YO! ZMK Knits!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Don't worry, Ophidiophobes, it's not a real snake, but one made with yarn and a hook. Does that make you feel better?


Plus, he's really goofy looking, with buttons for eyes and a crooked embroidered mouth. And have you ever seen a snake done in the colors of the Swedish flag?


Project: Snazzy Stripes Snake from Mr. Funky's Super Crochet Wonderful
Hook Size: F5
Yarn: Old Brittany 4-ply lambswool that's been in my stash since early 2005
Started: January 1st
Finished: January 19th

This was my "I'm going to learn how to crochet, dammit!" project. I probably should have chosen something that does not have a finished size of 43" long as my first project. But it was an excellent learning experience for me, considering that I did 95% of it WRONG. No, not "different", WRONG. This is how one performs a single crochet:

Insert hook into foundation chain or stitch, yarn over and pull through chain or stitch (2 loops on hook). Yarn over and pull through both loops.

I didn't do that. I think I did something more like a slip stitch, where I inserted my hook, yarn over, draw yarn through both the chain/stitch and the loop. And you know what? It HURTS to do that for over a yard of crochet. It's really tight, and it takes forever. Once I figured out what I was doing wrong, I looked at my work, briefly thought, "should I start this whole thing over again?", then I said Fuckitol! and just finished it. That last 2/3rds of the head went by really fast! As a result, the snake's head is HUGE in relation to his body.


I didn't have any of the cool stuffed animal eyes that are used in the book, and I didn't have any googly eyes large enough for him, so I made my own! I just used small black buttons that have a buttonhole on the back of them (don't know the technical term for these), and standard 4-hole white buttons that are somewhat larger. I embroidered a mouth on him, which is hard to do and keep it straight. The receipient of this beautiful piece of craftsmanship (craftspersonship? craftsselfactualizingindividualship?) -- ZMrK -- does not care if the snake is a little bit wonky, he thinks it is awesome all the same.

I have no idea what my next crochet project is going to be. I mostly wanted to learn how to crochet so I could make really cute Amigurumi toys, so I think I'm on my way to doing that. I'll probably also make cute hats, baby stuff, and afghans (I miss the crochet afghans my Nanas and Aunties used to make! I know my rat Desdemona chewed one up, but I don't know where the rest are.)


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Belated Introduction!

I have a belated introduction to make. We've adopted another cat!

Introducing . . . Ellie!


(Yes, that is Ken's catnip mouse from Criosa that she is playing with. She's played with it so much that I'm not sure where it's gone off to.)





These photos were all taken on her first two days with us. She came home on January 14, after being spayed (we adopted her on January 12). Initially, Ken was very curious and playful with her, rolling on his back in front of her and showing off, and she wanted nothing to do with him. She even attacked him when he tried to come up on the bed at night to sleep with us, even though earlier that evening they were both on the bed at the same time.


It was like that for a few days. Then she warmed up to Ken and wanted to chase him and play, and he wanted nothing to do with her. His ears would go back and he would hiss and had a startling resemblance to Paul Naschy as Waldamer Danisky.

He also looked like this often:


There were fights. There still are some scuffles, but they have started sniffing each other's faces and nearly grooming each other (nearly, but not yet). They have bonded over watching the birds at the feeder outside the window. The other morning a fat cardinal had them very excited.

Ellie is very snuggly and loving, although she protests if you pick her up. She's VERY vocal and will practically scream for food. She's also frigging NUTS and will spend hours tearing around the house chasing a toy. The shelter had her as 1.3 years old, and she was admitted to the shelter with a litter of kittens and went into foster care for several weeks. I think she may be younger than a year, though; after all, a cat can have a litter when she is less than six months old. She will calm down, eventually, I'm sure. Solvie did eventually, and Solvie was a bloody lunatic when she was young. Even Ken is a lunatic sometimes -- last night he was tearing around the house at top speed himself. I wish I had video of that, but we were eating dinner and the camera wasn't nearby.

In knitting news. . . well, I had a brief foray into the world of crochet. I don't have pictures, so I'll share that later, but I did crochet something! I also did two swatches for Blaze (I had to go down a needle size to get gauze, as the swatch grew a little with washing. Oh, the lessons we learn, eh?). I then cast on three times -- long tail cast on, oops, not enough of a tail to cast on all 210 stitches, start again; long tail cast on, oops, not enough tail, fuck it all, I'll knit into each stitch and pass it back to the left needle to add on stitches, ouch it really is too tight of a cast on to do the ribbing properly; long tail cast on, YES! I've cast on enough stitches, now I've knit four rows of the ribbing and I made a FUCKING MOBIUS STRIP. Oh dear. So, I decided that yarn does not want to be Blaze right now, and I have cast on for another Kitty Pi so the kitties won't have to take turns using the one we have (although it is large enough for them both to squeeze into if they snuggle, and wouldn't that be cute?).

