Monday, December 24, 2007

Fruity Caps and the Holidays

Fruit Cap
Originally uploaded by craftytails
I am one hat and one scarf short from making my Christmas deadline. Altogether, this is not a bad thing. I had to break for one afternoon to make a fruit cap for a coworker's baby who is due to arrive immediately after the new year. They are having a girl, so I can finally try out some of the lovely patterns I have found.

This weekend, I attended the yearly holiday soiree hosted by Bruce and Mundee. The food and company was extremely cathartic as always. It somehow doesn't feel like Christmas until I exchange gifts, drink too much wine and manage to disgrace myself. This year was happily no exception.

One of the main selling points of the party (besides Mundee's incredible food) is seeing people from out of town. Victor and Susie were a happy surprise. Gracia even turned up wearing a hand knit scarf! The disease has slowly infected friends and coworkers alike. I will not be satisfied until there are vast numbers of personal friends and acquaintances who have a pair of needles and a ball of yarn hidden within their homes in secret shame.

Speaking of which, I am really looking forward to teaching people to knit at Ohayocon in January. My panel is scheduled for Saturday, January 5th. This falls on my birthday, so I am asking that people behave politely to me and each other.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Owning Up

Cashmerino Chunky
Originally uploaded by craftytails
I admitted to a few more (well, a lot of) lost orphans within my stash recently. To my lame credit, I bought a ton of expensive yarn when a local quilting store decided to liquidate their stock. Basically, anyone who was very lucky enough managed to snag pricey yarn below cost. I am embarrassed by my gigantic stash, but there is hope. There will be much rejoicing when my yarn storage finally reaches human proportions. Then again, I shouldn't have asked for Webs gift certificates this year. Um... Oops?

Speaking of yarn crack, Dee posted some new items in her store that sold very quickly. The Starry Night colorway was simply HOT. As lovely as the photos are, they do not give the colors justice. I strongly envy curse whoever managed to snag that skein.

In the indie dyer vein, carrot cate plunged into dyeing last weekend. For a fist run, she did an admirable job. I think I am going to jump on the bandwagon once I deplete my horrendous stash.

I received a stern talking-to. It wasn't pretty.
C'mon. Fall into the rabbit hole with me. You know you want to.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gambled and Lost

J. Knits
Originally uploaded by craftytails
Knitting for the holidays is really burning me out, but I am finally nearing the end of the line. I swore I wouldn't buy new yarn, but I had a moment of weakness when idly picking through a pile of new sock yarn at my LYS. I feel so... dirty.

Once I finish Josh's hat with the cursed brown yarn, I am probably going to make the sushi toilet tissue cozy. I was briefly distracted with starting a Foliage Bear, but I think I can push past this to complete the necessary knitting. I cannot wait to get back to my Central Park Hoodie once the holidays are over. Seriously, this is just getting silly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

T-Day Recap

Snowflake Coasters
Originally uploaded by craftytails
The final count of FOs from this weekend is three. I really feel I could have done a better job. Certainly this was nothing short of a miracle, considering family obligations and a post-Thanksgiving dinner with friends.

My mother's feast on the day itself was incredible. I don't know how she pulled off the shocking amount of food and dessert present. She is really a superhero and no one can convince me otherwise.

On Saturday, the hideously talented Miss Dee made a cake so delicious and fattening that I swear I heard Satan laughing when I took a second piece. I should write an open letter to Paula Deen expressing my admiration at her sheer disregard for health concerns when flavor is involved. My love for traditional pumpkin pie was displaced in a manner that was both disturbing and rapid.

Also, Mr. Dee really outdid himself with the turkey. He brined it overnight in a mixture of vegetable stock, salt and honey. First thing in the morning, he started smoking the meat on the grill. After a large number of Thanksgiving dinners, I can state I have never tasted such moist meat. Yes, I said that. And in a public forum, no less.

Now on to the knitting news. The three FOs were the snowflake coasters, simple cable beanie (in hunter green) and the pair of dark brown Fetching gloves for myself. I am on another pair of the same gloves and plan on switching to another gift project to avoid boredom. I still have a lot to do before the dreaded day arrives. There is a sushi toilet roll cover, another hat, Calorimetry, a robot, a sweetheart bag and a few other projects that I want to squeeze in. Ambitious is not my middle name. More like delusional.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Holidays = Knitting Time

Originally uploaded by craftytails
At long last, I have several blissful days to create my yearly "knit panic" right before the holidays. Since I avoid overcrowded stores on Black Friday, this is my one opportunity to complete a few smaller projects in time for Christmas. I think I have really dug myself into a hole this year. This means knitted gifts are a necessity. Hats, gloves and small toys are the only game in town right now. I realized that I did not take vacation time from work this year and I am looking forward to a few days off next month to see friends from out of town. Much FO goodness will result, I hope.

