Friday, November 09, 2007

Contest!! Prizes!!! Fugly!!!

Yesterday, I posted this picture:

It's my secret shame: the fugliest yarn in my stash, and quite possibly the fugliest yarn in the universe.

Please, prove me wrong and enter the first annual "That's Some Fugly Yarn" contest. Share that ominous fuzzy mass that you keep shoving further into the recesses of your stash, lest it see the light of day. Only by facing the fugly can we conquor it, and only by sending me phots of your fugly can you win prizes of fibery goodness.

Da rulez:

Send a photo of your fugly yarn (or a link to your flickr page, etc) to abre-los-ojos33(AT)hotmail(DOT)com. Include some variation on "Fugly" in the subject heading.

You may submit multiple fuglies for consideration, but you cannot win more than once.

Contestants are encouraged to include a statement with their entries explaining the origins of the yarn, how long it has been in their stash, if it was ever intended for a project, and generally speaking what they find so fugly about it.

Fugliness will be determined according to color, texture, percieved ickyness of material, and overall impression of ghastliness. Judging will be conducted by myself, Gabby the dog, and my boyfriend Mike, who has a good eye for weird.

A first, second, and third place will be named. Winning entries will be featured on the blog, and yarny prizes will be awarded. Winners will also be invited to donate their winning yarn to the blog, where it will be immolated in a manner befitting its fugliness.

The entry deadline for the contest is Friday, November 16. Winners will be announced By Saturday evening.

Have I left anything out? Okay, get to makin' with the fug already, and good luck!

Now, because it's Saturday, and a promise is a promise....

Somehow I feel that this garment would be put to better use as a tread on a Goodyear Tire. Judging by the models expression, she thinks so too.

I don't even know where to begin with the Fruity Pebbles embedded in the front, but you all are welcome to take a shot at it.

New: The Saturday Snark!

The Knittiot is here to entertain you. Without readers to enjoy my blogging, I might as well be Standing on a chair in my front yard shouting random words out of the dictionary. Which is great for Wednesday afternoons, but what about the rest of the week?

As much as I enjoy writing, doing it for an audience of even two or three is hard. A lot of the time I don't blog because I don't think I'm doing anything remotely funny or entertaining. There's a lot of knitting blogs out there, being written by people who are better writers, knitters, and spinners than I. So to take the pressure off, and to keep chuckin' comedy gold at you, I'm introducing Snarky Saturday. Every Saturday, you can stop by the blog and find fugly patterns and possibly fuglier yarns to point and laugh at. Others might have more exciting projects, or nicer handspun, but no one's better at being a jackass than I. Join me, won't you?

You know, this used to be a perfectly good bath mat. Now it's a Fluffy Fair Isle horror being modeled by the scariest nanny ever. You just try slinging your applesauce at her; the Super Absorbancy of her cardigan makes her virtually invincible. Now eat your vegetables!

Next slide, please:

I am pretty sure that this is the fugliest yarn in the world. It's freaking ghastly. Black Fun Fur is bad enough, no matter how you tart it up, it's still reminiscent of pubes. As if that wasn't enough, someone at Lion Brand said, "Black Fun Fur you say? Let's add some weird white and tan bobbles to it and call it Fancy Fur!" And someone else heard them and said, "Yes, let's do that!"

Let me read the ball band for you, in case the photo's a little blurry: "A fun fur yarn, bursting with kernels of color." Excuse me, I'm not sure I want my yarn bursting with kernels of anything. If it did, I would probably throw a pyrex bowl over it and wait for my boyfriend to come home and kill it.

This is fugly yarn. And it came from my stash. Yup, that's my fugly yarn. I've got three freaking balls of the stuff, and I don't even know how it got in there. I know I didn't buy it; I just looked in the stash one day and there it was. I'm afraid to give it away (like I could), because I'm sure I would get up the next morning, check the stash...and it would still be in there. It's the Amityville Horror of yarns.

So, to review: Blogging is hard, Saturdays are for snark, if you have to wear a fugly sweater then pose like a gangsta, I have the fugliest yarn in the world, which may or may not be haunted.

