Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kill or Be Killed

Slither Gloves
Originally uploaded by craftytails
Bleary-eyed, I awoke at 5:30 this morning to get to the huge yarn sale. Everything in the store was at least 35% off, so I decided to break my yarn fast with a rather embarrassing splurge. I was doing well with stash control, knitting up sweaters and socks, but this was too much for anyone to resist.

Unlike previous experiences with full-contact shopping (Sam Moon being the most memorable example), I was not elbowed in the gut or hurled to the floor. My personal belief is that most people are not fully awake and ready for a Deadwood-style brawl at 6:00 A.M. I even received at least a dozen compliments on my Natty hat, used solely to disguise my greasy hair which was sticking up in all directions when I groggily dressed and stumbled into the car.

In total, I spent far less than anticipated. Perhaps this is a good thing, since I recently dropped cash on a cashmere argyle sweater that was 70% off, but still expensive. The reason for the self-control was the lack of yarn that I need for specific projects. Yes, I could substitute in some instances, but this will require more brain cells than I care to use on a project right now. For a fraction of what I would normally spend, I brought home a trash bag full of yarny goodness. Due to the excessive amount of people grabbing up stock, I am one ball shy of a Tilted Duster and I have more than enough yarn for Ruby.

And yes, I hit the Noro like a cheap tart.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Iowa to Nevada to Dallas

Manos Del Uruguay
Originally uploaded by craftytails
My attempt to blog every day of a convention has failed, it seems. There is far too much to write about, so I will sum up, as Inigo Montoya would say.

Anime Iowa was a good time for many. The charity auction raised $5,600 to aid the Red Cross relief efforts for flood victims. We more than doubled the total for last year, so I feel this was a worthwhile trip. Having limited excursions to the Midwest in the past, I have come to find a certain calm at conventions there. In Iowa, I not only found a cute LYS, but I got 'kidnapped' to go on a field trip near Iowa State University. The person who drove me around was a kindred spirit named Jennifer and the sort of person who is extremely intelligent and would be intimidating if she was not as easy to converse with. We had a great time eating Chinese food and poking around an independently-owned craft store chock full of adorable fabric and yarn I have never seen sold anywhere else. I was a bit overwhelmed at the sheer quality of the merchandise, so I managed to leave without buying anything. I wish they had an online store, but I hope to visit again one day when funds are available to buy retro apple-patterned fabric for aprons and silk yarn.

The weekend after was Eli and Melissa's wedding in Las Vegas. Predictably, two trips on consecutive weekends sapped my energy. But it was well-worth a minor inconvenience. I will spare a detailed account of the wedding, but we stayed downtown at The Golden Nugget. I have always just gone to The Strip when I have visited Las Vegas, so I saw the 'big screen' on Freemont Street for the first time. According to the documentation I found, it is longer than five football fields. It was the ultimate blinky distraction for the drunks staggering wildly outside.

When the wedding day arrived, we took a limousine to the chapel. The 'dueling Elvises' package was everything I imagined, and the event was captured on DVD for review later. I plan to mail out some copies to people who were unable to make it. The bride and groom were very happy and I am deeply grateful they enabled me to be there.

The following weekend, I went to AnimeFest. Although we were only there to catch the events on Saturday night, we managed to see almost everyone we wanted. A few people were missed, but I am sure I will run into them soon enough.

The crafty items are coming along slowly but surely. I have finished off two socks (from different pairs, of course) and a lovely hat from Cascade Pastaza in the 067 colorway. The llama sheds more than I expected, but the hat itself is beautiful and promises to be warm in the winter.

I think the next update will contain a lot of information about Yarn School. The amount of excitement I have would be embarrassing if I actually felt shame.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Anime Iowa - Thursday

I decided to make an account of the entire weekend, so updates will lag behind a day or two.

Thursday Pre-Flight:

In D/FW Airport, awaiting my flight to Iowa. The T-Mobile hot spot charges $10 for a day pass, so I have to go without Ravelry while I sit here. After receiving a charge of $15 to check my suitcase (and knowing I will have to pay another $15 on the way back), my financial prospects look dim for the weekend. So much for trying to treat myself with a skein of yarn from an LYS in the area!

Carrie and I have done a lot of work for the charity auction on Saturday. We are supposed to be on the same flight, but I am early and haven't seen her yet. Every time we run an auction, I am astounded at the sheer amount of time we have to spend getting signature lists, chasing down actors and figuring out pricing. This sounds incredibly boring when I see it typed out, but I can't help feeling satisfied and excited when everything is displayed. I hope all goes well. Carrying unsold items home is a huge disappointment.

Craft-wise, I am considering putting a project aside for work-knitting. There is no time to do such things on a regular basis, but I always knit when I am in the booth recording. No one seems to mind the clicking of needles in between lines. Perhaps next year I will plan a garter-stitch scarf to start in January. I will force myself not to work on it unless the need arises. This way, I will have a year's worth of shows and characters stored in the stitches; a knitted memory of sorts.

This brings up another idea. I typically relegate certain types of projects to specific situations. Simple stitch patterns are for social gatherings at home, socks are for times when I travel and complicated colorwork or lace stays at home or keeps me occupied when I can fully concentrate. My life is based on the security of routines, so why not plan projects around regular day-to-day events? I could create hats and gloves when the weekly gatherings with Michael and Joshua resume. Every time I wear the item in question, this will bring back memories of watching Doctor Who, drinking too much red wine and talking about everything and nothing until someone checks their watch and exclaims at the obscene hour. I could have a project I work on only during the times I travel to conventions, such as today. I assume this will be an easy sock project that will remind me of reuniting with old friends, making new ones and visiting strange places filled with brightly-colored costumes and the indistinguishable chatter of hundreds of voices at the same time. Most conventions pass by in the blink of an eye, so trapping each moment into a tiny stitch is a way to slow down just long enough to enjoy myself. I am so busy living in the future that I forget sometimes.

