Tuesday, December 4, 2012


People presume a lot about other people. Knitters are usually perceived as simpler, slower people, however recently I've had a few things presumed about myself while holding my trusty needles and yarn that I have to share:

1. I must be foreign.
While holding a spot in line at the theater for my Dad and I for 4 hours I sat down and knit while reading A Life in Stitches, by Rachael Herron, (I was second in line so sitting on the ground was perfectly acceptable). The girl in line in front of me was gushing about the movie and I learned she was not one to make eye contact with, as she believed that by doing so I was inviting her to gush about celebrity crushes (which I care very little about). After about 10 minutes of avoiding eye contact or speaking to her she asked me if I liked knitting. I usually reply “No not at all. I actually really hate it”, but seeing as I was trying not to start a conversation with her, and I had 3 more hours to sit with her before the movie, I simply replied “Yes”. A couple more minutes passed and she asked “Are you from another country?” Now usually I'm not thrown off by many questions, but this one made me go “Pardon?” She then proceeds to talk about how my watch and phone have “weird” times and that I must be because I knit. I paused and then proceeded to explain to her that, because I'm a dispatcher I run on military time, and, well, I like to knit. She thought the time thing was “totally cool” and I went ahead and changed her phone settings for her so that it had military time. After I was done with her phone someone else came to sit in line behind me and they found that they had so many things in common. I was happily knitting away while they talked over me. They are obviously not part of my herd, so it might be fair to say I'm a foreign person to her.

2. I must not date much.
At Micheal’s on the Saturday after Thanksgiving I was thrilled to get the very last of the yarn and needles I needed for Christmas Knitting (Fisherman's wool is totally acceptable I think). The line was long, because everyone was there for the same reason I was, sales and coupons. While we waited the the person in front of me, in back of me and I were all talking about knitting. The 40 something lady in front starts talking about how her father's current girl friend is a knitter. She then begins to complain about how her father has had 6 girl friends in the the last few years and about how she thought that it was completely unacceptable to have sex with that many people. She then goes into detail about how she would feel like a complete prostitute if that many men had touched her, and details on them touching. I was a little put off by this and wanted to ask her if she found Mr right by the 5th guy, but figured that was not the right thing to say. She then tells me how much better off I am by filling my time with knitting rather then dating. Once she had walked over to her cashier the 80 something little old lady behind me gave me a wicked smile and said “She must not like sex that much” and we proceeded to have a fit of giggles while her daughter had a look of shock plastered on her face.

3. I can be a runner or a knitter, but not both.
Anna works at our local Barnes and Noble, and about twice a week you can usually find me in there waiting to pick her up, or enjoying coffee with her before she starts work. My usual routine is to grab the magazines I'm interested in reading before I get coffee. I hit the knitting magazines first and then I check to see if any of my favorite running magazines are in. Last week I was doing this and a guy was browsing the running/workout section and he started chatting with me about the running magazines after I picked up the holiday special from Runner's World. We move past the magazines and into half marathons, diet and other hobbies. The moment I said I knit the look of surprise on his face made me stop and I asked him what was wrong. He said “Don't knitters just sit around with their cats, soaps and eat ice cream while knitting?” My mouth just dropped open when he said that and I proceeded to say “Well I don't don't do that.” He responded with “But runners don't knit.” I just walked away at that point while saying “Well this one does.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Sweaters are amazing things, they keep us warm, they show something about ourselves (like our love for our mothers when we wear horrible jumpers with snowmen on the front and it was bought in a store), men give girls their sweaters to keep them warm, we knit them for people we really love and we should all put on one before putting the heat on. I'm currently wearing a sweater that was given to me by a guy when we first started seeing each other, but after we broke up I returned it to him and then he realized I had shrunk the sweater to my size and he gave it to me. 

I have yet to knit a sweater that turns out to be something I can wear. The Swirl I was making turned out too small (nearly every knitter I've talked to has had issues with guage and those sweaters), I tend not to finish them, or I realize I've tinkered with the pattern so much I have no idea where I am in it or how to fix it. But this is all to change!

Thanks to a very kind lady who was moving and gave me part of her stash I had enough yarn to make a sweater for someone I really love, out of yarn I knew they would love, in a color they love. I can't show pictures of it, because then they would know, but I can say it is nearly done and I think this will be the first sweater I ever finish and is wearable! How about that for Christmas knitting!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Through the ages

Last night while waiting for Anna to get off work I was reading an article in the fall Jane Austin Knits and an older gentleman asked me if I knit. Now normally I would just say yes an keep reading but when I looked up I swear it was the old man from Up. Tweet hat, pocket watch, jacket with elbow protectors, and he had a look on his face that made me wonder who else knitted in his life.

