It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

Well bummer.  Remember when I said the hat obsession had returned?  And I showed you the two yarns I wanted to use?  Yes.  Well.  I seem to have fallen under the sway of Malabrigo’s lovely but occasionally sporadic colors.  Somehow the yarn that looked all blue and green and gray with hints of yellow turned out to be yellow with bits of evil thrown in.  Well no, I take it back.  The yarn itself is lovely, it just wasn’t playing well with that gray and that stitch pattern.  Not really at all.

So I did what any reasonable knitter would do and drove across town to the nearest yarn store with a good supply of Malabrigo (River Colors, for anyone in the area) and bought more yarn.  The plan had initially been to get a different skein of Rios and use it with either the existing gray or the existing blue.  Somehow I accidentally bought two skeins of Twist instead.  One in Indiecita and one in Green Gray.  I’m liking the impact of this stitch better at the larger gauge.  I’m not too far along with the new version, but this should give the idea.

Now, is it wrong that I’m seriously considering only ripping the gray hat out to the band…that’s 8 rows of beautiful twisted ribbing, and I’m pretty sure I can find a use for that in some other project if it just hangs out in the stash closet long enough.

I Protest

When you don’t swatch, or when you do a crappy swatch, or when your swatch proves to be a bald-faced liar (that’s what happened here), then you get to rip out the promising start of a hat (while swearing), detangle all that yarn (still swearing), pick up all the stitches that survived the purge (more swearing), and knit it all over.  This time with the right size of needle. And maybe with a refreshing and restorative beverage.

Here’s the bundle of lying crap.  The new and improved version will be coming up next.  Or, if it doesn’t continue to improve, you’ll get to watch me pitch a temper tantrum of epic proportions.  Either way, it should be entertaining.


Every now and then someone asks me how it is that all my knitting comes out so well.  After I’ve stopped laughing, I assure them that it doesn’t.  Not really at all.  An amazing percentage of my knitting comes out exceptionally badly.  Probably a higher percentage than of your knitting.  Every pattern that gets to the point where you see it has had lots and lots (and lots) of failed prototypes.  So, just to reassure those of you who might be feeling that you’re the only one whose knitting occasionally looks like a pile of limp spaghetti, allow me to show you my most recent botch up.

See, not cool at all.  But never fear, the revised version (over on the left, helpfully obscured for the moment) is going well.  I’ll show it off to you shortly.  Now though, I need to rip this first attempt right out.

Kittens are Punks, Part I

I preface this by saying first, it’s my own damn fault.  Do keep that in mind as we go along.  But, with that in the back of your mind, I posit that kittens are punks.

The other day, I was doing something in the basement.  I have no idea what at this point.  Laundry is most likely, but I don’t actually think that was it.  Whatever it was, I happened to remember that I had some boxes of easter eggs down there.  Now if you know me, this is really rather surprising.  I don’t celebrate easter.  I don’t decorate for holidays.  It seems odd that I would have boxes (plural) of easter eggs.  But you see, in my youth and childhood, I lived overseas.  The family would often go off to eastern Europe over spring break.  One of the things that tended to follow us home were easter eggs.  Mine have, doubtless to my mother’s chagrin, been sitting in my basement as long as I’ve had this house.

There they would have stayed, safe in dusty repose, had I not realized that a few of them were lovely examples of crochet.  Now when I got these things I couldn’t have told you the difference between knit and crochet.  But I’ve since expanded my horizons, and I wanted to see if I could see how they were done.  To tell the truth, I thought I’d grab a picture and turn it into a blog post.  Cheating perhaps, but coming up with something to tell you guys about every day or two is a surprisingly big job.  I don’t knit fast, so I’m not above using the knitting (or in this case crochet) of others.  So, here they are, pretty lacy crocheted eggs.  I like the pink one best.  Scintillating, no?  No.

But you’ll note no kittens and no punk-like behavior have yet made an appearance in this tale.  That comes next.  Instead of putting the eggs safely away, I just set them in their dish on the shelf above the desk.  Those of you with kittens will know how this next part goes.  The kittens never go on that shelf.  The kittens showed no interest in the eggs.  They sat there for a few days (I’m lazy, you’re welcome to come clean for me if it bothers you too much).  Then one evening, The Boy and I were sitting at the dinner table, and we looked into the kitchen.  Douglas the wonder punk was playing with something.  This is pretty normal, he’s 9 months old, he’s made of springs and silly putty and is unable to sit still unless he’s asleep.  He’s always playing with something.  But neither of us recognize the toy.  This is usually a bad sign.  We investigated.

