So I abandoned the hat as a gift idea for the new baby, and decided to get rid of some of the stash sock yarn I had on hand and make a Monkey from the Itty Bitty Toys book.  I love the patter, but I cannot believe this yarn.  This poor monkey is fairly hideous.

From Baby Stuff

 

Seriously – this is a face that ONLY a baby could love…

From Baby Stuff

 

While I was working on that, I was listening to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off, and found out about a scrap-eating project called the Traveler’s Life Afghan, which is a blanket made with every bit of scrap yarn left over from finished projects.  Each row knit into the blanket is a different scrap of yarn.  It’s a very cool idea!  I spent much of Saturday going through all of my scraps of yarn and updating Ravelry.  Then I went to Fuzzy Wuzzy yarns with some friends and knit, and bought the needles I needed to start it.  When I got home, I started to put the yarn in chronological order (thanks to my Ravelry project list for keeping track of it), and Tux would NOT LEAVE IT ALONE! This is after much subduing and picking up..

From Misc Pics

She decided that she loved the Cashmerino more than anything.

From Misc Pics

 

She was also a fan of the Misti Alpaca.

From Misc Pics

More to come on my other project that I resurrected from the depths. :-)

Hi there!  Yeah, it’s been a while, but I have a *really* good excuse!  Ready?

From Misc Pics

This happened.

 

Yeah, Miss Abby Never-getting-married-never-having-children Jamaca is now Abby Wife-step-mother-of-two-mom-to-be Dryer.  You may take a moment to tell me that you told me so.  I’ll try not to block you out.

 

So, moving on!  After three months of Why-do-they-call-it-morning-sickness-when-it-happens-all-day fun, I’ve finally started to find my motivation to do something other than fall asleep on the couch before 8pm.  Seriously, I didn’t have the energy to eat or drink, let alone knit.  It was quite horrible.  But now, I’m getting back to normal (thank you, modern science and 2nd trimester!)

 

So, I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have only finished 4 things THIS YEAR.  (Does my yarn know that it’s almost April?  I won’t tell if you won’t!) First, I’ll show you the most adorable thing that has ever been made by human hands (if I do say so myself)  This was mostly knit in 2011, but I finally got around to finishing the flowers and sewing on the buttons sometime in early March.

From 2012 FOs

I am totally in love with this thing, and really hope that the recipient gets a lot of use out of it. (and to the recipient’s grandmother, I’d love a modeled shot for the blog!)

I also tried to make a hat to match the dress, but as the title of this post says, I have a problem with hats.

From 2012 FOs

I think the hat is about as big as the skirt. It fits ME. This kid will be wearing this hat WAY after knitted bonnets aren’t cool anymore. whoops.

Then I finished another hat. This one I made specifically for me, so you’d think that it would fit me, right? Wrong. I refer to it as my silk alpaca bucket, because it looks like a bucket on my head. (although it is warm, so Chicago Winter doesn’t win as many battles against my ears)

From 2012 FOs

 

Now here’s my most embarrassing hat failure so far. A friend of mine recently had a baby, and I tried to design a hat for him (before I knew it was a him). I tried to pick a gender-neutral-but-still-cool yarn, so I pulled out my shibui sock yarn and picked up my favorite knitpicks needles. I looked up a few patterns to see how many to cast on, and added a few, because the last baby hat I made (other than the purple one) looked like this.

From Baby Stuff

Yeah, that poor child had a red ring around his head for a while after that particular outing. I wanted to avoid such head trauma for this child, so I made it a little loose… or so I thought.

From 2012 FOs

Yup, that’s a baby hat. On my head. And it’s loose.  This goes quite a bit beyond  ”loose-fitting baby hat”…

This wouldn’t be too embarrassing, but the truth is, due to my aforementioned ‘condition’, it took THREE MONTHS to make this hat. Seriously. THREE MONTHS to make a hat that HAS NO CHANCE OF FITTING THE RECIPIENT FOR AT LEAST A DECADE.

