half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog

What, Me Knit?

So, remember when I used to knit?

(… and blog?)

Yeah, that was fun. I should do that again sometime. I suppose I have been knitting a little bit. Witness the beginnings of my boyfriend and my other boyfriend with a slightly different haircut:

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So there’s that. But that’s not a lot of knitting. I’d like to say that I haven’t been knitting because I’ve been plotting world domination, through a complex scheme involving a carton of rubber gloves, some duct tape, large quantities of lime jello, and 3,248 kittens. But if I had been doing that, then I certainly wouldn’t be telling you about it. Secrecy is the key to world domination plots. Kittens too, but mostly secrecy.

Nah, there’s been none of that. I just haven’t been in the mood to knit.

I keep hearing rumbles of this whole Ravelympics thing, though, and I’m intrigued. I like the Olympics. I will probably watch them, to see all the hot almost-naked swimmers who are all wet and almost naked and hot and wet fine athletic performances. If I sign up for this KAL type thingy, could I actually get some knitting done while I watch?

Actual, for real knitting?

Because! Buying yarn is not knitting. Stalking Ravelry is not knitting. Sorting my big yarn bin into two small yarn bins is not knitting. Drawing pictures of things I might want to knit is not knitting… but it’s getting closer.

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So I’ve gone and signed up for this Ravelympics thing – I think, there seem to be pages and pages of instructions on how to sign up and I went cross-eyed trying to read them all, so I just tagged my projects and hoped for the best. That always works, right? Signed up for Sweater Whateverthealliterativeeventnameis for that… thing I drew. Do I actually have a pattern written up for it, or even pattern notes? Nope. Do I have enough yarn for it? Probably not. Have I swatched? Yup… like, a year ago. Surely that gauge is still accurate. Yeeeeeah.

And in the spirit of impending failure, I also tagged up a second project. A scarf. A little scarf, just 220 yards of yarn. Nooo problem. Heh. Heh heh. Did I mention that the yarn is evil?

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Bet it doesn’t look evil. But it is. Once you try to knit it up.

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And then try again.

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And then try AGAIN.

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The last attempt wasn’t horrible, but I don’t think “not horrible” is what I ought to aspire to when knitting, especially when I’m knitting with a skein of hand-dyed silk that cost entirely too much.

The damn yarn doesn’t want to BE anything. It just wants to be some sort of fucking yarn princess all sitting around unknitted, believing that every pattern is below it ‘cuz it’s just so special and pretty and sparkly. It’s a brat, is what it is, and IT IS GOING TO BE A SCARF IF IT KILLS ME, AND IT IS GOING TO BE A BEAUTIFUL SCARF, THAT SHOWS OFF THE YARN PERFECTLY, AND DO YOU HEAR ME YOU BRATTIEST BRAT WHO EVERY BRATTED BRATTY BALL OF BRAT YARN? DO YOU?

OKAY THEN.

Er. I don’t actually know how I’m going to accomplish this. Pffft, details. I scoff at details.

Yay, Ravelympics! I’m gonna knit! And if I don’t knit, I’ll blog about how much I suck for not knitting! It’s win-win. Blah blah insert gold medal analogy here. Wheeee!



The Ethical Yarn Slut

Somewhere, in a drawer, is a little red hat. It was the first thing I ever knit and I didn’t use a pattern. Nope, instead I found a hat calculator sort of thing, and then half ignored its directions, and ended up with something that was a touch too short, with a horrific seam line up the back, but otherwise quite wearable. Thus began a knitting-mantra of “fuck the pattern, I can figure it out myself”.

I don’t need no stinkin’ pattern! Or do I? Well, okay, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just use the damn pattern, but then what? If it’s free online, I’ll probably use it, because it’s there. I’ll modify it up the wazoo because that’s what I do, but I’ll use it. Failing that, one of four things will happen:

  • “Hey, my library has the book with that pattern, I’ll drag my ass over there and borrow it.”
  • “Well, I can order it online for five bucks, so why not, that’s not too bad.”
  • “Looks like I can’t get my hands on it easily/cheaply, but meh, I don’t want to make it that badly anyway. Screw it.”
  • “I DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ PATTERN! I’LL FIGURE IT OUT MYSELF!”

The thing is… I don’t think I have ever had to resort to Option #4. The closest I’ve come to it is along the lines of “I like that collar/button band/stitch pattern and I think I’ll add it to this completely different sweater that I’m designing”. Which is not so much an ethical dilemma. I’m not copying their pattern and I’m not even copying their garment. I have never actually sat down with a picture of a knitted item and reverse engineered it as an alternative to obtaining a pattern for it.

Until now.

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Oh yes. That is a lil’ piece of Noemi, and though I’m sure I didn’t get it exactly right, I honestly can’t tell the difference between the stitch pattern of the real one and my fakey fake one swatched with scraps of orange acrylic. The shocking part was that it was really, really easy to do.

I didn’t even write anything down.

(Hmm. Maybe I should. Meh, effort.)

