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a different kind of string theory

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… but I’m still knitting them. Or crocheting them.

I went to a cousin’s wedding in Carmel this weekend, and of course brought along some stash yarn to knittle away the hours. I’m one of those lucky people who can read in the car– and so I tried to knit. But I got to a point where I realized, “Oh, crapola, I forgot to bring some double pointeds!”  I switched to crochet, which turned out to be more car friendly anyway. You need less elbow room to crochet.

I made this:

I used Stitch Nation’s Full o’ Wool  in Honeycomb and Little Lamb– but in my head I call the colors Egg Yolk and Marshmallow. Do you care about that? Probably not. I used a whole skein of Honeycomb and just a teensy bit of Little Lamb for the edges. It’s a straight rectangle of single crochet, with a two inch slot in the middle of one end, about two inches from the edge, to tuck the scarf through.

Knitting would make it look more refined, but the great thing about crochet is that you don’t need stitch holders or dpns or anything– you just knot off and keep going. Or pick up a loop from wherever. Next time I do this, I might knit the rectangle and do the whole stitch holder thing, just to give it a smoother look– then still do a crocheted fan or ruffle on the end.

I have to figure out what to do when it gets warmer. A large project, maybe, that won’t be done until it’s cooler again? Or should I try amigurumi?

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Well, hello Spring Break!

I love being a teacher, and one of reasons why is that I get to have the same days off as my daughter. When I teach morning classes, I miss out on the sleepyhead waking up. I’m in class, teaching older sleepyheads, while my husband gets to wake up the Iso-head and get her ready for school. And does he appreciate the cuteness of her morning fanny, even if it’s wet? I’m not so sure he does. So, I lovelovelove being here when she’s waking up. I love seeing her first.

I also love Spring Break because it gives me time to read the news online, and knit for longer periods of time. When school’s in session, I’ll snag ten minutes here and there before I start to grade, to kind of calm down and get in a good frame of mind before I delve into papers.

This break, I’m knitting my sister-in-law a necker in a muted robin’s egg blue. My other sister-in-law looked a little put out by this, but she didn’t ask– the other one did. All she has to do is ask! While I was at the store, I also picked up a skein of this beautiful fuschia/magenta/purple– well, I’d add a link here, but online it doesn’t look nearly as brilliant. It’s like a glow in the dark, deep magenta.

As I was starting in on Fae’s project, I almost used two differently sized needles! Most of my needles are Clovers, because I like the feel of wood much more than metal. The sound of the metal needles clanking and scraping together sets my teeth on edge. The clack, clack, clack of the wooden needles are relaxing though, and that’s one of the main reasons why I knit in the first place.

The Harmony needles at Knitpicks are sweeeeet. They are rainbow colored (so I can’t mix them up with my Clovers) and slightly heavier than bamboo, but my #1’s splintered and catch on the yarn. I tried filing it, and they’re usable, but still catch. It made me realize that the way the Harmony needles must be made, to get that rainbow effect– they are pressed wood. Most of the time I’m sure they don’t splinter, but for the finer needles, the pressed wood must have more of a chance to come unpressed, or whatever. I still love the Harmony ones for their look and their weight, but since I have to order them online and since this little drawback has arisen… I’m back to Clover needles, at least for smaller sizes. I do mix the Clovers up, though!

Then I remembered hankering after some cute needles at some online boutique– they had the most absolutely cutest tops. Red, with white spots, like toadstools. They were also ridiculously expensive.

So I pecked about online and found this! Next time I go to the craft store, I’m attacking the polymer clay section. How fun! And I’m thinking maybe I could use buttons, too. If I found the right button, I could glue it to the needletop, or maybe glue it onto a polymer base first. I’m not sure, but it’ll solve my problem of matching up the Clovers, and I’ll have either cuter or goofier needles. Let’s face it. I’m not a pro, and these could turn out very goofy, indeed.

Oh, and I also found this. While I don’t want to plop down cash for these customized babies, the list does give me ideas about how I could possibly do this on my own. And that’s kind of the point of crafting, isn’t it?

