Pom-Pom Gone Wrong

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This isn’t what it looks like. It’s a disheveled pom-pom that doesn’t quite look like a house. Okay, so it is what it looks like. Let me explain. I saw a tutorial for these adorable little house pom-poms over on the Mr Printables blog. Seemed like an awesome idea to make a few as Christmas ornaments. 

Before I committed myself to making 5+ of the things, I decided to whip one up as a test. The wrapping diagrams were pretty easy to follow and the step-by-step photos answered the rest of my questions. Once the pom-pom form was loaded with yarn, out came the scissors. The resulting pom-pom looked nothing like a house. Since I spent at least 10 minutes cutting the thing open, it was abundantly clear that my scissors just weren’t sharp enough to trim it to shape. So, I cut my loses and chucked it across the room. It doesn’t make much of a house but it does make a cushy projectile. 

With the right yarn, sharp scissors, and some practice, I think these pom-poms would actually look like a house. When I have all 3 of those things and a complete lack of mailing deadlines, I’ll try again. 

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Occasionally, I can see the house that it was supposed to be but, most of the time, all I see is a balding cyclops.

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What did work surprisingly well was the DIY pom-pom maker also from Mr Printables. I cut it out from a cardboard box and held everything together with rubber bands instead of alligator clips. If you can’t get your hands on an actual pom-pom maker, this version will definitely work in a pinch.  

Mistakes Were Made

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Normally, this is where I would wax poetic about knitting with your own handspun. I’d talk about the spinning, the plying, the joy of custom yarn, the yada, yada, yada. Along with this ode would be a series of teasing photos which would show color and stitches but leave the project to the imagination. After all, I did pull the pattern from my imagination so the details have to remain hidden for the time being.  

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I’d love to leave you with this photo of colorful garter stitch but it just isn’t meant to be. Instead, I’ll leave you with this pile of ripped yarn. Can’t be helped. Mistakes and ripping come hand in hand when writing knitting patterns. There is good news though. The yarn handled ripping well and I’m back to knitting it up. Might just have a finished pattern and a new shawl soon despite my mistakes. 

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How to Not Skein Yarn

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Desperate times came for desperate measures, my friends. There I was with my finally plied Tour de Fleece yarn ready and waiting for its bath. Unfortunately, my swift didn’t make into the car for the cross country trip (too big) and  my niddy-noddy, which I meant to bring, didn’t either. Both might as well be in another dimension right now. With my swift I could have easily wound it up in a skein, see this tutorial. Same with the niddy-noddy. So, I went looking for alternatives.

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Say hello to Allie, my new bike. The handlebars seemed like the perfect thing to wrap fresh yarn around. Alas, this was not the case though that wasn’t apparent until much later.

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I put the spindle into the front basket for easy yarn dispersal and got to work. It didn’t take me too long to empty the spindle and tie off the skein. 

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Now that it was time to take the yarn off the handlebars, things went south. See, the handlebars don’t go straight back but angle to the side . I had hoped that if I wound loosely, getting the skein off the handles would be pretty easy. Nope. I had to slide the skein off a few too tight strands at a time.  Nothing snapped, thankfully. Just for good measure, add in a few too long stands that accidentally got wrapped around the break grip too. The skein was a mess.

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A more patient person would have re-skeined the yarn around something else but I was not feeling particularly patient. There was yarn to wash! and, adding insult to injury, I had to first wash dishes to free up the sink. I had no patience to spare after doing the dishes. So, the yarn got its bath and I got the pleasure of thwacking it afterward. 

Now that the yarn is dry, I’m not sure I did the right thing. The accidentally too long strands are still kinked and curling on themselves. Looks like the yarn wasn’t properly finished the whole skein through. At least I know I managed to spin a nice fingering weight, which was my goal, instead of a lace weight. With today’s bolstered patience reserves, I’m going to re-skein the yarn but not around the bike’s handlebars. I’m going to do what I should have done yesterday and wrap the yarn around an upturned laundry basket.  Wish me luck.

