Sunday, February 28, 2016

Crazy Making

This happened.

See the ones on the top.  Those are the buttons that I wanted for the owl eyes.  I went over the Central Avenue and picked them up before the big blizzard last month.  I had ten owls and the buttons all have seven buttons on the card so two cards should do it.  Right, ten owls, 14 buttons--I'm good to go.  Repeat after me--OWLS HAVE TWO EYES.  That's right two eyes.  Each.  Crap.  Six buttons short.  Back to Central Avenue (what fresh hell is this) to get more.   Perfect.  I had a red owl hat waiting in the wings that I had only bought two cards for too so I picked up another strip of those too.

First hat done and in the mail.  Second hat done and, what's this?  The white ones of the EXACT SAME BUTTONS only have six on a card.  Six.  Not seven.  So now I'm short two buttons.

Back to Central Avenue (fer Chrissake) and now I buy a bunch of buttons (see the photo).  See the white ones on top?  Suddenly, they have seven on the card.  SEVEN!!!

The ones on the bottom--totally wrong buttons.  Right size on one card but wrong button.  Wrong size and wrong button on the other card.


Next up, this.

It's a brown owl hat even though it looks purple in the photo.

I lost it.  Couldn't find the damn thing anywhere.  I could have lived with that for a while because I have two more owl hats to make but see that needle?  It's the only 16" size 6 that I have.  To add insult to injury, it wasn't alone.  This was with it.

Except, unlike in this picture, nine of the owls had eyes.  Only one owl left to sew the stupid eyes on (okay they're not really stupid) and it had gone missing.

I checked everywhere.  Called the bar that I knew I had it in (although they probably would have called me if I left knitting there).  Nowhere to be found. 

They were finally found the other day.  Sitting right on Couch 22 next to my front door.

Crazy making I tell you.  Crazy making!

And the only person to blame is me.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Carmowl Hat

Lord, it's been a long time since I've written here.  Need back on that.

But for the moment, it's time for a fast and dirty pattern.   I'll be writing up nicer one with pictures to post on Ravelry, but for now this will have to do.

My friend Carmel saw an owl hat online and she wanted one.  I few quick Facebook posts and a dive into the stash and I was ready to go.  We're knitters.  That's what we do when someone wants a hat.

And then I hit a brick wall.  The pattern called for size 5 needles and I couldn't find mine.   Anywhere.  I have a huge bowl full of double points and there wasn't a five among them.  Easily fixed by a quick run to Jo Anns (also grabbed some buttons for the eyes) and I was casting on.

It seemed wrong.  It seemed really, really, really small.  But I trusted the pattern (my mistake) and kept knitting.  It became apparent very quickly that I was out of my mind.    Brick wall number two.

A lunchtime visit to Ravelry and I had plenty of patterns to choose from.  But none of them were quite right.  I'm picky about a hat--particularly one that is basically a plain beanie--and the ones that I was finding were all just far enough over the line of wrong for me that, I decided to just wack some owls on my basic beanie and call it a day.

Here's what I did:

Gauge:  6 stitches to the inch. 

Yarn:  A nice soft worsted weight wool.

Needles: A set of 5 double points to get gauge.  I used US 6.  You can also use a 16" circular of the same size to do most of that hat until the crown gets too tight.  But I couldn't find mine so I did the whole thing on dpns.  I'm picking one up today.

Cast one 100 stitches.

Knit 2, Purl 2 for 8 rounds.

On the next round, *knit 10, M1*.  I did mike M1 by lifting the bar between the stitches so the needle was coming front to back (I just corrected this because the original post had it wrong.)  Then knit into the back of the stitch.  Repeat from * to * all the way around.

This gives you 110 stitches.  You'll need 11 stitches for each of the owls.

For the record, I start with fewer stitches than I need because I have strong feelings about the ribbing being snug enough.  This was one of the problems that I had with the patterns I was finding--the ribbing was too floppy.

You're now ready to start your owls.  This part is fun. 

You're going to repeat each direction 10 times around the hat to set up 10 little owls.

