December 31, 2009

Should Have Known

So the quick-finish project high led me to do something I should have known wouldn't work.

I thought I would knit up another ipod cozy. It would be quicker and easier and this time be for me. So I pawed through my yarn stash looking for scraps of wool. I came up with two different types, both chunky and similar in feel and weight and with complimenting colors.

One, Brown Sheep Bulky, in orange, I have felted with before and knew what to expect. The other, I had my doubts. It was Lion Brand Landscapes. I read the label, 50% wool and 50% acrylic. I started to put it back, knowing that acrylic will not felt. But then, I spotted something . . . a tiny little label that proclaimed that the Landscapes felts when washed!

I was skeptical, but wondered how else they could put that label on it if it didn't felt, so I pulled it back out and cast on.

I cast on fewer stitches for the bulkier yarn and followed the same pattern as before. Finished up even quicker, threw it in the wash this morning, same conditions as the other.

And . . . ick. So it kinda felted, a teeny-tiny weeny bit. It was a fraction smaller and more solid, but other than that, nothing. So I threw it back. Another cycle only helped a little more. So I threw in heavier towels, upped the cycle to 30 minutes, and let her rip.

And the verdict is that the Landscapes does NOT felt, but could be possibly called felt if you squinted and had maybe never seen felt before in your life.

So it was a failure. The resulting bag would not be so cozy for a ipod. It might be cozy for three or four though. It could possibly be used as a bag for something else, but I haven't hit upon what yet. So much for the satisfaction of a quick knit.

December 30, 2009

Instant Gratification

I so often get so involved in knitting projects. I pick out challenging, or interesting projects, or things like knucks that require a lot of parts and pieces even though I find them simple now. I rarely try smaller things, and I'm not sure why.

I think it might be because I enjoy the knitting process while making the project. So when I choose something more complicated or that takes longer, I get more enjoyment out of it. And when I choose knits to gift to people, I also get the enjoyment out of knitting them.

So when someone knocks me out of that routine, it's quite a change.

Keith came home last night all fired up about a cozy for his ipod. Knowing that there would be hundreds on ravelry, I did a quick search and found a simple felted one. If it's going to be done, it might as well be fun and something I want to work on, right? And because I was still indecisive about my next project, I jumped right in.

It is such a novelty to be almost done with a project within 30 minutes. It was energizing. I wrapped it up this morning, and threw it in the washing machine. I had to do some quick reading on felting in the front loader, but it seemed easy enough. Put it in a lingerie bag on hot with some other items, added a little soap, turn off the spin. And presto, instant felt. I ran it through twice to get it small enough, but the felted fabric was good and thick after just one trip through.

Now just waiting for it to dry before I can sew on a button and make it pretty. Since this is his case, it can't be too pretty, just smoothed out and trimmed up to look nice.

December 29, 2009


While most of the time I truthfully tell people that I knit to stay sane, there are times when I (and I assume every knitter) wonder if this is honestly the case.

Case in point: I am currently sitting in near darkness, surrounded by piles of yarn, needles, two finished scarves, a finished hat, a glove in progress, an improvised swift, a newly made center pull ball, and a laptop with three out of four windows containing knitting related information.

How did I get here? Am I sane?

I began to ask this question when I realized on December 24th, that I might not be able to finish two projects I was planing to gift the next morning. At that point I made a quick calculation and a decision. I see my sister frequently as she lives down the block. I rarely see my father, therefore I would attempt to finish his gift first. I rationalized that I could probably finish a large man's scarf quickly and I had a single glove finished for my sister. I could wrap up the single glove and promise her a second. Whew, crisis averted.


So I knit and knit and knit on the scarf. I refrained from several Christmas Eve traditions, didn't participate in a game of scrabble, and can honestly say that I knit harder, longer, and faster than I ever have before.

And then it was Christmas morning, and I was still knitting.

I knit through opening presents and explained about the scarf and the single glove. My family understood, though I thought I saw a few puzzled looks and a slight mockery in their eyes. I continued to knit furiously, hoping to be done by the time I had to leave for the next stop on Holiday Relative Tour 2009.

