Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Calling All Knitters!

Good morning, everyone...I'm looking at the shower from where I'm sitting, and the bottom line is that I'm just not ready.  I think all I ate yesterday was discounted chocolate from my employer, a Dunkin Donuts coffee, and a falafel sandwich from Subway.  Between that and my days flying by because of my penchant for weirdos coming up to me, I'm pretty exhausted.

But it's okay.  I have a plan, and it involves getting ahead.  This is one of my New Year's Resolutions, see...and that's why I'm writing this morning.

If you are a knitter (and my guess is that you either read this to humor me, you read this because you are a knitter, or you read this because you have a crush on a knitter and this is your perfect chance to talk with them), I need your help.  What are your knitting New Year's Resolutions?  Shoot me an email to and I'll try and get as many quotes in as possible.  Don't want me to use your name?  No problem!  Just let me know that beforehand.

To get an idea of what I usually write, my Knit Tips Tuesday column is gaining often appears on's national site:

And then I also try to write at least one local story a week, which usually looks more like this:

I'm currently working on my Scarf Pattern of the Month series on Etsy, and my New Year's Resolution is to get ahead of the game.  The patterns are pretty well written, and I have a test-knitter or two but I still need to knit the scarves on my own as well.  I want to do nothing but scarves (not literally...that's not realistic but I do want to pare down on the sixty projects I have going at a time) until I finish the projects relating to my series.  By the way, it's not too late if you'd like to join is the link:

So here's what I'm looking for...if you knit, shoot me an email with your full name, age, a contact phone number (even though I'm not likely to use it, since I'll have your email's just a backup), and a detailed description of your Knitting New Year's Resolution.  You can make it one good sentence, or you can give me some background as to why you are resolving to change this knitting behavior in 2012...either way is fine with me.  But do shoot the message to my personal email if you can...I don't want to have your email address posted in the comments on the blog.

Yesterday, the Lion Brand Yarn Company re-posted my blog post about knitting lace on their facebook page...I was reading through the comments and people were very receptive to the positive, which I certainly appreciate:

And now that I have bombarded you with links to other stuff, I am going to go to a coffee shop and...what else?...finish knitting a scarf.  I'm so excited about the first pattern of the series to come blocks as cute as I had hoped...ha ha ha.  Thanks in advance for your response, and of course good luck with YOUR resolutions as well!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ahh, Christmas

Good morning, everyone!  I'm sitting on a chair, watching Bluto and Penny fight for what appears to be the only bone not sliding under furniture on the pergo flooring, and doing as much reflecting as I ever do on Christmas.  That is to say...not much.

I get the big deal...I do.  I am just not a fan of how expensive the rituals are, how greedy many seemingly-decent children (and adults, really) can become, and how out-of-control some shoppers can be.  But the family part, the dinner and togetherness part, and the "take a break from the daily grind" part...I'm all for it.  I'm even all for church visits if that's your thing...I went into St. Williams Parish at 2600 N Sayre last week, and I asked if I could cantor for them again.  The organist was almost dancing, he was so happy...he hugged me twice.  I have a deep appreciation for church, for togetherness, for giving, and for remembering why we gathered in the first place.  I do not have a deep appreciation for what commerce has done to Christmas.

It's okay, though...I don't begrudge others, or anything.  My point is that I'm not sitting in my chair and looking at a Christmas tree.  I'm actually sitting here, wondering what time I should wake up the husband and make him clean up the torrential mess he made in the kitchen.  THAT is the important stuff holidays are made of, people.

I have one more week until it's time to start spitting out a scarf pattern per month to my's not too late if you'd like to join!  Here is the link...just use the coupon code "NEWKNITS" so it's only $29.75 instead of $35.00:

You'll also have until about March or April to join...once it becomes a wash to buy the patterns (as opposed to getting a discount for the whole series), I'll stop offering it.

I have to finish one of the scarves today or Wednesday (my next day off), actually.  Meanwhile, I'm looking at my still-unpacked house and I came to a conclusion this week.  You know those cute ruffle scarves that are made with one skein of yarn?  Some examples of the yarn are Triana, Flounce, and KFI's Ripple.  Well, I have determined...with no scientific evidence whatsoever but a ton of personal biased opinion...that these scarves are easier to knit if you are an English-style knitter.  English knitters tend to hold the yarn closer to the needles, and they can more easily just manually shoot the needle through the holes in the yarn with more ease because they have a better view of that side of the yarn.

