Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day Four: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Today's topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is Whatever Happened To Your....?  I'm supposed to look back on a project I made awhile ago.

This one was handed right to me, quite literally.  On Sunday, a friend handed me a legwarmer I made for her in 2009.  The yarn had broken, and she hoped I could fix it.

Side thought:  Does anyone know why this happens?  It's not the first time I've seen it.  It just looks like the yarn snapped in that area.  Another friend had it happen in lots of places all over his sweater, and I thought that might be because we blocked it too strenuously.  Is this just something that happens with wear?

My friend said she wore these all the time during the winter.  I was thrilled.  Sometimes when I give away my knitting, I'm not sure how much it gets used.  This is probably more about the number of socks I've knit myself that don't get worn regularly than it is about other people, but I still always wonder.  It was really nice to hear that this gift gets used a lot.

I fixed it the best I could, tying together the broken yarn and darning it with scrap yarn leftover from this project.  It's not gorgeous, but it's sturdy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day Three: My Knitting Space

For day 3 of Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, the topic is yarn/project organization.
The project organization is easy:  Ravelry for the info and bags like this for the actual projects.  
Box tote purchased from Dollbirdies on, like this one
I also have a small cosmetic pouch I bought for a couple dollars that I keep all my.... well, you know, stuff.  Scissors, gauge thingie, stitch markers, yarn needles, etc.  There are knitting pouches made to do this as well, but the cosmetic bag works just fine.

I have already told you about the felt yarn needle holder I made.  I still love it and use it all the time.  It lives in the cosmetic bag.

All other physical yarn organization happens in our guest room, which would more accurately be called our yarn room.  

I have the yarn and patterns on a Expedit bookcase from Ikea.  I attempt to sort yarn by weight, but that's isn't always possible.  (Sock yarn overfloweth.)  Scraps of sock yarn go into the basket to be used for future Frankenprojects, and the top of the bookcase is for special yarn, most of it souvenirs.  Though there's a good chance this yarn will someday be knitted, right now it's being enjoyed for its beauty and nostalgic value.

The drawers hold my needles (unless they're too long to fit, in which case they go on a shelf--double points and straights in one drawer and circulars in the second.  The two red doors hide random bits of knittery--projects that I have no desire to do nor look at, buttons, glasses I didn't end up using on a knit teddy bear, that sort of thing.

This room has a swift and a ball winder, and it also houses all my knitting books, magazines, and printed patterns.  I have four binders of patterns that I've tried to divide into sections: baby patterns, sweaters, home stuff (rugs, pillows, etc), toys, hats, scarves, socks.  I asked for magazine holders for my birthday, and I use these to try to keep the magazines in chronological order because it appeals to my innate sense of order.*

I love this room.  I love being able to see my yarn.  I love the magazines all lined up in rows in colorful holders.  I love being able to wind a skein of yarn into a ball without having to wrap the yarn around Andrew.  (He loves that bit, too, although the wild swinging of the arms to keep the yarn from tangling while sending it through the winder was a good workout.)  I love seeing yarn and remembering when I bought it and imaging what it will become.  

There's only one problem.  My knitting has nearly outgrown the bookcase.  I blame patterns.  I can't throw out old knitting magazines.**  Because the literature keeps growing, I have allowed myself to be deluded into thinking that the amount of yarn is staying stable or even diminishing.***  I have not yet figured out a solution to this problem, although I have been eyeing the other walls and imagining a second bookcase....

*Some would call this sense "obsessive-compulsive" rather than simply innate.  I don't argue with them...  We both know whom they would call to organize their bookshelves.
**Actually this might be the real problem.
***Yes, I know this is a lie.  I admit it nowhere but in a footnote.
An additional note I feel bound to add:  I absolutely tidied up this room before taking photos.  Also, there may or may not be an additional box of yarn living on the floor that doesn't fit on the shelves.

Okay, may.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day Two: Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

Today's topic as part of the Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to discuss a way my skills have changed in the past year.