Thursday Post-Flight:

After rejoicing at the prospect of rainy weather on my dying lawn, I should have realized this was not a good sign of things to come during a flight. Turbulence was horrible and caused a poor little girl in front of me to get sick. Once the smell hit the cabin, I had to strengthen my resolve not to follow the vomit train to its destination.

We were picked up and quickly whisked to a food co-op to get some healthy snacks before hitting the hotel. I bought a bottle of wine (yeah, real healthy), but no corkscrew (typical). After joking about finding an LYS, I spotted one within the same complex. After begging the staff to take me back there on Saturday, I checked into the hotel, said hello to a few people, and piddled with charity auction items. When I picked up my badge and bag of goodies, I met a number of people, including Laura, who works on staff and is responsible for the Knit Like a Pirate website. Knowing there are knitters present makes me feel far more comfortable in a strange place.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dress Nightmares

My nemesis has finally revealed itself in the form of a bridesmaid dress. Many hours online and a full day at the mall have failed to bring me closer to finding the perfect outfit as maid of honor at my friends' wedding in two weeks. I am horrified at best and the least expensive contender is awaiting the bride's approval tomorrow. I sincerely hope she likes it, because this girlish behavior is unsavory to my sensibilities.

A few nice things have happened recently. A coworker unexpectedly bought a present for me. I have always needed a business card holder, but one that has a knitting goth girl was not something I imagined. The artist has some very cute stuff available. Also, Dee has some items for sale at Wool Girl. I am so happy she had her first wholesale order and the yarn has had regular sales. Of course!

Amy's baby shower was a lot of fun. I normally despise these types of activities, especially when games are present. In true fashion when Amy is in the mix, there was a hilarious game involving toilet paper and a diaper creation. Poor Dee was the recipient of the torture. I can't believe I had to say, "I am sorry for what is about to happen."

As pictured, the Wendy socks are coming along nicely. I love this pattern in the red yarn, but the gauge is a little small. She really needs to try one on before I knit the second sock. The pattern was chosen partially on the way it looks and partially due to the moniker of the designer. I will leave anyone who knows better to guess which was more important.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Hiatus Over

I am now safely ensconced in Evil Lair 2.0, complete with new roommate and small, spoiled dog. I am partially at fault for the last bit, but who would dare judge me?

Very little knitting has been accomplished, with the exception of a few socks. My craft room is housing a long- term guest and will not be accessible until the end of the month. For the time being, I am content with reading the latest issues of Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting and Craft Magazine that arrived within the past two weeks. My long-suffering boyfriend found a heavily-discounted copy of For the Love of Knitting and surprised me two nights ago. Although many of the essays were previously published, I have not read them before. This has become the book du jour for my nightly reading requirements.

In the interest of taking a fiber-related vacation together, Dee and I have booked our tickets to Yarn School this fall. We are horribly excited about spending four days away from our real lives, immersed in fiber. Harassing my stalkee will be no trouble if we are staying in the same room. Knitting + Dyeing + Spinning + Stalking. What more could I want? Dee and I have decided to drive there, which will be much cheaper and easier than booking flights. And what will we talk about for over 7 hours each way? You guessed it...

Next weekend, I will be at Anime Iowa to help with the charity auction supporting the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The flooding caused a lot damage, so we are trying to help with recovery efforts. We put together a huge box filled with rare items, so I am hoping for the best this year.

Later in the month, I will be in Las Vegas for a very special wedding. Since I have agreed to be the maid of honor, the onus falls on me to make sure the bachelorette party is nothing short of disgraceful. If I am not up to the challenge, who is?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Neverending Move Story

Moving to a new home has truly been one of the most terrifying nightmares in my recent history. I thought the horror would end today, but lo! We encountered a slew of irritating situations, but this one wins the grand prize.

Due to the size of my desk, we had to bring it through the back door and lift it over the guard rail. In order to move it through, I had to place my dining table in the back of the house. Now, this is a house split into four apartments and I have been very safe and secure there for the past few years. About 15 minutes after my friends moved the desk, I wandered outside to find my table missing. My friends said they didn't remember placing it into the van. I panicked. The first stop was the neighbor across the foyer. I could hear sounds coming from within the apartment (hardwood floors never lie), but no one answered when I knocked. When I went upstairs, no one was home, so I frantically called the property manager. He said the tenant across the way asked him about the table and he told them to speak to me. I knocked on their door again after my boyfriend saw people through the open blinds. When they answered, they claimed that I threw the table away so they took it. I immediately got it back, but I was (and still am) in complete shock. Obviously, they waited until we went inside to make their move. I would expect this from a stranger, but having a neighbor blatantly steal from me is something new to file into my paranoid brian.

At least they didn't steal my yarn, right?

Speaking of which, I really appreciate all of the messages responding to my request for yarn donation ideas. I ended up bringing the bags to my LYS to aid in a rehabilitation program at a women's prison.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Surprises This Week

I bought another plastic tub for my yarn only to find that I still have too much. Once I move, it is definitely time for a major stash-busting project. The morning "walk of shame" was nowhere near as humbling.

Today, I logged into my Flickr account and noticed an unusual amount of activity on my evil router photo. For a lark, I uploaded this to the CRAFT Flickr Pool and discovered that they featured this on their blog. I am pleasantly surprised by the sweet comment, especially because the picture was taken a long time ago with a very crappy digital camera that died later the same day.

Another surprise occurred when someone at work gave me several copies of the July issue of Anime Insider. I answered a few questions a while back and they printed a brief interview.

