Friday, September 30, 2011

Open Hands Socks

Forever and ever ago, I heard an interview of Barbara Walker by the Knitmore Girls on their podcast and she mentioned that she always worked the bottom of her socks in purl stitches (purls on the right side, knit fabric on the inside of the sock).  I was intrigued and recently decided to try this out.

I used some leftover Stroll from my Geometry Shawl and a simple stitch pattern out of Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume Five: Lace Knitting.  And attempted to do what Barbara does...

I really hated knitting these socks.  At first I thought it was because of the needles.  I started on a pair of KnitPicks metal size 0s and the join was terrible.  Absolutely the worst.  But then I switched to my Chiaogoo's and I still hated working on them.

I definitely hated having to do all the purling.  It was no fun.  But I really didn't like the stitch pattern much either.  Now I knew it wasn't the best choice for this yarn, but I just wanted something simple so it wasn't a plain stockinette sock.  But the pattern really wasn't memorize-able and that I think was the real problem for me.

I would definitely try this again.  It really was pretty cushy under my feet.  But I wouldn't do the WHOLE half of the sock in purls.  I'd do at least a couple knits on either end of the needle.

I even did the heel in purl but the gusset in knits.

I'll keep you updated on how they hold up!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sigh. Oh Dad

These would be my Addi lace size 0 needles.  As in the ones I generally use for all my socks.  After my Dad stepped on them.

Now, I have broken many a circular wood needle by leaving my bed and then stepping on them on my bed. My bed is large and usually in a small room so I tend to stand on it before settling on a spot to sit.  Walking across my bed and stepping on a needle is also not unheard of.

In my current room, there's about 3 square feet of floor space with no furniture on it.  At least if you don't count the pile of dirty laundry and flip flops that occasionally takes up residence there.  It's hard to fit an apartment's worth of furniture into a small bedroom.  I allowed Dad to put an air conditioner in my room but to get to it, yes, you have to walk across my bed.  Usually I'm the only one who turns that one on but Dad was very warm that day and decided he was going to do it since I wasn't home.

And my poor needles suffered because of it.  Of course I had a bunch of stuff on my bed, which has a day job serving as my work space.  Luckily he didn't step on anything breakable though he claimed he stepped on my "cell phone" (really it was my iPod).

I actually tried to knit with my needles like this.  It wasn't working out so well.  They're pretty malleable though so I was able to bend them pretty straight again.

My 100th post is coming up soon, also very close to the blogiversary.  Keep an eye out for a giveaway :o)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Make Something for Me"

I knew I'd seen this article recently and wanted to share it in today's post but couldn't remember if I'd shared on Facebook or Twitter.  I searched through my pages and couldn't find it.  Maybe because I shared it on Brooklyn Fiber Arts Guild's Facebook page.  Der.

Anyways, go read this!

How much?

Yesterday I told you all about the local craft fair I went to this weekend.  I have a short story to tell that happened early in the day.

My grandparents like to sit by the band through the fair.  I was sitting with my grandmother and showing off my freshly finished shawl knit out of my handspun.  Oh, and I spent the whole summer designing this shawl.*  She loved it and was so impressed.  She's awesome like that (though crazy in many other ways).

Not too long after, another old lady comes over to talk to her and Grandma jumps at the opportunity to show off my shawl.  The lady must be crazy because she told me I should make and sell them at the fair.  Here's how our conversation went:

Me:  I'd never get what it's worth though.
Her:  So what?  At least get your materials cost back!
Me:  ::sitting there dumbfounded::

Really?  I should sell this shawl that I just spent the whole summer spinning the yarn on a drop spindle, designing, working math, swatching and then finally knitting and blocking for the $16 I spent on the fiber?  Seriously?

Obviously I wouldn't be spinning the yarn for everything I make.  And I could pad the price a bit for profit.  But by how much?  How much would someone actually spend on a shawl or handknit socks?

Sure, I can make what I spent on materials back.  But that would never remotely cover the time I spent making that piece.  How much do I, as an artisan, deserve to be paid for my work?  Hourly, I think at least $15 an hour, probably more.  But stop for a moment and think about how many hours it takes to knit a shawl or socks or even a hat.  A hat knit at a bulky size takes at least 2 hours or so.  I knit a shop sample at Village Knitter- fingerless gloves, super easy pattern- and even that took me my entire day.  So should I spend my entire day knitting a pair of gloves only to sell them for $15-$20?  I don't think that's worth it.

