Getting Caught Up

Last summer, I posted a small freakout about finding a moth in my room (where all of my hand knits live).

Everything turned out to be fine. I bought some zip-top bags, washed everything (that took WEEKS), and put them away.

It got me thinking about proper storage for my hand knits for the summer months (since I’m not wearing most of them), and to store my enormous yarn stash.

Since spring is in the air, I’m going to start gearing up.

For those of you following along at home, here’s a list:

#1. Wash and dry everything.

Yes. Everything. Oils from your skin attract bugs. I don’t know the exact reasons why, but they do. Besides, it just makes good sense. When the weather starts cooling off again, wouldn’t you want to pull out a nice, clean shawl or pair of socks?

#2. Put everything into airtight, zip-top bags.

If it can keep air out, it’ll keep wee beasties out. Plus, if there is the slight chance that you put something that already had a moth or carpet beetle on it, you’ve got a much better chance of containing the problem.

#3. Add a repellent.

Not, like OFF! or anything like that. And I hear that moth balls aren’t so good for hand-knits (plus they smell AWFUL).

Me? I’m going to go with lavender. I’ve heard that cedar, mint leaves and cloves also work as moth repellents as well.

I am by no means an expert in repelling moths or carpet beetles, this advice was found on the internet. But it seems better to do some of these things than to store everything in a heap and cross your fingers and hope for the best.

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I Don’t Knit On Demand

There.

I said it.

It had to be said.

For about… oh, 2 years or so, I had been attempting to create the end-all post as to WHY I don’t knit on demand.

I never posted them because I felt like I could never get the entries quite right. Some were ranty. Some were bitchy. None were organized. All went on for forever.

And I was really worried I’d hurt someone’s feelings. That’s the biggie.

Non-knitters have asked me for things in the past, and I understand that the reason why they do it is because they think what I do is neat.

But I don’t take requests or commissions, and I’ve formed a short and incomplete list as to why I don’t knit on demand, in case you were curious.

#1. I’ve got a lot of projects on my plate, and I have no interest in making anything else.

Seriously. To date, I’ve got 2 pairs of socks, 2 baby sweaters, a fingerless glove, a dog sweater and a hat on my needles. And I’d really like to knit myself a Loch Ness monster. And 3 sweaters. And another hat.

#2. You really want to pay me for my time, but I’m not in the mood to discuss what I charge (it’s a lot) and why (this is a skill).

Also – there are copyright issues when working from someone else’s pattern and charging for it. I refuse to get into that here. For more information, I recommend speaking to your friendly neighborhood a legal professional.

#3. I hate deadlines. It makes knitting less fun.

I don’t care if the deadline is a year from now. It’s still a deadline. 

#4. I’ve been burned before. I’ve been pestered into knitting A Thing, and then once the person gets it, they never use/wear it.

It’s happened only a handful of times, and I’ve gotten over it, but I don’t want to go back there again.

#5. I’m a fiber snob, and I want to work with the high-quality stuff. 

Working with high-quality materials makes any task more fun and enjoyable. Do you remember the last time you had to use a slow, clunky computer and how incredibly frustrating it was? That’s how I feel when someone suggests Red Heart.

And that’s about all for right now. These five reasons cover pretty much all of the bases. There are more reasons, and I may discuss them a little bit here and there as they come up.

The one thing I want everyone to take away from this post is to realize if they make a request, and I refuse, IT IS NOT PERSONAL. I’m just a selfish knitter.

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Was That a Moth?

It’s summertime in Chicago. Actually, we just got done having a heat wave that made Hell seem like a nice place to vacation.

Seriously. 10 days of just under or above 100 degree temperatures.

And I know that with summertime, bugs happen to wander indoors.

Earlier today, I saw a moth. I killed it, and then Googled “wool moth.”

Looks like we have a match.

Freaked out for a few seconds, then looked up my options.

Inspect everything, bag everything and freeze it appears to be the way to go. There were also many suggestions of putting them someplace where they’re at least 120 degrees or above.

Unfortunately, our heat wave just ended, otherwise I’d bag up some stuff and stick it in my car. I’m pretty sure it got over 120 in there at least once this past week.

So far, I’ve inspected and bagged my socks. They’re now in the freezer.

Going to go out later today and pick up some of those giant heavy-duty zipper bags and inspect and bag more things tonight. Then talk to my mom about storing some stuff in her freezer.

All in all, it’s not a huge, crazy emergency. And it’s not a huge pain in the ass like a roach or bedbug infestation would be.

Just seeing one moth does not mean that everything I have is ruined. From some of the researching I did (and do check out UC Davis’s website on moth control), it appears that this is pretty easy to remedy.

I’ll be doing inspecting tonight, and I’ll post tomorrow with an update!

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Checking In

Been doing plenty of knitting lately. Haven’t actually finished anything since my Pink Spider Socks, but I’m getting closer to finishing about 4 other things.

Here are the Pink Spider Socks.

Pink Spider Socks

And here’s the Snapdragon Tam.

Snapdragon Tam

And so far, I’ve been sticking to my yarn diet.

It’s getting harder, though. The magical place where Lorna’s Laces do their thing is having a mill ends sale this Saturday. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – Lorna’s Laces mill ends are flipping awesome.

Also, I have a “Yarn Tasting” on Friday night. What’s a yarn tasting? It’s when a shop decides to share a bunch of different kind of yarns with a group of yarn enthusiasts. Usually you get a few yards, and while you knit it up, the shop owner or a representative talks about the yarn.

At least, that’s what happened the last time I went to a yarn tasting. It was a few years ago. It was great, because I was exposed to some different types of yarn that I may not have knit with otherwise.

This yarn tasting, like the last one I went to, is going to be held in a yarn shop. I’LL BE SURROUNDED BY YARN. YARN THAT IS AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.