In the midst of my holiday knitting, Texas had a temperature drop. This is no match for the extreme cold I tolerated in New York, but it is enough to make my hands curl. Suddenly, I realized I have not made any gloves for myself yet. Thanks to the magic of Fetching, I can insert a personal project into the queue. I knit one pair for Coreen, and there are several more waiting to be made for Dee and Chiye.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Jitterbug Ballband Socks
Originally uploaded by craftytails
Despite rampant rumors about the large number of 'acceptable' knots in skeins of Colinette Jitterbug, I have been lucky enough to have two very nice skeins in my stash. They were, in fact, so tempting that I immediately knit them both up. Not only were the colors vibrant, but the yarn was both soft and smooshy and had a nice twist. There are, however, a few drawbacks that bother me. The ball band pattern was a perfect mindless project to work on while having conversations with friends. This being said, I felt I *had* to use their pattern because the yardage is very low for the price. After altering the largest size by increasing the leg length to 47 rows, decreasing the foot to 36 rows and decreasing the toe to 20 stitches, I had barely enough yarn left for mending purposes. This ended up being OK, but knitter beware... The biggest issue I had was the dye itself. The Fruit Coulis colorway pictured here held up in the washer. Unfortunately, the Tapis colorway from a previous post did not do so well. The bright red and dark brownish black faded quite a bit and I felt the sock looked older after only one wash. Luckily, both socks were for my feet, so I can avoid the guilt of giving a present that may disappoint someone.

After embarking on this new sock knitting fetish, I have discovered some interesting things. My feet have always dropped to freezing temperatures when I sleep at night. I read somewhere that poor blood circulation is a genetic trait with my race, so this is not too surprising. A few 100% wool socks later, the problem no longer exists! There is something to be said about a craft that enables me to sleep in comfort.

The secret gift project has been completed and is awaiting a mailing. I will send it early to the bad man, who should guess what it means if he is as clever as the rumors lead me to believe. A photograph will be posted after he has played my little game.

Speaking of gift knitting, I am dying to selfishly work on my sweater project. I have to keep telling myself that I will be allowed to do so after Christmas. Not only do I have a few more pairs of Fetching to finish, but there is another scarf and several more hats waiting in the wings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Triumphant? Return

Connections: A Red Scarf
Originally uploaded by craftytails
I have so much to cover, but little brain power right now. There is a lot going on at work and in my personal life. Plus, holiday knitting has taken the forefront (see the photo as evidence). I can't knit for everyone, but I am trying my best to create items for as many people as possible. Unfortunately, most non-knitters are enamored with scarves. Perhaps they associate scarves with knitting, like afghans and sweaters. People have been surprised when I have offered less time consuming alternatives like hats, gloves and socks. (Admittedly, I don't make socks for most people. Not only do I need specific foot measurements, but I hoard my sock yarn in a way that Gollum would envy.) Two scarves down, one to go. I don't think the third will make it on time, as my patience is waning. Perhaps after I knock out a few of the smaller projects. We'll see.

Besides the knitting, I want to recap what happened at Oni-Con craft panel this year. I am sorry to say the event was not a success this time. It wasn't terrible, but I had several factors working against me. First, the room was locked until after the panel was supposed to start. Many people walked away, assuming it was canceled. Once the room was open, I quickly found that I did not have a table or microphone onstage. For those who know me, I am not comfortable with public speaking in the first place. Having to project my voice (or rather, shout) makes me nervous and is not conducive to the intimate and personal atmosphere I typically prefer. I wish I could be as publicly outgoing as some of my coworkers, but I am simply not wired that way. It was not a complete failure, as several people (including myself) walked away with some really useful information.

My con report, however, is far from dark. I am waiting on a final total from the convention, but the preliminary number from the charity auction was over $6,000! I couldn't believe our success. The staff and attendees were so generous with their support and time. The proceeds will be divided evenly between the Dream Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Not only am I thankful that we did so well, but I am grateful to my coworkers for supporting the additional workload. We need a lot of prep time and signatures to make the auctions possible.

Well, enough with the sappy. There are finally Choo-Choo Bear corsets available for sale! I am so happy that Randy will finally infiltrate goth clubs in a way he didn't expect (or desire).