Get it! 
I followed up my quick yes about how I do knit and I was taught by my grandmother. He got this smile and just patted me on the shoulder and said that it made him happy to hear that.

It got me to thinking, and with the Yarn Harlot's questions regarding how people don't cook it adds to the thoughts, that there are skills less then 50 years ago were common knowledge. Children knew where their food came from and how to cook. Those huge ponchos that remind us of a time when acrylic was the newest and greatest thing were only acquired if you were rich or good with a crotch hook.

But with what I'm seeing today I have to ask:

Have our parents failed us and are parents failing with their kids now?

In the hustle and bustle we saw the past few decades did our parent's parents try too hard to make sure their kids did well in school, sports and other parts of life and forgot to teach them basic living skills. It is so easy to just tell your child to study more and say "I'll take care of dinner/laundry/making the bed/cleaning" and forget that if you don't show them how to take care of themselves, they will never learn. One of the things that is so easy for a parent to take care of is making food, but it is one of the basic skills every person will need. If we don't bring our children into the kitchen how will they learn to cook? I once had a boyfriend that did not know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and that put things into perspective about how he was raised (issues with laundry should have been another giveaway, but I am sometimes slow to the faults of the ones I love). I have friends that ask me for my recipes and where I got it, and look puzzled when I say I just looked at what I had in the fridge and made something from it.

I learned how to cook, clean, sew, do laundry, knit and make my bed from the woman in my family. My mother was considered no great cook when I was growing up (there were several kitchen fires), but she is a decent one in today's society. She taught me to make a souffle though her chicken soup was bland. My grandmother taught me to knit and my aunt taught me and Anna to make lapskaus. Sewing was one thing my mother could do, and I eventually took the little bit of cleaning knowledge she taught me and which my studio is not sparkling clean, give me 30 mins and it can be. I can also plant and maintain a garden due to my grandmother.

We use to have home economics classes, but now those have disappeared. So where will our children learn about how to keep themselves alive, well fed, clean and well dressed?

The answer is the parents and family. We need to bring our children in again. Give them chores like cleaning the bathroom and making their beds. Teens can suffer through doing their own laundry and fending for themselves one dinner a week. The eventual goal of every parent is to create successful adults out of their children. So shouldn't they succeed in the home as well as the outside world?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Too much yarn...

Hi, my name is Christian, and I have too much yarn.

Yes, I'll admit it, I have too much yarn. While recently moving things around I realized I had more yarn then space.

So in light of all this Anna challenged me to not buy any yarn for a year. She works at Barnes and Noble and has the same issue with books so she is not buying books for a year.

My goal is to get through all those projects I have laying around, the fleeces that need cleaning and spinning, and some of the stash.

Today I took the first step towards it by putting all the half down projects in project bags and took a look at what yarn I had enough of for sweaters and swatched for a few patterns. I don't care how many projects get cast on, because since I can knit at work again I can finish anything and am back to knitting up to 200 yards a day. That is about an entire sock a day. I even finished all but the top ribbing of a hot waterbottle cozy today (which is a Christmas gift and made from old stash yarn, so double win).

Anna and I have a burrito riding on who will give into buying books or yarn first.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I know it's been a while but a few things have happened in the last few months that have made life difficult and I'm finally ready to start talking about it all.

Ben and I broke up back in late July and I have relocated to the Bay Area. This means that I lost my office, my base and am basically rebuilding much of my life.

Around the time I was moving there was also a change in Terms and Conditions that affect a few of us over at Phat Fiber and a few of our shops got closed. I don't want to get into the details, because it makes me angry and depressed, but it was the final blow needed to shut down business and shatter my self esteem. I shipped out as many of the orders I could, but when Etsy closes your shop you lose access to past order data, so a few might have fallen through the cracks. Go ahead and file a claim with PayPal or Etsy and they will help you per the Terms and Conditions that they have set up.

I'm switching this blog over to more of a creative/personal blog.

Things are still rather touch and go over on my end, but recently it has been more go luckily.

I have personal plans for next year that will hopefully finish pulling me out of the depression. Right now I'm focussing on making it through the holidays, clearing my plate of unfinished business and work.