While at the craft fair, I ran into a friend from my knitting group and I told her about this too.  She felt that our generation is seeing a trend of moving back to handmade and handcrafted goods while our grandparents (and maybe even parents) generation who came out of the Great Depression have a different mindset.  I can see her point- we are the creators of websites like Etsy and probably do most of the shopping on those sites.  Whereas my Mom will go to the dollar store and think she's found gold.**

I'm cheap.  I admit it.  But I'm willing to spend my money on quality and handmade.  When I know to who my money will be going to (as opposed to sweat shops and bootleggers in other countries), I'm much more willing to spend.

How about a cute baby picture to lighten the mood?

She's such a cutie :o)

*I'm not sharing it here yet because I'm hoping to submit to Knitty first.  It needs lots of writing, editing and test knitting before I can submit it for the Spring issue so that'll be a while.

**Don't get me wrong.  I love Dollar Tree.  Great place to find classroom supplies!  To buy a scarf, not so much.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Washington Square Park Lightsaber Battle - YouTube

Washington Square Park Lightsaber Battle - YouTube: ""

'via Blog this'

Where's the Craft?

Growing up, one of my favorite parts of fall are the local craft fairs.  I haven't been able to go to them as much the past few years, but this past weekend I did make it to the one in West Islip, the town I went to high school in.

Being temporarily without a car, my brother dropped me off around the corner and I walked over.  At about 11am, traffic was already crazy outside the library and cops were directing traffic and helping people cross the busy streets.

Apparently the rest of my family was coming later on so I walked the entire fair in about a half hour, not making any stops.  I just wanted to get an idea of what and who were there, as well as what the quality of the items for sale.

Unfortunately as of late, our craft fairs in the area have been going downhill.  I've noticed more commercial products up for sale while the number of actual handmade goods decreasing.  I've even seen the cheap crap my former boss would buy in Chinatown in the city to sell at our card store showing up at booths.

There were several quality booths though!  And I figured I'd give them all a shoutout here.

My first purchase was a T shirt for my stepfather's birthday gift.  He's a big fisherman and when I saw this during my first lap around, I knew I had to buy one for him.

For those who don't know (probably everyone for that matter), Long Island is shaped like a fish, hence the theme of the T shirts.  The tail of the Mako on the shirt is actually what the east end of Long Island looks like.

View Larger Map

You can find these shirts at

My next stop was 4 Daughters Creations.  One of my goals for the day was to find jewelry to wear to Kyle's best friend's wedding in 2 weeks.  Unfortunately, this booth did not have what I was looking for.  But their stuff was amazing and they were super sweet.  They tried to find something for me and even offered to do custom work.  I took their card because there were some pieces I really wanted but just don't have the money for right now.

My next purchase was ...well I'm really not sure.  At first glance I thought it was a jam stand but they really had a lot more.  I don't know if you would categorize what I got as "jam" but it's called Apple Butter.  It's like mushy apple pie.  I tasted it and didn't need any more encouragement to buy.  It was really good.  Like amazingly good.  Kyle was skeptical when I told him about it but one smell of the jar and he changed his mind.

Even better?  The woman who makes this has a son who was severely injured at the age of 4 and now is confined to a wheel chair.  No, that's not the better part.  All of the money from the sales goes to support him.  It's called Jars 4 Justin but the website seems to have disappeared.

Up next, I purchased some essential oils.  Mainly I wanted lavender to spritz on my yarn to keep the moths away.  But I also found a mixture of oils that is supposed to keep bugs away (think summertime bug spray all natural style) and also an oil in a scent for someone else.  Birthday and Christmas are coming!

These oils come from Pam's Common Scents.

After my whole day of searching for a statement necklace, I finally found one at one of the last aisles of the fair.  Pinache is a collection of pins and necklace pendants created by a retired art teacher.  While they look like heavy metal pieces, the base of each piece is actually a lightweight ceramic painted with several metallic shades to look like metal.  The accessories then placed on this ceramic base are various finds from estate sales and old costume jewelry.  I love the craft of it!  Arlene even had a sign on her booth that said something along the lines of "Be Unique!  Buy Handmade!"  Gotta love that.

A couple years ago I purchased a couple products from Panthyr Moon and was glad to see she was still in business.  This year I purchased some soap from her booth.  Jennifer is super sweet and enthusiastic about her products.  This soap is the spiced apple scent.  I'll be using it just after Halloween (I have some Candy Corn soap waiting to be used for October).

