Sunday, April 05, 2009

We've Moved

Yes, I've finally moved Knit-a-While to my self-hosted WordPress site. Just click to access the new site. If you subscribe to the blog, you'll probably have to resubscribe with the new address.

And to celebrate our move and blogiversary, there's a contest!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Film at 11

But it wasn't just at 11. On Friday, April 3, 2009, Binghamton, New York, was on the major news networks almost all afternoon and most of the evening. It was the site of the lead story for the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening news broadcasts. Binghamton had hit the big time.

Sadly, it was not for a good thing. It wasn't because the Binghamton University men's basketball team had won its way to the NCAA Big Dance for the first time. No, like many cities, Binghamton made the newscast because of a tragedy. And perhaps saddest of all, it was a tragedy that seems to be ever more common: a mass killing.

On the morning of April 3, a man entered the American Civic Association, an organization that helps immigrants to the area get settled, find jobs, learn English, and become citizens. For whatever reason, he came armed. By the time the shooting was over, fourteen people were dead, including the shooter, who committed suicide. Four other individuals were fighting for their lives.

And, of course, when reporters interviewed the shooter's neighbors, they all described him as a nice guy, quiet; none could believe he was capable of such a heinous act. Now where have we heard that before?

Each time we hear of such an incident, residents always say they couldn't believe it could happen there. That's what we're saying tonight, and we'll probably continue to say it for weeks. By now, you'd think that the world would know that they can happen everywhere. No city, regardless of how large or small, how sleepy or metropolitan, is immune. You'd think that experience, being the greatest teacher, would have taught us that. Yet, the next time it happens, and one would be naive to think it will not happen again, the shooter will likely be described as quiet and unlikely to have done such a thing--especially in a place where everyone thought such a thing could never happen.

May peace be with those affected by the shootings.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mean Girls, Mean Girls, Watcha Gonna Do? Mean Girls, Mean Girls

Well, if you're a Mean Girl, or even just aspire to be one, I suggest you check out the Mean Girl Yarn Club.

The Mean Girls' Yarn Club is the brainchild and joint plotting of two of the hottest dyers working today. Laura Wilson-Martos, KnottyLa, is the force behind Dizzy Blonde Studios. Bobbie Bowles is the KnittyKnitterton in KnittyKnitterton's House of Awesome. They know beautiful yarn when they create it.

What exactly does it mean to be a member of the Mean Girls' Yarn Club? Of course, it means you've embraced your inner Mean Girl. But, it also means that you'll be in for a year (6 shipments) of gorgeous sock yarn. It's an exclusive club--only 50 will be allowed in. And you won't get just yarn, though that would certainly be enough. Oh no, the Mean Girls' Mamas will include something special in each shipment.

Be sure to mark APRIL 3, 2009, on your calendar and Toodle-do lists. That's the first day you can sign up for the very special club. The first shipment won't go out until June, but don't be a turtle and wait until then to sign up. The slots will be long gone. After all, Mean Girls are hot.

So embrace your inner Mean Girl. Heck, let your inner Mean Girl bust loose and get her groove on. Check out the Mean Girls' Yarn Club blog to find out how you can sign up.

Cat Hair in My Belly Button

So now, did that get your attention? This isn't going to be an entry about cat hair in the belly button, though I do happen to find some there occasionally. And in my ear. Don't know what's up with that.

It Looks So Easy

This is a sweater. Or at least it will be. The other night I was looking for a summer-type sweater to cast on. I wanted something light and lacy. And, it wanted to be able to make it from yarn already in my stash. In digging through patterns, I came across a couple I ordered some time ago from Just One More Row. They're very similar patterns, but then I find that to be true with many of its patterns. Anyway, these sweaters are very lacy and don't take a lot of yarn--relatively speaking and for my size.

After finding the pattern for the Flyaway Jacket, I determined I had enough yarn and cast on for the swatch. Though measured on the stockinette portion, it suggests you practice the veil stitch, which I did. It includes crossover throw stitch I wasn't familiar with, but it came easily and isn't nearly as complex as one might think from the instructions.

It's an easy pattern, and I'm making some changes, but I do have a word of advice. Don't use Knit Picks nickleplated options for this. Now, you all know how much I love them, and really, nothing has happened to change that. This sweater is supposed to be made with bulky yarn or with two thinner ones held together. I didn't like those options, so I'm using Lion Brand's Cupcake. I heard someone call it Homespun for kids, and that's about right. But, I like it and, more important right now in my knitting life, I had some in my stash. The sweater is worked on an 11 or 13 needle, so the fabric is very loose. Couple that yarn with the nickleplated needles, and it's a fun time in the knitting house tonight! Can I just say "slippage"? The yarn slips all over the place. But, despite that, I'm actually enjoying working on it. Perhaps there's a bit of masochism in my knitting bag.