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My Knit-Fu is Weak

Originally uploaded by craftytails
After getting cocky about my knitting skills recently, I was humbled by two simple projects. One was the Marsan Watchcap, which recommends increasing 8 stitches for larger heads to accommodate for the crown decrease. My folly was not reading the entire pattern before starting the project. If I had bothered to do so, I would have realized the 8-stitch increase would not work for an 18-stitch crown decrease. To add to the foolishness, I utterly failed to download the laundry list of errata for the Greetings from Knit Cafe book. I trusted the pattern for the yarmulke I am making for Sharky and royally screwed myself after the first batch of short rows. Go team! There is not enough red wine in this world to erase the humiliation.

In the interest of all things narcissistic, I am incredibly proud of my lovely friend/partner in crime, Dee. She has started making hand-dyed sock yarn for sale. The narcissism comes in where I announce that she created a colorway dedicated to me. I felt very complimented and ashamed to admit I felt a pang of warmth in my shriveled, black heart when I read her item description. It's all lies, I swear.

In the midst of pattern crises, I managed to squeeze out the first of my Colinette Jitterbug ball band socks. I have attached the photo of the yarn and if I actually get home while there is enough light, I plan on taking a picture of the first sock. The color pools consistently, so it looks almost like a pattern. The yardage is extremely low and I am gambling on being able to finish the second sock using only one skein. I have large hooves, so this supposition is dubious at best.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Simplistic Peony Socks

Simple Socks
Originally uploaded by craftytails
I really should have taken the user ID "Astigmatism Photos". For right now, I will dispense with the whining and get on with the knitting.

Even though I have a plethora of projects to complete, I have been toiling away at a generic sock pattern. Honestly, I have been dying to knit up the two skeins of Madeline Tosh sock yarn that I bought at a craft festival. The fiber is buttery soft, with lovely variegation. It has failed to pool (score!) and there is more than enough yardage for a pair of larger socks. I neglected to make a gauge swatch (no surprise there) and decided to cast on 72 stitches for the cuff on size 2 needles. They fit perfectly! My knit-fu was strong with this project, it seems. I can't wait to knit up the second skein in the "vintage apron" colorway. A little gaudy, but sexy in the way that purchasing yarn in the rain under a tent at a street festival is hot.

I am torn at the moment. I have nearly completed so many projects, but I somehow lose steam when I venture close to the finish line. Lame, I know. I need to complete a few things and finally start the socks I promised my boyfriend many moons ago. I have a preference for knitting socks from the cuff down, so making them from the toe up (boy feet = yardage check necessity) is going to be a challenge. The short row heel will be a trial I have to face because the yarn I bought is self-patterning. Yes, I'm aware I am lazy.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Darkly Envious

Dark Envy
Originally uploaded by craftytails
Ah, yes. Another in a long line of blurry photos appears in my journal like magic. I blame gremlins because I don't feel like blaming myself this particular evening. I felt the need to share the picture, since this is one of the last skeins from the Dyeabolical Yarns "Alter Ego" series. I missed out on the Blue Beetle colorway, so I refused to let this one pass me by.

The Central Park Hoodie is slowly crawling along, and I am finally reaching the point where most of my projects come to an abrupt hiatus. Finishing is turning into my Achilles heel, which comes as a slight shock. This, from the same person who painstakingly hand-sewed plush toys for a year. It wouldn't be so bad if I could find a good tutorial on shoulder seams. I have managed to locate instructions, but none that cover the scary "shaped" shoulders where stitches are bound off in different increments. Bah!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nancy Drew. Yeah, That's Me.

Lady Detective Hat
Originally uploaded by craftytails
So... Dee and I have purchased lovely Noro Iro and decided to make the Lady Detective Hats from Knit 2 Together. Her colorway is much better than the purchase I made whilst in Austin. I fully put the onus not on my lack of impulse control, but on the 'yarn high' I had when I entered Hill Country Weavers. Even though I could hear Satan laughing with delight as I carried a full basket to the cash register, I did it anyway. After a few months of surfing Ravelry, I can say I am not alone. Not one jot.

Although the documentation within the book mentions Miss Marple, I felt like Bess from the Nancy Drew stories when I put this hat on for the first time last night. I still need to make the band and affix a buckle. Did I think about matching my wardrobe when making the hat? No. Was there moment of thought that entered my mind saying I will probably never wear it? Absolutely not. All I felt was the impending need to bring back a nostalgic part of my youth, a part that yearned to go back to the first set of mystery novels that sparked a lifelong obsession with the genre.

Now, I am off to create a series of knitwear patterns based on Nero Wolfe. This, I swear.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Showing my "T"

Originally uploaded by craftytails
At last, I have a silly photo of myself wearing the completed vest. I could have taken a better picture without my chest sticking out, but sheer laziness prohibited me from doing so.