These minor, but nice things have help me feel a little calmer during one of the most stressful times I have had in years.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Packing Up the Craft Room

I am sorting through all of my belongings in preparation for the move at the end of the month. My craft room is the first to get the business, and it is an uglier sight that I ever imagined. Apparently, I have amassed enough craft-related books to fill an entire shelf. Since all of the books are large and heavy, there is a large fleet of small boxes in a corner ready to be deployed to my new home. In the midst of my packing frenzy this afternoon, I heard a loud knock at the door. When I answered it, the property manager was standing outside with some prospective tenants. When I asked why I didn't receive a warning call, he claimed he did not have my phone number (despite the fact that he has called me before). This week, I have returned from work several times to find that my blinds are wide open so curiosity-seekers can easily look at my stuff. The word "violated" doesn't even begin to cover how I feel right now. Although I love my beautiful apartment, ridding myself of secret home invasions by property management is a huge perk.

To cheer myself up, I checked out a few links. Most are older, but still amuse me.

  • Starched doily guns

  • Knitted motorcycle (take that, Eli!)

  • The only bunny visible from space

  • Knitted homes of crime

  • Stash-busting ideas for scrap yarn
  • Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    Adventures in Time Travel

    Doctor Who Scarf
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Ages ago (actually three years, to be more precise), I decided to take up knitting. What first began as a frustrating hobby that I was sure to neglect within a year turned into a consuming obsession. My first requested item from a friend was, of course, a Doctor Who scarf. This show is one of the strongest childhood memories that I have managed to clearly maintain. My mother and I would stay up very late at night in order to catch back-to-back episodes with our favorite "doctor", Tom Baker, on PBS. I remember staring longingly at the pledge drives with tons of memorabilia and wanting a TARDIS coffee mug, long before I drank coffee.

    I never once forgot how much I loved the idea of the time-traveling James Bond-like character. When Tower Books in NYC closed down, I raided their shelves, buying so many books that it took several trips on the F train to bring them home. One of them was The Boy Who Kicked Pigs.

    When I began knitting, it was no surprise that my friend Brian wanted a Tom Baker scarf. Knowing little about yarn and knitting in general, I dutifully picked up the suggested yarn and started working on the project. Months passed. More than nine months, if I recall correctly. Thus, I embarked on the never-ending garter stitch torture.

    I learned several things about myself during this process. The first is that I am a multi-project knitter. I cannot work straight through one item and then pick up another. In order to finish anything, I must have a variety of things going at the same time. Another side effect I expected. Knitting the same stitch over and over for what felt like an eternity helped my tension and comfort level with needles and yarn improve. You can tell where I began the scarf and where it ended. The last thing I learned was the concept of finishing a project. I am quite adept at beginning something and then dropping it when the going gets rough. Brian bought the yarn and I was determined to not let him down.

    One day, I finally completed the scarf and attached the fringe. The outcome is pictured here. Due to the time and effort needed, I did not want to mail it to my friend. Instead, I brought it with me when I went to Anime Boston for work. I could not have received a better reaction. He is very reserved when he is excited, but his wife later told me that the scarf is carefully preserved in plastic to avoid being eaten by moths. The very idea that something I made with my hands is a cherished possession is the best reason to keep soldiering onward, learning new techniques and finally becoming proficient in a craft. I still get frustrated and upset when I don't understand something, but I always remember how terrifying I found the entire process when I started the scarf. Garter stitch is a breeze now, and other techniques will feel just as comfortable in time.

    Note: The model in the photo is not my friend Brian. He is a vicious, evil man who attempted to steal the scarf after the pictures were taken. I would have taken a swing at him if he wasn't so much taller than I am and, unfortunately, one of my best friends.

    Monday, June 9, 2008

    Keep it Simple

    BFF Socks
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    At long last, I have finished a sock using Dee's hand-dyed yarn. After months of fretting over pattern choices, the BFF pattern ended up being perfect. Cookie A's clear instructions and easy construction made this project a breeze to work on when socializing with friends and between lines in the recording booth. I quickly memorized the pattern and this has been far more lovely to work on than a straightforward stockinette stitch. I really need to find more patterns within the same vein so I can begin tackling the sock yarn stash with greater success. Complicated patterns are a lot of fun, but the simple things are often easier for my hectic life.

    I finally donated a lot of excess acrylic yarn to my LYS. A woman is going to bring the bags to a women's prison for rehabilitation purposes. Although it was tough to let a lot of the stash go, I feel much better about eliminating clutter from my home. I have enough yarn right now for several sweaters and a ton of miscellaneous items, so it's not as if I need the yarn as badly as these women do.

    This is totally off topic, but I received a huge surprise on Thursday. One of my dearest new friends, Wendy, gave me a ticket to see The Cure. Although I have never actually owned an album, I know almost every song from their first few records. They played a 3-hour set, which is more than I have seen from anyone else in the past few years. I was also completely impressed with the fact that Robert's voice has managed to sound great after all these years. The night was incredibly fun and I managed to make it through the show without thinking about my knitting. My mother will be so proud.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Throwing Up My Hands in Despair

    Brain overload from work has caused me to punk out on the toe-up sock knitting attempts when I return home in the evenings. I will resume all efforts to beat this technique like the bully I am. For the time being, I will remain content with the knowledge that I can begin a pair of BFF socks with Dee's yarn. I searched for patterns that I thought were worthy of her pretty hand-dyed stuffs and finally settled on this one. These will be made in honor of our one-year 'anniversary' after I finish her gift project.

    Knitty has an online survey for those of you who like to give feedback to sites we often use.

    Oh, and the pictured yarn? This is the lovely kid mohair/merino/nylon concoction I received as a gift. I couldn't do the purple/smoke gray colors justice in the photo, but I plan to try when I decide to make something out of it. Too bad the yarn doesn't have any gauge suggestions on the ball band. I think I will cheat and call the store to find out.