Round 1--purl 3, knit 8
Round 2--ditto
Round 3--do that again
Round 4--purl 3, Cable 4 Back (C4B), Cable 4 Front (C4F)
Round 5--purl 3, knit 8
Round 6 to 11--keep doing round 5
Round 12--purl 3, C4B, C4F
Round 13-- purl 3, knit 8
Round 14--purl 3, knit 1, purl 2, knit 2, purl 2, knit 1 (you're making the eyes)
Round 15--same as round 14
Round 16--purl 3, knit 8
Round 17--again
Round 18--purl 3, C4B, C4F
Round 19--purl 3, knit 8

And now you have owls.  Stop to admire how cute they are.  If they seem a little scrunched up, don't worry.  They will stretch out when you put it on a head.

It's really only two rows to learn with the eye rows thrown in to keep you on your toes.

Now just keep on knitting until it is 6 inches long from the cast on row measured right up to the needle.

This is a basic, good crown that works for me every time.  You're going to need a stitch count that you can dived by 8.  In this case, 112 and will work so you'll need to increase 2 stitches.  I did it like this.  Knit 55 stitches, M1 (just like I did above).  Knit to the end, M1.

At this point, I like to put the stitches on double points if you been using a circular needle or arrange them on your double points with 28 stitches on each needle.  You'll be doing two decreases on each needle.

You'll repeat each direction all the way around, twice on each neele.

Round 1--Knit 12, Knit 2 together. (26 stitches on each needle)
Round 2--Knit
Round 3--Knit 11, Knit 2 together.  (24 stitches on each needle)
Round 4--Knit
Round 5--Knit 10, Knit 2 together.  (22 stitches on each needle)
Round 6--Knit
Round 7--Knit 9, Knit 2 together.  (20 stitches on each needle)
Round 8--Knit
Round 9--Knit 8, Knit 2 together.  (18 stitches on each needle)
Round 10--Knit
Round 11--Knit 7, Knit 2 together.  (16 stitches on each needle)
Round 12--Knit 6, Knit 2 together.  (14 stitches on each needle)
Round 13--Knit 5, Knit 2 together.  (12 stitches on each needle)
Round 14--Knit 4, Knit 2 together.  (10 stitches on each needle)
Round 15--Knit 3, Knit 2 together.  (8 stitches on each needle)
Round 16--Knit 2, Knit 2 together.  (6 stitches on each needle)
Round 17--Knit 1, Knit 2 together.  (4 stitches on each needle)
Round 18--Knit 2 together.  (2 stitches on each needle)

Just about done now.

Cut your yarn leaving a nice long tail.  Thread it onto a blunt needle and pull it trough the eight remaining stitches.  Go around twice, leaving the stitches on the needle so you have a nice sturdy end.

Now pull the needles out, pull your tail in nice and tight and sew it in.

 Take a moment to admire how cute this hat is .

Now find 20 little buttons for the eyes.  Trust me on this one.  You need 20 buttons.  Owls have two eyes.  This was brick wall number three.  I failed to realize that and had only gotten 10 buttons.  My hat was done as a blizzard began to fly.  Seemed like a bad idea to drive to Central Avenue with 20 inches of snow falling and Brian suggested that perhaps I had lost my mind so I had to wait a week to do my buttons.

Here's a tip to get your buttons to stay on nice and snug.  Thread your needle with your chosen thread and tie and overhand not with the two ends.  You'll have doubled your thread.  Now pull the needle through the purls for the eyes at the top of the top purl bump.  Go in the top hole on the needle and out the bottom hole of the needle.  While it is all nice and loose, push the needle back through the fabric just bellow the same purl bump.  Flip it over, pull it tight and tie it off twice.  Your button will now be placed just where you want it.  Now go back through the button holes two or three times and then tie the ends off again at least twice, preferably three times and trim your thread.  It took me until the second hat to figure this technique out.  The first time, I was sewing it on like I would on a cloth shirt and it was a pain in the a** keeping the button straight and nice and tight.  This worked like a charm.