I know some of you have been worried, I see you Caren and Jeanne-Marie, but you'll start to see more things on the blog as my creativity comes back.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Christmas - Phase 5 - It's About Time

Here is a scary thought. There are 105 days till Christmas, or exactly 15 weeks.

Everyone should have sorted out the Chistmas knitting and have an idea of what they are up against.

Next you need to take your list and make a guess of how long it will take you to make it and it's difficulty rating. I use this scale for difficulty:

0 - Plain Sock Level - I can walk, talk, and knit at the same time. Does not take any looking at.

1 - Simple Shawlette Level - I can talk and knit at the same and only takes looking at on occasion.
2 - Mitten Level - Has parts that need dedication to, but there are parts that rank a 0.

3 - Simple Blanket - The hardest part is the dedication
4 - Patterned Shawlette - The lace pattern can be memorized, but you still have to check the directions on occasion.

5 - Simple Sweater - Will take dedication and lots of pattern reading, but still parts I can read a book at.
6 - Patterned Scarf - A scarf with chart that needs looking at for the first 5 repeats. The other 20 repeats are made up of dedication
7 - Cowl - Repeats that stack and are worked in the round.

8 - Sweater with Pattern - It might be form fitting, or have a pattern worked in.
9 - Lace - There are some repeats, but every row needs reading

10 - Fair Isle - There are no repeats. Tension is a bitch. My chart is my constant companion

Rating your projects is a good way to tell how long it will take to knit and what you can and cannot do while knitting it.

Who Pattern Rating Hours Can Do While Kit
Dad Basic Socks 0 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Grandma P Basic Socks 0 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Jim Basic Boot Socks 0 6 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Jim Basic Boot Socks0 6 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Aunt Lynn Lazy Daisy Shawlette 1 10 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
4 Beanies
1 16 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Mom Linen Scarf 1 10 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Mom Basic Four Needle Mittens 2.5 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
JM Basic Four Needle Mittens 2.5 12 Walk, Ride Stationary Bike, Read
Grandma Jane Dropped Stitch Scarf 3 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Aunt Bobby Wound Up Cowl 3 4 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
12 Washcloths
3 12 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Court Botanical Cowl 3 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Aunt Lee Grandma's Checker Lace 6 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Stina Hydrangea Neckwarmer 7 10 Watch Movies, Ride Stationary Bike, Girl Time
Grandma Jane Leaves of Grass 9 40 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape
Aunt Lee Girasole 9 40 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape
Anna Love at the Opera 9 20 Grave Shift, Rewatch Movies, Books on Tape

If my estimates are correct I have 252 hours of knitting. That averages to about 2.5 hours of knitting a day between now and Christmas.

I know I might not be able to do 2.5 hours of dedicated Christmas knitting between now and the big day, I do have my own sweater and my Dad's to finish right now, but if I plan things right I can chisel a few hours here and there without realizing it.

My trick is to always have a project ready for each activity I can do while knitting. I have a plain sock in a carrying bag that lives in my purse, a sweater in a box for grave shift, the washcloth yarn with pattern all in another carrying bag in the car for social visits, scarf next to my recumbent bike, and back up projects ready in a basket in my room. Every time I leave the house I take stock of what projects I have on me and if I can knit them during my day.

If I'm really smart then I can avoid the Christmas weight gain and spend most of my time at home on my bike since as of this weekend there will be no more running for a bit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Christmas - Phase 4 - Organizing and Buying

If your like me then the stash is right now in shambles, but that's okay!

For this next step you will need the following:

1 gallon baggies
Any and every project bag you own, if you don't have any celebrate starting Christmas early by getting one in the shop
Permanent marker

What you are going to do now is print your list, print all the patterns, and pair yarn, pattern, needles and bags off. I know it might be tempting to start casting things on right now, but don't. You'll get side tracked and forget what you are doing.

Now take your list and start checking off what projects are all ready to go and put those in the project bags. For the rest of your list highlight what yarns, needles and books you might need. Now is also the time to budget how much you can spend on each remaining project.

Here are my before and after shots of sorting the projects:

Core Stash

A few unfinish projects and the Christmas yarn

If you don't have enough project bags for the gifts that are all ready to be started then put them into the gallon size baggies or some boxes and mark what they are. Don't put names just in case you have someone, children or husbands, that might snoop through the yarn. I know your thinking they never would do that, but there will come a time they need scissors, tape, or string and as soon as they see their name they will have it open and no Christmas surprise!

