s sock club. the color is called ‘wavelength’
i shy away from this level of variegation,
(though part of why i enjoy being in sock club
is challenging myself to experience color differently)
but i think that’s because i never look at a skein like this:
why do i never open the skeins to look at them?
it changes everything!
looking at the skein thusly
it was if it spoke to me:
“you must knit socks”
i never want to knit socks. ever.
i find them to be fiddly and tedious
and if i’m going to knit that many stitches,
i want a sweater out of it.
every now and then
i do get the urge to knit socks
but i’m easily able to fight it off
because i can never find a pattern i like.
most of the time, i think sock patterns are really tacky.
sorry sock knitters. it’s just how i feel.
so there really was no harm in winding the skein.
i found it less tempting as a cake.
i knew that i needed to make something with this
but luckily, in wound form, it couldn’t tempt me to make socks.
little did i know,
this skein is a clever little fucker.
it combined forces with this pattern
and the only thing i could think was
a few episodes of deadliest catch and boom!
a sock is born.
nothing else seems to matter.
i must make these socks.
is this how you sock knitters feel all the time?
June 2, 2012
(this was my attempt to take a weaving photo à la the daily purl)
i say it all the time:
almost everything i make is for someone else.
i’ve made a few things for someone in particular,
but the last couple knits didn’t seem to impress.
it wasn’t that s/he didn’t like them
or didn’t appreciate them.
they just didn’t wow,
i want the person to love what i’ve made.
so i’m thinking perhaps weaving is the way to go,
just a plain scarf in one of his/her favorite colors.
i even have some luscious silk in my stash that will work nicely.
it’s going to be fucking gorgeous, regardless.
any tips for weaving silk?
i’ve only woven with wool before
which i know is a much more forgiving fiber.
speaking of making things for people i like,
i cast this little buddy on the other day:
this is going to be for debra m.
we’ve only met a couple of times
but she’s always been so kind to me,
especially at times when i felt a little vulnerable.
frankly, if you met debra and didn’t like her,
i’d question whether or not you were human.
so when she expressed interest in this particular rare gem,
i decided immediately that i would knit something for her.
unfortunately, nothing i found the ravelry machine was right.
(god bless ravelry, but it does fail us now and then)
frustrated, i decided i would take this opportunity to try to design something. i’ve had exactly two design ideas in my entire life and, as we all know, nancy bush stole my other one. this cowl isn’t going exactly as planned, but i still think i like it. if the next part goes well, i’ll be home free. maybe i’ll even publish the pattern.
March 18, 2012
believe you me,
the post i wrote was fucking hilarious.
you might even have called it bitches get stitches gold.
but it’s gone.
should i try to recreate it?
will it come off as artificial?
what if i hadn’t even told you?
would you have noticed something was missing?
that ‘thing’, that quality of spontaneity in all my best posts?
i’m not rewriting it.
here’s the spark notes version:
getting yarn as a gift no longer makes me happy.
rather, i see it as an unwittingly hostile act.
i live in a tiny apartment.
my stash is full.
i have no time to whittle it down
to add something new, no matter how beautiful.
so while when tina sent me yarn for my birthday/christmas
i was initially overjoyed by it’s timeliness
and my unexpected adoration for the grawk color way,
i soon realized there was no room in my blue moon bin for more yarn.
those two skeins just sat on my work table
mocking me every time i passed them by.
the twisted skein was particularly shameless.
it flashed its junk.
the mopsy was more reserved.
it only showed a little side boob now and then.
well i refuse to be mocked by wool!
so i put that twisted skein on my swift
and started winding that bitch.
that skein has some generous yardage.
so i realized my winder wouldn’t be able to take it.
i knew i’d have to finish winding it by hand.
