Posted in Blog Week, Crochet, Knitting, Project planning, Technique, Year in review

5KCBWDay7 — Looking Back, Looking Forward

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Look back on last year’s Day Seven post. Did any of the techniques, ideas and hopes for the last 12 months that you wrote about ever make it onto the hook or needles? Did anyone cast on and complete the project researched in last year’s Day 2 post? One year from now, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

Last year I discussed several things:

  • Making the cardigan worn by the little girl in the movie The Fall.
  • Organizing my craft room
  • Attempting Fair Isle
  • Attempting Tunisian
  • Making sock puppets for my friend based on a photograph

Success rate? 60%. I achieved three out of the five goals. Behold the craft room:

Craft Room 1

And the Tunisian:

Mom's Tunisian 9

And those sock puppets, which got their own dating profile in this year’s Blog Week Extravaganza:

Avatars 1

For next year, I’m putting Fair Isle and The Fall Cardigan back on this list. Also, I want to finally write up and publish the pattern for a pair of fingerless mitts I designed as a gift several years ago.

San Luis Mitts

I’ve gotten multiple requests for this pattern, but have procrastinated writing it up for so long that I may have lost my initial notes on the project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because I originally designed the mitts in a bulky yarn and have since decided a lesser-weight yarn is a better choice.

Magazine Review: Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2009Blog content-wise, I’m considering a return to magazine reviews. I pared my knit and crochet magazine subscriptions down to two (from a high of seven), Rowan and Vogue Knitting. Back when I had so many subscriptions, I was trying to review each magazine as it came in. That meant upwards of 30 magazine reviews per year, which resulted in a stack of unread issues sitting next to the computer, giving me guilt. I don’t need more guilt, thank you very much, so I stopped the reviews. Vogue and Rowan only may be manageable: Rowan publishes two issues per year, and Vogue publishes five (six if you count the special crochet issue, but that’s not included in the subscription). Rowan CoverWriting timely reviews will require a certain amount of self-discipline. I’m not good with self-discipline, and I need to be, because the next step for this blog — not next year, but within the next five — is to turn it into something that generates a little income. That means content other than me running my mouth about my latest project or the last book I read. It means patterns and tutorials mainly; perhaps little stuffies, if I ever design any. I don’t expect to make excessive bank here, just enough to cover the domain fees.

And that’s quite enough ambition for my little corner of the interwebz.

As Blog Week draws to a close, I just want to say I appreciate each and every one of you who’ve dropped by during this past week. I found a few new bloggers to follow and hope at least one or two of you enjoyed my articles as much as I’ve enjoyed yours. See you around! And y’all come back now, y’hear?

Posted in Blog Week, Crochet, Knitting, Miscellaneous

5KCBWDay6 — View of Others, View of Yourself

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire. Write about if anyone has ever told you how they feel about your knitting.

I almost wish this were an easier topic. Being a solitary stitcher for the most part, there aren’t many fellow knitters and crocheters that I know well enough to be that familiar with their work. And I say “almost” because, although I wouldn’t necessarily mind knowing and interacting with other crafters, the process of getting to know them is uncomfortable for an introvert like me. Which is why blogging is such a perfect activity.

Kelly and me last August when I visited DC
Kelly and me last August when I visited DC
That said, two people jumped to mind immediately for the first part of this blog prompt. The first is my friend Kelly, screen name BunRab. I first met Kelly online sometime in 2002, I believe, on a website called BookCrossing. We met in person a couple of years later, and in recent years have made a point of attending Stitches South together as often as we can.

Kelly is one of those über-confident knitters who can choose a yarn and a needle size and just. start. knitting.  No pattern, no gauge swatching, no agonizing over stitch pattern: she simply casts on and starts knitting a sleeveless shell, relying on her years of experience and math skills to make it come out right.  And it does.  I want to do that. Maybe someday I will.