Knitting the Kitty Pi also makes some room in the stash, as I'm using some chunky JoAnn Sensations Licorice yarn in black, grey and white. I'm not sure how the white will felt; I think it is white as in bleached and not "natural". I used the same yarn in Olive for the last Kitty Pi, and I also made my Sophie bag with the purple and orange Licorice, so hopefully it will felt in spite of the white.

I did add to the stash earlier in the month, when Batty and I went to Windsor Button to celebrate her new job:




I got two skeins of the 127 print, because I loved the colors. I'm not sure what to make with it, though. The Regia Silk will be some fancy grey lacy socks for moi. I do seem to have trouble with socks that aren't plain old ribbed socks -- they often come out too large. Or they take forever to knit (like Poseidon, which is still hibernating). I have plenty of sock yarn bookmarked for plain ol' ribbed socks, though, and those would be a good subway knitting project, yet I feel guilty casting on another project. I'll finish the kitty pi and see what's up. I am going to try to work from my stash more this year -- I have about 1/8 of it up on Ravelry, and I really need to just clear it out. Much of it is bookmarked for projects, too. I won't even talk about my fiber stash, or my (lack of) spinning lately.

Now Ellie is knocking things over to get my attention . . . I must go tend to her.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Guess Where I Went?



On Friday, ZMrK and I drove two hours to Northampton, MA, to hit the after-Christmas sale at WEBS. Believe it or not, this was my first trip to WEBS, and I was surprised to see how easy it is to get there! There's no twisty-turny streets to navigate; it's just exit 4 off the Pike onto I-91, then Exit 18 onto Route 5 and then one turn and you are THERE.

It is everything everyone says it is. You walk in to what looks like a really large yarn store, with nice displays everywhere. Oooh, pretty. THEN you go into one of the "sale" rooms, in which there are boxes and bags of yarn on the table and on shelves, priced drastically low. After you have perused that, you go back into the main room and walk along shelves of beautifully coned laceweight yarn, and you see some spinning wheels and fiber set up in front of an open door to another room, which looks to be a warehouse. This is the point of no return. You see that this is not only a warehouse, but there are people shopping from the warehouse, and it goes on seemingly forever. This is where ZMrK realized why this is the knitter's Mecca. Or maybe he already realized it. Do you want to know something that is not so a secret? He loves it! He loves shopping for yarn with me, and he has a really good eye for color and a good sense of touch. He's the perfect shopping companion -- he'll even tell me when something makes me look fat. Not that yarn ever makes me look fat, but if I'm trying on clothes and something looks horrible, he'll tell me. With yarn, he'll tell me if a color isn't me or if the yarn feels nasty and scratchy.

But what am I doing here, spilling my guts for?


You want to see what I bought?


10 skeins, Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK, in color "Hydrangea". I find this color to be very purply-pink but the receipt description says "bright pink". I paid $3.49 a ball for it, and am thinking of knitting Blaze from the fall 2004 knitty with this. I've already done a gauge swatch and, after blocking, it's a half inch too big so I'm going to give it some more thought. It's amazing yarn, though.


10 skeins, Gedifra Cotton Merino, in color "Ocean". Yup, a true blue. I don't have any immediate plans for this yarn but I'm open to suggestions. I have to keep in mind that it is about 48% cotton. It's worsted weight. I paid $4.99 a skein for it.


2 skeins, Artful Yarns Shakespeare in blue/grays. I grabbed these for some felting fun -- it might make a fun purse or another pair of fuzzy feet (even though I already have Malabrigo leftovers earmarked for fuzzy feet, but a girl can't have enough, right?). I also never tried it before, and at $5.79 a skein I figured I would take that gamble.


$1.49, and it was sitting there all alone amongst other yarn, so I took pity on the cute little skein of Shepherd Colour4Me. It's also machine washable, and will make a nice warm hat. Later I found a boatload of it in the warehouse, but decided to just go with the one.


This wasn't on major major sale, but I love the colorway and it was the only one of this colorway there. It's ONline Supersocke 100, and it was $10.46. This will be socks for me, and they'll be plain ordinary ribbed socks that I will love forever.