Also, the great thing about tossing the stash is that you might find yarn that you bought for someone already. Like I was planning on knitting Aunt Bobby a shawlette, but I found the handspun for a cowl that I'd put aside for her in January. You might also find a small ball of something and realize that it might be a perfect small gift for someone. Just be careful not to add too many projects to your list!

Now you need a notations pouch. Gather the following:

Stitch markers
Mini pen
Mini highlighter
Cable needle
Small stitch holder
Mini scissors
Measuring tape

If you don't have it all then make sure to write it on the list of people that has the highlights. This will be your OSK - oh shit kit. I call it OSK because whenever I seem to need any of these things you'll usually hear me say "oh shit, where is..." You'll also need a nice pouch that will fit all this. I highly suggest one with enough room for all this stuff, is made of a closely woven fabric (no worsted weight knitted pouches, sorry), and has a zipper top. Baggies will not do. You want it to be nice, easy to spot and not have holes in it that things can slip out of. Try FiberFaire to fill this need.

The OSK and your list now go into your purse where it will live till all projects are finished. Don't put the OSK in a project bag where it might be forgotten. It is as important as your wallet and keys. I can't stress it enough.

Your next task is to go shopping! Go get all the highlighted things on that list till you have everything you need!

If you're like me and can't just go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on yarn right now and need to spread the spending out then every time you go into a yarn store pull out the list! If you just have an itch to buy yarn then make sure it is something on the list. Great sale? Bring the list! Coupon for the hobby store with crappy yarn? Grab the list and get needles!

Also, now is the time to start casting on all the things! Go ahead! We'll talk about how to get through the projects next time!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Race Update

Yesterday I took the train up to the city to walk the Giants Race course so I could get a look at any hills, weather, and a good place for my friends and family to see me.

I took the Caltrain up to the city because parking is a pain up there and it would allow me extra knitting time. When I'm doing a lot of walking I like to have a plain knit sock with my and a messenger bag that can fit everything and the yarn in it.

Travel knitting before leaving

I set off with my knitting, snacks, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on my iPod, and got off the train a few blocks from the starting point of the race:

Starting point

Walking along the pier I was really surprised at how nice it was. I even got a little sunburned on my arms and was really happy that I'm in the habit of putting sun block on my face, because otherwise I'd be red as a lobster. The only thing that sucked was the wind once I'd started walking the curve of the city that that takes you from the peninsula to the mouth of the bay. This is also where all the tourists are and it is hard to walk with a purpose through the crowds there. I did do some research and checked out prices for some stuff Anna and I want to do though.

Eventually I made it past the touristy areas and to the thing I was seeking out, Fort Mason. It is actually the hill that I wanted to take a look at because it rises over 100 ft in a little under a tenth of a mile.

This is the start. It gets steeper as it
wraps around and keeps going up 
I walked up the hill really quickly and made the decision that if I powered through it I would be fine. The other side of the hill has much less of a slope to it and as long as I control my speed running down each side (and not fall on my face) I have nothing to worry about.

Turns out that Fort Mason was the only real hill on the course and I'm really greatful we're not running Van Ness which I walked back on shortly after hitting up Greenwich Yarns (only took me 4 blocks out of my way).

I also decided that near the end of the race was where my family should see me run and we'd meet at the usual place for an after run snack:

Happy Donuts across the street from AT&T Park rocks!
The walk took me a total of 4 hours (including stop for yarn and getting lost once) and I have 3.5 hours to run the race. I learned a few other things along the way too. I need to wear my running socks when I walk that far first off. I had a blister the size of my thumb when I got home. Though wearing my ankle weights seemed like a good idea when I set off, the pain they were causing around mile 5 gave me new perspective into my pain tolerance and has set the bar higher. I also learned that even my undergarments play a role in that much physical activity.

By the end of the walk I was looking forward to getting on the train and decided to forgo lunch because I knew if I sat down that it would be hard to get up. Walking down the stairs from the second story of the train was really hard, and then the walk home was something I'd rather not think of.

I know my iPod ran out of battery, I napped on the train and this is how far the knitting got:

Sock that is made from my self striping
Tardis yarn which was the last yarn in the
Dr Who club!

Now I'm sitting in my chair with heat on my knees and ice on the weak ankle to make sure they will be alright tomorrow for work.

I know I can do it, it just will not be easy (which I kind of knew already).

PS. I'm still $90 from my minimum so any donations, even $1, are greatly appreciated! Thanks to all the knitters that have helped raise me this far already! You all rock and tomorrow there will be a giveaway!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Christmas - Phase 3 - The Projects

This is the phase that is the hardest. I usually get a wicked bout of startitis when in this phase, but we all have to hold off until we have finalized the list.

