Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is not a sewing blog.

When one of the knit-bloggers whom I read occasionally posts a picture of a recent sewing project, I'm always a little disappointed. It's yarn I'm after, and that's what I want.

These days I'm practicing monogomy with the not-so-mystery project that's due May 11, however, so here's what I have for you.

For my birthday, I asked for and received a Sewing 101 class at Craft-o-Rama in South Austin. Took me a while to get around to it, but I did yesterday. I enjoyed myself and the close attention I got from the instructor. This bag is the project you make in that class.

I'm absolutely delighted with what is clearly going to be my new knitting bag. Craft-o-Rama specializes in woven fabrics with hip designs; their selection is small but nifty. The sample projects in the store used multiple prints in complimentary colorways for single items. I wasn't quite brave enough to take that on, but I'm pleased with the pale yellow liner I chose to accompany the pink/brown cherry blossom print.

I don't have the funds or the room right now for my own sewing machine, but that isn't stopping me from daydreaming about all the things I could now make. A bridesmaid's dress from a couple years ago is dying to turn tea-length, and I could use a few more casual skirts.

But knitting has my heart and my brain. Onward, not-so-mystery project!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Sally Comes Unraveled highlighted this link in her blog. It's a tool to help you determine your priorities, and if you're scatterbrained like me, you need all the help you can get.

It told me to go buy a house.

That made me short of breath, so I plugged in 15 knitting projects from my queue. I had a few ties, but the first three projects were as follows:

1. Vogue Multi-Pattern Top: Summery, fashiony, colorful. Bring it on.
2. Pinwheel Cape: I might be able to wear this to a wedding in a few weeks. If time stands still.
3. Noro Scarf: I love color. I also fell down and bought some more Silk Garden in a white/beige colorway, and I now want this scarf with a firey passion. It may, however, mean buying two MORE skeins of Noro to match the beige/white. So it goes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Everybody needs a punch bowl."

Or so says the Yarn Harlot.

A friend is getting married soon; I need to come up with a gift for one of multiple parties in her hono(u)r. This friend has recently exited the blogosphere, so I don't think this post will ruin any surprises.

In any case, the real surprise will be how far I get before May 11. I present the Trellis Scarf:

EDIT: I've been warned that the bride does still read blogs. The above project will now revert to mystery-status until May 11.

I'm a fourth of the way there, which puts me squarely in denile-ville.

The flash took out the little golden beads I've added to the pattern, but they're there and quite pretty.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A New Squirrel Story

When I write "squirrel story," many knitters will think of the Yarn Harlot's trouble with wool-stealing squirrels. Every last one of my college track teammates will think at once of Coach Gonzalez's ill-fated experiment with home-cooked squirrel, a story which became a ritual for away meets. We'd gather around the hotel lobby or on the bus and listen, once again, to all the reasons not to eat a city squirrel.

I have my own squirrel story now.

On Friday, I took the bus to work and caught a ride home with my fella. We got to my apartment, our arms full of junk from the day, and I started to unlock the door.

Suddenly, he jumps back and yells. "Get away!"

If someone says that to a native Texan, the first thought is "COCKROACH!"

Fortunately, it wasn't a cockroach. It was just this:

Security cameras caught everything. Isn't it neat that I got the tape?

Not a huge crisis. The poor thing seemed terrified of us, really. However, if we were to proceed inside as planned, two things could happen: (a) The squirrel could enter the apartment, and that leaves me frightened for more than just my wool. (b) The squirrel could jump on my fella's head. He's very tall, and if I were squirrel-sized, I'd probably want to perch there, too. While that would make an adorable picture, I've recently heard of a gardener friend of a friend who had to get rabes shots when she was bit by a wild squirrel. Not to mention that my fella looks better without fleas.

So we resorted to tossing rocks at it. We couldn't bring ourselves to really hurt him, though. So we tossed small rocks that bounced off his head, and that wasn't enough. Then we tossed acorns, thinking that throwing food at people often makes them leave.

Still no luck. Then we go back to the trees outside the entrance. My fella finds a long stick. "Here," he says, handing it to me. "Poke him with this."


"You took it from me."

