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:
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.
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?
Bet it doesn’t look evil. But it is. Once you try to knit it up.
And then try again.
And then try AGAIN.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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?
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:
(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.
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…
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.
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.
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:
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!
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!
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!
Okay, but see, I have this yarn.
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.
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.