Archive for October, 2009

h1

Knitting Revelation

October 30, 2009

Two days ago, the blizzard started. It was snowing so bad that we got out early at work. There is nothing better than snuggling up on the couch with my most comfortable, warm fleeces socks, a blanket and spending the night knitting while there is a blizzard going on outside. The feeling you get when you are warm and dry in your cozy home while it is freezing, dark and hostile outside is very comforting. So I was happily knitting away when after about 4 hours had gone by and all of a sudden my right hand started cramping up. I am very motivated about my projects and if I want to get a certain something done by a certain time, there better be a damn good reason to keep me from getting it done. I have wasted many a good night’s sleep trying to finish some stupid project I just HAVE to get done. So I was not happy that a cramp was going to keep me from getting 3 more feet of knitting done before bedtime. Since I taught myself how to knit, I have watched a lot of instructional knitting videos on the interntet. I have seen quite a few where it looks like the person is knitting faster than the flash. I actually had to watch one two or three times to make sure it wasn’t on some kind of time lapse. I swear this woman I saw knit ten stitches in about two seconds. When I very first started knitting, and I read the section on how to hold the yarn in your hand (the picture in the book I was using showed how to weave the yarn over and under the fingers in your right hand to control the tension) I didn’t really get it. So, I ended up holding the yarn between my right index finger and thumb and almost making a fist with the other fingers around the yarn. It was very painful after a while to keep my fingers crushed against my palm. But that was the only way I could keep any kind of tension. It has been causing problems this whole time but I never really thought about changing it. There have been times where my hands are actually sore the next morning and if I try to knit the next day, there would be serious pain in my fingers, hand an wrist. I always kind of had the feeling it was not a good thing but never really did anything. Until two nights ago. The cramping was so bad I couldn’t keep going. But I couldn’t stop, not with 3 usable hours before bedtime! So I decided to try the “correct method.” I strung the yarn over my right index, under the middle finger, over the ring and under the pinkie. I felt like a gimp. The stitches kept falling completely off my needles and the knitting was so tight it was bunching up in a big ball. However, after knitting a few awkward stitches, I realized what I was doing looked just like the superwoman speed knitter in the videos I had seen! Before I was bringing my whole hand, wrist and forearm in one giant engery-burning, muscle-cramping, time-wasting motion ALL the way around the needle. With the new way, all I had to do was basically make a little circle motion around the needle with my index finger. It was faster and it didn’t hurt! But I was so clumsy. I forced myself to finish the entire row. And it did take a lot longer than usual. But I could tell if I got good at it, it would be a lot faster. I did a few more rows with the new method and it felt a little better. When I got really frustrated I went back to the old way for a few stitches but it just wasn’t the same.

For the rest of the night I fought with my project. I wasn’t good enough at the new way to feel comfortable and the old way felt clumsy and hurt my hand. I was screwed. Also, the stitches using the new way were so tight the gauge changed. Luckily, I was working on the cover for my Swiffer WetJet mop so it is the one thing I have made so far that it didn’t matter what the stitches looked like (that’s another reason why I keep going). I went to bed pissed off.

However, the next day (yesterday) I tried it again. The first few stitches felt awkward and fell off the needle. But after the first row, I started to fall into a new rhythym. I did about 5 stitches really, REALLY fast without thinking about what I was doing. When I realized I had kind of zoned out, I knew it was starting to come naturally. I got off really early again yesterday because of the everlasting blizzard and so I was able to get a good long marathon knitting session in. By the end of the night, I had finished the mop cover and my hands didn’t hurt! I have turned a new leaf – I feel born again! I forced myself to learn the correct way and now I am much better off for it. Yea, I am going to celebrate by knitting the entire weekend! (Maybe)

h1

Mom Hooked Me UP!

