Friday, October 30, 2009

Things that are Interesting: Wordtwist and Awesome Places

The boy woke up sick today and we don't know if it's swine flu (or regular flu) so I'm preparing for the worst and getting ready to hunker down in the apartment for the week, if necessary. I have, in addition to an array of bland, easily-digested foods and several sorts of medications, the following beverages: orange juice, two types of Naked juice, a 10-pack of Gatorade, a 2 liter of ginger ale, ginger tea bags, peppermint tea bags, Emergen-C (lemon lime!), Theraflu (apple cinnamon? ew), and some sort of weird Kombucha cranberry drink that I had to get to reach the $5 minimum at the vegetable place (Travis wanted chard. Well, kale, technically, but they were out of that. He subscribes to the vegetable route to recovery; I am a fan of the fruit.) Picked up some multivitamins and echinacea too. If this bug is going to take me down, it's going to have to fight for it. I hope my wrists stop aching so I can get some knitting done if I'm stuck here.

But anyway, some more fun things! We are currently in the "other" section of my bookmarks, so shit could get crazy.

First: Wordtwist! ie, online Boggle. I totally forgot about this game and am going to go play it the second I hit "publish" on this post.

And this place is pretty darn neat too, especially for photography and travel geeks: Awesome Places Livejournal Community. A rich mine of inspiring stuff, right there. I haven't looked at it in a while, probably since I bookmarked it, so I'll have to go back and poke around a bit more. It's just going to make me want to go fancy places, though.

And with that, I am out. Remember, kids, it's not enough to wash your hands on a borderline OCD basis and stay 5 meters away from other people at all times: you have to make sure your significant other does, too. Because the pigs will use them as a vehicle to attack you. They are wily like that, and they are mad about all that bacon you've eaten.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things that are Interesting: Barry the Sea Worm and PVC Niddy Noddys

Sorry for the lack of real content... I'm waist deep in Christmas knitting and I can't show you any of it since the intended recipients read this. It's hard, I know.

Two links today, because the first one is both irrelevant to crafting and sort of scary. If you don't like bugs, do not click through to check out Barry the Giant Sea Worm. Barry is seriously one of the most badass animals I've ever seen. He's 4 foot long, has giant stingers that can cause permanent numbness, he can bite through 20lb fishing line, and he somehow snuck into an aquarium and started tearing up their shit. They tried to trap him with hooked bait, but Barry just laughed at them and DIGESTED THE HOOKS. Also, he's straight out of your nightmares. I don't want to post a picture of him in case there are children or weak stomachs in the vicinity, so here is the lovely reef he was destroying:

Bonus: The comments on the article are hilarious:

dose it kill human. omg it really long. it looks like the anacoda "
- Aaliyah, tucson, 01/4/2009 22:19

It's gross, they should get rid of it permanently. What possible use is its existence? none, I suspect.
- Sarah, Bournemouth, 01/4/2009 20:42

We are all God's creatures, the wonder of nature.
- R M, Wirral, 01/4/2009 18:38

Barry looks like something out of "Dune"...
- Swift Malone, Lisbon, PT, 01/4/2009 17:28

Looks edible..I guess...
Just give me a chance.
- ethnos44, corea, 01/4/2009 16:50

(Haha, news comments. Always classic.)

Link number two is a super practical PVC pipe niddy-noddy project. I'd been meaning to make one of these, but then I bought a skein winder, so oh well. But it's super great for those of you who don't want to shell out $40+ just to wind your handspun into nice hanks. It says you need a hacksaw or something to cut the pvc, but I think that they'll do it for you at most big hardware type stores, if you ask nicely.
As the Yarn Turns- Constructing a PVC Niddy Noddy

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Things that are Interesting: Someecards

Ok, so they're not all going to be craft related.

This has to be one of my favorite sites. Appropriate for all occasions... "when you care enough to hit send." The hardest part is thinking up people to send the cards to without getting annoying. I can't get it to post a picture and I don't feel like trying anymore, so you'll just have to click the link...sorry.

And speaking of cards, my new DOUBLE-SIDED OMG moo cards came in! I'm so excited that I couldn't even wait to take decent pictures with a real camera!

Moo Box

They come in a cardboard box now instead of plastic, which is kind of a bummer (it's already all dented from shipping) but it looks nice. And it has neat little dividers that say "mine" and "theirs" so you can store other people's cards. Awww.


The front, which is the same as before...