I love Ravelry, the knit and crochet online community that lets me post project info., look up yarns and patterns, talk to other knitters, etc.  It allows me to look back and see what projects I've knitted.  I'm confident I wouldn't keep track of my projects well without an online place to organize my knitting, and you all know how I feel about a good organization system!

As I looked back at things I've knitted, I noticed the colorwork projects I've done.  These projects use two colors on the same row, which means I carry one color in my right hand and one in my left.  I still have trouble keeping even tension in my left hand, but I am getting better.

My first colorwork project was the result of my only real knitting class.  I took a class in colorwork, and I struggled through these mittens:

Checks and Dots Mittens by Kristin Nicholas
from the book Kristin Knits

I made these about a year and a half ago:

Then I made these

and then another pair of those in a slightly larger size.

I made Andrew a colorwork hat.

I made a pair of mittens for my mother-in-law.

I've just finished another surprise project that involves colorwork as well.  Although I've been working on this longer than a year, I find that each project gets a bit easier.  It's still fussy knitting, but I love the way it turns out.

Now that I've just finished another colorwork project, I do admit to wanting to do some mindless knitting that doesn't involve charts or more than one strand of yarn!  Bring on the garter stitch.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day One: A Tale of Two Yarns

I just learned about this Knitting and Crochet Blog Week project, and I thought why not?  I have a blog.  I knit.  Done and done.

Today's topic is to discuss two yarns that I have either used, are in my stash or which I yearn after and capture what it is I love or loathe about them.

I love KnitPicks Felici sock yarn.  It comes in limited-edition colorways, and I have a very difficult time not buying multiple balls of every color when a new bunch is released.
Image from KnitPicks website

This yarn is so delightfully soft, and I'm amused by self-striping yarn.  I've made several things out of it.
Ankle socks for my sister-in law

Naive Socks in pink (not pictured) and blue/purple 

Plain green socks - I am not ashamed to say I made these in a different green as well.  
I wear them a lot.

Plain pink socks

Now that I really look at what I've made out of Felici, I realize there really should be some fingerless gloves or baby hats in the mix.  

Felici is inexpensive.  I admit that it probably won't wear as well as higher quality yarn.  This fact coupled by darning may mean that I rethink my adoration at some point in the future.

But I'm not there yet!

Confused By
ravelry image by petraknits

I don't loathe this yarn; I just don't know what to do with it.  When I had been a knitter just long enough to realize that a local yarn shop going out of business was a stash-enhancing opportunity not to be missed but not quite long enough to really understand yarn, I bought... a lot of this.  It's Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria.  It's kinky, like '80s hair that's been tortured with a crimper.

I bought enough kelly green to make a sweater, enough red to probably make a sweater, and a couple hanks of a light/medium blue.

It's sat on my yarn shelves for a few years.  Whenever I visit the stash, I look at it, admire the pretty colors, and then reach for something else.  Someday, I'll figure this one out!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Personal Items

A friend of mine has turned in her notice.  We went to lunch today, and she said she had taken stock of her office to see what she would need to take home on her last day.
  • One bottle of ibuprofen
That's it.  Her work area is small and not terribly private, and she didn't want it cluttered up with other things.  We both agreed that the symbolism of that bottle was not to be dismissed.

Since we returned to work this afternoon, I've been looking around at my office and contemplating what personal items I have.