October 30, 2009

This weekend I went over to my mom’s house. I wanted Devon to help me make my Halloween costume. I am going to be a red lego. I needed a few things so we went shopping. First we went to Target. I was talking to my mom about some of the “critical” items I am missing from my apartment. First, my stove has been burning anything I put in it in under 6 minutes. So my mom suggested I put an oven thermometer in it and check the temperature. (When I put it in the oven later that night and turned the dial to 300 degrees, the thermometer went up to 600 degrees in 20 minutes. I was afraid the oven was going to explode so I turned it off. I think it’s broken!) Then I said “Man, I really need a new tea kettle.” Shawn and I were driving to our friend’s house a few weeks ago when we saw a house with a big sign outside that said FREE STUFF. I got two thermoses. They are awesome. They are brown plaid and they are totally retro. I seriously think they were made in the 70’s. One is small and one is large. They’re great! I use them all the time. I also got one of those insulated coffee carafes. It is light blue plastic on the outside and insulated aluminum on the inside. Since I got it, I have been making tea at home. It actually keeps the tea hot for almost an hour if you screw the lid down all the way. I also got Shawn hooked on drinking chai. It sucks to try to pour scalding hot boiling water from a pan. So when I told my mom Iwanted a tea kettle, I was actually trying to get one out of her for Christmas. To my suprise, she blurted, “Let’s get one now!” YEAH! It is really cool, white and black and very modern looking design. She also got me a replacement flourecent bulb to use in my new terrarium I am building.

 Then we went to Hobby Lobby and the shopping streak continued. I got pins, a thimble, an embroidery hoop, a hot glue gun, a fabric cutting board, a bodkin and t-pins. She also got me all the stuff I needed to finish my costume. I kept asking her for more stuff and whatever she didn’t buy me, she gave me from the house. I got her old steamer, so I can block my knitting, a really cute backpack with woodland animals on it I will use for backpacking and camping, an old vintage (70’s) knitting bag my mom used to use and I think she actually made it, and the most important thing of all, a book light. It is one of those little lights you clip on to your book so you can read in bed without turning the lights on. I have been hoping for one of those ever since I started knitting.  I like to knit in the car (it seems like such a waste to just sit there while I could be knitting), especially when we take our trips to the mountains. Nothing like trying to knit and 4 wheel at the same time! I’m suprised I haven’t poked my eye out yet. And since it is getting dark earlier and earlier with the winter coming, it seems I am stuck in a dark car without my knitting more often. No More! I clipped the light on to the visor and it shines down on to my lap. It is just bright enough I can see my needles but not too bright that it bothers Shawn while he is driving. Yea, now I can get in at least an extra couple of hours knitting a week. Sweet.

After I got home from the shopping spree, I went down to my mom’s basement to get a few craft thing for my costume when I discovered my mom’s yarn stash! She wanted to show me all the stuff she had down in the basement and when I saw the yarn and my eyes started popping out of my head. She told me if I organized it, I could take it! What a deal! I was going to do it at her house because she said she wanted to keep a little bit of it, but I ran out of time because the costume took FOREVER so I took it home and forgot to give some of it back. A brief history of the yarn drawer – when I was little I used to love to do crafts. It’s a little ironic that I like to knit now because I used to do crafts left and right when I was young. However, I never learned to knit. Now that I know how, I remember all the little things I did as a kid and think, “Wow that would be really cool to have all that stuff again!” I used to have a loom. I totally wish I had one now. So this yarn was the leftovers of the stuff I used when I was little. There were god’s eyes and little straws used to weave and a home made knitting knobby made from nails stuck in an old thread spool. Also, it is all acrylic and it is all REALLY bright colors and pretty ugly multis. So after I got it home, I started working on untangling and sorting it. I found these little cardboard organizers I used to use. They are ingenious. You just cut little slits in either end of the cardboard and wind the yarn around it. You can make a whole little row with 5-10 different slots per card. It took me the entire day on Saturday to get it all straightened out. I am so proud! 

