Tag Archives: Mine mine mine

Finished Dead kitty scarf (own pattern)

(A bit late posting this one, since I needed a good photo. Thanks, Lili!)

Dead kitty scarf
Double-knit scarf with cat head and crossbones pattern, modeled here by my friend Lili.
Started August 28, 2006; finished October 27, 2006.

Dead Kitty scarf modelled by Lili Landry
Dead Kitty scarf, modeled by Lili Landry.

Pattern: Own pattern
Yarn: Caron “Super Soft,” 100 percent acrylic (yeesh)
Needles: Size US#6 or US#5 or something
Dimensions: Six feet of scarf, with 12 repeats of the Dead Kitty pattern

Dead Kitty scarf modeled by Lili Landry
Dead Kitty scarf, modeled by Lili Landry.

Pattern notes: A birthday present for a friend who still hasn’t received it, even though her birthday was in September. The scarf took forever but got a lot of attention. Everyone from friends to preppy moms to some teen boy on the light rail thought it was awesome.

Would I knit it again? I have to, now that I’ve agreed to knit one for Lili.

Same hat time, same hat channel

Finished another “Montague” hat for Pretty in Pink. It took a couple days longer to finish than I’d have liked, since the yarn got into an almighty tangle.

I worked at a yarn store for a while, so I thought I’d learned how to tackle a ball of yarn that looked like it had gotten into a fistfight with an octopus. The key is patience. Untangling yarn is an excellent zen exercise: after trying to outsmart enough balls of stubborn string, you learn that untangling yarn takes as long as it takes. There’s no rushing it. After butting heads with slippery ribbon yarns and half-felted wool, not much fazed me — not even a skein that looked like I did when I was an 8-year-old tomboy whose parents had to occasionally cut the knots out of my hair with a penknife.

But this skein was a different story. I’d wound the yarn on a nostepinne because Montague is knitted with the yarn doubled, but instead of pulling the yarn from both the center and the outside of the ball, I’d wound the two strands together. Instead of just doubling the number of quirks and knots that can happen with a grabby, loosely plied yarn, I accidentally and idiotically squared the amount of hassle. After spending a good four hours shifting knots around and working the yarn free a foot at a time, I’d untangled a pathetic 20 yards or so of yarn. The absolute bare-bones minimum I’ll work for is $17.50 an hour — which meant I’d wasted $70 of my time trying to rescue a $2.50 skein of yarn. The hell with that, I said to myself, and hurled the whole jellyfish-like mess into a corner.

Anyway. Montague. The pattern’s transcribed and laid out; I just need to get a good photo of it, and it’ll be ready to unleash on a defenseless public!

Slouchy kitty hatOh, and I’m also completely in love with my slouchy kitty hat. It’s got me a couple of compliments and a whole lot of weird looks. The hell with them! Fall is well and truly setting in: the rain’s starting, and shirtsleeve weather is disappearing fast. Weird stares don’t mean much to me when my head is wrapped in a cute, one-of-a-kind hat made of butter-soft cashmere.

And in other news that’ll probably only earn me more weird looks, I’ve decided that it’s time I finally learned to play an instrument: the musical saw.

More hatness

Slouchy cat hatThis is the slouchy kitty hat I’ve been working on. It’s based on a super-common furry raver hat that looks like it has ear-like pointy tops. (For the cutest “eared” accessories, check out my friends’ site at Bunnywarez — their stuff beats the pants off anything I’ll make! Especially this, which I covet like a mad thing.) The knit hat comes out kinda goofy compared to the sewn ones: the “ears” don’t stick straight up, they’re way far back on the head and they’re somewhere between conical and flat, so they look like something between ears and horns. I’d love to get the kinks ironed out of this pattern, since people really respond to it. I wore this one out to a party today and got a couple queries from people asking where they could buy hats like it.