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What is it with me and not following a schedule? In my classes, I can follow a schedule for a solid month before assignments veer off course. I mean, I still do what I’m supposed to do, just not exactly when I’m supposed to do it. A Composition Theory class I took forever ago would have called that reflective teaching. After all, I do go off course because I recognize that something needs to be lingered over, or it takes longer than I thought to have a discussion about a reading. Actually, I don’t give myself too much grief about not rigorously adhering to a class schedule that I’ve devised myself. However, I’m seeing an overall pattern, and that’s what concerns me just a tad. More than a tad.

So, I’m doing this loop-through scarf (necker! bwa-ha.) and halfway through I started to wonder how this pattern would fare in other yarns, or with alterations. I remembered a bunch of yarn I got at Tuesday Morning a year or so ago, that I’ve been putting off using because 1) it’s lovely, 2) there’s only a ball or two of each color, and 3) I don’t want to waste the lovely yarn on something stupid, because I do love it so much.

Side note: Tuesday Morning can be a surprisingly good place to buy yarn. Who would’ve thought it? It’s a total crap shoot, though. Sometimes, nothing. Sometimes there’s a bunch of yarn that looks like Christmas colored vomit. And sometimes there’s awesome 100% wool in beautiful colors, originally $7.99 a pop, but now $2.99– but only a ball or two of each color. I’m still regretting not getting some recycled Indian silk yarn made from recycled saris or something.

Anyway, so I got out some of my stash yarn and set aside my #4’s. The stash yarn took a #8 needle, so it knit up superfast.

Persimmon is one of my favorite colors.

It starts with garter then goes stockinette for a while, then divides into two garter panels, then rejoins as stockinette, then garter to finish. Superdupereasy. I messed up only in that I used garter stitch for only two rows on one side, and four rows on the other. I’m not sure which side I like better. Probably the side with four rows… I still don’t know. Either way, I’m very happy to have found a way to use my random balls of nice wool! I wore it to school today, and it was very warm. Our room didn’t have heat this morning, and I was able to wear the necker while I taught– a regular scarf would have got in the way.

Now I’m veering even further off course, and am starting another one in another coveted stash yarn. This is some Lamb’s Pride from, like five years ago, so it’s a little kinked up. I’m hoping that if I block it, the stitches won’t look as twisty as they do now.

Lamb's Pride in Limeade

I’m doing some kind of alternating rib. I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I don’t know what it is. I do k1, p1 for four rows, then alternate for the next four rows. I’m also going for a straighter look, and not the slightly gathered look of the Persimmon one (or the original one, for that matter).

I have to put this all on hold today, though. I’ve got a 5h1tl0ad of essays to grade before tomorrow. Plus, this green meanie’s currently being knit on metal needles (METAL! Why?!) as they’re my only #7’s. When I knit with them, I feel like I’m chewing tin foil– plus, the yarn slides all over the place. I’m a bit of a loose knitter. I’m using a trip to Jo-Ann’s (for wooden #7’s) as my incentive to finish grading. While I’m there, I’ll probably get some Stitch N’ Bitch yarn and a bunch of buttons, too.

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Actually, I’m not sure why I keep calling it a necker. The pattern calls it a loop-through scarf. I think I just like saying necker. Neckernecker. I could make a naughty necker.

It has just occurred to me that I might have a fever. I’ll stop.

The gist of this post is that I wanted to show my progress- on DPNs, no less!

Full frontal

The skinnier bit is where the DPN action happened. All 32 stitches get divided up onto the two DPNs, 16 each, and now I’ve rejoined all 32 stitches together. And here’s a shot from the side, so you can see where the scarf loops through:

My webcam doesn’t do the color of the yarn justice. It’s called Sapphire Heather, but it looks like a deep, rather muted Aegean blue in person.

As I’m doing this, I can see variations on this pattern-theme. What if I used two yarns together, different colors, then divided each color onto the DPNs? That would look mod, maybe. Or I could make the tips, that now look like spades, more square, and add a button or something. Or I could use thicker yarn and it would knit up superfast– though not too thick, or it might look like the scarf was a cat trying to strangle me. Bulbous shapes should not be wrapped around ones neck.

There’s that possible fever again. Over and out.

Bwa-ha! I saw these at Borders and they Cracked. Me. Up.