 

To Frog, or not to frog

To frog, or not to frog--that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The knits and purls of tedious ribbing

Or to take needles from a pair of tiresome socks

And by ripping, end them. *

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That’s the rub, folks. Should I just suck it up and keep knitting this pair of socks or rip them out and use the yarn for something else? Here’s a little background to help out:

  • I started knitting these socks on my trip to Denver but didn’t get much further than a toe and a few rows of ribbing. So, it’s hard to call them souvenirs. The only thing I remember about Denver when looking at them is waiting for busses that didn’t always arrive. 
  • I’m not all that fond of the yarn, either. The colors are nice but the yarn itself is kind of scratchy. I’ve made socks from this yarn before but they’re not my first, or even second choice, when I’m picking out a pair to wear for the day. 
  • I’ve already come up with some alternate projects for the yarn. It could turn into an i-cord garland, pom-poms, a temari ball, or some sort of crochet goodness. 
  • I have put a bit of work into them. The original plan was to knit tubes and add afterthought heels. One sock is past the heel point and on the cuff. The other sock still has a few inches before it’s time to mark the heel. 

Sounds like I’ve already made up my mind to rip out these socks but, even knowing I probably won’t finish them, I’m having a hard time committing to ripping. Help! 

* I couldn’t resist writing a short parody of Hamlet’s soliloquy.  Check out Shakespeare’s original version at Wikipedia.

Adventure!

I’m in Atlanta this weekend to go on the great, geeky, sci-fi adventure that is DragonCon. The pre-pre-parties last night were a awesome start. I dressed up and headed out for a night on the town with The Bearded One and friends. Of course, I brought knitting - the in progress Cotty Socks - because my hands care not if I’m sitting at my desk or in a bar. The fingers get bored even if the conversation is interesting. So, I knit and bound off even though I was certain that I’d be ripping it out in the day time. 

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The pattern, which is written from the cuff down, starts with a picot edge; however, I’m knitting up from the toe and have absolutely no interest in making or wearing a picot edge. I decided to improvise the last few inches of the cuff by knitting 5 repeats of the lace chart, 1 row of 1x1 rib and finishing every thing off with Jenny’s Super Stretchy Bind Off. Not one of my better ideas. I’m blaming the Gin Gin Mule. The top edge, while stretchy, rolls and doesn’t look all that great. 

I knew the edge probably wasn’t going to work but I did it anyway because it was something to keep my hands busy. Something to knit for the sake of knitting. Usually, I can hold off and wait but I really wanted to finish this sock. What if my crazy idea worked? No such luck there. If you’re out and about, do you stop knitting if you don’t know how it will turn out or do you chug along and rip out the problem later?

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In a few days I’ll rip out that sock and make everything right but, in the mean time, I need sock knitting for standing in line at DragonCon. A simple rib and self-striping yarn will do the job just fine.

Itchy

At first, I thought the red, itchy bumps covering my skin was an annoying case of poison ivy. This was bit odd since I hadn’t pulled any from the flower beds. What I did pull was up a lot of was Sumac. I can very distinctly remember thinking, “I have no idea what this is but what pretty flowers. Shame I have to pull it.” 5 days worth of insane itching later, I no longer agree with that statement. Just in case you don’t know what Sumac looks like either: photos and info. End PSA.

When the bumps were poison ivy, I tried cortisone cream and a flour paste. Both of these things helped but the itching persisted. When the bumps were upgraded to Sumac, I caved in and went to the doctor for a cortisone shot. Should have done that 5 days ago. It’s barely been a day and the itching is almost gone. I also came home with oatmeal soap and oatmeal bath soak. Just in case.

During those 5 itchy days I did everything I could to keep my mind occupied and my hands busy: playing Hoard, knitting secret things, deciding which book to read, even folding laundry. Anything to keep myself from scratching. So, I decided to work on one of my goals for this year explore different crafts. On that list is Kumihimo, or japanese braiding. It’s perfect since it keeps my hands occupied without being too complicated. Like knitting, it’s a simple set of movements that are easy to memorize and allows for great variety with a little practice. There’s also a meditative quality I rather like. Kind of like garter stitch. Also, I can watch Netflix at the same time.

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So, this is Kumihimo and what I’ve been staring at since early June: a loom, 4 skeins of embroidery floss, and bobbins. When the mood struck or it was too hot to knit, I’d pick this up and add an inch or two. 45” later I was ready to tie it off.

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When I bought the floss, I just liked the color combination and wanted to braid until I used it all up. After a few inches I liked it enough to wear. I ended up back at the store for crimps and a barrel clasp. The finished piece has become a necklace, a choker, a bracelet, and an anklet. Since it’s braided so densely, it has a nice structural quality and it seems like there’s a thin piece of wire inside. I am utterly smitten.

