Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Agony of Defeat

Well, if anyone wants to make us a button that's a subtle riff on the Yarn Harlot's gold medal (her statuesque knitter being hung by her own skein, perhaps) please be my guest--and let me know.

However, I thought I'd start a rolling blog entry and let those of us who bit the big tamale at least have a forum where we can post what we managed to finish.

In that effort, I'm posting this, my second panel. Such as it is.

I am joined in the Loosers Pub O'Despair (and wouldn't you rather be hanging with us than in the winner's circle?) by Ms. L. Ward who said of her pic:
Here's a picture of my hat at the closing ceremonies. Not too shabby looking but the needles don't feel real good when you're wearing it.


Mz. Mar weighed in with this:
I'm joining you! After 4 false starts the Jaywalkers bit the dust! They were
too big at the cuff ..had trouble with the toes~
I was a Olympic drop-out!!
Mz Mar Sew What?

And Elizabeth in Norway said:
Soooooo close! I call these my "Team Wales Olympic Socks", designed by me and using a heel I had never used before.

What I learned:
It is extremely uncomfortable to knit with half the skin gone from the tip of your left thumb (allergies acting up - but in reaction to what? Please, not my knitting!)

It is a waste of time trying to knit an unfamiliar heel when you are on a bus and the pattern is at home. The whole heel had to go straight to the frogpond when I got home!

Don't suggest a meeting "Friday or Monday" when you really need the knitting time on Friday - Murphy's law will make sure the meeting gets scheduled on Friday.

If you are knitting a 36-stitch heel following a short row pattern on 26 heel stitches that has an 8-stitch point, this is roughly 1/3 of the stitches. Roughly 1/3 of the heel stitches is a very good place to stop decreasing and start increasing again. 8 stitches is NOT roughly 1/3 of 36 stitches, and will be too pointy.

I will also have a few comments on "festive knitting" on my blog in a few days. It was perfect for the dragons, but there are pitfalls to avoid.

Elizabeth in Norway
Elizabeth in Norway

Anyone else suffer the agony of defeat? Send your pic and sob story/description to Gillian (at) AOL (dot) com!

Monday, February 27, 2006

No apologies

You can get this article yourself at Jewish World Review.

Knitting, purling and scratching

By Lloyd Garver

Knitting was once an activity that grandmothers did when they got together and complained about how infrequently their grandkids called them. In recent years, there's been an explosion in knitting's popularity. Now, it's not uncommon for granddaughters to feel they're too busy knitting to call their grandmothers. Younger women have taken up the craft, and so have high school and college students. But one group that's knitting and purling away the evening hours is somewhat of a surprise: adult men.

What's your stereotypical view of what it's like when a bunch of men get together? Are they watching sports? Talking about sex? Eating hot dogs and drinking beer? Scratching themselves? Burping and not saying, "Excuse me?" Well, if you add to that image a bunch of guys knitting potholders, you'll get what's going on today.

Once a week, a knitting shop in New York's Greenwich Village has a Men's Only night. There, the guys can exchange knitting tips — while they eat hot dogs and drink beer. Similar places are springing up all over the country and throughout the world. Women are going to have to get used to hearing things like, "I might be home late. I'm going out knitting with the guys."

Foolish people will probably debate whether knitting is a "manly" activity. Even those traditionalists would have to admit that snowboarding isn't wimpy. Well, snowboarders are among the males who have started to knit. They want to make their own winter gear, both as a way of saving money and as a fashion statement.

Men probably knit for the same reasons that women do: Some find it relaxing, some want to express themselves creatively, some want to make their own clothes, and some want to be able to say, "I can't answer that phone. My hands are full."

When I was a little kid who couldn't sit still, my grandmother taught me how to knit. She figured that if I'd sit and knit, she wouldn't have to chase me around her apartment. It worked. She never bothered showing me how to end a project or do anything fancier than knit, knit, knit, but that was enough for me. I'd end up with these long pieces that I'm sure she either threw away or ripped apart as soon as I went home to my parents, but she'd end up with a head that didn't ache.

Most historians believe that knitting began with men. It grew out of knitting fishing nets. After that came socks, and then sweaters that cost more than what those fishing boats used to cost.

