Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What I got for ya... a whole lotta nuthin'. Man. DANG. Most of last month I was visiting friends on the weekends - even spent a week out in Denver, CO. Aaaand not a lot of knittin' happened, which has been the case for a while now. Aaaaand now I'm having some serious trouble kick-starting my knits. But hey - its Fall: my favorite seasonal kick in the arse! Time to make a Marked For Knittin' (M.F.K.) list and get ta crackin'!

Need to assess a few things:
First, some of the M.F.K.s need to happen more badly than the others, for one of two reasons: 1. fresh babies are getting squeezed into the world continuously or 2. I saddled myself with a favor (aka. boring side project) agreed to months'n'months ago, but procrastinated (aka. tried to spare myself for as long as possible).

Second, every project I have lined up lacks two very essential things - creativity and planning; I may have creative ideas, but I don't plan them well - or even worse, I have a plan, but its not creative. Right now, I've got a sock cuff which doesn't fit, the start of a sleeve which definitely doesn't fit, and am wonderin' if the body of the pullover will have a wonky shape... Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Third, the whole 'fail to plan' thing is screwing up more than just my knitting. Ouch.

So here's the M.F.K. list:
  1. Baby blanket for a kid arriving first week of January (fun times)
  2. Hat for a friend (the new kid's father - also fun times)
  3. 4 pairs of minuture mittens (gag!) as a favor (they are gonna owe me Big Time for this one...)

    and at this point, I'm realizing the stuff I had hoped to finish by now is getting relegated to the bottom of the list... (depression).
  4. EZ seamless Hybrid pullover (done with the body, but not sure of fit/shaping)
  5. a classic Rowan pullover or cardigan (got the yarn/not even gauged yet)
  6. tri-color vest (got the yarn/no plan)
  7. green socks (do-over!)
  8. thick winter socks (easy)
I am getting a notebook and planning each one of these projects from start to finish - no more muckin' up half-baked ideas or instructions. Every project has inertia; I'm tired of hitting points where I have to put 'em down and figure it out - it breaks my stride (apparently for weeeeeks at a time lol). Need to hit my knits running again - startin' with momentum I can build on.

Jotting down a few rules while I'm at it wouldn't hurt, either; worked in Zombieland!

Rule #1: Cardigans.
Rule #2: Guage Matters.
Rule #3: Fail to plan, plan to fail.
Rule #4: If it doesn't fit, you must unknit.
Rule #5: Do the sleeves first.

Okay, time to start knockin' out the' list.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I have returned.

Ya got that right. I am bloggin' 'bout knittin'. Word.

The long and short of it was that I had another surgery. An anterior ulnar nerve transposition. It is loads better - no problems, I am good to go. As soon as I could pick up the sticks and bust out some knit, I did. And here was what happened:

I finished the copper socks and gave them to my brother as a birthday present.

I finished the Jared Flood Habitat hat. I used Malabrigo (always the right choice); I knit it on US 8's to make the larger size, and it fits me noggin perfectly. I did skip a few plain knit rows here and there in the crown of it, so as to make it close up quicker, or else it would have been deeper than I prefer. (Thanks for taking the below pics, Kristen and T).

I also finished the striped vest (which I had not worked on for three months). I used Cascade on US 8 cir following Ann Budd's handy book. I really like this vest. Ya know, vests have a lot going for them: they keep you warm (but not too warm), they are incredibly easy to knit (80% of which can, and probably ought to be, done in the round), and they are economical (about half as much yarn as a sweater). There will definitely be more vests in the future (I already have the yarn for the next one).

I am very excited to have begun Elizabeth Zimmerman's seamless Hybrid sweater, from Knitting Workshop. I came across Stephen's Hybrid back in the spring when looking for sweater ideas; I wanted a basic, easily modified pattern (to allow for wider shoulders) - which is what E.Z.'s patterns are all about. I bought the yarn (an intense blue Cascade) for the Hybrid just before my elbow was cut on; I wanted something to look forward to, for when I got better - with the hope that it would be better. You know how it is:

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises." - E.Z.

P.S. Here are some pics from the State Fair.

The striped vest - normal pose

Feelin' good about being finished - Hulk pose

Cool pose

No comment.

The Habitat

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tuesday sucked. Friday rocked!

