Friday, January 30, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

But that's where I've been spending a lot of time. I've taken it upon myself
(because really who else would do it?) To redo some of my photos for my Etsy site. I figured there was a way to better enhance the goods that taking the pics inside where it tends to be a little dark. (Don't blame me, this is the HB - the walls are the same color they were when he lived here alone - bachelor beige - and I couldn't get him to move on changing it.) But he has the made the backyard look gorgeous - even when it's covered with snow. My clever idea was to make the backyard my photo studio.
The snow makes a great background and the Adirondack chair (which his brother made for us by hand) is a nice focal piece - at least that's what I'm hoping.

For the past few days, I've taken one item outside and done the pictures. Honestly, one item a day is about all I can stand because the temperature here in Chicago has not hit freezing in a while. For the past few days it's been somewhere between 'hell has frozen over' and 'is that my finger on the ground?'

But it has piqued my interest in photography again - poor HB. And I like these pictures a whole lot better!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Birth of a Designer

I know, it's been almost a week. What kind of blogger goes without writing to their peeps for almost a week? The kind of blogger who has been working on a project that is taking way longer than expected. Still, I understand that is no excuse and from looking at the pictures, you would want to know why the scarf took a week to make....

and therein lies the lesson. (Get some coffee or tea; this is gonna take a while.)

I feel incredibly blessed to be able to combine writing with knitting. It is something that seems to fit with me since I am either at my computer or have my knitting needles in my hand.
So, I had this idea - several ideas- to combine them both, earn something of a living and be able to enhance the spiritual walk that is a part of my life.

I am working on a book of patterns that have a spiritual basis to them. It involved reading Bible passages and seeing what type of garment those passages inspired. I would read, make a note that said something like: "Prayer shawl: red, orange, burnt orange - colors of the sunset." I had thirteen of these to go with the Bible passages. There were prayer shawls, blankets and afghans.

But I had no designs. No patterns. And I hesitated as I thought about how I was going to go about getting these patterns for my book. Would I hire designers? Would I ask for freebies? Would I purchase patterns outright?

While this was going on, I had the bright idea of opening up the shop on Etsy and trying to sell my items there. I figured I wouldn't specialize in one particular thing because that's the quickest way to boredom for me. No, I would knit items as I do now - pull the first book off the shelf or look at the first item in my Ravelry Que or bookmarked on my computer and start knitting.

(Do you need a drink refill?)

Funny thing happened on the way to stocking my store. The next pattern for me to knit was for a baby blanket. A weird looking baby blanket. I liked the pattern but thought a baby would take one look at it, slap the doctor and go back into the womb.

So I thought: keep the stitches - alter the pattern.
Change the size of the yarn
Change the needles
Increase the size of the blanket
Use different colors - manly colors
Make it a throw.
and that became the Man Cave Throw I've blogged about.

Next, I pulled out a pattern for a baby blanket. I read the pattern and I didn't have enough of the right kind of yarn (no, seriously, I didn't.) But I did have all these skeins of a 'baby yarn' that I brought for another project and didn't like so I started knitting with that and it worked.

Except I had to change the size of the needles because the weight of the yarn was different than the pattern called for.

Which meant I had to calculate the number of stitches I would need to get the size indicated in the pattern.

Except I wanted it to be bigger than the pattern indicated.

And I wanted to use different stitches than the pattern indicated.

Those of you who are very smart have already put this together. I, on the other hand, was still clueless.

I began to work on an afghan. The pattern called for about nine strips: four cabled strips and five strips of a different pattern. I started working on it when, you guessed it, I decided I needed to change what I was knitting.
In the meantime, I was working on the book when I raised the question again of where am I going to get these patterns - and then it hit me - I had just designed two blankets.

I was still dense.
I said to myself, "But they don't match any of the descriptions of the items I said I wanted." The voice spoke to me again. "Change the descriptions."


So, I placed the two patterns into the book and was feeling pretty good and went back to working on the afghan with all the cables. I decided to completely change the pattern but not until I had knit this strip. And last night, at about midnight, I told myself to go to bed when I looked at the strip pinned to the cable strip and decided to remove it. I took it off, looked at it and thought to myself 'what am I going to do with this?' and I put it around my neck and said, 'Bet I can turn this into a scarf.' and 'Bet I can do a different kind of fringe.'

