Tuesday, January 29, 2013

[Mis]Adventures with Lace

Last night I cast on my fifth project using lace weight yarn.  This would be a great thing if I could claim that I have produced four finished lace objects.  Alas, I have not.  Instead, I have four frogged lace objects.  Ah, lace.  So beautiful!  So delicate!  So incredibly frustrating…

Lovely Lace Weight
Several months ago, I bought four hanks of Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace.  I planned to use it to knit A Wisp of Warmth by Kay Meadors out of my Debbie Macomber book.  I started off with this book when I first learned to knit.  It’s a shawl that is knit in the round and starts on (dramatic pause)…DPNs.  You all know I only recently made friends with DPNs.  In fact, it was this very early attempt using lace weight yarn that initiated my hatred of them.  Needless to say, this project was frogged before it really got beyond the cast on.

After I recovered enough to stop screaming, I looked through bunches of patterns on Ravelry to find something to knit flat, thinking that might help.  I came across the Celtic Knot Stole by Sarah Kendra Hughes.  Gorgeous pattern.  Way beyond my depth at the time.  I did actually manage to complete a few rows, but once I started in earnest on the chart?  Well, let’s just say we went our separate ways.  This was back in August.  I’m still hoping I graduate to a level where I’m able to complete this though.  It is so pretty and I’m part Irish and part Scottish so I think it would be way cool.  Okay, that’s corny…

The third project I chose was the Summer Blooms Shawl by Susanna IC from the Interweave Knits, Summer 2012.  I even had the pretty beads it calls for on hand.  I bought a little steel crochet hook to do my beading and actually understood the chart instructions.  So I cast on the 417 stitches and thought I had it made.  Ahem.  The pattern called for an S2kp2:  slip two as if to k2tog, k1, and pass two slipped stitches over.  Got it.  Except at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, I couldn’t for the life of me get the two slipped stitches passed over without wrestling with it.  I even tried using my new crochet hook to catch the stitches and slip them over, but to no avail.  One stitch was loose enough to get under, the other was like, glued to the stinking needle, and I got perilously close to dropping half my stitches off the needles entirely.  I tried adjusting tension.  I tried different angles.  I tried begging and pleading.  I hadn’t improved any by the time I got to the repeats in the chart and decided that it would be next Christmas before I finished this thing if I had to struggle this hard with a stitch that repeats all over the blooming (pun intended) chart. 

The fourth cast on was just two days ago when I once again came back to my pretty pink lace yarn and thought, “Hey, I’ve made two hats on DPNs now so let’s try the Meadors pattern again!  Should be a breeze!”  And it might have been.  Except it’s still lace weight yarn.  And with a cast on of 9 with three stitches on each 7” long DPN, it kind of looked like I was trying to knit a Barbie hat with a size 13 needle.  And you know how when you join in the round, you’re not supposed to twist the stitches?  Um…I could barely see the stitches.  Project #4 redux – epic fail.

Which brings me back to my late night cast on yesterday.  I found a lovely and purportedly simple lace stole pattern:  Dancing Cranes Stole by Shui Kuen Kozinski and Benne Ferrell.  I managed to do the double-strand cable cast on the pattern requires – it only took forever.  I even got through two rows before I was exhausted enough to go to bed. 

And so, we shall see.  Perhaps this will be my first success story with lace.  I sure hope so.  I found a designer whose lace shawls I like a lot - Holly Chayes – and I would love to be able to knit some of her designs but I have got to get better at handling lace before I attempt something of hers.  Of course, this will all have to be worked around my progress on The Husband’s sweater.  I’m beginning to feel like a knitting adulterer when I work on another project.  You should have seen the look on his face when I picked up the pink lace yarn.  O_o

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Off The Road Again

Aaaaand, I’m back.  Was a quick trip to Florida and I loved seeing my aunt and my mom, but I sure am glad to be home (and back to my laptop)!  It seems like the older I get, the more fond I am of home.  Hope that’s not a bad thing.  I could be on the verge of dementia.  If I am, don’t tell me…