I don’t know if it’s a really simple stitch pattern, or if I’m some sort of knitting savant (thus adding to my list of Completely Useless Talents – why am I only good at things that are totally unmarketable?), or if I just lucked out, but, so easy. It took two tries, and I knew the first try was wrong like three rows in and knew immediately how to fix it, and now, if I want to, I can make that scarf without needing any stinkin’ pattern at all. But should I?

It just seems… wrong, somehow.

But it’s done all the time, isn’t it? I always see knitters trying to reverse engineer designer garments so they can knit their own version and I’ve never thought that to be wrong. But maybe that’s because there’s no alternative. There’s no pattern for that sort of thing, so you make your own. A machine-knitted item at a store. A pattern that is out of print. An improvised pattern that the designer has no intention of ever publishing. Okay. I can get on board with all of that. A… pattern that’s in a book that you don’t want to buy just for one pattern? Eh. I don’t know. Sketchy territory.

Maybe I’ve built up enough Pattern Karma from having published so many free patterns that it’s okay to do this once in a while. Maybe I am waaaay overthinking it. Maybe I am a little bitter that I’m on a budget and thus can’t just Do The Right Thing and buy the book. Maybe I should put away my fake!Noemi swatch and just pass on this particular project.

Maybe I should change the subject.

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I’m still patiently waiting for my new skein of Smooshy to arrive – and if it’s the right colour, then I can frog my brown Lace Ribbon Scarf and start my black Lace Ribbon Scarf and and and… I will then have an extra skein of brown Smooshy demanding a pattern. And the angst will begin!

Except, no it won’t!

The unthinkable has happened and I found the pattern I want for it, immediately: Japanese Vines. And there will be no wailing and gnashing of teeth over obtaining this one, because it’s downloadable for five bucks. Nooo problem.

And yet, I still found myself doing a search for the stitch pattern online, and even, just for a second, considering trying to figure it out myself from a picture. What is this nonsense? AHHHH FAKE!NOEMI HAS SENT ME DOWN A SLIPPERY SLOPE LEADING STRAIGHT TO UNETHICAL PATTERN HELL. Hrm. Just buy the pattern, you big loser, sez my brain, and I’m gonna.

But I can’t, at least not yet.

Why? Because I am a dirty filthy project slut.

The second I have that pattern in my hot little paws, I am going to want to cast on for it. I MUST HAVE YOU NOW, DELICIOUS SEXY SCARF. But I don’t want to start it yet, because I don’t want to frog the brown scarf until I’ve started the black scarf and can make sure I do ‘em both the same, and can compare them, and all that sane, responsible stuff.

Okay, so what about after that? Well, after that I will be knitting up a black lace scarf. And while I have never been one for project monogamy, will I want to be knitting up a brown lace scarf at the same time? Wouldn’t that be like cheating on your boyfriend with some guy who looks and acts exactly like your boyfriend, but has, like, a different haircut? Doesn’t that seem awfully… indulgent? Isn’t this… the stupidest analogy ever? Yes. Yes it is.

All right then, I’m buying the pattern as soon the brown scarf is good and ready to be frogged, scarf-faithfulness be damned. I AM A PROJECT SLUT AND I AM NOT ASHAMED.

As for fake!Noemi, well, fake!Noemi is like that really hot guy who’s hitting on you at your friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s party, and you know that he’s sleazy, and you heard that he has a girlfriend, and it would be very, very wrong to hook up with him and you should probably give him a good hard slap and walk away. But he’s oh-so-attractive, and you really, really want to be bad…



Attack of the Scarves, Part II

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When I decided to venture into beaded knitting, I turned to the intarwebs, as usual. I already knew how to do it but the devil’s in the details and I didn’t know what size crochet hook and what size beads would be exactly just right for my scrumptious skein of succulent Smooshy.

I quickly learned that a 1mm crochet hook was exactly the right size, and also too big and possibly too small. That I wanted to use 8/0 seed beads which were totally big enough for sock yarn except that they were definitely too small and that I should actually use 6/0 beads except that they were all wrong and also completely correct. And that it was probably a good idea to use silver-lined beads, unless it wasn’t. Okay then. What could possibly go wrong?

So I ordered one baggie each of 6/0 and 8/0 silver-lined teal beads to experiment (and props to Artbeads.com for cheerfully filling my order totalling a whopping $2.66. Okay, there was probably very little cheer, but they filled it). And I hit up the three local stores that carry a smallish selection of knitting and crochet goodies – no LYS ’round here unfortunately – and bought the smallest hooks I could find. The first hook I purchased looked very small. The second one, I could swear that it was even smaller, though of course I’d left the first one at home so I couldn’t compare. The third one was so small that clearly it had to be smaller than the first two. I lined them all up, and that was when I knew.

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The cake hook is a lie!

These things lie worse than gauge swatches. They claim to all be the same size and quite clearly are not. I knew the arbitrary size numbers would probably lie – and indeed, the three hooks are marked size 10, 11/12, and 12 – but you’d think that if it says 1mm, it would be 1mm. Is this an unreasonable expectation? Are millimetres different sizes in, say, different parts of the world, or on Tuesdays?

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Uh huh. All the same size. Suuuure they are.