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    Project: Beanie

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Although I received a number of helpful messages regarding toe-up socks, I found myself in a lot of social situations this weekend. This was not conducive to focusing on a new technique, so I decided to start knitting the first round of beanies for this year's Christmas party. I know I have plenty of time, but I don't wish to be caught with my trousers down. Again.

    This is a mindless, but effective stash-busting project. I have ridiculous amounts of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted weight yarn in many different colors. I bought them on compulsion every time I saw a something I liked. They will now be dedicated to a large number of beanies and felted goodies. I still have a backlog of requested items, but I should get the bulk of the miscellaneous knitting out of the way as soon as possible. I am not sure if anyone wants mittens, so I will probably throw a few into the box to see if they get snatched up. If not, I can always donate to charity. I am really looking forward to using leftover scraps for striped hats, bags and pillows in order to get my stash down to a reasonable amount. My sock yarn has been consolidated into two small bins for easy access if I feel the need.

    To Do List in no particular order:
  • Charcoal Gray Scarf (Kevin)
  • Brown Hat (Mark)
  • Cream Scarf (Jee)
  • Black Scarf (Joe)
  • Red Socks (Wendy)
  • Bearded Toque (Eli)
  • Black Socks (Joshua)
  • Soviet Republic Hat (Antimere)
  • Surprise Project (Andy)
  • Surprise Project (Taliesin)
  • Durrow Sweater (Chris)
  • Surprise Project (Dee)
  • Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Sock Club Goodness and Subsequent Peril

    I can't help feeling guilty. I have so much of Dee's yarn and not one pair of socks has been knitted yet. Determined to rectify this travesty, I attempted to start The Firestarter pattern. Accustomed to knitting from the top down, the provisional cast on with short row toe is completely daunting. After viewing numerous online tutorials, I have given up and begged for help. I typically have a tough time learning from pictures if I don't understand how the construction works. Embarrassing, yes.

    The first installment of her club is pictured here, in the Mascot colorway. Although I think this richly deserves a pair of Monkeys or Jaywalkers, I am determined to work from the toe up. It seems that every time I feel comfortable with my crafty prowess, a different technique knocks me sideways. This is enough of an annoyance to beat a pattern into submission. A fair and reasonable response, I think.

    This week, I was able to nearly finish a new stash-busting pattern. Photos will be posted forthwith, once blocking has been completed and a button affixed.

    In "real" life, my muscles ache and my brain is crying, "Uncle!" Red wine helps slightly, but the pork medallions and jasmine rice cooked by my partner in crime are a greater asset. Speaking of which, he went to Los Angeles with only one request: "If you see locally hand-dyed or hand-spun yarn, pick it up!" I was not disappointed. If we don't end up working out, he is ruined for all non-crafty women. They will never understand his intimate knowledge of worsted weight kid mohair/merino blended yarn that has been dyed to perfection. Horrified, they will ask him to stop asking for hand-knitted superwash socks. In honor of his crafty awareness, I finally bought yarn for his Christmas sweater. This is a scary leap, but one that is well-deserved. I plan to make this in a heathered medium brown. Never will he read this journal and never will he understand that I am a complete process-knitter. I feel a sense of loss every time I finish a project. I only make a point to do so in order to start on the next thing. The sweater? I am dying to make such a simply constructed project. He loves classic design with a slight twist, so I will let him think this is about the final object, OK?

    And the rest of the Christmas gifts? I have a plan. Aside from the items I have promised, I will knit whatever I want throughout the year. This can be hats, scarves, gloves, toys or something completely frivolous. At the yearly Christmas party, I will bring a box full of knitted stuff and ask people to pick what they want. This will end up being far more meaningful and personal than a giftcard at a chain store.

    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Roll That Beautiful Nerd Footage!

    Evil Router
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I am stuck again with The Cat. He is the epitome of evil amongst gorgeous orange tabby cats. Fraught with anger, he often lavishes me with "tooth kisses". My stalkee says this is called "biting" in most households. If this is true, why would it be red? Everyone knows this is the color of love.

    Less disturbing, but equally addictive (like cats!), the lovely Dee has managed to oversell her membership of sock clubs. Look and weep, fiber enthusiasts!

    Craft-related, I made the angry plush router a few holidays ago for my friend Mel, who brilliantly writes cat snark. This is an underrated form of entertainment, if you ask me. Knowing she is a technical guru, I made something I understood, which is an evil wireless connection. And yes, I think of these stupid projects when I am not thinking about work. It doesn't happen often these days.

    I want to take a moment to speak about my soon-to-be-roommate. She is intelligent, kind, responsible and beautiful (inside and out). I have spent the last ten years thinking I was incompatible with someone in my home, and I simply didn't pick the right people. Cheers to the redhead who brings the sarcasm like it's going out of style and having a sewing machine of her own.

    In case this post was too cat-centric, I want to publicly state that I am militant pro-bunny. All animals are adorable, but rabbits are exceptional.

    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Cleaning and a Reboot

    Plush Gyoza
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    The donation stash-busting brought a few lovelies to light today. You see, I took vacation days from work for the first time in a few years. Yes, years. I am bewildered by the amount of time I have been able to devote to crafty pursuits and general internet stalking, all things considered. I began to falter in both areas, so a few days off will do a lot of good for my craft room (and for terrorizing friends).

    The craft room. This is a maelstrom of abandoned projects and shows my pack rat tendencies to a hideous degree. Thankfully, I have found a series of new projects which will de-stash a good portion of my other goodies. Fabric. Felt. Paper. No item is safe.

