Category Archives: not knitting

And Something Completely Different

Well. I’ve put my striped sweater in a time-out for now. Not that it did anything wrong exactly. I’m just grumpy about the whole math/sleeve situation.

I’m also grumpy about the stuffed animal situation.

“What stuffed animal situation?” you ask.

To which I answer, “You must not have a kid living in your house.”

Because my kid (my kids!) have So. Many. Stuffed. Animals.

They don’t even really play with them. (To be fair, one kid is just a little lump who still hasn’t figured out how to use his hands yet, but still.)

There is a big basket of stuffed animals in the living room, two bins of them in Kid 1’s room (in addition to the half-dozen or so that live in his bed), and another bin in Kid 2’s room.

So, in my frustration, I decided to make the biggest basket ever. (Is this a smart decision? No.)

I found a big roll of quarter-inch rope in the shed and a decent amount of leftover Wool of the Andes in my stash and pulled out a crochet hook.

And with a little futzing and a lot of improvising, I’ve got (most) of the bottom of a basket. (Basically, I’m doing a simple (ch1, sc1) around, catching the rope in each single-crochet stitch, and increasing as needed to keep the stitch density more or less even as the rope spirals out. Eventually, I’ll stop increasing, when I start the walls of the basket.)

Unfortunately, it’s growing super-slowly. And if I want this basket to be big enough to contain the horde of stuffies that my kid has been collecting, well… I’ve got a long way to go.

It looks pretty good so far, though!

The End of an Era

In the light of all the wild stuff that’s happened this year (I’m not going to lay it out… you know what 2020 was), this isn’t a big deal. It barely even registers. It’s a tiny blip.

But, I’m still bummed.

My tape measure has finally broken.

I know, I know. Hardly something to write home about, but you don’t understand. This tape measure was originally my Mom’s. I remember digging it out of her sewing supplies and playing with it when I was a kid. It’s soft click-click-click as you pulled out the tape was just so satisfying. Then, I inherited (stole? Sorry, Mom) it when I went off to college. Since then, it’s lived in my knitting bag. I’ve probably used it every day (or at least every week) for the last 15 years.

It’s nothing fancy- it’s just a regular old tape measure you pick up for a buck or two from a bin at the checkout at JoAnn’s. But still, it’s served me well all these years, and I will miss it.

It even managed to survive my kid- I kind of figured he’d play with it too much or pull too hard on the tape and break the spring. But, no, it was me. I pressed the tape-return button the other day, and the plastic just broke right in two. I guess that’s what happens to plastic over 30+ years.

Because this tape measure was at least 30 years old. It was “MADE IN WEST GERMANY”, and West Germany hasn’t been a country since 1990. How’s that to make you feel old?

Rest in peace, tape measure. You served me well.

(Don’t worry about me… I’ve got at least 3 other tape measures. Not as good as this one, of course, but at the end of the day, they all measure the same.)

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag?

Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas this week, and you were totally going to knit that thing for your mom/sister/neighbor/uncle/whoever. And now you’re out of time and don’t have the yarn or the pattern picked out. Well, I’ve got the perfect alternative for you!

Instead of stressing, just have your recipient fill out this Knit-Lib (like a Mad-Lib, but knitting-themed), to tell them all about their new gift!

That’s right- why spend hours trolling through Ravelry and weeks picking out just the right skeins of yarn, when you can have someone else spend 5 minutes choosing random words to design your project instead?

Sounds like a win-win to me!

Happy Holidays!

Printable version here:

FO #2

Hey guys! Guess what? I did a thing! I had a baby! He arrived at the end of November, and in my unbiased opinion, he’s pretty perfect.

Plus, it’s nice to have a kid in the house who doesn’t fight me when I try to dress him in seasonally-appropriate knitwear. (I swear, the big kid hasn’t worn anything warmer than a t-shirt in months… it’s 40 degrees out!)

The baby is a big fan of being snuggled, especially in his cozy garter-stitch baby blanket.

He likes wearing his big brother’s hand-me downs (and rainbow-colored bootees from Grandma).

And, frankly, my favorite thing about babies is that you can dress them up in ridiculous outfits, like this rainbow-sweater-pants-and-storm-cloud-ensemble. Too stinking cute.

Anyway, pretty pleased with this kiddo (and his big brother, who’s being very sweet about “his baby”). I think I’ll keep him.

And as far as this blog goes, I’ve got a few months’ worth of posts already written, so there won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be a break in the blog.

Please

(Note 1: This post was written two weeks ago, so if there is anything important that I’ve missed, that’s why.)

(Note 2: Oof. I definitely missed some important stuff.)

