I Heart Flax and Tin Can Knits

I just wanted to post about the Flax Sweater pattern and the Let’s Knit a Sweater tutorial by Tin Can Knits. This is the first wool sweater I’ve gotten so far on in knitting. I’m currently on the cusp of separating the sleeves and body stitches.

This is a fun knit. This is not a difficult knit. This is also a versatile knit. In short, I love it very much. I’m already making plans for knitting other sweaters for my mother, boyfriend (I know…), and others as well as more for myself. I am completely enamored with this pattern and plan on making it my “go to” pattern for sweater gifts.

 

Well, since I’m sick and have nothing else occupying my day, I might as well get back to knitting.

 

Until the next time, have a safe and fantastic journey around the Sun. Take care, my friends.Rolling on the floor laughingRed heartRainbow

Ugh, My Memory…

When I first learned to knit in 2006, I was clueless about every aspect of the crafting world. I didn’t know who was who or what was what. So, I signed up for a class at the Catonsville Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library system to expand my skills.

When 20 June rolled around, I was frightened but determined as I sat in the Library waiting for access to the meeting room where the class was to take place. The starting time finally came. Panicking the whole time, I took my Susan Bates #8 straight needles and pounder of black Caron yarn and followed everyone else to the makeshift classroom.

We were, apparently, going to be instructed on the fundamentals of knitting by a famous knitting person and her three volunteer helpers from the local yarn store. I must admit, it was quite intimidating seeing one of the volunteers do what I now know to be knitted cast on so quickly. With a quickness that belied physics, she casted on enough stitches to make a scarf.

I digress. Anyway…

Once we were all settled in, we began the lesson by casting on. Famous Knitting Woman went to show us how to do a cast on row but there was a knot in her yarn. That’s when my special talent finally came to the fore. I can usually get the near impossible knots out of things. Faster than she could get the scissors, I had the knot loosened.

From there, the lesson began. She demonstrated Backward loop cast on, Longtail cast on, and Knitted cast on. Knowing nothing, I was struggling from the start but managed a rather tight Backwards loop cast on before switching to a more difficult to knit but stable Knitted cast on.

The entire time I was learning, I never got the name of the woman teaching us. She had a few books out on the table and a few magazines, but I didn’t pay much attention beyond making a note to get them later to learn from. Dense as I am, I might have made the connection that the books and patterns in the magazines were all by the same person.

After two hours, the lesson was over and the class drew to a close. I walked through the darkened streets of Catonsville on my way to the bus that would take me home. The moment I got home, I promptly forgot everything, absolutely everything, I learned. It took me until the beginning of August before I was able to successfully make a scarf. The thing I had started that night became a sort of weird sleeping cap due to my accidentally adding stitches to every row.

Over the years, now decade, I have kicked myself for not remembering the name of the Famous Knitting Woman. I’ve a great memory for faces but I’m terrible with putting the face to a name. For a while I thought her last name was “Knight” but I just had a memory jog. It was Nicky Epstein. Like a flood, all the memories came back into my head of the book titles.

So, for what it’s worth, wherever you are, thank you and the three volunteer knitting teachers for the knitting lesson. I can honestly say that it has changed my life for the better.

Fostering Positivity

The few of you who know me personally are well aware that I am often brooding to the point that Eeyore would have something to say to me in response to my mood. Comparisons have been made to some cartoon from the 90s called ‘Daria’ as well as a host of other comments.

 

Thanks to the intervention of QueerJoe’s blogpost, I’ve decided to do something about it. I am going to dedicate myself to fostering positivity in the world. Wherever I can and whenever I can, I am going to do good works for the sake of doing good. It’s my hope that this Positivity web/chain/whatever that started with QueerJoe expands outward and encompasses as many people as are willing to participate. I hope that there are a lot of people willing to join in on the fun.

 

First, I am going to dive into all these unfinished projects that have been accumulating dust on my desk recently. Not only is this not good for my asthma, it’s not good for my creativity, nor my allergies, nor my sanity. So, those are out of the way ASAP.

 

Next, I will do a vlog. This will be the first formal “sit down” vlog I’ve done in months. So many things have happened in my life between then and now. Hopefully, this video will be cathartic and just the right balance of entertaining with educational.

 

Positive news about the Maternal Parental: Her eyes are in magnificent condition right now. The surgery site healed well and her glaucoma is under control with the aid of medications. She’ll be fitted for glasses within a few weeks.