I came home Tuesday after a plain 'ol stupidly awful day. Only one thing for it:

Beer bread (used Bluegrass Brewing Co. Nut Brown Ale)

The sock is much farther along by now than what is shown above - I'm already past the gussets. I wanted to finish this weekend. I still may, but then, I'm having second thoughts about the kind of toe I put on the first sock, and may end up redoing it. I'll need to decide soon, before its time to do the toe of the second sock.

I'd debated showing a pic of the red and brown striped vest I'm working on - I'd actually thought, "If I don't write about it, it will get done faster. I'll hurry up and finish it, and then write one post about it, instead of a slew of 'not quite there' entries." Eh, here it is - the torso. It was a bit inspired by this vest here; stripes are just cool. I'm using Ann Bud's handy book for the basics. I cheated and did the trunk in the round. I'm using Cascade, a great yarn. I like the colors a lot.

Also, I'm knitting the vest Continental style; that's right, I have expanded my knitjutsu to include this fast, high-economy-of-motion, knitting technique (I've been watching too much Naruto while knitting lately lol). Really, if you are doing stockinette in-the-round, continental is faster, once you get the hang of it.

Tuesday may have sucked, but Friday was awesome. It was... kinda perfect. A rare day. I had Friday off from work, so my coworker L and I went to WFPK's Live lunch to see the Cold War Kids - it was just awesome. We got there early - by a few hours lol - we were the first in line; I knitted on my sock, and L read to pass the time. The show was a great time - I sure hope they come back to Louisville soon! We even got to meet Laura Shine - the best damn DJ in Louisville and a super-nice lady. Afterward, I went to Ear Xtacy, got the new albums from Neko Case and Cold War Kids, and spent the remainder of the day listening to music and knitting. What a day.

Yawn! O man, its bed time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Confection perfection

That's right, I finished the Confection, a pattern by Tonya Wagner. It was a fast knit (when I was actually working on it), made of Blue Sky organic cotton (which is some really good stuff). I made the largest size, which took two hanks of the Blue Sky - but I Had a ton left over. I only had to use the second hank to do the last few rows on the back, and add the ribbing around the edge. Soon, it will be in the mail to my friend. I'll see about getting some pics posted of baby Gracie wearing it - that would be Confection perfection, no doubt.

Still working on the copper socks - I'll finish the cuff and heel today - it won't be long now.

Its time I started a larger project; I'll get some input from my comrades at the Nook, and keep you posted. Later - I'm going to rock out with my socks out.

Currently knitting to: Andrea Bocelli - Con te Partiro

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Knit it like you stole it.

I feel like a failure - look at me - one post per month - sad! You deserve better, my readers. The thing is, my knitting right now is really indicative of my life in general - a lot going on, but not a lot getting done. I currently have three projects going (all of which might have been finished weeks ago), and a few ideas of projects I'd like to start - but I'm kinda standing around scratching my head wondering where all the time goes. I've been back into lifting for a few weeks now, and that's cut into my usual amount of free time quite a bit, now that I think about it. Maybe I need to sit down and evaluate my priorities.

First off, the copper socks. I finally finished one of them, and started the second one. I tell you what, the first two inches of an 80 stitch sock take forever. But, once I get past that, it starts rocking.

Secondly, is the Confection baby shrug: this is an extremely fast knit, but I'm just not getting a lot done on it. Forget the excuses - this shrug needs to be off the needles and blocked, and in the mail well before Easter. From now on, I will be knitting it like I stole it. Pun intended.

Third, is the Habitat. I had hoped to finish this before the cold weather was over - as long as there was cold weather, having another hat around couldn't hurt. But the cold weather is over - which rocks so hard - even if the hat isn't finished. Anyhow, for this one I need to follow a chart, which isn't really good for knitting with my comrades at the Nook or when its late at night and I'm feeling kinda wonky - which is when most of my knit action happens. Cold weather or not, I'll finish this one, if only to get my no.8's back.

I don't know about the rest of you, but this weather is freakin' invigorating. Saturday! what a God-send it was... woke up late, started some laundry, finally got the stupid Vista update to take on my computer, ran some scans after that, put the laundry away, then Bill came over, and lo and behold we still had the whole day ahead of us. So, we went to get some lunch, ran some errands, I got a tight haircut, did the grocery shoppin' and then it hit me! What the heck, its only 5:30, its absolutely beautiful outside, and there's 2 whole hours of daylight left! So we hit the park and took a really slow walk; it was crowded - babies, dogs, couples, runners, picnics - someone even had a kite out. We got back to the house, I cooked a pizza dinner, and baked a loaf of home-made bread while we watched the entire first season of Father Ted (which is hilarious), and then I fell asleep with all the windows in the house open. Not too shabby.