  • pathos plant
  • kalanchoe plant, which, sadly, is not much longer for this world
  • bamboo in a glass container
  • pretty placemat for the plants to sit on
  • card from the flowers Andrew sent me on my first vegiversary
  • pretty bowl with rocks in it carved with "peace," "love," and "wisdom"
  • word-a-day tear-off calendar
  • notepad with personalized pieces of paper
  • little blue Buddha statue
  • black and white photo of Andrew and me in a frame I painted at a paint-your-own pottery place
  • framed collage of photos of a walk we took in a state park
  • electric tart burner
  • Buddha greeting card from a friend
  • cute cell phone holder
  • hand lotion
  • decent tissues (the work-provided ones are sandpaper)
  • Buddha calendar
  • framed picture of my dog
  • another framed picture of me and Andrew from back in the day
  • flower magnets
  • striped magnets
  • magnets shaped like thumbtacks  (I love me some office supplies.  I am not ashamed.)
  • bumper sticker that says, "reading is sexy"
  • a copy of the Cincinnati Reds 2011 schedule
  • a "B" magnet
  • a goldfish notepad
  • a picture of my extended family (mom, siblings and their families) in a frame that says, "Our family is weirder than yours."*
  • group photo of friends at a wedding
  • alma mater magnet
  • Master Gardener badge
  • Super Grover postcard
  • volunteer badge from a Dalai Lama event
  • a couple magnets given to me by coworkers
  • lip balm (2--one is sparkly)
  • ibuprofen
  • acetaminophen
  • individual tubes of instant coffee
  • allergy medicine
  • matches
  • mirror
  • tape measure
  • Mr. Sketch scented markers
  • microwave popcorn
  • packets of Splenda
  • therapy word magnets
  • notebook
  • Rolaids
  • neosporin
  • anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Q-tips
  • deodorant
  • more hand cream
  • antibacterial gel
  • protein bars that taste terrible and should be thrown away
  • diet cocoa powder
  • powder to flavor bottles of water
  • hair elastics
  • fancy-colored ink pens (more than I'm comfortable telling you about)
  • a monogrammed book weight
  • sparkly gray fingernail polish
  • cool post-its
  • fancy paperclips in various sizes, one with a giant frog on the top
  • blank thank you notes
  • a pencil with a Buddha pencil topper
  • a cardigan
If my coworker has worked here for two and a half years and has one item, does this mean they'll have to haul my dead body away from this office?


*It's funny 'cause it's true.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Laughing at Myself

My mom is interested in buying an eBook reader.  I've done some research on them and sent her links to reviews, 'cause that's what I do.

Then I went to a Borders that's closing and saw their Kobo marked down to $60.  I don't want a Kobo.

Instead, I've become obsessed with the idea of owning a Nook Color.  It's TWO HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS.  And, God knows, I'd want a fancy cover purchased on etsy.  It's my way.

Here's a little glimpse of what goes on inside my brain:

I want an eBook reader.  (insert foot stomp)

Really?  How come?

'Cause I NEED one.

That's not a good reason.

Right.  Well, I could check out eBooks from the library!

True, but is that necessary?

Well, there was a book I wanted to read, and my only options were a) audiobook, b) eBook, or c) sneaking into a high school and stealing it from their library.

Okay, well, let's assume that you really, really want to read this book and it's not just an excuse to buy something expensive and unnecessary.  You do realize you could purchase this book for $7.99, and that's if you can't find it at a used book store, right?

Oh.  I suppose I could, but isn't that a waste of paper?  I'm only going to read it once.  I'm being environmentally friendly.

Are you kidding me?  Does that honestly sound like a legitimate reason in your head?

Don't get saucy.  It's your head, too.

Let's be honest.  You knit more than you read.  Also, you are able to get nearly any book you want from your city's fantastic library system.

KNITTING!  I need the eBook Reader for knitting!  I could look at .pdf patterns on my reader!  And that's why I need a color one!  Some patterns, like the one I'm working on now, have to be seen in color to work from the charts.

Any knitting books you own would have to be either purchased again or scanned and saved as .pdf files to view them on the reader.  Plus, there is no reason why you can't carry a printed pattern around.  It's more convenient than viewing it on a reader anyway, since you can physically mark on a copy of the pattern.

I need it for vacation.  Think how much space it will save!

Just how many books are you planning to take on vacation?  You're going to be doing a lot, and you'll have knitting as well.  It's not as if you're going to spend all day reading.  There will be too much to do!

You're not fun.

I'm tons of fun.  This just isn't a sensible purchase.  If you had an extra $250 lying around, which you don't, what would be the best use of that money: a) buying a Nook Color, b) paying a bill, or c) donating that money to Red Cross in response to the disaster in Japan?

Damn.  You're right.