Mom's Mystery Stash

Mom's Mystery Stash

 There was also a bunch of embroidery thread but I still haven’t gotten through all that yet. Embroidery was my main thing when I was little. I remember doing that more than anything else. There is a lot of thread left. So now, I feel like Christmas came early and I have enough stash yarn to make toys for everybody! I am totally set. Thanks mom!

h1

Re-purposed Aquarium

October 23, 2009

Kamikazee is dead. I don’t know what killed him but he died last week. I don’t know if it was something I fed him or if it was the temperature in his cage. I just recently added a black night heat lamp that I wasn’t using before. I was worried with the weather getting colder and having moved his cage under a window that he would be too cold. I put a thermometer in his cage and the temperature was like 110 degrees when he died. I may have fried him! So he wasn’t moving and sometimes that happens so I wasn’t too worried. Then two days went by and his eyes sunk into his head. Then he was bleeding from his eye. Yes, definitely dead. I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of the body so I made Shawn throw him away. Putting a lizard in the trash is the equivalent of flushing  a dead gold fish down the toilet. Somewhat irreverent, highly effective.

Now, I have an awesome, custom made shelf with two large EMPTY aquariums. I haven’t replaced Sid Fishious. I still need to get a lid for the 29 gallon fish tank. Pupek likes to jump inside it and play in it so I will definitely need something to keep her out. I also need to get a new hood with a light. I found a glass top at Petco for $15 that should work to cover it. I just need the light.

But what to do with the lizard cage? I think I’m going to make a terrarium! I’m not really ready to get another bearded dragon. Kazi was the most vicious terrifying dragon I have ever met. I was telling Shawn I think I get the strangest, most dysfunctional lizards ever. Stubby, the first beardie I ever had, only had three legs. Someone in his cage chewed his arm off when he was little. Since I was working at the reptile store and they can’t sell maimed animals, they were going to euthanize him. I felt bad and took him home. Out of all my beardies, he was definitely the most personable. He always liked to play with me and when he got excited, his little stub would spin around in circles. When I moved to California, I couldn’t take him with me so my sister took him. I’m not going to place blame and say she killed him. I will say he perished in her care.

The next beardie was Einstein. That was the most ironically named pet I have ever encountered. He was dumber than a doornail. Being a former class pet, he was used to being babyed. He would only eat if being hand fed. You had to dip your finger in apple sauce and hold it up to his mouth. Then you had to wait while he took his sweet time licking it off. He was so slow, he couldn’t even catch crickets. I would put them in his cage and he would try to catch them. He would stick out his tongue but he was so slow, he would totally miss them and get a tongue full of sand. I think he died of malnutrition. (Not suprising)

Then there was Kamikazee. I knew he was a pig when we first got him. The lady at Petsmart said he would eat most of the crickets that were put in the cage. When beardies are small, they put the whole litter in one cage and they create a dragon heirarchy. The big one gets the best, the little ones get nothing. He was obviously at the top of the chain but I had no idea of the horrible trait that got him there. When I first got him, he wasn’t too bad. I even remember I took him to work, since the Petsmart was next door and I got him on my lunch break, and he sat on a little log in the window until I went home. He must have been in shock from the move. When I got him home he started to get more aggressive. He would try to eat you through the glass. If you put your finger up to the cage, he would smash his head into the glass trying to bite you. If you actually put your finger IN the cage, well, you can imagine what would happen. Then as he got bigger, his bites got badder. When he started drawing blood, we quite trying to tame him. A couple times Shawn suggested we turn him in to the reptile store in our neighborhood but I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of him. I couldn’t understand why he was so aggressive. Apparently in the wild, the bearded dragons are so docile and friendly, you can actually pick them up and play with them. Not Kazi. So when he died Shawn was trying to make me feel better and reminded me that he was mean. He wasn’t my favorite beardie but I still felt bad.