 

Tonight will be a night of reveling in movies. I’ve got Demolition Man, Dragonslayer and The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses. Last night was Priest and Legion. Hopefully, I can overcome my shyness to actually talk about some of these movies and shows I look at in greater detail.

 

About the only other things happening right now are three burgeoning friendships and the rise of the Mega Cherry Tomatoes in the Aerogarden of Serendipity. The Sweet Pickle Organic Peppers died due to my overzealous application of Neem.

 

That’s all. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic day, Everyone!

How I Lost My Fear of Crafting, Part Two

Note: There was no prompt for me to post this today. I just felt like it. Call it me getting ahead of the assignments, if you will. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do all the daily prompts in addition to the Writing 101 prompts with no problems. Anyway, back to the story.

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One day, around the time of my twenty-fifth birthday, I decided I must learn to knit. By then, we had moved into a stable neighborhood and I was mentally stable even if still ragged around the psychological edges. I had come a long way from near complete mental breakdown up to this point and I was determined to treat myself with a self obtained accomplishment. Knitting was to be this accomplishment even if I had to bleed for it.

 

So, taking my meager savings, I bought a pounder skein of black yarn from Amazon along with the cheapest straight needles I could find. I ended up with a pound of Caron’s One Pound Yarn and a pair of 10” size 8 Susan Bates knitting needles. I was overjoyed to finally have the implements of knitting but I didn’t know the first thing about how to knit. I searched high and low on the internet but to no avail. This was 2006 after all. There was nothing there excepting a few sites and a few videos online.

 

Not having luck with searching online, I decided to go to the library website to see if they had any materials related to knitting. Wow, am I ever glad I did. They not only had materials relating to knitting but they also had an upcoming class at the Catonsville Library being taught by a famous knitting woman. I had no clue who she was but the words “Free Knitting Class” had me rushing to register. Lucky for me, there was still room in the class for a few more people. I was given the requirements for the class as well as the date and time to show up at the Library.

 

I showed up at the appointed time in the neighborhood I was barely familiar with. I was about twenty minutes early, so I spent my time fiddling with my needles and yarn while waiting for class to begin. Once I got the all clear to go to the classroom, off I went to my first lesson with sweaty palms and a leaping frog in my stomach.

 

The class was comprised of all women of varying ages and backgrounds all there for a single purpose: To Knit. One of the Library staff was there to introduce the Famous Knitting Woman whose name I cannot recall beyond “Knight” as her surname. In addition to Famous Knitting Woman, there were three teaching assistants who did most of the teaching.

 

Once everyone had been introduced, class was started. There was a knot in a skein of yarn being use for demonstration purposes and I was given an opportunity to show my party trick of getting near impossible knots out of bits of string. Famous Knitting Woman had gone to retrieve the scissors and before she could make it across the room, I had already gotten the knot out. She could hardly believe her eyes. I just shrugged and said that it was my talent before getting self conscious.

 

The class went well and, after the last two students (a mother and young daughter) showed up, we all settled into casting on the initial stitches. I was so nervous about dropping my needles that I held on for dear life and casted on stitches so tightly, they could scarcely be pierced. After a few tries, I managed to cast on reasonably loose stitches via the Long Tail Cast On and began attempting to knit. Famous Knitting Woman saw how I was knitting with the stitches far from the point and suggested I move them up to the very tip to aid in my knitting becoming speedier. However, I was so nervous, I kept dropping stitches and eventually fell into a habit of keeping them back which has stayed with me even up to today.

 

Soon, the class was coming to its end and Famous Knitting Woman made suggestions of things we should buy, books we should read and tools we should consider acquiring to aid in our progress as knitters. By then, it was dark and, after saying goodbye to everyone, I walked back to the dark bus stop in a daze that I had finally learned something of the basics of knitting. However, on getting home, I began doing something wrong and I knew it but didn’t know how to fix the error. It would be from 20 June 2006 until 6 August 2006 until I finally found a fix for my problem.

 

All during the Summer, I focused on reading knitting books and practicing by knitting on “the Object” until my hands bled. I’m not kidding, my hands got blisters and bled from the amount of practice I got in on those needles and yarn. Yet, try as I might, nothing I did seemed to fix the problem of the extra stitch. I didn’t know what I was doing but, for some reason, I went from ten stitches to eleven and onwards until I had an unwieldy project sitting on my aluminium needles. Still, I kept at it even as my hands bled and my eyes turned bloodshot from so many hours of staring at the same project. I didn’t give up.