Once the buttons are on, give it a good dunk.  I love Soak and/or Euclan.  Dunk it, let it sit for a bit and, bang zoom, you have a nice clean hat without any rinsing.  If you don't have any, just use a drop or two or gentle soap.  Don't run water directly on it to rinse it.  Fill the bowl and dunk it again.  Repeat until the soap is out.  Now you can either roll it in a towel and stand on it to get some of the water out or use your salad spinner (which I find much more effective.)  Pat it out nicely and put it somewhere warm (and away from the cat) to dry.

Check your buttons to make sure they are nice and tight and there you have it.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Own It

This post will be short, sweet and to the point.

I have read a tremendous amount from really thoughtful, smart people on both sides of the conversation about race.  Among them, I have only read one person who suggested any action points but all of them were external (hang a sign, vote, etc.)

I've been thinking about this for a while and I think we are missing the point.  All of this is internal so we need to start inside ourselves.  For what it's worth, here are my commitments to make some real change around race.

1.   I will stop referring to people by their race.  How many times have you had this conversation?  I know I've had it a million times.  "Hey, do you know Dave?", "Dave who?". "I don't know his last name.  He's the black guy."  I live in Yonkers.  Referring to a man as a black guy is a meaningless description.  I am saying nothing about Dave that would cause another person to recognize him by simply saying he is black.  There are tens of thousands of "black guys" in Yonkers.  In this conversation I am giving the other person completely useless information and I am choosing to describe Dave with something that is simply not relevant.  I am doing them both a disservice.  Unless I can justify a solid argument for describing someone by their race, I will no longer do it. 

2.  I will be a bigger dick than than the person who is a racist.  My mind has been blown by the number of times I have listened to people spew the most hateful shit and no one says a thing.  At a local bar a few years ago, a woman who is considered a bit of a "character" was letting loose with some really bad racist rants at the bar.  No one batted an eyelash.  I finally asked her to stop.  She responded by saying "Oh Karen, what are you going to do, call me a fascist?"  I simply told her that, no, I didn't actually believe that she knew what being a fascist was and that she was simply a bigot. 

Suddenly the bar went silent.  Suddenly I was the asshole who was "starting something".  Too bad.  I will do this more often.

3.   I will make a conscious effort to share my privilege.  I am white.  I know I have it easy. But it is simply an accident of birth.  Perhaps being a white male trumps my white femaleness but I still have a significant amount of power.  So I will make sure that I am holding myself to the highest standards of fairness. 

It is very easy for me to say that I am not a racist.  And I believe that I am not.  But I have really bad habits.  And it is my responsibility to own it.  I am grateful that the life that I have chosen to live and the career path that I have chosen has allowed me to experience so many different people.  But the fact that I have used the phrase "black friends" bothers me.  I can do better than this.  And so can you. 

Stop talking about racism and start doing something about this--from the inside out.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Halloween (A Little Late)

I love Halloween.  I've never been very good at costumes so it wasn't really about dressing up for me.  There was a bad incident when I was about 12 when I decided to dress up as Medusa.  I had a crazy wig, some sort of toga and a pair of really slippery little weird wicker slippers.  Yes, I said wicker.  Yes, I said slippery.  Yes, I said weird wig.  Yes, I said toga.  Yes, I landed flat on my can running on wet leaves.  And why the hell didn't anyone stop me.  I could have just been a ghost and not be still taking crap from my sister about that epic wipe out.

But today I want to tell you two really good Halloween stories. 

When I was very little--maybe 4 or 5--my mother dressed me up as a black cat for Halloween.  I had on a black leotard, black tights, black ballet slippers and a tail that my mom made from a black stocking, some cotton and an unbent wire coat hanger.  But the best part of the costume was my mask.  It just covered my eyes and it came up to what I believed were very dramatic points at the corners.  I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. 

And I lost it.

About half way through trick or treating (we lived in a really good apartment building for trick or treating), I realized I didn't have my mask on any more.  It wasn't in my candy bag and I couldn't find it anywhere.  Naturally, I started crying.  And naturally, I kept on trick or treating.  I knocked on every door--weeping--and every mom handing out candy I asked my why I was crying.  And I had to explain to them through my sobs that I had lost my mask and now no one would know that I was a black cat.  And they all laughed at me.  LAUGHED!!!

