Friday, January 22, 2010

Almost ready to plunge in

Well, the ball is rolling and the crochet book is on its way.

Yep, I did it.

And then, Knitting Daily sealed the deal. Watch this woman crochet! It's like magic!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Slippery Slope

The cover of this book is making me want to cheat.

I mean, I've had dreams where I could crochet, but when I wake up, I look over at my knitting needles and think how happy I am with them.

I'd never purposefully cheat.

Maybe a DC here and there, maybe a surreptitious reading of the crochet instructions in my big books of crafts. Maybe a longing look at some brightly colored ripple afghans, or some sturdy wool potholders.

The last thing I need is another monkey on my back, the juggling of hooks, the added projects. But then I see a granny square or a cute amigurumi-- my mouth starts to water, and my fingers start itching.

Monday, January 11, 2010

10 Things You Don't Know About Me...

Lolly generously tagged the world with this one. I like the title so much more than the old "Random Things" list. It's really hard for me to think of random things because I'm pretty...sigh...boring.

That said, there's a lot I haven't shared about myself on here. Anyone care to take a gander & walk through the wilds of my weirdness?
  1. My favorite TV show of all time, one that can make me cry or laugh just thinking about certain episodes, and which I definitely think has influenced my speech patterns (imitate much?) is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."
  2. I have the Buffy theme song as my ring tone. Much as it chafed to spend $3 for about nine bits of information, I get a happy little feeling when my phone rings and I hear the Nerf Herders.
  3. When I saw "Nerf Herders" was the name of the band performing the Buffy theme song, I knew the name was a Star Wars allusion without being told. ("Who's scruffy-looking?")
  4. Whenever I talk to someone with an accent different from mine, I end up imitating it. I don't mean to--it just happens. Maybe that comes from growing up in the Northwest with no discernible regional accent besides Generic American. (I did just learn from my friend the linguistics professor that we say "beg" for "bag" and "aig" for "egg." So we're getting there.) When I lived in Texas I would come home with a strange hybrid Houston/Mississippi/Louisiana accent, courtesy of the hours I spent on the phone for my job talking to schools in those areas. When I worked in Canada, I picked up BC cadences. (They tend to end with a questioning sound? At the end of the sentences?)
  5. Up until fall of my senior year of high school, I wanted to become a medical doctor.
  6. I worked my way through college on scholarships and as a resident adviser. I actually made money every quarter rather than paying it.
  7. I am a mezzo-soprano now sadly out of practice. I sang in high school, at state contests, in state honors groups, in my college concert choir, and in various church choirs and worship teams. Now, I mostly sing in the shower.
  8. Both of my children were born without medical pain interventions. I did like the Fentanyl afterward, however.
  9. In the spring of 2000, I swear that I saw a two-humped camel in someone's front yard near Greenville, Mississippi. I was alone in a rental car at the time and no one can corroborate my story. But I stick by it.
  10. It doesn't help my believability that, a few months later, I swore I saw a camel on side of I-10 while M and I were driving to San Antonio. My propensity to see imaginary--or were they?--camels is now quite the joke in my family.
Anyone care to join me? link in the comments!

And, bonus #11: though I wanted to add some pictures for visual interest, I just can't do it. The journalism teacher in me would be so disappointed in the blogger in me for stealing images from other people. (Even though the realist in me points out that most images on the internet are already stolen, so hey....)

Thursday, January 07, 2010


Anne left a comment asking what felting is. Thanks, Anne, for your comment and compliments on the patterns! Since I couldn't reply via e-mail (why does Blogger do that?) I hope it's OK I answer your question with a post.

I have to begin by saying I am certainly no expert, just someone who has read a lot of knitting books and magazines and watched Bev Galeskas make a princess hat on Knitty Gritty.

Felting is where a knitter takes a lot of time to knit something with wool yarn, usually using needles 2-3 sizes larger than normal, and then sticks it in hot water, agitates it so there's lots of heat and friction, and gets something much smaller, thicker, and no longer totally recognizable as knitting.

This works because wool, being a natural fiber, has scales that open up with the heat and friction and rub and stick together, kind of like cockleburrs. It's the exact same thing that happens when we rat our hair.

(Can you tell I came of age in the '80s? Does anyone rat their hair any more? Oh the ratting and Aqua Net that went on in the girls' bathroom after P.E.! It's a wonder we don't all have lung disease from the hairspray we inhaled.)

It's also possible to create felt just from raw wool roving. I think that's how felt was made in the olden days (or, I guess, still today for commercial felt). This yields flat fabric that can be cut and sewn.

Knitted items that are felted become very thick, warm, and nearly water-proof because the thick wool fabric repels water.

Felted garments popular today are slippers, mittens, and shaped hats. Knitters also like to make felted handbags because the felt fabric is more stable and strong than typical knitted fabric; it won't stretch out of shape or wear holes as easily.

I think that about covers it--let me know if i've answered your questions, Anne.

And--does anyone have any good felting tips, tricks, or favorite patterns?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Even More Fun with Slippers

The winter break is nearly over...but I squeezed a few more small projects in.

My kids got really excited about slippers, in a way they've never been about sweaters. Go figure. So off we went a couple of weeks ago to my most favoritest yarn store, Apple Yarns, for some Cascade 220.

(I had mentioned here that I have usually used Lamb's Pride Bulky for my clogs. I think this will continue to be true for grown-up ones. However, Cascade 220 just has so many cool colors that we went that direction in order to get the exact desired shades of blue, black, orange, and pink. Plus I really love Cascade 220.)

I wound each hank into a center pull ball (best presents of 2008? my swift and my ball winder) and then wound a second, smaller ball. I then put the two balls together and wound a double-thick ball so I could just pull two strands at once without multiple balls of yarn tangling with each other. It was a little hard to eyeball the half-way point, but my estimates weren't too off. (It did occur to me that having a food scale would be helpful, but I don't have one, so...)

Ms. E's came off the needles first. She was actually pushing the project bag in my hands. "Mom, are you knitting my slippers?" "Mom, are they done yet?" "Mom, we need to felt my slippers!" Very cute, even if slightly tyrannical.

Mr. D's were just as easy and took only a couple of sessions. I think I knit each slipper in about two hours. Funny how small stuff takes less time than big stuff.

They felted up beautifully, no mishaps, and although the kids didn't LOVE trying on wet sloppy slippers ("Ew, this feels weird!") it was nice to really customize the fit. I spun the water out in the machine, dried them over the heating vent for a day or so, and put puffy paint on the bottoms for traction. Voila!

Yardage notes: Each set took about a half-skein of the foot color, and nearly a full skein of the sole/cuff color. Mr. D's was very close with the soles; after knitting on the second slipper's second sole, I had a tail of only about 3 inches left. I could have been more economical with my tails for seaming and saved a couple of yards, though.