Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yangrongxinshengwuzhenzhirong: The Challenge

For a lot of this past year, a sweet friend of mine was out of town for work.

That seems like a perfectly benign sentence, right? You probably didn't make much of it, I'd guess. Well, let me translate it for you and see if you feel differently:

A lot of this past year = 7 months straight
Out of town = in China
Sweet friend = guy who has 12 people over for a birthday dinner, insists that no one bring him gifts, and instead gives every guest a beautifully gift-wrapped present chosen specifically for them. From China.

Small but important aside: Amazing how a simple sentence about a friend and his work can be so rich with meaning. It's stunning to think about how often people say things where there's a whole story quietly waiting to be known, and we just keep on truckin' past it because we're busy, or we think we know what they mean, or we don't even notice that there might be more to it.

But gifts! There were gifts! Let's talk about the gifts! Yes, yes. Gifts!

In the presentation of each of the gifts, my friend provided a thoughtful comment about why the items were selected. Lovely jewelry for some, tea and books for others. Some people were given painted items along with a little verbal warning about possible lead content. Some were given t-shirts and were cautioned that there would be certain shrinkage and lack of steadfastness of the dye. ("It is China," he reminded us.) My gift came not with a warning, but with a challenge.

"I don't know anything about knitting," he said, "but I'm imagining this could be difficult. So, I challenge you to make something out of this."

Super soft.

Lace or fingering weight.

Yarn like cashmere. Only we don't actually know what it is -- the only thing I can read on the label is the name of this post. (Well, it doesn't say "The Challenge" on the label. You know what I mean.) My friend said something like, "It's such thin string, I figured it had to be difficult to knit with."

So I will ask you explicitly -- so there's no confusion-- what should I make with these 11 balls of very fine Chinese yarn? We've got a challenge here, people. What say you?!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hair of the dog

Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Socks That Rock yarn Medium weight. Little Bunny Foo Foo color.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Socks That Rock yarn Medium weight. Rose Quartz color.


What can I tell you? I started another Chevron Scarf. Laugh all you want at my foolishness, but if you'd had these yarns in your stash, you would've done the same thing. I assure you.

P.S. On a more serious note, we are sending all kinds of good thoughts and prayers to the people and animals affected by the fires here in Southern California. My loved ones and I are safe and sound, luckily nowhere near the current danger. We're all just hoping it gets better soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Let's just say it's finished. For OFTI's sake.

What's that? You thought I'd never finish the Chevron Scarf?

Me either, frankly.

But I did! Well, I mostly did.

It just needs to be blocked.

Funny. The moment I started thinking about blocking, the whole thing kinda went dark. Huh.

: Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug in Velvet Leaf and Castagna - 1 hank of each. I followed my PIC's lead on this one and just stopped once the yarn ran out. No measuring. Just "that looks fine"-ing.

Needles: Addi Turbos (Ha ha, hilarious. Imagine if I hadn't used the "turbos" how long it would've taken me) US size 5.

Modifications: I did not, as the pattern suggested, make it "at the last minute". Unless minutes are now measured in 6-month increments. If so, then I suppose I didn't make any modifications to this pattern, as it took me 6 months to complete this scarf.

Measurements: Without having blocked it and without stretching it at all, this scarf is 35"+35"+7". Why 35 plus 35 plus 7? Because I just measured it using my big quilting grid/mat thingie which only goes up to 35". Imagine my surprise when I added it up and it's just 1/2" short of what the pattern calls for! That half inch will surely appear once I get to blocking. Good one, me!

What do you think the chances are that I'll block it? I'd like to think good. After six months and all this gritching, I'd like to say there's a good chance I'll block this scarf. Although this would suggest otherwise. So it's hard to know, people. Hard to know.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here's that green beanie.

By popular request, a drawing of the beanie:Pretty amazing. So life-like. So real this drawing, no? With about 3 minutes you too could draw such a beanie. I know it's hard to believe. But it's true.

With a few hours, you could knit the beanie.

The color is darker and more olive than that photo suggests. It's more like the leftover yarn below:

Pattern: Basic Hat -- free pattern from Stitch Cafe.

Yarn: Suss Love (100% Tactel Nylon) in Olive color. Each hank is about 126 yards, and I used a little more than one hank. This yarn is crazy, crazy soft. From Suss.

Mods: I cast on 68 instead of 66, and did a 2x2 rib instead of a 3x3. Oh! And I held two strands together which made the hat heftier.

The top is one of those where you draw the yarn through the stitches and pull it tight -- like a drawstring -- to close it up.

That method usually leaves a hole in the top for me. But somehow it worked out fine here. However, the method apparently also turned the hat from olive green to charcoal grey (or so the photo would have you believe). So be careful with that.

I am hoping the softness will bring comfort and warmth to the young guy who's receiving it. The son of a dear colleague and friend, this guy is just starting on a long road of chemo. As you all know, a hat isn't much, but it can make a difference.

The other thing this hat can do? Jump-start Operation Finish Those Items (OFTI). Right? Why not? Because I never finish anything, you say? Did you see the hat I just finished? Doesn't that tell you something?! Harumph.

Of course you're right. I shouldn't get ahead of myself here. I thank you for your continued candor and support.


Monday, October 15, 2007

I made a green beanie.

It's really grey here today, so no photo. Just know I made a beanie yesterday from this free pattern from this lovely shop. The hat is very, very soft. The yarn was from Suss. And I'll tell you all about it when the sun comes out.

I'd make you a drawing, but you wouldn't want that. Really. Have you seen my "drawings"? Yeah. Ok, then. A photo later on it is!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Safety is a constant battle.

You can never relax.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my dining room table, minding my own business. And out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving on the living room floor.

