Archive for July, 2006

Mother-In-Law and Math

Monday, July 31st, 2006

Remember how I mused a few days ago about having to explain all this yarn to my mother-in-law? The one who doesn’t speak all that great of English, doesn’t really surf the web much, and already thinks I’m a little nutty? Well, today I got to do just that and it wasn’t quite as horrifying as I expected.

It seems that the daughter of a close family friend of theirs, sister to one of Joe’s good friends at church while he was growing up, reads the Yarn Harlot, followed her link to me and quickly realized who we were after seeing his picture. Hi, Grace! Grace was in town visiting her parents a week or so ago, and brought some yarn scraps for me with her. She gave them to her mom to give to Joe’s mom to give to me, only they ended up at the church office where Joe’s mom works with a note that they were for Joe’s mom but no explanation about it. Hilarium ensues, and eventually it is all worked out. Joe’s parents came over today and dropped off the packet along with a delicious container of kimchee tchigae (korean spicy pickled cabbage soup – yum!).

Which led me to bring Mom Kang back into the office room where she saw this:

It’s pretty stunning in the picture, but I assure you it is even more so in person. I’ve been trying to sort through some of this stuff and make some sense of it all, so it’s even more spread out than ever before. That’s a lot of yarn. Mom said “You should open a yarn shop!” But she didn’t seem too freaked out by it all either.

Here is what was in the package from Grace – two very nice exactly-what-I-asked-for yarns, and a note in Korean except for the word Grace. Ko-map-sup-ni-da, Grace!

Catching up from yesterday’s mail, I have to more packages to report. Megan from Ashland, Missouri sent some very nice scraps. Megan, what is this delicious blue and brown stuff? I’m feeling a need to go buy some of this myself and make some socks! Or at least add it to my stash to make socks eventually. It’s so pretty! Also, seeing your address brought back a few memories for me. I grew up in Columbia, and lived for a while in Deer Park while I was in college. I doubt I’ll be back in that neck of the woods any time soon if ever, but it made me wonder if you have a good yarn shop in those parts these days. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know what this yarn is, though.

I also received some Trekking and som Lorna’s Laces from Brigitte in Toronto. Brigitte, I love the colors on both of these yarns. The Trekking is going straight to the work basket to contribute a square. The Lorna’s will join the koigu-types for a future project.

Thanks to Brigitte, Megan and Grace along with all the other generous knitters for bringing the package total up to 81!

Now it is time to do a little math. I have been firing up the synapses to wrap my brain around this part for a while now, and tonight we will have a little start at blanket-math. I apologize to all you lovelies in non-american parts of the world. It is truly stupid that we here are still stuck in inches and ounces, but alas, we are. I could do this all in metric, but my poor little brain might overheat, and I only have a limited amount of time. Let’s start with some known statistics.

Current size of my blanket-in-progress: 55 by 11 inches. I wanted a nice, wide couch blanket that two people could snuggle under together without having to fight or stretch the poor thing out.

Size of our current couch blanket: 40 by 60 inches. Crocheted by my Grandma Mary, whom I did not know very well, but was an avid crocheter. It’s junky acrylic, but the love is in the stitches. I was a thankless spoiled-rotten teenager when she made it for me, and even the junky acrylic probably cost a lot of money to her at the time. I’m a tall person, and there have been times when I’ve wished this was a little longer.

Estimated size of finished blanket-in-progress: 55 by 75 inches – should be very generous to cover frozen toes.

Weight of current blankie: 7 ounces
Number of squares (or single-square sized units) in current blankie: 112
Weight of each square: well under 1/10 of an ounce, but let’s use that number as a generous estimate.

Here’s a fun statistic – number of stitches per square: About 512, depending on how you count the decreases.

Number of stitches knit so far: 57,344

Estimated stitches total for the blanket: 390,981

Estimated weight of finished blanket: 48 ounces

Which leads me to a little dilemma. Where am I going with this? Well, I was trying to sort out all this yarn and figure out how to put it into kits for other people who want to make blankets. I need to know some things like – what size blanket are they knitting? How much yarn do they already have of their own? Do they have color preferences, and am I going to go so far as to try to accomodate them? How many different yarns should I try to include per kit? For my blanket, I’m going to try to get as many different blocks as possible, and I think I probably have a good chance of getting at least one block of each different exactly-what-I-asked-for type yarn received into the blanket. But I’m not sure I’m willing to wind a bajillion .10 ounce balls in order to mix it all up and send to other knitters. They’re going to be getting larger chunks, just like I did- and it works out fine. I think I’m going to have to send some e-mails out.