So, since I can’t seem to get a decent bearded dragon (or a cat for that matter. I don’t want to go into the weird cat streak I’ve been having. Pupek finally ended that!) I am not going to replace him right now. Shawn doesn’t like snakes and I can’t afford any other lizards I would like to get. So, I am going to make a terrarium. Since we live in a north facing basement, it is impossible to grow plants. I think the UV light I had used for the lizards should work for growing plants. I am going to replace the substrate, and plant a plethora of succulents and exotic plants. I have some cool rocks I might throw in there and I think I will keep the grapewood driftlog that Kazi liked to sit on. I will finally get to stretch my green thumb again. Without the back yard area that only goes with the upstairs unit and no light to grow anything inside, I am definitely missing my botanical friends. I will update and post some pix when I am finished

h1

Big Business, BABY!

October 14, 2009

I made a niffty little sweater for my disposable coffee cups. (I like to get coffee at 7-Eleven and if I’m ballin’ maybe Starbucks.) I used some of the leftover purple yarn I had and I tried a cool-looking cable pattern. It was the first time I have ever attempted a cable AND it was knitted in the round using dpns. Wow. I thought it might be kind of complicated and actually the first couple rounds were difficult on the dpns. But once I got a decent start to hold the needles together it went just fine. Also the cable pattern was relatively simple. There was just one cable, the back was ribbed, that had a twist at the bottome and a twist at the top. Easy enough. It turned out really cool.

My Fabulous Coffee Sweater

My Fabulous Coffee Sweater

The coolest part of it is though, is that I think I’m going to talk to the owner of the local coffee shop and see if she will let me sell them there. (Don’t worry anybody I will make up my own pattern – no illegal copyright violations!)  She sells a lot of crafts from local artists there. I have seen jewelry and hand-made soaps this past summer. I will have to make some more up to take in to show her. I am going to make about 5 different ones with all different colors/patterns. I just got a book back from my mom that I had when I was young that was a needlework guide. I was using it for embroidery but it actually has a ton on knitting. It has some great stitches that I want to try in different combos. I have some in mind that I think will be cool.

Maybe I’ll conquer my last knitting frontier – color work. I would like to make a least one with a snowflake pattern (blue background, white snowflake). I downloaded a really cool, free program that is supposed to be used for crosstitch. It lets you lay out patterns and colors on a grid. But I like to use it for my knitting patterns. I used it to come up with a color pattern for Devon’s tesselating fish blanket. It works well, you just have to think of the squares as knit stitches, not cross stitches. *Side note – In that book I just got it had a picture that showed that you can cross stitch over the knit stitches. I think it actually looks better that way because it creates little squares instead of the little v’s duplicate stitch makes. I’ve also seen a lot of examples of people embroidering, needle felting and doing other things to embellish their knitting.

I also need to come up with some catchy names for this doohicky. So far I have come up with – Coffee Cozy, Coffee Sweater, Cappucino Coat, Mug Muff, Latte Liner, Kup Keeper, Com-fee Grip (thanks Shawn). I want one with tea in the name but I can’t think of anything right now.

Also, I found a pattern that goes around a regular coffee mug. It is adjustable, with a couple buttons at the end that attach through the handle of the mug. Since it is adjustable, you can use it on ALL of you coffee mugs. I think I’ll take a couple of those in also.

I also want to start selling glasses cases at my dad’s optometry office. I found a really cute pattern for a glasses “holder. It looks like a little head. The bridge goes over the head’s nose and the arms go over the ears. You’re supposed to set it somewhere, like by your bed or bathroom, where you take you glasses off so they will be safe. You can make the heads look like anything you want, muppets, monkeys, funny faces, etc. Also I will make little pouch-type things like the ones that come with Oakleys that you can slip your glasses or shades into. I asked dad about it the other night and he said that he didn’t mind it I used his office as a store front.