And I did. Pattern number three. A new item for the shop. A new blog post.

Ain't God alright?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

View From The Bridge

What else is there to do, really, but stay in and knit? I am recovering from the all day inaugural coverage and the first Etsy sale to back to normal. Today the weather is warming up so the snow pile will be gone, but it has been around for a few days when the weather was frightful.
Duke loves this weather and he loves the snow. He bugs us constantly to go outside so he can jump in the pile. He's gotten so clever that if I say no, he will actually go find the hub and bug him (and he usually gets his way there.)

In the meantime, I am reworking the cable stitch afghan pattern I cast on. I'm making it so different that it can't be called the same pattern. I didn't know I had this kind of design genie in me but I like her!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Even Bigger Than the Inaugural

What could possibly be bigger today than the inaugural? My first sale on my etsy shop!

This bag, which was a cause for grief, was my first sale. Rather fitting for my first sale and rather fitting for my sale on this day. It is triumph overcoming adversity.
This is definitely a day to celebrate!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Beach (or Grocery) Bag

This was a pretty quick knit, but doing the bottom of this bag required some assistance from Toknitorknot from Ravelry. She explained the awful diagram in the pattern and I still didn't get it but sleeping on it and rereading it made it all click.

This bag can hold two skeins of Sensations yarn which is about 12 oz each. (There's a skein of Sensations and 1/2 skein of Caron by the Pound in the pic.) Imagine all the clothes and groceries it could hold. It will stretch but it is rather strong. I didn't make it out of cotton opting for a thicker yarn. I can see myself taking this to the grocery store or using it for a yarn bag or even a gym bag. (Wait, that last part was funny cuz I work out at home.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When The Knitting Fairy Smiles Upon You...

you get two finished objects in about as many days. Ladies and Gents (cuz I know there are some of you out there lurking) I give you: The cabled purse! This took only a few hours to knit. The thing that nearly killed me was trying to line it. I stayed up until 6:45am trying to get a lining in it. I read all the articles about how easy it is to line a knitted or crocheted purse and I couldn't do it. This morning (I got up before noon) I called Lois, who is our group's ace seamstress and the person who usually lines my bags and asked her to talk me through it.
"Lining bags is easy." says she. "An idiot can do it."
Well, that explains it.

I'm not an idiot.

She talked me through it and it does look a lot better but not perfect. So she and I will look it over on Sunday and she will teach me how to do what an idiot can do. I am not sure if I will be raised or lowered to the level of an idiot but I will learn how to do a lining so I don't have to rely on the incredibly busy Lois. But come on you have to admit that, lining or no lining, the bag is gorgeous!

And then there's: the hooded baby blanket! This was probably a quicker knit than the purse. I finished it this evening and I think I started it yesterday (the last 24-48 hours are something of a blur) perhaps the day before. I know it was started the morning after I finished the bag and I finished that on Monday. So the blanket was started on Tuesday and finished on Wednesday evening. (Excuse me while I talk to myself.)

I had this Baby Clouds yarn because I was going to use that to make the Funkalicious Wrap and decided it wasn't the best use of the yarn. So when this pattern came up and it was supposed to be made with a dual strand of worsted weight on size 10.5 needles; I thought I could make up my own version of the pattern. So swap out the worsted weight for super chunky. Ditch the 10.5s for 15s decrease the number of stitches, calculate the correct number of stitches and there you are: a soft, cuddly hooded blanket for a baby.

And in case you're wondering: there are two different models in the photos. Belle is posing with the purse and Gannon is posing with the baby blanket - though I don't imagine he liked being photographed with a baby blanket. But we all sometimes have to do what we have to do (even if we don't like it) to be able to do what we want to do.

Let that be a lesson to you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Man Cave Wrap

This is how it started.

then it turned into this..
Neither one of those really worked for me. It was supposed to be a simple blanket but the first two yarns just weren't making me happy. So, I started again and I didn't have enough yarn to do it all in one color so this is how it ended up.

I love it! It's warm and it's inviting (Even if I say so myself!) It is a very generous 50 x 50. (Pre-blocking!) The HB, who is very supportive, let out a spontaneous 'wow' when he saw it.
It's made with three skeins of "I Love This Yarn" and part of a skein of (what else?) Caron by the Pound. It's soft and warm and I think would look great on a chair in a man cave or a student's room.
I love it when a plan comes together...even if it takes three tries.

