Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Few Excuses

I'd love to brag about all of my knitting accomplishments since my last post, but I'm still creeping along on those scarves. And for that carrying case, well . . . it curls so much that it's become annoying to knit. The Softee Chunky blue/green scarf I'm making has proven to be quite a task. It's taking a lot longer to put length on it, which I'm assuming has something to do with the yarn itself. I'm also noticing that I'm knitting it pretty tightly, but I LOVE working with this kind of yarn. It may be 100% acrylic, but it's so SOFT compared to some of the other scratchy, cheap acrylic yarn I've picked up (this was an early, lack-of-knowledge purchasing mistake). And it's not as drapey, which I assume is what people look for in yarn for a scarf, but it hides little mistakes better and gives the scarf more substance.

There is a reason I've only done bits of knitting and reading Yarn Harlot. Way back, when my DP ("darling puppy") Dominick came into my life, he used to go on scavenger hunts and chew on things. Unfortunately, not all of these things were dog toys. One day, while Mommy wasn't looking, he found a very nice pair of reading glasses and decided to test their durability. It turns out that these glasses were, in fact, destructable. Thanks to DP, I then knew that my glasses were overpriced for such "low quality" and that I needed to consider a different brand of frames next time. But DP was not aware that I had already splurged all of my extra money on him . . . his adoption fee, vet check-up, Frontline/Heartworm medication, food, shampoo, doggie bed, toys, and the best for last: the monthly pet fee I had to pay to my apartment complex. Long story short, my reading glasses were destroyed and I could not afford to have them replaced.

I'm only slightly far-sighted, so I figured I could go on without glasses for a little while until I could buy another pair. Well, it's been five months since the "event," and I've been reading without glasses this entire time. It hasn't been so bad; if I read a little too much all at once and got a headache, I'd simply take a break, pop a Tylenol, and then continue reading. Well, since I've started knitting (obviously at close range), my headaches have become much more frequent and painful. And any fellow knitter would understand that taking a "knitting break" is much more difficult than taking a "History of American Government, Ch. 7 break". What makes matters worse is that I fear I've damaged my eyes even further. Now I will have to pay for an eye exam on top of new lenses/frames. While I can afford to take care of this now, I have to wait until I get new glasses before I can really tackle my knitting. (Although, it is quite a bad time of year for something like this to happen; money AND holiday knitting time down the drain!)

So, progress will be made as soon as the eye exam is scheduled!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy T-day!

So, this is my first Thanksgiving alone. And I LOVE it! No pity party here. My immediate family lives up in Pennsylvania, and while I have family in South Florida, I (a) have a very unreliable car for long distance travel, and (b) have to stay here to take care of all of our children. And we do have quite a few. My baby boy Dominick, my DBF's dog Cyrus, my ferret Rowan, DBF's ferret Mona (they're an adorable pair!), and my turtle, Pierce. Yes, we have an animal addiction. But I love them all.

DBF is such a doll. He called me today, warning me that his family insisted that I get a sampler of their holiday dinner. . . all of it. Three different casseroles, turkey, stuffing . . . three different pies. I have a feeling that I will be immobile for the next few days! But the icing on the cake was when my darling asked me about my knitting progress (he accurately guessed that I was up knitting all night and wanted details about my new projects). I got lucky in the fact that his mother is quite crafty herself, so he was raised around sewing machines, cross stitching, and several trips to Jo's! :) He's also going to inquire about getting me his mother's old sewing machine! I used to sew when I was younger, and I'd love to start again but I don't know about the $investment$ right now. My addiction to yarn shopping is already putting me in the negative (yikes!).

As for what's OTN, I've got two scarves about 1/4 done. One is for my mother; a soft, light purple wool blend, and the other's for my SIL; the blue-green yarn I just bought.

And . . . purling progress. I'm going much faster now. I feel like I've got the hang of it, but my poor knitting needle carrying case is a curly, twisted mess. I'm still assuming that I'm purling too tightly, but I'll figure it out eventually. I'd love to master a stitch other than garter! :)

Back to knitting. My fingers get nervous if I'm away from it for too long!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Mystery Bag"

Because I am not quite familiar with all the wonderful varieties of yarn available to me, I decided to buy a mystery bag of yarn online. Priced at $50 worth for $24, I figured it would be a decent purchase in order to get a good sample of yarn. Well, here's what I received:

Bernat Softee Chunky 100% acrylic, various shades of blue and green (2.8 oz ball)
Lion Brand Jiffy 100% acrylic, white (3 oz ball)
Hill Country Yarns Sock Yarn 100% Merino Wool, red/orange (4 oz hank)
Schachenmayr Nomotta Denim 100% Cotton, red/white (50g ball)
Katia Duende 82% nylon/18% acrylic, multi-colored (50g ball)
Strizzolina 100% nylon, earthy tones (25g ball)
Debbie Bliss 85% cotton/15% cashmere, red (50g ball)
Opaline Laines du Nord 95% wool/5% polyamid, multi-colored (50g ball) Black Jack 100% polyamide (25g ball)

I get the catch. Shortly after ordering, I feared that I may just get a bunch of random yarns, one hank/skein/ball per yarn type, and surely enough, that's what I got! It's their evil ploy to get me to fondle the yarn and then be forced to order more (that is, if I ever want to MAKE anything with it!) How evil. I wish I'd thought of that before.

And might I say, 75% of these color choices are, well, different. Nothing I would have chosen on my own. But the whole "mystery bag" idea had me way too tempted to say no. So now the question is....what to do with all this yarn?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So how 'bout them purls?

Ladies and gentlemen: your regular program has been interrupted by this special announcement...