    For the first time, I have a couple of days to devote to clearing out items I will never, ever use. This has been a weird trip through old memories believed to never resurface. Found objects include postcards culled for my mail art hobby during my life in New York. Some recollections were pleasant; some were painful. I felt a strong yearning to turn back the clock and start over. Deep down I don't really want this, as I learned an incredible amount about myself during the self-enforced isolation. The collections of found objects are a statement and help me remember the person I used to be. (I know this has been completely cheesy, but it is nearly midnight and red wine has been my loyal companion for the evening.)

    Now, to the crafty part of the post. The plush pot stickers were sewn a few years ago before knitting took over my spare time. A friend of mine asked me to bring my hand-sewn items over so she could look at them. I lack sewing skills and thought this was a good way to make my mistakes look intentional. The tops of the dumplings are a simple running stitch which is pulled tightly to create a ridge. Most people already know this technique, but I felt clever at the time, OK? I have embarked on a new project which will clear out buttons, paper, miniatures, sewing supplies and anything else that suits the theme. I cannot wait to start! An afternoon with my laser printer should start the ball rolling, I think. (For those of you unaware, never use inkjet printers for craft projects that require glue or painting, at least for the projects we have started. These types of prints are water-soluble and will bleed like crazy. Joshua and I discovered our tactical error when making refrigerator magnets a few years ago. Bad times.)

    Since I have a few days to myself, new photos will be taken of finished knitterly stuffs. Today was overcast and dismal, prohibiting good pictures. If tomorrow has better weather, I will photograph a few more items to post.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    Yarn Donation Ideas Needed

    Nearly three years have passed since I began knitting and the stash has grown to embarrassing proportions. I have many skeins of yarn that have been picked up at thrift stores or given to me. Since I am moving next month and need to purge the stash, I am looking for places to donate the yarn. Any ideas?

    Friday, April 25, 2008

    The Mojo Returns!

    Well... Sort of.

    After a nice discussion with one of my partners in crime today, I have decided to start scheming again. Felted recycled sweaters? Check. A plethora of cigar boxes? Check. A bag full of wine corks and a frightening amount of buttons? Hell yeah. I feel another plan for Christmas gifts about to go hideously awry. The train derails every year, so why should 2008 be any different? As per my usual custom, I will take my trusted associate down with me. I usually keep copious amounts of wine on-hand to keep the rats from deserting the sinking ship. Trust me, it works. (About as well as the gratuitous use of the time-honored cliché.)

    The bad man came to town recently and bore gifts of Japanese erasers and a t-shirt. This means that I now have enough food-shaped erasers to complete another shadowbox for the kitchen. When I decide to get less lazy with the camera, I will post a photo of the version currently adorning my wall.

    One of my oldest friends dropped in from Boston last week with his baby boy in tow. Jacob is incredibly endearing and I can't help but wonder what he thought of daddy's chicken hat. Considering Brian wore a rat hat when he met my mother, this is considered "classy" and a step up.

    Since the magic of knitting seems to have dissipated briefly, I am going to see if my new idea gets me going again. Seriously, I need a bit of a kick-start in order to finish the scarves I have promised, while properly torturing my other friends with wildly inappropriate handmade gifts.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Blah Lately

    Plush Breakfast Duo
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I am feeling completely burned out these days, so not much has gone on with my knitting. A vacation is definitely in order if I can manage to leave work for a week.

    The blanket is nearly 40% finished and will make a nice throw for the couch. The bouclé texture is driving me crazy and I can't wait to work on a project where the yarn doesn't attempt to hook itself on my needles.

    A ribbed sock is close to completion, but I think I need to go back to the rpm's for a while. My impending Christmas knitting is leaving me worried about time. Once I move, a yarn hunt is in order for the perfect colors to make the crazy number of scarves that people have requested. One would think that I would be able to make use of the huge stash. Unfortunately, people asked for the only colors that I don't have. Neutrals. Perhaps some Cascade Ecological Wool will do the trick.

    Again, feeling so... blah. Perhaps tending to the yarn babies this weekend for my friend's store will help with the inspiration problems.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Rogue Knitting

    The beanie I made for a coworker has been completed. I have also made some progress on the ribbed sock from the fist skein of sock yarn I purchased. The colorway is Chocolate Covered Kisses from Hill Country Yarns Sweet Feet. Although the base yarn initially felt a little rough, the knitted fabric feels incredibly soft.

    After searching around, I decided on a pattern for the Mooncake yarn purchased in Minnesota. Always late to the game, I plan on making the Rogue Hoodie. The subtle color changes within the yarn should compliment the pattern nicely. Once I finally complete my Central Park Hoodie, I will allow myself to start this project. I am racking up UFOs like it's going out of style. Hopefully, a few new photos tonight will clear up some lingering WIPs on my Ravelry list.

    Once I move to a new location, the toilet paper pattern should be a good decoration for the bathroom. If all goes well, I can decorate the place with all manner of knitted stuffs. Among plans to complete Christmas knitting on time, making my new nest look and feel cozy is one of the top priorities. The Hemlock Ring Blanket and a number of overstuffed pillows should do the trick. Perhaps some kitchen items are in order, although I loathe knitting dishcloths for some reason.

    Another enabling friend gave me five skeins of Lion Brand Color Waves that she found at a garage sale. During episodes of Doctor Who, I will start a mindless, easy-care blanket for overnight guests. It won't be a thing of great beauty, but it promises to be damn comfy.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    Crafty? Not So Much...

    Hand-sewn Sperm Wallet
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I have been horribly remiss in my productivity these days, hence the photo of something I made a few years ago. There will be no egg-charging in my household, thank you very much.

    Work has kept me very busy and I have spent my precious knitting minutes trolling Ravelry (It's a disgusting addiction, I know.) and voyeuristically peering at Dee's store to see what she has sold. Stalking takes many forms.