But no worries, surely one of them would work for my beadwhore needs, and in fact two of the three played nicely with both the 6/0 and 8/0 beads. I quickly figured out that the 8/0s were getting devoured by the yarn and that I liked the Red Heart (!) crochet hook the best, and abandoned my initial pattern plans and instead decided on the Lace Ribbon Scarf from Knitty, with a small modification for adding beads. I grabbed my yarn and my hook and ordered me some more 6/0s and got started with my one little baggie and all was well. Right?

Ha ha ha ha HA.

So here’s the thing.

I love the yarn.
I love the pattern.
I love the beads.
I love the yarn with the pattern.
I love the beads with the pattern.

I… um… do not love the yarn with the beads.

Okay, this is an obsessive colour nerd sort of thing. Brown and teal go together beautifully, in general. But this is shiny happy Dream in Color yarn which means that it’s not really brown, but is a SPARKLY MAGIC RAINBOW OF COLOUR pretending to be brown. There was some darker bits in the magic rainbow that I thought looked kind of tealy, but were in fact olive green. You can see what I mean in this inaccurate-but-point-illustrating pic:

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(Note the crochet hook lurking there with evil in its cold metal heart.)

You can see the undertones of the brown, which are a rose pink sort of thing, purple (the hell?!), and an olivey gold with occasional darker bits. All of which clash horribly with the teal beads. Teal seems to play nicely with warm-toned reds (blue-green’s opposite on the colour wheel is red-orange), and of course, teal itself, and there was none of that in this yarn. The more I stared at the scarf, the more the colours looked wrong wrong wrong.

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Which was very frustrating, because in all other aspects the scarf looked right right right. The pattern really is perfect for beads, and very easy, but not so easy that my brain was tempted to turn into a fine goo and drip out of my ears in protest of being under-used. Argh! Arrrrgh! But what to do? I had more teal beads on their way, and besides, I loved the beads and didn’t want to change them.

I experimented with my still-neglected skein of Mini Maiden, but…

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It looked like a cat ate a clown made entirely of yarn, and that it didn’t go down so well and the cat then vomited up the yarn clown and the result was what you see in that pic. And clowns are scary, even if they’re made of yarn, and cat vomit is also scary, so clearly this was not the way to go.

There was only one thing left to do.

It was time to… *gulp*… break my yarn diet.

So on its way to me now is another skein of Smooshy, but in the colour Black Parade. According to an extensive (seriously!) search on Ravelry, it is a blacky browny tealy charcoaly sort of thing and should be perfect. But I won’t know until it arrives. Such are the perils of hand-dyed yarn.

THE SUSPENSE IS KILLING ME.

Hurry up, yarn.

I’m stalking the mailbox because this is the only thing I’m knitting right now. Well, that’s not entirely true. There is a disobedient scarf that has been sent to the yarn bin to do penance. And there is something else. It’s made of orange acrylic. And since I don’t make things in orange acrylic, ever, that means that it’s an experiment of sorts. A shameful, guilty experiment. You’ll see.



Attack of the Scarves, Part I

There’s a group on Ravelry called Finish Me. And in it, there’s this one thread where you state that you won’t start [insert project here] until you finish [insert project here]. I’m not sure exactly what I’ve promised in that thread, but I know that if I kept those promises, I would pretty much never knit anything ever again.

So I had this bright idea that I wouldn’t post new blog entries until I’d replied to the comments from the current blog entry – seemed an easy way to keep on top of comments. And eventually I realized that if I was to do that… wait for it… I would pretty much never blog again. Which I suppose is an option. But then where would I rant?

I’ve just decided to accept that I am a comment slacker, and I’m slinking back to the blog with my tail between my legs. (If I had a tail, which I don’t, no matter what those photos allege.) And in the meantime, I redesigned the blog’s layout, since it had been over a year with the same one. The donkey of old is gone! It has been replaced with… a donkey.

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I suppose the new one is happier. Maybe it should be angry, what with all the ranting.

Speaking of ranting, I saw a lovely scarf on Ravelry. No, that’s not the ranty bit, I haven’t gone mad yet. Here’s the scarf: Noemi. And I spotted this one done in two colours which is quite simply made of awesome and I need one of my own immediately. In some teal and brick red Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. I’ve been dying to try that yarn and wouldn’t allow myself to buy any until I knew exactly what I would do with it. And this is so what I need to do with it. All I need is that scarf pattern. Okay then.

Is it a free pattern? Nope.
Can I buy it as a pdf online? Nope.
Can I buy a paper copy from a yarn shop? Nope.

No, no, the pattern is in a fucking book. Of course it is.

Does my local library have the book? Nope.
Are there other patterns in the book that I like, that could maybe justify me buying it despite being on a pretty tight budget? Nope.

I hate life, and everything, and also scarves.

This pattern taunts me. I must have that scarf. I’ve looked at pictures and I could maybe have a decent go at reverse engineering it, but I’m sure I wouldn’t get it exactly right and besides it seems somehow wrong to do that. I’ll reverse engineer a generic raglan sweater with no qualms, but not a unique scarf that the designer probably put a lot of thought into, you know?