The back! Omg! It has a picture! Yaaaaay! (and my shop address...which you can't read because it's a blurry iphone picture. What a terrible blogger I am, haha.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things that are Interesting: Danger Crafts!

So I had a funny idea, today. I said to myself, "Self, you have been collecting hoards of crafty links and nonsense for at least a year or two now (since the last major computer meltdown, anyway), why don't you share all those little bubbles of neat-ness and inspiration with everyone else?"

And I replied, "You know, self, that's not a bad idea."

So here I go! Starting at the very top of my bookmarks list, which is organized in categories that make no sense even to me.

Today: Danger Crafts! Super adorable, mostly monsterous creatures (and knitting patterns for making them) by Rebecca Danger. The patterns seem like they would be fairly simple to pull off, yet the final product is so irresistibly rad.

I think this guy, Maddox, is my favorite:

(picture from the Danger Crafts shop, obviously.)

I just want to snorgle him. Which is like snuggling, but you make noises that sound like "snorgle snorgle snorgle" as you rub your face around. Or... something. Ahem. Er. Yes. So. Danger Crafts! Go have a look around. She's apparently putting out a book soon, too, which I'm sure will be terribly exciting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Knitter's Math.... if a 6th grader can do it, so can you.

Today, we are going to learn to use our brains. Too many knitters, it seems, are happy to follow designers' words as law and then become frustrated when their projects aren't quite right. This is bad. I know that actually thinking through things takes a little more time and a little more electrical stimulation of nerves, but it's worth it. I promise.

When you read most patterns, what the designer is really saying is "I used THIS yarn and THESE needles and got THIS gauge and made a thing that fits THIS person" (usually the designer). Sometimes they've done some math in order to offer up some different sizes, sometimes they haven't (and even if they have it doesn't hurt to double check.) In theory, if you used the exact same yarn and needles and got the exact same gauge, you would get a product that is the same size as the designer's. But not very many people DO that. People substitute yarns. They use different fibers, with different stretch and drape. They use different brands of needle. And perhaps most importantly, they have different gauges. So I'm going to walk you through some common issues and tell you how to fix 'em. There is math involved. But it's math that you did in like, 7th grade, and I have faith that you can do it now. I bet your cell phone even has a calculator in it somewhere.

Waaaaah! I'm using the same needles and the same yarn, but I'm getting a different gauge!

Thank you for actually stopping to check your gauge. You're miles ahead of the "gauge is for wussies" people.

You've got a few options here. The easiest is to change your yarn or needle size until you get the right gauge. Since you probably already dropped a bunch of money on the yarn, you'll probably want to tinker with needle sizes. If you're getting too many stitches to the inch (so, say, 9 instead of the 7 you're supposed to get) you're going to want to use bigger needles. If you're not getting enough stitches to the inch, you'll want to use smaller ones. If you don't have an extensive collection of needles at home and don't feel like running out to buy a bunch of them (needles usually aren't returnable), see if your yarn shop will let you swatch in the store before you buy. Otherwise maybe you can borrow a few pairs. Eventually, inevitibly, you'll collect so many needles that this won't be a problem.

If, once you reach gauge, you're getting a fabric that is either too loose or too stiff to be enjoyable, that means you probably aren't using an ideal yarn for the job. You can either abandon ship and get another yarn, or you can rework the numbers. To do that, first tinker around with needle sizes until you get a swatch that you like the feel of, and then take it's gauge. Now, cross multiplication happens.

To review what you learned in middle school, when you cross multiply, you have numbers that look like this:

A ?
-- x --

The question mark can fall anywhere. In this case, you take A, multiply it by D, and then divide by C.

? B
-- x --

In this case, you multiply C by B, then divide by D. You're always dividing by the one diagonal to the ?

So let's say you want to get a new cast on number to use with your new gauge that you've decided you like better than whatever the designer said. Your cross multiplier thingy will look like this:

Designer's Gauge Your Gauge
----------------- x --------------
Designer's CO # Your CO #

Let's say that the designer wants you to cast on 1oo stitches, and wants you to get a gauge of 5 stitches per inch. You, in your infinite improvisational wisdom, want to use a bulkier yarn and are only getting 3 stitches to the inch (note that you should probably think long and hard about how your project is going to look when knitted up in a totally different yarn. Making something chunkier or finer gives it a whole new look.)

Your equation looks like this, now:

5 3
-- x ---
100 ?