It Seems to Come So Naturally
I try to remember to post on Plurk and assorted other lists I frequent when I update the blog. I try to remember to post on Plurk and assorted other lists I frequent when I update the blog. Call me strange, but I would like people to read this. Someone on Plurk mentioned my writing style, saying that it seemed to come easily, naturally. I assured her that I didn't always find the entries easy to write, and it isn't always because of subject matter. Sometimes it's just hard to come up with ideas, or at least ideas that I would naturally be drawn to.

The other night, I was just sitting and knitting when, for some reason, I noticed my thought process. (Hey, it's all about me, remember?) I think like I write. There are complete sentences, properly placed modifiers, no split infinitives; it's as though I'm writing in my head. Sheez, I even caught myself going back and editing. All I'd have to do would be put the thoughts on paper, and I'd have a blog entry, story, or even a--shall I say it?--novel. And yes, most of this blog entry was written in my thought patterns long before I sat before the computer. I call this process thoughtwriting(TM).

Since this epiphany, I've caught myself thoughtwriting(TM) many times. Actually, any time I paid attention to what I was thinking. Who knows, perhaps I'm thoughtwriting(TM) my life. And now that I'm conscious that I'm doing it, will my life change? I'd like to think I'd throw in some goodies once in a while.

OK, I have a headache now. . .

As soon as it's thoughtwritten(TM), there will be another blog post from me this week. This one will feature knitting, including info about a new yarn club that I think everyone will enjoy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Musings from Carol Anderson

Well, the blog hasn't moved yet. I had some problems uploading the new Knitting Purls to its blog, so I decided to wait to move Knit-a-while until those are worked out.

I have a book review for you. Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More…, by Carol A. Anderson. Carpenter, Iowa: Cottage Creations, 2008.

Most knitters know the name Carol Anderson or Cottage Creations. After all, the Wonderful Wallaby has been a popular pattern; approximately 66,000 copies of the pattern booklet have been printed! So, it’s easy to understand why so many people anxiously waited for Anderson’s autobiography.
Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … is more than an autobiography about Carol Anderson the knitter, the designer, the business owner. In fact, those facets of her life comprise a small portion of the book. This book is about Anderson’s life. As she stated in an interview published in the September 2008 issue of Knitting Purls, her family and community involvement are the top priorities in her life. This is evident in the stories she chose to share with readers.
The story Anderson tells in Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … is not unlike those that many women of her generation experienced: how she met and married her husband, the sometimes-difficult task of setting up a home, starting a family, and having a love-hate relationship with kitchen appliances. Though the stories may be familiar, Anderson tells them in a way that makes them interesting, that makes you want to move on to find out what she’s going to write about in the next chapter.
Throughout the book, it is obvious how much the author’s family means to her. Anderson writes lovingly of her family members. The chapter about her brother Arthur, who had Down syndrome, is especially moving. Unlike what one finds in some autobiographies, one never gets the idea that Anderson has idealized her family members or others in her life. These people are very real. Readers will be able to identify people in their own lives who share characteristics with those in Anderson’s family.
There are technical issues with the book. There are spelling and grammatical errors, as well as stylistic ones (titles should be italicized in print, not underscored). In the table of contents, chapters are numbered but not in the text. Some “problems” with the book are more technical, running into design and publishing issues. Text runs wide across the page and deeper into the gutter than one finds in most books. That could be problematic if someone has a dexterity issue. It invites the reader to open the book wider, which could break the binding. There’s no ISBN, which means the book’s availability will be limited, and there’s no copyright notice—which does not mean it’s not protected by copyright.
Should those things keep people from reading the book? Of course not. Like Cottage Creations’ patterns, Musings, Memories, Matrimony and More … has that homemade, friendly look, and that is part of what has made the company—and Carol Anderson—popular for so long. She’s like an old, trusted friend, and her readers love her for that. And, they’ll love the book.
The book can be ordered from Cottage Creations, At the Farm of Deer Creek, Carpenter, IA 50426. It is also carried by some LYS, including some online.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Just a Quick Heads' Up

I have fallen in love with my self-hosted WordPress. Admittedly, it's taken a while, and I still don't have it even a quarter figured out. But, what I have managed to figure out makes it seem only logical to move Knit-a-While to that platform as well.