Scarves. They’re out to get me. Witness this:

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That fine specimen is getting frogged. It may not be obvious why it’s getting frogged, but you’ll hear all about it. It’s a sordid tale of deceitful crochet hooks, obsessive perfectionism, shameful cheating on one’s yarn diet, colour theory, and anal beads. No, wait. Not that last one. That was just the result of me asking somebody for knitting advice.

Me: What kind of beads should I use for my scarf?
Friend: Anal beads!

Thaaanks.

So I’ll get back to that soon. (Yeah, I’m chopping this entry in half so that I won’t go a month without blogging again. I have a plan!) There will be cursing, and frogging, and tears. It’ll be a party!



Shiny!

I want to try knitting with beads.

No good will come of this.

Listen to me. I want to knit with beads. This means obtaining beads. Lots of them. Little baggies containing hundreds upon hundreds of small, shiny objects. I will never actually make it all the way to my yarn, or my knitting needles, because HAY SHINY OBJECTS LOOK SHINY SHIIIIINY WEEEEEEE!

Shiny.

Okay, but see, I have this yarn.

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Don’t worry, I have not gone on a forbidden yarn binge; I bought it a while ago. It’s Dream in Color Smooshy in November Muse. That’s sock yarn. I do not knit socks. Nope. I won’t do it and you can’t make me. I have very well thought out reasons for not knitting socks, and I once typed them out on Ravelry, and because I totally can’t remember what they were, I’m just going to go look up that post:

Well, I’m afraid of knitting socks because then I’ll have to buy sock yarn, and then I’ll want even more sock yarn, and hand-dyed sock yarn, and sock yarn with a bit of silk in it, and seventy different kinds of teeny sock needles, and then some more sock yarn, and then ALL THE SOCK YARN IN THE WORLD because it’s just so darned pretty, and soon I’ll spend all my money on sock yarn and sell my clothes for sock yarn and stand on a street corner with a sign saying “will knit socks for sock yarn” while people hurl mass-produced dirty socks at me in disgust, and then I’ll be living in a box, a box lined with sock yarn and decorated with curtains made of sock yarn, and I’ll be all cold because I sold my clothes for sock yarn but at least my feet will be warm.

Ah, thank you, Ravelry’s search feature. See? Perfectly logical and not at all unreasonable.

So I don’t knit socks, but I do knit lace, and I want a brown lace scarf.

And then I saw – okay, here’s the thing, I stalk my patterns on Ravelry, don’t judge me. I just think it’s cool when people make ‘em and I like to look at the FOs. So I was stalking and I saw a beaded Serpentina. Shiny! But I can’t make another Serpentina. I already have a Serpentina. How sad would it be to knit my own pattern twice? I resisted making a Malabrigo Serpentina and I can resist this too. So there. But I can make a different beaded scarf. And I can go through Ravelry’s entire list of lace scarves and decide that I don’t want to make any of them. And then I can bang my head against a tree a few hundred times until I annoy a nearby squirrel and it starts hurling acorns as me, because that’s just about as productive as my “nope, I don’t like any of these three thousand scarves” sessions.

At this point a beaded squirrel was starting to sound like a good idea, so it was time to just pick a scarf already and stop the madness. So I did. Beaded Lace Scarf II by HeartStrings FiberArts. Well, maybe not exactly. Maybe just something that looks somewhat like that. Yeah, the madness never stops, it only takes quick coffee breaks, but at least now I sort of have a plan. And I need beads. Shiny ones!

But not brown ones. I don’t want sparkly little polished turds on my scarf. I’m teal-obsessed lately so clearly that’s the way to go. Unless it isn’t. Maybe red would be a safer choice with brown. But I want teal! But maybe red would look better! But but… are hobbies supposed to be all anxiety-inducing like this? I’m thinking not so much. Especially not when said hobby involves handling sharp, pointy sticks. This isn’t going to end well. Okay, but two minutes in Photoshop ought to solve this dilemma.

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Hmm. That’s not giving me the answer I wanted.

The easy thing to do would be to buy some teal beads, and buy some red beads, and play around with both. Beads are cheap. But this would mean that I’d end up with at least one baggie of beads that I would not be using for this scarf. And then I’d have to do something with them. Oh yes. I couldn’t just put them in a drawer and forget about them. Shiny things simply do not work that way. The shiny must be enjoyed! Shiiiiiny. What could I do with an extra bag of beads?

I wonder how hard it would be to catch a squirrel.



I Still Don’t Wanna Blog And You Still Can’t Make Me

I has a computer!

I schlepped the 4.5-year-old dying PowerBook to the Apple Store, where the genius type people told me exactly what I didn’t want to hear: “logic board”. Oh lord. Not this again. In terms of repair costs, that roughly translates to “bend over!” followed by a maniacal cackle. Ah, well. It had a good run. So I am now the proud owner of a shiny white MacBook. Well, mostly proud. We’ve had a few fights already, but I think with some time and some counseling we can make this relationship work.