    I am very pleased to say that I mistakenly lied about the total for the charity auction at Anime Detour this past weekend. As it turns out, I was given an incorrect total. Instead of $10,171, we managed to raise $10,221 for the Twin Cities Red Cross! This completely obliterated last year's total, which was a little over $6,000. As always, the staff and attendees were amazing. All of us felt so welcome and the outpouring of support was something to behold. I attempted to keep the look of shock from my face, and I fear I failed. The auctioneers included my partner in charity crime, Carrie Savage and Chris Ayres, Chris Bevins, Jamie Marchi and Kristofer McCormic. Staffers Christina and Jayson deserve a lot of appreciation for their tireless hours making sure everything went smoothly. And of course, the entire guest relations staff spoiled us for most other conventions. I seriously think Jamie is ruint!

    Despite the schedules and hectic charity auction business, I managed to get in some yarn-related time. A coworker who lives in the area took me to the Yarn Cafe. They have their own brand of 100% wool yarn (Minnesota, go figure) that is to DIE FOR. I stashed some by accident, mind you.

    I also hung out with a few other egregious enablers. Linda (lovely guest relations coordinator) gave me three skeins of Caron Simply Soft and Daniel (Seoul Man) handed me a Mashimaro doll in traditional Korean dress. To top off this gratuitous bribery, all guests received a gift bag with Pocky, first-aid kits and handmade Umbrella Corporation pins. I had so much stuff that I sat on my suitcase to zip the sides. Thankfully, Jamie was kind enough to smuggle my bunny back to Texas safely...

    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Travel Knitting Dilemmas

    Striped Socks
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Being the forward-thinking person that I am, the Hemlock Ring Blanket is in full swing. Yeah, right. Of course, I am going to be in Minnesota in a week and a half. This means I have been caught with my pants down as far as travel knitting is concerned.

    When I go out of town, a relatively easy sock project usually joins me. Not only are socks super portable, but TSA has never batted a suspicious eye when they have seen bamboo sock needles in my carry-on bag. This may happen one day, but it hasn't... yet. The blanket needs a little more attention than I can provide while talking at a panel. I have at least three scarves to knit by next Christmas, but I don't want to take anything that won't fit into a medium-sized purse. Perhaps now is the time to start on the plain black beanie for someone who recently did me a favor. Or I could finally knit that brown watch cap I promised my stepfather a while back...

    Now that I am writing and thinking about all of the simple projects that have never been started, I realize I am way too easily distracted. I want to work on things that excite me and consider anything else a chore. The best explanation I can come up with is the fact that my day job consumes my thoughts most of the time. When I have a few hours to myself, I only want to do things that make me feel happy and distracted.

    There are also two patterns in my head that badly need to be written down and tested. I suppose now is the time to buckle down and get my gift knitting and pattern writing out of the way. I don't want to feel the stress of last Christmas when I ran past the deadline to make presents. I have the yarn stash. I have the tools. I even have most of the patterns already picked and allocated to certain people. After I complete my next charity auction, I will be free and clear to stop procrastinating and start doing something constructive.

    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    No Rest For the Wicked

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Social obligations and work have really taken their toll on my not-so-secret knitting life these days. Despite the stress, I am pretty happy with the way things are turning out. Today, I indulged in some necessary house cleaning. There is a long way to go, but the kitchen is finally under control.

    Despite the lack of personal time, I have managed to sneak in some project progress while recording in the booth and during car rides. There is something deliciously furtive about knitting in the dark.

    My striped socks are nearly complete and I have sewn the second seam on my Skully sweater. It looks and fits as it should. As soon as I can put the final touches on a few projects, I will re-start the Hemlock Ring Blanket. The Ready, Set, Knit! podcast has posted some instructions for enlarging the blanket. I know I can figure this out on my own, but a working girl needs a break every now and then.

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Mindless Projects

    Striped Socks
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I finally finished my first sweater. There is technically one more seam to sew and some blocking, but the Skully sweater is finally complete. Once it is fully wearable, I will photograph and post here. I am incredibly excited to wear it in Minnesota in a few weeks. For once, I adhered to a set deadline and completed a project on time.

    But... There is one tiny problem. My skin is sensitive to mohair. The yarn I used contains 15% mohair and it is an itch factory. I think I will be OK as long as I have a long-sleeved shirt to wear underneath.

    Since the sweater got too large to carry around and my rpm socks require a pattern, I started a pair of stockinette socks using self-striping yarn. I know how chintzy this looks, but I need to be able to pay attention if I insist on knitting during social functions (which I most certainly do).

    What does shame feel like?

    Monday, March 3, 2008

    Ravelry Benefit + Accidental Yarn Stashing

    Blue Hands Fibers - Clarine
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    I have always been envious of people in sock clubs. It's not that I necessarily like every colorway or yarn base, but I can completely understand the excitement of getting fiber in the mail on a monthly basis. Last year, I toyed with the idea of joining the Hill Country Yarns sock club because it was the most affordable I found. Suddenly, common sense kicked in and I realized there are more responsible things to do with my money (at least until I manage a major de-stash). Recently, Dee came up with a bunch of colorways for her new club. 50% of the proceeds go directly to Jess and Casey to help defray operating costs for Ravelry, which is a service some of us can't believe we ever lived without.

    When I said "accidental yarn stashing", I meant it. Gracia completely surprised me this weekend with a gift basket containing a lovely handmade card and two skeins each of Berroco Bonsai in Raku Brown and Japanese Maple. This yarn is unbelievably soft and has a nice sheen to it. When I have adequate daylight, I will take more photos of my stash and projects.