You don't have to believe me...I didn't even take a poll for this one.  Seriously.  But I know that I finished six inches of a ruffle scarf in about fifteen minutes, and I determined that part of the reason was that I could see the yarn so much better than a picker.

So plan is to eat and knit at Mom's house.  It's just like any other Christmas.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vacation from Knit Tips Tuesday

Good morning everyone!  Allow me to explain why I have taken a hiatus from my knitting side (apart from Blackhawks games, and even THAT didn't work out perfectly):

1.  Last Wednesday, I drove 997 miles to my brother's house in Peoria.  I could have actually made it to Chicago in a day, but thought it would be a better idea to play with the nieces and visit with the mom and brother.
2.  Thursday, I drove to Chicago, played with the dogs, saw the husband, emptied my car, and (I think) slept.
3.  Friday, I started moving stuff around, unpacking, building a bedframe for the guest room, moving more stuff around, building stuff, and making a list of things we needed to get for the house.
4.  Saturday, I went to Home Depot, Ikea, and Walmart...I cried in every store.  Too much.  Just too much.
5.  Sunday.  I don't even remember Sunday.  I just know I did something with about two stacks of clothes, and I was DONE...I had to get out of the house.  I left early for the Blackhawks game, visited with my friend Dawn, and knitted on her couch while we kvetched for a few hours.

Then at the Blackhawks game...because yes, I do in fact bring knitting with me for between periods...the girl in front of me in the ticket line opened her bag to show the police.  There was a ball of Lilly's Sugar 'n' Cream in there.  I said, "Do you have yarn in your bag?"  She said, "Yes I do!"  I showed her my bag, we laughed, and had a teeny weeny bonding moment right there at the United Center.  "Those are long bus rides," she said.  Yay!  We ARE taking over the world!

Anyway, then I started my new job on Monday, so Monday and Tuesday was spent at the new place of employment from about seven in the morning to nine at night.  I'm tired.  And I thought about writing Knit Tips Tuesday but I didn't have it in me.  Today, I have a plan, however.  I'm going to knit.  I may unpack, but I may not.  I feel like a zombie.  Thirteen hours in a Calvin Klein suit and three inch heels makes for a WIPED OUT chick.  Me, in case you weren't following this story.

Anyway, I bought this skein of laceweight loveliness one day when I was in Yarntopia, and I casted on that day even though I had probably two hundred (maybe that's an exaggeration) projects on the needles already.  I wrote the pattern, tested it, and figured if it didn't work I could always toss the yarn ('s lovely but it's only eight bucks), and started knitting.  Then, the other night at the Blackhawks game, I dropped a yarnover.  And this was during intermission, when I have no excuses because I wasn't distracted.  I just tropped it.  I wasn't even in a place for a lifeline yet...I was only on the twelfth row of the pattern and it repeats at row 19.  The distractions did start to come, however...the horn blew, the ref dropped the puck, and now here I was, with my favorite hockey team blurred in my farsight, and I finally just gave up.  I pulled out my circular needle and ripped it out.

To tell you how awesome of a friend Alex case anyone needed to know why we are such good friends...he sat there with my limp, non-finished project in his hands and helped me unravel it during the game.  Cookie!

So yeah...I need to get my yarn on before I am ready to be a grownup today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Good morning, everyone...your Knit Tips Tuesday is all about reaping the benefits of circular needles:

To my new readers, thanks for joining me!  If you would like to subscribe to the page, where the articles are just sent to your email inbox automatically, all you have to do is click on my name near the article and you will see another button that says "subscribe."

This week may be a "slow knitting news" week, mostly because I'm taking a two-day road trip.  Either way, I hope everyone is knitting away as I am, and if there IS anything that is newsworthy, I'm happy to pull over to a truck stop, load up on coffee, and write about it.

Today is kind of a bummer...two years ago today, I was with CJ's mom in the hospital, finally realizing that no magic liver and pig valve was going to just show up at the door of the cardiac unit for him.  Saying goodbye to CJ was so, so hard...I pushed him away for twenty years, including the five when he followed me around in high school.  Right when I stopped pushing him away, he died.  The good news, though, is that he died happy and surrounded by the people closest to him.

I did a lot of knitting in those nineteen days in the hospital...I made a scarf for my former tenant that looked like an homage to the Detroit Redwings, only cuter...but it still broke my heart to actually make a Redwings scarf for a Redwings fan.  I also made a lacy dark-blue scarf for her roommate using yarn I purchased in Paris, a pink scarf which was ultimately given to one of the nurses, and a manly-scarf that I only recently gave away.  I'm sorry, but I'm a scarf girl.