Some other good news: I’m pretty sure I have enough of the Koigu-type yarns to make at least a couch-sized blanket, and the same goes for the wool/cotton/nylon blends.

To answer Karin’s question about the Artyarn’s UltraMerino – The web site didn’t have specific care instructions as far as I could tell at a glance, but it doesn’t say anything about superwash either, so I’d say probably hand wash, hang to dry unless we hear differently from another reader. Also, since you mentioned doing both at once – it can be done on two circulars, but my preferred way is to cast on for each on seperate dpns and just alternate working on one then the other. This way it’s more portable to carry with you and there’s no fumbling with floppy needle ends and multiple balls of yarn. I know, there is the two-circular camp of knitters and they’d tell you the exact opposite. It’s all a matter of preference.

Over the Bell Curve

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Well, knitting friends, I think we’ve reached the other side of the bell curve on the packages. Yesterday there were no packages, and today there were two. It is a bit of a relief to see the flow reduced to a trickle again. If you still have yarn that you really want to send, I’ll still take it, but you better send it soon. It’s time for me to sort through what I have and see where it can be used best just as soon as I can find a few minutes free from the kids. Meanwhile, I’d like to do a little bit of a normal-life post – the kind that I was used to doing till a few weeks ago.

Yesterday, we had a little play party for a couple of friends and their kids. Jen and Kari came over with each of thier two kids, and a fabulous time was had by all. They sat at the picnic table and at brownies and grapes. See the baby monitor on the table? Sophie slept through most of the party – she slept so long it was almost creepy and I finally went up to check on her just as she started waking up.

Jen tried to avoid the camera, but failed. See Hafsa in the sling? That’s the baby that underwent spinal surgery a few weeks ago, and she’s doing great. Thanks for all the positive thoughts for her.

Everyone splashed in the pool. Julie and I were back out at the pool this afternoon, and I’m afraid it must have a leak. The bottom ring has deflated, and we may have to try patching it. It’s been a great pool these last two years, and it would be nice if we could make it last through this summer at least.

You can’t tell very well from this picture, but Will was snacking on Goldfish crackers and had one stuck to his chin. It was very cute.

From all reports, all the kids took great naps that afternoon. Except Julie. She played with her vintage Fisher Price Little People instead, but she had a good time setting them all up in a little party scene, and I enjoyed watching her.

Sophie, my Sophie – is ever the cutest baby on the planet. Now that she can sit up well on her own, I pulled out a bigger toy or two for her to play with. She loves this piano-dog. Her little hands bang on the keys and she grabs all over it, drooling up a storm.

Most of the time she is so happy, but she has still had many unSophielike uber-crabby moments throughout the week – usually when she’s tired. I did finally take her to the doctor in the afternoon, and her ears are perfectly fine. The doctor saw two little teeth working their way up from the bottom, so that may explain it, or maybe it is the dairy I’ve been sneaking back in my diet.

The ped. tried to convince me that letting her cry it out is a good idea, and in moments like those when I’m dealing with an authority figure who is supposedly an expert, I always forget all the good reasons why we choose not to let our babies cry alone, but I just said “That’s not something I’m going to do.” One of the most convincing reasons I’ve ever heard is this: If, as an adult, you were sitting on your bed and crying, wouldn’t you want your loved one(s) to come and comfort you – to ask you what’s wrong, to simply hold you? Even if it doesn’t fix the problem, it does help to know that someone cares. Well, babies are people too. What more reason do you really need? (Don’t answer that, it’s a rhetorical question.)

Still and all, I’m glad we made our trip to the doctor. Last night she was up screaming till after midnight even despite a dose of Tylenol and a warm bath. If I hadn’t been to the doctor already, I would have been kicking myself and contemplating a visit to the urgent care. Then she slept all night and woke up full of giggles again. Who am I to complain? Especially since This morning I got to go out with a friend to see The Devil Wears Prada. Without kids. I ate popcorn and Junior Mints and enjoyed myself, the company of my friend, and the movie thoroughly. It was even a pretty good movie, to my taste. Yes, cheesy chick-flick fluff, but perfect for a hot Saturday off from the family. I took some knitting with me, but was too busy stuffing my face to bring it out.