In this day and age, when people can do things previously only done by the opposite gender, it's only natural that men have taken up needles and yarn. And these men don't necessarily fall into any stereotype. One wife reports that her husband loves to knit, but also fishes and hunts. He's probably fun to shop with before vacations: "I'll take that shotgun, that reel — and that really cool pattern book to go with this yarn."

The web site, MenKnit.net has a motto, "Man Enough To Knit, Strong Enough to Purl." Some super-macho knitters probably will carry this one step further and have the slogan tattooed on their hairy chests. I just hope they use something safer than a knitting needle to do the tattooing.

I can see a time when inmates in maximum-security prisons will give up weightlifting and scowling for crocheting and knitting. CAVEAT TO WARDENS AND GUARDS: Make sure they aren't knitting extra long scarves to swing themselves over the walls.

So, just as I see as positive the opening up of occupations and sports to women that were historically dominated by men, I see no reason why men should not be allowed to work with needles and balls of yarn just as women have done for years. In fact, not all knitting sessions have to be for just one sex. Men have been known to take women to a knitting class on a first date. This, of course, brings up a new social etiquette question, "Do you kiss after the first knit — or wait until after he takes you purling?"

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yeah, but the medals are ugly...

So, here's the thing.

REAL Olympians may be amateurs, but they're getting paid to participate in their sport.
Sadly, neither Lion Brand, nor Knit Picks, nor Brown Sheep decided to back me. Not even Tahki (jerks) called to sign me even though their yarn cut my fingers.

So I failed. I failed so bad it's not even worth laughing at. I completed a panel and a third.

In 16 days.

That's got to be an all-time low.

However, in my defense, there were at least six nights when I couldn't knit at all. I was never able to knit all day--not even during the two weekends. I was working 13 hour workdays for most of the Olympics...yeah yeah yeah...that and $3.50 will get you a coffee...maybe even at Starbucks if you only get a Tall.

Regardless, I learned a few things:
1) My eyes are still bigger than my stomach...um...I mean faster than my hands. Wait, I mean...
2) My son's need for new mittens trumps my need to knit the damn afghan.
3) Just because a yarn looks gorgeous, doesn't mean it will feel gorgeous.
4) Knitting 16 hours a day when you have little kids is impossible...unless it's your job and you have help.
5) My husband is the most wonderful man in the world.
6) Blogs are more fun when people comment.
7) A medal isn't enough of a bribe for me...a nice single malt scotch and a dinner out with my husband (even without knitting) is.
8) My kids get the knitting thing.
9) I'm considered a vaguely unstable person at work because of this...okay, probably for more than just this.
10) I have to come up with a better UFO organizational method. Leave comments with ideas if you have some.
11) I'm still glad I did it. The first panel is gorgeous. The rest will come...Summer 2008! Whoo hooo!

And, of course, It doesn't really matter, because the medals are bloody ugly!

BUT! As pointed out in the comments...they do look like whorls, so they can't be all bad.
And thanks for the UFO link! Very helpful!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thoughts on Learning to Knit

When I was a child I learned to knit from my grandmother.
For so many of us that is the beginning of a long and fulfilling relationship with knitting. For me, it was a disaster.

I was much better at crocheting. I stuck to the single hook for ages.

I had a brief fling with knitting again in high school. I had been cast as Anne in The Diary of Anne Frank and when I read that Anne gave her father a knitted scarf for Hanukkah I realized that to be honest in my portrayal I needed to knit the scarf myself.

This was my first big mistake...in both acting and knitting.

The line, as I recall it goes something like this:
Anne: (apologetically, as her father reacts to the scarf) I knitted it in the dark...out of odds and ends...

My delivery, I'm sure, was perfection. Not so my knitting. The scarf received laughs.
Every night.
For two weeks.

I was thirty two before I tried to knit again.