So you multiply 100 x 3 (hint: it's 300) and divide by 5 to get 60. Casting on 60 stitches will get you a hunk of fabric that's about the same width as the designer's 100 stitches. The fabric will be a bit thicker, so if you're trying to get it around a head or arm, you might want to work a few rows and try it on before continuing. You might have to add a stitch or two to loosen it up. You can do the same thing for row gauge, though god help you if you decide to significantly change the gauge in a project where row gauge actually MATTERS. In most cases, you can just knit to X inches and call it a day.
(Speaking of which, if you need to know how many inches to knit to and the designer just tells you how many rows, that's easy to figure out too. Take the number of rows (say, 20) and divide by the designers row gauge (say, 4 rows per inch) and you'll get the number of inches (5). )

Noooo! I got the right gauge, but my project is too big/small for me!

If you're making something like a sweater, there's a good chance you'll be given a lot of sizes, but in the case of one-size-fits-all type things like hats or mittens or socks, which only sometimes have multiple sizes, it's a good idea to check your own measurements against the measurements of the designer. Sometimes the designer will say something like "fits a 8 inch wrist", in which case you can straight up compare to your own wrist size. Sometimes it'll say something more like "this hat measures 20 inches around" which is a little more confusing, because it's nice to have a little bit of negative ease on a hat, which means that 20 inch hat probably fits a slightly bigger-than-20-inch head. Sometimes, a designer will not mention either of these things, in which case you can probably email and ask 'em. I'm guilty of this, I know. For the record, my head is 22 inches around. Pretty average for a woman. Also, hats stretch, so that gives you quite a bit of leeway.

But let's say, just for the heck of it, that you want to make a floopy hat for a guy with a big head, say 26 inches. You're getting the right gauge with your yarn and needles, but you know you need the hat to be bigger.

Designer's CO # Your CO #
--------------- x -----------
Designer's Head Your (dudefriend's) head

So that's:

70 x ?
--- ----
22 26

70 x 26 = 1820
1820/ 22 = 82.727

Since you will be doing 1x1 rib, you want an even number, so maybe just do 82.

Now, knowing the cast on number you want isn't going to help when you get to the decreasing (or any other shaping), but that's a blog post for another day.

If you only have the measurement of the object, and no mention of ease, you'll have to be a little bit imaginative. Let's imagine (see, imaginative!) that there is a pattern for wrist warmers that measures 7 inches around when not worn. You want wrist warmers to be a bit tight, so it's probably safe to say that this size will fit an 8 inch wrist. However, you want to make these for your little niece, who's wee wristies are only about 5 inches around. You're probably going to want the wrist warmers to measure about 4 inches, then. Assuming the cast on number for the original warmers is, oh, say, 40 stitches, you get this:

Original warmer size (7 in) Your warmer size (4 in)
--------------------------- x ----------------------------
Original CO # (40) Your CO # (?)

(40x4)/7 = 22.8! So round up to 23, unless you need an even number for ribbing or something, in which case do 22.

Alright, I'll pick this up another time, 'cause this is getting kind of long. It's pretty much the same principle of cross-multiplication over and over, but I'll try to spell it out and give you model equations for as many situations as I can dream up. Huzzah!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Swell new backdrop + Things coming up on Dull Roar

The bad news: Didn't sell a whole lot of stuff at the craft fair. (It didn't look like very many people did. Stupid economy.)
The good news: Now it goes up on Dull Roar! And also, I finally found a backdrop I like. It's actually kind of a pain since it's metallic and I have to be super careful about the lighting that hits it, which means all the photos come out dark and have to be lightened, but I have to say I kind of like the end effect (and the colors of the knits are pretty accurate since I prioritize that over, say, the color of my face being accurate.) Many of these you've seen before, but these are the "official" pictures. Without further ado:

Handspun wool/silk blend with embroidery, "Seattle" from...uh......hmm.

Handspun merino, "Chocolate Cherries" from Lavender Sheep

Handspun/dyed angora from Malabrigo... "party pink" or something like that.

Malabrigo Worsted in Snowbird and Sunset

Recycled sweaters! Hehe.

My own handdyed/recycled wool

The yarn's called "Savoy"... I don't remember the color or brand, though.

Malabrigo Aquarella in...that purple color, and some sort of Elsbeth Lavold Alpaca, I think (I'm good at notes, eh?)

Artfibers Alphabeto and various handdyed wools for the felting.

Cascade 220, held about 4 strands thick.