Now I have to go figure out what to fix for dinner. Right after I go check on the blankie and at least pet it for a minute. It has gotten a few more squares, but I’m hoping to build it just a bit more before I show it off again. Maybe tomorrow night I can update y’all on today’s packages and blankie progress.


Friday, July 28th, 2006

I have no blocks knitted again today, but I am happy to report that the I-cord border is finished along the bottom and what’s started of the right side of the blanket. I got through it faster than I expected even though knitting applied I-cord is kind of putzy. I’ll talk you through what I did, but first let’s open packages.

Today there were only two. That makes me giggle a little bit. “Only” two. Only two people generously sending me their yarn scraps today. Two on top of the 76 others, making 78 total to date. I’m a little grateful for a lighter mail day today so that I can hopefully get to the I-cord business without staying up all night. We have a playdate planned for the morning, and I want to be awake to enjoy it.

The first package is from Carrie in Tucson. It’s a nice, big chunk of what looks like handpaint. She thoughtfully noted 100% wool (NOT superwash!) on the envelope. Carrie, what is this lovely stuff? Do you have a picture of your socks up on the net somewhere? Do you have to hand wash them every time? I’m so lazy (and you know that I speak metaphorically here), it’s hard for me to imagine knitting handwash-only socks. Anyway, this picture doesn’t do the colors justice, and Sophie’s pudgy little hand looks a lot more scarily dismembered than cutely snuck in as I imagined. I promise, the rest of her body was right there wiggling around on the floor.

The second package is from Suzanne in Richmond, Virginia. Two nice blobs of e-w-i-a-f, and the cute little toes are courtesy of Sophie who was sitting on my lap trying to grab the camera from me.

Thanks, Suzanne and Carrie! You made my day. Okay, you wanna see some I-cord in progress? I took a few pictures while Julie finished her breakfast this morning and Sophie took her very brief morning nap. I sort of forgot to take pictures at the very start of this process, so we’re going to have to do a little imagining here. Oh, and I learned to do this, or something very like it, at Meg Swansen’s knitting camp. She describes it very clearly in her book Sweaters From Camp too.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is put some of the live stitches from the cast-on edge onto a knitting needle. With the eensy-weensy spider cast-on, sometimes this can be a bit of a challenge for me because those stitches can be kind of tight, so I usually pick them up with a smaller needle than the one I’m using for the project. In this case, I took a nice long size 0 and picked up a few diamonds’ worth at a time. I started the I-cord on the lower left edge of the blanket as you’re looking at it from the public side. Also, if you use the cast-on that I did, half of your stitches are probably going to be mounted on the string backwards. You can either correct them as you put them on the needle, or just make sure you turn them around as you work your way across the row.

Next, cast on 3 stitches with your regular needle. A short, double-point works nicely here. Any old cast-on will do – even a provisional one if you want a seamless join by grafting at the very end of the blanket-making process. Now take a look at the picture. Pretend there’s not a bunch of I-cord attached below the wooden needle, and that’s about what it should look like as you’re getting started.

Slide those three cast-on stitches onto the left-hand needle (the metal one in my pictures). The working yarn will be attached to the left of those three stitches, and yes, it is going to look weird and wrong to you. Now, stick your right needle into the back of the first stitch and knit it. Once you’re comfortable with the sliding stitches part, you can just leave the needle in there instead of sliding it over all the way first. Knit the second stitch normally. In this picture, Julie was testing me to see just exactly how close she could come to touching my knitting without pissing me off.

Knit the last newly cast-on stitch together with the first picked up stitch from the blanket. Now you have three stitches on the right hand needle again. Slip them back to the left-hand needle and repeat the process- knit in the back of the first stitch, knit the second stitch normally, knit the third stitch together with another from the blanket through the back loop. Keep doing this till you get to the tip of the first diamond.