Today, I went to Vi's housewarming party. What a pot-luck! I haven't seen the likes in ages - and I'm a Baptist for crying out loud! It was great to sit around with friends, laugh, knock out some solid knitting, and get absolutely gorged on some phenomenal home cooking. Vi really knows how to throw a party. Wish I'd taken pics, but I'm sure somebody did.

I came home after the party and baked four more loaves of bread, while I worked on the Confection. I had no idea bread was so time consuming - but it is totally worth it. I made two whole wheat honey loaves, one molasses, and one maple syrup. Crap, the kitchen is a complete wreck.

I'd rather be knitting than blogging. Until next time - which won't be next month!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not really a surprise - but, yeah, it is.

Here it is. The surprise jacket I started right after the last one. I finished it about a week ago. I know. Also pictured below is some yarn for some wash clothes, and some Blue Sky organic cotton - I'm making the Shizknit's Confection baby shrug for a friend's kid.

Time for some honesty: I spent all of the snow days we've just had playing WoW. You have no idea how addicting this game is. It is straight heroin. I kid you not. If you have ever seen the South Park episode about WoW, then you might be able to comprehend what I am trying to relate about this game's all-encompassing life-sapping soul-raping addictive power. The game is an MMORPG. MMORPG stands for Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game. Emphasis on the massive. There are loads of people playing this game. You probably don't know any of them, because, well, they are at home, playing the game. Anyhow. You start the game as a level 1 player, and try to run, gun, fly, buy, hack, hunt, spit, shoot, heal, kill and kick as much arse as possible until you reach level 80 (separate expasion set required). Which will take an unholy amount of time.

But the game is just... I don't know how to put it. You actually create a character in this 'world' and then start living by its rules (and yes, spitting on someone in the game is as rude as in real life - save it for the enemy). You can get pets (and you have to feed them). You can get hair cuts - my character has a mohawk. You can pick your own clothing/armor. You can be a hero, or an a-hole. And believe me, there are a-holes in this game. Guys who will beg you to help them with a quest, and then once you are deep within the virtual reality bowels of this world, up to your ears in a vicious mob (aka. large group of monsters) wacked out on aggro (aka. aggressiveness), that guy will hearthstone (aka.leave), and you will die, alone. And then you have the tedious task of corpse crawling (aka. "get your ghost back to your body, try to run from monsters, get killed, repeat") until ya make it out of the dungeon. For you knitters, this is similar to frogging the cuff of a sleeve 5 times before getting it right. Frustrating, in a word.

And get this: the game has its own freakin' economy. And it works better than our real one! I mean it - everyone in the game has JOBS. And no, JOBS is not a jargon acronym - the characters actually have to work. My level 31 Night Elf Hunter is a leather worker and skinner. Because to get better stuff (armor, weapons, useful items) you need gold. Good thing there are auction houses and banks (and apothecaries, stables, blacksmiths, etc. etc.). Yeah, the characters make items, then try and sell/trade/auction the items at a premium price. You can also form guilds - which is basically large groups of players who combine their resources and abilities for mutual advantage - such as helping with quests. Not only this, because the world is so large, you are constantly running around from place to place - or, in my case, getting a bit lost and having some gnarly animal kill me. Those are the not-so-fun times.

I kinda realized, slowly, that when jargon for the game begins to include terms like "grind" and "farm" (aka. spending long hours just killing lower level creatures to earn needed gold) - its kinda become too much like real life. And this may sound insane, but that's also why the game is too much freakin' fun. When you do get a level up, and the monsters which were a pain get easier, well, that's something. Effort pays off. You play by the rules, you win (which isn't necessarily how real life works, but oh well). Technically, though, the game will never end - they will always come out with expansion packs.

Oh heck yes, I am quitting this game. At level 31 - not level 80. I have just (barely) managed to buy a mount (Nightsaber Cat, to be exact), and I'm walking away while I still have a few wafts of the euphoria of victory to savor, before I'm subjected again to the hack and grind existance which is WoW. I'm sure I will jones for it - the rush of battle, the clang of weapons - I will go into withdrawl from my own adrenaline lol. I mean, when Conan was asked, "What is best in life?" he answered, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women." That's some mighty potent stuff.