My photography assistant. I think he tries to look evil in every photo I take.

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Eventually, he got bored. You know, when I stopped petting him. 

You’re still here?

Before, After

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Before

After

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4 stitches. That’s the difference between a snug, well fitting sock and a baggy mess. I ignored this fact for 3 weeks or a foot, a gusset, a heel, and 4” of cuff. For a brief moment, I half-heartedly considered finishing the sock. Though, what’s the point in knitting an ill-fitting pair of socks? So, I ripped it all out.* Didn’t even bother to save the toe and stick it back on the needles. I’m over the whole thing. The yarn and the pattern are going into time out. Eventually, I’ll pull them back out. Not any time soon though.

So, no pair of socks for February. My year of socks isn’t looking so good; however, I’m going to enjoy my sock knitting sabbatical and knit something else instead. A freeing thought actually. 

*But only after a good night’s sleep. It took the sting out of the whole affair. The night before, ripping would have been aggravating and demotivating instead of necessary and right.

RIP

...one of my favorite sock knitting DPN's, a 2.25mm Harmony.

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I'm sorry I rolled over you with my chair - several times - before I realized you had decided to roll off my desk. I'm also sorry that I thought that cracking sound meant something was wrong with my chair. Really, I am.

Your absence will be felt whenever I turn the heel of sock and don't have you to hold my middle stitches. At least you won't be alone since I snapped one of your brethren in my purse a few years back.

Good bye, my trusty friend. I hardly knew ye.

A Hitch

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A couple days ago I was feeling rather pleased with myself. I had finished the first bit of gift knitting and was ready to start the next project. Late one night I wound all the yarn, 2 skeins of Noro Kochoran,  and cast on for the Oscilloscope Shawl from the Fall 2010 KnitScene. When I went to bed, things were going well. It wasn't until Knit Night and a full repeat later that I began to have doubts. Singularly, the yarn and the pattern were beautiful. Together, not so much. The yarn was so fuzzy that it obscured all the details in the pattern. Plus, after 30 mins of knitting, it looked like a big, white cat had decided to wallow on my clothes. Not a look that I generally go for. So, after a few minutes of hesitation, I ripped everything out. It took quite a bit longer to get all the angora off of my clothes.

Now, I'm not sure what to do. Should I knit a different shawl with the yarn? Should I even use the yarn at all? Should I just knit a nice pair of fingerless mitts and be done with the whole thing?

Pretty Things

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I like pretty things, beautiful things, and elegant things; however, I also like useful things. A useful object doesn't have to be pretty but a pretty object does has to be useful. So when I realized these socks were too small, they were turned back into yarn (pretty and useful). After all, pretty socks won't do you much good if you can't wear them.

Sayonara, Konnichiwa

Last week, I gave my somewhat felted socks a bath and put them on some sock blockers in hopes of stretching them out. The plan didn't work. My beloved socks are still too small for me; however, they fit my mom perfectly.

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While the socks were drying, I started looking at patterns just in case things didn't work out. I even pulled out a skein of ruby red Cascade 220, just in case. I fell in love with the Cable Rolling Socks by Mari Muinonen but one skein wouldn't be enough. Luckily though, I recently acquired Knitted Socks East and West which has several worsted sock patterns that I like and have the yarn for. Course, now I can't decide between: KonnichiwaKabuki, or Inro. Any suggestions? I promise this pair won't end up in the dryer.  Ever.

Laundry Woes

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Last weekend was finally the time for me to wash my hand knit socks since most of them were sitting in the laundry basket. I'd rather be wearing them so I broke out the Soak and started with the hand washing. The process was going quite well until it came time to dry 7 pairs of socks. Not only would they have taken far too long to dry out, I didn't have anywhere to put all them for that long. So, instead of letting them hang dry, I decided to send them through the dryer on the air only cycle. Instead, they went through on hot and it was entirely my fault.

The aftermath wasn't as bad as I feared since all put one pair came out unscathed. At the height of their glory, these poor socks were quite comfy and one of my favorite pairs. Now, they're partially felted and a bit on the small side; however, I'm not letting them go without a fight. Today they got a bath and have been stretched over a pair of newly acquired sock blockers. I really hope this works but, if it doesn't, at least my mom will get to enjoy another pair of hand knit socks.

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