Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bloggy, or Just Groggy?

Man, it's almost past my bedtime.  I guess that means it's AT my bedtime, anyway.

The power of social media is astounding, seriously.  This morning, Lion Brand posted my guest-blog entry on their website.  Here it is, for those of you who want to get over your fear of knitting lace (or, you're like me and you think that as far as mass-produced yarns go, Lion Brand is the bomb):

I knitted the sample, photoshopped the photos (which should explain the inconsistency, since I'm not much of a photoshopper), and made clever wit-bits all by myself!  And I can't thank Lion Brand enough for selecting me in their guest-blog program.  Flattered beyond words.

Then, I had a great chat with the lovely Janet Avila at String Theory Yarn Company yesterday...she is doing this great charity-project where her customers donate hand-knitted scarves and she sells them to donate the money to charity.  I was actually planning on calling her this morning, but I bumped up the call a bit when I was trying to figure out how to cast off stitches at the beginning and end of a round without ending up with an extra stitch.  Epic Knitting Fail.  So we had a good laugh over it.  I asked her to send me a photo to use in the article, and she took one from her's freaking gorgeous (click on the link to see the photo):

Then, maybe because I was feeling all scarfy after writing Janet's article, I finished another pattern for my personal scarf project, the Scarf of the Month Series for 2012.  Now, of course, I have to break down and cast the sucker on to make sure it works.  It's pretty much the first of December, so I have a month to finish two scarves and write the patterns if I want to stay at least one full month ahead.  I'm feeling lucky.

But I need to stop working on other projects...there is a skull cap, a sock (well, THE sock), a crocheted washcloth, and three extra sets of needles in my bag at the moment.  It's a wonder the laptop still fits in there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Good afternoon!  Yes, it's afternoon...I couldn't do my normal Tuesday-morning blog because I was verifying trailer numbers at sunrise.  Sad, but true.  Anyway, here is the latest Knit Tips Tuesday, about casting off at the end of a project:

This has been an unusually turbulent day for a Tuesday.  Usually, I wake up and try to turn into my normal self for the entire first half of the day.  Today, I woke up at 3:40am, took my pills, thought I could go back to sleep for a few hours, and ended up getting out of bed ten minutes later.  I showered, made myself pretty (well, as pretty as I have to be to make it in public without getting cold or arrested), and drove to Sealy, Texas.  I wrote Knit Tips Tuesday at McDonald's, otherwise known as "the only place in Sealy with wi-fi."  I then went to work for a few hours, went a-knitting, and my head started to explode on the way to lunch.

Too many ideas, not enough time.

After lunch, I needed to make sure my electric bill was paid.  I checked my email and had a message from Lion Brand Yarn Company...they are posting my guest blog on their website TOMORROW!  I will say this for both me and the masses...EEEEEEEEE!!!

I already woke up weird today, because I received correspondence this week that sort of haunted me in a good way.  A truly lovely gentleman who worked for me at the current place of employment decided to transfer to another location two months ago.  Four weeks later, he committed suicide. I had the task of telling my crew, which I made the mistake of doing in the morning. I reached out to this dear man's sister, just to send my condolences.  She wrote me back.

It was basically a message that explained what led to the events of his death, what demons were haunting him, and most importantly, this sentence:

"There was nothing anyone could have done."

So this time, I was more prepared.  Sadly, this is not the first time I had to tell a crew that a beloved coworker killed himself.  But this time, with this new message, I wanted to share it with the team.  I had a meeting at 6:25pm, right before we all left on Monday.  This is what I said:

"I sent a condolence letter to Chad's sister, and I heard back from her.  Her message isn't pretty, but I also know it may make some of you feel better.  If you would like to hear it, I will read it.  Otherwise, you are welcome to leave now.  If you change your mind, or you want a copy of it, I will leave it in my inbox.  But like I said, it's not a very happy message so I would understand if you didn't want to hear it.  The offer of me to read it is here, though."

Nobody moved.  At all.  I read it.

I think everyone felt deflated, but at least they had sufficient warning this time.  I felt so horrible after telling them the last time around...I still don't know if there is anyone who could have prepared me for how to tell everyone, but I know for sure the second time we talked about it was better than the first time.  So now I have a desire to knit this woman something, with love of course.  Food for thought.

Between thinking about that message yesterday, the scarf project, and a host of other things in my life requiring the phone to ring, I can't get my ideas to slow down enough for me to get them on paper.  I will do my best.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Good afternoon!  Here is the greatest news of my week, since I was by myself on Thanksgiving and my world has been isolated in the knitting house this week:


Oh, and I walked to the grocery store.  This may not seem like a big deal to others, but there are not too many sidewalks in Texas, as far as I can tell.  I'm cat-sitting for a friend's herd, however, and she not only lives in a neighborhood with sidewalks.  She lives in a neighborhood with sidewalks and STORES.  So in a weird way, it's been an exciting holiday.