Traumatized Trixie
"You can't see me...you can't see me..."
Along with the homecoming always come things I need to catch up on.  I’ve been remarkably productive so far today.  Probably stems from the early bedtime last night after the 7+ hour drive.  I’ve dusted the furniture (I’m ignoring the floors today), started laundry, and The Husband and I managed to clip the dogs’ nails – a task that was sorely overdue.  My daughter has taken over this job for her own little doxie, but the other four remain for us to do.  Two of them, Daisy and Hildy, are no big deal.  No fuss, no muss, a few quick clips and they’re done.  A third, our long-haired male, Tigger, is a bit more work.  Not only does he not cherish having his nails clipped but because he’s a long-hair, his paws must be trimmed of excess fur.  He cherishes this trimming even less than the nail clipping.  The last time I trimmed his nails, I skipped clipping the fur (I don’t cherish it either), so this morning if you had looked at Tig’s feet, you really couldn’t have seen there were feet there.  It just kinda looked like he was walking around on unruly balls of fur.  We managed to get him cleaned up and clipped and then, last but not least, there’s Trixie.  While Tigger doesn’t cherish having his nails cut, Trixie is absolutely traumatized by the whole thing.  She refused to go outside where the trimming was taking place, so when it was her turn, The Husband had to go back inside to get her.  She then proceeded to pee all over herself as he carried her outdoors.  Poor thing.  It’s not like I’ve hurt her in the past while clipping; there are just certain things she doesn’t like AT ALL and this is one of them.  Less than a minute later, it was all done and she promptly ran back inside and to her “special” place.  It’s the same place she goes when I get out the dreaded monthly flea pill.  She runs under the kitchen table and sits against the wall under the stool.  It’s like she thinks she’s blending in and can’t be seen.  What a sad little dog.  I think she may eventually need therapy.

I DO have some GREAT news!  Remember I told you that my LYS was closing and that we were hoping for a buyer?  Well, someone bought it!  Yay!  It’s staying open, under a new name but under the same management (Lady L. et al).  This came just in time because it was scheduled to close at the end of February.  I can’t wait for Tuesday and knit night!  In the meantime…

I made some progress on the very nice but extremely tedious sweater for The Husband while I was gone. 

I was so excited that I’d finished my first project on DPNs (and so tired of the continual seed stitch above), that I cast on and finished another baby hat from a different pattern that actually includes two different hats that is aptly called Two Lace Baby Hats by Heather Tucker.  I made the fan lace hat:

I used Euro Baby Babe yarn, colorway 8.  The yarn is nice and soft but quite thin and I can’t seem to come up with anything else to do with what I have left.  I have the rest of the light green plus an entire skein of a sweet pink.  Any ideas?  Anyone?

What to do...what to do...

I mentioned to you before that I have one friend whose little girl is due any day now (official due date is Monday the 28th) and I know another dear couple expecting twins this summer who just found out they will have a little boy AND a little girl!  I will be knitting a lot of baby stuffs this year!  Yay! 

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Share your favorite baby knit project!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Where In The World...

Where've you been?? Oh wait, you're not the one that's been absent, it's been me. I meant to get a post up on Sunday but got caught up in making preparations for my trip. What trip? Glad you asked. My trip to Florida. I am currently in my jammies in one of the guest rooms in my favorite aunt's house (shhhh...don't spread that around - I have other aunts who don't know they're not my favorite). Aunt D. is the best. She also happens to live in Florida, which gives her double points because I don't have to go someplace cold in order to see her. Add to that the fact that my partially frozen mom in Ohio is fleeing the cold and snow and flying into Orlando tomorrow to spend several sunny and frostbite-free weeks here. Aunt D. and I will be waiting for her at the airport, assuming I don't get lost on the way there - a situation that has not happened previously, although I HAVE managed to get lost on the way BACK to Aunt D.'s from said airport. Stop laughing, you know you've taken a wrong turn at least once. Anyway, I'm only here for a few days, but I always enjoy my time at Aunt D.'s.

Of course, I brought my knitting and while I didn't make any progress today, I did manage to get some stuff accomplished in the last few. First, my little miracle baby hat is finished! Isn't it cute? I'm so happy that it actually turned out well and that I can now say I have finished a project on DPNs.

It's a bouncing baby girl hat!
Next, I have managed to add some inches to The Husband's sweater. I've made my way to the second color stripe. I think I may actually have this finished before the chilly season is over. Yay!
Incidentally, if the layout of this post is ridiculously off, I'm blaming my iPad. I didn't want to lug my laptop with me and this thing consistently gives me a hard time when inserting photos into my blog posts. You have my sincerest apologies. I also apologize for the pictures once again. I thought I was being smart by bringing The Husband's nice camera with me until I realized half way here that without my laptop, I have no way to actually get the photos off of the memory card. So, yeah. I'm a dork.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Breaking News

I have two exciting developments to share with you today!  Are you excited?  I knew you would be!