You guys know I try to keep this blog as knitting-focused as possible, I don’t share a lot of baby pictures or TV recommendations (unless they’re knitting-related) or recipes. And I really try not to talk too much about politics. Not because politics aren’t important or interesting, but because lately they get me worked up, stressed out, and anxious. Knitting (and this blog) is my way to unwind and relax. I can control my knitting. My stitches make sense. I can imagine a design, plan it, work it through and execute it. (Usually.)

All that is to say, I’ve had a lot of extra time to knit this week. Which is great- my current project, which you’ll hear about soon, is almost finished.

But the reason I’ve had so much time to knit is that I literally haven’t left the house in 6 days.

6. Days. Stuck inside with a toddler. No walks around the block, no trips to the park, no play-dates with the one other family in our pod. Nothing.

And why have I been inside for that long? You might think Covid. Which would be partially correct. We’ve been in fairly heavy-duty lockdown for the last 6+ months, but we were able to go outside, work in the yard and visit the beach to look for crabs. Our library has been closed and we have preschool over Zoom. My 2-year old hasn’t been on a playground since March.

But this last week, the few things that were left to us were taken away when wildfires sprung up all up and down the west coast. Washington is on fire. Oregon is on fire. California is on fire. My parents (who live in Chicago) are feeling the effects of the fire; it’s sending so much smoke up into the air that even 2000 miles away, their sky is overcast and smoky.

And here, it’s been “Very Unhealthy” for almost a week. Today is the best I’ve seen in 5 days, and it’s still on the high end of “Unhealthy.” Our air is like pea soup. I went to grab the mail yesterday, and my eyes watered and itched from being outside for only a minute.

And the crazy part is, we’re the lucky ones. We’re healthy. Our part of Washington is not in danger of burning up. We have a comfortable house and plenty of space inside. We have enough food and water and access to the internet.

There are usually wildfires in late summer, they’re a natural part of the seasons in this part of the country. But the last few years have gotten out of control. This year is the worst I’ve seen since I moved out here more than 10 years ago. This is not normal.

It’s also worth noting that this year’s hurricane season is going crazy, there have already been fires and snowstorms out in Colorado, and there was (essentially) a hurricane in Iowa (Iowa!). Climate change is real, and it’s making itself known in a really obvious and scary way.

All this is to say, this fall’s election is vitally important in a way that has never been more clear. If we reelect climate-change-denying elected officials (Trump foremost among them), there’s absolutely no way for us to come back from this, or even slow down its progress. These will become the “good old days” when we “only had to shelter for a week every fire season” and “only had to worry about one pandemic at a time.”

If you haven’t registered yet, and don’t know how to do it, let me know! I will literally help you register. My email address is knittingontheneedles@gmail.com. Email me! I will help you figure out how to vote and where your polling place is and if you have access to absentee voting in your state!

If you haven’t figured out who you are voting for yet, also let me know! From national office to state or city- I will happily research anyone you need more information on. (Looking for candidates that support the Green New Deal is a great way to start.)

So, please, please, please register to vote this year, and if you can, please vote early. And (it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway), please vote Biden/Harris.

Obsessed

I have been BUSY. Not knitting or anything that I’m “supposed” to be doing, but I’ve been busy, powering through my quilt.

I guess the secret to actually finishing a quilt is to let it sit for 7 years in your closet, then be stuck in quarantine for months. Who knew?

Anyway, I’ve made major headway. I’ve done (almost) all the quilting, sewing two lines on either side of each two-color seam. It looks really cute, but man, that was a lot of sewing.

And I like sewing.

I really like how the back looks on a hand-quilted blanket. It’s all cozy and wrinkly around all the quilting. It reminds me of my mom, who was always quilting when I was a kid. (Though, she hand-pieced as well as hand-quilted. She’s crazy. But, her quilts were (and still are) beautiful.)

Once the quilting was pretty much done, I trimmed the batting and the backing, and did a rolled hem to finish the edges. It looks great, except for one section where (years ago) I trimmed the backing way too short, or maybe I’m just did a really bad job centering my quilt top on the backing? So, that section has some scrap yellow fabric sewed on. It’s mostly unnoticeable. (Except for me. I notice it, and it bugs me. But do I ever finish a project without it having some element that I want to fix? No.)

There’s just one little spot that really irks me, though… It’s right here:

That’s right, there’s a tiny scissors-cut, right at the edge of the quilt. Why is it there? When did it get there? Did I do it? If I did, what was I thinking?

So many questions, and no way to easily and invisibly fix it. So, I think I’m going to pout about it for a while, then sew on a patch. Ugh.