Friday, January 9, 2009


You see that blue thing in the middle of the second picture? That is an actual City of Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation Snow Truck. While we saw a lot of them last year, this is probably the second time I've seen them this winter - the winter that is already the snowiest winter of record.

Our mayor decided we didn't need to have our streets plowed as much as last year. He said it was a way to save money. Saving money is a good thing. And what was the reason to save this particular money? So the city could have services when it needed them. You know, like snow removal.

Snow did in Mayor Bilandic a couple of decades back when he didn't send the snow plows out after a storm. Yep, we shoveled his happy little a$$ right out with the rest of the flakes. Mayor Daley (who had been anointed mayor for life) overstepped a little bit. The snow combined with the pot craters (none of them are small enough to be merely holes) has gotten Chicagoans just a little cranky. It seems the mayor has revisited that whole 'you all don't need the street cleaned just because it snowed' edict.

We canceled our StitchCraft meeting today because the snow looked a lot worse this morning. I was going to bring the blanket that I'm working on. The one that didn't want to be made (see 'The Road to Hell') I'm going to be about a skein short of what I need so yesterday I took a trip to Hobby Lobby to get the needed skein of 'I Love This Yarn' in grape.

I do love that yarn. So much so that I will travel to the closest Hobby Lobby which is 25 miles away. I went at rush hour - that wasn't so bad. They've moved into a more spacious store and the yarn department is way bigger and it was my first visit there and I was quite thrilled until I got to where the grape yarn should have been...

and there was none.

Zip. Zero. Nada. Rien.

Not even a spare skein sticking the back. Not even a misplaced one in the bins on either side. Who the hell buys out all the grape yarn except me? I stared at the hole where the yarn should have been. And the hole stared back.

The very nice lady checked all the bins and then asked me to wait while she went to check the stocking list to see when it would come in. She came back to me with the list in her hand and pointed to 'I Love This Yarn' 'Grape' and then the letters T.O. "Do you know what that means?" she asked.
"Terrell Owens has all the grape yarn?"
"Temporarily out. There's none to be had. Can't even order it. We ordered last week and didn't get it either."
"Why don't you call us next Thursday to see if it came in?"
I thanked her for her kindness and did not add: Because next Thursday this blanket would have been totally reworked and I won't need that yarn; that's why.

I obviously could not travel 25 miles for nothing. So I did get some yummy bulky weight yarns that will make beautiful shawls and throws - yes, I know - but it's bulky weight. I need that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Road to Hell

is paved with good intentions.

Intent is a powerful thing. I believe in intent. One can tell the truth with the intent of bringing harm and one can lie with the intent of protecting someone from harm. I intended to make a cute little baby blanket and I have started it twice with two different yarns.

It don't want to be made.

At least not by me. Or at least not in the two yarns I've started it in. I cannot even force myself to take photos of the wip for it shall not be a wip for long. It shall turn into a frog and then perhaps into a hat.

SIGH. Has this ever happened to you? You see a nice pattern and think 'Yes, I shall make this (fill in the blank) only to have the karma of the (fill in the blank) stop you cold? I am sure it wishes to be made but not in the brown variegated yarn I tried first and not the rainbow variegated yarn I have tried again. I believe it wishes to be made in the solid grape colored yarn that has been peeking out at from one of the cubby holes from my desk where yarn should not be.

The yarn should not be in my desk and therefore should be moved and why not move it to the needles where the unhappy pattern is being worked by yarn it does not favor? I am not so far along that I would consider the time completely wasted and if everyone ends up happy - all the better.

Yes, that is what I will do. I will start for the third (and last - I try patterns three times before moving on) time to make the pattern fairy happy and get this blanket done. Thy will be done, little blanket fairy, thy will be done.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ah, The Synergy

So, we do an Epiphany Concert every year. (Epiphany, for those who don't know and even for those who do because it's the same whether you know it or not - commemorates the day the Magi came to see the Christ child. Epiphany is also the name of the nurse on General Hospital, but I'm relatively certain we don't celebrate that.) For the past seven years, we have trekked over to United Lutheran because someone there is the founder of the concert. Well, she had enough of that so this year our church (First United Methodist) was the host and yours truly was the coordinator. (That's not really important, but I thought I'd tell you.)