I hate purling.

So, since I haven't had the time to buy that tapestry needle, and since I'm so completely sick of knitting that extra-long scarf (my FIRST unfinished project), I decided to do a bunch of other little projects. One of them included ambitiously tackling a "carrying case" for my needles using a stockinette stitch. Well . . . I want to cry. The amount of time it takes me to purl a row could equal 5 knitting rows. It sickens me. I cry for joy when I get to knit a row and cry in anguish when I know it's time to purl again. Let me get it out there that I'm using 100% acrylic yarn on size 9 aluminum needles. The yarn sounds like nails on a chalkboard when I work with it. Why? Because I have no idea what I'm doing. To make matters worse, I purl the yarn so TIGHTLY that I make it even more time-consuming and difficult for myself.

I really have turned this blog into my own Stitch N' Bitch session. How on earth could someone who does nothing but rant about knitting still love it so much? Yep, that's an addiction for you. I don't care. I love knitting, and I will not stop. I will always bitch (it's in my nature), but I absolutely will not stop knitting! Or purling . . .

Either way, I've been getting a lot of practice in. I made myself a little headband tonight. This, along with my mini bag, will be completed as soon as I get that tapestry needle (ha-ha).

Alright, it's 3:00 a.m. Back to knitting.


So, as I predicted, I'm absolutely in love with Yarn Harlot. Stephanie's sense of humor combined with her obsession with knitting make it a book that is difficult to put down. "Just one more page!" is what I find myself saying, at LEAST ten times, before I'm finally able to step away from the book. Is it just me, or are there any other Yarn Harlot readers out there that are completely terrified of oversized green afghans? :)

I'm stuck in a rut. My lack of knowledge about yarn has put me to a project stand-still. Anything I wish to make requires a decent number of skeins, but every time I go to a yarn store I feel like a man shopping for tampons. This must be corrected, as I cannot truly appreciate the art of knitting without understanding the materials I'm using! Time to hit the books, again.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tools, tools, tools.

May I get this off my chest -- I am so FRUSTRATED that there's always ONE more tool that I need in order to complete a project. I happily worked on the majority of my mini bag until I saw the end of the directions: sew the ends of the handle to the sides of the bag. The initial directions said nothing about a tapestry needle. Even though I'm a rookie, I've already read up on seaming techniques, but I cannot finish this bag until I go to the store -- again -- to purchase a tapestry needle. I should have realized that I needed it just by looking at the picture of the bag itself . . . how else would the handle be attached to it? *Sigh*. I suppose I'll flip through some pages and find a project I can work on that I can complete without having to make an emergency run to a craft store.

Oh, the addiction.

I suppose having an addiction to creating scarves, tops, hats, blankets, and socks is healthier than alcohol or drugs.

This is my mantra, i.e. my excuse to keep spending money on knitting tools, books, and yarn without feeling guilty! I must say, though, I just returned from Books-A-Million and can't wait to delve into my new purchases. One cannot be a true knitter without having read Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I sat in the bookstore with my hot cocoa (it's about 35 degrees here in Gainesville) and paged through a pile of knitting books I swiped from the Hobbies section. After having read the introduction of Knitting Harlot, I knew that it was coming home with me. I also picked up Knitting in No Time by Melody Griffiths, a Reader's Digest publication. There were several cute patterns in it, including a mini-bag that I figured would be a nice, short beginner project after I finish my scarf.

In my next few posts I'll tell you what's OTN and I'll surely blab about how awesome Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is.

And the bitching begins . . .

May I politely curse this site for not allowing me to save my ACTUAL first blog. The blog that I poured my heart and soul into for over an hour has disappeared, never to be perfectly rewritten.

I am completely aware that it is not I who thought up the brilliant idea to keep a log of my knitting progress -- my motivation to begin knitting in the first place developed over my incessant online research and nosy peeks into the fascinating lives and accomplishments of very talented needleworkers!

But to backtrack, I was strolling through the aisles at Books-A-Million (desperate to find a read that would make my free time less boring) when I came across the hobbies section. It was then that I realized . . . I have absolutely no hobbies whatsoever. No wonder it's so difficult for me to entertain myself. So I grabbed a huge book with a detailed list of hobby ideas. While mosaics, whittling, and coin collecting all seemed like fair ideas, the knitting chapter is what truly captivated me. Because of the student in me, I had to run home and spend hours in front of my computer researching the mystery of knitting. Little did I know that it is an entire underground obsession -- and I joined the club shortly thereafter. :)

Might I say, it is quite intimidating being self-taught at knitting. So many needle types and sizes . . . and let's not even get on the subject of yarn. My first shopping trip to JoAnn's was a success in the fact that I managed NOT to cry in the store. I literally grabbed a bunch of different sized double-ended straight needles, a cheap skein of multi-colored acrylic yarn, and a learn-to-knit-visually book. Although it was stressful, the excitement I felt to begin exercising my creativity won the fight.

I am now almost finished my first project. I probably should have practiced before just jumping in and making a scarf (with absolutely NO intent to frog it and fix horrid mistakes). I do love it, though. I used only a basic garter stitch, because I'll admit, I'm scared to try anything else on this scarf. The colors are wildly bohemian though -- maroon, hunter green, mustard, and orange. It's prettier than it sounds. And as soon as I figure out how to put pictures on this thing, I will gladly share my modest work. What's endearing to me about this scarf is that the progress of my learning is embedded into it. The beginning half is absolutely horrible, with gaping holes, indescribable knots and curls, and a somewhat "wavy" width due to my loose and horridly uneven end stitches. I've gradually improved, and the scarf tells the entire story!