Did you all find time to throw a knot on a needle in between bites of Turkey...or downs during the football game...yesterday?

The rest of my day will be spend seaming the sleeves on the shrug, and writing out a few more patterns.  Well, one at least.  Anyway, I use Lion Brand Vanna's Choice for this shrug...the reason I chose it in the first place was because the original recipient, Judy, won't wear anything that LOOKS itchy.  While I have my yarn-snobby moments, if you are knitting with acrylic yarn, nothing beats Vanna's Choice.  It's soft, a teeny bit sheeny, and obviously is washable.  The PR person for Lion Brand generously re-tweets my Knit Tips Tuesdays, so I was thinking of sending her the pattern as a thank-you (what DO you get a knitter, anyway).

Here is a story about Small Business Saturday, and local yarn shops in Chicago having deals...please share with anyone you know in Chicago regardless if they knit.  Bottom line is, everyone KNOWS a knitter or crocheter, even if they don't do it themselves:

Thanks very much for your support this year.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Is Is Really Thanksgiving Week?

Good morning!  I am watching a torrential downpour, and loving every minute of it.  ~~sigh~~

And I'm reciting a mantra to myself, since I was up late last night reading a knitting book published in 1980 and eating food that is more suited for a State Fair than a late-night snack:  "I WILL finish a project this week, I WILL finish a project this week..."

I have banned myself from buying more yarn, casting on another project, or ripping out a current one until I actually finish something.  Hey...I have no excuses, since I have no family here this week. I have nothing but time on a holiday where every business, except ones that cook turkeys and show cinematic money-suckers, is closed.

Anyway, Knit Tips Tuesday is all about the cast-on...I could probably write six or seven articles on casting on, but I kept it short and sweet and limited the number of methods to five (seven, if you include the last paragraph, which I don't):

But I'm already making plans for AFTER I finally cast something off.  It might be the sock, it might be the shrug...heck, it might even be BOTH!...but after that, it's All Scarves All The Time.  I have a couple of designs that will be great for the scarf series, but I really need...umm...twelve.  Not a couple, but twelve.  TWELVE.  Sometimes, I hate when my brain is completely full and I have to tip over the top of my thoughts to make room for other ones, similar to taking off that creepy layer of cream atop that hand-delivered milk that Oberweis brings you.  That's right...I just compared my thoughts to a disgusting layer of sour fat that I don't even eat or drink, because it's not very vegan.

Have a good holiday week, everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Designing: A Lot of Eraser Marks

Good evening!  My team at the j-o-b had an EXCELLENT day.  It was probably the first time in a year I didn't feel like just sighing to the point of tears (not that a few other factors in my life don't also contribute to that).  So I was driving home and rapping about knitting with a girlfriend of mine.

Last night, while listening to the Blackhawks game (seriously...ask anyone in section 333 what I do during intermissions), I wasn't knitting.  I was writing down my ideas for patterns.  There is more rubber-shard-volume on the floor of Starbucks than there is dead skin cells from hipsters.  But I came to a conclusion:

I like making very complicated scarves.

And then I came to a second conclusion shortly after that, while on my way home to go to couch:

I can't expect everyone following my series to like making very complicated scarves.

So now I have a whole new direction to go into...five of the patterns are pretty much written, either in chart or in written-instruction, so I have that going for me.  The samples are not as far as I would like them to be, but trial-and-error isn't something I have to do six feet at a time.  In other words, I'll know a few inches into the scarf if the idea is going to work.  But a few of the ideas will need to be simplified.  I know some of the knitters joining me on this journey, and they are all fantastic in the talent department.  The problem is that I don't know all of them, and honestly I want this to be fun for everyone involved.

So now I have something to think about to and from the j-o-b at four in the morning.  I figure if I stay two months ahead on the scarf series, I'm in good shape.  Time to bust out the needles.

On a related note, Arlinda...the recipient of the pink chemo cap...told her sister to please tell me again how much she loves that hat.  Her husband asked me how he could wash it, and I said, "It's yarn for babies.  Just toss it in with the other stuff!"  Whenever I think about my insignificance among seven billion people on the planet, I actually am very fortunate to have several of these moments to fall back on.

See, you don't have to have a plan to change the world.  You just have to be the kind of selfish that makes you feel good for doing nice things for others.  I freely admit that I made that hat for Arlinda because I wanted her head to be warm and non-itchy, and I reap the warm and fuzzy benefits of knowing I made her happy.  Is that so wrong?