When I did I learned from an aptly named knitting store owner, Prophet of the Knitting Salon in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
My friend Jamie took me there. I insisted I was a crocheter and cross stitcher, but not a knitter.
"All you need," Prophet said, "is some wooden needles and some real wool."
Of course you'd say that, I thought. They're more expensive.
As though Prophet could (appropriately) read my mind, "If it doesn't work out for you, bring them back."
An offer I couldn't refuse.
I took handspun, hand dyed yarn home and some GORGEOUS (now discontinued) Black Walnut Brittany Knitting Needles (13's, still have 'em) and went home to knit my husband a scarf.


I taught myself wrong. For whatever reason, Prophet failed to explain to me that I was actually and in fact, twisting and untwisting my stitches. Years later I would find that Annie Modesitt made a name for herself dubbing what I was also naturally doing Combination Knitting. My knitting looked normal, but decreases were messy and made no sense to me as written in patterns. I eventually learned to knit a more traditional Continental style; decreases were revelatory and socks became my friend. I also learned to knit Continental and British at the same time so I could change colors more effectively.

To Be Continued...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Word Clouds

Go here.
Get one of these if you have a blog.

A Shout Out From My Spindler Friend

This was a message on Spindlers:
Gentle Spindlers,

What an amazing group of spinners and knitters you all are.. I'm so impressed by what all of you are accomplishing as we knit (and spin) for the gold! For those of you with blogs, they are beautiful and inspiring records of what you're working on.

Heather -- don't give up. Love your "Team What the Hell Was I Thinking". I speak for myself when I say I'm a life-long member.

HJ: Your Shrugawl is lovely and its clever construction reminds me of Faroese shawls. It's very becoming, too.

Stephanie -- Congragulations on finishing your beautiful purple sweater.

Treesh -- Go Team Wales. Wishing you well with all your challenges this past week. Hope it all works out. We're all rooting for you.

Doll: Congratulations on your lace socks. Another talented handspinner competes for the gold!

Anne in MD -- Another spinning Olympics Knitter goes for the gold. Here's hoping the yarn holds out.

Aubrey: All your teams are cheering loudly as you face the challenge of socks. Go Team Wales, Go Team Lace and Go Team Socks.

Melanie: Your lovely socks are simply dazzling. How clever to knit flame socks for the closing ceremonies. Can't believe you're heading for 8 medals here (one for each sock!)

I'm stitches from finishing. It's been a long day...

Knit on, Spindlers,


Liza, that was very kind and much appreciated. I WAS close to giving up. Now I'm reenergized! You're a doll!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Loathesome Train Rides and Cherry Tree Hill Yarn

Standing the whole way to and from home on the train really REALLY stinks. So, no knitting today. Tomorrow, though, I go see Cousin Dan in the Moot Court trials and I plan to knit while I listen to his brilliance.

And, for my sock knit group--here's what the Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn knits up like. These are on my cheap-o sock blockers. The variegated yarn is the CTH and the purple is...someone elses yarn. They were the same size/weight/wraps so I combined.
The snowflake pattern (in purple on the cuff) came from the Knit-a-Day Calendar for 2005.
Here's the pics:

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Where's a Medici When You Need One?

O woe is me that the days of the Medici are gone? What I wouldn't give for a benefactor! I could have knocked this puppy out so fast had I just been...kept.


This is what I did yesterday and today on the train.

Getting a few more rows done tonight, but blast it all, if work doesn't keep rearing it's ugly head.


However, I thought those of you who are actually reading my blog (but not commenting?) might like to see the closeup of the lower tip of South America.

Notice the lovely heathering (get it? Heather!) and the stunning colors.

Now that my fingers are numb, I'm finding the yarn much easier to deal with. Still not my favorite to knit with (aaaaallllllppppaaaaaaccccccaaaaaaa) but not a bad result.

Also notice my speed-enhancing devices! I've added stitch markers (the nasty kind that stab my fingers and thumbs) every ten stitches to match the bold lines on the color pattern. Actually very helpful for me to knit while...trying to work. I can FEEL when I need to change colors. Let's me do the ocean much more quickly.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Sad Little Update

Sunday afternoon, I finished panel ONE!
Yeah, it took over a week to do 3/4 of panel ONE!

So I'm looking forward to Olympics 2010! Whoo hoo!

At least it looks nice:

And I soaked it in Downey and Hoof-n-Mane conditioner and the yarn is MUCH NICER now.

