Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The UnBrangelina Hat is running out of yarn. I've knit all the knitting, but the bind-off will take some creativity. I'm going to try the No-Yarn Bind-Off, as detailed by the Yarn Harlot. It's going to be extra challenging, as I intend to keep my fingers crossed. Wish me luck.Let me introduce one of my favorite tools. It's called the Triangle Square Up Ruler and it rocks. I don't use it enough, but when I do, it produces near-perfect half-square triangles. (I don't know why they call 'em that: it's really a square made of two triangles, but it's not like they had me on speed dial when they made up the term. I think I would have suggested a squiangle.) Here's how I use it.
  1. First you gotta make a half square triangle. (There are 20 tutorials online for doing this. Pick one you like.) But be smart and make it too big. That'll give you room to fix it. Then put the TSU Ruler on top. It's got lines for whatever size block you want from 1" to 6.5". Find that line and scoot it over your block until it matches with your diagonal seam. My block is 4.5". (Sorry for blurry.)
  2. Hold down the ruler and cut off whatever sticks out. In this case it's the dark blue edges.
  3. Flip around your square and replace the TSU Ruler with the same line on the diagonal seam.
  4. Cut off whatever sticks out--now it's the cream fabric.
  5. Admire your near-perfect half square triangle, or squiangle, if you prefer.
  6. Make 674 more and assemble into a lovely king-size quilt. Ice your hand.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Socks, Socks, Socks!

Baby Peeps are done. I am making no comment as to whether they were knitted in the place where they were photographed. Gasp of Spring is finished, at long last. I decided to do the second toe plain instead of lacey. The lace will cause bumps inside a shoe and leave weak spots for potential holes. (At least, that's what I'm telling people.) "Wishing for Spring" was the second Iron Knitter pattern. It was supposed to be done in a week. These were done in two months. I wonder if there will be an Aluminum Knitter competition?
And Gorgeous Butt(e) is one down. I could make a very cheeky jest about now, but that would be beneath me, don't you think?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bask in My Imperfection

That's a phrase my Thursday night improv group has embraced. It usually involves kneeling before the person and basking like a flower in the sun. This is where my imperfection shows up well today. Therese gave me this lovely top out of the kindness of her heart: all I had to do was make it into a quilt. So I got to it. Then I looked at the job I did. (Insert appropriate expletive here.) Not only is the color of the thread just wrong, the quilting itself has all kinds of little jogs and blobs. The above is just one example of my wondrous capacity for imperfection. Basking yet?
So I have to frog. (Rip-it! Rip-it!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Brangelina Break-Up!

No, it's not what you think. I ran out of yarn for the Brangelina hat, so I had to frog it. I began another hat pattern that said it only needed 70 yards. I knew I had more than 70 yards of this lucious merino-silk-alpaca blend, so... Yeah. I ran out again. I called my local yarn stores. No, they don't have it. So I went to Ravelry. The only person with the same color wanted to sell 20 balls for $85. Not that it's not a bad price--it's a great price. But that's way more yarn than I need to make one little hat. So I had to go with something contrasting. I found MamaJ who sold me one skein of Sand color out of her stash. Yeah. One. That's really all I need. I hope. Sorry it's a little blurry. Musta been the anxiety.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

News from Brooklyn

A little cross-stitching in case you were wondering...Started work on a hat that's been in my queue. It's called the Brangelina Hat and it's at Crazy Aunt Purl's site. I was given the yarn from leftovers, so I've no idea if there will be enough. I guess I'll just have to wait and see. Some people say, "Oh, this hat took me just a couple of hours." Hah! I can beat that. I've already spent a couple of hours and I'm still in the ribbing. I'm such an overacheiver.Yeah, knitting mostly these days. I've been wanting to start new things. I finally got into the patterned part of the Viper Pilot socks. (To keep in the spirit of Battlestar Galactica fighter jocks, my project is called "Callsign Required".) Not that the ribbing was slowing me down. It was the chart. It clearly wanted to be printed on a color printer and that was not a reality that I could be in sync with. So I had to sit down with the black and white printout and the computer and fill in the minor details that were getting lost--like lines in the chart! While I was at it, I scrounged up some highlighters and color-coded the cables. (Cables are those criss-crossy things in fancy sweaters--people tend to get 'em crossed backwards and funny twists and stuff.) In her Brass Needles podcast, dear Miss Kalendar mentioned that Jasmin had done that with a pattern she was borrowing and it made all the difference in her knitting the Tangled Yoke Sweater.
Good news!
I just called the Brooklyn General Store and it seems that Stashy the Squirrel has made the trip without incident. Here's the note I sent along with him:
My name is Stashy. My name comes from the fact that I was made entirely from my creator's stashed materials.
I understand a yarn tree grew in Brooklyn. As a knitter myself, I would like to examine it and perhaps spend some time there. Please don't feel uncomfortable because I am a dude. Many very masculine guys, such as myself, knit and pursue all kinds of endeavors. I am considered quite the chef--my dill and acorn stew is very popular in San Diego--and I write a mean sonnet. I enjoy long romps through cashmere and the company of females. But I'm still enjoying my bachelor status; I'm not looking to settle down just yet.
Following this little jaunt, please return me in my box. Desi has assured me she will include the appropriate shipping and I am looking forward to a day trip to Balboa Park, where I am assured there are some rockin' trees!