Yeah.  That’s the punk part.  We explained to him that this was not a shining example of kitten virtue and suggested he go find another toy.  Promptly.

But do not lose hope.  I have a plan.  I don’t actually like the red egg.  I think what I’ll do is blow a brown egg, snip that single thread that holds the top bit of lace onto the bottom part, put the new egg in, and stitch it back together.  It seems like a solid plan, right?  I don’t see any reason why this shouldn’t work, but I’ll report back.  And then, you know, tuck it back up safely in the basement eventually to be found a home with someone who does decorate for easter.

Anyone out there ever decorate eggs with crochet?  It looks like a fairly low-commitment place to start.

The Stars Did Not Align

We’re actually pretty good at the short trip thing.  We don’t overpack (for one or two nights we just share a super tiny rolling bag).  We understand the importance of snacks.  We have the music situation well under control.  I know all about the care and feeding of car knitting.  We have a system.  Usually, it just sort of works.  But this weekend…this weekend we never quite found our groove.

It started when we woke up on Saturday and found the furnace had given up the ghost.  We have a service plan through our gas company, so we called them and said ‘help.’  They assured us someone would call within 24 hours to arrange a service visit.  We figured we might as well spend those 24 hours somewhere warm, so we headed off to Pittsburgh more or less as planned, though a bit later than we had hoped.

Once there, we stopped in at East End Brewing.  We had a few of their growlers that we thought they might want back.  We’re thoughtful like that.  Though somehow we ended up refilling two of them tasty things and bring them back home…we’re like that too.  Thus supplied, we swung by Natural Stitches (conveniently located just up the street).  I did a bit of stash augmentation (oh Madeline Tosh, your colors weaken my resolve), and we headed off to find dinner.

The plan had been to go to Embury.  We try to go there every time we visit Pittsburgh because they have amazing cocktails.  We drove, parked, walked…only to find a construction site.  The restaurant was gone, and another was taking its place (apparently they’ve moved and will reopen later).  This was more than a bit frustrating, especially as their website made no mention of being closed or of having moved.  Undaunted (or, rather, quite daunted but also quite hungry) we set off to make other arrangements.  We found another option.  They had food.  That’s really all I can say about them.  Or no…I can say that between the unnamed restaurant and the car was a lovely establishment called The Milk Shake Factory (link to the yelp page because the actual page makes lots of terrible noises).  There we found exactly the right sort of chocolate to make up for some of the mishaps of the day.

After that, we headed out to the hotel (getting only moderately misplaced along the way) and turned in for the night.  Now generally, I try to exercise a certain level of decorum in what I tell you about my personal life.  My policy is that you’re not here for the details of my marriage, my digestion, or my finances.  But now, I will break with tradition and tell you something private.  At home, The Boy and I sleep under separate covers.  We each have our very own duvet, and I firmly believe (as does he) that this is one of the keys to our relationship.  At hotels, we usually manage to rig something up so we still each have our own covers.  We neglected to do that this time.  The result was more or less what you might imagine trying to sleep next to an angry badger in a burlap sack to be like.  No one got much rest, and I’m pretty sure we both need rabies shots.  (Please note, I am not casting aspersions on The Boy’s character, I am every bit as much the angry sleep badger as he is…it’s why we don’t share covers.)

After a less than restorative evening, we went downstairs for breakfast.  We returned to our room and noticed that the gas company had not yet returned our call.  I called them again.  They allowed as how someone should have called us.  I agreed completely, then pointed out that alas, no one had called us.  They agreed that this was less than optimal, but had no solutions.  We discussed a variety of possible approaches to this problem and settled on the oh-so-popular continue to wait method. They did eventually call back…with the news that we would need to call again on Monday morning to try and set up an appointment.  Keen.

We packed up and headed out to Ikea.  I managed not to buy any furniture, though I did get an awesome desk pad, a very knitterly blanket, and some marvelous purple trays.  Then we hit up Half Price Books.  I found two new stitch dictionaries to add to the shelf, and The Boy fed his ever-growing collection of sci fi books with really tacky looking covers.  After a quick lunch, we headed over to Knit One.  I restrained my yarn lust (though I did finally lay hand on a few of The Fibre Company’s yarns, and now I know I need to use them in future–there was one skein that I would not have been able to resist if there had been more than one in stock…yummy stuff).  We stopped in at Caliban Books and did our part to stimulate the local economy (and may possibly have tripped into a little game store right next door too).  Commerce complete, we headed off to dinner.