8 skeins, Artful Yarns Serenade in a blue-green colorway. I bought these because one of the free patterns ZMrK grabbed for me had a cute hooded t-shirt pattern that uses 8 skeins of this. It's cotton/angora, I think, and was about $6.00/skein.

Did I mention free patterns? Yup, in one of the sale rooms there were a few bins of free patterns, with a limit of 10 per customer (although they really didn't care if there were more than 10, or at least my cashier didn't). ZMrK went through all of the bins (there were about 5) as I fondled yarn and ran them by me to see which ones I wanted. He also made sure to point out the fugliest fug on there, because, as he pointed out, "there's a reason these are free". I found some really nice ones, though, and I don't have pictures of them right now. Maybe when I use them I'll take a picture.

Oh, so the above is it for my haul. Not bad, right? Here's my grand total:


I don't think the damage is that bad. I have three sweaters' worth of yarn in there, plus a pair of socks and a hat. I passed on the cashmere that was about $7.00/skein because I wasn't really sold on the pastel colors. I passed on the cones of alpaca/silk laceweight because I want to get better at knitting lace before I go house on buying laceweight (not to mention that I already have purchased more laceweight that you need to know about). The only thing I could have done is perhaps buy more of the Jaeger Extra Fine Merino in another color, because the stuff is really nice. There's always next year, though, as well as the Tent Sale that happens in May (I think it's the week before the MA Sheep and Wool Fest, which is why I haven't gone to that. Two weekends in a row driving that far is a little too much, right?)

I'm now nearly finished with one of my Poseidon socks.



Can you see the cute little dolphins on them?

I switched from the Pony Pearl DPNs to some KnitPicks circular needles, and it went much faster. One of the DPNs has a tiny split at the tip and my yarn kept getting snagged, which was a PITA. This is one tough-ass pattern too. I read the instructions for the edging on the cuff, which made me scratch my head and go knit something else (in this case, the swatch for Blaze). It involves slipping stitches onto waste yarn and knitting flat, even though it's at the top of the sock, and it just made my brain all lazy so I'll take care of it some other time (you know, when I'm not preoccupied by New Yarn).

It's the last day of my post-New Year vacation, and I have to go to work tomorrow. Remember how in my last post I was so gung ho about getting out of the house, and going to the gym, etc? Pfft. I haven't been to the gym at all in 2008. The last time I went to the gym was December 30, 2007. I'll go tomorrow, and start A Schedule, but for the past week there hasn't been much of A Schedule, and I have done a lot of Sitting On My Ass (SOMA). I haven't been completely lazy though. Here's a list of things I did while SOMA:

1. Organized the photos on my desktop. I deleted several that I no longer need, and put the rest into a folder titled 'BURN' with different subfolders for different subjects so we can easily locate, say, our photos from Puerto Rico or photos of Zelia.

2. Organized my loose patterns. I had a bunch of them stuck into a looseleaf notebook, and I put the page-a-day calendar patterns into looseleaf pages with little photo-sized slots, and organized everything by what it is (hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, baby stuff, socks, etc.) and have a different folder for each. These folders are in my nice new magazine box purchased at the comic store, along with my Interweave Knits back issues.

3. Organized my jewelry boxes, and cleaned my silver jewelry. I used my mom's method of water with a splash of ammonia and Dawn dish detergent. The scuzzier pieces needed a gentle brushing with a tooth brush, but they are all shiny now. I threw out a bunch of crap that was beyond hope too. This required me to Get Off My Ass a few times, so I could go out to the kitchen to throw jewelry into my container of cleaner, and also to throw stuff in the trash can. That's exercise, right?

4. Organized my side of the bedroom. Okay, somewhat. I organized the jewelry boxes like above, and I also put away my clean clothes and got Crap I Don't Need off the dressers. I also draped some nice fabric on my dresser to hide Crap I Need But Don't Want to Display. I did have to Get Off My Ass a few times for this, too.

5. Taught myself how to crochet! I'm about 40% done with a Cute Project, and my hands sure do hurt. I think I'll be taking a breach from any knitting or crocheting until perhaps Tuesday.

6. Watched a lot of movies. At least I knit or crochet while doing so (when I'm not eating, that is). I think knitting or crochet while SOMA watching TV burns 54 calories an hour, which is better than just SOMA watching TV, doing nothing else, right?

I also want to show off what my Secret Pal, Criosa sent me!


Not pictured in this photo is the DVD of "Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas" and the knitting girl sour apple mints.