I know.  I love you.  And I put it on my wishlist.  Maybe I'll get one for Christmas.

Does anybody else have these types of conversations with themselves?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Abundance Indeed

A 14.5" x 72" tablerunner named Abundance

92 stitches cast on

8 edge rows of 92 stitches each

44 repeats of the pattern, each repeat with 12 rows and 92 stitches in each row

8 additional edge rows with 92 stitches in each row

92 stitches bound off

50,232 stitches

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taking the Fork to Sanity While on the Way to Crazytown

This week I've been crazier than normal.  I can blame this on some minor, uninteresting things, but the reality is that I've just been in a funk and having a bad week.

When I got home from work, I saw that the lawn care people had been at my house for their first application of Chemicals That Probably Will Kill Us.  On their bill, stuck in a plastic bag and wrapped around our doorknob, the yard person had written:

Round 1, Fertilizer Look like you need to put grass seed down. you have alot of Dead grass.

After the angry grammarian inside my head calmed down-- Dead grass!  alot!  you have!-- I began freaking out about my dead grass.

Spring isn't the best time to plant grass seed.

If we plant grass seed, then we have to use special fertilizer.

If we plant grass seed, we have to water it all the friggin' time.

All the work we've thrown onto this stupid lawn is gone because we didn't water it during a drought.

A Master Gardener Intern cannot have a yard with "alot Dead grass."  They'll take away my badge!!

Then the sane part of me quietly asked, "What would happen if you don't plant grass seed now?"

The crazy shut up, cocked its head in thought, and said:
  • My yard would look like poo.  Since my yard looked like poo before the chemical people started spraying it and looked like poo last summer during the drought, I am used to my yard looking like poo.  It really doesn't bother me much.  Grass is a stupid choice for groundcover anyway.  It requries too much maintenance.
  • Lots of my neighbors have yards that look like poo.  Nobody will be horrified if I have "alot of Dead grass."
  • I would have less mowing to do this summer.
  • I could plant the grass seed in the fall.
  • I could cancel chemical people for the whole spring and summer because why bother trying to fertilize Dead grass? 
You know, this alot of Dead grass thing is a good thing.

That opened me up to seeing other things that made me happy, such as this gem which was delivered straight to my mailbox:

Secret?  I do not think this word means what you think that it means.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


In a beautiful spring ritual as regular as the appearance of the crocus, the gardener once again is filled with the belief that she can start her vegetables from seed... despite past evidence to the contrary.

After all, the gardener rationalizes, this year is different.

This year, I have a grow light.

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Well, Sort Of....

It is possible that one of my resolutions just made it possible to break another.

I have been happily paying myself for working out.  I've been stockpiling the money with the knowledge that I can use it to buy whatever I'd like.  I don't spend money easily, so it's been sitting idle.

And then I saw this post.

I love her yarn.  I love her sense of humor.  I love her color choices.

The first yarn I bought from her became this

and the second became this

Actually, it became two identical pairs of those.  I gave the other set away.  Andrew bought me a skein of her yarn for my birthday in the colorway Angst for the Memories, which I haven't used yet.

Love. Her. Yarn.

So, when I saw the post with a fantastic colorway and a new base, I ordered it.  I actually had to stop myself from ordering both available skeins of Also, I Can Kill You With My Brain, and then I had to stop myself from ordering both a skein of that AND a skein of Tardis.

On one hand, I think this is precisely the sort of thing on which I should use exercise money.  I love it, will get lots of enjoyment out of it, and the purchase supports a small business.  On the other hand, I recognize that one of my resolutions was to knit with yarn from my stash instead of purchasing new yarn.

I just am unable to care in the face of such perfection.  Bring on the new yarn.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Weight Watchers redid their program a few months ago.

Just in case you have no idea how WW does stuff, here’s the very quick synopsis:  Everything has a points value (now called points plus).  You earn points by working out, and you use points by eating.  You have a certain number of points per day based on your age, weight, level of activity, etc., and you have some bonus points you can use whenever you want during the week.