While we were sitting in Church Brew Works we came to a realization.  We were tired.  Really really tired.  Last week had been long.  The night before had not been restful.  It was at least two hours until the concert started, then another hour until the band we wanted to see went on.  Add in another hour or two for the show and you’re up to five hours.  Then of course there was the two and a half hour drive home (earliest likely arrival time, 2 am).  We ran through the math in our heads a few times, thought about what we had on our schedules for this coming week, and did something shameful.  We left without seeing the show.  We just got in the car and came home.  We were tucked up (under lots of covers, as the furnace still wasn’t working) by ten.  I think this may mean I am officially old.  Somehow, I’m comfortable with that.

So with that, I’ll leave you for now.  But I will come back shortly to show you the new sock.  Because despite the otherwise questionable voodoo of this weekend, the sock I worked on seems to be coming out well.


The kitten overlords have decreed that I may not use my desk chair.  It has been commandeered for their nefarious purposes.  They suggest checking back later to see if they’re done with it, but they make no promises.

Update:  Shortly after posting this, the rat fink bastards devious little brats kittens upped the ante in their quest to keep me from being productive.  They swarmed me, all three at once, on the tile floor.  It was a choice between dropping what I had in my hands and grabbing the sink or going ass over teakettle and landing in the middle of them.  In the fraction of a second one has to make those sorts of decisions, I choose to protect the kittens (and my knees).  Alas, the thing I had in my hand was my ipad.  The glass is now cracked beyond salvage.  This is not an auspicious start to the day.

And Then They Fell Down Raining Fiery Death on All

Some things in this world are simply true.  It doesn’t matter if I remember them or not.  It doesn’t matter if I like them or not.  They just go right on being true in blatant disregard of how I think the world should work.

For instance, I am a big person, and I have giant freaky man hands.  Also, it is rather challenging to take pictures of hands.

Given these two truths, it really shouldn’t surprise me that taking a picture of giant freaky man hands that 1) makes them look willowy and delicate 2) shows off the knitting they are wearing 3) is marginally interesting and 4) doesn’t show anything in the background you want to hide is flipping impossible.  Especially if you’re trying to pull the whole thing off for three different projects in ten minutes.

So we’ll try again this weekend.  But until then, mitts…without hands.

Dear Sir

Dear United States Customs Officials,

I know that it is unlikely that you have a grudge against me or that you spend your days dreaming up ways to make me unhappy.  Unfortunately, your actions of late have made me realize that there is a difference between things that are unlikely and things that are impossible.  If you don’t stop holding my packages hostage I will be forced to conclude either that this is personal or that you are using your power to feed your uncontrollable lust for wooly goodness.  Please release my packages and restore my faith in humanity.

Yours in epic frustration,

Madam Violence

It’s a Process

Having decided to dye the blanket, I thought I should do a bit of research.  Armed with a bit of reading, I first washed the blanket (it hadn’t been washed for years…because it had been in the blanket chest, not because I’m filthy).  Then I dug out my old jug of synthrapol from a previous tie dyeing phase and ran it through with a shot of that out of some vague notion that it would be helpful. Then, while the blanket was still wringing wet, I trundled off to mix up the dye.

I used all three packets, and I followed the directions to the letter.  Yes, even the part about the cup of salt (farewell fancy Penzeys salt, it was nice to have known you).  I ran enough water in the washer to allow the blanket to move freely, tipped in the dye, and swirled it all around.  Then, in an unexpected move, I left it alone for a full hour.  I’m bad at waiting.  This was a challenge.

Once the allotted time had passed, I came back and drained the washer and ran it again with just water.  I did that a few more times until the water ran clear.

I picked up my blanket and…and…it was exactly the same.  Exactly.  No difference in color what so ever.  It’s a bit softer and a bit fluffier now, which actually makes it even nicer, but the color is identical.

