too much crafting knowledge

November 12, 2013

In Horatio Hornblower Duty, there’s a scene with Maria, who gives Horatio a pair of mitten before he leaves on a mission to face the forces of the French Navy/Army/Napoleon Bomaparte. This should be a touching scene, a scene of awkward intents and shifting emotions. He has rescued her and her mother from debtor’s prison. She feels she owes him, but she’s a respectable girl. She holds him in terribly great esteem. They may never see each other again.

Me, I thought “She made a full pair of men’s mittens in one night?!!” Because I guess you could do that with a chunkier yarn and if you stayed up, but man, that’s a fair amount of work to do overnight.

W said, “I don’t thinks that’s the viewer is meant to scrutinize that point.”

I think knowing something about the craft ruined the scene for me.


Clapotis progress

November 11, 2013

So I’ve been knitting away on the scarf.  (And to take a break from the scarf, I’ve knit a hat.  But that’s not what’s important here.  I just needed a gift for someone and I liked the pattern.)

I’ve been scared to death of making this scarf.  I ripped back a couple of times already.  I was more than half-way done and I was contemplating yet another rip back.  There are important, serious reasons for it.  I made one edge a bit too tight.  I consulted with a couple of other knitters and they assure me that it’s hardly noticeable and if it bothers me by the time I finish knitting it, it will probably block out.  Blocking out, as anybody knows, is a lie.  It’s just that when people say that, they mean that when you finish knitting it, you’ve got a finished product and even if the urge is still with you, you won’t have the heart to rip that sucker out.  They’re probably right, at least for me.  (It’s negative knitting.  It rips out the heart as well.)

But the reasons why I’ve been so hesitant about this project (I hate ripping out, but I have no problems with it here) is because I want it to be perfect.  I’ve just never had an item that mattered to me like this – most of the time, I’ve knit and been done with it.

Part if it has been that the yarn is among the most expensive I’ve ever bought.  (It’s pretty good yarn.)   I’ve been thinking and longing for this scarf since I saw it, months, maybe years before I actually started knitting seriously.  I’ve got a facebook post about it.  (I just checked, dating October 2012, a month before I took that knitting class.)  It’s almost as if all the knitting I have done up to this point has been to gear up for making this scarf.

This thinking is stupid.  The scarf is not that hard to make.  It’s a bit of an exercise in patience, because it is a long scarf/shawl/stole, but it’s nothing like an entire outfit of colorwork in skinny yarn with teeny-tiny needles.  It’s just in my own head.  There’s a new-to-me technique of dealing with alternating multiple balls of yarn (because, hello expensive hand-painted yarn that is only related to each other skein in the same colorway like I’m related to my second cousins) which is sort of a pain.  The idea was terribly intimidating.  I’m over it now, though.  (I’ve got 3 on the go at once, but can’t figure out how to do a fourth.)


If you’re wondering, the scarf is turning out pretty well, otherwise.  I’m really enjoying the knitting and the yarn is lovely.   I’m trying to get into the headspace of letting the process go on and not getting in the way.  If the product doesn’t turn out well, it’ll be fine.  Nothing in the world will be much different.  I might go ahead and buy more of this yarn to make another one.  That would be it.  The sky will not fall, my children will be the same, and I will have a finished scarf that is slightly below my dreams but as good as I could have done at the time.

I’m dealing with the force of my own expectations here.  I don’t know where I get off expecting so much.  I’m working on it as I’m working on this scarf.   Think kindly of the crazy lady in the red scarf, please.

lost arts

October 15, 2013

I read the book Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros some years ago and a scene from it just came back to me today.

Part of the book talks about how one of the character’s mother was a renowned maker of shawls.  But the mother died before she could pass on her skills and knowledge, and all the daughter had was a half-finished piece, which she, as a young child, mouthed and took comfort in and knotted and unknotted the strands.  The knowledge was lost forever.

I wonder, if I keep knitting, will my children care about the pieces I make?  Will they want the last thing I was working on?  Will what interest I have in crafting be passed on, or will it be lost?

I do have a plan to teach the kids to knit, regardless of their ultimate interest in it.  Beyond that, I guess I don’t have a say.