This slouchy kitty hat feels amazing. I found an all-cashmere sweater at the thrift store the other day for $2.40 with some unforgivable holes in it and turned it into yarn! I ran it through the wash on hot and through the dryer on high heat and then sliced it up with a rotary cutter, then washed the yarn again and dried it to get rid of any lint or fraying ends. I ended up with a super-thick yarn that knitted up at about 1.5 stitches to the inch. It knitted up blissfully fast — after a couple false starts, I had a whole hat done in about an hour, including the time it took to graft the top together and gather it a bit at the top center to make the “ears” stand up better. It feels blissfully soft and looks cute as hell on everyone who tried it on tonight. Yay! Success!

Back on the needles

Montague: on the needles again

Montague: progressI’m making the pattern for Montague, the top-down chemo cap I made, and it is fun. The knitting itself isn’t remarkable, and the transcription is no fun, since it basically means turning all the winging-it and shorthand and shortcuts into something that can be replicated by another human being.

But the layout! Oh, man! It’s been a couple months since I cracked open InDesign and it feels gooood. After a year doing daily, non-features layout for a newspaper, it feels amazing to have free rein. I can use as many fonts as I like and I can indent them any way I want! I can use whatever photos I want! The number of columns of text? Up to me, dammit! It’s amazing! Not to mention, it’s InDesign on sleek, stable Mac OSX. Using (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating, counter-intuitive) Quark XPress on (slow, quirky, unstable, frustrating) OS9 was excruciating.

I’m going to make the pattern available as a PDF, for a couple of reasons. Usually I’m all about plain text so I can decide myself how much text and color to use when I print something out, but knitting patterns are the big exception. Every time I have to print a written-out pattern from something I find online, I spend a good 20 minutes trying to puzzle out the most efficient way of doing it that won’t waste loads of paper. You’d think that the Internet’s been around long enough that we’d have figured out a reasonably smart way to print from it, but I guess not.

PDFs aren’t always much better. I was pretty disappointed when I bought a couple patterns from Rowan: The “Red Hot” sweater came with a tiny photo, with no schematic for how the pieces should be shaped and sized, and no photos of the back or side or any detailing. Grr.

Then I ordered a Stitch Diva pattern and … whoa. Beautiful. Large, good-looking photos. Easy to read. Lots of schematics and charts. Arranged to fit neatly on two pages, or on both sides of one page. Pattern name and page number at the top of each corner. Yay.

I have a couple few pet peeves about patterns:

  • No pictures. That, or pictures that don’t clearly show what the finished item looks like.
  • Leaving only a narrow margin down one side. I end up punching holes in the instructions when I put patterns like this in my pattern binder. (I’m not a fan of sheet protectors; I like to flip through multi-page patterns.) The Stitch Diva pattern was guilty of this one, but I forgive it because it got everything else right.
  • Too much whitespace. This one happens with a lot of pattern pages that look like they were saved right out of Microsoft Word, instead of put together using pro layout software. There’s all kinds of empty space on the page, and it takes way too much paper to print out. It shouldn’t take eight pages for a hat pattern.
  • Bad placement of photos. A little more obscure, but still annoying. When you’ll have a photo on the front of a page and another photo on the same place on the back of the page, the paper gets totally saturated with ink. The paper gets soggy, the ink runs and gets blurry and the page dries all warped and bubbled. Yuck. Sure, I could print the pattern out on heavy-duty paper, but that stuff’s expensive. Sure, I could print it on two sheets of paper, but dude — I’m a native Californian. We get all weird about things like wasting paper. I get mild anxiety fits when people leave the tap running, ferchrissakes.

Anyone else have any pattern peeves?

Dead kitty scarf: approaching two-thirds completion

Dead kitty scarf: 64 percent complete
Oh, man. I feel like I’ve been working on my Dead Kitty scarf forever. It’s my own fault; I let it stagnate for a month in the near-the-couch project bag, which is close to the bottom of the project-bag hierarchy.