Yeah, awesome.

I’m working on a pair of socks now for Ed… I constantly check the size on his foot, so I know those will fit. Based on my current 2012 speed, he’ll have socks sometime in 2013. Woo!

I’ve learned (from both sides of the fence) that it is difficult to know exactly what to do when you receive a gift that obviously took a lot of time and energy for someone to make especially for you.  As someone who spends a lot of time and energy on making special things for special people, I thought I’d put together something to help guide you through it.

 

First and foremost, when you receive a handmade gift, Be Impressed.  Even if you know how much effort it would take YOU to do the project, imagine that the person has put their own sweat, blood, and tears (and possibly those of their loved ones) into this gift.  Go on and on about how special it is, and make note of the details and talk about how spectacular they are.  You may feel a little ridiculous putting on such a show, but trust me, the person that made it for you will appreciate it (and will probably be more motivated to make something for you in the future).

 

After the initial revealing of the handmade item, be sure to Take Pictures of the item being used and share them with the person that made the item.  Posed pictures  of “Let’s show them how much we love and appreciate the handmade goodies” are nice, but action shots of the recipient having fun in Real Life with the item are even better.  (Check out my friend Braden with the fingerless gloves I made for him… This picture was not for me, and they were obviously not thinking about me in any way while the picture was taken, but seeing it on his girlfriend’s very cool fashion blog was the best compliment I ever could have received).

Here is a great example of a baby having fun with the new hat that I had made for her.   Clearly, it wasn’t posed, since she’s wearing the hat backwards, but that adds to the charm, if you ask me!  Someone was holding the baby, someone else picked up their smartphone, snapped a picture, and sent it on.  No spending hours finding the right lighting, or waiting until the baby’s smile was just-so.  Just “oh, look how cute she is in that hat!”

From Baby Stuff

 

Lastly, and most importantly, to show your true appreciation for the handmade item, Use the Crap Out of It!  I know many first instincts is to treasure the handmade item and keep it safe so that someday, you can hand it down it to someone else so that they can cherish it, put it in a box and never use it.  Is that really why I put all my energy in these things?  To have them stored (lovingly) in a box?  Absolutely not!  Especially baby items!  I know that the baby is going to out-grow these things in about 10 minutes (and trust me, it takes more than 10 minutes to make these things), but I want the baby to have the opportunity to love it anyway.  If a hat doesn’t fit on the baby’s head anymore, it probably fits on one of the baby’s dolls or stuffed animals.  Let the kid learn how to dress their toys with something that they once wore (they won’t believe that they were ever that small years from now… which will make it even more awesome).  Let the kid drool on it while they’re teething, take it out and drop it in the mud, or take it to the beach and get it covered in sand, then dropped in the water.  Beat it against the coffee table while ‘playing drums’, and then hold it tight when it’s naptime.  ENJOY the thing!

As for adults, I don’t want much different from you.  If I make a scarf or a hat for you, don’t wait until the ‘perfect occasion’ to wear it.  You know what the ‘perfect occasion’ is to wear a knit hat?  When it’s cold outside!  Or when you have to go to the store and you don’t want to brush your hair.  Perfect occasion for a scarf or cowl?  You guessed it!  When it’s cold and windy outside!  Or when you have a stain on your shirt, and need to hide it in a pinch.  Seriously, nothing I make is ‘too special’ to go to a gas station for a late-night snack run!  If it gets ruined, I can always make another one.

 

Now, if you’re actually using these things, you’ll need to know how to Take Care of It.  Exercise Before Knitting put together a fantastic tutorial for how to properly care for hand-knitted items.  This is exactly how I wash all of my hand-knit items (and even store-bought sweaters that need to stay the same size), so if you received something from me, it has already gone through this process at least once, so it’s safe.  The only difference is that I use Kookaburra Wool Wash instead of Eucalan or Soak because I like the self-measuring bottle-gadget.