One would think that without a computer, I’d get plenty of knitting done. Er. I made… a hat. And… um… nope, just a hat. Which my camera seems to hate, because it won’t take a proper picture of it, but once I smack some sense into it soothe it with loving calming words, I’ll throw up a FO post for the hat. It’s a cute hat. But really, all that time and just a hat? Huh.

Well, then, one would think that I’d be eager to get back to blogging, at least. Eh… not so much.

I started this blog about a year ago. No, it’s not my blogiversary (oh god, that word) yet. I know I won’t remember when the actual date comes ’round so let’s meta-ramble about it now, shall we? Obviously I was not so much into the blogging thing at first. I just wanted a place to dump project info. Hence my blog name, which I guess is a bit of a misnomer now, because I’m using a good three-quarters of my ass. But I’m not changing it. I heart that little half-donkey.

So I took a liking to knitblogging. I still like it. But, full disclosure: I was glad to have a legitimate excuse to ignore the blog for awhile. I’m not sure why. Just needed a break, I guess. I’m still behind on emails and PMs and such. Probably because I’ve been ignoring them and they refuse to answer themselves. You’d think that with today’s advanced technology they’d answer themselves. Who can I complain to about this?

Anyway. I’m back now. And I’ll have to go back to using lame, stupid excuses when I ignore my emails, since my legitimate excuse has been replaced by a MacBook. Woo!

Er.

Um…

How do I write a knit blog entry with no knitting content? I need pictures of something. I’ve got pictures of… something. I have a new toy.

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Eeeee! I’ve wanted a tablet for years, and I spotted one on sale last week and finally took the plunge. It’s just a little basic one but it’ll do just fine. It arrived yesterday, and thus began the fun time of learning how to draw with the thing.

Snerk.

Yeah, I clearly had a whole lot of learning to do. But pretty soon I’d progressed from the drawing skills of a 4-year-old to the drawing skills of a 7-year-old. (Not a particularly talented 7-year-old, mind you.) But there was still a problem. The problem was Wrongcat.

Let’s meet Wrongcat!

Wrongcat!

Wrongcat is wrong. It’s easily recognizable as a cat, but there is clearly something wrong with it. And yet, I sort of love Wrongcat. I drew a wrongbunny, and a wrongflamingo (actually the flamingo itself was quite nice, but the speech bubble coming from it saying “I (heart) green condoms” was the wrong part. Er. Long story…), and various other wrongcreatures, and even a second Wrongcat. It was an improvement on the first one…

Wrongcat 2: Electric Boogaloo

… but you know, it really lacked the creepy charm of original Wrongcat.

By the end of the day, I had reached the skill level of a moderately talented 12-year-old (no pics, because they’re not bad enough to mock… heh), so I am confident that pretty soon I’ll be able to draw things that are actually good. Maybe I’ll redraw my half-donkey. The current one was drawn with a mouse, and that’s just tragic.

Now, since I went and bought a pricey-even-on-sale toy, I am officially on a yarn diet. Well, I’m kind of always on a yarn diet, but now it’s more of a strict, unhealthy starvation diet. Yarn anorexia, if you will. I’m not much of a stasher, but I’ve got enough yarn on hand that I probably won’t go mad. What this does mean is that I definitely won’t be going to the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto this month. While I love my new toy, I still need to sulk about that for a moment.

*sulks*

Okay, I’m done now.

Next time, back to your regularly scheduled knitting content!



OH NOES

So here’s what happened over the past couple of weeks:

First, my laptop started to die.

Then, my laptop continued to die.

Then, my laptop died.

So I’ll be back to blogging (and my pile of unanswered emails and Ravelry PMs – I’m sorry!) when the laptop gets replaced or perhaps brought back to life in zombie laptop form.

(Incidentally, I am typing this from an ancient, hateful computer that hisses at me. I think it may try to bite me.)



Happy Venereal Disease!

(Oh come on, I can’t be the only one whose mind automatically goes there whenever someone writes “Happy VD!”)

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Valentines Day is completely off my radar, usually. It doesn’t make me happy and it doesn’t make me bitter either. In fact, its only real significance is that it’s the day before my very favourite holiday ever: Half-Price Chocolate Day.

But, well, there’s all these Valentines-related knitting projects on Ravelry and elsewhere and I got to thinking. When I’d been planning the Secret Nerd Scarf, I thought it would have been a good idea to get it out before Valentines Day (which obviously did not happen), because- well, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I’d better first explain exactly what it was.

I’m a huge puzzle nerd. One of the things that you quickly learn from puzzle-nerdity is that there are a whole bunch of ways to represent the alphabet. One of these ways is with binary numbers. I won’t get into a big explanation here of how different base systems work (I figure those who care will look it up themselves), but binary uses two digits, 0 and 1, to represent numbers, and 5 binary digits can represent numbers up to 32. Which means, 5 binary digits can represent the alphabet. (And yes, there are other ways to represent the alphabet in binary, but this is the simplest one.)

So, let’s say, the letter M… that’s the 13th letter in the alphabet, and the number 13 represented with 5 binary digits is 01101. And if you wanted to write a whole sentence in binary you’d keep doing the same thing for each letter.