As you go around the outer edge of this corner, I think it is best to pick up an extra stitch on either side of the middle to make your edging accomodate the length around the bend, if that makes any sense. You’ll want to pick up that stitch before you slide the stitches back to the left hand needle, then just treat it like a regular blanket-side stitch. When you get to the join between the first two diamonds, pick up one stitch in the diamond peeking out between them so you don’t get a weird little gap. Then just keep going all the way across the bottom.

When you get to the bottom-right corner of the blanket, you can start working your way up the right side. Some of the stitches will be live ones that you cast on provisionally as you worked the blanket. Some of the edges will be the slip-stitch edges of the mitered squares, and those you will have to pick up one stitch at a time as you apply the I-cord. Hopefully, once you’ve made it across the bottom, it will all make sense to you and it should be a cakewalk.

The blanket wants to say hello again, and it’s showing off its wild and wooly loose ends. But look – no more ends hanging from the bottom! The only ones still attached are those from the very top row where there’s no good place to weave them in yet, plus a few provisional cast-on scraps on the left side.

Here’s a closeup of the bottom right corner. I think it will look a lot better once it is blocked. Doesn’t all knitting?

And here is the top of the right-hand side. I broke the I-cord yarn off, leaving a generous tail that I can use to spit-splice more yarn in when I’m ready. The three live stitches are being held on a coilless safety-pin type stitch marker.

If you’re still with me here, I want to note one other thing. I got three e-mails or comments today from the women to whom I sent yarn. Ann posted about hers on her blog. Karin got two balls of Artyarns Ultramerino so she can try knitting her first socks. Karin, I’d like to suggest a toe-up approach since I’m not sure exactly how far that yarn will go – it’s definitely enough for a pair, but I don’t know how long the cuffs will be. It will partly depend on the size of your foot. Denise got one of the big balls of blue Forissima. I’m confident that all these packages have found good homes, and it really feels great to share some of the fun.

Oh! and last but definitely not least – Soprano Spinner is busy making her own blankie. It’s looking good. Everyone go over there and tell her how pretty it is.

Don’t Ever Let Them Tell You…

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

…That this parenting thing isn’t a full-time job. Julie was up some time before 7 a.m. this morning. I just finally put Sophie down at 11, and it was non-stop parenting in between. I’m not complaining – it’s the best job I’ve ever had; but it’s definitely a job. At least, as Joe put it when he came out to check on me and Sophie around 10:30, Sophie was happy and awake instead of screaming and awake as we experienced so many times with Julie.

I’m feeling really disappointed in myself about the bavarian-twist sweater for Julie. It is becoming increasingly clear to me that it’s not going to be done in time for the photo shoot. To work on it, I need blocks of uninterrupted time to concentrate and not make stupid mistakes. Time before midnight when I’m not completely zonked from a hectic day. I need to think through the sleeves a bit before casting them on willy-nilly. Even if I didn’t have this scrap yarn project going on, finding this time would be a challenge. As it is, there is no way it’s going to be done and blocked in the next two weeks – not unless Sophie and Julie magically start taking two-hour naps every day starting tomorrow. I just hope I can finish it in time for the fair. Never mind about the leggings that are only seeing a row or two when we’re out and about. I wanted to enter them in the fair as well, but I’ll be lucky if I finish them in time to give them to Julie for her birthday as planned. :-(

Anyway, it was another glorious day for the mailbag. Shall we open some packages? C’mon, you know you want to.

Teresa from Ritchener, Ontario gets the award for most interesting packaging to date. It looks like the kind of bag your newspaper comes in maybe – all taped together to make a packet that served better than some of the envelopes I’ve gotten so far. Hidden inside the humble-looking packet were a bunch of nice yarns, all pretty much what I asked for, and the most amazing note including a spreadsheet detailing the brand, fiber content, color, weight and yardage of each bit. Teresa has got to be the most organized knitter ever!

Pam from Burr Ridge, Illinois (and apparently a member of the Hinsdale South Booster Club by her stationery) sent two nice blobs of cotton/wool blend and a nice Norwegian wool/nylon sock yarn as well. pretty pretty!

Charlotte in Ann Arbor, Michigan sent a nice little egg-sized ball of exactly-what-I-asked-for.

Brenda in Kennebunk, Maine sent some cotton/wool Sockotta, some Socks that Rock (oh, and it’s so funny that I asked about STR the other day – Of course I’ve heard of Socks that Rock, just didn’t make the connection to the abbreviation. I told you this Mommy business fries the brain.), and some Regia. All very nice stuff. Brenda, I love it that Howie is on your return address label. I also love those felted bowls. must…look…the…other…way…can’t…start…more…projects….