 

So there you have it.  If you want to show me that you *truly* appreciate my efforts, this is exactly what you should do.  :-)

I don’t think I told you about my friend Braden. He runs Interrobang Photography, and took some great family portraits, as well as this headshot for when I got this article published.

 

Seriously… check out this headshot!  Did I mention it was like 8pm and DARK outside?

 

From Misc Pics

 

As a thank you for his relatively free service (I had to buy him lunch once. It was cheap), I offered him some knitted goodness. He asked for a scarf, because that’s what everyone asks for. I decided that he needs gloves more than he needs a scarf. I also decided to put something special on the gloves (which I won’t put on here, in the event that he decides to read this blog), but my execution has been less than satisfactory.

 

Here you see glove #1, take #2, right before it got ripped back to the ribbing.

From Warm Stuff

Mourn not for it – as it will soon see its destiny as a kick ass photographer’s glove!

It is done.  Finished. COMPLETED!  See for yourself…

 

From Train Scarf

Look at that caboose.  Isn’t it lovely?

 

From Train Scarf

 

Look at how both sides are the same… but different.  How bleeping cool is that?!

 

It is finally in the hands of its owner, who seems to be very excited to take it out for a spin when it gets colder.

 

I will admit, there are more than a few mistakes in it, and I started to leave them in on purpose.  A friend of mine saw it in progress, and said that it should be in a museum somewhere.  While she meant well, it sort of upset me.  I didn’t spend MONTHS of my life making something to hang on a wall – especially since it’s double-sided, so if it was hung on a wall, half of the thing would be lost.  No, I spent months on this thing so that it could protect a neck and face from the elements and look really cool at the same time.  I fully expect that this ‘piece of art’ will be sneezed into, coughed into, dipped in coffee, and otherwise abused by runny noses and the like.  It’s a scarf.  That is its destiny.  To cheat it out of its destiny to hang it on a wall defiles it in some way, and I won’t have it!  So yes, I left a few flaws in there, specifically to make it not worthy of a wall.  You want something to hang on a wall, buy a painting.

 

Also, to further solidify that this scarf is NOT to be hung on a wall somewhere, I told the recipient that if I found out that it was on a wall, I would drive over to his house, rip it off of the wall, and line his cats’ bed with it – because they have claws, and will tear it to bits.

 

Yes, I feel that strongly about it.  So if I’ve made something for you, and you’re “saving it”  Stop.  Wear it!  Wear the hell out of it.  Wear it until it starts to pill and come apart… I can always make another one.

 

Connie, that goes for this, too… although you won’t get to see the finished product until I’m out there in a few weeks…

 

From Baby Stuff

So I took a train and a bus to the Barnes and Noble in Skokie yesterday to get a book signed by the Yarn Harlot. I know that many people would question my sanity for making the trek out there, an hour away from home (and an hour commute from work) to get to an event with no clear ‘end time’ on a Thursday Night.  But let me tell you, it was worth it.  Check out the Yarn Harlot’s Blog to see that I wasn’t the only crazy person there.

 

I got there an hour early, bought the book, and was given the “Line Number” 49.  (Let it be noted that almost 50 people showed up more than an hour before the scheduled time…)  When I got to the section of the store that was designated for the reading/signing, there were a bunch of women (and a guy or two) sitting in chairs, each knitting something.  It was really a sight to behold.  (the Yarn Harlot got a few pictures of the audience – she told us it was so that she could show her Mom that people really do show up to these reading/signings).  We all sat together, graciously moving around  so that groups of friends could sit together.  It was really a very peaceful and amiable group.  We talked about what we were working on, shared notes on different kinds of yarn, and (obviously) knit while we waited for the clock to chime 7:30.

