Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Yarny Easter

Happy Easter, everyone!  As most of you know my "day" (well, "night") job, I'm a huge fan of commercialism.  If I am wishing you a happy (insert holiday), no matter what time of year, I am probably just encouraging you to eat chocolate in whatever shape it comes at that time of year.  December?  Have a chocolate tree!  Easter?  Bunnies and eggs!  Independence Day?  Sad but true...patriotic Peeps!

I woke up this morning thinking that I should use my column for a yarny public service.  I made one "bad" skein and one "good" skein of hand-dyed yarn using Easter egg dye, and I wrote a tutorial about it.  Keep in mind that tomorrow, these dyes go on sale for half off almost everywhere (as if $2.50 was too much to spend on dye in the first place), and the tablets last forever in a dry cupboard.  You may as well stock up and have some fun!  Here's what I did:

Then, I felted Axl's cat shrunk about 40%, which is a good size for my goofy cat.  Earlier today, he went outside and since the dogs were stalking the neighbor's dog, they were already on the hunt.  He came back inside with Penny drool on his neck and Bluto drool on his butt.  Here is his bed drying, anyway:

I think I am finished yarning for the day, since I have to go to work this evening. My to-do list has not shrunk, however...there is so much to do to get my life on track, but I'm feeling like I am at least heading in the correct direction.  Or directions.  Either way, all is good.  For now, it is time to watch the Blackhawks complete their annihilation of the Red Wings, pay some bills, maybe do laundry (although I think my washing machine is tired after the cat bed incident), and spend my next four days knitting while waiting for the Bensenville train to pass.

It is also nice enough outside where I should probably open the windows, lest my house smell like burnt vinegar for the next several days...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Maiden Voyages

Good afternoon!  It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, literally...I've been walking around the Loop for the last hour until I saw a decapitated "Walk" guy, which made me need tea.

This morning, I finished knitting Axl's cat bed.  Now, I just have to entertain my maiden voyage of felting.  I mean, I have felted pieces before, but nothing this big and...nothing on purpose.  So that said, I did some reading up on the subject, and conveniently I have a copy of Tamara Mello's book, Heart Felt Knits, which gives explicit instructions on how to do it.  So here is the finished knitted piece:

And before we go further:  yes, yes that is my pair of Grover-colored slippers on the right and no, no Muppets were harmed in the making of the slippers.

So anyway, it's about the size of your average Welcome Mat at the moment, and I only need it slightly larger than an iPad box.  Huh?

See, this box didn't make the move from Texas to Illinois, and Axl currently sleeps in the recycling box.  So he needs his own bed.  And it needs to be iPad-sized.

Anyway, while reading about the process of felting, I saw that a lot of people use an old pair of jeans to agitate the wool so it felts more beautifully.  I was heading downtown today on an impromptu field trip in my old jeans, so I did what any normal person would do - I purchased two new pairs of jeans to replace the soon-to-be-wool-and-mohair-covered ones I'm wearing.  They are nine years old, so it's only if we break up amicably and they do me one last favor before heading to the Salvation Army box.

After the Blackhawks game, if I am too wired I'm going to go ahead and fire up the washing machine...the results will be posted here ASAP.  For now, though, it's off to enjoy the gorgeous weather.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Post-Rotation Grog

Uggh...if there is one thing I've learned, it's that I should not do anything both complicated and yarn-related the day after I'm off of my rotation.

At least I took this lesson to heart yesterday, when I went to my local yarn shop and, instead of knitting the double-cable sock pattern I'm making with the Zauerball, I brought the felted cat bed I'm making for Axl.  I know...big deal.  But it's on big needles, in garter stitch, there is no actual pattern (just garter stitch for miles until I run out of yarn), and I'll survive if I drop a stitch.  Last week, I was making a Templeton square for the design contest, and I dropped stitches on three different needles in three different rows.  The pattern itself is easy for a decent knitter like myself, but picking up a yarnover from three rows below when I'm not thinking clearly in the first place is no fun at all.

So after sleeping for over twelve hours, I started looking at my yarn.  I am in the middle of a pair of socks, I need to make another pair of socks, make a bag for a housewarming gift for someone, finish the i-cord on the kimono sweater (it won't die), finish the cat bed, and make a list of stuff I have to do this week.

So what did I do?  I opened the drawer of unfinished projects I have and decided to rip one of them out.

Notice this was not on either the knitting list, or the less-specific other stuff to do for the week list, for the day.