Projects that live in the very-small-and-portable project bag that fits in my backpack and can double as a purse are finished pretty rapidly. Projects in the medium-sized but conveniently multipocketed bag have a weeks-long turnaround time but usually make it to completion. The under-the-desk project bags are where the freaks and stillborns are hidden: ideas that didn’t work, tangled yarn too good to throw away that’ll take two hours to restore to reason, 10-percent-done pieces waiting to be ripped out and reskeined, and boring projects worked in indestructable yarns that squeak and scratch when knitted for gifts (e.g., hats made of Lion Brand “Homespun” to be given away as playa gifts next year at Burning Man).

The next-to-the-couch project bag is a bit like debtor’s prison in depressing English novels: the projects, mostly completed or at least well started, wait out their time in the dark far from the light of the world, crammed together with stray sewing supplies and stitch markers and odd balls of thrift-store yarns awaiting evaluation, until they’re either rescued and finished, or abandoned, their little corpses stuffed into the under-the-desk pile to await processing.

I fished out the scarf and have been forcing myself to do one repeat of the pattern each night that I don’t have crazy amounts of homework. After Justin falls asleep, I don my mighty studio headphones, cue up Cast On and settle in to at least a solid hour of work to produce a pathetic 5 inches of scarf. It takes forever: it’s double-knitted, so I’m actually knitting a both sides of a double-sided scarf at the same time, and I’ve been taking great pains to make sure that all the repeats actually match — on this side of the scarf, anyway. There was a little bit of unfortunate variation going on among the first pattern repeats, but I’ll be damned if I’m ripping back weeks of work for a couple of misplaced stitches that only I would notice. I’m also shaving the time down a little by knitting with two colors at once and knitting backward instead of turning the work, so at this rate, it should only take me about five freaking years to be done with it.

Two knitting victories

In class last week: I was sitting next to another knitter who recognized the Odessa hat I was knitting. Yay. We knitted all during class and the teacher didn’t seem to mind. VICTORY.

catskullpattern.pngAlso last week: my boyfriend has really taken a shine to a cat-and-crossbones pattern for a scarf for a friend, a birthday present started in July and by now already over a month overdue.

“Y’know,” I said, “I came up with that pattern for you.”

“Really?” He sounded touched.

“Yup. I originally drew it with big X’s for eyes because I wanted to make you a dead cat scarf, since you can’t stand cats,” I said. (This is what romance is like around our place.) “But you don’t wear hats and you already told me not to make you more gloves or scarves because you lose them.”

“Yeah. But … maybe a sweater?”

This is heavy. My boyfriend is crazy picky about his clothes. He says it’s because he dated a fashion designer a few years ago, but I think he’d dress this way no matter what. His clothes are fitted incredibly well — as in, shirts so skinny you can see the outline of his body jewelry through them and pants so tight you can tell which way he’s tucking — and he doesn’t have a lot of them, since not too many clothes pass muster with him. If he wants me to knit him a sweater, that means my knitwear isn’t just a cute hobby — it’s fashion.

He hasn’t forgotten, either. I showed him some glow-in-the-dark yarn I got on eBay (Dude! Glow in the dark! Never outgrew it!) and after exclaiming over it, he said “Could you use this for my sweater?” How can I say no?

So is this, like, the opposite of the boyfriend sweater curse? Either way, we wear the same size sweaters, so if anything goes sour, at least I’ll be up by one seriously cool pullover.

Finished Montague!

Montauge - doneMontague
Chemo cap, own pattern, for Pretty in Pink contest.

Started Oct. 5, 2006; finished Oct. 8, 2006.

Pattern: mine. Yarn: Lion Brand Micro Spun. (Yes, Lion Brand. I was pretty torn up about this.) The yarn is six very loose plies, so it splits like crazy, but I like it. Pattern notes: Whoops, the hat came out kinda big. Obviously some tweaking is needed. It would help if I could find a super-stretchy cast-off that pulled in the edges of 1×1 rib so it wouldn’t flare out, but I have a feeling that particular quest is gonna last me a while.

Would I knit it again? Well, yeah. I gotta perfect it.