First, I’ll show you a picture of The Husband’s sweater, a post-Christmas WIP:

What’s so exciting about that?  Not much really, I’ve just finished the bottom ribbing and begun the long process of knitting up the body in what the pattern refers to as “double seed stitch” which has caused me to decide that this sweater will take one day longer than forever to finish since nearly the entire thing is done in that stitch.  “Oh seed stitch, why must you look so nice but be such a pain?”  But look closely at the picture.  You see that bright line cutting across the upper right portion of the photo?  Do you know what that is? 


Yes, that’s right, I’m this excited over sunshine!  Why, you ask?  Because in the normally sunny South where I live, we have endured over a week of gray skies and gloomy weather.  Weather that had not only sapped any hint of productivity and motivation out of me, but weather that tends to make me at best, extremely grumpy, and at worst, homicidal.  But not today!!  Today the glorious sunshine has returned!  This is not only good news for me personally, but also for anyone who has to deal with me on a regular basis and who may or may not be in therapy due to their interactions with me this last week.  Hurray!

The second development is an actual knitting miracle.  Here, look what I did:

It's a *sniff* knitting miracle!

This, dear knitty friends, is the start of an actual baby hat and it’s on…you guessed it…DPNs!!!  I know, I know!  I previously swore to you all that DPNs were of the devil but I have re-evaluated my stance on them.  Having obtained some DPNs made from wood and some made from bamboo, and having given them another chance, I discovered that only metal DPNs (the type I initially tried) are of the devil.  Seriously, I can’t believe the difference it made to work with non-metal DPNs.  I normally prefer metal needles – LOVE my Addi Turbo Clicks – but for DPNs, metal is a bad, bad thing (picture an hour spent with yarn constantly slipping off the needles before any actual knitting took place).  Okay, I suppose if you’re one of the seven knitting wonders of the world, metal DPNs are a walk in the park but for me, not so much.  So I am absolutely thrilled that I gave them another chance, thanks in part to Marilyn from the shop and Kristie, my blogging friend – you ladies inspire me!  And since I have so many tiny little baby things in my queue to knit, I am ready!  Bring. It. On.

The hat pattern I’m cutting my DPN teeth on is called Baby Hat in Little Basketweave by Lenore English.  It looked simple but still cute and while I don’t have the multi-colored yarn she used in the pattern picture, I am using Sirdar Snuggly DK which is kinda tweedy/speckled (whatever you call it), as you can see, and is going to look adorable.  I’d have made more progress on it but when The Husband returned home from work yesterday he commented with just a slight hint of sarcasm that it didn’t appear that I was working on his sweater.  Such pressure…

Have a happy, sunny, yarny day!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Final Reveal

This morning I’m sitting on my sofa with my laptop on my lap (of all places).  I find I have developed a real love/hate relationship with my iPad so no typing on it today.  Yes, you read the first sentence right.  I have a laptop which implies mobility, yes?  So the too-high desk should have never been an issue, right?  Well, it wouldn’t be except since my laptop is gettin’ kinda old (at least 75 in technology years), the battery only lasts around 10 minutes on a good day so wherever my laptop goes, my power cord has to go as well.  In order to reach my power cord, I have to crawl on the floor under the too-high desk to find my power cord and disentangle it from the hazardous mass of other cords lying around with the leafy dust bunnies (how DO the leaves get behind the desk??).  I don’t like crawling on the floor for anything unless it’s for a better look at the yarn on the bottom shelf at my LYS, but since I’m not speaking to my iPad at the moment, I decided I was desperate enough to go for a little crawl today.  Since I’m sure I know how appreciative you are right now of my rambling on for a paragraph about this, I shall offer my apologies and move on.

Last night was the final reveal of the last four of my Christmas knitting projects!  Yay!  Each gift seemed to be received with much appreciation, which is always a relief when you’ve spent so much time on a hand knit item.  In fact, I was overjoyed this morning to get a text from one of my friends telling me she was wearing her sweater to work today and really loves it.  Double yay!  So, here’s the lowdown:

DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT a photographer.  I repeat, I am NOT a photographer as is evidenced in the photos below.  The photography class I wanted to take is only offered on a day of the week when I can’t go.  I am to be pitied rather than ridiculed…

Verna really is an adorable person!
This sweater is Vodka Lemonade by Thea Colman.  I had a lot of fun with this sweater except for running out of yarn (see the post about my breakdown here).  Thankfully, Lady L. came to the rescue with some extra skeins of Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool DK in colorway #7, which you’ve probably figured out by now that I like working with a LOT.  I love this design and it was perfect for my friend, Verna.  I’ve cut Verna’s head off of the photo, not because she’s scary looking (she’s actually a lovely lady), but because she has her eyes closed in this shot (see above disclaimer) and she’d probably not appreciate my posting it.  This was actually the fourth sweater I completed for Christmas.