Before the concert, each choir (there are five choirs from area churches who sing) are assigned a room and for the past few years I've knit waiting for the concert to start and this year was no exception. I gave great thought to taking my knitting into the sanctuary and knit while the other choirs sang (we were the last choir to sing so I could have knit for close to an hour before I had to put it down.) Alas, I left my knitting in the parlor thinking it would be best if I didn't enjoy myself so much while my choir mates were sitting attentively.

Anyhow, these two women came late and they sat in the pew in front of me and what did one of them proceed to do? Take out some knitting! It looked like she was knitting a blanket and it was all in garter stitch. It was a nice grey worsted weight and she was double stranding with some size 13 needles. (Scary that I know that!!) Another choir member made a point of pointing out that someone else was knitting. I wanted to go get mine and join her - then I wanted to take hers from her and knit it myself (It was only the garter stitch, after all!)

I did neither. I went up and sang with my choir. When I was coming down from the choir loft, there was someone waiting for me. Someone from my online knitting group whom I had never met. Another knitter! And she had her knitting with her (albeit in the car.) My knitting was still in the parlor. I went to gather them all together so we could slip off into the parlor for some stitch bonding, but I couldn't herd them all in. - darn it! (No pun intended.)

So that part didn't pan out, but it was really neat to have knitters in the midst.

I am convinced that the axis on which the world turns is actually a knitting needle!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Funkalicious Wrap

While you were all dancing in the new year, the stroke of midnight found me casting on for this drop stitch wrap.
I am officially in love with my steamer. The yarn was soft to begin with and I made it to the size specified, but I wanted to give it more width and so I pinned it to the press board and my steamer went to town on it. Not only did I get the size I wanted, but the thing makes the yarn so much softer and it smells so nice! I even believe it makes the colors pop ever so much.
It is six feet long and about 3 feet wide so it has plenty of wrapablilty. (Spellchecker will have a field day with that one!)
There is a story that goes with this wrap called 'How A Stash Gets Borned.' I shall save that story for another day - like tomorrow. But for now, I am enjoying this latest little creation. I snuggled with it for a little bit and it is now safely enshrined in it's bag ready for someone to claim it - for a price.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Who Ate My Afghan?

I went over to the Etsy shop this morning to discover that my afghan was gone. Now, I suspect that if I had made a sale, I would have been notified so instead of getting excited, I panicked. Never fear, I found it. I had somehow delisted my afghan - the one thing that had gotten the most views. Thus is my beginning into a new business adventure.

This is what dreams are made of. We are told 'do something that you love and you won't work a day in your life.' I have to admit it: I love knitting. Here's why:

  1. I like the creative process.

  2. I like it also requires some thought.

  3. There are patterns and randomness.

  4. It is useful.

  5. It is a multitask function when it is being done and when it is completed.

  6. It is social.

  7. It is solitary.

  8. Though millions of us do it - mile for mile - a knitter/crocheter is still something of a rarity. People will gather around you and there will always be someone who says they know someone who knits or they know how to knit and they just never do it. You never quite know if they are saying it with admiration or if they are saying their time is too valuable to do. Which leads to...

  9. No one know what you're thinking when you're knitting. So when someone says they know how to knit but they don't have time. They don't know you're thinking if they were better organized or knew the true meaning of time well spent they wouldn't have to stand and admire/sneer at you. They could be admired/sneered at by someone else less evolved.

  10. It is relatively inexpensive. Unless you have a stash that could stock a small yarn store and the needles to go with it because you have to have the metal, bamboo, rosewood, dpn's, circular and interchangeable sets. Then there could be some dollars invested. (I'm not confessing - I'm just saying.)

I also love writing and now I can combine the two. This is a dream and if I gather my courage and focus (like God told me to) this can be quite the adventure. I am working on other items to add to the shop. I am doing a wild drop stitch wrap and I will be about two balls short of the yarn I need so I will be forced to go out and get some more of it. Yarn shopping. For business. Sweet!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!

What's Your 2009 slogan?

"Let's Make it Fine in 2009"
"Obama's Gonna Shine in 2009"
"The Cubs Will Cross the Line in 2009"

what's your slogan?


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