Vintage Throwbacks: The Alice Beret

 With my usual aplomb, I selected the perfect three colors for a striped beret. Vintage, cute colors, all making a comeback lately. I cast the hat on. I knitted several inches of the hat. Here it is.


I lucked out on the yarn for this hat. I traveled to PA, and along the way somehow found myself in a yarn store. The Wool Gathering is a small store that is easy to spot because of the three enormous hanks of red, green and yellow yarn swinging from a lamp post (?) in the front. I loved that little extra touch, and stepped into the store, immeaditely overwhelmed by the incredible yarn fumes.

 I, however, zoomed in on one paticular shelf, stocked with Lousia Harding Nautical Cotton, the exact yarn for the Alice Beret. The price tag was $6 per skein, which believe me was cheaper than most of the yarn there. I paused. A little note next to it said 60%. Hmm, I thought, what does that mean?

 “Go and ask,” my mom said, poking me in the side. She, having no fondness for yarn or knitting, was doubly shocked at some of the prices, although she did fondle some Artyarns.

 It was only $2.40 per skein. The beret uses many more than just three colors, but I wanted to use those three colors, and anyway, I don’t think that the shop had all of the colors specified in the pattern anyway. And for all three skeins, I paid about $7.20. Considering the soft, smooth quality of this cotton and the lovely colors, that was an absolute bargain.

  The pattern uses a picot cast on, which I have never used before, but was easy to pick up. Cable cast-on five stitches, bind off two, and slip the stitch from the right needle back to the left. Repeat until there are 99 stitches. OK, maybe the last part was a little burdensome. I cast on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.

 I have made some pattern mods, apart from the color changes.

 1. The garter stitch band is knit on size 3 needles. When you switch to stockinette, they want you to switch to the larger size 5 needles and increase at the exact same time with lots of M1s. Combine unbouncy cotton, plus very small stitches and much larger needles, and you will be in tears. This seems to be an oversight by the designer. I avoided all this by simply working one row in stockinette with the size 5s before I did the increase row.

 2. The picot cast-on is in the chocolate brown, the headband is sand-colored, and I wanted there to be a ‘boundary’ or edge also in chocolate brown after that. It looks more complete to me. The actual stripe sequence doesn’t start until the first pink stripe. It goes pink, chocolate, sand, pink, chocolate, sand, repeat until end.

 But what has happened to this hat?

Sadly, it is now three skeins of partly wrinkled cotton.

 I had to rip it out.

 The stripes didn’t match up when I made the join in the round. I tried to carry up the yarn inside the hat, and it didn’t work. The garter stitch band had some rumples. I can tolerate mistakes, because I detest ripping, but there was just one too many.

 The beret: no progress

 My knitting skills: somewhat improved.

If I can gain the courage to cast on again.

And on and on and on and on and on and on….


March 31, 2008. Tags: , , , . Tuesday Project Updates, works-in-progress. 7 comments.

The Hive Mind: Are Knitters Just Sheep? Part 1

I recently watched a woman get lacerated by dozens of crafters, all seething because of one reason. She expressed her dislike of some aspects of the Yarn Harlot’s blog. She explained why, and an instant maelstrom blew up in her face. I watched in amazement as person after person piled on her.

 I suppose that they thought that they were defending the honor of Stephanie, and would somehow receive her stamp of approval for stomping out this heretical dissent. In all honesty, she’s probably too wrapped up in her blog, promoting her books, and writing new ones to notice every random internet discusssion about her.

 The unspoken rule in the crafting world of, “If you don’t have anything nice to say,” makes me uneasy; probably because I’ve been gifted with more than my fair share of snark. I can be a very social person, but I also tend to hold everything at arms-length before I embrace it wholly. If someone wants to say, “I don’t like the Yarn Harlot blog,” I think they should be able to do that without someone recoiling in horror.

 The recent kurfuffle which recently took place at her blog was also rather odd. Stephanie spent a lot of time and effort knitting and reknitting an elaborate pair of socks decorated with grapes and leaves. A random commenter said, among the normal hundred comments all gushing her praise that…

 he thought that they were ugly.

Boya, you’d think that the guy said to kick kittens or something. Stephanie, in a later post, compared her blog to a living room and why would you say something negative? Well, there are several possible reasons.

1. The guy was deliberately trying to stir up trouble or traffic to his blog

2. He thought they were ugly, and said that they were, for the exact same reasons that people say that they like something. They like to be heard.