And then we got to the last apartment at the end of the first floor and my poor little heart just broke.  The mom there was my favorite.  She was so pretty and so nice and I just adored her.  She had the perfect pageboy hairdo which she achieved by pulling it up in a really high pony tail and rolling it onto one huge curler (which I still do to try to calm my hair down), she had two kids who were a little older than me but were really, really nice and she had a rug that had games on it.  I'm not sure what her husband did for a living but I do know that somehow we all got really nice, cozy bathrobes from him.  And now my costume was ruined and I couldn't stop crying and I just couldn't get my act together.

But I wasn't giving up on the trick or treating so I rang the bell and there she was.  With a big bowl of candy.  And the perfect pageboy.  She bent down to eye level and asked me why I was crying and I managed to choke out my tail of woe.  And she put the candy bowl down, moved my mask from the top of my head back onto my face, gave me a little kiss and sent me on my way.

Obviously, more than 40 years later, I have never gotten over this.  Ever.  It is the first time I remember an actual act of kindness.  Especially since all of the other moms clearly saw my mask on my head which would explain why they found it funny.

So I try to make Halloween fun at my house.  I answer the door with a meat cleaver.  I pretend I'm going to give them tea bags (and you will be amazed at how many kids are okay with that).  I talk to the kids and their parents and look forward to catching up with them every year.  There are several families who know that they can use the bathroom or grab a soda or bottle of water for a needy kid at my house.

Last year, one of my neighbors came with her daughter and grandkids and one of the little boys and I had a great conversation about Take 5 candy bars.  If you don't know about them, go out and get yourself some.  They are awesome. 

This year, we had a whopping four groups of trick or treaters come to our door.  I was disappointed and almost left to go to Pat (of the tomatoes) house where she gets tons of them.  And then the doorbell rang.  And it was the kid from last year with his family.  And he was so excited.  He told me how glad he was that I was home and that he had been telling his friends at school about the lady who taught him about Take 5 bars.  I had Twizzlers this year but I broke out the private stash for this kid. 

I really hope that he remembers me as an adult as happily as I remember the woman at the end of the hall and that he grows up to have the best Halloween house. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

To Swatch or Not to Swatch

Lately I've been swatching.  Actually, I've been swatching a lot.  There are a few reasons for this.

First, my friend BadCat's book New Vintage Lace has arrived in a store near you.  The book is full of beautiful patterns but the real value in it is the story of her process.  Next, I have some wonderful yarns that I have no idea what they're going to do once they're knit.  So between the book and the fibers, the stars have aligned for a whole lot of swatching.  By the way, I do consider starting a sweater sleeve as the most useful type of swatch there is.  

I've had a cone (or two) of  a very wooly heavy fingering-ish weight yarn that I bought in Vermont at Six Loose Ladies.  It's a local yarn from somewhere in Ascutney.  I was drawn to it by the color--it's a really pretty tweedy raspberry--but once I saw where it was from, I knew it had to come home with me.  I have a good friend who is from a small town near Ascutney and I learned how to ski many years ago at Mt. Ascutney.  Such happy memories had to join my stash.  

I've been looking at it for a while trying to figure out what to do with it and finally settled on a Honey Cowl.    So I swatched.  I cast on with US 8 needles and then gave it a really good wash.

I love the way it looks and the squishiness of it but have been concerned that it may too scratchy.  I am not particularly sensitive to wool's itchiness so I think it's okay but to make sure I have been carrying the swatch around with me and rubbing it on my cheek or wrist every chance I get.  I may just go for it.  Or not.  Who knows?  I'm fickle.

I've also been trying to get my studio dining room table organized.  This pile of sock yarn ends will be wound and bagged as soon as I finish this post.  There's something so satisfying about tidy little buns of yarn.