The second is Alana Dakos (nevernotknitting). She is the first designer I’ve ever encountered that caused me to want to Make All The Things. Seriously. I adore her patterns. I discovered her for the first time right around a year ago (so, that would be May 2013) when I was with a friend in Lovin’ Knit in Marietta, buying yarn for her special project. We were literally on our way out the door, when I glanced at a display and saw this book.

Botanical KnitsIt stopped me in my tracks. Something about that model’s face called me on some level I can’t begin to fathom. I turned around, picked up the book, glanced through it for less than a minute, and went back to the cash wrap to make the purchase.

Most impulse buys are later regretted, right? Not this one. When I got home, I sat down with the pattern book for a thorough study of the designs. And I knew I had to make every one of them. Never has every single design in an entire pattern book struck such a resonance in my soul; usually, if I like four or five out of a dozen or so, it’s worth the money to buy the book. I loved these so much that I looked up its companion volume, Coastal Knits, and promptly ordered that as well. Alana’s next book, Botanical Knits 2, is on pre-order.

I’ve never met Alana, although we’ve corresponded a bit by email when I had a question while I was making one of her patterns. I think I feel connected to her, and to her designs, because she lives and works in the area where I grew up — a place that I love desperately — and I can feel the locale come through in her patterns. Okay, that’s vaguely stalker-ish, isn’t it? I don’t mean it that way, honest. It’s just that, for me, her designs are both comforting and comfortable, and they feel like home.
The rest of this blog prompt suggests I tell you about anyone telling me how they feel about my knitting, positive or negative. I can’t say that I’ve had many conversations where someone’s emotions about my needlework have come under discussion. I’ve shown a couple of tricks or techniques to strangers while sitting in a waiting room and they expressed gratitude, but that’s about it. Unless you want to count my husband’s occasional griping about the amount of money I’ve spent on yarn… No? That’s okay; neither do I.

Posted in Blog Week, Crochet, Knitting, Miscellaneous

5KCBWDay5 — And now for something completely different

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Blog in a way different to how you normally blog.

A poem I wrote about ten years ago.

Sunday Afternoon, August

A row of pink crepe myrtles lines the driveway
Branches move in the soft afternoon breeze
A trumpet vine’s bright orange flowers peek
From the foliage of the ancient chokecherry
Towering above the myrtles

A mourning dove perches on a drooping electric cable
The rhythmic buzz of cicadas punctuates the clatter of keys as I type
A cheery red cardinal hops from one myrtle branch to another
Chirping, chattering at his reflection in the glass

Water beads course their way down the side
Of the tumbler; ice melts
The house is silent

Eyelids droop as naptime beckons
Close the laptop

Ceiling fan and cool cotton sheets

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Miscellaneous

5KCBWDay4 — Conversations Between Workers

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Write a few short paragraphs from the point of view of one of the tools you use for your craft. Then, write a dialogue between yourself and this item.


Needles 2

We’re not much to look at, you know. A simple pair of Boye size 10.5 aluminum needles. But we’ve made a lot of things in our lifetime…truthfully, we don’t even know how old we are.

Once upon a time, we belonged to a wonderful woman named Miss Ethel.

Mom Grandma Me

That’s her there in the center, surrounded by her daughter and her granddaughter. Miss Ethel was 92 when that picture was taken in 2002, and we’d been with her a long time then. A few years after that wedding, Miss Ethel had an accident — ran the riding mower into a tree and injured her leg severely — and had to go into a skilled nursing facility for a few months; then she went to live with her daughter. We, along with all her other crafting supplies, were packed away in boxes and put in storage in her daughter’s garage. After the accident, Miss Ethel just couldn’t concentrate on her needlework any longer.

A few more years went by while we sat in the dark, waiting patiently for Miss Ethel to pick us up again. One day, our box was moved. It felt like we were being put in a truck. We rode for a long long time, and finally were carried off the truck to another truck and then handed to someone who hand-carried us to a stable flat surface and opened the box.