Well, I’m almost done- I’ve got to finish up one corner of the border, take out the basting, and probably quilt a little square at the center of each block (I’m a little worried about how puffy the centers will get without any more quilting, but I also want this thing to be DONE).

I’m so close, I can taste it.

Stitching (Instead)

So you guys know I’ve been trying to finish up abandoned projects and use up yarn that’s been languishing in my stash for far too long. I’ve made some progress. It’s kind of satisfying, if I’m being honest. I do like finishing things.

But if we’re talking about unfinished projects, there’s one that I can’t ignore. The Grand Kahuna of WIPs. The White Whale of UFOs.

One major project that’s been languishing for far (far, far, far) too long.

It’s been in my studio since… before we moved (almost 7 years ago), and honestly, probably several years before that. If you told me this was a 10-year-old project, I would believe you.

And the ridiculous part? It’s probably been about 75% finished for the better part of a decade.

It’s my monster quilt.

It’s huge- about 80″ square. No idea why I picked that size. It’s not a standard bed/quilt size, and it’s freaking huge! I don’t know where I got the design, or if there was a pattern, or why I picked the colors I did (yellow is not a color I usually gravitate to…). But, I know I put the quilt top together, made the sandwich, basted the layers together did about half of the quilting before I got bored/distracted and forgot about the quilt. Every few months/years I’d see it in my closet and go, “Huh… I should work on that,” then forget about it again.

At the beginning of quarantine, I really started to buckle down on this project, alternating hand-quilting a square or two with working up a baby sweater sleeve or a few inches of scarf. It’s coming along, I’ve only got about 9 more squares to go (plus the edges and sewing on the binding… but let’s not dwell on that yet).

It’s a satisfying project, but if I ever say I want to make a quilt again, maybe don’t let me…

Have you ever actually finished a ridiculous unfinished project?

Black Lives Matter

Y’all.  It’s been a really long week.  I think for everyone.

(Fair warning, I’m not going to talk about knitting this week.  I usually try to keep my personal politics out of the blog, but sometimes you just can’t do that.  If I didn’t mention everything that’s been going on, it would be the next thing to dishonesty.  If you’re not up for it, feel free to come back next week.)

It’s hard for me to know what to say, and since I’m a very white person, in a very white part of the country, working in a very white industry, I know my perspective on the events of the last week/month/year/entire history of our country is not necessarily what we need right now.

But, since I have this platform, regardless of how small it may be, I wanted to stand up and say that black lives matter, and the systematic racism in the United States (especially in the police force) is just not acceptable.  It’s horrifying that we had to lose so many lives, to have so many examples of the inhuman treatment of black and brown Americans at the hands of the police before we as the (white) community said “no more.”  I’m ashamed of my community’s (and my own) inaction and complacency, and deeply disturbed that this has been the norm for so many without me really registering what has been going on.

But me wallowing in my feelings isn’t going to do much.  I (and everyone else who wants change) have to get in gear and change our behavior.

Here’s what I’m doing/planing to do:

  1. Give money.  We’re lucky enough to have some extra cash, so we’ve donated to our local chapter of Black Lives Matter and supported our local bail fund to help folks who can’t otherwise afford bail stay out of jail (especially important in a pandemic).
  2. Educate myself.  I’m going to watch, read and listen to black voices tell their stories and history.  I consider myself a pretty well-educated person, but the little I’ve learned in the last week has really shown me how much of a blind spot I have when it comes to black and brown history in America. These lists seem like a good place to start:
  3. Protest, sign petitions and generally stay more on top of current events.  I’m not able to go to protests right now, but I’m going to be doing my best to make up for it by doing whatever activism I can from my computer.  I will follow activists and organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement on social media (and actually read what they are saying, not just pass them by).  I will stay updated by listening to reputable news outlets and paying attention to the sourcing on stories that I see online.  I will keep an eye out for anything that I can help with- I know I’m just one person, but sometimes just one more person, one more call, or one more signature is all it takes.
  4. Pay more attention to how I’m raising my kid.  Like I mentioned above, we live in a very white neighborhood in a very white city.  I hadn’t paid too much attention to how that’s been impacting my kid or my parenting.  In the last week, I’ve realized that almost all his (human-ish) toys are white, or white-passing, and he only has a handful of books that feature characters of color.  Sure, most of his toys are trucks, and most of his books are about animals, but that’s just an excuse.  I’m going to start expanding the diversity of his experience as much as possible (which, because of quarantine, is pretty much just toys and books).  He’s going to grow up to be a white man, and I want him to be as empathetic and aware of his country’s history as possible.  (Yes, I know he’s just 2 right now, but it’s not too early to start thinking about.)  If you’re raising small kids in a similar situation, I’ve been recommended these, which I intend to read/watch:

Thanks for listening to my “To-Do” list.  It feels like it isn’t enough, but it’s a start.  Let me know what you’re planning to do to help our country grow and become better.