So, some time in the next few weeks, I'll do that. I'll let everyone know so those of you who subscribe will be able to switch over.

I have been working with small needles for so long that my hands really hurt. Well, hours on the computer didn't help either. So, yesterday I decided to give myself a break and start a project on larger needles. I grabbed the ones handy, which were a size 10.5. Sadly, they didn't seem to help. In fact, I think by the time I stopped yesterday, my hands hurt even worse. Bummer.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

On Herman and Toilet Paper

This is Shubacoons Herman McMunster, one of my Maine Coons. He's a handsome boy and weighs about 23 pounds, and it's muscle. Everyone loves him--well, except for those who are somewhat intimidated by his size. And, by the way, most of those are men. He's regal.

Well, those at the vet's office like him, but if I'm there. When I have had to leave him, Herman has bitten the vet at least 3 times and destroyed multiple pairs of Kevlar and leather gloves. If I'm there, he's fine. They've often remarked how they've not seen a cat who behaves so differently when his mommy is or is not there.

He's a big, ole mama's boy. One might even call him a wimp, but then I'd have to hurt you. You might ask why he's lying in the hood of a litterbox. I'm glad you asked. Hermie is claustrophobic. He will not use a covered litterbox. And believe me, there's more than enough room in the one we have for the boy.

Hermie is also afraid of the moon. Well, at least the full moon. We were sitting on the bed one night, and when he saw the full moon, he got all agitated and hid his face in my armpit.

And Herman is a licker, not a scratcher or biter. But, he only likes the taste of my right hand/arm. Go figure.

Yes, he may be odd, but he's my oddity, and I love him.

Toilet Paper: There's Got to be a Better Way
I went to the market the other day. On my list, as is frequently the case, was toilet paper. I hate buying toilet paper, but I can't adopt the left hand and a bowl of water method of potty hygiene. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, just as long as there are alternatives, I'll pass.

I want to know when my market decided everyone had to buy the package of double-sized rolls. No one asked me. Oh, I can buy the smaller size, but only in single rolls. Not everyone's TP spindles comfortably hold the double-sized rolls. And besides, perhaps someone can't afford a package of double-sized rolls during a trip to the market. Oh yes, tell me that in the long run, you save money with the larger rolls. That's not helpful if you have $3 in your pocket and the package of double-sized rolls is $4. Sure, you can buy the single roll, but it's almost $2. Sometimes I think the toilet paper people are in cahoots with the tampon and pantyliner folk. We are, in some ways, a captive audience. There has to be a better way.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My How I've Grown

I spent over an hour yesterday looking for a pattern, and no, I didn't find it. Recent pattern discoveries that have been purchased and printed are fairly well organized. Well, at least they're in notebooks, with a special one dedicated to socks. Older patterns, well, they're not nearly so organized. They're in a notebook, but loosely and in no apparent order--not even to me. Then there are the patterns that have not even made it into a notebook. They're stuffed into a manila folder until I can arrange them in a notebook. I've been planning to do that for quite some time now, but I just haven't gotten there yet.

While scrounging through my patterns, I was somewhat amazed at the number of patterns I have for 2-needle socks and mittens. (To be honest, I think some are repeats, understandable due to the lack of organization.) They hearken back to my days of craving to knit such items but my tediously unsuccessful attempts at using DPNs. In looking through those patterns, I seem to recall actually making very few of them. Oh, but I certainly do remember the ones I did. Mittens and socks alike, they would be fine--until I seamed them. Ugh. Puke. Now, a perfectly good knitted item looked amateurish; cripes, it looked awful, so awful, I seldom wore any of these in public (or private, for that matter). And when it came to the socks, well, can we say "uncomfortable"? No matter where I put the seam, it irritated some part of my lower extremities.

I commend the designers who tried to help those of us who are DPN "slow," but I wanted to knit items I could be proud of, that I could show off, that I could actually wear. "Why don't you just improve your seaming skills?" you might be asking. Yes, that would work, and it's something I'm still working on since not every pattern in the world is seamless. But, even if I did so, the number of 2-needle patterns for mittens, socks, and even hats is limited.

For me, the answer came via Magic Loop and 2 circs. Now, I can knit the items I want and not have to worry about a bleeding seam. I have a binder chockablock with sock patterns, and not one of them is for 2 needles. I'm free!

Still, the walk down the pattern memory lane was good for me. I've been somewhat frustrated with a recent knitting project. Many times I found myself whining that I'd never learn. This Sunday afternoon walk through 2-needle sock and mitten patterns has proved that I can learn something new. It just takes time.