That was me. I’m the granddaughter in that photo. You came to live with me after Miss Ethel, my grandmother, passed away at age 98. Grandma taught me to crochet when I was very young, so when my mother asked me if I wanted anything that had belonged to Grandma, you and the rest of those crafting supplies were the only things I wanted. I feel so privileged to have you, and carry on my Grandmother’s legacy by using her tools. You are beautiful to me. And there’s no other set of Boye size 10.5 aluminum needles in the world that will ever mean as much to me as you do.

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Miscellaneous, Yarn stash

5KCBWDay3 (Blog Week Day 3) — Photography Challenge

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Refresh your skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures.

I’m not sure I ever had any skills at creating attention-grabbing pictures in the first place, much less any skills to refresh. But the prompt included ideas such as using props and scenery. Looking around my craft room, I have plenty of things that might make suitable props. The challenge lies in creating a fresh environment — you should read that as “clear out the frakkin’ clutter” — in which to take an attention-grabbing picture.

So what I did was shoot a few of my props. Tell me what you think.

Styrofoam Heads

I’ve used these styrofoam heads before.

Chemo hats 2Chemo sunhats 1

Admittedly, they were posed on an ironing board, so the aesthetics weren’t ideal. However, I’m sure I can find a better place to shoot them. Maybe out on the deck? The photo of the Moorish Mosaic Afghan looked fabulous, in large part (I think) because of the outdoor location. And the curious dog.

Mosaic Afghan 12

I also have all sorts of little knickknacks floating about that could probably be incorporated in project pictures. One of them is up there with the styrofoam heads. Here’s another of the same family.

Coffee to the RescueThese are Zingle Berries. My husband bought them for me years and years ago because the little female figure reminded him of me. I have several of these little statuettes, and they’re each more adorable than the next. Sadly, the line is discontinued, but you can still find a few on eBay. Anyway, I can see using one of these figurines in a photo with, say, a small item like a scarf or pair of mitts.

The challenge I face, really, when it comes to interesting finished object photos, is the items I usually make tend to be large scale: cardigans and blankets for the most part, with the occasional shawl tossed in for good measure. I’m open to suggestions on how to stage photo shoots for these projects.

I do like shooting yarn porn. In fact, I’ve decided from now on, I’m going to start all projects with a yarn and buttons combo shot. Like this:

Purple with Lime Green Buttons 2

Gray with Buttons 2

Blue with Glass Buttons 2

Apricot and Green with Resin Buttons 3

Yeah. Yarn porn. That’s what I’m good at.

Posted in Blog Week, Finished object, Knitting

5KCBWDay2 (Blog Week Day 2) — Dating Profile

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Write a dating profile for one of your projects.

Hi! We’re The Avatars of They!

Avatars 4

Green Avatar: We’re a year old and, although we may not look it, we’re twins! We were created because one of avanta’s friends, who’s a huge They Might Be Giants fan, asked for us.

Blue Avatar: And we’re loco.

Green: Hush, this is a dating profile, Blue, we’re trying to find dates. You don’t get a date by telling people you’re loco.

Blue: But we are. We even have a video that says so.

Green: Okay, so now that our secret identities as rock stars are out there in our dating profile, we might as well tell you we’re not looking for a long-term commitment.

Blue: Nope, our touring schedule won’t allow that. Plus our usual method of travel involves being packed in a suitcase, so there’s limited space for significant others to come along.

Green: We like music…

Blue: Obviously.

Green: And sushi, and orange juice, and traveling…

Blue: And waxed paper cups for hats. Where is my hat, by the way? Have you seen it?

Avatars 2

Green: Nope.

Blue: Are you sure?

Green: Yes. Now hush up about the hat. Let’s finish our profile.


Green: Stop sulking. Okay, so we don’t like sticking around in one place for long.

Blue: And we don’t really like having people’s hands stuck up our…

Green: Blue!

Blue: Well, we don’t. But it’s a necessary evil. Because otherwise, we look like this.

Avatars 5

Green: Anyway, we’re looking for dates who are willing to overlook the handlers that come along with us everywhere. And who don’t mind our itinerary and infrequent visits to your town.

Blue: So if you like the rock-n-roll lifestyle and are emotionally equipped to handle one-night stands with Avatars who love you one night and leave you the next, email us!