First you should have a list of people that are knit worthy, and what you would like to make them.

Now go onto Ravelry and start sorting through the patterns to find something that is just right for each person on your list. It sounds so simple right? Wrong.

Ravelry makes all of us want to cast on every single thing on the site! I usually start with my queue to see if I have already picked out something for someone, then my favourites, and if there is nothing in either I dive into the patterns library and look through hundreds of patterns till I find something just right!

Next list what size to make, needle size, type of yarn and colors you need for each project. Your list should look something like this:

Who Item Pattern Yarn needed Needle Size Size Color
Mom Silk Mittens Basic Four Needle Mittens 4 oz Silk Hankies check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Purple
JM Silk Mittens Basic Four Needle Mittens 4 oz Silk Hankies check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Green
Dad Gryffindor Socks Basic Socks 4 oz Dyed Self Striping check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Red and Gold
Grandma P Giant's Socks Basic Socks 4 oz Dyed Self Striping check gauge, need 8st per 1" Get Orange and Black
Grandma Jane Blanket Leaves of Grass 4 skeins Fingerling Cream 4US DPN 6US circ N/A Natural
Aunt Lee Blanket Girasole 3 skeins Fisherman's Wool 10US circs – 2 sets N/A Natural
Aunt Bobby Shawlette Lazy Daisy Shawlette 300 yds DK 7US circ N/A Lt Blue
Aunt Lynn Shawlette Lazy Daisy Shawlette 300 yds DK 7US circ N/A Sea colors
Stina Cowl Hydrangea Neckwarmer 150 yds Sport 3US circ N/A Green
Court Cowl Botanical Cowl 300 yds Sport 6US circ N/A Dark Blue
Jim Boot Socks Basic Socks 400 yrds Worsted check gauge, need 4st per 1" Men's 8 Black
Jim Boot Socks Basic Socks 400 yrds Worsted check gauge, need 4st per 1" Men's 8 Black
Anna Fingerless Mitten Love at the Opera 900 yds Fingerling check gauge, need 9st per 1" Get Red

Notice I have left the socks with "check gauge, need 8st per 1" " instead of listing a needle size? This is because for any fitted item gauge is important, but because I own so many DPNs I'm not going to do the next step for them.

Now comes the fun messy part!

Your homework tonight after you've made this list is to toss the stash and see what you have the can take care of something on the list!

Go through the stash and needles and put them in a big pile! Sunday I'll show you what to do with the pile!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real Quick!

Stephanie aka the Yarn Harlot made her $50,000 goal for Friends for Life Bike Rally! Thanks to knitters she has beat the highest amount ever raised by an individual in the history of the race and today is the last day of her giveaways!

Check out her blog today and see if you spot something familiar!

As Summer Wanes Knitters Rise

These last days of summer are the jewels of the season.

As I sit here looking at the grapevines beginning to change their leaves from green to red I savor the last bit of heat. The end of summer is when we get all the best parts of the season. The heat, the colors, the food, and the friends.

Since moving back to San Mateo I've been able to make it back to the weekly gathering of my friends. What started out as a girls night a few years ago has expanded to include boyfriends, siblings, neighbours and band members. It is not the type of party you would expect to start the week off with.

Anna will usually try a new dish, or splurge on some treat. Courtney will rush to us after work. Stina will learn how to cook something new. Paul will come late and usually arrive with dessert. Nivek might have a ban member in tow and then go back into the house to practice. Sometimes Teresa will drop by with a friend and boyfriend with something from a bakery.

We're all from San Mateo, but our interests vary so much you will never know where the conversation will go. Actually other then my knitting or spinning I don't think you can really expect anything. One of these nights has turned into a late night trip to a casino 3 hours away.

What I can say is that we're a close knit bunch and on these nights I always remind Anna and Stina that they should grab their knitting, because as much as we don't want to admit it, these days are numbered. Soon the leaves will drop off our apple tree, the basil and squashes will die, the swing will be wet with rain, and we'll move inside to stay warm.

I'm lucky because my studio has a great view of the backyard with all the glories of the garden, and on Tuesday nights I'm content to help the girls out with whatever craft they bring and sit in my big chair and just look outside. This is the time to knit I remind myself. This is the time to savor the summer and prepare for the winter. I am a Stark at heart and I think that all knitters really are, because we are all thinking about how winter is coming.

and balancing a teacup on my knee

Right now I'm knitting Nutkin socks, preparing Christmas lists and warm clothes while enjoying the heat with thoughts of how I'll be indoors in the upcoming months.