(this ain’t my first time at the rodeo!)
what i didn’t foresee, was that
this skein would break my shitty knit picks winder.
yes folks, my winder is now
undeterred, i slid the skein to my nostepinne
(can some give me a definitive spelling on that word?)
and wound the shit out of that skein.
i shed no tears for the crappy piece of plastic.
i wouldn’t give the skein the satisfaction.
but what to knit with it?
i already have the shawl
for those five minutes a week i can knit something complicated.
i needed something easy,
something i can knit in dark
when i’m at the film collective
or between sections.
but the thought of, say, a ribbed scarf
made me want to commit suicide.
the skein would want that.
and i won’t let it win.
the colors are distributing in a way i adore.
if i’ve done my math correctly, it’ll be a little more than 6′ long.
and with the extra yardage, i’m hoping it will be more stole than scarf.
veronica already called dibs.
here is where i had a perfect, witty segue to tell you about some new socks in my life. it was inspired and tied together two seemingly unrelated topics. but fuck it. it doesn’t work now.
here they are:
no, i did not knit these.
they were knit by the official sock knitter of bitches get stitches:
weirdy pants jen
i love jen for many reasons.
many a giggle fit was had over a funny look
or our shared views on parenting, and how you’re doing it wrong.
(really, we owe our friendship to our mutual friend, bessie, god rest her)
but it takes a special kind of knitter to knit socks
just because you ask them to.
they are slightly too big
by which i mean,
they fit perfectly.
by which i mean,
they have no ease,
positive or negative.
socks should have a tad of negative ease.
and while i’ve heard rumors of success with shrinkage,
that’s just not a concept i’m comfortable pursuing.
instead, they will be my new bed socks.
my favorite pair snagged on a trip to the lou
leaving a big hole in the foot.
these are a perfect replacement.
there you have it, folks.
a shadow of it’s former glory,
but a post nonetheless.
ps dear tina,
ignore everything i posted above. it’s all lies. send me all your yarn whenever you please. a space just opened up on my work table!
February 9, 2012
January 21, 2012
i’ve made a promise to myself
that i must knit at least an hour every day
and i must blog at least once a week
because i love myself,
and i love my blog.
i haven’t been doing so well with the knitting every day promise
but i refuse to fail on the bloging once a week.
so i here i am,
setting aside my huge pile of work
to show you some progress.
for a long time now,
i have been admiring the work of spillyjane.
there’s something about her designs that i just love.
if i had to put my finger on it, i’d say it’s her color combinations.
i feel pretty comfortable saying they aren’t typical, and yet,
they totally work.
it’s been pretty easy for me to resist casting on one of her designs.
for one, i have a terminal case of second sock syndrome,
which can easily evolve into second mitten syndrome.
but also, while i love her designs,
i just didn’t see myself wearing any of them.
i love them and thought they’d look amazing on other people.
just not me.
that is until i saw these bad boys.
one look and i was harassing her to publish the pattern already.
(really. i emailed and tweeted her. i was pushy)
a copy found it’s way into my mailbox
and away i went.
1) i love colorwork. i. love. it.
2) i love this pattern. i am thoroughly enchanted with the chart. more than once, i have talked to it with a kind of cutesy voice i use to show affection to mo or other adorable mammals. i am not ashamed.
3) i’m glad i went up a needle size. otherwise the mitten would not fit.
4) this does have me worried about row gauge, however. i hope they don’t end up too long. i refuse to do them math to find out.
5) i have some concerns about the thumb construction. i have very strong feeling about how mitten thumbs should be worked. however, spillyjane makes her living on mittens. i do not. i’m gonna let go and let god on this one.
6) the lighter of the contrasting colors could be little more contrasty. however, i did that on purpose. i love the fact that there’s enough contrast to tell that those are skulls without having my mitten scream, “look here! skulls on a mitten!” sometimes my plans work out.
7) i’m knitting them two at a time (on separate needles) in order to avoid second mitten syndrome. so far, it seems to be working. it has instilled in me a kind of “race” like feeling where i can’t let the other mitten get too far ahead. weird? yes. but it’s working.
