UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

October 28, 2008

halfaquin more than halfway

Filed under: knit — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:09 am

There are days when I want one of those cute little status bars so I can crow repeatedly about my progress. But, honestly, I never go look at people’s posts on their actual blogs now that I have a decent feed reader, so I doubt anyone but me sees the stuff in the sidebar on mine either. 

Sweater Status!

I have finished the major knitting. That is the right front, the right back, the left front, the left back.

I have seamed the two lefts and two rights together, so I have only the one center seam left. This was a major accomplishment because I had no idea how to properly seam knitted garment pieces. I watched the Knitting Daily episode on PBS where they had rigid heddle looms and Rick MrDragon (or something like that, he is the must-be-colorblind man who is really famous in the knitting magazine world (colorblind because anyone who sees the world in more than grayscale finds his projects to be eye-bleedingly colorful)) demonstrating proper seams. I learned it from that.

I took tutorial photos of the seaming process (but have not written it).

seaming knits

So current status (as of 11am) is I need to do one major seam and do the edging and weave in any loose ends that remain.  Without slacking off entirely, I might finish an entire sweater vest in under 3 weeks.

Hem, hem.

Filed under: I hate sewing — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 9:43 am

From sewn

This is why I really dislike sewing. It took me almost 4 hours to do both pyjama pant legs and they do not match. You can easily see the stitches (everyone knows that real sewing people use blind hems and only use visible stitches for decorative purposes). I really struggled hard to get this.

October 26, 2008

Block, Hem, Next, Out

Filed under: knit — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 4:23 pm

I think I have missed something as to the nature of “blocking”. But I obediently rinsed and spun out my sweater vest pieces and laid them flat on a huge towel which I set outside under the standard white sheet that keeps the neighbors’ demented child (would that I could post the video of an 8-year-old boy imitating a chimera of Harry Potter and Wonder Woman!) from messing with my knitting. I have heard people speak of “blocking boards” and “measuring” but I usually just lay things out approximately in the shape I think they should have without stretching the fabric too much, then I hope for the best. 

Fibery goodness today, aside from blocking sweater pieces, has been hemming my new pyjamas. I am the world’s worst hand sewing person. I hate doing it and it shows. I do not believe in blind hems. Clearly if I have to work that hard, you need to be able to see the stitches. They are not even attractive stitches. But if my DH would ever get off his behind and sew them on his sewing machine (current wait for mending is 27 months and counting, it is hardly worth asking if more things can be added to the pile) my stitches will be easily removed. See, that is how it works. I want something done, so I do it myself and wait until I can make someone else feel guilty for me not doing it right. So far the success rate on this behavior is zero. But in the meantime, I have hemmed pyjamas. Yes, they are badly hemmed, but it is not like I stapled the hem. 

Currently questing for the next project. I think I have a glove thing to knit next. And I really do plan to finish the finishing of the halfaquin first. And I would like to spin some before the next spinning group meeting. That way if I skive off, it will be because I do not want to go, not because I do not want to go without something to show for the past month.

I want a new knitting group. Are there other unchilded people near San Francisco who have enough money to go out for food somewhere? I heard that Stacey’s in Dublin (CA) lets people keep their tables all night on Mondays because it is generally slow that night, but that would be a $25/person kind of dinner (it is not a cheap place.) Personally I almost never go out anywhere because the food is better here and because after 13 years, I still have no friends in the area.  My DH does not like to go out after a long day at work or on weekends because it has always been a long week. I meet people, but there is no friend conversion where they become someone I can call to suggest something that might be fun to do. I could go out alone, but like I said, the food is better here.

October 23, 2008

Holding my cards somewhere far far away from the vest.

Filed under: discussion, knit — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 5:21 pm

I have been knitting a lot. Which conversely cuts down on the posting about fiber stuff. When I come to blog, I am reviewing the movie Netflix sent or ranting about the idiocy of network executives who insist on scheduling all of the shows I watch at the same time as other shows I watch, but leaving Thursdays a barren wasteland. (My sense of humor is drastically different than the norm so sitcoms not only are not my bag, but I am mystified as to why anyone would bag them.)  I do not talk about media stuff here because the few knitters I have corresponded with seem to like Project Runway. I am really good at that game. I can pick the losingest garment in the bunch when they first walk out and the thing (usually with the commentary, “That is a dress?”) I find the most repellent is the winner. 