In the winter we have to remember that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee would say winter is the "glory days of knitters"...

But sometimes you might find us bundled up in our knits enjoying tea on the back deck while it is pouring rain.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Christmas - Phase 2 - The Box and Planning

So do you have you're stocking stuffer gift that you made yesterday?

Yes, good for you! You'll succeed!
No!?! Well get on it... slacker...Camm I see you...

Next go get a box. I use a cardboard box because they go unnoticed, but a storage tub, that is not clear, will do well too.

Now take that stocking stuffer and drop it into the box. This box now has the honour of being the Christmas Box!

This is mine:

I'll be upgrading to a larger one as we get closer

You might notice mine has more then just a washcloth in it and I will tell you a secret. Last year when all the Christmas stuff was going on sale for $1 I did some shopping for this year! I picked up catnip toys, decorations and wrapping paper! I also shop though the entire year to take the edge off last minute Christmas shopping. When I see something I know someone will love I buy it and I toss it into the box! Sometimes I grab it back out for a birthday, but normally it just sits there till Christmas rolls around. If you plan on this let me suggest that you label who's gift is for whom. Two years ago I had a horrible day of dumping the box out to wrap things and I could not figure out who was suppose to get what.

Big thing about Christmas is that it can be very expensive if you do not plan it out right. I try not to spend hundreds of dollars in the two weeks leading up to Christmas on gifts because that is rather stressful. Instead I budget how much I can afford for each person on my list and start thinking of what gifts they will like. It sometimes helps to make a list of what each person's favorite color, shoe size, hobbies and interests.

Next I look at the lists previous to make sure I'm not giving the same stuff again. Nothing it worse to someone as getting slippers last year and getting them again this year.

Now it is time to brainstorm! Take your list and write down ideas for each person and what they might like knitted and otherwise.

This is also a great time to review if someone is knit worthy. Everyone on the list will get the knitted stocking stuffer, but that might be all the knits someone gets this holiday season.

Now here is the list I'm looking at now:

2 pairs Silk Mittens
1 pair of Gryffindor Socks
1 pair of Giant's Socks
2 Blankets
1 Shawl
2 Cowls
2 pairs Boot Socks
1 pair Fingerless Mittens

Now remember 2 things when making this list:

1. Don't plan on showering everyone with knitted gifts. Be selective to those that are worthy and don't give them too much. You need to hold stuff back for next year.

2. Don't forget anyone on your list for the holidays. Every year I make my Christmas list I look back to last year and see who was on the list and add and take away names. Check around to see who might be visiting, who had a new baby and who might be skipping the family get together.

So your homework tonight is to make your list, and start brainstorming patterns you might want to use!

Winner is....

Kat S.

She has won 253 yards of my wool beaded handspun! I love making this yarn with its thread and the beads for the ply and when I'm blending it is always fun to have a theme! I did this one after the Hunger Games, though it is equally appropriate for Halloween.

I found more of the white silk merino blend so I'm going to spin up more of that to get a full 4 oz.

Also, since I know I'm behind by 2 skeins I'll be having 2 extra giveaways this week! Look forward to the white silk merino and some alpaca from North Star Alpaca!

PS. If you want to find out how to enter the giveaway go here! I'm also adding those that donate to my race to this month's Radioactive Rabbit Monthly Giveaway!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Christmas Kickstart! Phase 1 - Lists and the Small Stuff!

Did you know that there are 137 days/19.5 weeks till Christmas? Every year I make this grand scheme to get the Christmas knitting done early and just fly through the entire thing without a care. I make lists and then slowly as we get closer get ideas are abandoned for small gifts out of the same yarn, however I'm still convinced that I'll follow my plan and succeed!

I know 19.5 weeks sounds like plenty of time now but think about how many people are on your Christmas list or take a look at mine:

Grandma P
Grandma Sue
Grandma Jane
Aunt Lee
Aunt Bobby
Uncle Paul
Aunt Lynn
Cousin Seb
Pets - 6 cats & 2 dogs


At 17 people (pets count as one) that leaves me just a little over a week per person so I need to start the planning now and I recommend you do the same.

First thing you need to do is make your list. Go make it and I'll wait right here.... Got it?

Okay, second thing I like to do is split my list up in to parts for stocking stuffers:

Stocking stuffers are a great starting place for Christmas knitting. What you pick to give should be small, easy to carry, and if you have a large stash, most should come out of there.  Women this year will get handmade soap and the men will get hats. Since there are only 4 men I plan on stash diving for some worsted weight alpaca. 