Keeping Jan toasty!

The next sweater is the second Iced sweater by Carol Feller I’ve done.  I plan on doing a third for me, myself, and I.  Love this pattern and how quickly it knits up.  Jan is often cold, like me, and so this sweater is awesomely warm.  It looks a little weird in the photo (did I mention the disclaimer?), but that’s because not only can I not work the camera very well, but I am also lousy at arranging my subject.  Sigh…  The yarn I used is KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Bulky (same as Iced #1) in colorway #6414, which is a really nice yarn to work with, although I’ll be using a different yarn from my stash for the one I make for myself. 

You can barely see the lace columns
The third sweater is the one I just completed the night before our belated Christmas gathering.  It is another pattern by Thea Colman, Nantucket Red.  I used the Sublime EFMW DK again in colorway #19.  It actually looks really good on Connie and you can see that even though my picture is what it is.  Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy knitting this pattern as much as the other Colman pattern.  Everything was golden, even the seaming, until I got to the neck shaping.  It was just a little weird and left me with some spaces to pull together, plus the instructions for the neckline didn’t make any sense to me, although that might be due to my having stayed up way too late several nights in a row to finish this.  Anyhoo, it came out okay.  I was a little disappointed with the  lace columns, as they didn’t end up as defined as I’d have liked them to be but I think that’s because of the rush to get this done.  I didn’t have time for a proper wet-block and the steam just didn’t cut it.

Finally finished!
And last but not least is the “never-ending Christmas blanket” I knit for my friend Brian (he’s not the sweater type).  I think he’d probably be mortified if I put his picture up on a knitting blog, so I'll use a picture of the blanket sans Brian.  Although this was a royal pain in my backside that took forever, it came out beautifully.  Brian has children, so I used an acrylic - Caron’s Simply Soft in Off White and Autumn Red.  The design (if you can actually say it was a design) was my own.  Too bad I love the look of seed stitch so much or this thing might have been finished ages ago.  I started this a week before Thanksgiving and didn’t finish it until January 5th.  I told Brian that it is doubly special because it is the first and last blanket I’ll ever knit. 

So there you have it.  All my Christmas knitting is finally done until I start for next Christmas, which may be next week if I want to avoid the stress I had knitting 7 sweaters and a blanket in such a short time-period.  I didn’t start any of it until September 7th.  I chalk it up to the complete naiveté of a rookie knitter.  Meh…knit, live, and learn. 

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Monday, January 14, 2013

A Carpet of Leaves

I'm sitting here in my ugly grey NON-hand knitted sweater (I'm actually missing the 90-degree heat of summer), waiting on my overly-processed, totally bad-for-me, can of preservative-laden junk I will be eating for lunch today to cool off enough to eat without 2nd degree burns.  I'm also watching The Chew on TV and wishing one of the chefs would come and personally cook me a lunch that won't kill me.  I'm parked in the living room on the sofa and in front of the TV (is there any other way to eat lunch by yourself?), and I'm typing this on my iPad.  While I do have a little Bluetooth keyboard to use with it, typing on this thing drives me nuts.  However, since my doctor said last week that my desk was too high and was causing my headaches and since I don't have a booster seat handy to correct my typing posture, this will have to do. 

The view from my too-high desk
I've just gotten up for the 10th time today to let in a smelly, leaf-laden dachshund.  I've written before about the issue of leaves constantly entering my home attached to a long-haired, short-legged dog, so today I decided to share the joy with you via a few pictures of said leaves.  I live in the American South and so there are always leaves on the oak trees, but leaves do have a life cycle and the result of this is a bunch of raking to be done every year like everyone else living with trees around.  I think this stinks since we don't have the beautiful fall colors we had in Ohio which at least left a wonderful memory as we cleaned the yard mess up there.  Here, they pretty much just turn brown and fall of the tree, replaced immediately by the new leaves.  Would raking the yard eliminate the indoor leaf problem?  Yes.  Is this knowledge enough to make me go outside and rake?  No.  Maybe by spring. And maybe not.

"We didn't do it."

"Nope, wasn't me either."

Where's the stupid tool to draw a straight line??