Chris of Briar Rose Fibers sent me some of her very own handpainted yarn. They are beautiful, but unfortunately a little too thick for the current blanket. Chris, can you tell me which ones these are? They might fit in really well with the Mountain Colors stash I’ve got building, and even if not, there’s enough here for some kind of standalone project like a scarf since the colors compliment each other pretty well.

JennaKate managed to put this package together for me despite preparing to move to Grand Forks, ND and dealing with simultaneous bumblebee and ant infestations in the old house. Let’s all send some calming vibes her way. Poor girl sent me an e-mail saying she had accidentally forgotten to include a note in the package with her name on it, and that she couldn’t remember what was in it but look for the Grand Forks return address, and I figured it out just fine. There’s some Regia-type stuff in here, what looks like Bearfoot from Mountain Colors maybe (I’d love confirmation of that when you get a chance, Jenna) some Fixation, and some other wooly stuff.

That’s the bottom of the mail bag for today. Thanks to all six of you for bringing our total up to 76 packages so far! We might just hit 100 before this is over. And by the way, as I type this, Sophie is back down here with me, nursing on the Boppy pillow. Forgive the typos.

Want to see what the blanket has been up to today? No squares. You heard me right. I didn’t knit a single square today. Nope. Instead, I put to good use some of the dark blue yarn I bought at the Yarnery when I was there last night and started in on some I-cord bind-off for the bottom edge. I was just sick and tired of all those loose ends hanging off from the provisional casts-on and I really wanted to see whether this I-cord scheme was going to be acceptable. Plus, I feel an obligation to any readers out there who might be knitting along at home to get the rest of the tutorial up as soon as possible. I haven’t taken the tutorial pictures yet, but it’ll be coming soon. In any case, I’m happy with the edging. It’s subtle, but adds a nice gentle polish to the bottom edge…and I’ll have that many ends over and done with when I finish the bottom.

Remember the note cards I was talking about last night? Here’s a picture of Harry sniffing at one of my new creations. You can’t really see it all that well in the picture, I’m afraid, but it’s just a hard copy of the close-up picture I posted last night printed on some high-resolution but not photo-quality paper, glued to an inexpensive blank note card bought at Office Depot. I think it looks pretty good, though. I really like this idea – you could use any kind of pretty picture for it, any detail of your knitting be it lace, cables, plain old stockinette. It only took about 5 minutes to do, too. Jen, I was thinking about you as I did this. You’ll get to see it on Friday if you want.

And now for your cute-baby-of-the-day…Sophie in her Jumperoo this evening, then laying on her play mat around 10:30. She really is a wonderful baby. Even when she woke up just now, picking her up felt so good – her squishy little body curling up into my chest, her little arm curling around my neck as she nuzzled under my chin. It’s totally all worth it.


Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

In art and writing classes when I was a kid, I always had a hard time deciding what to draw or write about. I would stare at the blank pages and wonder where to start. With knitting, that rarely seems to be a problem for me. Inspiration is everywhere, and I feel that I’ve found my calling, or at least one of them, in life. Inspiration strikes in all kinds of places. I have three examples tonight.

One – I finally got a copy of Domino Knitting, just to compare Hoxbro’s (I’m sorry I didn’t get the o-like character right, but the last time I tried to get it into my blog it looked all wacky, so just imagine the little line through the middle.) techniques to what I’m doing. One could safely say that this blanket uses a subset of the same techniques she describes, although I do the ends of the rows and the decreases slightly differently. It’s funny – I thought about doing an I-cord border a couple of weeks ago, but it is the first she suggests in her book. Great minds think alike, I guess.

Two – in my e-mails today I found a link from Becky that we really must all go check out. This woman in Finland is apparently knitting 100 blankets for some kind of charity – I didn’t read far enough to figure out the details, but the blankets are eye candy! She shows all of the blankets on her Yahoo photo account here. They really are something to see, and number 95 is made out of sock yarn.