3. Because your blog isn’t a living room. Unless people randomly walk into your living room at all hours of the day.

  I once experienced the Hive Mind when I critiqued some knitting magazines…boy, that was a violent altercation. I was basically called all kinds of moron because I didn’t like something and I talked about it. OMG, the heresy!!!

 The point is that while all those posters could legitimately disagree with her, they seemed outraged at the very idea that she would express a differing opinion. Why would someone possibly bother to offer a negative or dissenting opinion? Why would someone possibly want to express their mind? For the record, I’ll bet that Stephanie would firmly support anyone’s choice not to enjoy her blog. She seems like that kind of gal.

 But this is when I find the crafting community disengenous. It’s OK to be different, as long as you’re being positive and happy. It’s OK to review something, as long as you liked it. What then happens is that there is  a reactionary movement, and that

is going to become part 2 of this two part series. The Hive Mind: Backlash will be posted this Friday! Be sure to check in for the conclusion.

March 30, 2008. Tags: , , , . Snark Editorial. 9 comments.

An Experiment: Tips for Knit Blogging Idea

I’m going to try some experimenting with blog stuff, and if it all turns out successful, I’ll update all of you. I’ll just say that I’m going to try a few things, and if it all turns out well, it should be very interesting indeed.

March 29, 2008. Tags: , , . works-in-progress. Leave a comment.

Marr Haven, Yarn Love, Jeannette—More Sponsors!

OK, so things slowed down a bit, so I assumed that I was ‘safe’ because I had posted all the sponsors, here and on Ravelry.

Noooo way!

Katie, from Yarn Love got in touch to offer a sportweight skein of merino yarn, custom-dyed with young people in mind! Thanks, Katie—love their website, btw, it’s so pretty!

 Jeanette, from her blog Spinning Spider Jenny has offered up a copy of the book Knit-Lit(too). All of the KnitLit books are awesome, in my mind, so I’m thrilled with that.

 Barbara, from Marr Haven Yarns has sacrificed two skeins of their amazing merino yarn. I’ve worked with this stuff, and it is some special yarn. It has a different hand than most yarns, probably to the lanolin, and it is soft. I am beyond thrilled with this donation; possibly because I heart Marr Haven!

There are some other sponsorships that I’m working out some details with, so they aren’t the only ones!

 Now, edited to add another sponsor!

 Jeanius, at her etsy shop Absolute Jeanius is donating a skein of laceweight merino yarn, custom-dyed for whatever the winner desires! That’s 950 yards of hand-dyed love. Thanks!

I hate to just blog about something that’s just exciting to a small segment of my readers, but I promise that my regular blogging will be back soon!

March 27, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 5 comments.

Party 300: Teenage Knitters, Sponsors and Ravelry

 I don’t like to focus too many posts just on Ravelry, simply because I know that some people are not on the site yet, but I have such exciting news that I just can’t keep it in any longer. Teens Knit & Crochet is really my darling group; the first one that I have ever started, and one that is a continual reward to moderate. When I saw that we were only a few members away from 300 members, I knew that we had to celebrate.

 Here’s the problem: see my banner. See the broke part? That makes celebrating with real stuff, like, uh, yarn and good stuff difficult. Because I work hard enough to keep myself in yarn, let alone throwing yarn to the masses.

 That’s where the generosity of the craft community, Ravelry in paticular, comes in. You have to understand that I’m an independent person. I don’t like to ask for help. I don’t even like to admit that yes, possibly, I might need some help. My motto as a child was, ‘I do it self’ which didn’t reassure my parents, already terrified by my other favorite motto; ‘I have no fears.’ However, I bit the bullet, and asked how I could get some sponsorship for the party event. Right away, Jillie offered to dye some yarn for me—and I hadn’t even asked yet!

 After that, Susan, or Justkeepingknitting, offered to advise me if I needed more help. I knew that I needed a lot of advice, so I PMed her, and she wrote back, and I wrote out an official request for sponsorship, and posted it on the Yarnies group and on the Etsy sellers group–with moderator permission, of course!

 Well, I’ll skip the boring bits, and just list all the LOOT that the very generous and very fabulous members of the yarn community have offered for the Teen party!

 The drawing will be entirely random, and you must be a teenager to enter. You must post in the Official Party thread. The Official Party 300 thread will be opened this Saturday, and there will be a pre-party party in the Lingr chatroom, starting at 9:00 EST.

 The Unique Sheep is using their sportweight merino yarn, Footprints, as the base yarn for a colorway inspired by the partys theme–Spunk! I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

 The Loopy Ewe is donating J. Knits sock yarn, and a pattern to go with it! The winner gets to pick their own favorite color. Thanks, Sheri!