Now pick some simple patterns that everyone will like! Don't choose different patterns for each person, that personalization will come with the next step. The idea is to pick a pattern that is easily memorized so it is quick!

Here is my Plain Hat Pattern and the Marsan Watchcap is a fine choice too. For the wash clothes there are many choices, but I like function so I'm just making simple garter stitch squares or you can go the extra mile with the Leafy Washcloth.

Next is the stash diving. If you have a large stash like I do then this part is easy, but if you don't then it is a good idea to start budgeting for Christmas now. 

For the men's hats I will need about 200 yards. I have a small stash of alpaca worsted weight that I got on clearance once so that is perfect for these hats! The washclothes I need about 360 yards of cotton for so I'll go grab the left overs from the baby toys I made years ago. 

Now go start making your first stocking stuffer and have it ready for tomorrow's post!

Monday, August 6, 2012

What a week!

So I've finished moving and I'm nearly done unpacking. I even dyed yarn yesterday and I'll be doing more today, but the main thing on everyone's mind must be the handspun giveaway!

Drum roll please...

The winner is...

Patti S.

She has won these very beautiful skeins of my handspun. I blended the colors myself using my drum carder and that total yardage is 310 yards!

Tomorrow I will be giving away some lovely silk/merino handspun. I actually spun it on the Yosemite trip the girls and I took.

I did a little extreme spinning and the the yarn is a lace/light fingerling weight. The weight is a bit under 4oz because I dropped some in the river above. Sorry but I was not going after it. That river is really quick.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

rollin' rollin' rollin'

That's what is going on with the yarn right now!

I'm having to make a very sudden and unexpected move so please bear with me as I move and get things settled into my new place.

You know you never realize how much yarn you have till you pack it all up. I've decided that next week I need to do a yarn purge of all the nasty acrylic I will never use, because I can hear it squeak on my needles.

How often do you do a purge of the yarn to get rid of the yarn you realized you bought before you knew what good yarn was, when you had bad taste, or when you got over $100 in gift certificated to Michaels?

PS. Drawing for the hand spun yarn will be tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Olympic Ready!

Recently all my customers are talking about the Ravellenics and what they are making. Caroline in South Korea is making the beautiful Haruni by Emily Ross (great free pattern), and Carrie down in southern California and I have been discussing what challenges us on the Radioactive Rabbit Ravelry forum.

Haruni By Emily Ross
Now I do love a great challenge and my knitting group can tell you I love really interesting lace patterns that keep me interested, but nothing has been too challenging lately. In my search for a project that was worthy of really challenging me I realized that knitting is not challenging, that finishing is the real hardship. I can use the excitement of a project to get me through most things, but if it wears off all I'm left with is half a project and a guilty feeling when Ben asks me what happened to last week's hat.

My Olympic size challenge is to gather up all my WIPs and finish or frog all of them. I'm going to end the Olympics with a clean slate. If it cannot be done within that 16 day window then I really just did not want it enough. I'm gathering everything up, and since Ben leaves on a trip on Thursday, I'm going to dump them all on my dining room table and line them up. At last check I had over 100 hours of knitting time in WIPs and with some work I think I can get it down to something like 60 before the games by finishing some stuff and frogging others.

Stop laughing, it can be done!

PS. Handspun winner will be announced later tonight. Carpal tunnel put a cramp in my spinning style.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Running, Tour De Fleece, and Handspun yarn

What does running, Tour De Fleece, and handspun yarn all have in common?

My Giveaway!

We are right now in the middle of Tour De Fleece and I could not be more excited! I actually have a personal problem with my handspuns and that is I love spinning art yarns! I love spinning thick and thin, using beads, adding locks and being wild with colors, but I never knit with them.

In my knitting I like order, calm transitions, natural colors, and smooth yarn that makes an even fabric. I even restrain myself from buying art batts because I always remind myself I only wear scarves and hats my friends have made me, and I'm not sure if my very artsy grandmother can take another cowl made out of art yarn.

What I'm going to do is start giving it away to all you wonderful people that have donated to my Giant's Race fundraiser that is for Project Open Hand!

This will be the first yarn to go up as soon as I finish plying the second bobbin:

It's a 2 ply varying fingerling weight wool yarn that was plyed with polyester thread that has beads on it! I spent an afternoon in Gunilla's shop with my drum carder just making bats from her roving and this one was inspired by the sea.