Three – on my way to the yarn store this evening, I stopped quickly at a gift-type shop to look for some note cards. I found some really pretty ones, but I had in my hands and almost bought a box from the Smithsonian with pictures of crazy-quilts on them. I thought “How perfect to send in the packages I’m mailing out.” But then I had another thought. New inspiration. Something not entirely knitting-related. I’ll let you know how it works out.

On to the blanket fun! As promised, here is a picture of the current stash, or rather how it looked last night. What’s that big blob of orange next to the Rubbermaid container? That’s Daisy, sticking her head into a bag of Koigu. Somebody must have a good-smelling cat who likes to rub up on their yarn. I think I may have to go get another Rubbermaid out of the basement.

Today there were seven packages in the mail, bringing us up to 70 packages total. 70!

Carol Ann in St. Louis sent some Magic Stripes and a chunk of black wool/nylon. Carol, your server timed out when I tried to go look at your web site – is it because of the power problems down your way? I hope you’re back on line with the electricity and not sweltering in the heat. I miss living in St. Louis sometimes, but I’m glad not to be there right now with the outages.

Beth in Waterloo, Ontario managed to squeeze a few little bits of yarn in with a note card in a little envelope. You know, if everyone had sent me little bits like this, I probable would have ended up with just the right amount for the one blanket I’m working on right now.

Elisa in Camarillo, California sent some Wildfoote and some acrylic from her first attempt at sock knitting that ended in the frog pond.

Heather in West Lafayette, Indiana sent four chunks of very nice exactly-what-I-asked-for in beautiful colors.

Erika in Edmonton, Alberta sent some very nice chunks of Koigu, something that kind of looks like Bearfoot but maybe is not, and what looks like a full skein of DGB Confetti. Oh, and Erika? I can’t wait to see the finished product either. :-)

Patricia from Fayetteville, NC sent some nice Regia. She says she went through a long, painful process with this yarn trying to knit up her first pair for her husband and never wants to see it again. That’s too bad, Patricia- but it’s funny – I made a pair of socks for my husband out of this same yarn! It’s a fuzzy picture, and they were one of the first pairs I ever made too. He only wears them a couple of times a year when it’s really cold out.

Julie from Rochester, NY sent three nice big chunks of exactly-what-I-asked for – and now Julie I hope your conscience feels better.

And that’s the end of the new yarn for tonight. Thanks to everyone who made my day yet another Christmas in July. Even after 70 packages, it still feels like Christmas morning when the mail carrier stops by with all the gifts!

Here’s your cute kid picture of the day…Julie in a Bob-the-Builder induced trance.

The blankie wants to say hi, too.

Ten in, Three out

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

A fair warning right up front – there are no cute kid pictures today because it wasn’t all that cute of a day around here. Don’t get me wrong – the girls are always cute, but Sophie is still acting fussy (I think I’ll take her in to the ped tomorrow just to make sure it’s not an ear infection) and Julie and I had an utterly failed attempt at the start of potty training. That’s all you need to know about that. I’m at all worried about the not-potty-training-yet issue, it’s just too bad she’s not ready and we wasted all that dirty laundry and rugs. Now you know more than you needed to know about that. :-)

Let’s get to the yarn, already. We had our Monday-morning knitting group at the coffee shop, and then I dropped by the post office with three packages to mail out. Each had enough yarn for a pair of socks and that’s all I’m going to tell you because I figure it’s up to the recipients to say something about it if they want to and because frankly my brain is so fried right now I can’t remember exactly what or to whom they were.

So I came home, and I put the mail out, and as I opened the front door in tumbled a bag full of yarn scraps. I instantly realized that crap I screwed up again. I had arranged to be here on Sunday when a lovely local knitter – two miles away local – was going to stop by and drop off her scraps and I was going to show off my family, the blankie and the yarn. I had really been looking forward to meeting her and I felt horrid for standing her up. And all you nice readers are thinking in your minds right now that I must have had a really good reason for doing so. Nope. Nothing other than fried mommy-brain. We were out running errands on Sunday, and even though I had mentioned the 1:00 appointment to Joe about 10 times, we both spaced it out entirely. Now you little trolls can have something real to hate me for instead of making up false worries about how I’m going to dispose of this yarn. Ha! Kathy, thank you for not hating me. I’m really looking forward to having you over to help sort things out in a couple of weeks. Here’s what was in Kathy’s bag – a lot of exactly-what-I-asked for and a little bit of cotton, too I think:

Then the mail came. I have a theory about Mondays. Somehow the mail magically
accumulates at the post office on Sundays when nobody is looking. I don’t know if that is really true, but it would explain why Monday is always such a big mail day. Anyway, there were nine packages waiting at the door this afternoon. Today’s packages were full of lovely yarn, but what I noticed most was the packaging. Let’s take a look.