There. I think we've done some good work today. Tomorrow morning, I'll be officially opening the fugly yarn contest. You send me pictures of what's hiding in the bottom of your stash. Entries will be judged by myself and a panel of experts (my boyfriend and my dog), and winners will be determined. Prizes will be awarded. Yarny prizes. Not fugly yarn.

The WIPs Revolt

Thursday, November 08, 2007

As an Aside

The blog is in a serious state of neglect. Sorry about that. I've had a lot of things going on these past few months, and while many of them have been rather large, they really don't make good blog fodder. I do have some interesting new FO's, cartoons, yarnpron, and a very fun new feature--all of which will be up and posted pretty soon.

But today, I've had something on my mind that I'd like to get out. I hope my friends and regular readers will understand if I want to take advantage of the public platform that blogs provide to make a brief public statement. I doubt that it will ever get to my intended audience, but putting it up here will make me feel better. You may want to cover your ears, er, eyes. I'll get back to happy, yarny, interesting things soon, I promise.

This is Gabby, registered as Roeder's Gabrial, AKC # NM657518/03. Breeder listed as Billy Joe Jones, owner listed as Cathy Roeders of Orland, IL. I don't know if Cathy or Billy Joe or someone else was the person who dumped her at the Animal Welfare League 2 years ago, but I would like whoever it is to know that Gabby is now my dog. She's lived a life on par with that of the spoiled dogs of equally spoiled heiresses and starlets. I love this dog. She's been given the best of everything. And she's needed a lot of everything, especially veterinary care, since her metastatic mammary tumors keep returning. She's had two surgeries to remove her mammary tissues, another to remove a rib when the cancer popped up there, and one more procedure when the cancer started affecting her skin. All told, we've spent in excess of $5,000 in nonroutine medical procedures to keep our girl healthy. It's back on her skin now, and in her lymph nodes, and there's nothing more we can do except keep her comfortable and wait for the end. She's a damn good dog and she could have lived as many as five or six more years, if her former owner would have spayed her.
I just though you'd like to know this, former owner, so you can see what happened to the dog you neglected to spay. Dogs who are spayed as puppies have close to zero incidence of mammary cancer. Yet you allowed her to be intact until past the age of nine, when we adopted her and immediately had her spayed. What's even more damnable is, you also bred her, and it looks like you did it more than once. Was it because you were greedy or just ignorant? Either way, fuck you, whoever you are. You killed my dog.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It'd be okay if you did it and it was a guitar store.

I know, the comic's in black and white. Anyone want to sell me a copy of Illustrator for like twenty bucks?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We have met the Enemy...

...And she is us.
I may need to seriously consider the possiblity that deep seated emotional problems are causing me to undertake projects with humongous scale. Sweaters and afghans are one thing, but a giant bedspread made out of tiny squares is a very special sort of grandiosity. I have been hauling ass on the mitered square bedspread, and is it looking any bigger?

It is not.
It's tempting to take back all the lovely sentiments expressed in the last post about the blanket--the value of persistence, a physical representation of the passage of time, etc. Instead I just want to say it is a very big blanket, it is very boring to work on, and by the time I cast off the last stitch they will probably just pull it right over me as my shroud.

Now I'm depressed. Let's look at pretty things together, ok?

My spinning pal sent me another package yesterday, and Gabby was not neglected. She's been squeaking her squeaky motorcycle enthusiastically for the past two days, and will run and find it if you ask, "Where's your Squeaky Cycle?"

Merino batts (carded by Ms. Pest herself I believe) and Bamboo for me. Is it wrong to put the bamboo fiber on the floor and roll around in it a little? Not that I did, just saying. Thank you, pest, it's all beautiful--although you're making it extremely difficult for me to decide what to spin next. Extremely.

Hey, some handspun that doesn't look like ass! The heathered gray is alpaca, also courtesy of my pest (she is turning me into such a fiber snob). The yarn below it is 50/50 camel-silk, and it's really a lovely pale honey color, not tan like it looks on my monitor. I haven't gotten around to measuring how much I've got of each, so for now I'm listing the yardage as A Decent Amount.