Friday, February 17, 2006

New Buttons

And my fave:

How I started!

Who knew that when I learned to knit--taught myself and was told I was twisting all my stitches, I was really just a knitting heretic practicing combination knitting!? I'm going to go back to what I used to do. Maybe I'll finally speed up on the damn afghan!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Olympic update--is this day 6???

Well, I think I'll be lucky--MIGHTY lucky--to finish two panels.
Sure is pretty...sure ain't movin' fast.

The world is just too damn big! And the next panel has WAY too many color changes. Sadly, this was the EASY one.

Feel free to email me if you have any tricks or tips (Gillian [at] AOL [dot] com).


how do you HTML an audio file? Try this one, I guess?

Crafty Chica Podcast

I gotta hook my sister up with the Crafty Chica Podcast right away!
And I need to make sure she listens to Marie Irshad's anniversary show of KnitCast.

And, for an Olympic Update...ah well...it's just not going to happen. I'm interested to see how far I get, thought.
Judy, I think, suggested that I pick it up and finish it at the NEXT Olympics...Helllooooo Vancouver!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Because I don't have enough to do

I will volunteer here from time to time LibriVox, recoring books to knit by...it's free. It's nice. It's a good idea. You should join us.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympics Day Three: not worth posting

Sadly, sadly I write to you now, acknowledging that I can't work and knit as fast or as much as I need to. Tomorrow is another day and all that blabitty-blah, but I think I only completed 16 rows today. Not even worth a photo.
Hell, I didn't even hit Siberia...or whatever it is up there that's on the Bering Strait.*

O the agony of defeat...BUT.

I will soldier on.

After all, I now have

counting on me.

*Okay, I checked: The Bering Strait is a sea strait between Cape Dezhnev, Russia, the eastmost point (169°43' W) of the Asian continent and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska.

Boycott Sew Fast/Sew Easy

You can find a brief description of why here atCease n' deBitched | MetaFilter and a more comprehensive explanation about 40 minutes into Episode 10 of Cast-On.

More info here too:

I watched Disney pull this crap and it's why I left. I'm not about to stay quiet while some Insulting Little Man from a Little Company snubs the knitting community and tries to push us around with meaningless lawyerly threats.

I'm going to my Stitch and Bitch this Wednesday night. And I'll say it out loud as often as I can. While noting, publicly, that we are not a Stitch and Bitch Cafe...you can have that all to yourself, Little Company.

The Charge of the Yarn Harlot

It is possible that the wonderful pen of the Yarn Harlot is more than a little responsible for our insanity.

Knitting Olympics Frappr!

Lordy, we are EVERYwhere. Take a look at this beta site at Knitting Olympics Frappr! to see us pinpointed all over the globe. Go to the state level.
And wonderful.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Olympic Update--End of Day 2

Well, I managed about a foot since we started. That's not good.
But it's sure pretty.

I also used my entire ball of blue. (Note the ruler, and you can see how far a ball of blue Tahki Donnegal Tweed will go with size 3.75mm needles.) This was not a surprise, but going into the basement, to find the box with the rest of the yarn...only to find no balls of blue...THAT was a surprise.

Turns out, I hadn't wound balls out of all of the skeins. So the many many blue skeins are now sitting in a Eucalen bath. Hoping that since there's so damn much ocean (harumph! Ecosystems! The nerve!) maybe having the blue be soft will help my hands.

I'm also finding that weaing glassess is helping with the wool-in-the-eye problem.
I guess it's reading glasses on the train tomorrow while listening to Brenda Dayne's CAST-ON!

Tonight I said "ta" to the Olympics and watched Out of Africa instead--trying to brace myself for knitting it. Also felt a little bad not knowing which provinces in Canada I was knitting. Sigh...don't tell my Dad the Geographer. Note the lovely detail of the lakes though. Nice, eh?

And the lower edge of Alaska...

I also made a decision to block as I go. I'm weaving in the ends as I go (knitting them in when I can, weaving when I can't) so that when I'm done I'll be DONE. I just can't abide the "yay, you're finished...now it's another hour of 'finishing' before you're REALLY finished." I'm not that patient. That's why I knit, I think. I just can't sit there not accomplishing something.