There are suddenly lots of babies in the wind here in the Y.O. so once these are in order, they'll become little socks to keep tiny toes cozy and warm

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Very Soxy

It's too hot to knit anything but socks.  I have this lovely pile of single socks that has been staring at me, tears of loneliness running down their pretty little gussets.  But alas, they are all still single.

Yes, the second sock for all of them on are on the needles and are all getting done but this one in particular needs to be finished. 

It's my basic sock pattern.  Nothing fancy at all, just a good solid sock that I think will look particularly nice with clogs.  I swear to you the ball band was here 10 seconds ago.  (I just actually noticed that you can see the ball band in the upper right hand corner of the picture.  Proof!)  I got up to get something to drink and now it's gone.  Dagnabit!

This one in particular needs to get off the needles fast because those needles need to start knitting on this.

Isn't she a beauty?  It's Colinette Jitterbug in the Lichen 76 colorway. I'm in love with it.

I'm also in love with those Signature needles that my mother bought me for Christmas.  Really, how did I ever live without them?  Oh wait, I know.  I had to pay for things like food and the mortgage.  They are so shiny and pretty, not to mention their lethal points.  I call them my knitting blades.  

All of these are going into a bag for my sister.  (It's too hot to wear them right now.) A few years back I knit her a pair of socks and it seems I've created a monster.  Really, though, there are far worse things that could happen.  I like to knit socks, she likes to wear the socks that I knit.  I see it as a win/win situation.  And if I stock pile them, I get to give her a pile of them which I think will be very pretty.

As an added bonus, she and I have very different palettes.  She wears a lot of orange, yellow and lime green.  Even her purples and blues are somehow more on the autumn side.  I, on the other hand, go for very saturated, clear colors.  Just wait till you see the yarn I got to make myself a pair of socks--it's practically breathing it is so rich.  But that little skein is also waiting for the Signature needles so I'm not going to torture myself.

I think I'll go wind that Colinette to take the edge off.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Happy Interdependence Day--A Day Late

A few years back, I declared July 5th Interdependence Day.  Although I did celebrate, I never actually got around to posting about it.  So here we go!

Here's what I am think this year for my Interdependence Day resolution (you all make those, right?).   We all need to to stop hiding our light.  I was raised Catholic.  Although I rarely practice anymore, I am still pretty much in line with the basic dogma.  I've just had big problems with the administration and the interpretation of that dogma.  Lately I've been thinking about the whole "don't tell anyone about your good deeds" thing and I have decided to cry bullshit on it. 

We must be kind to each other and we absolutely must tell other people about it.  We have to sing it to the mountaintops and act as we would like others to act toward us.  And everyone else should see us do it--not to make them feel bad or for us to feel that we are somehow better--but to show people what the lingering consequences are of kindness.  Our world as individuals becomes a better place when we are kind and our society cannot exist without the experience of individuals. 

So go out.  Do something nice.  Tell people what you did. Repeat.  Oh, and by the way, when people start doing kind things for you (which I am quite certain that they already have, we've just been programmed not to notice it) make sure you sing their song loud and proud as well.

Here are 10 easy things to do that won't cost you anything (or much):

1.  Hold the door.
2.  Hold the elevator (that's a biggie for me).
3.  Greet people, even strangers, when you see them. 
4.  Beep and wave when you pass a friend (or even an acquaintance) on the street.
5.  Compliment a stranger (but only if it is genuine).
6.  Talk to a child.  And I mean really talk.  Ask them what their favorite book is.  Show them something cool.  Whatever.  Don't just tell them their cute.  Cute fades.  Nice doesn't.
7.  Change the litter box without having to be told 20 times (maybe that's just me).
8.  Give blood.  It's so easy and they give you cookies when you are done.
9.  Give up your seat on the bus or train for someone who needs it.  Or let someone get into your lane at a toll.
10.  The next time you're grabbing a cup of coffee at the deli, and you have an extra buck, ask the counter person to charge you for two.  Then tell them that is up to them to decide who gets a free cup of coffee. 

I'm sure you can come up with dozens more. 

Go!  Now!  Shine your light!

P.S.  Number 11 was going to be "Teach someone to knit".