So now it's time to do that with scarves.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Kind of Stuff That Warms The Heart

Well, I'll go ahead and get this out of the way FIRST.  It's Knit Tips Tuesday, people!  Here are a few tips on reading knitting charts:

That said, if you have been following the blog you know I have two friends at work who are brother-sister in-laws, and their common relative (the man's wife and the woman's sister) has been battling cancer for a few years.  Joselyn, the sister, mentioned to me one day that maybe she could learn how to knit so she could make her sister something.  I told her I would like to make her sister a hat, since she was about to lose her hair for the third time, so I asked her a bunch of questions that are relevant when making a hat for someone with no hair whom you've never met:

How sensitive is her skin?
Is she allergic to anything?
How big is her head?
What colors does she like?

So here is the hat I came up with, made on size 7 DPNs with Universal Yarns Supreme Cotton Batik yarn.  The quality of the picture isn't stellar, but you get the idea.  It's just a stockinette hat with broad shaping, and a crocheted edge to make it more girly.  Sidebar...I seriously couldn't say enough amazing things about this yarn.  It's freaking fabulous:

So I gave the hat to Hector, the recipient's husband, on Saturday morning.  On Monday morning, Hector said, "Did you check your mailbox?  I left you something."  I asked him, "Is it a pony?"  It wasn't.  It was the nicest thank-you note in the world from his wife:

If you have trouble reading the note, she said a few things that I think say a lot about the yarn (it's SOFT), the hat and asking the right questions when makings something for someone (it FITS), and just how warm and fuzzy a hand-made item can make someone feel.  Especially, I might add, if it's made expressly for them.

All I can say is that in addition to hearing about her from Hector and Joselyn, her thank-you note (both the gesture itself and the words in it) indicate to me that this is one extraordinary lady.  I hope to meet her before I ditch Texas altogether.

Now that I only have two projects left in my bag, I am going to make an effort this week not only to finish them, but also to do the technical stuff relating to my Scarf Pattern of the Month series.  I write patterns in two ways...either I try something, write it as I go, and then knit it again based on the written stuff, or I conceptualize and write down the pattern first before test-knitting it.  I have twelve scarves I have to design and test-knit, and while the expectation to the people knitting with me is to get one a month, I would rather get ahead of the game so I know the fellow-scarf-knitters are getting the best pattern possible.

Talk soon!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Knitting in the Round: Choose Your Method

Good afternoon, friends.  I'm going through this phase where I'm enjoying making tubular items, and I don't know why.  Once I bound off the last store sample, I went hog-wild and started casting on instant-gratification projects to balance the tedium (I should say glorious tedium...making garments is a blast if you can compartmentalize).  I started looking at designs I've created, and how many of them can be worked in the round (not many, but the Waves and Warmth Shrug probably could).

So I whipped out the Noro and made a cowl in the round, and I gave it to Kelly at the library as promised.  She loved it.  Then, I cast on a cotton hat for a sister and wife of two friends (one woman, two relations) and ripped it out about four times before I sucked it up and got out the double-points.  In case the gluttony wasn't dripping vigorously enough, I sure did cast on my first-ever sock.  It was at this point where I looked around and thought, "Hmm..."

I need some straight-needle knitting.  And big-needle knitting.

So screw it...while my brain was processing how to do the Waves and Warmth Shrug in the round, I just busted out the fat needles it requires and started making one, in black.  The one I made for Judy is Vanna's Choice Brick, but I didn't have enough of it left to make the same color for me and...well...I should probably start knitting from my stash.  More often than not.  Starting right now.

I have the above three unfinished projects in my bag, and remember:  these were under the category of "instant gratification."  It turns out that my attention span is so short right now, if I wanted instant gratification I would just make a Tic-Tac cover or something.  Tomorrow, I will be at Walmart all day, singing the national anthem for Veterans Day.  Not a bad gig if you can get it, and I'll be sitting around for a few hours in between, trying to see if finishing at least ONE project is an option.

Again...these are the only projects in my BAG.  You should see other three...or four? the house that are still on the needles.  I need to start reeling this in.

Speaking of which...if you are a sock knitter or just a generally charitable person, please contact me abut possibly helping out with Crystal Bowersox and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  I will give more on that later.  Also, stay tuned because Lion Brand is going live with my blog post sometime soon, and while I have no desire to be both rich AND famous, I'm hoping people see my post and just spontaneously send me six-figure checks in the mail, so I can buy yarn for all of my Tic-Tac covers...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's Knit Tips Tuesday, Once Again!

Good morning!  I started a new feature on my little knitting beat last week called Knit Tips Tuesday, and since the response was mostly positive I decided that continuing was a pretty good idea.