He's apparantly already got a new admirer--the girl who answered the phone said he was cute!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ears? Sounds... Delicious.

Today I made my very first hamentashen. They're triangular cookies with filling, in this case apricot preserves. They're supposed to look like this bad guy--Haman's--hat or his ear. Yeah, you'd think there would be two different cookies.I won't say they're the ugliest cookies ever, but they might be the ugliest made in kitchens today. However, all the ingredients are nice: whole wheat flour, butter, sugar, egg, baking powder, vanilla... ooh, maybe there should have been salt. Huh. Too late now. The recipe itself had a typo: they never said when to add the vanilla and baking powder. Luckily, I've made cookies before, so I didn't wait until after the cookies were baked to add it in.
Tiny says they're delish. What do you think?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Recent Acquisitions

Got about a month ago: can't remember the name and can't even google it. Phooey.Got in the mail this week. Knitting bag and fancy sock yarn (whee.) Gasp of Spring socks in progress after our estrangement and subsequent reunion. And a duck.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stashy the Squirrel

Something's happening at Brooklyn General Store. Seems they've knitted a tree, but it's empty. They want squirrels. The squirrels will be in a contest and the winners will receive gift certificates for their creators. Let's examine this.
  1. Make something silly.
  2. Be part of a game.
  3. Have a time element--deadline May 15.
  4. Chance of prize. (Not saying a huge chance--I once got a third place award in a contest for which I had the only entry. True story.)

Yeah, I'm in! Stashy will be hitting the road tomorrow morning on his way across the country. (I guess he'll be a flying squirrel!) Photo of Stashy helping with the tail part of the knitting, while he still had temporary eyes. That's right, he's got skilz! I'm calling him Stashy 'cause he's made entirely from stuff I already had... except the pipecleaner I boosted from church. Yeah, real illicit. I had three members of the staff poking through cupboards for me. Seems nobody wanted to see Stashy with a limp tail.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How I Wind Yarn

Okay, there are some fancy tools out there for winding your yarn from a skein into a ball. (And even fancier ones for reversing the process. No, it's real.) The most popular set-up is a swift and a ball winder. A swift looks like a half-open umbrella on a carousel and a ball winder looks like those old-fashioned manual pencil sharpeners. To buy this stuff new costs about $100 and don't even think about buying a used swift as they break if you breathe funny. Do you know how much yarn you can buy with $100? Admittedly, not that much if it's cashmere, but still...

Now, I wouldn't spit on a swift and ball winder should someone gift me a set but I would way rather spend my money on yarn so I use a manual ball winder. Super manual.

Manual (adj) of or relating to the hands

Here's my manual ball winding technique.
  1. Drape your yarn around an open drawer. Yep, those are my scrap bins. Ignore them.

  2. Butterfly-wrap a few times back and forth between two fingers.

  3. Slip it off those fingers.

  4. Fold one "wing" of the butterfly over the other.

  5. Wrap a few wraps around the middle. This is the core of your ball.

  6. Wind, sloppily. Stick a finger in there and let it get wrapped over. One of the biggest mistakes newbies make is winding the yarn too tight and stretching it. Just be a little sloppy. It's okay. You have permission. Like you need it.

  7. Begin your project!

This is a pattern called Rocky Butte. It's by Miss Violet and the yarn is TVYarn, the colorway is The French Lieutenant's Woman. Combining rocky buttes and France makes me think of the Grand Canyon of France, Les Gorges du Verdun. Beautiful! So I think I'll name these socks Gorgeous Butt(e). Pronounce it in a way that makes you smile.