Things nobody wants

October 9, 2013

I’m all twitchy because I just posted a little story.   And I can guarantee you it is something nobody wants.  I checked before I posted and there isn’t much else like it.  It’s a crossover between a couple of different fandoms.  Nobody wants crossovers, nobody wants gen fic, nobody wants this story.  This however, has never stopped me from writing anything.  It has, more likely, stopped me from pursuing a career in writing because I’m aware of the small appeal my tastes run.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the latest scarf I’m working on to distract myself from the fact that my readership count will be exactly the same next week as it is today.  Which is zero.

This scarf is something that thousands of people wanted, though.  Wanted enough to make.  It’s turning into a great knit.  Not difficult to memorize, relatively easy stitches, clear pattern.  A dream.

Clapotis by Kate Gilbert.  I have wanted to make this scarf for a long time.  I think I posted it to my facebook account a couple of years ago, even.  I found the yarn last year.  But I somehow couldn’t start it.  Why, you ask?

You know how it gets sometimes when you’ve got all the right ingredients and it somehow is just you that stands in the way of something awesome?  Yeah.  That’s me.  But I got over my knitting insecurity (mostly because I don’t have a lot of other projects going on right now and the ones I do I’m even more afraid of screwing up).

It doesn’t look like much, because there’s a magic trick at the end, but here is where I am right now:


The yarn is Baa Sonoma, My Sweet Valentine colorway.  (And yes, those are the same colorway, which is why I’m having to alternate balls of yarn so it looks cohesive.)  It is yummy and just a little sheepy.  Disregard that last adjective if you don’t understand what I means.  I didn’t really either before I started knitting seriously.

Crochet workshop

September 18, 2013

I won a ticket to a craft show.  I didn’t know what to expect, but hey, free ticket.

There were tons of papercrafts and some fiber stuff and a couple of gardening and cooking booths.  Some of it was stuff I liked and some of it didn’t really apply to me.  I wandered around some of the booths, and then I stumbled upon a free how-to-crochet workshop.  Great!  I’d always wanted to know how to really crochet, instead of makeshift-out-of-70’s book way I’d been going about it.

So, I sweated over the yarn for an hour and came away with this:


No.  Not the whole thing.  I made the light pink stuff.  A chain, double crochet, and the fat row on top of the magenta sample.  (They provided the magenta stuff as example and as starting point for double crochet. )  So, less than three rows of crochet in an hour.   Um, yeah.  Just burning up the crafting table here with my mad skillz.

I did learn everything I knew was wrong, so that was useful, in a sort of demoralizing way.

As a bonus, they let me keep the yarn.  So, yay.  (But not the crochet hook.)


August 23, 2013

I’m a hypochondriac.  Self-diagnosed, but still.  I know it when I feel it.

So when I developed a little hard pad of skin on the tip of my finger, I immediately started to worry.  Was it some kind of bacteria eating my skin?  Something contagious?  A parasite?

I worried and worried.  I didn’t tell W, or even do something rational, like talking to a medical professional or even check the internet for “hard pad of skin developed suddenly on tip of finger.”  I was afraid I would <i>really</i> make it a big deal.


After months of this, I sat on the couch and just started picking at it.  After a little bit, it fell off, leaving a slightly softer pad of skin on my finger.

Then it came to me.

I knew what I had.

Knitting callous.

I deserve a callous on my face from headdesking so hard.


July 24, 2013

Everybody does this.  So I shall show you my stash.


A couple of skeins haven’t made it into the photo, but just pretend there are a couple of extra yellow and red balls.  Wow, I’ve got a lot of red and yellow, and almost no green.

This is where the skeins all live.  In plastic bags, in a plastic 66-quart tote.  (Yes, only the best for my yarn.)  My needles and notebooks live nextdoor in another tote.  Books live elsewhere yet again.  (I don’t know why, except for the location of the bookshelves is awkward and the fear that if they co-habitate there might be uncontrolled reproduction of some kind.)


I’ve decided to try to keep all the yarn to the tote.  If I’m reaching the limits on size, I will knit down to fit.  This is my portion control.  I do have a habit of buying just a single skein to ‘try it out’ or it’s ‘on sale’ and that’s all that was there.

This is not an awesome habit.  I never really buy the accompanying yarn and I even if I wanted to make a biggish project, I can’t because I don’t have anything but a single skein.  The yarn tend to sit until I figure out what I want to do with them.  (It’s okay, because I’m mostly about hats and socks and the occasional small scarf, but still.  Someday I may make a sweater.  Probably not for me, but a knitter should have at least knitted a sweater some time in their knitting life.)