 

One day in August, we got a call that my Maternal Grandfather was in the hospital. Apparently, my uncle from my Grandfather’s second marriage contacted the family via my aunt. We were invited to a cookout to give the family a chance to know each other. Less than one week later, my Grandfather was dead from his illness. The stress of having to deal with so much during that time drove me to escape into the world of knitting.

 

Giving up on “the Object”, I searched high and low on the Internet again until I came across the KnittingHelp website. Amy Finlay’s videos quite literally kept me sane as I learned to properly knit for the first time since June. I practiced throughout the night until the morning of the Wake. Once we were at the funeral home, I retreated further into my knitting and managed a pretty decent looking beginner’s scarf. For the first time, but not the last time, knitting kept me from blowing my top at an inappropriate moment.

 

Part Three, the final installment comes tomorrow. Rolling on the floor laughingRed heartRainbow

How I Lost My Fear of Crafting, Part One

From the age of three, I have wanted to knit and crochet. When I was very young, the Maternal Parental was friends with a woman who put the “fun” in dysfunctional. In that friendship, came friendship with her three sisters and brother. One was just slightly dysfunctional while the other two were, for all intents and purposes, seemingly normal as was the brother. Slightly Dysfunctional Sister had three daughters, two of which were dysfunctional and one who was quiet and seemingly normal as well. It’s from her that I first witnessed the crafts of Knitting and Crocheting.

 

One day, while avoiding being bullied by the other two daughters, I came across Sane Daughter in her room doing something with a hook. Not understanding what she was doing, I quietly observed her as she used her metal stick and jabbed it into an ever growing piece of fabric. As it turned out, she was crocheting a blanket using what must have been a G hook but I didn’t know this at three years old. Seeing this happen was like magic to me and I watched her until I was called by the Maternal Parental so we could go home. From that moment on, I wanted to learn what Sane Daughter was doing.

 

Another time, I came across her using two metal sticks connected to a wire (this was the early 1980s) to make what looked to be a little sweater. Again, I was transfixed by what I saw and, for her part, Sane Daughter wasn’t annoyed with my presence. So, she let me watch her create this tiny article of clothing until it was, again, time for me to leave for home. I liked Sane Daughter.

 

Time went on and the Maternal Parental eventually fell out with Super Dysfunctional Sister over the financing of a television. After that, we lost contact with the whole family. I wasn’t too broken up over that because Super Dysfunctional Sister and Slightly Dysfunctional Sister had a majority of my early childhood tormentors as children. I was only really friendly with Super Awesome Lesbian Sister’s and Super Awesome Quiet Brother’s kids. The rest, saving Sane Daughter, would tease and pick on me.

 

Lost with the friendship though was my only connection to someone who knew how to Knit and Crochet. I didn’t, nor did I want to, know anyone in my neighborhood who might be able to teach me. No one in my family, that I knew of, knew these strange crafts. I also had no resources on where and how I could learn these two things. It would be a mystery to me for almost a decade but it would be omnipresent in the back of my mind.

 

One day, while in the high school auditorium, I watched as a frenemy turned friend of mine focused all her attention on two metal sticks connected by a wire while creating material out of pink yarn. She was making a little toy and I was, again, transfixed by what I saw. I asked her what she was doing and she explained that she was knitting. The puzzled look on my face caused her to follow her question up with another asking whether I had ever seen someone knit before. Not wanting to get into the entire history of Dysfunctional Family, I only nodded and watched as she continued knitting her toy.

 

By then, I had a name for one of the tasks I wanted to learn. Knitting was on my mind from that moment onward. I couldn’t learn it from school because they had rules against us having sharp objects without adult supervision. So, I kept it in the back of my mind until such time as I was able to follow through on my goal of learning how to do it. It would take me nine years before I first had a chance to hold knitting needles. By this point, I was twenty-five years old and in mortal terror of making the attempt at learning to knit. Thus began my fear of knitting but also my conquering of that fear.

 

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two! Rolling on the floor laughingRed heartRainbow

Finished Valerie’s Hobbes Doll

This completion time is a new record for me. I started working on it on the 12th of February and completed it on the 15th of February.

 

The result of my efforts may be seen below.

 

 

During this endeavor, I’ve discovered just how quickly I can crochet when motivated. I’ve also rekindled my Kurgan crush. I spent a good portion of the making of this doll watching Highlander fan videos featuring The Original Kurgan. *hides head in shame*

 

Anyway…

 

For my next project, I’m going to be working on Kathleen’s other doily. This particular doily is called the Coffee Table Topper and I’ve done the pattern before. So, it shouldn’t take me so long to do. An example of my past work is posted below.