"But it will just run up the branch and onto my arm!"

We had a good laugh at this point. My fella grew up on a farm and is no stranger to possums, mice, rats, birds, and other midwestern critters you don't want in your house but somehow find their way in. As things go, this wasn't too bad.

But that didn't do anything about the possibilities mentioned above.

We thought about leaving for a bit, but one of us had to use the bathroom. (Isn't it always like that?)

Finally, in a burst of bravery, my fella takes the stick from me and walks up and jabs the squirrel in the bum-bum.

It moved.

Sure enough, it jumped onto the stick and began running up it. My fella was a bit too surprised to react, so it's a good thing I shrieked. He then dropped the branch onto the ground. The squirrel, who I think will stay away from my apartment after this, tore off into the safety of the bushes and trees. Which he shouldn't have left in the first place!

I've recently started reading an excellent blog called Inanities, written by a young woman who is a journalist in Egypt and writes daily about all the people she knows who have been dragged in by the secret police and such.

I think we should trade blog names.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Knitting for the Big Screen: a sort-of FO

A friend of mine works as a propmaster in the local film biz. Last week, she called me up and asked if I had any half-finished projects.

"Do I ever!" I said. "What do you need?"

It became apparent that none of my seven WIPs would do, naturally. (Not to mention I might not get the project back, and don't think for a minute I'm about to let my Trellis Scarf on set if it ain't coming back in perfect shape.) I grilled her on what she needed, and what we came up with is this:

Seriously blah, right?

Yet the joy of props is that sometimes you want something that is not eye-catching, beautiful, elegant, or even half-way decent. This I can do!

It's eight inches of a poorly executed drop-stitch garter scarf in Bernat Silky Smooth. And that's all my friend needs. A non-knitting actress has to look like she's knitting it. In fact, if the thing ever does come back to me, I'll likely unravel it and send the yarn back to the thrift store where my friend bought it for a whopping $1.99.

Bernat Silky Smooth is now discontinued, says Ravelry. Working with this stuff made me feel like a calligrapher who's been handed a crayon. It's no Classic Elite Wool Bam Boo, that's for sure.

Oh, and you're about to ask, Which movie? No idea. It has no star power and may never come to a theater even remotely near you. If it does, however, I'll be sure to spread the word that my scarf, yes, my ugly, unfinished scarf will grace the big screen in all its uneven glory.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FO: Fake Isle Hat

Lookit: pretty colors!

I have come down with my second cold of the season. An interesting thing about living in Austin is that nobody ever thinks you have a cold. "It's allergies, isn't it?" someone will say whenever you sneeze. "I know that oak/cedar/ragweed/willow/pick your favorite tree is really high right now."

I still think it's a cold. My nose once went all faucet on me (sorry) one spring in San Antonio, and I know the difference.

Yesterday was the rough day with the aches and the shakes and the whines and the moans and the short attention span that wouldn't permit one bit of lace knitting.

Instead, I tackled the decreases on the Fake Isle Hat.

Actually, they weren't hard, although my beginner's left-hand English knitting fell apart what with the two circs and everything, and I just blundered through until there wasn't a hole at the top of the crown any more.

The pattern is a great project for teaching yourself stranded colorwork. It's not strictly Fair Isle, because you don't want to jab yourself in the jugular with a #3 Addi Turbo when you realize how many ends you have to weave in. Instead, there are only two strands instead of many: the solid color and the self-striping yarn.

Several knitters have grumped a bit about how hard it is to maintain steady tension with the floats. I just sorta let it all hang out, as I am wont to do, and didn't have a problem until the decreases. Which could be the fever talking, or the escape from New Caprica on season 3 disc 1 of Battlestar Gallactica. (I love you, Laura Roslin!)

I used DK-weight yarns and followed the instructions for size L for the number of repeats, but followed the size S/M instructions for the number of rows. Don't ask me to explain, I never can.

pattern: Fake Isle Hat, once of Magknits, now found here.
completed: April 16, 2008.
yarn: MC: Classic Elite Yarns Wool Bam Boo (50% wool, 50% bamboo; 118 y, 50 g; color 1648; 1 skein; love it). CC: Rowan Tapestry (70% wool, 30% soy; 120 m/131 y; 50 g; color SH 171; 1 skein).
made for: me
needles: size 6
notes: Self-striping yarn is always fun, and I love bamboo so much I want to marry it.