There are a few quick projects that I need to start working on, now that I am sailing through the latest pair of socks. Muscle memory is a lovely thing, indeed. I am dreading the red scarf project a little, mainly because I get bored knitting scarves. There are several patterns that will keep my interest, so I hope to cast on sometime this week.

Necessity and finances have caused me to revisit my stance on baring my yarn stash for the world to see on Ravelry. I have received several requests for projects and after going through my bins, I found all of the yarn I need. If I break down and take photos of my materials, I won't run into the problem of buying excess yarn. Yes, that seems to be the theory of the day. I just performed a massive update to my stash online and will continue to toil away until every bit of yarn is available to view. If I keep everything in plain sight, I may start actually knitting from the massive stash instead of feeling the need to keep purchasing. This is A LOT of photography and data entry, but I must give myself a reality check.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Of Nerd Vests and Charity Auctions

At long, egregious last, I have completed my Pi Vest! Photos will be available forthwith, as soon as I finish the blocking. This is my first garment and while I am not 100% pleased with my work, I am so glad I was finally inspired to drag out the UFO, shake the dust off and finish an article of clothing for once.

There are several more things to finish this week before I am allowed to progress with my new projects. I have a feeling the plush toy will be ready, and perhaps the ill-fated strawberry purse. Although this is a quick knit, it is not a pleasant one. I will be happy to have a final product ready so I can swear off knitting this again. As cute as strawberries are, I can't abide an irritating colorwork project. This is not a fault of the pattern, as it is a reflection of my aversion to tedious knitting.

I finally received a total from the charity auction at Atsuicon and we raised $3,886 for the Houston Komen Foundation. I think this was an enormous amount of money, considering how few people had cash by the end of the weekend. I really appreciate the incredible generosity of the donors, as well as the support we received from both the convention and the guests. I can't believe what was possible in a situation where we fully expected a low turnout. Thanks again to everyone who supported the charity and went above and beyond to make this happen!

Speaking of charity auctions, there are two more this year before we get to take a break. Some items will be sent up to Nan Desu Con on September 14-16th. Although Carrie and I will not be there, we feel confident that the convention will take good care of the auction. October 19-21st, Carrie and I will attend Oni-Con where we will have a blowout raffle and silent and live auctions benefiting both the Make a Wish Foundation and The Dream Foundation. This is something very meaningful to me on a personal level, and we have a lot of anime companies and crafters who have donated their precious time and resources to make our efforts a success.

In my usual non sequitur fashion, I taught another man how to knit. And how did he repay me? With the stunning Colinette Jitterbug Tapis. I don't normally accept bribes, but then again, yes I do.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Red Scarf Project (cross-posted)

Since I missed the boat last year, I am going to drop my current projects and knit a red scarf this year! If any knitters reading this are not familiar with the red scarf project, I encourage you to check out the link. Perhaps we can make this fun by having a knit-along?

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Noro Beanie

Originally uploaded by craftytails
In an attempt to clear out my lingering UFOs, I finished my newest beanie. Although hats take very little time to complete, I put this one down for two weeks right before starting to decrease for the top. This was made in Noro's discontinued Kujaku, which is probably the closest to novelty yarn that I will ever touch. Now I have another matching hat and scarf set, which is not appropriate for Texas weather, but I always feel I *need* them.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

AtsuiCon Panel Update

Despite the discombobulation caused by the convention's rough start, I think my first "Crafts for Cosplay and Charity" panel was a success. I am never sure what people are interested in, so I jumped from topic to topic to see what struck a chord. Luckily for me, attendance was respectable and the people were chatty. My main goals in holding this type of panel are to introduce people to others with similar interests and to start an exchange of information. To my great surprise and delight, both of these things happened. If any attendees are reading this, I only need to mention "Epoxy Man" as a perfect example. I was also very relieved to find a microphone in the room, especially since there was a band playing rock music next door. If anyone is familiar with a hotel convention center, then you know the walls are removable and paper thin. I thank all of you for being so supportive since I am not comfortable speaking in public and hosting a panel by myself is a really big step. As promised, I am posting links to the websites either I, or someone in the audience, referenced.

  • Chibi Octopus pendant

  • Shojo Beat - Katamari Damacy Earmuffs

  • Phoenix Dress

  • Knitted Sushi

  • Etsy - DIY Craft Sales

  • Japanese Craft Book Resource

  • Ravelry - Online Knitting & Crochet Community

  • I am also very pleased to report that the charity auction was a huge success! I have not received a final total from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, but I will post it as soon as the information is available. Due to some logistical issues with the convention, we were unable to hold a silent auction as planned. Special thanks are needed for Sarah, who donated a number of fuzzy, handmade scarves to the charity auction on Sunday. Any other handmade items donated to me by supporters will be used at Oni-Con in Houston in October. Proceeds will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation.