Handspun from Abstract Fibers roving, vintage lace

Berroco Ultra Alpaca, vintage lace.

Twinkle Soft Chunky

My handdyed, recycled cashmere/silk blend (feels soooo good)


Silk/bamboo plus old keys

The Fibre Company's Road to China in Lapis. It's got like...every animal. It's amazing. And gorgeous.

Artfibers Big Bun(s?)

Old necklace parts plus old keyhole parts = yay.

(I've really got the zombie-eye look down, eh?) There are more pictures of each thing over on flickr, and like I said, they'll all be turning up on Dull Roar within the next few days and weeks, though if you should fall passionately in love with anything before it goes up, or just want more info, just let me know ;-) (email is best: presentsknits@gmail or keepittoadullroar@gmail. It's hard to talk shop in the comments, haha.)

Now I'm in serious Christmas knitting mode, which makes for very boring blog posts since my recipients read it and I can't give anything away. I'll try and take some pretty fall pictures or something instead, haha.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I've been meaning to post pictures of my studio since we moved in and I have failed so far...but I just cleaned it today so it seemed like a good time. Not that it's anything particularly special- certainly no great feat of organization, and not even particularly aesthetically pleasing, but I (being the nosy git that I am) enjoy looking at other people's workspaces and figured other people might as well.

So, nosy nancys, here you go:

My studio is a weird backwards L shape, only with the bottom line of the L being all slanty-ceilinged, and the corner of the L chopped off to become a closet. I was going to draw a map, but that seemed overkill.

This is what you see from the door:

This is the tall part of the L, and the wall on the right bends around to take you to the horizontal part.

To the left by the chair is the sewing desk:

And next to it, this ridiculous mountain of fabric:

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you probably realize how little I actually get any sewing done. This is a problem. I tend to cover the desk with knitting stuff, making sewing impossible... But I'm trying to get better, I promise. I need to use up that fabric.

Past that is a little shorty worktable. Usually my winder is there too but I've got it in the living room with my wheel.

Underneath said table:

It's really too short and too crowded to work on. But it holds stuff nicely.

Over by the closet we've got this attractive box of yarn. This is the stuff that has a definite fate. That piece of notepaper jutting out tells the fortune of every ball in the box. Those linen bags hold the fate-less yarn, and the plastic tub is for Christmas presents and presents-to-be.

The WIP-and-wool table (had to use that craft fair table for something after it was over, now didn't I?)

Uh, yeah, holy crap. The little fancy box on the end is the frog pond (and now has a bunch of stuff sitting on top of it since I found more doomed knitwear to destroy.) All those paper bags are full of WIPs in various states of completion. Many of the things out front just need blocking, buttons, or ends-weaving. It probably seems like I should be working on these things, but I'm not. I'm working on Christmas presents. So...there. The suitcase and bags inside it are all spinning wool.

In the back we've got my weird book...trough, some more wool, and the scratchy felted sweaters my dog uses as a bed when he's hanging out in here with me.

Rotating around to the right, we've got Dolores! And a loom!

Rotate a bit more and there's my desk. The pillow used to be the dog's bed but he refused to sleep on it, so it became my chair. Now, of course, he sleeps on it whenever he gets the chance (ie, when I get up to go to the bathroom.)

Bit more, so you're facing the doorway again sort of...and you've got my new and improved skeinwinder! Adam (the builder of the legowinder) spruced it up in return for my making a video of the legowinder (did I post that here? Hmm...) I wanted it less rickety, taller, and less reliant-on-wood-friction-that-wears-away-with-time. It is those things, though I haven't had a chance to try it out formally yet (need to do some spinning, man.)

In the closet- my poor unloved Yudu (no time! no space! Someday!) and a rubber tub fulla yummy knits for Dull Roar (new pictures soon!)

The frightening closet floor. Mostly dyeing supplies that I never use now. Stupid small kitchen sink.

Weird closet shelves on weird slanty ceiling. Yarn waiting for new homes, and Ron the Stash Moth!

Whew! Yay for unnecessary and poorly exposed pictures! (The combination of natural and artificial light really messes with stuff, man.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oooh I wonder wonder wonder....

Just poppin' in to say "hey" and remind everyone that I'll be at Crafty Wonderland today from 11-4 at the Doug Fir (at the Jupiter Hotel)... and I hope you'll be too :-)

(If you're in Portland, at any rate. Everyone else is off the hook.)

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