As luck would have it, the hat is a perfect match with my poofy blue loveseat. I shall be sure to wear the loveseat whenever I take the hat out for a spin.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Missing Nine

Some of you were kind enough to vote in the messy desk contest that my fella entered a couple weeks ago with the unwitting help of his roommate's disaster of a workspace.

Early on, word from the inside was that we were 40 votes in the lead. Then we learned about the help we got from the better part of a renowned graduate program in theology, and a few other friends who found out that if you clear your cache, you can vote multiple times, and the contest program was none the wiser. I have more than one friend who's bored at work.

We thought we had it in the bag.

However, my fella learned today that he got fourth place by nine votes. That's nine votes short of a very ergonomically friendly $500 office chair.

There's the chance that places one, two, or three (who clearly cheated even more than we did) won't show up on Thursday evening to claim their prize. I would tell you guys to cross your fingers, but you'd have to clear your cache first.

Thanks for the effort!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dispatch from the Briefly Homeless

With a little help from my mother's Adobe software, my pattern Reasonably Hip is now available as a free Ravelry download. If you're a knitter and you're not on Ravelry (which is sort of hard to believe, really), you can still email me at lizcobbeATyahooDAHTcom a copy will come to you.

It's too bad that Magknits is offline for good, but after my last blog post, I went a-lurkin' through the Ravelry forums, and I discovered what may best be described as a Royal Poo Storm. One person reasonably listed some (I thought) reasonable frustrations with Magknits and its sister company, Hipknits. From thence came an avalanche of "me, too!"

Apparently, it was all too much for the woman who was at the helm of both, and she very abruptly shut the whole thing down without warning. In playground terms, she took her ball and went home. That manuever has won her few friends.

I'm glad I have already learned when not to post on online forums!

In other news, I have only the recently begun Trellis Scarf to knit at present, because there is no water in my apartment and I am adrift, as it were. We'd been told the water would be off for three days as they descaled the aging pipes. Cool, but when I finally went home on Friday, I discovered a sign that among other things taught me how to say "Do not turn on your faucet until we say so!" in Spanish. (It's very close to "Vous n'avez pas le priorite!")

I would be philsophical, but I don't know when I can go home.

Also, I had to rip out half my Trellis Scarf because I boo-booed in the beginning and didn't notice until I'd moved my lifeline.

The recipient recently exited the blogosphere in a burst of glory, so I think it's safe to say, (1) Arrrrrrrgh! and (b) She'd better appreciate this, and (c) Don't look too closely at the cast-on end.

Someone from my knitting MeetUp group -- not Nicki, although you'd think it would be :) -- said that you should think of something the recipient did that you didn't care for. Any mistake made in the knitting is payback.

Well, this recipient never did something even remotely that awful to me. Ribbit, freakin'-ribbit.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Demise of Magknits

Yesterday, I was browsing through the new pattern listings on Ravelry, when I noticed that a designer had put up a design previously published in Magknits. If you follow the link, you'll see why.

I doubt many people are surprised. To be honest, Magknits was not run well. I had an email from an Italian designer who never got paid; I had to chase after Kerrie to get my own fee for my December '07 pattern. Links were regularly broken, and organization was lacking. Their advance notification to designers was nonexistant.

However, it's sad that such a large database of free patterns is now vanished. Some of them were quite good; I'm currently finishing up my first true colorwork project, courtesy of the Fake Isle Hat, and the Saturday Market Bag brought in some nice change at a charity auction. There are more I had my eye on.

For a freelance designer who doesn't have time to turn herself into the next big Interweave phenom, it's a bummer that there's one less quick-and-easy opportunity to publish our work for payment. However, the internet is not forever.

I will most likely offer the Reasonably Hip hat pattern soon as a free Ravelry download. Until then, please email me at lizcobbeATyahooDAHTcom, and I'll send you the pattern in Word.