Knitting?  Glad you asked.  Sweater #7 is mercifully D.O.N.E. (albeit not without some bumps but that story will wait until tomorrow).  Tonight is D-Day for revealing these gifts to those for whom I knit them, so pictures will follow. 

For now, I must be "leafing" you... (moans)  :D

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Tango, Schmango...Where Is My Knitting?

Yes, this is SO me *cough*

My desk is too high.  I know that seems like a random statement, but after an appointment with my GP yesterday to determine the cause of some serious headaches I’ve been getting, the determination is…my desk is too high.  Or I suppose it could also be said that my desk chair is too short.  Either way, apparently my posture during the typing process is causing some sort of chain reaction between my shoulders, neck, and head which produces a persistent pain in the aforementioned body parts.  Actually, I was extremely grateful for this diagnosis.  I was really worried that he was going to tell me that it was because I knit too much in which case I’d have had to figure out a way to live with chronic headaches.  Certainly knitting less isn’t an option.  Anyway, after the diagnosis, my doctor prescribed some muscle relaxants to be taken before bedtime.  It’s been an interesting morning.  The only thing scarier than me in the morning is me in the morning with the residual effects of a muscle relaxant.  Good thing I don’t have to drive anywhere today.  My GP also prescribed taking up Argentine Tango, but he prescribes that every time I go for a checkup.  He has a dance studio and teaches the dance when he’s not doctoring.  I guess tango to him is like knitting to me.  Maybe next time I’ll take him in a ball of yarn and some needles.  Word.

My Adorable Daughter
(her mom's a lousy photographer)
My daughter wore her Christmas gift to work yesterday!  It does look very nice on her as you can see in the picture (it's the wine-colored garment under the black sweater).  The only thing that bugs me about it is the strange way the sides come down in a sort of point.  I’m not sure why this is.  All I can think is that it happened when I blocked it and I didn’t notice it.  Maybe it can be corrected when it is washed next and laid flat to dry.  I don’t know how else I would fix it, do you?  If so, don’t keep it to yourself.  My LYS has more of the Louisa Harding Mulberry 100% silk that I used for this project in the sale bin in two colors that I just love (even though no one else apparently does, hence them being in the sale bin), but I am so afraid to attempt anything else with this yarn since it was not a “walk-in-the-park” experience.  Yet the yarn calls to me.  Does anyone else hear yarn calling, or is it just me?

Sweater #7 is in full swing and is right on target to be done by Monday.  The back and the right front are complete.  I started the left front last night, which I hope to get mostly done today, and then the sleeves for the pattern are short, so they shouldn’t take long.  I’m only slightly nervous about the seaming.  I’ve done seaming before and it went well but I guess with the deadline so close, I know I can’t screw it up.  The Husband is still wondering if I’ll get his sweater done before spring (it does come early here), and I keep assuring him I’ll start it right after ol’ #7 is finished.  I’ll need to start the baby hat I’m planning also, as that deadline (read: due date) is coming up quickly.  I’ve made only one hat before and it didn’t turn out as planned, although the attempt was VERY early in my knitting journey.  I’m hoping it was the lack of experience that resulted in a hat sized for a child’s doll when it was supposed to fit The Husband’s head.  Whatever…

Well, time to tango my way back to my knitting.

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What’s on your mind this morning?  Go ahead, I’m a great listener…

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Colorwork and Chimpanzees

I forgot to post a picture yesterday of my progress on belated Christmas Sweater #7, so here it is.  It is a sort of gloomy day today, so my lighting is terrible, which kind of makes the color look like an olive shade but it’s really a nice spring green – Sublime Extra Fine Merino Wool DK, color #0019.  The pattern is Nantucket Red and is the second I’ve made from Thea Colman.  I like her designs a lot and there are several in my ever-expanding queue.  I’ve nearly completed the back and the lines you see in the middle are actually lace columns that will show nicely once the sweater is blocked.  I fully expect to complete this sweater by my January 14th deadline.  Yay!  The Husband was a tad disappointed the other day when he saw me casting on something other than the sweater I’ll be making him, but he’s being awfully patient (what a good chap)!