The next plan, fiber reactive dyes.  That involves finding a vessel in which I can simmer my blanket on the stovetop.  Should be entertaining.  But it will have to wait until the post office brings me a package.  Though now that I think of it, you can also simmer the RIT dyes, and I can get more of those locally.  Maybe if I’m going to be simmering one way or the other, I should just use those since they’re on hand.  Does anyone have some super secret dyeing knowledge that would be of use in this decision?  Plan A failed, so I’m totally up for taking suggestions.

Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment on the giveaway post (look down the page a bit) today for a chance to win Laura Nelkin’s Adorn collection.  I’ll be picking a winner tomorrow, so you’ve still got time!

Sock Summit Part IV, In Which We are Menaced by the Deep

The last time I came to Sock Summit, I rather over scheduled myself.  I booked a class for each class period, I planned to attend some of the after class activities, and I intended to explore the area a bit.  I should have known better.  I am only social in small doses, and I must retreat to a hotel room/car/cave to recover in between.  I’m sure this isn’t the most flattering aspect of my character, but I don’t seem to be able to do much about it, so I work around it.  Last time I ended up finding another student to buy one of my classes and heading out to the coast for the day.

This time I knew better.  I only booked three classes, and I planned to leave whole days for just exploring and relaxing.  One thing I was set on doing was going back out to the area of the coast I explored last time.  With that in mind, we woke up bright and early Saturday morning and drove out to Hug Point State Park.  It was lovely and foggy and gray and cold.

We wandered from Hug Point all the way up to Arcadia State Park, a distance of about 1.5 miles.  Now this wasn’t any sort of vigorous purposeful striding.  It was more of a meandering jaunt with lots of side ventures to look at rocks and shells and caves and creepy sea critters.  As such, it took rather a while.  At several points along the journey I made trenchant remarks about the tides and the direction they were going and the level to which they might climb and the likelihood that we would be able to get back out the way we came in.

For you see, part of our path had involved slipping out around a bit of a protuberance in the cliff that marked one side of the beach.  This was totally easy and safe when we scrambled over it, but the puddles and the various sea critters clinging to the ground and, um, wall suggested that the area might get a bit damp from time to time.  If you look at this handy overhead picture you can perhaps see what I mean.  We had not looked at that picture before we went.  If we had, perhaps my mentions of ‘tide’ and ‘stuck’ and ‘peril’ and ‘lost at sea’ and ‘total and complete waste of really good yarn’ would have been heeded.  Alas, they were not.

As something of a concession to my concerns, we did make the trek back down the beach at a much greater rate of speed than the trek up the beach.  This is where I got to discover that walking on sand uses rather different muscles than regular walking and that sand is a bit of an irritant when wedged into sandals.  We arrived just in time to see the path disappearing under the water.  It had looked like this an hour or two before.  Note the handy dry path and the complete lack of crashing waves of death.  For scale, please realize that the top of that light green band is just above my head.  (Mom, stop reading now, it’s better that way.)  By the time we got there, the water was up a bit past our knees.  It seemed like it might just be possible to scamper around in that without actually dying, so we splashed in.  A few steps farther along and the water was up to my hips, the waves were frolicking up around my ribs, and we were only a third of the way through.  This is when good common sense kicked in and I sounded the retreat.  I now rather regret that I did not take the equivalent picture of the area when it was under water, but I was too busy having hysterics and muttering about death and dismemberment and sea-ravaged corpses.

Of course we then began our walk back down the beach (third trip for those keeping score), except now we were soaking wet.  The weather that seemed charmingly cool when we arrived (58 F) was a tiny bit chilly when soaking wet to the elbows.  This was also the point where I made several realizations.  Namely, I was hungry, I had to pee, wet jeans chafe in all sorts of unmentionable places, and my feet really really hurt.  The less said about the next half hour the better.  I will simply record that I did not spend the whole trip whining, I did not pass out, I did not wander out into the sea in an attempt to end my misery, and I did not kill anyone and feast on their corpse.  We made it back to Arcadia, found a loo, and washed some of the sand out of our shoes.  We then made the executive decision that The Boy would hike back to the car by himself and come fetch me while I gnawed on a fruit strip and composed myself.

We drove into Manzanita and found a spot for lunch.  Then we went back to Portland, bathed (I deposited enough sand in the bathtub to make sand dunes), and fell into a stupor for an hour or so.  Later, and rather to my surprise, we roused ourselves and headed out to Stephanie’s lecture.  We finished the evening at Toro Bravo before hobbling off to bed.