    I was incredibly delighted to point to the yarn and tell my boyfriend, "See! It's not my fault this time!"

    Sunday, March 2, 2008

    Intarsia Good, Weaving in Ends Bad

    I have reached the chart section on the sleeves of my Skully sweater and the intarsia went beautifully. Unfortunately, I forgot about my little problem with the plethora of yarn ends. Instead of researching how to weave them in properly, I plunged right in and managed to distort the design. I went back and fixed it as well as possible, with the thought in mind that I will do better with the second sleeve. One day, I will pull off a garment without some level of disaster.

    On the other hand, the lime green looks very striking against the milk chocolate main color. This, I am extremely pleased about.

    Saturday, March 1, 2008

    No Knitting After Midnight

    After a week that felt longer than it should have, I decided to make some progress on my Skully sweater. The rich tapestry of my knitting fantasy life has shown me scenes of laughing at the freezing air during my upcoming trip to Minnesota. I am going to make the sweater on time, but the reality is not the perfection I dreamed. To be honest, I have never finished knitting an entire sweater before and this is an exercise in patience. After carefully following the directions, I realized the neck line looked ugly where I picked up the stitches and sewed the ribbing together. It fit perfectly, so I figured I would do things my way. The neck got ripped out and I tried it once more by sewing up both shoulders first and then knitting the neck ribbing in the round. Somehow, it got a lot smaller than the first time and I can't get it over my head now. Tomorrow, I will remedy this evil and I vow never to knit while tired. After midnight, I think the little Gizmo that is my current craft project turns into a sadistic gremlin.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    My So-Called Glamorous Life

    Unknown Tweed
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    So... What is entailed with said glamorous life? Lots of work, little knitting and a vague concept of a social life. In three days, I have canceled plans twice in order to work on spreadsheets. Excel is so punk rock.

    Speaking of punk rock, I am so thankful I decided to knit the skully sweater in a coffee brown bulky yarn with lime green skulls. We will see if I have it ready in time for the next convention in April. Knitting time is now scarce, but bulky yarn is quite forgiving and quick.

    Also, happy belated birthday to the lovely Lady Dee. In true scary fashion, we managed to book salon appointments at the same place within an hour of each other. She was on her way out when I arrived. These coincidences are typical and slightly disturbing.

    Wednesday, February 20, 2008

    Oh Noes! Voldeymort!

    (yanked from a memorable incident involving Andy, Del, sleep-talking and a Ralph Fiennes poster)

    I can finally post a photograph of the secret present I made for the bad man (not to be confused with the other bad man, who I reserve much, much more colorful nicknames for). Unfortunately, I was not present during the gift exchange, but my boyfriend was. He was very careful to note the exact reaction. It was the glorious type of response that gift knitters aspire to have from all of the people lucky enough to receive something handmade. Score one for Team Slytherin!

    When Taliesin received the scarf, he put it on immediately and looked down, instantly recognizing the symbol. Assuming this was a trick present (it would not be the first I have given him), he looked at a mirror to see if there was something hidden. Indeed, the "something hidden" disappeared and the scarf looked like a regular stripe pattern. I am incredibly happy with the way this turned out and consider it one of my most interesting FOs. This is a free pattern, in case anyone is curious. The designer also created a Dark Mark bag which may come in handy when attempting to summon fellow Death Eaters.

    Now, on to my mundane life. I returned home from a long day at work, hoping to look through my plethora of knitting books for inspiration for a friend who has recently become pregnant. (Incidentally, I find this completely icky on a personal level, but become quite excited when it happens to my friends. What gives?) On the top shelf of the bookcase in my craft room, I keep my huge stash of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride yarn. I love coming home at night and looking at the brilliant array of jewel tones, juxtaposed with neutrals. It sounds ridiculous, but it really makes me happy. Although I knit regularly from this collection, I still have plenty of pretty colors to greet me when I am not in the best of moods. When I pinched some of the bulky weight yarn this evening, I had a nasty shock. A moth hastily exited from the recesses of the shelf and fluttered off to destroy something else precious to me. In a panic, I quickly grabbed a plastic tub of yarn and replaced the nice, expensive wool with some cheap, ugly acrylic. I felt something darken inside of me when I pulled out various skeins of "workhorse" yarn and hid the beautiful, rich, inspirational fiber away. I have never seen a moth inside my home until today and I can only hope it didn't ruin something I hold very dear.

    Thursday, February 14, 2008


    Blue Hands Fibers - Slipped
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Sure, I'll admit it. I received a gift certificate to Webs, so I bought yarn. I know I have been stash-busting lately, but a few sweater projects called to me; the discount was great; I didn't have lunch that day; I had a flat tire; my bunny was shedding, etcetera. The nice caveat of the entire, "I screwed up and bought more yarn incident," was getting a mistake skein from Dee. I hardly think this was a dyeing error on her part. As a matter of fact, I am completely convinced that I have fallen prey to her deliberate machinations. Fortunately, this colorway is absolutely perfect for the Firestarter socks which have been lingering in my Ravelry queue for a while. I plan to cast on after I finish my rpms. Cheating on my current knitting by fantasizing about other projects is disgusting and wrong, but I just can't help myself. I am starting the second rpm this week in order to keep my conscience and knitting stash free and clear.

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Happy New Year!

    I realize this is the year of the rat, but snakes can hope for a good one too, right?

    This weekend, nearly all of my work-related friends are out of town at various conventions. And what does this mean? A lot of pet-sitting! One sweet Akita and the usual angry Tabby (who need to be regularly dosed with canine separation anxiety medication).

    The Bad Man: "So, you are staying at home like a sane person."
    Me: "If the word sane covers fighting and drugging a cat."