Anyway, knitting and the companionship of CJ's mother was really the only thing that got me through the hospital stay, and they are both mainstays in my life two years later.

Today, I also have to say goodbye to my other crop of favorite knitters, so while I'm looking forward, I can't help but also look back on this day.  I'm wearing his Back to the Future tee shirt in his honor.  That, and of course I married his best friend.

Thank you all for being in my life.  Think happy thoughts to me on my road-trip!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Two More Days Before Road-Trip Time!

Good morning, everyone.  Yes, it's Monday...normally, I would have been literally FOUR hours into my work-day already.  However, I'm starting my new position next weekend, and I was scheduled off this weekend, so I think that means it's blogging time!

Today, I am going to a friend's house to say goodbye to the knitting group which meets at the Katy Library, and tomorrow I will be saying goodbye to the knitting group that meets at Yarntopia, otherwise known as the "mecca of all things soft that you want to rub on your face, which you really shouldn't do unless you have already purchased it."  I wanted to give something to the lovely ladies of each group, so this is what I've been working on for the past two weeks:

I dare say, this is my new favorite stash-buster.  I still have five more to make (worst-case scenario, anyway), but they use about seven yards of yarn, a safety pin, two bamboo marking pins, a tapestry needle, and a dot of glue.  POOF.  Instant keepsake.  Although the photo quality isn't stellar, here's a close-up of one of them:

I just wanted the ladies to know I cared so much about them during my time here in Texas, so what better way to do it than to plow through that teeny weeny yarn ball in the stash that you always think, "Maybe I could trim a mitten or something..."?  Here's how you do it...

Gauge - unimportant
Materials - ten yards of worsted-weight or aran-weight yarn , two Clover bamboo marking pins (they come in packs of ten, so you can actually make five and give them to your knitting group, like I'm doing), 1.25" to 1.5" safety pin, tapestry needle, craft or wood glue, size 3 (US) or 3.25mm (European) knitting needles.

Using knitting needles, cast on 12 stitches for aran weight, and 14 stitches for worsted weight yarn, using the knitted cast-on.  Clip the tail of the cast-on to one obviously doesn't get woven in, but make sure you give it a good tug so it doesn't unravel. 

Knit in garter stitch (knit every row) for two inches, ending with the right side facing.  Grab a marking pin and knit half of the stitches (six for aran, seven for worsted) onto it...the pin is actually the same size as a size 2 (2.75mm) needle, so the stitches will be nice and snug on it.  Take the left-hand needle out of the stitches and CAREFULLY replace it with the other marking pin...this is not an easy project to drop a stitch and pick back up, but then again, ripping out and starting again won't kill you.  Anyway, insert the right pin into the first stitch on the left pin as if to knit through the back loop, and slide the stitches evenly so the outer stitch on each pin is close to the bulb on the end of the pin. 

Cut the yarn tail so it's about 24 inches long.  Wrap the yarn around the right needle as if you were knitting the next stitch, and then wind the yarn into a ball.  Secure it on the right side of the piece as if you were sewing on a button (up and over, down and under three times).  Weave in the end on the wrong side of the piece, secure a safety pin through two loops on the wrong side as well.  Place a dot of glue where the two markers meet in the middle.

I have to finish the last few bits before heading out of town, but I really, really need to knit before I go crazy...I have had so much fun making these teeny projects but it's time I busted out something I can just make progress on.

Think happy thoughts to me when I embark in the Aveo for 1,116.3 miles.  My little boyfriends Jose and Macon over at the Pep Boys on Fry Road told me that my car was good to go.  When I'm settled, I'd be happy to be commandeered to make these little pins for your knitting group if you'd like, for a small fee.  I saw someone on Etsy charging twelve bucks for pins similar to these, and I think that's downright highway robbery...I'm thinking maybe less than half that.  I'm open to suggestions, of course...

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Best Week of the Year to Travel

Good evening!  I'm currently at Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, on my way back to Texas for the last four days of my tenure on that god-awful planet.  By the offense to those who love Planet Texas...this is my personal opinion, and I do not mean to sway anyone's judgment on the subject.  However, it DOES suck.

That said...I spent the last few days at my stepmom's house, cuddling with the speckled pooches and continuing to have bizarre dreams.  I'm also making pins for the knitters I love the most (in other words, I love a lot of them but have a limited number of markers to make pins, so...).  I have the pattern down to a half-hour project.  SCORE!  And I thought knitting washcloths were knitting-instant-gratification...they don't hold a CANDLE to this sort of pleasure.  I finished two of them from Panama City Beach to Atlanta.

