Sunday, 17 November 2013


My holiday knitting is coming along well this year, surprisingly so.  I finished another gift today and even did a small side project.  No, you can't have any pictures, at least not until after the holiday season.  You'll just have to put up with me talking about it for another month and a half.  I'm really excited about a lot of it this year though.  Not that I'm not excited about it in other years, but there's a few things that I really can't wait to show off!

Until then though, I do have other things going on, the next few weeks especially are pretty busy.  The annual retreat for my LYS is coming up, so today I read over the list of supplies that I'll need for the classes I'm taking (beaded ornaments and knitting with wire).  I noticed I needed 3.5 mm needles for the beaded ornaments class, and while I do have 3.5 mm circular needles, I've never gotten around to getting dpns in that size.  I was pretty sure that I did have 3.25 mm needles though (which I think is close enough, especially since my knitting tends towards looseness), so I went to my needle roll and found three 3.25 mm needles.  Double pointed needles generally come in sets of five or six, and it's pretty tough to do anything with just three, so I began to worry.  Where could they have gone?

I racked my brain and went through my mental list of projects in-progress and decided the needles were probably in with my completed hexipuffs.  I unearthed the bin where they were, dumping a bunch of stuff on the floor in the process, and the needles were not there.

Shortly thereafter it clicked.  I had been using the needles (all five of them) for a sock project and then needed those needles for something else, but apparently I only needed three of them, because I mashed all of the stitches of the sock onto two of the needles and shoved it back into the bottom of my old knitting bag.  When I finished the other project (whatever it was, maybe it WAS the hexipuffs?) I just put the needles back into the needle roll, evidently forgetting completely about where I took the needles from.

How great is this sock?  And I totally stopped knitting it even though I was pretty close to being done, and then nearly completely forgot about it.  The yarn is handspun from my first few months of having a wheel, and this is the first knitting I did with my own handspun.  This sock deserves to be finished, and it deserves to have a mate.  I think I have to finish this sock now that I found it again.  Also, I need the needles for the class at the retreat.  I have stitch holders but I'm pretty sure they're holding stitches on yet another unfinished project.  Yeah that one needs finishing too, I'll get to it eventually... I hope.

Dear Readers, this is one of the many reasons why I am on a yarn diet.  Awesome projects like this that need to be finished so they can see the light of day.  I'm going to keep telling myself that, anyway.

I've been working more on the Starfish Stole, however finishing it isn't urgent anymore as I'm not going to my company dinner after all.  The only disappointing thing about not going is that I won't have a fancy dinner to wear a fancy new wrap.  It probably wouldn't have been done by then anyway.  This is how far I am:

I've still got a bunch of the first ball of yarn and I have another whole ball of yarn still.  That's good because I'm hoping it will end up being pretty big.  I'm a little worried it will end up being too short since I'm making it wider than it's supposed to be.  It will stretch a lot though, and it looks a lot better when stretched out.  The above picture does not give any indication of what it actually looks like.

This is more like it:

Kinda excited, not gonna lie.

It's officially winter here now, but I've been meaning to get my favourite winter scarves and shawls washed and ready to wear for awhile.  Yesterday I finally washed and re-blocked my Juneberry Triangle which I made over two years ago and is still one of my favourites.  It's made of Cascade 220 so it's pretty sturdy, and I decided to try a bit of experiment.

Usually when I'm blocking things I do it in the office and keep the door closed to keep the cats away from it, since I'm never sure what they'll do.  Yesterday after pinning it all out I left the office door open, and sure enough, it didn't take long before this happened.

I didn't think much of it, because I know other knitters have cats that like to lie on their knitted things while they're blocking and it's not a big deal.  I figured he'd get bored/lonely after a short while and then leave it alone, which was what happened.

Or so I thought.

This morning I checked on it and discovered that it had been rumpled up a bit despite my pinning, and there was a small snag (fixable but still annoying).  Worse than that though, was that someone, and I'm not naming names, had left an unpleasant surprise for me on the shawl.  Given the history of the certain unnamed someone(s) leaving unpleasant surprises for me in certain places around the house (the floor mats by the doors, the ottoman, the bedroom rug, the bed, etc...), I really should have known better.  I'm calling it a learning experience, and while I'm re-washing and re-pinning it out for another hour I will tell myself that at least now I know.  And, I will leave the door closed.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Crochet magnon

As usually happens when I'm deep into Christmas knitting, I recently started getting crazy urges to knit for myself.  I'll admit that I have things on the needles for myself already, but they've either been on the needles for so long that I'm tired of them, or they will still take so much longer to finish that knitting on them doesn't fulfill my selfish desires.