Green: We promise to respond the next time we’re scheduled to appear within 100 miles of your location.

Bwahahahhaha!!! That's a good one!
Bwahahahhaha!!! That’s a good one!
Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Work in progress

5KCBWDay1 (Blog Week Day 1) — A Day In The Life

Blog Week 2014 Banner

Blog prompt: Describe a day in the life of a project that you have made, or are in the process of making.

I got up this morning, intending to write a blog post about my current project, when I found the following already in the draft folder. I’ve added a few notes in self-defense. They’re in italicized brackets. Cheeky socks.
Donegal sockA day in the life, she says. I’ll give her a day in the life.

I sat in her stash for heaven knows how long. [You’ve been here since December 2011, not nearly as long as some other stashed yarn.] I saw yarn which was here before me go out. I expected that. But I also saw yarn which came in after me go out. That hurt. I got my hopes up several times when I was taken out and perched by the computer while she searched for patterns. But my hopes were dashed time after time when I was put back into the basket. Without any lotion even.

Sorry. Movie reference. Yes, we unloved skeins of yarn watch movies when no one is around. She has a lot of unloved skeins of yarn. We watch a lot of movies.

[This is news to me. But it might explain some of the odd things in our Netflix Instant Queue. And for the record, I have no unloved skeins of yarn, just stash that hasn’t met the right pattern. For Pete’s sake, I wouldn’t have spent all that money on you if I didn’t love you!]

Swift 1But one day she pulled me out, draped me around the swift, and wound me into a cake. At last! I can achieve my purpose! It turns out she had finally convinced her husband to allow her to make him some socks, and I was the perfect choice for those socks, so she cast me on some DPNS, and we were off to the races.

But, despite being on my way to fulfilling my destiny, all was not well. I struggled with the pattern she chose. I mean, I tried my best to make it work, but I wasn’t happy and, judging by the language I heard, she wasn’t happy either. I breathed a sigh of relief when she took me off the needles, relieved me of the burden of those awful stitches, and cast me on again, this time in an easy-going 3×1 rib that worked out just right for the short lengths of color in my colorway. [You think you breathed a sigh of relief? That first pattern gave me hand cramps.]

Spouse's Socks 3Then something odd happened. After several inches of cuff, the DPNs with which I had been getting along so well were replaced, one by one, with a slightly smaller set. This was not in my game plan! Didn’t she know this was going to mess with my pooling pattern? And sure enough, instead of the tidy ladder-rung type placement of my various colors, a swirling pattern developed. Thank heavens she didn’t mess with the 3×1 rib, but that swirl? I mean, they’re my colors, they’re part of me, and I love them regardless, but I’m not so sure I like this.

We definitely don’t like it.  We 1-1/2s were doing so well with you, and then she replaced us with a size 1 set! The nerve!

[Oh, and now the needles chime in, too. *sigh* You’ll both get over it. Really.]

We persevered several more inches down the cuff and then, AND THEN, what did she do? She put us away! Stuffed us right down in the bottom of a project bag while she worked on birthday presents, and Christmas presents, and a cardigan for herself, and a baby blanket, then another cardigan for herself Knit Because I'm Smarter Bag(which she abandoned) [Now wait just a goldarn minute…], and now another blanket. Oh, we’re just socks for her husband, we’re not important.

Hmph. We’ll just see about that.

[Are you threatening me? Seriously, are you threatening me? Because I can rip you out and stuff you back in a basket, you know. Just try “fulfilling your destiny” if that happens.]

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Life in general, Project planning


How did two months go by without a single blog entry?  Well, tomorrow I’ll be at Stitches South.  I’ll have stuff to show you when I get back, so expect an update (with pics) sometime in the next few days.

In the meantime, I’m quite pleased to know I did NOT miss Knit & Crochet Blog Week. It’s next month. You can read all about it over at Eskimimi Makes. Join us!

Posted in Blog Week, Life in general, Miscellaneous

4KCBWDay7 — Looking Forward

2013 Blog Week Banner

One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?
I’ve got a little list….