But like others before me, I will have to rely on my yarn and sticks to beat an addiction. Um, okay, I shouldn't have made that joke. Turns out the people that comment on have/had an actual addiction problem. Insane.

Not sure how much sense it makes to beat one jargon-riddled subculture-ensconsed addiction with another, but here goes. (Don't worry - I'm already working on the Habitat which didn't get finished this week. So many terrific snow days, and I didn't knit a stitch. I just kicked myself.)

Another reason less knitting is happening: I got back in the gym. Its awesome. "Picking up heavy things and setting them back down", as Hank used to say. Tomorrow: leg day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fall, Froggin', F-bombs, & F.O.'s

Get this: I actually put off writing a blog for so long, that Blogger blocked my blog and I had to put in a request to keep it from being deleted.

I don’t have much of an excuse for not writing, other than just getting busy doing other stuff. Personal Stuff which is not appropriate for blogging. If you want to know what that is, you'll just have to come to SnB and pull up a chair like everyone else haha.

But here’s some of idea of what I got into during the months I didn’t write: Rocktober rocked really hard this year; I went camping in Red River Gorge for 6 days/5 nights, and also got in a day of hiking in Bernheim Forest at the start of November. Both months didn't involve a lot of knitting. Which is kinda lame, since Rocktober was when I started knitting - and what a great year its been. I mean check it out everyone, I am an established knitter. I have a freakin’ blog about my knitting for crying out loud (yeah, sorry - it will get a lot more posts in the future!). I won’t say accomplished, but yes, established – and I give a most hearty shout out to all my comrades in yarn at the Knit Nook, Lou.KY for all their help, advice, and wit - here’s to many many more yards of yarn together!

Rocktober - 6 days/5 nights in the Gorge. Fun times.

A view from Bernheim, early Nov. - nice, eh?

Eh, December might as well of not happened. Moving on.

Since my last blog, I have finished the worsted weight socks, and while working on them, gave some thought to the reactions I get about my knitting. Some like it, most don’t care, but generally, everyone points out that I am a man who knits. Just for the record, Balls of Yarn isn’t a “man’s knitting blog” – it is a “knitting blog”. The blog used to be called “Ballistic Knitter”, but I changed the name to Balls of Yarn because my friend D and I had a laugh about it. Yeah. And now I’m stuck with it since Blogger won’t let me have the old name back. Yes, we are stuck with the hairy testicle reference URL for my blog… sorry, world.

But hey, back on topic: being a guy makes no difference in how a knit or purl turns out... But this is an ironic argument for me to make. Feminists have used a similar argument to justify wanting to fly jets, shoot their enemies, and go into space - you know, typical "man" stuff; women can do it just as well, so why shouldn't they? Here's the irony: I ascribe to the school of thought which thinks is should be men crashing into mountain sides, running through foreign slop catching bullets, and die screaming in the black cold silent vacuum of space - call me old fashioned for not thinking gender roles are completely outdated... It's not that I want to put women in a box, so much as them keep them from ending up in a pine one. Moving on.

I admit it – what other people thought about a man knitting – it bothered me at first, and that’s why I didn’t knit much of anywhere other than the Nook. But I also had this in the back of my mind: I went to Ethiopia a few years back, and while there, I paid a weaver to make a gabbi for me. The weaver supported his large family working a simple loom made of tree limbs. He worked with native hand spun cotton to create a sturdy fabric which was then sewn together to make the traditional uni-sex clothing (the only difference, the women's had more 'color'). The weaver was skilled, and extremely proud of his work. In all the areas I visited around Lake Tana, I never saw a woman working a loom; women cooked, carried stacks of wood larger than themselves, fetched water, bartered and haggled in the market, and washed the clothes in hippo and croc infested waters - but weaving was apparently men’s work; it made an impression on me. Evidently. Now, wood is freakin' heavy, and hippos and crocs are lethal, but somehow, this was the woman's work. Go figure. I think the guys did the weaving because, really, its grueling work - and come to think of it, a good source of income. Income is power, and... well, okay, I guess I might as well stop. Culture, mores, gender roles - I figure knitting fits into all that somehow, but I don't know enough to explain it, much less understand it.