This first one , from Erin in Valpo Indiana, speaks for itself, although what you can’t see from the picture is the bright orange address label on the front. Opening this one felt like opening a gift, or maybe an expensive box of chocolates. Except those “chocolates” are lots of nice yarnies. Oh- and I just realized looking at it again (I usually take the pictures during the day, then sort the yarn as I blog it after the girls are down) there is a perfectly sweet little card in there too. It coordinates with the tissue paper and everything.

Jae from Irvine, California sent three big chunks of exactly-what-I-asked for. Go take a look at her blog. She knits, she bakes, and she takes great pictures. Congratulations on seeing your work at the fair! That’s a great feeling.

Jenni in New Jersey sent a teeny bit of Koigu, some wool/cotton, and a few exactly-what-I-asked-fors. So many people have sent their yarn all neatly packaged in Ziplocs like this – I usually take it out so you can see the yarn better, but I find it fascinating how everyone likes to hermetically seal up their yarn. It actually makes it safer when I’m opening the packages so I don’t accidentally cut the yarn while slicing open the package. That only happened once before I learned to be really careful.

Heather in Ottowa (that’s right, another Canadian package woot!) sent this package, with a note on some really cool stationery with lasercut ducks at the top. She sent a little bit of cotton/wool, a little bit of Koigu, a little bit of exactly-what-I-asked-for. Yay!

Janet in Boston sent a big box of what she says are the scraps from 15 years of sock knitting. There’s lots of good stuff in there.

This package from Lee in Charlotte, NC was amazing for the packaging alone as well…first there was the bubble wrap. That made Julie’s day. She was so sad when I threw out the bubble wrap from the first day, and now I’m going to dole this batch out in little pieces so she can have some every day that she asks for it for a while. Then, look at those balls individually wrapped in baggies, and in each baggie is a slip of paper saying what the yarn is. Not to mention, Lee sent a sweet little note with perfectly neat handwriting.

Ingrid in Norway – that’s right – NORWAY, people! sent a post card of Telemark, showing more snow than we usually get even here in Minneapolis. She also sent some hand-dyed orange, which I love and is going in the blankie either tonight or tomorrow, plus some Opal and some Norwegian sock yarn.

Rosemary, aka Chappy, in Galesbur, IL, sent this ball of STR yarn. This is the first I’ve heard of this yarn, and it looks a lot like Koigu. Surprisingly, Google shows me lots of people talking about using it, but no places selling it. Anyone know who’s got it for buying? I’m just curious. Rosemary, I know you want me to send you the blanket pattern, but honestly there isn’t one. You’ll just have to look at the tutorial in my blog entries since I’ve started – and there will be one or two more as I get the edging going too.

Whew! Another day’s unpacking finished. You all have sent a lot of yarn so far – the giant Rubbermaid tote is overflowing, as is the IKEA bag, and I have two gallon-sized ziplocs of just wool/cotton alone, and two more of the Koigu-types. I think it’s just about time to do some math and figure out how much yarn per blankie and try to assemble some kits for shipping back out. It’s going to take some time, so don’t hold your breath, but it’s going to happen. The whole balls – enough to knit socks – are in high demand via e-mail. I’m not surprised. It’s going to be hard to pick who gets what.

Happy Saturday

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Today was a good day. I took the girls to the park, got the bathrooms cleaned, opened four more packages of yarn that came in the mail, and hung out with a few friends at one of the many local yarn shops. The only one that serves pastries, coffee drinks, and even alcoholic beverages.

Let’s open some packages.

First, another package all the way from Australia. Erin says this Opal made her itch, and that she couldn’t send a package all the way from Down Under without some Australian wool in it too. The yellow is Heirloom DK merino. It is like butter.

Next, a good-sized box from Nancy in Washougal, Washington. You may remember her from the cinnamon-roll box the other day. This is her second shipment, and it’s a doozy. She must knit socks non-stop day and night is all I can say. Lots of pretty colors here, too.