 

 

The last time I did this doily in a short amount of time, it took me from 11 April 2014 until 15 April 2014 to complete it. I’m hoping to beat that time. No real reason as to why I want to do it quicker beyond wanting to challenge myself.

 

After I complete this project, I’m going to bust out Bruce’s gloves once and for all before doing the black Cosmos Doilies. Then, I’m going to work on socks for myself and the Maternal Parental. This will be the second time I’ve attempted four socks at a time and I’m pretty nervous about trying but if Melissa Morgan-Oakes can do three at a time with no problems, I’m sure I can do four with some considerable effort.

 

 

Lucky for me, the Maternal Parental and I are about the same shoe size give or take half an inch. I can size them for me and, through the magic of the washing machine, they can shrink to her size. The Maternal Parental wants green socks, so I’m making hers using Lion Brand’s Sock-ease in the colorway Green Apple. This will be the first socks I make exclusively for her that are in sock weight yarn. The only socks I made for her thus far have been in worsted/aran weight.

 

For myself, I’m going to restart Sunshine using Knit Picks Stroll Tonal Sock Yarn I saved from my own enthusiastic stupidity. Without thinking, I wound most of my sock yarn into center pull cakes…double stranded…and thought I was okay. Well, I wasn’t okay. As it turns out…this little thing called Static Electricity also applies to me. I’m not as special as I thought I was. I started unwinding the first center pull skein and I watched, horrified, as my reasonably priced, yet still expensive, yarn began sticking and tangling up the more I pulled it out.

 

So yeah. Most of my sock yarn is like this now but there’s a workaround that I think will work. I’m going to use the outer end and let it roll around in a bowl or two while I knit. It should negate the effects somewhat. Incidentally, the colorway I’m using is Springtime, which is one of the yarns I painstakingly untangled before my mind finally grasped that I could just feed the yarn into my projects from the outside of the cake. I thought, with this cold and snowy weather we’re having in the North American East that it was inappropriate enough to warrant a few chuckles. 

 

Now, for the work. I’m going to go get cracking on Kathleen’s doily. It won’t get done unless I do it.

 

Later, Earthlings! Rolling on the floor laughingRed heartRainbow

Unbelievable!

Would you believe my schedule of going out by myself is getting so busy that I need an itinerary? You see, I’m expecting packages over the next few weeks and the Maternal Parental can’t make the distances I want to travel. So, she’s staying at home to wait for the packages while I go out there to make these appointments. We’re not talking interstate or international travel mind you…yet. We’re talking mainly both city and county and, this one is a long time in the coming, Bethesda. I haven’t been there in years.

Darn agoraphobia.

Well, hopefully, I won’t freak out on any of these upcoming occasions. DC/Bethesda is a long way away. Yet, I have to try for my own good. If I can survive Baltimore City, then surely I can survive DC and Bethesda. Right? There’s that nervous feeling again. The traveling aspect is not right upon me, so there’s no numbness this time. Just a blind panic felt deeply in my core. All I can do right now is breathe deeply and try not to hyperventilate.

A few days ago, I repotted some plants. It feels so weird in my room with everything shifted around. My four foot tall Snakeplant is currently downstairs recovering but, tomorrow, I will bring it back up here and put in on The Rolling Stand in its new permanent location. Since the plastic container Coleus cuttings were done flowering, I threw that away. I may keep the potted Coleus to see how long it will survive once they’ve all flowered. Still waiting on the Geraniums to bloom. The Lemongrass is growing like crazy. I had to hack my cousin’s and my own Aloe Vera up as it was all in danger of tipping over. The orange trees, spider plant, African violet and pineapples are all doing well too.

Not to sound like an echo, but I’m finishing the Windows for my friends scarf for Ari tonight. I was sick yesterday and the early part of today and too tired from potting plants the day before. I have no excuses now as I’m feeling better, haven’t traveled anywhere and haven’t done much today besides throw up. 😀

So, it’s getting done to music. Specifically, Tori Amos, The Decemberists and various others. Yay.

By the way, I will be making these socks. I’ve long wanted to work with this yarn and the pattern displays it so brilliantly. It’s a truly good match of pattern and yarn.

The cool blog for today belongs to my newest Ravelry friend. I’m a complete loon and go around randomly friending people regardless of familiarity. If they seem cool and they have a great profile, I’ll generally friend them. Anyway, this is the blog of my newest friend. It’s called Eat, Knit, Love… and it’s pretty awesome.

Okay, that’s enough rambling. Later! 🙂