Last, this just came today: Two Chasing Rainbows silk hankies from Crown Mountain Farms. Go give them your money, they take really good care of you. The colors are Copper Slate (left) and Peacock Plume (right). You can tell I'm already diving into that one. Obviously, I have issues with restraint.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We Have a Weiner!

It's me!
Merideth held a really fun contest on her blog, inviting everyone to answer the age old question: If you were stranded on an island and could have only three kinds of yarn with you, which would you want and why?
I took that as a gilt-edged invitation to be silly and have some fun (like I need an invitation), so I wrote up my entry, Robinson Crusoe style, and sent it in. Her and her husband liked it so much they awarded me third place! And there's prizes involved! Feel free to pop over to Merideth's blog and read it here.

In knitting and spinning news..bah, I'm not doing anything you'd be remotely interested in. I'm on a mindless simplicity jag. A diagonal garter stitch scarf. A cabled headband for my mum's motorcycle trips. A wee cotton sweater for my sister's soon to arrive baby girl. I'll try to knit something blogworthy soon, I promise.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

And that's why the kitchen smells like vinegar

Never one to underdo things, I decided today would be a good day to dye up a big mess of yarn. I decided this at about four in the afternoon, when I impulsively bought a box of food coloring at the supermarket. What the hell, I thought. I'll just mix up a bit of dye, pour it on, pop it into the microwave and then take it easy for the rest of the day.
Instead, I embarked on a dyeing rampage, sacrificing at least a good pound of fiber to the gods of Saturday Afternoon Boredom. It was much better than getting the oil in the car changed.
My, er, victims-- the Spunky Eclectic roving that my spinning pal just sent me, a bit of handpun silk, and a skein each of handspun colonial superwash and Corriedale.
It's mad scientist time as I get ready to go to work on the roving...
... While the handspun simmers in a fragrant bath of water and vinegar. Good grief, what have I brought upon myself?
I hate wrapping it up in a Saran Wrap. There's just no tidy way to do it.

Several hours and a colossal mess later, I have:

Four ounces of wool roving. This turned out a lot paler than I had hoped--but awfully purty anyway.

Here's the superwash, possibly my favorite of the four. I kind of went crazy here, pouring colors on top of colors and letting everything run together, so I'm afraid this is a one-shot yarn. That's a bummer, because I want ten more exactly like it.
The Corriedale. The brown bits were olive green, until the dye ran on accident and I decided I liked brown better.
I'm glad I decided to dye the silk; it was hard for me to spin and I really didn't do a very good job of it. I'd cringe a little when I saw it peeping out of the bin, thinking that I'd made a terrible mess out of good fiber. Now that it's chartreuse and olive green, I feel much better about it. Sorry if the colors are a bit hard to make out, it's just really, really shiny.

Join me next Saturday, when maybe I will singlehandedly re-roof the house.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Holy Crap!

Look at the package my spinning pal sent me!

Yes, all that came out of the one box. I'm still pretty much agog. And this is the "little box"; my pal keeps alluding to a "big box" yet to come. I'm almost kind of scared. Look at all this fiber--what more could a girl possibly want? A goat? Pal, are you sending me a live goat?

Eventually I was able to stop petting everything long enough to take some pictures:

In the back: Moorit Roving and undyed roving from Spunky eclectic (yay, I love to dye!). In front: superwash merino in two very pretty shades of blue.

I can't lie, this next one's my favorite:

More superwash merino, this time in wine and a beautiful shade of steely blue gray. I love these colors together, and the roving positively glows.

Alpaca! Natural gray on the left, and two heathered shades of pale blue/amethyst alpaca-merino on the right.

Sorry, this picture just wouldn't turn out right. You're looking at a great boofy mass of combed mohair locks, plus two more little bags of mohair. I've never spun locks before, but I can't wait to try. There's a bag of sparkly firestar nylon that I'm going to try to ply with the mohair. Try being the operative word here, since I can't ply for beans, but I'm hoping to change that soon.