Now, encoding something like “01101” into knitting is way easy and can be done in tons of different ways – with knits for 1s and purls for 0s, for example. When I first had the idea of a secret-binary-message knitting project I was going to do it with colourwork. But, bleh. And then I had the idea of doing it with cables, which would be more versatile and look better and be easy to knit and yay! And then I spotted that binary cable hat that did it first. Yeah, yeah, we know this already. But that’s what the Nerd Scarf was. And I scrapped it. OR DID I?

Yeah, so I changed my mind. The Valentines Day thing, see? How cute would it be to knit “I love you” or something equally sappy into a scarf, but in a completely non-obvious way that would be known only to you and perhaps the scarf’s recipient? Totally cute. I could call it “Secret Admirer”. But I couldn’t do it. First, there was the similar-hat issue. And second, well, there was no time to get it out before Valentines Day. And there was no time to get it out on Valentines Day either. But…

Well, first things first. Why was I so hung up on the hat? It wasn’t the first binary-related knitting pattern and it wouldn’t be the last. Hell, off the top of my head, there’s this other binary hat, and the binary scarf from Knitty (both of which I think are awesome, by the way. Me = neeeeerrrrrd). And I don’t think any of those copied each other, or that the binary cable hat person copied either of them. So what would it matter if I put out a similar scarf? Well, I think the issue was the implementation – it would have just been too similar. From my quick glance at the hat pattern, it looked like it used very simple cables, with a twist representing a 1 and a lack of twist representing a 0, and that was exactly the way I was going to do it, so even though the hat had nothing to do with encoding a message, it would still look very similar.

And then I thought, wait, why did I choose that specific implementation anyway? Well, because it was the easiest way to do it. That’s it. I was being a lazy-ass, basically, just like I always am. But it really wasn’t the best way to go. Because I was trying for something that, at first glance, would look like a regular old scarf, with no hint that it was concealing a message. And the twist/no-twist 1/0 encoding, while reasonably aesthetically pleasing, would clearly look like a deliberate pattern of some sort. It would be obvious that something was up.

There had to be a way to do it such that the message would be hidden, but still visible to those specifically trying to read it. I stared at cable patterns for a while, when something occurred to me. Something that should have been very, very obvious.

When you knit two cable twists with some stockinette in between them, it looks kind of like a circle or oval.

When you knit two cable twists with one or more extra cable twists in between them, it looks kind of like a vertical column.

There it was, clear as day – a way to visually represent the actual numbers 0 and 1 with cables. If done very carefully, it would look just like any old cable pattern to a casual observer, but be incredibly obvious to someone who knew they were looking for rows of binary numbers. And if done in a smallish size, different letters could be encoded by changing just one line in each cable repeat, the one with the extra twist that differentiates a circle from a column, so it wouldn’t be complicated to knit at all.

So I posted the cable pattern at the beginning of this entry. Did you see it then? Can you see it now?

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Or, to be completely obvious about it:

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I LOVE THIS. Can I say that? Hat be damned, I had to do something with this – and in fact, I’d now wandered so far from my original implementation that there was now no visual similarity to the hat. And that’s good enough for me. I’m okay with there being multiple binary cable patterns out there, I just didn’t want to put out anything that was so similar that people would think I’d copied it when that was damn well not the case. Whew. Okay.

The other problem. Time.

Did I mention that I thought of this idea on the afternoon of February 13th?

I could not possibly knit a scarf in a day. But… but… I could knit a swatch in a day. And obviously that’s exactly what I did. I’d normally be wary of posting a pattern that I haven’t knit, but in this case, the swatch-version was just fine. I used the same beginning, end, and edging for the swatch as for the scarf, so the only difference is that it’s 3 letters long instead of lots of letters long.

(The three letters? “LUV.” Yeah, laaaaame.)

So I spent yesterday evening writing up bits of the pattern, digging in the yarn bin for some cable-appropriate yarn and finding half a ball of Patons Classic Merino, speed-knitting the giant swatch, and just barely having enough time to squeeze in 3 letters’ worth of secret-message. Splashed some water on it and pinned it out to block overnight. Snapped a picture today and finished the pattern write-up. Ahhh! So apprehensive. From conception to published pattern in less than 24 hours? Is this a good idea?

I’m reminding myself that Bamboozled was a very quickly-thrown-together pattern (although not in a freaking day), and according to Ravelry it’s the most well-liked and highly-rated of all my patterns. And people seemed to get a kick out of my goat cable, which was designed in an evening. Maybe it’s better that I speed-design than angst incessantly and draw it out forever. Maaaaaybe.

I don’t know.

But happy Venereal Disease… er… Valentines Day to all! Here’s the Secret Admirer pattern!

Now I’m off to prepare for the epic Half-Price Chocolate Day celebrations.



Nipples, Nerds, & Neverending Needlecraft Narratives

I have successfully de-nippled the hatboob.

But, of course, OF COURSE, there’s a new problem.

Exhibit A: a completed hatboob, pre-blocking.

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Exhibit B: a completed hatboob, post-blocking.