In other news, a big ol' shout out to my Mom who recently got her PhD and just got offered a new job with a nice hefty raise. Way to go! YAY MOM! And to my sister who is in the Dominican Republic wearing masks and being beaten with bladders for Carnival.
Um...way to go Syd...?
You can read her blog too.

And some of you have (rightly) asked what I'm going to do during the week when I need to...you know...WORK during the Knit Olympics.
Well, it's an excellent question. Life happened in this order.
1) I offered to help out at work by covering for a project manager, thus moving from writer to paper pusher/content editor
2) I learned about the Knit Olympics.
3) I joined the Knit Olympics.
4) I realized I was an idiot for joining the Knit Olympics
5) I realized I could edit and knit at the same time...couldn't write and knit, but edit and knit I could do.
I trained for the even by knitting socks while editing...found myself more focused on the work than ever before (is it my secret ADHD nature coming out? Have I discovered a cure for ADHD? Are we, as Brenda Dayne says, saving the world one sweater at a time?)

Regardless, tomorrow is a full work day. We'll just have to see what I am able to achieve.

Personal best, baby. Personal best...

Olympic Update

I am not doing NEARLY as well as the downhill USA men's team when it comes to times. I think it's become fairly clear as we begin the third day of the Knit Olympics that I have seriously overjudged my knitting speed--esp. cold-finger speed during a blizzard. Until and unless I can finish a panel completely in four days I won't make it. And as you can see from the previous post pic of my starting point, and from the update pic here of where I stopped Saturday night...I'm not going to have much luck.

I have learned some things.
1) I love Brenda Dayne and Cast-On and highly recommend knitting to her.
2) I love that I knit Continental--it does help with speed.
3) I hate purling Continental and think I'm actually faster purling British...but then adding Continental for color changes
4) I actually have an allery to this yarn.

I love this yarn. I love it tons because my husband had to call all over the world to find enough for me to make the afghan--it's been discontinued. I especially love the bright green with which I am knitting Canada (oooooh Caaaaanadaaaaa...I considered learning the anthems to the countries as I knit...and rapidly tossed that iden when I glanced ahead to Africa. See more below).
So I love this yarn, but I hate knitting with it. It acually makes my fingers hurt--there's VM in it and it occasionally feels like it's cutting me...seriously. I am using more lotion than I ever thought possible. I am considering reskeining the yarn I balled, and soaking it in Eucalen just to make it (a) smell better and (b) not hurt my fingers so much.

And regarding Africa. I'm here to say that I may very well put that panel on hold. I may consider myself a winner if I merely BEGIN Africa. The rest of the world is quite nice and all, but Europe and Africa in particular are going to be such a bundle of bobbins...I'm not sure what kind of breakdown I'll have, but a breakdown is coming for sure.

What have we learned?
First, I was stupid and crazy...not sure which order that comes in;
Second, that I don't like this yarn (it even causes a caustic eye allergy);
Third, that I may flip the third and fourth panels so that, by the 16th day, I can be ALMOST done
Fourth, that I need to get back to knitting. I don't want to miss the nutty people doing Louge. When is that?

Tra la la...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Button, button! Who's got a button?

Had to make myself a button.

Then I went back to Stephanie's site to check out the new stuff and found this

and now I am shamed by Sara's awesome coolness.

Of course, mine was Very Difficult to make (which makes it virtuous) as I had to start with iPhoto, then transfer the knitting pic to Word, then save that as a PDF jpg, then transfer that back to iPhoto where I could crop it and export it in the right format. So the fact that it's not spectacular is okay, right?

Feedback from a pro!

I got a free bag pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting. The good ladies there asked for pics of said bags to be sent to them. So I obliged:

In my note I mentioned that I loved the pattern so much I was going to make all of my Xmas gifts RIGHT NOW with this pattern (...well...after the Olympics...).

And then I got this back from Kay:
I am really into the charcoals and grays--yours is fab. The ones in the
picture [on the web site] are tweaked versions of the pattern, as you can probably see. I had requests for bigger ones, less round ones, etc. If you are making a bunch of them it is fun to change them a little for entertainment purposes!