I wasn't. I had two more stripes to go and a whole forest of weaving in left when it came time to leave. Unfinished knits can make you contemplate crazy things. I actually thought about binding off then and there, even though I knew it would be too short and somehow teaching my sister and mother (who have never knit in their lives) how to weave in a gazillion loose ends. I even voiced this crazed idea to the mocking laughter of the entire room.

And then I lost it.

Like a small child, like I'd done a hundred time in that house as a kid, I cried. I ran sobbing from the room in front of them all. In front of my boyfriend spending his first Christmas with my family.

The minute I was outside I realized how insane I appeared. How insane I might me. I recognized it for what it was, knitting exhaustion, but I didn't know how to go back in and just act like normal. What could I do?

I was saved by the calm caring of Keith and my loving mother. They pulled me back in and smoothed it out. My father calmly assured me that he didn't mind waiting for the scarf. But at that moment the scarf took on a form larger than itself and I associated finishing it with disappointing my dad. It hurt to know that I was leaving both it and my family on Christmas.

I climbed into the car wiping tears from my eyes and clasping the squishy striped scarf to my chest. I knew I had at least several days in which to finish it, but somehow I couldn't put it down. I waved to my family until they were out of sight, and then instantly turned to the scarf. I knit furiously and didn't really look up until Fresno. I wove in each and every loose end tightly and carefully. I finished the scarf.

When I finally looked up we were nearly to our next destination. I was bone tired, physically sore, and had developed a gnarly knitting blister on my right index finger. But the scarf sat neatly tucked away in the car, waiting.

The next few days were a blur of Keith's family and driving home. There was food and presents and hugs. And then we drove 8 hours home and collapsed in a heap.

Which is where this story began. With me sitting in a filthy house among piles of yet-to-be-unpacked suitcases, random gifts strew about the living room, a small worn out dog sick from too many unauthorized holiday handouts, and chocolate and an assortment of cookies the only food.

And though I will likely be having guests over to celebrate New Year's, I sit in the mess and contemplate the many possibilities of my next knitted project.

Does this make me insane?

Albert Einstein said that insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." And yet here I sit eagerly sorting through patterns and yarn and already thinking about the gifts I would like to give next year . . .

End of the Year Recap and an Improvised Swift

I seem to have been lazy about posting again this year, but I have been silently knitting like a fiend the entire time. I have had a good year in the knitting, with lots of new projects and yarns and things learned. There has been a great discovery of local yarn stores. Especially the wonderful new Cast Away.

As usual, there was a flurry of Christmas knitting this past week and each of my family members has or will receive a gift. Mom got replacement knucks, Bret will get full-fingered gloves, and Dad got a scarf. And in the shuffle of visiting relatives, I finished another scarf for me or perhaps a gift to someone eventually.

I have a flurry of projects in mind and several good yarns just sitting around waiting. This is what spurred me to new heights of crafty inspiration this afternoon. I was contemplating the horror of trying to hand wind two skeins of alpaca. I know myself and I know the knots that I inevitably end up untangling. A simple task of winding usually takes me hours and I end up never even getting to the project that day. So I longingly looked up ball winders and swifts and then, in my usual cheap, crafty way, I looked up ways to make my own.

Surprisingly, there were several handy ways to make a swift. I opted for the most simple one I found. The tutorial and pictures here was the base model. I threw in some clothes pins to keep things in place, and ta da!

I am very pleased with maybe 10 minutes work and no money spent. I still wish I had a ball winder to go with it, but I can suffer through using a piece of pvc pipe and a hair band as a nostapinne. It's not the greatest system, but it works and I have yet to have a single snarl!

I am going to try and post more about my projects. I always regret not keeping track as much as I would like to. It would be helpful when I want to knit another of the same project and could read about all the problems I encountered. Anyway, I count today as successful in both knitting and craftiness.

Now back to winding so I can start knitting this alpaca into a shawl or scarf. I am undecided as to which.