My last stop was a booth I passed by a bunch of times throughout the day and didn't really consider stopping at.  It was small, with only 1 table and the product was soap.  After my third lap through the fair (this time was with my late arriving aunt and cousin), I stopped by since I had nothing else to do while waiting for my aunt to finish her browsing.  I love buying fancy soaps so I figured I'd grab another one.  Of course I have to smell them all first though.  I made the mistake of smelling a couple that had a mint scent to them (Chocolate Mint, Spearmint Eucalyptus and there was another one- either way...I hate mint, they were so not for me but you'd like them if you like mint).  I decided on Lavender Oatmeal (notice that I love lavender??) and also bought an Orange Creamsicle for a friend.

I'm very excited about this soap, but it's pretty like I won't be using it until December or so.  I actually took a butcher knife and cut it in half because the bar is so large.

I had a surprise though.  Bilal, the soap master, recognized me!  Apparently we graduated high school together but never actually knew each other.  I felt really bad because usually I recognize everyone and no one ever remembers me.  But he was super nice!  And apparently Fire Island Soap Co has free shipping to anywhere in the US.  That's a pretty awesome deal if you ask me.  I'm pretty sure I'll be saying goodbye to Dove and buying my soap from these guys from now on.

I'm all about the buying local and handmade so feel free to share with me some of the placed you like to buy from as well!

PS- Yes, I saw knitting and crochet there.  Yes, it was mostly squeaky acrylic garbage.  I hate to say that about something someone spent time handmaking but isn't something you're going to put that time and effort into worth better quality materials?  I think so.  But there was a lady near the petting zoo showing off 2 spinning wheels.  Except both times I walked by she was eating.  It was a gross humid muggy day out so I don't blame her for not wanting wool all over her.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Citron Again

There was a time when I guess I just couldn't stop making Citrons (Rav link).  Not that I dislike them now...I just haven't had the need to make another one since the spring.

I made this one over last winter.  Rachel of Studio Avenue Six (Rav link) had gifted me some yarn she had test-dyed on a base yarn she decided not to use.  I don't remember the actual fiber content, but it's a fingering/sock weight yarn.  She gave me 4 skeins of purple shades.  When I first received them I was not a sock knitter so I had the idea to make a Citron blanket, working the yarns from darkest to lightest.

I actually finished this project months ago but because it was so large, I had to wait until summer's outdoor space to block it.

I'm very glad Rachel has changed her base yarn.  What she uses now is super soft amazingness.  I knit Kyle's birthday socks with some of her Bellweather Sock and it was a dream to work with.  I also have a skein to make myself socks and some laceweight too for a Moor Shawl.  This particular base feels so similar to Trekking in my opinion.  Bellweather Sock on the other hand has the softeness of Bugga, even though there's no cashmere in it.  No matter how it feels though, the colors are wonderful in all of the Studio Avenue Six yarns!

Olga was very sweet in modeling the blanket/shawl for me at Knit Night a few weeks ago.  Although it was hard to get it back from her once she had it around her shoulders.

I am happy to say she did eventually relinquish it.  It has been on my lap almost every morning since in our chilly not-yet-autumn mornings here in NY.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

...I had a blog.

The end of April through June is always a busy time for subbing and tends to require a break from the blog.  What I wasn't expecting was how much my summer nanny position was going to take out of me.  It's been a while since I've worked a 9-5 (well technically I never have since the daycare I was 8-4:30 but close enough).  Even though I had Friday's off, there was always so much to do those days to catch up from during the week (including going to the beach, which I certainly did not do enough this summer because of the bad weather at the end of August).

Nannying ended mid-August and in the weeks following I spent most of my days inventorying my yarn stash.  I'm not done yet but I have tallied over 22 MILES of yarn hidden in my bedroom!  I also found and finished some forgotten projects that I haven't photo-ed yet.

Of course I've been knitting this summer.  I never stop!  I've also been working on some designs but haven't touched them in a week or so.  School has started up again but I haven't had any subbing.  I have been keeping myself busy though on Wednesdays... I've started working at my favorite LYS Village Knitter.  I'm having so much fun teaching new knitters, crocheters and just hanging out with the customers.  My first lesson was teaching 2 young girls to crochet.  They happened to be the daughter and niece of one of my favorite high school teachers.  Awesome and awkward at the same time.  One of them was lefty though so that was quite interesting.

Here's a sneak peak at what you'll see next time...


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