8) a while ago, i wrote a post in which i listed my concerns about shelter. i decided it was high time i actually tried it out, and the fact that spillyjane used it to knit these mitts seemed like the perfect excuse. now that i’m knitting with it, i have some opinions:
a) i love how it looks. the color is impeccable and the subtle rustic heatheryness of it speaks to the old school knitter in my heard.
b) however, i’m not a big fan of it’s hand when i’m knitting with it. yes, it’s very light, and while i usually love the feel of a wooly yarn, something about this particular blend . . . well i just don’t care for it.
c) it’s also very easy to break which makes me worry about how it will hold up with wear. it didn’t actually break while i was knitting with it. i don’t cut my yarns to switch colors, i just break them. and shelter breaks with very little effort. i’m hoping the fact that the mittens are knit at a very tight gauge will help with the ware factor.
d) i do like the fabric this pattern creates with this particular yarn. it’s knit on much smaller needles than one would normally use. i think it works because the yarn is so lofty. and quite frankly, i feel like shelter would knit more accurately to a dk gauge than a worsted anyway, another reason i think this pattern/yarn combo works with such small needles.
e) i don’t know if d) can be said to be representative of how the fabric will feel for other projects knitted at the recommended gauge.
f) my hypothesis is this yarn would be great for an old school textured sweater, but i doubt i can afford it at this point. american made ain’t cheap!
g) all that being said, when i try the mittens on, they feel comfy and warm. i plan to use them as my driving mitts. i do not regret buying shelter for this project, i think they’re beautiful, and i recommend other people spend the cash to give it a go at least once. but i just don’t see myself buying it again.
9) do you think jared flood will blacklist me for this?
i’ve also got this little lovely going:
pattern: spruce forest by nancy bush
i have a serious love hate thing going on with this shawl.
this is the story:
for about a year now, i’ve wanted to design/knit a lace shawl in marine silk sport in my absolute favorite blue moon color way, ‘spruced’. i wanted it to be a triangular shawl and i wanted it to be a kind of ‘tree’ shaped lace pattern. the fact that i am not a designer and don’t yet intuitively understand how lace works meant that i was seriously struggling to realize this dream. then along comes fucking nancy bush and designs a perfect fucking shawl. (i am not above thinking that somehow she stole the idea using some kind of psychic probe while i was in her sock class). i hate that it’s a bottom up shawl and that, because it is, all the trees will point upward exactly as they should.i hate the nupps that make it so fucking adorable and perfect that i can’t help but be delighted every time i purl 5 together on the ‘resting row’. despite the fact that they totally slow me down and are frustrating, i hate that i love them. (and hate that i would never have thought to put a nupp in shawl, even though they are clearly amazing) i hate that there is a solid garter border because i absolutely believe in a thick garter border and bam! there it is.
and god damn i hate that there’s a perfect looking slip stitch edge so that when i have to pick up stitches for the lace edging, it will be a snap.
god damn nancy bush and her perfect fucking shawl pattern!
i shake my fist at you in gratitude, bitch!
i’m knitting this shawl as a present for someone who i really like and i think deserves to have it. really, i shouldn’t be blogging about it, but shit, i need all the material i can get. i don’t have time for secret knitting!
** ps i am thoroughly annoyed with the fact that i am unable to capture the true color of ‘spruced’. it is much greener than the photo, and has a subtle blue hue in it. my guess is it has to do with the silk and sea cell content being all reflective. any help from my photography peeps?
July 14, 2011
i cast on a project.
i knew the answer to my funk lay in a shawl,
but hours on ravelry left me feeling rather hopeless.
nothing inspired me.
let me tell you,
it feels good to be back!
it’s like that feeling when a cold breaks,
and you can finally take a deep breath again.
i was creatively congested!
then this morning,
i woke up to the following e-mail:
Thanks so much for your inspiring blog post. Because of you, we have received over $400 dollars in donations! Thank you for getting yourself tested, and thank you for your amazing support of Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force!
Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force
5913 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
that was a great way to begin my day.
thank you to everyone who contributed,
not only to pittsburgh aids task force,
but to their local testing centers.
that $400 will pay for 10 tests.
your generosity makes me feel like maybe the effort i put into this blog isn’t a fruitless endeavor, that maybe people are listening.
so thank you.
and congratulations to faye.
the random number generator selected you,
and my skein of handspun is yours.
you better knit with it!
that’s all i’ll say.
the cashmere mafia’s listening.