 

The Yarn Harlot was introduced as ‘The Rock Star of the Knitting Community’ and I think it’s absolutely true.  Her celebrity status among knitters is almost as high as Elizabeth Zimmerman, who is the Julia Child of knitting.  However, in real life, she is a very down to earth, hilarious woman.  She shared her experience with Border Patrol as she explains ‘the purpose of her visit’ as a Knitting Humor Book Tour.  14 cities in 12 days, and they still didn’t see the value of what she writes.  (silly non-knitters!)

From Drop Box

 

She read a few chapters from her book, and after hearing her read them, I’m fairly certain that I must own each of her audio books.  Hearing her read what she has written aloud adds an entirely new dynamic of hilarity, and I’m almost tempted to move to Toronto so that I can perhaps become a friend of hers, then we can go get coffee together, knit, and share stories.  I’m almost willing to say it would be worth the cold weather 10 months out of the year to hang out with her… almost.

 

She had a great Q/A session, which she calls the ‘Ask me Questions or Stare at me Uncomfortably Part of the Evening’.  I learned that she used the blog as a disciplinary tool with her three daughters.  (Don’t make me blog this!  Clean your room!)  Then the signing part started.  Barnes and Noble had a very orderly plan (note the ‘Line Number” cards), which I’m sure was necessary for other reading/signing events, but these are knitters… we’ll sit and knit until we’re ready to go up and have her sign our book, check out our knitting, and get a photo.

 

My husband (and gracious chauffeur) showed up while I was waiting for my turn at the signing table, and said that he wanted to go up with me and thank her for inspiring me to make his socks.  She took one look at him, then looked me in the eye and said “you make socks for him?  Must not be very easy…”  I know from comments on her blog that her husband, Joe is about the same size as my husband, so she knows *exactly* how difficult it is to make socks for a 6’2″ man with proportionately sized feet.  I told her that he only gets socks with worsted weight yarn (about 4 times bigger than sock yarn), and she gave me a knowing nod.

 

The big thing when you go to a Yarn Harlot reading/signing thing is to bring the first sock you’ve ever knit.  Knowing this, I put my first sock in a safe place so that I could have it handy when I finally got the chance to see her on a book tour.  Unfortunately, I put it in that place sometime in January/February of this year, so I have absolutely no idea where it is.  Not.  A.  Clue.  I turned my house upside down in the morning to no avail.  Luckily, my phone is awesome and holds all of the pictures I upload for this blog, so I was able to show her a picture of my first sock.  She mentioned that it looked like a tennis sock, and I said that I use it as a trivet, which earned me a picture and a spot on her blog!

From Socks

When I told her my name, and that I’m the Knitiot Savant, she said “oh, that’s your blog?  I know you!”

From Drop Box

Simply for that, any thought of not keeping up on this blog while I continue to write for GoodHusbanding, PMBabble, PM Hut, and whatever other writing things come my way, has been completely purged from my head.  So if you’re reading this, Mrs. Yarn Harlot, thank you for keeping me inspired.  (…and my husband thanks you again for his socks.)
 

Since my last post, many things have happened.  First, I quit my job.  I got a very good offer at another company, and after much soul-searching, and career planning, I decided to take it.  Today is my last day here.  (sadness)

 

However, since I was leaving, I had to make sure that I lived up to my promise of making a hat for a co-worker who has been very supportive of all my knitting adventures.  He is very happy with it, and even likes to wear it inside out sometimes!

From Hats
From Hats

 

I also finally got around to making the fishie hat to go with my butterfly hat.  Unfortunately, it didn’t come out as big as I had anticipated (largely due to me strangling the yarn in the back, creating ‘waves’ on the front)

From Hats
From Hats
From Hats

 

I now only have two things on the needles, and both are big.  One is the train scarf that, because it is a scarf, NEVER ENDS!  I am almost halfway done with the second (and final) passenger car, then I need to do the caboose, then I’m DONE!  (although I’m not sure that will ever happen…)

From Train Scarf
From Train Scarf

 

I also put my sweater back on the needles.  The length wasn’t right, and I have PLENTY of yarn left over, so I’m going to keep at it until I run out of yarn.