Here's the Berroco Soft Twist:


There are four skeins, in a gorgeous blue. What should I make with it? (I'm wondering if it would make a nice slinky spring mini-Clapotis).

Here's the gorgeous laceweight:


There's 400+ yards of it, and it's a wool boucle. I have a surprisingly lot of options for it; I just want to see what it looks like knitting up first. I have a few ideas though.

I took a picture of the sequins that were floating around in the box too:


I just thought they were cute and wanted to save them. ZMrK used some of them for his daughter's Xmas stocking (she has five, I think, including the one he made for her this year, which she took with her. Next year he'll make her her sixth one! I need to make him a new stocking, too, as his is literally falling apart because it's about 30 years old and one more CD will be the death of it).

Oh, and speaking of Christmas and yarn . . .


1 skein, Ellen's Half Pint Farm Wool/Bamboo sock yarn (from ZMrK), and


1 skein (3100 yards!) merino-silk laceweight from Skaska Designs. This was a gift from Ken!


I don't know how the little bugger got past my parents to Rhinebeck to buy that for me without ZMrK or me seeing him, but he did!

Calling him a little bugger is being kind. That little bastard bites:


He's gotten me two or three times on the leg today, and I'm bruised from it. He'll just jump up, wrap his paws around my leg, and give a good bite and hang on. Ouch!

He does have his good points, though. Here's how cute he is when he wants to be fed:

And here he is when he thinks no one is watching, making bread on (or humping?) my pajama pants:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Finished Object, Reflections, Resolutions.

It's January 1st and I've already got a finished object!!!!

diet coke

Basketweave Rib Socks, from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. I used superwash merino/nylon sock yarn from...ummm...I don't remember the vendor's name but she's pretty popular and I've gotten lots of roving from her in the past. She's based in Maine and her Ravelry user name is "Boogie". It's seriously stuck somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, but everytime I think I'm getting it, it runs and hides from me. I don't think I'm tired, but I am a little aggravated over some problems I had uploading photos tonight. I sat down to do this around 9:00, and now, 54 minutes later, I have my photos finally uploaded and ready to blog. It's that fucking Kodak software (which I don't even know why I use; my camera is a Canon. How the fuck did I start using Kodak? But I've got 2 years' worth of photos in my "kodak pictures" folder that I need to delete or burn, just to get them off the hard drive so maybe things will run faster, you know? Oh, but the last time I tried to burn photos. . . .I spent over an hour, only to have the burn not "take". So I'm going to put all the photos I want to keep in a folder called "burn" and have ZMrK burn the CD, because obviously the burning software hates my fingertips. I used to be pretty good with this computer stuff, back in around 1987, and then again around 1998-ish, when I was in charge of my department's page on the company's internet portal. Now, however, I apparently suck at the computer stuff. I'm going to end this paragraph that has gone way off the deep end of topic, as if this last sentence makes a lick of sense.)

It's gotten me this far to say, Oh yeah, the vendor is Spunky Eclectic, and the colorway is Diet Coke, which is why ZMrK is posing with two bottles of Diet Coke and a nearly-full glass of it. The toes look different because it's different yarn. I figured out when I was close to done with the first sock that I would not have enough yarn, so I used some Shaeffer Anne for the toes. On one foot, I have to use the Anne for the last 6 rounds of the foot too, before the toe shaping. Anne has a crazy amount of yardage to it -- 500+ yards, I think -- so I should be able to comfortably make myself some fancy socks from what it left. It's a damn nice yarn too. I have an idea of what I want to make with it, but I'll save that thought until I start it, since I change my mind so much.

I knit a shitload today. I also worked about 15 rows of the Branching Out lace scarf I started back in October. I didn't take a picture of it because I thought it would be pathetically boring for me to take photos each time I knit a few rows of it. It's my first lace, and it will take a while. I've got about 4 repeats of the pattern in there, and tons more to go. There's only 300 yards of this yarn, and that's as large as I'll make it.