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Yep. It ate my head.

So the de-nippled head-eating hatboob is going to be frogged, again, and the pattern tweaked, again, and I am really glad that this thing only takes a day to knit. And I know how to fix it. And this’ll be okay. So. That’s the hatboob status. I really like saying “hatboob”. Hatboob hatboob hatboob.

Facing less rosy times is the Secret Nerd Scarf.

See, I was browsing Ravelry today and spotted the Binary Cable Hat, the hat people have been making for Hat Attack, and guess what – it’s pretty much the same thing, conceptually, as what I was going to do. Well, it’s not exactly the same, but it’s similar enough that I’ve lost my zest for the scarf, and furthermore I don’t feel like having a bunch of knitters assume that I copied the idea and start accusing me. (There’s been a lot of that going around lately.)

I guess the good news is that now I have a couple of balls (heh heh) of Tweedy Silk to play with. And if I’d really wanted to make the scarf, surely I would have started by now. I hadn’t even bothered swatching.

I don’t have any plans for those two balls (heh heh) yet, but I have some other plans for new stuff. First, I have a lovely 250 yd skein of Colourmart heavy dk cashmere/silk which will become some sort of armwarmer type things that I will design myself.

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Second – well, there was a sale at Lettuce Knit a few weeks ago, and I went despite not being able to spend very much money. See, I knew that if I didn’t go, it would taunt me. It wasn’t that I wanted something in particular, it was that I’d be bothered by what I might have missed. What if there was some gorgeous yarn for dirt cheap and I didn’t get it because I didn’t go? What then?

Well, there wasn’t. There was plenty of gorgeous yarn that I totally couldn’t afford even at 30% off (Handmaiden Swiss Mountain Cashmere Silk, I’m looking at you). There was plenty of yarn that, surprisingly, I didn’t want. There was plenty of yarn that I would have wanted, had it been there.

Lettuce Knit is a strange little shop, in that I both love it and hate it. It carries a whole bunch of beautiful yarn lines that I covet, except that most of the time, either it’s stuff I can’t afford or it’s not in stock. I thought I’d be able to snag some Dream in Color worsted at the sale, but all the colours I wanted were out of stock. Maybe some Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit? Nope, unless I wanted it in fuchsia or electric blue or radioactive-vomit-green. Handmaiden Mini Maiden? Nope, out of stock completely. Aaaaah! Carrots dangled just out of my reach!

There’s another thing, too. When I was browsing the sale, not once did anyone in the store greet me or ask if I needed help. That doesn’t actually bother me, because I like being left alone to browse, but – what I noticed, is that some of the people shopping were clearly regulars there. And were clearly being treated very differently. Which, I realize, is what happens in small shops. You get to know your regular customers, they become your friends, and thus you treat them that way. I can’t fault anybody for that.

I mean, nobody was rude to me. If I asked for help, I got it. And I certainly won’t stop shopping there. It’s just – you know, I will never visit the shop often enough to become a regular, because it’s not local for me. And so I will always feel a little bit out of place there, as soon as a regular comes in and is greeted heartily while I lurk invisibly in the corner. This may be why I feel more comfortable shopping at Romni – it’s so big that it’s never obvious whether the other customers are regulars, and furthermore it feels like it’s perfectly okay not to be one.

Anyway. I was determined to buy something, anything, just because I dragged my ass all the way down there, and I was also determined that it not be another “WTF do I do with this?” single skein. And that’s when I saw this:

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Aha! I thought. That’s what I’ll buy! A sweater’s worth of that! Berroco Peruvia in Aquamarina. I could afford it, it was delicious and shiny and soft and fairly practical and TEAL, not red or black or coral – it was perfect.

Aaaaand there were only three skeins of it left. Needed at least five for a sweater, preferably six. So I optimistically bought the three skeins. No problem, I thought, I’ll just walk over to Romni and get a couple more, they carry Berroco stuff, maybe I’ll even luck out and get the same dyelot. Well. Not so much. I ended up pawing through their basket of Peruvia and then having this conversation:

Me: I’m looking for a colour of Berroco Peruvia that I don’t think you have.
Romni Guy: Uh-oh…

Heh.

So I turned to the intarwebs. Guess what – there are very few shops with reasonable shipping to Canada that carry Peruvia. Who knew? The only ones I could dig up were Webs and Jimmy Beans Wool, so I fired off emails to them asking if they had my dyelot. Which they didn’t. Of course. (But props to both shops for good customer service – they both checked and got back to me the same day.) So I’d have to hold my nose and order, and hope to get a dyelot that wasn’t too far off. But I thought, what with shipping and all, I’d better wait until I wanted something else from one of those shops. While a little voice in my head whined, I want a sweater. I want a sweater now. Where’s my yarn? Buy more yarn! Buy it now! Now! Now!

(It occurs to me that I have mentioned voices in my head very often on this blog, and I should probably reassure readers that I am not clinically insane. As far as I know.)

And just when I had resigned myself to disappointing the little voice, up pops a blog update from The Yarn and Fiber Company saying they’ve decided to start carrying some Berroco yarns, including Peruvia. Did I mention that they ship free to Canada? SCORE!