March 24, 2011
so in my frenzy to make my life into a list,
i forgot a couple of things that i wanted to write.
that and day two of my class should be enough for a post, right?
so let the randomness continue!
x. on friday, when i was still pretty bummed out, kristen, a.k.a. @carcosa, tweeted at me: My #FF crown this week is awarded too… @Faiche_Stiabhna for his unique combination of humor, fiber knowlege, and fierce glasses. that totally made my day. (are my glasses really fierce?)
xi. i apparently inspired one of my most loyal commenters and internet friends, miss sally of rivendale farms. or maybe more accurately, this photo of mo did. after seeing it, she went on a cowl binge. she wrote about it here.
xii. another besty from the internet, kim, is a nice person. she wants to help the people in japan. she asked me to spread the word, so do me a favor, and click here to read her post. go ahead. do the right thing. i dare you.
xiii. in my last post, i mentioned that i felt that, when you meet a knitting celebrity, maybe you should keep your cool and not act like you’re old friends reunited. this is how i try to operate. (don’t ask me about my success rate). PrincessFee left me the following comment:
You don’t know me, but I do feel as though I know you. Thank you for your humour, wit, & frankness. If we ever get to meet, I will act as though I don’t know you.
first of all, that is sweet. second, i’m so far from being a knitting celebrity that the sentiment is almost laughable. third, if you do read this blog with any kind of regularity, i imagine you’ve a certain amount of shamelessness in you. i would never expect you to show such restraint if you see me out in the real world. just don’t be disappointed if the dude you run into is actually pretty shy.
xiv. however, i find it ironic that i spent all of day one quietly sitting next to the lovely natatlie who, as it turns out, reads my blog. small world, eh? of course, she didn’t say anything until day two (class act, right?). we spent the first day like any other kids on the first day of school, making idle chit chat and nervous eye contact. but i’m totally glad she told me. it was great way to start what turn out to be a really hard day of class.
xv. i think that, while she doesn’t say it, stephanie doesn’t like to have her photo taken. i think this because almost every single photo i took of her is kinda terrible. she’s making a face in or blinking or possibly about to sneeze. somehow, i think this is done on purpose as a way of fucking with our heads. luckily, i snapped this one.yeah she’s a little blurry in this photo, but at least she doesn’t look like she’s in the middle of a seizure.
xvi. day one of “knitting for speed and efficiency” with stephanie pearl-mcphee was all about learning a brief history of knitting, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of english and continental knitting, and learning ways to improve our own personal styles of knitting. the most interesting concept for me was the idea that we get too comfortable with our own styles, and try to apply them to every type of knitting when altering our personal style, or using another method might make it easier for a given project. according to stephanie, we as knitters seem to resist using all the tools at our disposal to make it easier on ourselves. for instance, if you’re an english knitter (like me) why wouldn’t you use continental knitting to knit miles of stockinette in the round when it is so clearly the superior technique for that particular project? or if you’re a continental knitter, and have a project with lots of texture and decorative purl stitches why wouldn’t you use the method best suited to purling (english knitting)? it’s a good point. why not expand our personal abilities to improve ourselves as knitters? unless of course excellence doesn’t matter to you.
day two was dedicated to learning “lever knitting” (sometimes called irish cottage knitting) which is the method used by the people who knitted for their livelihood. it also happens to be the style the harlot learned from her bitch of a grandmother. rather than go into a long description of the method, here’s a video. because we all have a certain amount of knitting knowledge burned into our minds, changing our techniques is kinda hard. everyone’s hands were freaking out, fingers moving of their own accord as if our brains no longer had anything to say about what they did. natalie’s pinky finger kept trying to get involved to the point where stephanie had to immobilize itwhen stephanie asked how i was doing, i told her i sucked. the moment that followed involved a joke about my “sucking”. it must have pretty embarrassing since i can’t for the life of me remember the details (if you do, feel free to leave it in the comments. i’d like to remember that one) but whenever my face stopped being pink, i eventually got the hang of it.
even though i posted a link to the video, i wouldn’t recommend copying her technique from it; you really need to have it explained in person. it’s just too easy to think you’re doing it correctly when in fact you’re doing it very very wrong. i mean, we had an expert in the room, and each of us found a way to fuck it up to some degree. sometimes, you just need someone to hold your pinky.