Stay safe, be kind to each other and yourselves.

(Also, I would like to apologize if last week’s post’s timing seemed insensitive.  I usually write the blog a week or more before it posts- you never know what life’s going to throw at you with a toddler/pandemic/national civil unrest.  I didn’t get a chance to change last week’s post until after it had gone live, and wasn’t able to collect my thoughts enough to sit and type a post until today (June 5th).  Thank you for bearing with me.)

Lessons

I have finished my weaving project, and I’m pleased to report that everything went a lot more smoothly once I had my loom warped correctly (and the 2-year-old was napping).

I’m pretty pleased with how the fabric turned out.  I used a mystery teal wool (maybe Cascade 220?) for the warp and some beige-y Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud DK for the weft.  The finished project (I guess it’s a scarf) is lovely and drape-y and soft.  It’s probably not the color combo I would have reached for in an ideal world, but it’s pretty enough, and used up yarn that has been sitting in my stash since (probably) the last decade.

IMG_2879

However, this process had taught me a few things:

  1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Still kicking myself about the warp situation.  (I’m not going to read the instructions next time.)
  2. Weaving goes so much faster than knitting!  I made a whole scarf in, like 2 days.
  3. Weaving burns through yarn so much faster than knitting!  I used up 3 whole skeins (sure, 2 of them were fairly small, but still!).  Definitely something to think about when trying to downsize my stash!
  4. I really like the edging stitch/tassel combo on this one.  I’ve never done an edging stitch before, and like how it turned out.  It was real satisfying, and made the scarf look nice and professional (unlike the rest of the piece).IMG_2888
  5. I’m not great at weaving.  Like, I know the basics and was able to make a chunk of fabric, but it’s certainly not even row-to-row, and it has a weird curve to the left.  My current guess is that I did something funky (obviously) when warping, and made the yarn too tight on one side.IMG_2897
  6. I realized that I don’t really know what to do with woven fabric (other than make scarves).  I mean… table runners (scarves for furniture), place mats (short scarves for furniture), coasters (tiny scarves for furniture), and bookmarks (even tinier scarves, but for books), but other than that… I’m not sure.  Can you cut this kind of woven fabric and sew it?  Would it fall apart?  Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Well, it was a fun little project, and definitely something I need more practice with.  I should go digging in my stash to find more forgotten yarn.  Maybe everyone gets woven scarves for Christmas this year…

Have you tried any new projects during lockdown?

And now for something completely different

I’ve reached the part of quarantine where I decide that warping a loom with the “help” of a 2-year-old is a good idea.

It is not a good idea.

Especially when the last time you warped a loom was maybe 4 years ago (I’m honestly not sure).

I thought I had the right idea, kind of glanced at the pictures in the instruction book, and barreled ahead while the kid was being as non-destructive as possible.

Anyway, here’s “Warping a Loom: A photo essay.”

  1.  I was feeling cocky- I had done it!  I remembered what to do, and had managed to do it with my toddler in the room with me!  Isn’t he cute!  Isn’t the loom lovely!IMG_2857
  2. Oh no!  I just realized the yarn on the left side of the loom (in the picture) is supposed to go over the big bar, not under it.  (Note: I’m sure there’s a name for the bar on the left side of the loom, but as has been established, I didn’t read the instructions, so I have no idea what the name is.)IMG_2858
  3. Panic.  I really don’t want to undo all the knots and threading each bit of yarn through the heddle again, so I decide that the easier thing to do will be to literally take the loom apart and put it back together around the yarn, instead of the other way around.  I dig out this weirdly patriotic screwdriver.IMG_2859
  4. I take the loom apart carefully, with “help” from the kid.  He’s very interested in tools.IMG_2860
  5. I put the loom back together, with more help.  He’s very helpful.IMG_2863
  6. It looks good!  The kid tests it for strength.  Seems OK.IMG_2864
  7. Victory! (Hubris!)IMG_2868
  8. Oh wait…  The yarn is all supposed to be even, now that I fixed the loom!  Why aren’t they even??IMG_2873
  9. Oh.  The warp is supposed to go over the bar on this side too.   Good thing I haven’t put away the screwdriver yet…IMG_2874
  10. Fixed (part 2).  And I’m pretty sure it’s fixed for certain, this time.IMG_2876
  11. Oh yeah… look at those lovely lined-up threads.  And it only took me twice as long as it should have!IMG_2878

The moral of the story: Read the directions, even if you’re sure you know what you’re doing.  (You don’t know what you’re doing.)