"That's strange," I thought.

When I turned to look closer, I saw that it was a bee.

"How did that get in here?" You won't be surprised to know that the fact that I was alone did not stop me from asking this question out loud.

I kept watching it from a distance, and the bee just kept walking along the carpet.

This reminded me of how much I love it when I see birds walking. I find it hilarious. I always imagine the bird's inner monologue to go something like: Sure, I could fly. But I'm not in a rush. I'll just walk it.

But as I watched this bee for a bit, it became clear that things were not so chill for this little guy. He was eventually just walking in circles.

Brilliant me that I am, I figured this meant he needed to get out of here. If he had his choice between walking on some weird carpet or flying out in nature? Duh. Also, I was getting nervous that he might start flying and, in a rage or panic, start stingin'.

So I tried to get him onto a piece of cardboard. But my attempt was squeamish and, therefore, half-assed (i.e., pointing the cardboard in his general direction, getting real noodly when the bee would get near it, and finally dropping the cardboard near the bee to remind me not to step there.) The fact that my Sidekick would be home within the hour may've played a part in the weakness of my efforts. What?! My Sidekick would gladly take care of the whole thing! I am too a feminist! Come on!

I put a sticky note on the cardboard in case I somehow forgot to mention it to my Sidekick, because I didn't want him to step on the guy either.

I kept an eye on the little bee the whole time. He did some walking. He did some circling. And eventually, he was done with all of that. By the time my Sidekick came home, the little bee had done all he came here to do.

It was very sad, actually, the bee dying on my living room floor. My Sidekick very sweetly scooped the little bee remains onto the cardboard and put them outside.

"He probably had a good little life," my Sidekick said.

"Yeah. Poor little guy."

"I can't believe you made a sign that said 'bee'. That's adorable."

"I didn't want you to step on him."

"Did you take a picture of it?"

"Um. Yes?"

My Sidekick is amazing for a million reasons. He's sweet. He's humane. And he knows that with the crafting as slow as it's been around here, my taking a picture of a bee and a sign that says 'bee' is absolutely the right thing to do.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Quiltie is feeling the stress

Diligence might be over-rated.

I hand-quilted two (quite giant) blocks yesterday while watching football on the TV. As a result of my rusty quilting chops, it took me the majority of the day. But! I now only have about nine giant blocks to go, out of 25 total. Not too shabby.

I won't lie. I'm proud. I'm excited. I even threw Quiltie across my bed to see if I still liked him.

And I do.

So that's good.

What's not good?


See the little frayed fabric there on the left? Quiltie's coming apart at a seam. Yeah. Sad.

We've had such a rocky road, Quiltie and I, and he is prone to lashing out. But this? Really? I've been so careful with him (except for the neglect part). Coming apart at a seam. Grr.

Anyone have any ideas for a fix? Should I stick some fray check on it and make some real tiny stitches by hand to sew it back together? That's kinda all I can think of to do.

My PIC said I should just look the other way. "It never happened," she said.

My PIC is kind of a genius sometimes.


Hey, everybody! Great news! Quiltie's going great!!

(See what I did there? Oh, I'm good.)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Of course they did.

Photo from The Purl Bee site.

This color wheel quilt is one of the many things I've been staring at real hard in the new patchwork book. I have mixed feelings about it, and they are best expressed by the following two statements:

Ashley (and I'm paraphrasing): I want that quilt, but I don't want to have to make it.

My PIC: I also want that quilt, and I want to be able to say I made it, but there's no way in hell I'm making it.

OK. Well. I can't imagine making it either, but those enablers over at Purl are messing with my mind, man!

Look at what they've done.

They've put together bundles (or "bundules" if you'd rather) of the fabrics you'd need to make this accursed quilt, and you can just buy the whole damn thing just like that.

This photo is also from The Purl Bee site, and if you click on it, you can go straight to the page where you order them. Yes, yes. You're welcome.

You might think I'm getting kickbacks from Purl, what with my unrelenting look at this Purl thing and look at that Purl item, everybody! Nope. No kickbacks. I just do it out of love. Heartbreaking, wallet-squeezing, this-is-gonna-be-the-death-of-me love.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Starting in Japanese

Upon hearing that my PIC and I were planning to spend our Crafting Day sewing some little girl clothes from a Japanese pattern book, my PIC's sister had this to say to us:

"I'm sure you'll do a really good job, and that you won't even be able to tell you resorted to using staples and glue."

Believe me, if she hadn't been the one who brought us all that yarn from Argentina, my earrings and high-heels would've come off so fast, and it would've been on. How dare she imply we don't know what we're doing! Oh, I woulda fought her if it weren't for that yarn. (Please note: Dr. B. does not fight. Even in the face of a crafting affront. It has been said that Dr. B. keeps it classy, and classy it shall be kept. Oh. And, my PIC and I kinda don't know what we're doing.)

All that said, you can imagine how good it felt at the end of our Crafting Day to bask in the glory of our team effort: this staple-free, glue-absent toddler dress.

Holy shit, right? There's elastic in there and everything!

For a couple of sewing hacks like my PIC and me, our items were quite the spectacular achievement!

We also made pants!

There are some flaws that I am concealing here because I care for my PIC a great deal, and she would not be pleased if I aired her dirty, dirty sewing errors for all to see. You should just know there's some stuff in there that a weaker team would've stapled and/or glued.

In this process, we learned some things. We broke some things. We used some things we'd never used before. Mostly we realized we really should learn to sew. Because if we knew how to sew, the fact that the patterns were entirely in Japanese surely would not have been so painfully mind-bending.

You gotta give it to us, though. We will throw twelve obstacles in our own way and then gloat when we overcome them. Oh, we've got that bit down.