So I ordered. Asked them to send my dyelot if they had it, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up. Opened up my package to see this:

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OH COME ON. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. ALL RIGHT, WHO’S SCREWING WITH ME AND SCRATCHING OUT THE DYELOT NUMBER? STOP THAT NOW.

Harrumph.

But the rest of ‘em were properly dyelot-labeled. Same dyelot? Nope. Visibly identical to my dyelot? Yup. Sweet.

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So that’ll be a sweater. I have a sketch, but it’s a seeecret. (I don’t know why. I’m not submitting it for publication or anything. I guess I need a new seeecret now that the Nerd Scarf is dead.) In keeping with the current theme of my knitting, it will have a giant collar that may or may not eat my head. OM NOM NOM NOM.

(No, it will not have nipples. Pervert.)



Lies, Damned Lies, and… Cursed Yarn?

I have long known that gauge swatches are lying liars who lie.

What I didn’t know is that entire knitting projects also lie. Oh yes. You know how some people say you should knit a giant swatch, or even a small project to get an accurate gauge measurement? How about a whole scarf? Shouldn’t that be adequate? Well, shouldn’t it?

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See that scarf? That scarf is a lying liar who lies.

Actually, I’m a lying liar who lies too, because it’s technically more like three-quarters of a scarf. But my point still stands! That is a nice big giant sample of a stitch pattern. And what a lovely stitch pattern it is.

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It’s the White Night Scarf in Rowan Chunky Print, and it’s quite yummy. Except for the lying and the lies. See, what happened was that I grossly overestimated the amount of yarn needed for this scarf. So far I’ve fed it two of the four balls I bought, and if I bound off right now it would still be a decently long scarf. If I feed it all four balls, it will eat me.

So I thought, all right, I’ll make a matching hat. A cute little vintagey-looking hat in that same stitch pattern. And I’ve got a scarf-sized gauge swatch right here. Woooo! Measure measure measure, poke at calculator, scribble in sketchbook, ooookay we are casting on 84 stitches, apparently.

Hum. That seems like a lot for chunky yarn on size 15 needles. That can’t be right.

Trusssst me, whispers the scarf. Can I trust the scarf? It’s so pretty… so very pretty. But, no! I will be strong! I will cast on 72 stitches instead! I’msorryscarfIstillloveyou. You know, maybe you’re right, admits the scarf. Look how I stretch! 72 stitches is totally right for a hat.

LIES. FILTHY LIES. Unless by “hat”, it meant “giant tube top”, but no, not so much. All right, let’s frog and try this again. 60 stitches? Yeah, okay. And we need some ribbing at the edge, because the 72-stitch hat oh wait I mean tube top no no wait I mean LYING LIAR TUBE TOP PIECE OF LYING CRAP THAT LIES I HATE IT SO MUCH… er. Okay. I’m all better now. The 72-stitch… thing… was a little baggy and curly ’round the edges.

And we have hatness. No thanks to you, lying scarf.

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I’ll write up a pattern for it if I can get it to behave. Which it isn’t, at the moment. I finished up the top and it has a nipple. It’s a hatboob. With a nipple. “Usually only found deep in the rainforest, this is your chance to view the elusive Nippled Hatboob in captivity!” (Sigh.) But I’m not going to get into that now because there are other knits to yell at. Cursed knits.

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Oh, you know where I’m going with this.

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I joke about cursed yarn, but I’m starting to believe it’s a real thing. This yarn is all kinds of cursed. I have never had this kind of problem with a project before. There was the Lelah that ate my soul, but that was a simple sizing issue. There was the scarf of many froggings, but that was a “must find the perfect pattern” thing. There are tricky projects, and then there are cursed projects. There is no other explanation for this:

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… that might not be a good illustration of the problem. It’s just a yoke. Looking all sweet and innocent, the lying liar. So I’ll explain. It doesn’t fit. Again. But that’s not the problem, exactly. The last incarnation didn’t fit either, so I fixed the points of fuckery. Body was too small – let’s make it bigger. Sleeves were too big – let’s make them smaller. Simple.

I should have known better. I underestimated The Curse. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE CURSE.

I thought at first that I’d shrunk the sleeves down too much. A pain in the ass, sure, requiring a frogging, but straightforward enough to fix. But something else is wrong. It’s tight under the arms, and pulling all funny. It’s like the angle of the raglan line is off. I’m not sure. I could try a compound raglan instead. But it might be just another useless battle with The Curse.

Because I’ve knit a whole bunch of top down raglans, and never had this kind of problem. I’ve even knit one at about the same gauge. Standard raglans generally fit me fine. UNLESS THEY’RE CURSED. This sweater is going to find new and different ways to cock itself up until it claims my sanity. Already, just to add insult to injury, the collar has warped into some weird shape that would normally be fixed by blocking, but not this time. Not if The Curse gets its way.

Yep, I have to frog this thing again, I think.

Bad things come in threes, right?

I have a cursed yoke…
I have a nippled hatboob…
what’s coming for me next?