Sonny and Shear is making a unique contribution—one that centers around the theme Spunk!—two skeins of Dream in Color baby laceweight yarn. One skein in the color Buter Peeps, and other in the color Into the Mystic. That’s 700 yards of Australian merino, yum. The laceweight will hopefully challenge two lucky members to try out their lace skills!

Jillie, who saw my frantic post asking for help, is also hand-dyeing some yarn for the group! First, she’s donating three skeins of Gianni, 120 yards each of worsted weight wool with some natural lanolin still in it! Secondly, we have Yasmine (I love that name!) 200 yards of hand dyed worsted weight cotton. Thanks so much, Jillie!

Oriri Draco Design is donating a skein of absolutely fabulous sock yarn–a merino, bamboo and nylon blend—called Lil Squish, in the Cherry colorway. Look at how shiny it is!

 Anushka, one of our own teen designers, is donating two copies of her brandnew and super cute hat pattern, Ava, at her blog Magic Fingers. You should also check out her latest post with her legwarmer pattern—trust me, it is really great.

 Ysolda Teague, one of my very own favorite designers of ALL TIME is donating a really fantastic prize. Whoever wins this prize gets to pick any pattern from her shop. I have to confess, I am really drooling over this one, but thankfully, impartial parties will be picking the winners and their prizes!

Ruth, from her etsy shop Spinning Doggies is donating a beautiful flaming colored project bag, to help keep your craft stuff together!

Stage Coach Yarns has donated not just one, but TWO prizes from their website. First, two skeins of merino yarn for socks or mittens, and two skeins of a merino-cotton blend that would make a nice hat! Winners get to choose their own colors!

 Bonnieshae, another teenage group member, has donated as well! First, a skein of Elsebeth Silky Wool that would make a great Branching out scarf for someone. Secondly, a skein of Artful Yarns Shakespeare, 135 yards of wooly goodness, along with a pair of 10.5 size needles. Some poor starving teen knitter will thank you, Bonnie!

 Foxyie, from her etsy shop Foxyie is donating two skeins of recycled wool that she has dyed herself, and two skeins of hand-dyed wool in great, boy-ee colors for the male members of the group, if they are entirely afraid of pink!

 All of these prizes are fabulous, every single one, and I was overwhelmed by the generosity that was showered on me, but I have to admit, I screamed like a little kid when Casey himself sent me a message to say that he and Jess also wanted to contribute to the party. They have pledged $30 of BobBucks for the coming Ravelry store. Neither BobBucks or the Ravelry store exist yet, but they will!

 Thank you, everyone. This is going to be an amazing party.

March 26, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . ravelry. 8 comments.

Quick & Dirty Tag: Six Word Memoir

Smart enough for my own destruction.

Here’s a link to my chosen picture; a play on the Slave Ship by J.M.W. Turner. (No, I didn’t paint it!)

I was tagged by Gubbinal

 1. Write your own six word memoir

2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere

4. Tag five more blogs with links

  I hereby decide to pick on

Kelsey, at Kelsey Knits

Sarah, at Knits of Teen

Dianna, at Land of the Knit-a-Saur

Friender, at Friender. (She’s very inventive)

Jen, at Fefferknits.

March 24, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Wishing You A Cynical Easter

 As we drove home from church, we hit a snag in traffice, and all the cars slowed down. We couldn’t see around the bend in the hill, so we all speculated as to why this was.

 “Maybe there was an accident,” one person said helpfully. (Yeah, that’s so insightful)

  Then, my little brother, says matter-of-factly, “They hit the Easter Bunny.”

 Happy Easter everyone.

March 23, 2008. Uncategorized. 5 comments.

Knitter Goes Out to the Art Show: Graceful as a Rock

So, there’s an art opening in town, and I happen to be related to one of the exhibitors. That means that

 1. I have a reason to go and look at a big collection of random art

 2. I get in free, which is the main bit, of course

 3. There is food. For me and most of the young children attending, this was the main attraction. Bottles of Corona for the adults also seemed to be a big draw. Kid you not.

 I swished elegantly through the door in my khaki colored denim skirt and my stripedly top. Elderly women in pantsuits and old men in pantsuits formed a large part of the crowd, in contrast to the young, pinked-haired or otherwise trendy 20 year olds there. It was a college student-faculty exhibit. Anyway, I get handed what looks like a checker, but is actually a drink token. No Corona for me, obviously, but they have Diet Coke, so that’s great.