By the way, "pretty good idea" is right about the height where my bar is set at the moment.  I have huge ideas and no way to make millions off of them, so I'll just make twenties and fifties on that many more "pretty good ideas" a little at a time.

That said, today's tip is a list of ideas for second projects, new knitter projects, and projects that don't involve shaping so newer knitters can think beyond the scarf and washcloth:

I spent the day yesterday, covering DA Receiving instead of Breakpack Orderfilling, and my body is paying for it.  After three days in Breakpack, my arms and back feel like they need a nap separate from the rest of me.  Because of that, my Tuesday knitting projects tend to be on larger needles, easy give on the yarn, and not too much death-grip.  After being in DA Receiving all day, my legs feel like jello so this is the first Tuesday in three months that I can knit complicated, teeny-needle stuff.  I am thinking of sitting by the fire (and without a fireplace, "by the fire" in my case translates to "near a plate with three candles on it") and just knitting until I fall back asleep.  This Tuesday morning feels like a mulligan waiting to happen...I'll just re-live Tuesday tomorrow.

Time to get a few projects OFF of my needles...I'm finishing a Noro cowl, which isn't what I wanted but I'm going to give it to Kelly at the library.  It's actually beautiful, but the yarn is doing all of the work so I could have just knit it in garter stitch...ha ha ha.  Then, I have to start and finish a hat, and finish the first of twelve scarf patterns I'm doing as a series for next year.  The first eight inches of it are everything I pictured in my head, which is a good thing!

Also, gulp, I have cast on my first sock.  My knitting went from garter stitch to making stuff up so I sort of skipped the sock phase most knitters either pass through or permanently land on.  I feel like I'm growing!  Especially since I'm using yarn from the trunk of my car...I refrained from purchasing yet another ball.  I'm hoping to completely knit through my stash by...well...2048 or so.

And finally, a funny story...I spent my store credit at my favorite yarn shop in Texas like any Kaspar would.  Kathleen grabbed me a basket, I started throwing in yarn and mentally adding up the price with tax.  When all was said and done, the closest I could get to an exact amount was within $1.20 of the credit, because there is no such thing as a $1.20 ball of yarn.  Somewhere, my stepmom is cringing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quick Update for a Thursday

So yes...I am in fact blocking something on my car seat.  It gets nice and warm in there, so all is well.

I am turning in the final shop sample this evening...victory of all victories!

And your local yarn shop because if anything, you don't want your knitting group, favorite brands, gas money, and buddies to go away...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Apologies

Good morning, everyone!  If you are wondering why I have been so distant this week (and, judging by the scores of you who care, you haven't been), the answer is that I have shipped my husband off to Chicago with our three pets and all of our stuff.  It was, as it turns out, not a fifteen-minute job.  I kept behind the following:
1.  One set of kitchen-stuff for one person
2.  A couch that will be left behind
3.  Clothes
4.  Laptop
5.  Printer
6.  Yarn

I feel like I'm squatting.  The good news is that I can be gone from five in the morning until midnight if I would like, and I don't have to worry about walking the dogs, waking the husband, or telling Bluto that my face is NOT a pillow for his waggy pit bull butt.  The bad news, of course, is that I can't relocate yet.

So I'll knit.  A lot.

And write!  I have decided that in addition to my weekly local articles about knitting on, I'm going to start Knit Tips Tuesday.  Here is the first article, regarding the importance of knitting a gauge swatch:

Then, I finally figured out what to do with my single ball of Noro Taiyo.  I'm making this chunky-lace cowl that will probably look better on someone other than me, since I don't think I have the neck for a good cowl, let alone an average one.  I'll post a picture when I'm finished, and if you want it, it's yours.  If more than one of you wants it, then the first person to answer a trivia question of my choice will get it.

It's time to start making the prototypes for the Scarf Pattern of the Month Series...I just finished the free pattern (if you have already purchased the series, you will get it in the next couple of days), and it's a good indicator of what details will be included in the other patterns.  If you like what you see, then buy the series!  If you don't, that's okay because at least you got a free pattern out of it!  See?  I'm all about the win-win.

I also would like to make a hat for a friend's sister who has cancer, so I was thinking a top-down roll-brim cotton hat.  The wool would irritate her, and there's this great cotton yarn by Universal that I've been dying to try.  Match made in heaven, I tell you!

And finally, I should have exciting news about something I may be doing to help regarding a knitting charity.  It was right up there with getting the email that Malabrigo Yarns is now following ME on twitter, only this time, it was a celebrity human instead of a celebrity yarn company!  More on that later...I will be screaming whatever details I can from the rooftops as soon as I can, since it's a charity thing.

Okay...if you look for me, I'll probably be knitting at Starbucks, or on the couch, or...