I attended knit night last night at my LYS.  We hadn’t had a Tuesday gathering in a while due to the holidays so it was nice to get back to it.  Unfortunately, there is the pall of an uncertain future still hanging over the shop due to its scheduled closure at the end of February.  We are still hoping a buyer will step in and save the day.  Regardless, it was a fun night and I managed to leave having made some actual progress on my knitting and having only purchased a small amount of yarn for some baby stuffs.  [Dear Husband – let me calm your fears since I know if you’re reading this, you’ve been cringing since you read the word “purchased”.  I only spent $8.]  We sang to Lady L. whose birthday was this past Sunday and shared a lovingly-baked cake brought my Deanne.  While Deanne didn’t bake the cake, I’m sure the Sam’s Club baker who did made it with love.  Besides, Deanne gets extra points for using those little toothpicks with the colored cellophane at the top in lieu of candles because I thought they looked rather cool.  I wish I’d gotten a picture.

KnitPicks Chroma
I also got my very first catalog from KnitPicks yesterday.  I’d ordered some yarn from them for my holiday knitting and so now I’m on their mailing list.  I didn’t have a chance to look at it until this morning, and WOW!!  Between the patterns and the yarn and the notions (oh, my!), I was in knitting heaven for a bit.  I love it when you get to see every color made in a yarn at a glance.  I’d love it even more if I had every color made in every yarn made (except mohair – hate it) in every corner of the universe.  Speaking of colors, the patterns in the catalog were mostly color work and I must say, I feel the nudge getting stronger to muster my courage and try some.  It looks so cute.  Then again, so do chimpanzees but they can still, at best, fling poo at you, and at worst, rip your face off.  Soooo, maybe not.

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What’s the knitting technique or project that you’re still trying to get brave enough to try?  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Good, the Bad, and the Yarny

Yesterday, I posted a short list of knitting blogs I like and follow regularly and while I was compiling the list, I started thinking about what keeps me reading a blog.  I realized there are a few basic things that make a blog appealing to me and so I try to incorporate those things into my own blog posts.  So, below is my humble attempt at some tips to attract and keep people reading your blog. 

Have a sense of humor – I’m not kidding.  Laughter is good medicine.  Witty sarcasm is okay, self-deprecation is very acceptable (as long as you’re not shooting for martyrdom), but crudeness is usually not that attractive and makes people uncomfortable unless you're a teen-aged boy.  I'm not sure many teen-aged boys read knitting blogs.  I could be wrong, but I don't think so.

Be informative – Some blogs offer more technical information than others, but every knitting blog should offer some constructive knowledge on a semi-regular basis.  But be warned, if you’re going to wax eloquent about a technique, make sure you know what you’re talking about.  If you’re offering merely your opinion on something, then say so.  And keep in mind that no one likes a know-it-all.  I know a lady who [thinks she] knows it all.  I don’t like her.  She’s not a knitter.  I’m glad.

Post more than once in a blue moon – A blue moon is a rare occurrence but your blog posts shouldn’t be.  There’s nothing worse for me than reading a good blog and looking forward to the next post and then…nothing.  It makes me blue.  Like the moon.  But more often.

Proofread!  Proofread!  PROOFREAD! – Their is nuthing mor distrakting thn a porely writtun poast.  Look, a typo will inevitably slip past you once in a while, but if your every post looks like it was written by a second-grader, say goodbye to potential readers.  If grammar and spelling isn’t your thing but you really want to blog, hire someone to proofread your posts for you.  They’re out there.  I’m available.  And I’m affordable.  I’ll work for money, chocolate, coffee, or yarn, but not necessarily in that order.

Gratuitous cute pet photo
The Husband took this one
Use photos – As engaging as some bloggers are sans pics, good photos just ice the cake.  I’m still working on this one.  When it comes to taking a simple picture of something I’ve made (or anything else for that matter), I totally stink.  I’m hoping 2013 brings an improvement for me in this area.  I may take a class.  Of course, if you also stink at taking pictures, you can ask someone you know who is a good photographer to take them for you.  The Husband takes good pictures, but I'm not often able to transmit my vision for a particular photo into his brain and I'm Type A enough to be thoroughly unsatisfied with anything other than what I've envisioned in my little noggin.  Hopefully, I’ll get better at making my photographic visions a reality.  Oh, and I almost forgot.  If you have a cute pet, stick in a gratuitous photo of them from time to time.  It can’t hurt.

Provide the missing link – The URL, that is.  There’s a web site for practically everything these days and you should provide a link to further information for your readers, especially for patterns, yarns, and designers you mention.  And if you’re quoting someone else, give credit where it is due. 