Okay, so it’s not a list of people that need doing away with, but the phrase gave me an excuse to toss in one of the best modern renditions of the Gilbert & Sullivan song I’ve heard in many a year. You may add “theatre nerd” to the list of nerd-doms to which I belong. And, while I’m not normally an admirer of musicals, I make one of my few exceptions for The Mikado.

None of which has anything to do with my list.

I fell head over heels in love with a film a few years ago, an art piece called The Fall, directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Lee Pace and a remarkable young girl named Catinca Untaru. Not only did I adore everything about this film, which I urge everyone to see immediately, I also coveted the cardigan the little girl wore throughout the film. You can get a pretty good look at it in this clip:

Designing and making an adult version of that cardigan has been on my list ever since. I found the lace and stitch patterns I needed a couple of years ago, and made swatches. Perhaps by next year, I will have succeeded in working out the basic structure and stitch counts.

The other major thing I hope to accomplish is finally getting my craft room organized in the manner I’ve envisioned, with a wall or two of cubbies for yarn and books, and a rolling fold-down table suitable for use as a blocking table, cutting table, or general multi-use crafting surface.

Skillwise, perhaps I’ll finally get up the nerve to make a small Fair Isle project, but one that doesn’t require steeking, like a hat or a scarf. Learning Tunisian crochet ranks high on the “skills to be acquired” list. And I’ve been thinking about taking on the Master Knitters Program from the Knitting Guild Association, but that will probably need to wait until spouse is employed.

Mainly, though, I plan to keep making things I like for myself and for others. I knit because I love to knit.

To read other posts from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 4KCBWDAY7, or click here.

Posted in Blog Week, Knitting, Miscellaneous

4KCBWDay6 — A Tool to Covet

2013 Blog Week Banner

Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers. Is it an item that you would recommend to others, and if so for which applications/tasks do you think it is most suited. Conversely, do you have a tool/accessory that you regret buying? Why does it not work for you?
I started writing this blog post this morning, before spouse and I set out for the day to attend a street fair in one of Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods. My intention was to wax rhapsodic about the three sets of Addi Clicks I bought a couple of years ago at Stitches South: Addi Turbo, Addi Lace, and Addi Natura.

The Doctor Bag
The Doctor Bag
But then we left the house and went to the Inman Park Festival. So what you get now about the Addis is this: I love them. I use them every day. And while over on the Addi site to get the links, I discovered there’s a new set of long Addi Lace Clicks with lifelines that will now have to become part of my toolkit.

So why did the object of my adoration suddenly change? See that photo over to the right? Yeah. Because I Found That.

A messenger bag. With a TARDIS. And little pins with caricatures of all eleven Doctor incarnations. *swoon*

The Doctors!  On buttons!
The Doctors! On buttons!
Nerd heaven. Made of heavy-duty canvas and industrial-strength webbing and hardware, with a pocket on each end, two pockets under the flap, a zippered pocket on the inside, and more room than should be allowed by law in the main compartment, this is the project bag to end all project bags. Not to mention it will make a great commute bag, with space for a wallet, makeup bag, Kindle, cell phone, lunch bag, water bottle, dress shoes, and book on those days I decide to read on paper instead of on a screen. Or if I’m leaving the reading at home, a portable knitting project, instead.

My mother gave me a commute bag for Christmas, which I really like and have used a lot since she gave it to me, but it’s not quite big enough for all the stuff I carry, so I usually ended up carrying the commute bag AND a handbag AND sometimes my lunch bag, which can be a bit much to juggle on a crowded train. This bag, I believe, will be the sturdy all-in-one bag I didn’t know I wanted.

Should you covet a Doctor Who messenger bag of your own, you can contact Third Half Studios in Atlanta. They don’t have the bags on their website, but I bet they have a couple somewhere. Plus they have all kinds of other nerdy cool stuff too.

To read other posts from those taking part in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, simply perform a Google search for the tag 4KCBWDAY6, or click here.