From Fun with Sweaters

 

Jason has asked for fingerless mitts, so I think that will be my next ‘travel’ project… we’ll see!

So when I went to California, I had presents with me for my two nieces and one nephew.

From Misc Pics

 

Also, I finished the hat for Ashur.

From Baby Stuff

 

I was spending some quality time with my niece, and she was writing on her newly-acquired paper-sized white-board.  Out of the blue, she asked “How you spell the word please?”   I encouraged her to sound it out, and then realized that it is a difficult word to sound out and spell correctly, so I told her it was spelled “PLEE- AY-ZEE” and we worked through the proper spelling.  She wouldn’t show me what she was writing, though – so that added a challenge.

From Misc Pics

 

A few minutes later, she proudly turned the white board over so that I could see her writing

Will you please mack me sumpin?

 

I said “Sure!  What would you like?”  She said she wanted a really REALLY long scarf.  I’m fairly certain everyone here knows how I feel about scarves.  They NEVER. END.  …and a really REALLY long scarf  really REALLY never ends!  Nevertheless, she is my niece, and I will make what she wants… So we started talking colors.  We reviewed the colors of the purses that I made for her last birthday, and she said she wanted a dark pink.

 

About 10 minutes later, she said “Or you could make me a hat like Ashur’s!  Then we could be TWINS!”

 

And so… Dear Morgan… this is almost on its way to you!

From Hats

 

Right after I figure out what kind of embellishment to put on it.  What do you guys think of this button-thing?

From Hats

 

**This article was written last Friday.  Then it was my birthday weekend, and I forgot to post it.**

 

So I started this project after I finished my lovelies, and got to the point where I was afraid i’d run out of yarn, so I packed the red scarf on Wednesday, because I had a slightly longer train ride and ‘hurry up and wait’ time before a work-related event, and made pretty good progress on it.

Last night, after a rather tragic dance class, I thought about putting the striped socks (which I haven’t really talked about on here) back into my purse, along with the scarf – incase I ran out of yarn today.

This morning, after not sleeping well due to said tragic dance class, I failed to put the stripes into my purse, and ran out of yarn at lunch.  I’m sitting on the train ride heading home with NO YARN.  Blogging is hard to do from a cell phone, but it’s better than nothing…

The really annoying thing is that it’s fairly chilly outside, and I wouldn’t mind having finished the scarf, so that I could wear it while walking to the train.  Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn about 10 rows before the end of the actual scarf.  I’m mentally going through the stash, and I’m fairly certain that I have some leftovers at home.  If I don’t, I will have wasted a perfectly good train ride that could have been spent ripping back a repeat and finishing the thing so that I could wear it on the walk home from the train.

In other news, it’s cold enough to need wool again.  The majority of me is quite angry about that, as I insist that it can’t be cold until AFTER my birthday… which is Monday.  On the other hand, the rest of me is pretty excited to be able to show off my knitted stuff nonchalantly by simply wearing it and insisting on waiting for compliments.

Also, I think I made a mistake by skipping that last repeat on the lovelies, since I’m kind of annoyed that my knuckles are exposed.  I may be fixing that sometime soon.

 

*** End of Friday’s train article***

 

So, after I got home on Friday, I searched for the rest of my red yarn, and failed to find what I was fairly certain I had.  So I had indeed wasted the entire train ride home.  On Saturday night, I ripped back a repeat, and finished up the ribbed end of the scarf.  It certainly requires a blocking, and I think it might be a bit too short, so we’re calling it the Cathedral Scarflette.

From Warm Stuff

 

I also finished up the socks, and turned them inside out to weave in the ends from the stripes.

From Socks

 

I’m never making striped socks again.

From Socks

 

 

Today is ten years after an historic day.  I’m honoring today by living my American Dream.

 

From Drop Box

Relaxing, watching TV and knitting.

 

Do you what you feel is right today.

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