I have lived in the Santa Cruz area for most of my life and it seems I can never leave here for long. The turquoise is for the sea, the tan for the sand and the white for sea foam. The glass beads came with me all the way from Texas and it reminds me of how the sun makes the ocean glitter on a perfectly clear day.

To win this and other yarns you can do one of the following things:

  • Donate at my fundraising page
  • Send an email with the link to the page and a bit about what I'm raising money for to 5 of your friends (cc me on the email at radbitdyer (at) gmail dot com)
  • Tweet a link to my page with a small blurb and then email me a link to it
  • Blog about what I'm doing and then email me a link to it
  • Post about it on Facebook with a link and tag Radioactive Rabbit

You can do all of the 5 ways and increase your chances to win! It does not matter how much you donate, the only way to increase your chances is by doing the 5 things above!

 Every Sunday I will post a picture of the yarn and the winner of it so start spreading the word now!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

When it Rains it Pours

Now don't take me wrong, not all that has been happening has been bad and this is not a whiney post. I've just been observing things recently and really realized the scope of this term.

Everything started with my allergies acting up and making me really itchy, which led to an infection. The infection was bad an on both legs and my doctor took blood and some skin for testing and observation.  Well the antibiotics worked, but they caused every single one of their side effects. Every morning it was a roll of the dice to see if I would be dizzy, nauseous, sunburned easily, sleepy or had no appetite, and it kept me on my toes by throwing in some days were I felt fine. Then on the last day of the antibiotics I developed full body hives and was taking tons of antihistamines, when I got a call from my doctor. 

In a somewhat surprised voice my doctor let me know that I'm in perfect health. I am slightly over weight, but I've beaten my family history of diabetes and since I run 3-4 times a week my weight is going down. My cholesterol is below average, and when paired with my very low blood pressure, it is a sign my heart is doing well. My thyroid is functioning normally and my doctor told me that she could not even tell I have anaemia from my blood tests. Her advice was to just keep taking Benadryl and wait it out. 

While this all going on I started to realized I needed to either find a new job, or drop my current one down to part time, when the Yarn Harlot had my bags on her blog and the business exploded. 2 weeks ago I was just selling the bags I had made, making the Dr Who bags, and had taken on a custom order that would pay the business bills. Now suddenly in 3 days I had as many orders as what I normally had in a month. I was shipping left and right, ignoring the laundry, making pizza or burritos for 4 days, doing emergency runs to the fabric store for supplies, had a crash course in my new shipping software, and trashing my office. I have no plans to sleep tonight.

Then while on my way home from work I got stuck in traffic while driving Ben's new (new to him that is) car when it overheated. I have enough  experience with cars that overheat on me due to blown head gaskets that I started looking and listening for the usual signs of a blown head gasket without thinking as I pulled over. I called Ben to tell him what happened and learned that my car was undrivable. I was driving Ben's car because my car (affectionately named Henry after Henry of Navarre) was having issues with it's driver side brake and Ben had taken everything off to find I needed a new brake pad and rotor. The traffic was so bad that I was able to almost completely cool down the car as Ben drove the van in the opposite direction to one exit down from me and then come back up the highway to where I had pulled over. We put water in the car and took a farm road to the closest town.

Good news is that the car made it home without overheating again and that by the time we checked everything the traffic was nothing till 1 mile from home, and then it was still moving.

Now tonight I'm planning on powering through the custom orders, some new bags, and the rest of the shipping.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Knitters Being Teased

On occasion I have a conversation with my customers and we talk about our lives and why we knit.

Recently one customer was telling me about how her co-workers tease her about how she's an "old lady" for knitting. I'm use to this mentality and rarely do I get riled because I point out that my great grandmother could not knit and that I, at the age of 25, can most likely knit better then their grandmother.

I hold this as my proof:

Girasole by Jared Flood

There are many brilliant knitters that have taken knitting to the next level and their skills and smarts show in their work. They are not old, not grandmothers, and sometimes not even female.

Bridgewater by Jared Flood

Snowdrop Shawl by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
(I'd like to add she knitted this without a plan and just
went with it as it grew)

Pointelle by Cookie A

These are people that have taken knitting from an "old lady's hobby" to an art form. Every time someone says that knitting is a worthless hobby I laugh and pitty them a little. They will never understand that knitted items last longer, wear better, and are warmer because they are made with love and spirit. Otherwise why would someone reknit the fingers on a pair of gloves 4 times to make sure the fit right?