    Tomorrow I finally return to my regularly scheduled social life with a therapeutic visit to Dee's house. A horror/comedy movie marathon will follow the next day, with back-to-back screenings of Lake Placid and Black Sheep. Although my Central Park Hoodie is coming along nicely, I think attacking my plethora of Hallowigs is far more appropriate. The glowing orange wig is complete and I am working on the pink colorway. If I have enough tacky neon yarn left in my stash, a green one will be added to the mix. My models have been carefully selected from the wide range of degenerates lurking within my stash of friends. Yes, I said stash. They just don't know it yet.

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Bribery? Why Yes.

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    As Dee has quickly found out, I can be bribed to work with the tiniest amounts of my favorite drug... sock yarn.

    My first rpm sock was made from an early batch of hand-dyed yarn from CarrotCate. This colorway is called Chocolate Cherry Tree and I think it looks rather interesting with the spiral pattern in the opposite direction. I made a few mistakes in the pattern due to sheer inattention on my part. I highly doubt anyone will stare at my feet long enough to notice.

    There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more surreal and shameless than finding and rejoicing over a skein of yarn sitting in my chair at work. (Except maybe the incident where someone else carried in a backpack full of yarn and began hurling ball after ball at my head with full force. That was a good day.)

    I am carrying around the copious remains of the yarn, hoping to start the second sock during my UFO clearance. I think I figured out my error with the Central Park Hoodie, so it's just a matter of ripping back and making a slight adjustment. I really have only the hood, edging and finishing left. My habit of letting nearly completed projects linger for months is disgraceful. Really, I think my gothy Foliage Bear will be the first to reach the finish line, but we will have to see what strikes my fancy first.

    See? All of this whining over unfinished things and I had the nerve to start and finish a neon orange Hallowig this week. I found three different colors of neon acrylic (don't ask) in my stash and decided to make a wig out of each. I fully intend on mailing them to friends without a note of explanation.

    Saturday, January 26, 2008

    Mostly Dead

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    About six days ago, my body decided to betray me by welcoming and housing severe infections in both ears and my sinuses. After being quarantined for the better part of the week, I want nothing more than to jump outside of my own skin.

    The only good news is that plague apparently works wonders for knitting progress. I finished up a strawberry clutch (scroll to the bottom) and finished one of my rpm socks. Squarey is pictured here, and is a testament to my laziness when it comes to finishing. I should not be surprised by my unwillingness to sew a seam unless absolutely forced to do so.

    More writing is postponed until my head and body return to one of the stages of normalcy. In the meantime, I will continue to dream up substitution yarns for this hot little number.

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Systematic UFO Eradication

    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    Seriously, I just finished three projects, including my oldest UFO. I have not posted them as complete on Ravelry yet, as I still need to take photographs. That website has really changed my knitting process in a more obsessive, fanatical sort of way. Who knew it could possibly get worse?

    This year has brought on a strong urge to complete the hibernating projects lingering around the house. The strawberry purse will be finished. This I swear.

    I have a few pictures to show off, but gifts need to be delivered to their intended recipients first. In lieu of actual knitting, I am flashing more yarn porn, in the form of Mirasol Miski. This is spun from 100% baby llama and is indescribably soft. I found these skeins a while back when I went to my LYS for something completely different. (Yes, I'm one of those people.) Like any garden variety yarn pervert, I shamelessly groped my way around the store until my hands found their way to these hot little numbers. I would have felt guilty about grabbing them so roughly without an introduction, but I ended up paying dearly for just enough yardage to make a buttery soft hat. Sold into the slavery that is my illicit yarn stash, they currently await the poking of the needles. Shh... It's our little secret.

    Speaking of dirty doings, I met my favorite internet stalker/stalkee at Ohayocon on my birthday. The meeting went rather well, I thought. No protective order was filed and the police were conspicuously absent. Either she is slipping, or I am.

    In the true nature of finally connecting with crafty friends, I have received my first knitted present from someone who is not a relative. If Dee posts a photograph of the gorgeous scarf she made, I fully plan to steal and post it here. I would take my own photo, but I have already worn it on a number of occasions and I am under the opinion that anything I touch has visible paw prints. Or tabby cat fur, take your pick.

    The craft panel at Ohayocon was rather intimate (read small), but productive. Several men were knitting and two wore Luchador masks. I love the anime community.

    Wednesday, January 2, 2008

    A Sock for All Seasons

    Simple Socks
    Originally uploaded by craftytails
    This is a mushy post. Be warned!

    I have finally started working on a pair of socks for my long-suffering boyfriend. 2008 will mark our fourth year together and I feel a sense of peace when I knit for him. There are so many things I can say about our relationship, but I will stick to the crafty stuff here. He is the type of person who will tell me if he sees an LYS I haven't heard of; the sort of man to cook dinner when I am too obsessive to put down the needles; and most importantly, the person who happily wears everything I make and brags about owning hand-knitted items. He deserves the thousands of stitches that make up a sock. He deserves my constant search for patterns that suit his personality and style. He knows and understands that every time I make him a present, it is a public declaration of my love. I have had boyfriends in the past who were supportive, but none who are as openly proud of my craft and, well frankly, me.

    2007 was a relatively quiet year, taken up mainly by focusing on the demands of my job. My old friends and family have once again demonstrated their loyalty, strength and patience. My newer friends have, in a short period of time, managed to inspire me and bring warmth into my life. Four friends had healthy children. My closest friend from childhood married a wonderful man and we finally healed ourselves and our friendship. There were unhappy times when I tried to turn on myself. No one would let me. In a few days, I turn 30. I wondered how I would react, but I can honestly now say that I don't miss my 20s. Not a single bit. The frustration, the fear and the regret have finally calmed and I can move forward. I resolve to not have resolutions, to not make pie crust promises that I won't keep.