I just want some turn-over of the stash, because I did like the yarn when I bought it, but yet somehow, I can’t always figure out what to do with it.  This then becomes a storage problem and a potential financial problem.  I don’t like that.  I want to keep in control of this.  I want to become a discriminating yarn buyer, user, giver.

I’m hoping this portion control idea doesn’t lead to the syndrome of knitting all the bulky/fat yarn first to make more room so I can buy more yarn.  😐  (Self, I’m on to you.)

follow-ups everywhere

July 17, 2013

You know how in long-running series in various forms of media, you’re given call-backs to previous episodes (often long-ago) whether it’s characters, or particular themes?

So, in the interest of the 2 people who read my blog, (none of whom knits) I give you follow-ups.

I made some insect/arthropod  dishcloths for a wedding.  This turned out very well, astonishingly well, given that I see the groom once every couple of years and I’ve never met the bride.  They had fossils on the serving table and the happy couple had a bee/trilobite going on with their attire.  Yay!  (In the interest of maintaining their privacy, I can’t say what.  But I will say it wasn’t human-sized bee/trilobite suits.  It was more bee/trilobite accents.)

I re-knit/fixed a couple of things.

1.  I made socks for W a while back.  He thought they were cushy, but never wore them because they were cutting off his circulation, especially in one leg.


(I think my gauge here was fairly different between the two socks.  I was trying out a couple of different ways of holding the yarn and tensioning.)  They were also too short, especially to wear to work.  (Ribbing drives me crazy.  It’s annoying.  Give me twice the length of stockinette any day.)  I want these things to be more than artifacts to my hobby, so I fixed them.  I unpicked the bindings on both legs and added a couple of inches, and also a couple of stitches in each row.  This made the ribbing look wonky, but he was much happier and he’ll actually wear the socks now, which makes me happy.  (Even if he doesn’t wear them t work.)  Everybody’s happy.


2.  I knit this hat.  (I don’t have a picture on the blog previously, but I feel it’s important to mention, because that hat sucked my will to do anything else for a while and I simultaneously loved that hat and hated making it.)  I flubbed the top because I don’t think I was paying enough attention because I was SICK of making the hat and wanted to get back to my life.   I guess literacy isn’t everything – you have to care that you’re also reading it correctly.  (This is a lesson I’ve been trying to teach my son.  But, hey, like parent like child.)  If the image is clear enough, you’ll see the little bit of white that crosses over the dark blue in the very center – that shouldn’t be there.


I fixed it within a couple of hours.  Much happier.  It’s a little like having a brand new finished object without actually having gone through the pain of working on it.  (I have mostly forgotten how much I was annoyed by the stranding, because I am thinking about maybe, someday, doing something similar.)


May you have a happy day where it feels like you’ve done something great, but only really did a minimal amount of work!

day dreams

July 12, 2013

So I got an invitation to subscribe to a knitting magazine.

It contained the usual sorts of things you’d expect: descriptions of the amount I’d save by subscribing, the awesomeness of their patterns (from beginning to advanced), knitwear designers, ways to improve your skills, reviews on products.  Then came:   “Inspiring photography that invites you into a yarn-filled daydream.”

Cue image of me with a thought bubble, and the only thing in the bubble is a skein of yarn on some grass, somewhere in the Hebrides or a fjord or something.   (I don’t need cute animals or attractive people in scanty knitwear – I just want yarn on a lovely landscape.)

Knitting magazine, my hat’s off to you.  You really know your audience.

(Conclusion, I didn’t subscribe.  But you definitely got my attention.)

pop goes the…

July 11, 2013

I was thinking about that song recently.  I always thought that the “weasel” in the song meant another animal, like the monkey.

Well, boy howdy, I was wrong.  I was looking something about yarn and skeins and winders in Wikipedia, as you do, and I came across the entry for spinner’s weasel.  It’s a device that allows you to wind a pre-determined amount onto a wheel (a skein).  The important thing in that entry is the part the says the device goes “pop” after the amount is reached.

Voila! Pop goes the weasel.

I was so excited when I read that.  (I would be leading you on to say that is the agreed definitive meaning of the phrase, as it is under some dispute.  However, it was better than what I thought it meant, which indicated some violence done to a mustela.)