    Thursday, August 2, 2007

    Monkey Photo!

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I finally replaced the batteries in my camera so I could take pictures of the monkey socks. They are fabulous and I think the pattern is lovely enough to add to my Christmas knitting this year.

    The Central Park Hoodie is rapidly progressing. I am at the armhole shaping on the back, and the yarn is even more interesting when knitted. Pictures will follow, plus a convention report after this weekend.

    Monday, July 30, 2007

    Big Trouble in Little Yarn Store

    D. and I embarked on a quest for mischief this weekend. With her husband's blessing (sort of) and my boyfriend being out of town, we decided to go on a yarn store crawl. I had not planned to buy any yarn, but... oops? Well, not entirely. For months, I have been checking out the Central Park Hoodie. As per usual, the yarn specified is far too expensive for me and I have not had the time to rethink the gauge. I had not even decided on the color, until stumbled upon six balls of Cestari washable wool in purple tweed. The pattern runs small, so I made a slightly larger size. I really hope this fits properly when the dust finally settles.

    In my free time, the monkey socks were finally completed! I took nice photos for Ravelry and my camera promptly died after the last picture. Of course it did.

    Finally, my morning could not be complete without an acquaintance walking up to my desk and hurling balls of yarn at me. Nothing says guilt-free stash building like an umprompted fiber attack.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2007

    Finally Finished!

    Great news! My mother LOVES her new felted bunny. I can't think of a better compliment, especially since she is an incredible artist and very picky about her handmade gifts. I walked into the house and put it down to get my current sock project out of my bag. When I turned around, she had noticed the bunny and started playing with it. What a nice way to start my Sunday.

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Toiling Away

    So... I have not made much progress on the UFOs. I have been knitting feverishly on my monkey socks, and I hope to finish by early next week. Perhaps this will happen sooner, but I can't be too sure. I plan to show my bunny-in-progress to my mother tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be more on the FO than the WIP side. I think I have been spending too much time on Ravelry and too little time knitting.

    Some projects are nearing completion, like a cat bed that was started, oh, about nine months ago. I bought a cheap kit for a few dollars and got very frustrated with the yarn. The chenille they provided was of incredibly cheap quality, so it kept breaking and shedding all over the place. The pattern itself is pretty straightforward, so I think I am going to start another one with nicer yarn when this is finished. Hopefully, I will have the new bed ready by the time he tears up this one. He's a tad on the violent side.

    Last night, I met up with friends for a Harry Potter book launch at a local store. We had a lot of fun, but I was surprised to see that the Charmed Knits book was not on display. After searching, we couldn't find it on the shelf containing the rest of the knitting books, either. After asking an employee to run a search, they located it in the children's activity section. Several copies were actually sandwiched between some coloring books. This discovery was especially ironic, since we saw a number of people with hand-knitted house scarves milling about. A classic example of muggles in action, if I ever saw one.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    New Beginnings, Old Yarn

    After corrupting my old blog and annoying my friends with craft-centric posts, I have finally made the move to a create a journal to chronicle my projects. Although I have always worked on various crafts throughout my life, the past two years have been consumed with knitting, cross stitch, embroidery and sewing. Right now, I am completely obsessed with making socks. Working full time, I have found that I can complete a pair in two weeks with casual knitting. My first attempt at the monkey socks has been a great success! I used Brown Sheep Wildfoote in the Brown Sugar colorway. The results have been amazing! I will post photos as soon as I learn how to properly use my digital camera. Thus far, pictures have been either blurry, or the colors are not quite right. And those are the good ones.

    Next up, I am going through my UFOs and completing them one by one. Surprisingly, one project is only waiting on a pom pom. I tried making one last night and it looked like a tangled mess. I am going to download a tutorial and make another attempt today. My mother really needs her felted bunny as soon as possible.

    In August, I am hosting a craft panel at AtsuiCon, so I need to finish my strawberry purse and my plush "Squarey" toy. They have lingered longer than they should have, so I need to begin finishing some things before I can embark on new projects. I have a lot of sock yarn stashed specifically for my boyfriend and I am starting to feel guilty about neglecting his socks. A few friends are still waiting on scarves, socks, a sushi toilet roll cover and a yarmulke. It's evil to make my own monkey socks with so many outstanding projects, I know.