Thanks so much for the pic, Heather, I'll add it to the Parade of
Buttonholes I keep planning to do. xoxo Kay

She wrote me!
That's like getting the Knit Olympics note back from Stephanie!
Happy Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Forgot to post pics!

So I made the Fingerless Gloves Part Deux! This time with handspun and hand-dyed! Whoo hoo! Very exciting stuff here. Well, actually, the green was bought fleece, the multi I plyed with it is a Kool Aid test I did. I had JUST enough. Knit these simultaneously off a center-pull ball.

The other thing to post is that I'd been trying to figure out how to hang up my spindles. I have no mantle and no space for an Ikea rack. But I did have a little wall space under the mucho neato Hatian pic my sister gave me for Xmas. So here's what I did.

At ACMoore I got this little vase (?!) set...three tin half-vases on a wooden shelf backing.

Tres simple!
Tres cool!

The purple travel spindle bag is a Goodwill Sweater I felted. The yarn bleeds something awful, but it sure looks great!

In the interest of full disclosure...

So...I've got to fess up publicly. While I am in the Knit Olympics, and I fully ascribe to all the rules (cast on when the torch is lit, be done when it's doused) I can't fully comply.
It's not like I'm on knitting steroids. It's just that I started the Map of the World Afghan last year. I started it and I froze. I got just past South America on the first panel and that was it. I put it away. And that after it took my DH a month to hunt down the (gorgeous) yarn. I felt awful. But I couldn't face it. Too big. Too much. And work weighed too much on me at the time.
So, when I read the addenda to Stephanie's original post--about it being a personal best--then I thought, well then, GOOD! This is right! It's still a personal best (who else was nuts enough to sign on with a whole damn intarsia afghan?)! I shouldn't feel bad.
But I do.
So here's my agreement with myself. I am posting here, in front of God and Everyone, exactly how far I got last year; barely into Central America.
I am not going to pick those needles up again until the torch is lit.
Then it's hell bent for the Russian Border Baby! Of course...DH doesn't watch sports either, so I'm not entirely sure how much of the Olympics proper I'll be watching...but I'll still be knitting. I need to make a "team afghan" button.

But I won't be knitting without examining some important safety tips.

Knittyspin: Handy plying

I know...I know...as though everything on Knitty weren't useful: Knittyspin: Handy plying.

About Time - a podcast for knitters

Just discovered About Time - a podcast for knitters. I'd been listening to Marie Irshad's podcast KnitCast and Caroline's FiberCast too for about a month, but I keep trolling. Something to listen to on the train.

Monday, February 06, 2006

super eggplant: no cupcake for me

There is a part of me attracted to the cupcake...super eggplant: no cupcake for me but there is also a part of me that's terrified.
The latter won.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Making a Drop Spindle

Making Judi...if I'm ever interested.

Silk Hankies and their Like

Well this was a first. I raised silk worms like every kindergartener in So Cal (land of Mulberry trees) but I'd never really held SILK. The silk hankies featured here Knittyspin: Knittyspin win 05 - silk hankies from Chasing Rainbows (a deal at $14) are extraordinary. I bought mine in "Heather"...for obvious reasons.

Let me fill you in on what the Knitty article doesn't say: JeeHOSefat! That stuff's STRONG!.

Seriously. The "tugging it into roving" thing.

Tug is WAY WAY too polite. I struggled. I strained. The tensile strength of silk is well-known, sure. But there's a difference between "knowing" and "oh-my-God-this-can't-be-right-I'm-gonna-freakin'-break-it!"

However. I did manage to make a roving. And here's a cool thing--you get it to the roving state and suddenly and all at once, you let go and it's light as a feather. Fluffy, soft--still mad strong, yo. But gorgeous.

And now I have a reason for my new (my FIRST!) Bosie. I just got a Featherweight in Purpleheart.

I think I love it. Not as much as my husband. Not as much as Will Smith (DH knows...). But I do love it. Spins lovely. Sheila tested it for me and included some lovely roving which (amazing) matches the Heather Silk!


I think not.

So here I go to my local Stitch-n-Bitch tonight. Tra la la. Gotta show someone who might care.

DH's response to all things yarn?