I also resoled my fuzzy feet today. I last resoled them nearly a year ago. I used the other sleeve from the same felted sweater, and forgot how cushion-y they were when I first did them. I do have plans, and some leftover Malabrigo, to make my next pair of fuzzy feet, but I just couldn't bring myself to throw these out yet. I must get that from my dad, who was born in 1930 and is the 2nd youngest of 7 kids and is thus into making do and storing tons of non-perishable food in the basement and not wasting, etc. etc. I have personally seen that man staple his slippers back together, even though he had a new pair of slippers in the box that one of us gave him for Christmas. The old pair were still wearable, though; they just needed a couple of staples. He also duct taped the pocket back on his robe, because the robe was still wearable. Don't ask why he couldn't just take a needle and thread and sew the pocket on; I guess duct tape was more handy. Oh, this behavior drives my mom crazy. I knit my dad a hat and scarf for Christmas this year, and I wasn't sure how he would react. He does have a city-issued hat from his job as a Crossing Guard, and he does have one of two scarves. I wish I had a picture of his face when he opened it -- he was thrilled. I had forgotten how much he likes handmade gifts. Well, every stitch was stitched with love. My mom got her hat and gloves last year, and he got his hat and scarf this year, so now they are even, right? Except I do have to mend my mom's gloves, because she "put her finger through one of them". I think I can handle that.

I was going to crochet either last night or today, so I could say I brought in the New Year hookin', but I had some trouble figuring it out. I am determined that this year will be the year I learn how to crochet.

Oh, that brings me to the next part of the post -- reflecting on the past year. Let's see what I did.

1. I learned how to spin.
2. ZMrK got a really cool portrait of me painted for my birthday.
3. Our landlady got really nutty on us, so we had to find a new place fast, and we found a really nice place.
4. I don't think I ever blogged about it, but Sunny, our ball python, didn't eat for a few months and we were really worried so brought her to a specialist at Tufts Veterinary. What we did find out is (1) Sunny's a she, and (2) she had eggs but no place to lay them, so she reabsorbed them and didn't need to eat. Cool. She's eaten fine since then.
5. We found tons of great nature walk spots near our house.
6. I went to four Sheep and Wool Fests.
7. I lost the best non-human friend I ever had. Shit, she was a better friend than most humans I've known. I know ZMrK feels the same way.
8. We got Ken.
9. We lost Solvie.
10. My dad had a stent put in, due to a new blockage. Only recently has he started to have health problems.
11. I became a great-auntie.
12. I learned how to dye yarn.
13. I ended the year being a crappy-assed, sporadic blogger.
14. I gained 10 lbs this year.
15. I started have hot flashes in December.

So, those are 15 reflections of things that happened in the past year. Some are wonderful, some a sucky, some just are. I think this was the year when I realized how little control we have, and how important it is to cherish those you love.

I do want to make some resolutions, which I will try to keep.

1. Keep good track of everything. I really would like to know what I ate, knit, watched and did for exercise on a given day (it's the nerd in me; I'd make spreadsheets if I had the time). I also want to know what I weigh -- this is how I know how much weight I gained! I started keeping a sporadic (of course) food journal right after Thanksgiving 2006, and recorded a few weights on it. It's not good.

2. Don't beat myself up over shit like that. I GAINED WEIGHT. Big deal. I can lose it. I lost 45 lbs at one point, and granted, I do not want to be back to my low weight because it was crazy trying to stay at that weight. It would be nice to not gain any more weight, and maybe lose 5-10 lbs (I gained 20 since my low weight) and be in shape. I joined a gym for three months, and would like to go about 3x a week to work on that. I do need to exercise, for the rest of my life, and I do enjoy it when I do it.

3. Don't be such a recluse. I've gotten better. We met a local couple at a friend's party in November and have seen them TWICE since then. We're going to see them again in a couple of weeks. I also have a *date* to go yarn shopping with Batty soon, to celebrate her new job. It will be tough to not be a recluse, because it is winter, but it's something I need to do.

4. When at work, DO MY WORK. I'm on the knittyboard too much at work, and sometimes on Ravelry too. I have plenty to keep me busy, and I feel much better when I do my job and don't surf the web. I also could be more sociable at work.

5. Cherish those I love and cherish, and let them know I love and cherish them.

6. Learn how to crochet something that doesn't look like a nipple or ferret poo.

7. Spin more! I should learn spinning technology so I at least can sound like I know what I'm talking about. I need to learn how to properly ply.

8. Take advantage of good weather and get out of the house.

9. Knit more from the stash. I did a good job on the yarn diet between Rhinebeck and the end of 2007, but I don't need to go so hog wild in 2008. I have a few sweaters' worth of yarn in the stash, and I should use them!

10. Knit more for others. I have a grand-niece I could knit for, and there are plenty of charities that need knitted stuff.

I guess that's all I've got. Boy, this is a long-assed post, and I didn't even get to the Christmas pressies or Secret Pal gifts I got! I guess I'll put those in another post.

By the way, Happy New Year!