Another reason I picked up knitting: it fits. I’m good with my hands; I like to make ‘stuff’; I have a humongous utilitarian streak. Breaking any sort of convention had nothing to do with it - gender or otherwise. Nowadays, though, I have to admit that knitting is unconventional for anyone to do... I can see the appeal knitting might have for all the DIY’ers out there wantin’ to buck the consumer culture, and even for those seeking to connect with something traditional (ie. something older than themselves)… I don't think that's really my reason, though. My friend Deb (who gave me my first knitting instruction) told me the old adage a long time ago, “He who cuts his own wood is twice warmed” – aaaand that’s about as complex as it gets for me.

Recently, I completed a few hats. I made another (larger) butterfly hat. I also knitted an Epitome hat (a Tonya Wagner Shiz Knit design), and it turned out great. I used Malabrigo, double stranded, and manoman is that some great yarn – and it only took one ball! The Epitome was given away to a friend already – so I don’t have a pic of it. I may just make another.

I still have a copper sock on DPs, which needs to get finished. When, I have no idea.

Here’s the worsted weight Cascade 220 socks I finally finished. You have no idea how warm these things are. All of Sept – Nov with no heat in the house? Not a problem. I knit them on US 3s.

Yeah, they are as comfy as they look. I plan to perfect the fit on my next pair.

I also started a Habitat (Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed design) - I'm about 1/3 of the way done.

And my roomie had been hankering for a handknit scarf, so I got some Rowan and knocked it out in about 3 days – it was part of my Thanksgiving knitting. It was a simple knit one row/knit-purl one row, then alternate the 'wrong' side when I switched colors.

the roomie's scarf

I had purchased some yarn to make a jacket for my brother’s baby (who isn’t here yet. The kid was a complete surprise, so, its not like I had to think hard about what to make). But then my friend Deb sent me a pic of Aurdrey Jane (5 months), and the idea of a pink/green striped jacket for her took over. Seriously, knitting for red headed babies - if you haven't done it, go find one, and knit something - you'll know what I mean.

I have a confession to make. In the course of making the baby jacket for sweet Audrey Jane, I had to frog. Twice. The first time, I’d been about 3 hours into it, before I began questioning what was happening. I reread the pattern (EZ’s and the another version I had of it), and not finding an oversight, just carried on for another 4 hours or so. And then I realized it – I wasn’t knitting every 2nd row. So, I bit the bullet, and frogged it. When I started again, I kept going for about 8 hours, and then realized I had been making a different mistake – I hadn’t been moving my marker, so… yeah. I dropped a few F-bombs, and said some things about EZ's pattern which I absolutely entirely wholeheartedly regret. So many regrets.

But don’t sweat it – I finished it a few weeks before Christmas, found just the right buttons for it, and mailed it to Audrey Jane's very appreciative parents (they get it!). And get this: the pattern is awesome and I really like it a lot. Yeah, yeah, nevermind my stupidity earlier. Once I mailed the first, I immediately started the other one for my brother's kid, due in a few more months.

Begin with a bit of inspiration... quote EZ, "ALL GARTER STITCH. All in ONE PIECE." - Knit Workshop pg.100 up the seam with a crochet hook...

...add some buttons....

...insert baby, aaaaannnd...


Next time I completely bomb a project, I'll try not to F-bomb the project - I could end up loving that project and getting tons of thanks for it. I'll just begin rippin’. I'll try not to cuss – it does not help; I will only say things I'll regret. Frogging – its not just the balm, its the cure.

Which makes me recall a favorite book of mine, Emily Upham’s Revenge, or How Deadwood Dick Saved the Banker’s Neice: a Massachusetts Adventure. I loved this book as a kid. It was a smartly crass hybrid of a moralistic children’s tale, and a cheap Western dime novel, and it was hilarious. Here's a poem from the book, “Don’t Tell a Lie Dear Children:”

Don’t tell a lie, dear children,
No matter what you do,
Own up and be a hero,
Right, honest, brave and true
The rod but hurts the body,
While lies destroy the soul,
So, don’t tell a lie, dear children,
Keep your spirit pure and whole

You have no idea how hard I laughed when I first read this as a gradeschooler. I'd recite the poem to myself whenever I needed a laugh. Good times.

Next blog: the Habitat (!), another Baby Surprise (!!), and will I ever finish the copper socks (!?!)? Stay tuned!