My pal also sent me a box of watercolor pencils, since she knows I like to doodle. My late uncle and grandmother got all the artistic talent in the family, nevertheless-

This really made my day, thank you for being so thoughful.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ahoy there!

The hat is finished.

I even managed to pick out that horrible black-on-black provisional cast on and knit an equally piratey lining. I used the leftover merino that I knit the mittens with, so my head is both non itchy and seriously warm.

Soon as I tack the lining down, I'll be ready to set sail.

Wait, that's right, I live in Illinois. Oh well, a girl can dream.

The other big happening around here is that I am participating in another Knitty swap. This one's just for spinning, and it's motivated me to spend a lot more quality time with my spindle. A lot of these folks are making some absolutely gorgeous yarn, so perfect I don't know whether to hug them or bop them on the head and lock them up in my basement. So yesterday I spun up a couple ounces of beautiful silvery-brown cashmere.

It looks pretty good wound up on the spindle. Maybe it's finally starting to click for me. Then I washed it:
Bugger, slubs galore. Happens every time. It still has its own charm, though, and for the first time ever I actually knit something out of my handspun that I'm actually pleased with. What would I possibly knit out of 50 yards of slubby cashmere? Well, I'll show you.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Pirate's Life...for somebody else

Considering that I squeal like an adolescent girl everytime a bit of seaweed brushes my leg, and that on the only occasion I was invited out on a friend's sailboat I was told to sit quietly in the middle and for heaven's sake not touch anything, I'm going to venture a guess that I would not make a very successful pirate. I doubt that many successful pirates are very accomplished at knitting however, which is why I feel pretty good about my new hat:

The fabulous Melody sent me the yarn and the pattern for the We Call them Pirates hat during the last knittyboard SP exchange. Thankya, Melody! It's hard to tell with the stitches all smooshed up on the needles, but the pattern is neat as hell and not nearly as complicated as you might believe. The wool is by Dale of Norway, and it makes the hat doubly neat because it's treated with teflon to create a water resistant yarn. The resulting fabric is a bit rough, so the pattern tells you to start with a provisional cast on, knit the hat, and then unzip the cast on and knit a liner out of soft yarn. Sure, no problem, except guess who cast on for a black hat using black scrap yarn? Yup, that's going to be fun to pick out. I bet it gives me an authentically piratey squint.

Who cares; knitting crosslegged on the floor while my legs go numb from arse to toe has already given me a delightfully piratey swagger.

Hey Mike! What do ya think of my hat?
He likes it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Orange Yarn Challenge

Have you ever had yarn that just wanted to be, well, yarn? Me neither, until I bought a bunch of S. Charles Merino Cable for a sweater. If you've never encountered this particular yarn before, I can tell you that Cable is a good description-- six strands of three ply merino, plied together( so that's 18 ply I guess) to make a very springy, textured, bulky weight yarn. It's fabulous, but it absolutely did not work with the pattern I chose. Nor did it with the pattern after that. No joking, I knit and ripped about two sweaters' worth of stitches to get to the one I'm writing about now. So, I set out to write my own pattern specifically for this yarn, and that's how I accidentally began the Great Orange Yarn Challenge (G.O.Y.C) . Coincidentally, "goyk! " is exactly the sound a pair of circular needles make when thrown onto a pergo floor when you're working with freakin' unknittable yarn.

The merino has a lot going for it--it's very bouncy and stretchy, it works beautifully in textured patterns and cables, and it is just the right shade of orange--not so dark that it's dingy, not so bright that it makes you look for all the oddly dressed people piling out of the tiny car. Plus, it's merino, so I don't need to tell you that it's soft. And considering the fact that I frogged it umpty million times, I can personally attest to its durability.