I’ve no desire to infringe upon any copyrights– let me state that up front. I’m new to the whole bloggy thing, but I do have to share this supercute, superfree amigurumi pattern for a heart. While you’re at it, check out the rest of her page. Cuteness. Extreme cuteness.

It’ll be my maiden amigurumi voyage– how appropriate! I think it’d be really cute to embroider some Necco heart sayings on them, too. Well, the old school ones, anyway. Have you seen this article about how they’ve changed the recipe and the sayings? They got rid of banana and wintergreen– and those were my favorites, of course, because apparently I’m outdated. Boo.

Sidenote: My mom is so anticipating her knitted boob that she has decided she wants a scarf as well. I don’t think she realizes there’s a necker on my agenda. Hm. I’ll have to get more #4 needles– because all these damned things are for #4’s! What’s up with that?

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I love Regretsy, and today while perusing the site I saw that they’re knitting prosthetic breasts for charity. I’d seen this idea in Bust a year or so ago, but I didn’t know how to use double-pointed needles. Technically, I guess I still don’t! But what I’m trying to say is that in the meantime, the way I view breast cancer changed. My mom has breast cancer.

The Regretsy site has some links for patterns, and I’m using this one from Knitty.

from Knitty

My mom has undergone her chemo already, and her hair is growing back. In January she had one breast removed, and reconstructive surgery is not something she sees as an option. I’m going to knit her a boob! I don’t know if she’ll wear it or not, as she’s supposed to be getting fitted for a silicone cutlet in the near future, but maybe she’ll want options? After that I’ll donate. But the first decent boob goes to my own mommala!

In addition to my mom, I know two other breast cancer survivors. How about you?

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A long, long, long-ass time ago, my grandmother did not teach me how to knit. Or to crochet. She taught me how to embroider. I was little, about six, because it was when my mom was ill and out of town, and I was staying with Grandma for a while. She told me how she used to dress up her plain clothes when she was younger by embroidering flowers or designs on them. She showed me a few flowers, and I remember trying to make a dog.

Even then, the French knot was my downfall. It was so frustrating for my little kid fingers! It was no surprise to me when, over this Christmas Break, I tried to embroider again and I almost went ballistic over the damned French knot. But then I found a really helpful video here: http://www.needlenthread.com/2006/11/french-knot-video-tutorial.html

I also got this book at Barnes and Noble:

It’s no frills, and organized by the type of stitch– not alphabetically, like one particularly unhelpful book I’d been looking at. I mean, if you’re learning how to do a stitch, and you don’t know what it’s called, how the hell would you find it? This one is organized much more clearly. There are superclear photos of the stitches, and superclear illustrations showing how to accomplish the stitches (Sidenote: Somewhere in New Jersey, somebody’s got to make an embroidery blog called The Stitchuation).

I also got, from across the street, an entire boatload of eco-felt and embroidery floss to experiment with. Felt and floss are SO cheap. Criminally cheap. I felt like I was really getting away with something, after five years of paying through the nose (relatively, anyway) for yarn!

Here is what I made:

Button with a running stitch

It’s the first thing I’ve embroidered for almost thirty years (Holy Shit, I’m old).

I also made this, this, and this.

Toadstool

Demonic looking snail

That's a bit blurry, and cuter in person

They all have pin backings hot glued onto them, and my big idea was that I was going to pin them at various times to my plain black coat or plain black scarf, to snazz them up. For extra sturdiness, I also hot glued matching felt backings to the felt shapes before I glue the pin on. Felt’s kind of floppy.

They’re a bit big– I’m going to do this again, but smaller, I think. Smaller would be more wearable. Right now, they are like tiny billboards. I like what I’ve done, and I’m being a little forgiving, since it has been such a while and I’m a beginner.

It was fun, even if it did make me cross-eyed! No wonder all those Flemish lace-tatters went famously blind. Or am I mixing up stories? Anyway, next paycheck, or maybe the one after that, I’m getting this:

It is so cute, it’s not even funny. If Amelie embroidered, she’d embroider this. And yes, I know she’s not a real person. That doesn’t stop me from wanting to be her, or the version of her that stitches.

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