In other words, this is a plan created specifically for people like me who love lists, rules, and clearly set-out organizational systems.  If you use the online system, you also get an image of a bouncing star when you meet a goal.  I’ve been known to leave the window up when I get a bouncing star so I can watch it all day and feel proud of myself.

The new plan is smarter, I think.  The major change is that WW encourages users to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods.  It does this in two distinct ways:

1.       Nearly all fruits and vegetables are “0 points plus” foods.  (Think “free” food if you’re used to the diabetic meal plan.)  Whoo hoo!  Bring on the bananas!

2.       The points plus value for most other foods has increased.  So, the frozen meal I ate at lunch used to be 4 points, and now it’s 5.  Even though I have more points to use each day under the new plan, I’m steered away from things I used to eat all the time (coughVitatopscough) because they’re higher in points than they used to be.

This plan works for me because it addresses (some of) my neuroses.  I have convinced myself that the outcome is directly related to how closely I follow the rules, that there is a direct correlation between action and effect.  It’s my favorite kind of plan.

Then I made quinoa-stuffed peppers.  Using the nutritional information from VT’s website, the points plus value was 7.  After dinner, I entered everything I actually put into the recipe, which wasn’t exactly what was published by VT, into the recipe builder in Weight Watchers and set it for 6 servings instead of 8.

For each ingredient I entered, the point plus value was listed beside it: 12 points for ¾ c. uncooked quinoa, 7 points for 1 ½ c. low fat shredded cheese, 0 points for garlic, diced tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, etc.  The total point value once I added up all those individual entries was 27.

27 / 6 = 4.5

That seemed low.  At the bottom of the recipe page on WW’s site, the points plus value for the recipe was listed as 61

61 / 6 = 10.2

Below that line is a link, “Is this total not what you expected?”  When I clicked it, a friendly yellow box came up to tell me that the recipe builder bases its calculations off of nutritional information of the recipe, not the points value of each individual item.

I badly need consistent rules.  I need to believe that the goals I have for my health are within my power to achieve, and for my specific brand of crazy that means that I have to have rules that never, ever change.

There’s a lengthy discussion about this on the Weight Watcher website, and I tried hard to believe the rationale they offer. 

But I don’t.

I don't find their explanation compelling.  If a carrot is 0 points, then it’s 0 points regardless of whether it’s in a recipe or eaten by itself. 

Someone suggested I don’t use the recipe builder and that instead I just add up the ingredients mentally and stuff in that number.

Maybe that would work.  Or maybe it won’t and I’ll gain all the weight back and I’ll get Type 2 diabetes and I’ll die.

‘Cause that’s how my brain works.  Once we get into shades of gray, I tend to shoot straight to the blackest gray I can find. 

I don't know what to do with this.  I keep looking for a positive way to end the post, but I haven't found it.

Well, there's the fact that I live such a privileged life in my developed country that I can spare energy to freak out about a change in my weight loss plan.  That's certainly true.  But that really only makes me feel like a jerk, so that's not especially helpful.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'm open.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Last night I decided to try a recipe I'd been looking at for weeks, Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from Vegetarian Times.  Quinoa is something I only started eating after I became a vegetarian, and it's a good way to get some protein.

I followed the recipe relatively closely--no onion or celery, cheddar instead of pepperjack, less tomatoes--and I was pleased with it.  It's supposed to freeze well, but Andrew and I tend to put things in the freezer and never, ever take them back out.  I think I'll just keep eating leftovers.

I sliced a sweet potato very thinly, roasted it, and used that and some grapes to round out the meal.  I was really pleased with how lovely my plate was.

Here's the thing though:  I worked, stopped and bought gas, walked the dog, cooked, walked on the treadmill, ate, and cleaned up.  When I was finished and flopped down on the couch, it was 8:50.  I know that most recipes don't take this long to make, and I know that all the stuff I did was good for me and blah blah blah, but it isn't the way I want to spend most evenings.

And I have no idea how people manage to do this kind of stuff and have kids.  My hat goes off to them.