On the plus side, I look to be finishing a sweater vest in ~2 weeks. I expect to finish the major knitting tomorrow, then damp blocking, seaming, and finishing details. I need to make the right front piece and I have already cast on for it. 

People are already talking about Stitches West 2009. I went to the 2008, but it was kind of a wasted trip. I know there will be more fiber sellers this year, but I really do not know if that will be enough to make it worthwhile. I would have to be using it as a social activity, not a shopping excursion to make it worth the trip, and then people would want to go on Saturday when it will be more crowded and more chock full of children who would rather be anywhere else and whose behavior will make that feeling contagious. 

Sometimes I think I should take spinning classes, but nothing seems that hard to me. Some things will take some practice and finagling but I went from pinching along to modified long draw just by realizing I needed to relax or I would start to hate spinning. Then my yarn got a lot better too. I taught myself to knit from library books using chopsticks and a buck’s worth of acrylic yarn, 2 years before other people decided this was a craze they needed to join. I think I have an attitude problem toward classes because some of the first knitters I met, most of whom were much less adept than I was, were teaching other beginners including the bias against purling and cables and lace and knitting-in-the-round because those things were “hard”. Sometimes I think taking a class just poisons the new knitter and gives them unfounded biases and yarn phobias. I took a spinning class and I think it really helped because I had that “Ah ha!” moment when everything finally worked right. It lasted about as long as a newbie surfer stays up on the board the first time, but I was sold. I started hunting around for a cheap spinning wheel, but there were no other classes advertised anywhere until just recently a LYS (one I detest) had a drop spindle class.

I have thought about going to Madrona or Yarn School. But then I went to my local spinning guild’s meeting where they had Sara Lamb speaking and I was convinced that weavers are intolerant sexist people because that was the example set. Feminism is fine and I believe in equality, but speaking about how men oppress women in a mixed gender audience is extremely rude. (Generally I find the worst oppression comes from other women who cannot stand to see someone making her own path. And I know whereof I speak as a childfree woman who dislikes children, the number one thing other knitters say to me is “It will be different when they’re your own.” Not something about yarn, or how I need to make a sweater, but how I cannot be a “real woman” without bearing a child.) I think the guild leaders should have said something to diffuse the sense I got that men were unwelcome. But the one man who showed up at the spinning group meeting in Berkeley last time said he went to a later meeting of the same guild (different speaker though) and did not feel discriminated against. I am not sure what a weaving person was doing speaking at a spinning guild, but spinning does rather seem like a precursor craft.

It makes me leery of going somewhere to take a class, because what if the people there are just as jerky as the knitters in various knitting groups have been… Yarn School says nursing mothers are welcome. Ew! Then I started looking at what they were planning to teach and a lot of it seems pretty basic. Going to Madrona would be a huge hassle because I would need to figure out a way to travel with my wheel. 

Now that the November spinning group was announced, people are piling on with what alcohol they are planning to bring again. Maybe most of those people will not show up again, like last time. As of right now, I am planning to stay home, but have not officially said. I really want to make friends (speaking of which, I need to update my blogroll, so you can all see the new people I am watching)  but I am just too old to hang out with drunken college people. I have nothing in common with the new mothers though, so the older people are not interested in talking to me. I think I am ready to find a new hobby for being social. Fiber hobbies will be my dirty little secret— not like having more than one hobby can be anything but a secret in the current society anyway. People who have jobs and kids and obligations just cannot have more than one singular interest and they usually feel guilty for enjoying something they like doing. Most of the people at the spinning group said that they did not spin unless time was set aside for that. I do not see how driving 30 minutes away and spending 2 hours with strangers is easier than just spinning for 30 minutes at home. It seems like, to me, it would be easier to make time if a smaller block could be allocated. 

Before I manage to depress myself into thinking I have no place in this world, I will say that I have fully 75% of the sweater vest’s major knitting done. Now I will be going off to watch the news and try to convince myself that I should cook even though I really want to go out for Thai food.

October 20, 2008

Not really yarn/fiber but something actually positive.

Filed under: spin — Tags: , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 10:52 am

I got my order from Lands End. I wanted a new robe and bought the matching pyjamas as a treat. Who would not want lavender+snowflakes pyjamas, right? What was in the box was a gray sweater.  I called their 800 number and explained that there was a problem because although the sticker said it was “ELA SNF KNIT PAJAMA SET” it clearly was a gray cotton sweater. The woman from Lands End apologized and told me my replacement would go out tomorrow and when I asked if I could use the return shipping label she said, “Please do. It’s our mistake, so you won’t pay for it. Though if you want to wait until after you get your replacement that would be fine too.” 