I’ll try to stay strong.

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Thoughts on 2012 so far: AWESOME

So far, I’ve finished 2 projects – the Snapdragon Tam by Ysolda Teague and the Spectra Scarf by Stephen West.

I’ll try and post pictures of those later today. I got some good shots of the tam the other day, but I only finished the Spectra Scarf last night, when there was no light.

And 2 finished projects means $10 into the yarn fund, which I’m going to try and not spend at all this year.

Hey, I’m not supposed to buy yarn, but supplies and books are not off the table.

Also, I finished the body of my Lopapeysa sweater. I tried to get pictures of that, too, but haven’t been too satisfied with them. Now I just have to pick up stitches for the sleeves and get cranking!

And then there’s the January sock challenge – Pink Spider Socks (Rav Link)!! THEY’RE FREAKING AWESOME. And hard to put down. And I’m thinking the large spider motif would work well on the back of some fingerless mitts or something.

In other news, I’ve been crock-potting away. Every Monday (or Tuesday, if I have Monday off), I load up the crock pot in the morning and come home to a cooked meal in the evening. It’s AWESOME and certainly takes the edge off Mondays.

I’ve only had one failure, and that was an orange chicken recipe. It was totally my fault. When a recipe says “Cook on low for 4-6 hours,” they MEAN it. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking, loading up the crock pot and then leaving for 9 hours.

I ate it, but it had an awful burnt quality. I threw out the rest. Lesson learned.

But the rest of my attempts have been much better. I’ve been getting plenty of inspiration from A Year of Slow Cooking.

And, 17 days into 2012, that’s how things have been.

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More on Resolutions

I’ve been doing quite a bit of brainstorming about the things I’d like to accomplish in 2012.

So I’ve been making lists, and the list has gotten out of control.

Apparently, I want to be a super-healthy woman who has her sh*t together, gets 8 hours of sleep EVERY night, lives on barely any money and sets enough aside to buy a car outright. And my knitting house in gets in order.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to revamp basically your entire life (especially when, just a few short years ago you were pretty much living the ideal you’re reaching for), but there is such a thing as setting too high a goal, getting overwhelmed, and then failing spectacularly.

This is why it’s helpful to have a plan.

For example, I want to not buy any yarn in 2012 (well, if I run out of stash (unlikely) I can do so, but only once I run out!). So I have to set some rules.

#1 – Don’t go to yarn stores if there isn’t an event or gathering taking place. Totally fine if I want to hang out and do knit night.

However, I’d feel really strange coming in and socializing with knit night and spending zero dollars at the store for a whole year.

But, knitting supplies (needles, bags, books) are not out of bounds, so we should be okay there.

#2 – No fiber festivals or events unless I’m taking a class. Even then, stay away from the  sales exhibition part of the festival/event. YarnCon is the only exception, as there is much socializing going on.

#3 – Unsubscribe from yarn store newsletters. Hide the yarn stores I’ve friended on facebook. Catalogs that arrive at my house go straight into the trash.

The last point feels really drastic. This isn’t like quitting smoking where I can be like, “CANCER MERCHANT!” and feel justified shredding the coupons and flyers I get from them.

Yarn peddlers are nice people, for the most part. AND THEY GET ME. I can talk about alpaca, wool, silk and my neverending love for cats and Doctor Who AND THEY TOTALLY GET IT.

Rule #3 feels like I’m cutting off  my big toe.

But it’s not like I’m the only knitter out there. The yarn stores will not shrivel up and die if I don’t buy from them. This is just a year-long challenge to help me get through my stash.

And there’s going to be a final harrah – I got a gift certificate to one of my favorite yarn stores, and I will be heading out there later this week to purchase a bunch of yarn for the Master Knitter class. And maybe a hank of sock yarn, because everyone knows sock yarn doesn’t count.

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New Mitts

I have 2 pairs of fingerless mitts. They’re both modified versions of Fetching.

They’re made out of sport and DK weight yarn, and they get the job done.

However, Chicago can get pretty ridiculously cold, so I started digging through my stash for some worsted weight wool that would keep me a little warmer.

But instead I found a 60 g ball of worsted weight alpaca.

To non-knitters – this is like finding a $20 bill in a coat you haven’t worn in a while.

I bought it ages ago, back when I was still pretty new at this whole knitting thing. I bought it because it was 100% alpaca, and I bought such a small amount because I’m sure it was expensive and I didn’t know any better.* I’ve lost the ball band, so I don’t even know what brand it is, but I remember that it was definitely alpaca.

I never used it, because I never had a project that called for such a small amount of yarn. I never gave it away because, well, it’s alpaca.

Alpaca’s awesome. It is much warmer than wool, which means that if you make a sweater out of it, you’ll bake yourself. It’s really soft, so it can be worn against the skin and it won’t be itchy.

This is the PERFECT yarn for fingerless mitts – closes up that drafty gap you get at your wrists, it’s soft like a kitten and it’s nice and warm!

These are pretty toasty!

The pattern I used was Fast & Easy Fingerless Mitts, version 2, with some alterations due to my small hands.

The end product – fantastic! And I would definitely use the pattern again. If you’re looking for a basic pattern that isn’t complicated, easy to alter (if you need to), go for this one.

*This tends to be a rookie move with new knitters. You’re new, you’re in a yarn shop, there’s a lot of beautiful things to look at and squish. You see a luxury yarn. It’s wonderful, and it’s on the expensive side. So you buy a really small amount. And you never get around to using it, because it’s such a teeny amount. 9 times out of 10, it never gets made into anything. I’m not judging, it’s something that happens, like falling off your bicycle when you’re learning to ride.  And, as you can see, I’ve done it, too. 🙂

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