But whoo boy, are there limitations. It's bulky weight, so any garment knit out of it has the potential to add in places where most of us would like to subtract. Not only that, but it adds weight in a more literal sense as well-- this yarn gets ungodly heavy. I swear it gains weight as you knit with it. Not only does that make for a sweater that is uncomfortably heavy to wear, it creates all sorts of potential design problems-- sagging necklines, droopy hems, stretched out sleeves. Considering that they use more yarn that plain stockinette and therefore add more weight, cables would be right out in my sweater. I still wanted to have some texture, so after much swatching and gnashing of teeth, I found this wrapped rib pattern:

It's a lot like columns of little cables, only with no actual cabling, and very little added weight or bulk. The pattern is pretty mindless to work as well, which is good because I had very little mind left by the time I chose it.

After all the loose, flowy, and sort of shapeless garments of the past two seasons, I wanted a shape that looked tailored and smart, not to mention one that would be as flattering as bulky weight yarn can be on a person of normal proportions. What I came up with won't win any awards for ingenuity, but it was a bit of a personal victory for me. I give you The Sweater That Would Not Be Knit:

I still think it adds a bit too much at the hips, but no one will ever know, because I have mastered the art of squinching your arms in close to make yourself look thinner in photographs.

A very satisfied, albeit blurry, knitter. Who thinks its about time to make something small, like a hat.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Haus of Rhombus

Blogged or not, life moves on. Rows are knit, ripped, and knit again with the exact same mistakes in them. Double pointed needles disappear into the ether at critical moments. Significant others continue to leave their dirty drawers in the hallway outside the bathroom. The blog cries out for attention.

The biggest news around here (in terms of sheer size, anyway) is that my Noro blanket is now long enough to cover our full size bed. Of course, it is barely wide enough to warm the tops of my feet, but I have only been working a few squares every day. I'm really excited by the idea of undertaking a project that will take a long time, perhaps even a few years, to complete. Singly, each square represents about twenty or so minutes of my time. Knit together, they form a chain that stretches ahead much farther than I can see right now. What will I be like when it's finally done, and how will I look back on who I am now? Finished, it will be a record of my life (well, a portion of it at least) like no sweater or shawl or pair of socks could ever be.

Philosophical questions aside, it's just a neat fricken blanket.

A lot of people have asked me for the pattern, which I've adapted from Shelly Kang's sock yarn blanket. Go there for her blankie tutorial, which will tell you all about joining blocks, adding an edging, and coming to terms with all the ends. As for the squares themselves, here's the basic recipe I've been using. Depending on your gauge, it will give you a block that is about 3 1/2 " square (although as you can see in the pictures, the way stitches are slipped and later picked up, the blocks are really more rhomboid--a little wider than they are tall).

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden
Needles: US size 8 or whatever you like
Gauge: Not important. You're looking for a fabric that is dense enough to hold its shape but that still drapes well.

Cast on 19 stitches. All slip stitches are slipped Pwise wyif.

Row 1 (WS) and all WS rows: Sl 1, knit to the last stitch, Ktbl

Row 2: Sl1, K7, Sl 2-K1-PSSO, K7, Ktbl

Row4: Sl1, K6, Sl 2-K1-PSSO, K6, Ktbl

Row 6: Sl1, K5, Sl2-K1-PSSO, K5, Ktbl

Row 8: Sl, K4, Sl2-K1-PSSO, K4, Ktbl

Row 10: Sl1, K3, Sl2-K1-PSSO, K3, Ktbl

Row 12: Sl1, K2, Sl2-K1-PSSO, K2, Ktbl

Row 14: Sl1, K1, Sl2-K1-PSSO, K1, Ktbl

Row 16: Sl1, Sl2-K1-PSSO, Ktbl

Row 18: Sl2-K1-PSSO. Break yarn and secure last stitch.

That's pretty much it. Shelly Kang has an illustrated explaination of how you join squares together if you want more detail, but it's actually very easy. With the right side facing, pick up and knit all the slipped stitches along the left edge of one square (9 sts), pick up and knit one stitch between that square and a second square, then pick up and knit all the slipped stitches on the right side of the second square(9 sts picked up--19 sts total). Then just work the same directions for a basic block.