Anyway, for anyone interested in the Scarf of the Month Series (seen here), the first one will be a knit-and-purl arrangement, the second one will also most likely be knit-and-purl, and then March and April will be either lace, cables, or lace AND cables.  As always, no matter where I am in the country I will be on-hand to answer any questions about the patterns, yarns used, or whatever else.  Just ask anyone who has bought a pattern from me.  Speaking of which...and this merits a re-post...I received this feedback from a girl who bought my commuter headband pattern.  Etsy shop owners dream of having something THIS positive on their page: 

I'm about halfway done with knitting up this pattern, so I think I've seen quite enough to leave feedback on it. This is only the second thing I've knitted and it was a very painless introduction to cables and i-cords. The seller was quick in sending it and told me she'd be happy to answer any questions, but the pattern was well-written and I have had none. Good seller, great product.

See?  She knows how to break it DOWN, man!  (I meant me.  Although I do VERY much appreciate the feedback, thankyouverymuch, Caitlin Stone).  Oh, and I have no idea why I'm using so many must be Atlanta.

My friend Sean was complaining that he didn't have a good scarf, because he likes to wrap them around more than once and it's hard to find them that long nowadays.  My first thought, of course, was " really need to learn how to knit."  A close second in the thought department, however, was that I have the sample of the Squiggly at the house, and I could use that extra square foot of space in my car by mailing it to Sean.  The second one I made was a human length...I just kept knitting and knitting and knitting the first one, wondering how close my measurements were...but the one in the photo is seven feet long.  The second one I made...well...someone else was a recipient of it, and it's 66 inches long.  I still have to make one for Andrea...damn, I'm behind.  Anyway, Sean will be getting the seven-foot long scarf and he was all atwitter when I offered it to him.

Have a good night...I'm about to board on my final flight before hopping in my car and looking forward to getting attacked by my two killer pit bulls!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gosh...Tuesday Just Disappeared!

Good morning...I normally feel bloggy on Tuesdays, but yesterday wasn't easy.  I had to finish Knit Tips Tuesday, pack, prepare for the fact that I already had my last day at my previous position so I will be starting my future position in two weeks, and other stuff I would like to blame for not blogging yesterday.  I also, quite honestly, didn't have a lot to say.

Today, I can't shut up.  It might be the coffee.  Or the coffee and couscous.  Or the coffee, couscous, and Clif bar.  Maybe it's just Florida, I don't know.

I'm visiting my stepmom on the Florida panhandle at the moment, and then of course I'm putting the final touches on the house-clean before heading up north for good.  Either way, here is the article I published for this morning, relating to what to get a knitter for the holidays:

And then since I didn't post it yesterday for the blogosphere, here is the Knit Tips Tuesday.  It's about tips for organizing your post-holiday yarn stash.  Or, you can just do what I do...shove it all in the back of the Chevy Aveo, and hit the road with it:

So last week, I realized I had to change the January scarf for my Scarf-Series-of-the-Month, since I need to make sure I get the color-change part right on the ORIGINAL January scarf.  This may make it a February scarf, and it may also make it an October or November scarf, I don't know yet.  All I know is that the new January scarf is almost finished, and then after a day of blocking it will be time to accost strangers who want their photo taken in it.  It's actually turning out quite lovely, and I worked part of it up with a few different yarns so I can offer substitutions.  I haven't ripped out this much in a week in forever, but it's for a good cause. 

I also made that chemo cap for probably saw the picture and the thank-you note.  Well, I had almost half a ball left, so I thought I would exercise my crocheting prowess and make a discloth with it (that's about as far-exercised that my crocheting prowess ever gets...I can't shape anything and I have to look at the instructions if I'm doing anything other than single crochet).  Then, I realized I didn't have enough yarn, so I turned it into a little bag.  It won't hold much...maybe a pocket bible or your cosmetics necessities...but at least it's cute.  My hand is in the picture so you can see just how diminutive it is.  Oh, and the reason the flower was added was because I couldn't live with myself throwing away two yards of cotton yarn, apparently:

So today, my stepmom and I are either seeing Hugo or The Muppets, but either way, I'm happy to indulge in such activities.  Excuse me while I go back to my knitting...I'm trying to finish up a project that's actually several teeny weeny projects, and it's taking me longer than I thought.  More on that later.