Ask for feedback/comments – I forget this sometimes and when I do remember, I don’t always get any responses, but at least I’ve left the door open.  If you like a blog post or have something to contribute to the conversation, then comment!  I can only speak for myself here, but I LOVE it when people comment!  This brings me to…

Make it easy for folks to comment – I’ve had trouble in this area because my blog platform forces people to choose how they want to respond (via Gmail account, anonymously, URL, blah, blah, blah) and it doesn't always work correctly.  They can’t just type and hit submit, which annoys the crap out of me.  I hope to eventually move to a platform where this isn’t an issue.  Until then, I’ve tried to give as much direction on the blog as possible as to how to comment.  But as annoying as my comment procedure is, I’ve actually tried to post on sites where not only did I have to provide everything but a blood type, but then I had to use one of those horrid “type the letters you see in the image” thingies.  You know the ones, where they take a nonsensical word and twist it into an unrecognizable image or two and force you to guess.  This never works for me the first time (is that an "m" or an "r" next to an "n"??) and quite frankly, by the time I’ve tried twice, I’ve gone off the idea of posting anything on that blog.  I understand not wanting those evil, mindless “bots” to post stuff on your blog, but unless you’ve already had a problem with this, I beg of you, don’t make me type what I see in the image!  Puh-leeeeze??!!  And one more word about comments…

Respond! – I don’t know about you, but when a blogger asks for comments but then never responds to any that have been made on their blog, it makes me wonder if they even read them.  Unless you’re receiving hundreds of comments a day (I could only hope), which of course would make it impossible to answer them all, you should respond with something to the comments people leave.  You don’t have to write a book, but responding shows people that you are actually interested in their comments.  And then speaking of writing a book…

Don’t write a book – Blog posts that are too long (like this one) will not be read.  An occasional novella is one thing, but if each entry takes forever to read, you’re posting too much at once.  Try splitting it into two different posts.  Then you can post twice as often.  See how cool that is?  :o)

Really, this can all be summed up with the idea “Blog unto others as you would like them to blog unto you.”  Think about what you like to see on a blog and then wash, rinse, repeat.  Think about what you don’t like on a blog.  If it annoys you, it will probably annoy someone else. 

That’s my two cents worth.  Or maybe a penny.  But a shiny one.

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Any other tips out there?  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bloggin' and Knittin' and Bloggin'

Knitting blogs rock.  So much so that I spend a significant amount of time reading good ones and looking for more.  It’s funny how you actually feel like you get to know someone through their blog; like you’re making a new friend and that’s always great in my book.  So, as promised, today I’m posting a list of blogs that I personally enjoy.

Let me just say that there are SCADS of knitting blogs that I haven’t run across yet, so this list is by no means all-inclusive.  I’m sure it will continue to grow.  So here are my favorite knitting blogs so far in alphabetical order:

North of 49  (love. this. blog.)

Most of these I found on ravelry.com because they have a special forum for bloggers.  Of course, you can always Google knitting blogs as well but I haven’t had the time to weed through what I’m sure would be a gazillion results.  I’m still working at getting my blog listed at BlogNation but I’ve hit a couple of snags and I’m not sure they know what to do with me since it appears I’m the only one in the universe that’s ever had this problem.  O_o  Yep, that’s my life.

Tomorrow, I’ll post a list of some things I’ve learned during my short time blogging about what keeps someone like me coming back for more.  I was going to post them together, but then I found I was violating one of the things I think makes a good blog (don’t make your posts too long).  So...

Meanwhile, I didn’t post a picture of the sock yarn I was so excited about, so here it is.  It's Shibui Sock which is 100% superwash Merino and the color is Dragonfly, #1601.  I still haven’t started, but the good news is the never-ending Christmas blanket is finished and I’m about half-way through the back of Christmas sweater #7.  I’ll post a pic of that WIP tomorrow.

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What are your favorite knitting blogs?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Mandatory Shopping

I got my sock yarn yesterday!  Woo hoo!

Okay, I’m probably a little more excited about that than necessary, but it’s really pretty and soft and pretty and nice and pretty* and I can’t wait to get started.  I just need to finish a few things before I can cast them on.  That brings me to my progress on the belated never-ending Christmas blanket and Christmas Sweater #7:  DON’T. ASK.  I’m serious, I’m in complete denial about my lack of progress and I don’t want to talk about it today.  Maybe tomorrow, but I can’t promise…

{Random thought warning} Ferrero Rocher for breakfast?  I think so.