I was hoping to parade out some actual FOs today, but Mike is at work and Gabby is not very handy with a camera, so sadly they must wait til next time. Whenever that might be.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


What a great day. After nature's cruel joke of snow in April (the day after we mowed the lawn, no less), today's sunshine went down a treat. And when I came home, what was waiting at the front door for me?

My April package from my secret pal Brak, aka Melody (that's right, Melody-- I pegged you!):

There's two lovely, yummy candles that will look perfect in the living room; some Rooibus tea (my favorite); some chocolate covered cranberries (again, yum); and what I am almost positive is a bath fizzy. That, or the world's biggest jawbreaker.

Don't fret Melody, I won't try to eat it. I know it's a bath fizzy.

The yarn is superb. Most excellent. Here it is, photographed alongside my new bonsai with a lovely backdrop of desperately dirty dishes:

That's Malabrigo on the left, a yarn I have never tried although its reputation preceeds it. The color is called "Marron Wax." I have no idea who or what "Marron Wax" might be, but I think I would like some, as the yarn is a beautiful, subtle blend of russet and copper. It's a perfect shade for my coloring, so I want to knit it into something that I'll wear near my face.

Close up of the Noro Silk Garden (what might look blue on your monitor is actually several hues of purple):

The Noro is really a very timely gift, since I have taken all my single skeins of Silk Garden and started a somewhat ambitious/utterly batshit insane project. It sort of depends on how you look at it.
I fell in love with Shelly Kang's mitered square blanket, knit out of leftover balls of sock yarn. I'm not averse to knitting a giant blanket out of sock yarn (I'm all for that brand of crazy), but it would take me years to collect enough scraps. See, Shelly had truckloads of sock yarn mailed to her when word got out about the project, so I'm pretty sure that there are no more leftovers in the world, save for what's sitting in her basket. However, I am forever buying single skeins of Silk Garden when I see a neat colorway (and trust me, they're all neat colorways). Seing as how one can only have so many hats, incorporating all of my oddballs into one big, crazy bedspread seems perfectly reasonable. Right? Right?

So big, big thanks to Melody, not only for all the wonderful gifts, but for making my first Secret Pal exchange so much fun.

Tomorrow: Why I am such a reticent blogger and what I've been up to since the last installment. It's worth checking back for. Promise.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I Love You Baby!

(Image heavy, sorry 56k users)

Just a little while ago, I was sitting on the chaise, quietly enjoying a book. Now, I'm hopped up on raspberry chocolate and yarn fumes--because I got a package from my secret pal!
As Brak (the cartoon character and not my SP of the same name) would say, I'm as happy as a bag of wigs!

Look at this treasure trove: There's the afformentioned chocolates, some pomegranate white tea (I recently discovered white tea and love it--It's great hot or iced), even some bacon treats for the pupmaster! The valentine red yarn up there is Knitpicks Shine Sport, a soft soft soft cotton blend that is easy on the hands. My brain's already busting with ideas for this yarn, as it is a perfect match to my (almost finished) embroidered stockings:

Just an aside: while embroidery is cool, I don't see myself taking it up full time. The stockings turned out beautiful, but it is fiddly work. Makes my teeth itch.
Here's where it gets kind of spooky. One of the first things I unwrapped were two skiens of Dale of Norway Hauk, in black and natural. Immediately, I think "Yes! A pirate hat to go with my pirate mittens!" You know, the pirate mittens from Hello Yarn:

Immediately after that, I opened a mysterious looking rolled up package-- a manila envelope containing, yep--

--the We Call Them Pirates hat and mitten patterns. Brak, you read my mind. And by the way, thank you for the copy of the mitten pattern as well. My brothers think they are insanely cool (as cool as knitting gets for preteen boys anyhow), and my original pattern has been, well, too close to the coffeepot a couple of times.
Gabby says thank you too. Here's her thank you face:

Also sent, but not pictured (because I put it straight into the CD player for the photoshoot), was a CD of Brak songs from when he was a character on Space Ghost. Pure comedy gold.
A great big thank you to my secret pal!!!