Of course, that means casting on something new, based on the yarn that I have available to me (yes, the yarn diet is still going strong).

For the last couple of holiday seasons I've dreamed of having a luxurious handmade wrap, probably in black because it goes with everything.  I remembered that on one of the Enabler's trips to Seattle he'd brought me back a couple of skeins of a black fingering weight alpaca/nylon blend which I thought would be perfect for said wrap.  So I wound it up and set about choosing a pattern.

I remembered seeing a lovely wrap in a SweetGeorgia Yarns newsletter awhile ago, and thought it would be the perfect wrap pattern for my perfect yarn.  It's called the Starfish Stole and it's gorgeous.

There was just one small hiccup, which you may have guessed already...  It's crochet, not knitting.

*dun dun DUUUUUN*

Many knitters (including some I know personally) have this attitude toward crochet:

I'm not averse to crochet, I just haven't done it in a long time, and in general I prefer knitting.  That said, I was an avid crocheter before I was an avid knitter.  I crocheted a number of blankets (one even of my own design), toys, slippers, and other items, before I was comfortable knitting anything more complicated than a dishcloth.  So, in a way, going back to crochet is like going back to my roots.  It's where my love of yarn began.

Learning how to crochet well took me longer than learning how to knit well.  Knitting is orderly, and crochet feels rather chaotic and random in comparison.  In fact, I don't think it's fair to compare them, because they are actually very different.  So, instead of trying to explain the differences, I've prepared a short list of crochet pros and cons:


1. Crochet is forgiving.  If you don't put the crochet hook in exactly the right place, it probably won't be that noticeable, depending on where in the row it is.  Generally you want to keep the beginning and end of each row pretty tidy, but everything in the middle, meh...

2. If you do make a noticeable mistake, or do the wrong number of chain stitches, or whatever, it's easy to fix.  You just take the hook out and pull the yarn back past where the mistake was made, put the hook back into the loop of yarn, and try again.  There's no tinking or dropped stitches or worrying about stitches slipping off the needle.

3. Crochet is fast.  I've crocheted a whole gigantic blanket in less than two weeks, a pair of slippers over two evenings, a toy in a weekend, and I wouldn't consider myself all that speedy.

4. There's no "binding off".  Once you're finished, you're finished, and you don't have to worry about leaving enough yarn for the bind off edge.


1. Starting the project is usually a bit tedious, and when doing a long chain of stitches to begin the project, it's easy to lose count.  The chain foundation and the first row is often the hardest part as it involves a lot of counting and making sure the pattern is being set up properly.  It's very easy to make mistakes and ripping it out completely and starting over at least once is nearly guaranteed (for me, anyway).

2. It can be tricky to learn once one has already learned how to knit, especially if they have learned to knit English style as opposed to Continental style.  With crochet you pretty much have to hold the yarn in your non-dominant hand.  Actually I don't know this for sure, but I have no idea how someone would crochet while managing the yarn and the hook both with one hand.  Anyway that would just be weird... no judgement.

3. Certain friends of mine who are dyed-in-the-wool knitters look down on crochet as being a lesser craft (see above comic) and sneer when the word "crochet" is mentioned.  (Secretly I think they're just jealous because they don't know how... shhhh)

But most importantly, and perhaps most catastrophically...

4. It makes me delusional.

Because I have this idea in my head that crochet is SUPER FAST, I've convinced myself that I can finish this wrap before my company's annual dinner and dance in a month.  Well, it's four weeks from tomorrow, so if I do want to wear this to the dinner it has to be done in four weeks from yesterday at the latest to allow for blocking time.

This is how far I am.

For those who are interested, this is attempt number three.  The first attempt was too loose, so I ripped it out and started over with a smaller hook.  The second attempt was a good gauge, but I realized my yarn was thinner than the called-for yarn and therefore I was making a scarf, not a wrap.  On attempt number three I started with a foundation chain of 124 stitches instead of 84 like in the pattern to make it substantially wider, and I'm happy with it now.  Also, on attempts one and two I learned the pattern and re-learned how to read crochet terminology, so as long as I don't run out of yarn, I expect smooth sailing from here on in.

Like I said, I'm delusional.  Factor in the fact that I've still got a ton of Christmas knitting to do, and it will take a miracle (a Christmas miracle, perhaps?) for me to get this done on time.

It is pretty, though.