She's a ham
Since I’m not talking about my knitting today I will tell you that I’ve just finished unpacking and washing up a brand new set of stainless steel and cast iron cookware that my husband forced me to purchase last night.  I know what you’re thinking, but he really did!  You all know we brought home an African Gray parrot from the vacation-that-was-not-a-vacation back in November, right?  Since then, The Husband has studiously researched everything there is to know about African Grays.  So yesterday, he runs across an article about Teflon fumes (produced when Teflon pans are heated too high or burned) being quite toxic to birds.  And my mismatched set of 20 year old cookware?  Covered in evil Teflon.  Not that I’ve ever burned anything I’ve cooked (cough, cough), but to be on the safe side, The Husband insisted I go out right away and purchase safe cookware.  Can you believe he forced me to do that??  It was an awful sacrifice, but I managed to find something suitable.  Joking aside, how cool is that?  I was encouraged to spend money by The Husband!  That just rocks.  The only down side is that now I’m expected to actually cook something. 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all of you and how much I appreciate your taking the time to read this blog and I’ve also been thinking about the blogs that I follow and enjoy so much, so my next post will contain a list of my favorite knitting blogs (so far) and some ideas about what keeps me coming back to a blog time and time again.  Not only do I hope the post will be useful to you, but it provides yet another post where I do not have to talk about how backed up my knitting is.  It’s a win-win, really.  :D

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*I actually just had to Google the word “pretty” because typing it so many times made it look weird and sometimes I have these moments when random words that are very familiar end up looking strange in type and I wonder if I’ve misspelled it or something and I panic.  Does this ever happen to you???  It is possible that I just need help.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year!

Let me just start the first post of 2013 by pointing out how absolutely absurd it is that I have knitted all of these yummy sweaters for gifts (which I really did love doing) and yet I sit here typing this in a store-bought, hand-me-down, ugly gray cardigan sweater-type thing with flared sleeves and a belt.  Hey, I’m cold and it’s all I’ve got with long sleeves.  So, it follows that my goal for the New Year is to actually knit myself a nice cardi. 

But that will have to wait…

Besides the fact that I’m still working on Christmas 2012 sweater #7 (read: haven't even cast on yet), I have a few projects lined up.  The Husband has decided that he’d like me to knit a sweater for him.  I’m jumping at the chance because he hardly ever wears the sweaters I bought him in years past (my pre-knitting days) and he actually looks quite nice in a sweater.  So I went through some possible patterns on Ravelry and we settled on Limestone by DROPS Design.  I was kind of hoping he would choose something I could use a bulky yarn on that would go quickly, but alas, it was not to be.  At least I like the pattern he chose.  Okay, I didn’t show him any patterns I didn’t like because well, why would I want to knit him something ugly?  Anyhoo, I bought the yarn for the pattern last week and I’m looking forward to knitting with it.  I chose Nuna by Mirasol Yarns, a blend of 40% merino wool, 40% silk, and 20% bamboo.  It feels absolutely yummy.  So much so, that I’ve decided if he doesn’t wear it after I’ve made it, I’m going to wear it myself.  So what if it’s a little big?  I’ll make it work.  Besides, with all the chocolate we have left from Christmas, I may just fit into it by the time it’s done.

I also have some fun baby knitting to do (for friends – no grandchildren yet…ahem, YET) but I’ve not settled on which pattern(s) or yarn to use.  Of course, choosing that stuff is half the fun!  One friend is due in less than a month and another has a while to go but get this -- it’s TWINS!  Ooh, baby, baby (like, literally)! 

Another thing I’ll be attempting in the New Year is a pair of socks.  I’ve been a sockless knitter so far but I earned $10 in Jimmy Beans Bucks and used it toward a sock kit.  I haven’t received the kit yet and I made sure not order one containing extremely expensive yarn just in case it’s a disaster but I’m kinda stoked about it.  At least, I’m in love with the idea of making socks.  We’ll see if reality matches my expectations.  Oh, and you’re going to be shocked, but I also purchased a small set of Devil-Produced Needles.  I know, you can’t believe it, right?!?  But it really is true.  They were marked WAY down and they are wood, not metal like the only set I had, so I’m going to give them another shot.  I figure I can ask one of the ladies I met at the yarn shop, Marilyn (who is the undisputed queen of DPNs), to help me get past my trauma.  And if that doesn’t work, I can always stab myself repeatedly with them…or I could use them on The Husband’s new bird who has decided that screeching to get attention is a fabulous practice.  How does “grilled skewered parrot” sound to you?  Sounds pretty good to me at this particular moment.

Time to dash.  The never-ending Christmas blanket did NOT get finished yesterday.  I’m so close, and yet so far.  I can say with complete sincerity that this will be the absolute LAST blanket I knit.  Who knew the simplest thing on my knitting list would turn out to be the most frustrating??  Sigh…
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