 The Artist (my relation) proceeds to whisk me all over the room, introducing me to her friends, and hunting down her picture. I nod, smile, shake hands, and only pause when I spot this super cute guy with neatly trimmed, just to his shoulder blond hair and wearing a suit. He looked vaguely like a British villian, the kind that talks kindly and only turns nasty when the girl hero kicks him in a vulnerable spot. He couldn’t have been older than late twenties. I gawped a bit, and was informed that the punkish girl on his arm was his girlfriend. Ah, one can dream.

 “Ah, ooh, look at that!” I said incoherently, as I spotted some interesting pictures in the corner. I left the Artist with Punk Girl and British Man, and snapped some pictures.


Here’s the absolute best picture that I took all night, simply for the humor factor.


 See what I mean? And the funny bit is that she apologized all over the place for getting in the way of my picture. All night, people dodged my camera as if it were a nuclear missle–though, technically, if it WERE a nuclear missle, nothing except some of the odd metal sculptures would provide any protection. I experienced intense camera envy when one of the Artist’s friends showed up with a real camera, not the flimsy thing that I have.

 OH, and the food. Little bunsen burners sent up flickering flames as they warmed already overcooked chicken bites, breaded mushrooms, breaded peppers and horrible, greasy, cheese covered THINGs. I loaded my tiny plastic plate anyway, because I was absolutely starved. I avoided the greasy THINGS and stuck two chocolate covered strawberries on my plate. I remembered at the last minute to use the flagged toothpicks, rather than my fingers, to eat the food.

 However, my genius didn’t manifest itself until later, when I brilliantly tried to balance

 1 very full cup of Diet Coke

 1 plate full of food, chips and tortilla salsa

This was classic, peeps. I turned, and my plate just flew from my hand. Before I could stop it, salsa splattered all over my skirt, and the marble floor. Chicken bites and chips lay scattered over the ground in a much wider perimeter than I would have expected. A pantsuited woman next to me scrubbed at her pant leg as I frantically gathered up the plate and the scattered food.

 “Did I get something on you?” I asked.

 “Oh,” she said graciously, “I got it off.”

 Privately, she was thanking her stars that she wore black that night. I grabbed a handful of mint colored napkins and swiped at the worst of the salsa that stained the floor. Two punky girls gaped at me, as though they had never ever seen someone publicly disgrace themselves drop something.

 “Well,” I said cheerfully, wadding up the napkins, “Someone’s gotta have a talent for this stuff.”

 For the rest of the night, I actually felt much better, despite my salsa smeared skirt. (Ha, ha, alliteration) Now that it was obvious that I wasn’t exactly the most important or graceful person in the room, I felt free to be myself. Hey, old-man-with-the-pants-around-your-armpits, we’re both fashion failures!

 However, just so you know that I’m not entirely an uncultured clod, I leave you with one of my very favorite pictures of the night, one that I find almost haunting.

March 22, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Don’t Make Me Angry. You Don’t Want to See Me When I’m Angry.

Maybe this is because I haven’t been (seriously) knitting for even a year yet. Or maybe it’s because I’m an emotional teenager. Or maybe it is because I Overthink Everything, Srsly.

Look at this.


That’s the back of my sweater, and that skinny looking fish is the front. Looks OK, right? I ripped out the bind off, and knitted until I reached 8 inches from the start of the armhole. So simple, right?

Look at this.

I actually think that I managed to make my finger look annoyed in that picture. The front is now longer than the back by about half an inch, and I still need to knit around 4-5 more rows to do the shoulder shaping. Should I be worried about this, or should the front be a little longer?

This post is prime example of what happens when you combine a bookish intellectual with knitting. Hysteria, and a tendency to take everything much too seriously. I envy the yoga knitters, the people who slap a few hundred stitches on their needles and a day or two letter, poof, a sweater, with a multi-colored yoke!

Now, I can relax with knitting. 100% llama is very hard to analyze; all you can do is wonder how a yarn could feel so much like heaven. But in general, I tend to find myself ripping and rechoosing projects, rechoosing yarn, losing needles and biting my fingernails.

  I’m trying to relax, and I have to relate something that sounds rather shutupimcountingish; which you will understand if you read her blog. While showering in the royal bath, I heard a pounding on the door and an incoherent shout. I switched off the water.

  “What?” I yelled impatiently.

  “Um, uh,” came the voice of my younger sister, “Can you teach me to knit?”

 Apparently, while you are naked and dripping wet is the best time to teach someone to knit.

 Who knew?

March 20, 2008. Tags: , . Knittin' Porn, works-in-progress. 6 comments.

It’s Been Raining. A Lot. The radio keeps buzzing with flood alerts.

March 20, 2008. Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Next Page »