I love my new robe and my new slippers and I can clearly see how the problem happened since the bar code says it is pajamas. But I adore Lands End because on the rare occasion when I have a problem, their customer service is top notch. 

I know small little yarn and fiber companies cannot afford that kind of outlay to absorb shipping costs. But then again, I don’t expect there to be UPC code scanning errors if it is a small operation. What went a long way toward making me happy was having the woman at Lands End say she was sorry I did not get what I ordered and to tell me she personally has the pajamas and she loves them. Like I was a real person to her. 

That kind of treatment has been completely absent in the world of yarn and fiber for me. Whenever I deal with a really professional organization I never want to go to a LYS again. Happily there are people selling yarn and fiber online who have great service and great products. Normally I would prefer to complain about the ones who do not; but for once you can think of me smiling in my matching robe, slippers and pyjamas all in that nice lavender color.

October 17, 2008

Pattern design: Halfaquin discussion

Filed under: discussion, knit — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 7:32 pm

When does something become a pattern as opposed to experimental notes? 

I have been thinking about this and I think it becomes a pattern when it is written up with the intent of sharing it with other people. 

For my new sweater vest project, Halfaquin, I have extensive notes from the planning and from the pieces I have constructed. I used the Knitters’ Handy Guide, but the numbers are “gauge times inches equals stitch count” so it was just a crutch. (edited to include photo.)

From halfaquin

Extensive notes do not a pattern make. But I do plan to share them and the rationale behind the decisions I made, which should be enough explanation for someone else to replicate my experiments. 

I actually knit a gauge swatch for this! Sometimes that makes it feel like the world is coming to an end. I have always hated swatching for keeps. I usually knit a new yarn up with one size needle and see if it looks good. If not, I try again. But usually I frog that when I start my project for real. Now with my handspun yarn, I really cannot knit a gauge swatch. I fish for a bit in the middle of the skein and wrap it around a needle to get an estimate of how it will look, but it is mostly guessing. 

I like knitting top down hats from handspun because there is room to accomodate changes in yarn and those changes are not hidden in ribbing. To a certain extent starting from the brim of a hat seems a lot like making a dress by cutting a hole for the feet to go through.  I have been thinking that a top-down circular yoke (similar to raglan) would be an ideal handspun yarn sweater project because it would have the same flexibility. A friend has sworn-off top-down raglans because knitting the sleeves on is such a pain.

October 15, 2008


Filed under: discussion — UndyedYarnpire @ 6:36 pm

What is a “Trunk Show”? I have seen a number of ads for them lately. The first time I heard it was from someone who is a tax dodger, so I have this impression that trunk shows are when people who do not have stores sell things in person but do not have the proper paperwork to legally sell things retail. I suspect that my understanding of “trunk show” has been colored by the first person to use it in my experience.

Related to this tax issue is something else that comes up frequently, the idea of sharing patterns. Generally I do not think it is right to scan in pages from a book and send a copy to several friends. But I frequently scan in pages from a book and print them out for my own use. I do this with library books too, because the library would be outraged if I needed to tick off lines in a chart on their copy. I also do not have a problem lending my knitting books to other people (except when they live far away and the shipping is prohibitive) they probably photocopy pages for their own use. Even though that is functionally the same as me sending them a photocopy of the pattern, I really do think of it as an important difference.

Part of why I have never  bought a downloadable pattern is because they all say it is non-transferrable. I think it should be treated like a book. If I buy a book of patterns and knit something from the book but decide I will not knit any of those patterns again, I can give the book away and someone else can make things from it. (There is a bit of gray area if I retain my personal photocopies of a pattern, but assume I destroyed those for the sake of the argument.) If I download a pdf and make that pattern, then I send the pdf to a friend and delete my copy, that should be reasonable. The information is not in two places at once, so I am treating it like a book. But the pattern designers see that as me depriving them of income and say that is wrong. I am willing to abide by their rules, but I do so by keeping my money

There are a lot of people selling things on Etsy who do not have the licenses and who do not report income to the IRS. The ironic part of this is these sellers are frequently more expensive than legitimate businesses. Because a legitimate business gets shipping discounts, they can buy wholesale, and all their business expenses are tax deductible but sales taxes are 100% passed on to the customer. I wonder how many of these people who are not paying their share tax-wise are the same people who think I would be a thief if I sent a downloaded pattern to a friend when I was done with it.

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