But whatever...I took a shawl I started ages ago and decided that for some reason, I needed the 32" size US5 needle off of it, so I may as well re-ball the yarn.  I pull from the inside of the ball, so no big deal...I could just wind on the ball winder from the end on the outside of the ball.  Except that I couldn't find that end.


After ten minutes of flipping the half-used ball over in my hands, and continuing to look for a straggly piece of yarn, I gave up and realized I was going to have to rip this sucker out and use the cast-on end.  This was a shawl that was knit by making the entire border first, and then short-rowing the middle.  I was about halfway through the 440-yard ball.

Well, if you have ever tried to wind previously-knitted yarn, then you know that knots form for no reason.  It took me 20 minutes to wind this freaking ball.

Then what did I do?  I realized I wanted another ball of sock yarn wound.  I think I picked the worst skein EVER to may as well have been Malabrigo (dearest Malabrigo...I love your yarn and promote the crap out of it because it's so awesome, but your skeins are wound as if the person who looped them around was too hammered to drive) but it was actually by Dragonfly Fibers.  Axl, who has been known to crawl into my lap while I'm knitting and not be bothered with the colorful string flying about his face, found the yarn swift completely fascinating.

After realizing that maybe I was not awake enough to knit, I received a phone call that I'm hoping will change my life a bit.  More on that later, but I need to get off of my butt and do something.  Stitch(es) in Winnetka has their monthly Sit N Stitch tonight, and it's about time I actually started firing up my column again.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sigh of Relief

Good evening!  Lest you all think my blog has been shut off by authorities, let me clarify.

I've had a busy and stressful couple of months, so I dialed down the column and blog in favor of a few other ventures.  The big time investment went to the design contest.  I can't share a photo just yet because I assume it would disqualify me (if that's not the case and I get approval to the positive, I'll share), but I'm actually proud of myself for stretching my creative legs a bit.  I like one-hit wonders...scarves, hats, blankies...and then just reserve the garment-making for myself by following a pattern.

But I designed a garment.  With heavenly yarn.  And I finished it and entered with an ENTIRE DAY TO SPARE BEFORE THE DEADLINE!  Life is good.

There was a huge weight lifted off of me the day I closed on my condo.  This process made me question the short-sale culture; it was nobody's fault, but MAN what a pain in the arse.  The bank was slow, the lawyers were slow, the mortgage guy was slow, I was slow, the seller was slow, the agents were slow...okay, so nobody was actually "slow," but the process took seven months.  Then, on the last day of my rotation (when I am so over-tired that everything makes me cry), the closing is scheduled and I'm sitting at the title company, knitting the contest garment.

It's was sixty miles of an easy stitch pattern so I could do that while over-tired.

Anyway, we waited for hours in order to close because a glitch in a computer system was preventing some documents from being printed.  We were so bored, we friended each other on facebook.  Finally, with literally five minutes to go and no other day for the closing to happen, all went well and I went to work and then to Canada to teach a lace class.  Poof.

Ooh, and I filed my taxes with...if you can believe it...a MONTH to spare.

So the contest and the taxes were actually completed on the same day.  I had that feeling of "I don't need to do another thing for days!" feeling.  Even better, though...if any of you have ever test-knit something for someone, you know there's always the discussion of what was wrong with the pattern, what was decidedly RIGHT with the pattern, what may need to be worded differently and the like.  Well, I wrote this pattern out, drew the schematic, started knitting, and did not have a test-knitter besides myself.  In the moments I was sewing the last seam, I literally felt my heart start beating faster...I was nervous.  If it didn't work out, too bad...I was too close to the deadline to rip it out and do it again.

But it worked.  And it more than was cute and a half, it was so cute.  It's the same feeling, I think, that a groom feels when he sees his bride for the first time on his wedding day, but without the lifetime-overwhelm that comes with it.  Done.  Happy.

Other than that, working overnight is taking a lot out of me; I'll fire the column back up after my rotation for the next four days, and I have some great stuff lined up (that is, if you're a knitter or care at all about helping people).  For now, I am continuing trying to find new and different ways to sleep so my life has some balance to it, but my lack of a thyroid is getting in my way.  I've been having extreme headaches, and after having my blood drawn yet again I was told to keep my current dose of my meds because I'm "sensitive to higher thyroid doses."  A true statement.

I'm excited to pick up a project I put down in favor of the contest.  Hmm...the Zauerball socks, the cat bed, the sleeves for the kimono sweater that won't die...