h1

Star Stitch

October 12, 2009

I have learned a new knitting stitch. In the pattern I am using it’s called a Star stitch but I have also seen it called a Daisy stitch. I am making a scarf from a neutral (cream to brown to black) textured yarn. I thought the stitch looked really cool until I actually learned how to make it. You have to purl 3 together then leave the stitches on the left needle, wrap the yarn around the other needle then purl 3 together again! OMG it is horrible. My hands hurt so bad after the first night I did it I couldn’t work on it the next day. I actually had cramps in my wrists and hands. So I tried to work on it some more this weekend and I started to get a blister on my index finger from struggling to push the need through the 10 million yarns you have accumulated by the last part of the stitch.

I got upset with it and tried to avoid working on it on Friday. I ended up finishing all the loose ends (pun intended) I have not gotten around to doing. I put my signature half R’s on all of the finished projects I have. My cousin Iris sent me a message asking me if I was going to put them on all of my things and Shawn has been bugging me to put them on his hats. So I finally got them all on.

Then I actually finished my camera sweater. That was something else I have been avoiding. Since it is made out of bamboo, it ended up stretching out REALLY bad after putting my camera in it for a few days. It stretched out so bad the camera was actually falling out of it. I was so pissed off at it that I thought Iwas going to have to either re-seam the edges so it would be smaller or try to block it to shrink it or else just rip it up and start over. After reading about blocking bamboo I decided that was not going to be an option. (That and I don’t have an iron…) Apparently it doesn’t shrink. It only grows, and grows and grows. Then I read a really great blog about lining hats. It said you can change the shape and size of a knit hat by lining it either smaller or larger. You just sew the hat to the size lining you want and it changes the shape. So I thought I would try it with the camera sweater. I got a sewing machine for FREE! last month from some really nice lady on freecycle. But she said the tension wasn’t working right. So I have been avoiding it too. I took it over to my parent’s house on Friday and my dad looked at it. I guess the foot that feeds the fabric through as you sew wasn’t working. Also the bobbins were screwed up. And the tension wasn’t right. After a couple hours, he got it working. Now I can start an even bigger amount of unrealistic craft projects. So I seamed the microfiber lining with my new sewing machine. Then I pulled the knitting tight around the microfiber and stitched it together by hand. By the time I got all the way around the top, it had pulled the edges in enough that the fit was perfect! I was so happy. I seriously thought I was never going to get that stupid bag to fit my camera.

So yesterday, with all my project to-do’s finished I had no more excuses not to work on the scarf. Once I got going on it, it actually started to go better. I am getting the hang of the stitch and am now catching the yarn the first or second time I pull it through, not the like before where it was taking four or five times. With my frustration level down and the stitches being made easier and faster I actually got about a foot done last night. I am almost half way done. Also it is using a lot less yarn than I was expecting.

I want to make a matching hat a mittens because even though it is frustrating, I really really like the way the stitch looks. I wasn’t able to find any patterns I liked that used the star stitch. I found one hat that used it but it also had rows of another stitch and the top part was done with stockinette stitch. I didn’t like it. So, I think I am going to make my first pattern. I know what I want to do with the hat, that should be easy. But I’ve never made mittens before so I will probably need to make a pair first so I can understand the process and the patterns a little better. Then I will make a pair of mittens with the top of the hand with star stitch and the palm something else (probably just stockingette). I want to do all of them with the same yarn as the scarf. Wow, I will have something that coordinates for the first time in my life!

I also decided last night that I want to line the scarf. It seems to be a little on the thin side. Plus, it’s not outright itchy but I know the neck can be more sensitive than other places and the yarn I’m using is not the softest stuff in the world. I found some “furry fleece” at JoAnn’s that looks like it would be good. I don’t think there were very many colors so I might just use regular fleece. I should be done with this thing by the end of the week. Just in time for the cold weather! I definitely need some warm wear things. I was trying to scrape the ice off the truck on Saturday and I really could have used some mittens. And a scarf!