Finally, and take a deep breath here – I almost had a heart attack when I opened two boxes from Ginny in Ohio. This is an amazing assortment including Regia, Lorna’s Laces, Mountain Colors, Joslyn’s Fiber Farm, and many others. I kept digging through the box and not even believing what I saw. I’m not sure if Ginny wants me to share the details of her story with the world or not, but she has some good reasons for stash reduction and assured me that there is much more where this came from. I think I will be forwarding some of this lovely stuff to other good homes as soon as I can decide which bits I can bear to part with.

Thanks to all three of you for your generous contributions to my little project. You have substantially added to the quickly-growing pile of yarn, and I’m going to have to find some more containers for some of this soon! I’ll have pictures of the mountain in the next couple of days.

Okay, I’ve sorted out a few packages’ worth of outgoing mail ready to send on Monday. It’s not much, but it’s a start considering how much incoming I’ve been dealing with.

Anne in Virginia is getting the skein of pinks and purples, which she plans to use to make a gift for her niece.

Denise in Georgia is getting a ball of the blue Fortissima to make a pair of socks.

Karin in Oregon is getting the green/blue ultramerino for another pair of socks.

Here comes your cute-kid-picture of the day. Someone suggested in the comments that I should make one of those Hallowigs from Knitty for Julie. Well, I happened to have one laying around – I had knit one for my friend Julie who died of ovarian cancer last year when she was short in the hair department during chemo. After she passed away, her family returned to me all the chemo hats I had knit her because I wanted to hold on to them. So here’s my Julie wearing it. I did convince Joe to put it on his head momentarily, but I had to promise not to publish photos of him in it on the Internet. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

Five More Packages

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

I finally just finished catching up on e-mail – thanks for all the comments and interest, everyone! About Sophie – she’s definitely sensitive to some things in my diet, and has been since she was born. If I eat chocolate or dairy, she has tummy trouble, as evidenced by constant spitting up and pain. As soon as I stop eating chocolate and dairy, she is the happiest baby on the planet. I was especially quick to pick up on this after a year and a half of hell with my older daughter until we discovered *her* food allergies. I appreciate the helpful comments, though.

Today the mail carrier came early again, and he brought four more packages. Made me late for a play date because I just couldn’t get out the door without peaking inside the packages quick-like. And I just about had a couple of heart attacks. Are you people trying to kill me with your generosity?

Oh, and one more thing before we start opening packages. I had a moment of panic today when I realized that a knitting deadline is coming up, one that I’ve been ignoring because of this whole blanket project. In two and a half weeks, we have a photoshoot scheduled with our photographer, Jeff Dunn. He’s the guy who did our wedding and another photoshoot after Julie was born. He is really nice and does great work. I really want to have that little Bavarian twist sweater done before this photo-shoot so that the girls can wear the matching pair for the pictures. Right now, I’m up to the underarms on the body, but have not yet started the sleeves. I guess that puts me at just under halfway done on the project. It’s going to be a real stretch to see if I can cram it in between now and then, but I’d really like to. Forgive me, blankie, you may be getting even less attention in the next couple of weeks. I’ll try to keep doing at least one blankie block a day, though.

Oh, and one more last thing. The blankie and I will be at the Yarn Cafe in Maple Grove tomorrow afternoon for a while around 3:00. I’m meeting some friends for some yarn shopping and coffee. If you happen to see us there, say hello and meet the blankie.

Now, package #1 is from Mary Jane in Bedford, Texas. I was a little upset when I opened this package, because it is so clearly *not* what I asked for. The yarn is perfect, don’t get me wrong, but it is all very new, unused, perfect condition. Then I remembered the conversation Mary Jane and I had via e-mail. Mary Jane has a bit of an over-stashing problem and she swore that I’d be doing her a favor by taking some sock yarn off her hands. I warned her that if she sends me enough to make a pair of socks, that might be what happens to it, and she said fine. I will probably pass some of this on to better homes at some future point, but for tonight, it is mine, all mine.

I got a little nervous just looking at the outside of this next box – the mailing label is from the Websters in Oregon. Please, please, I thought…don’t let this be more new yarn for me to feel guilty about. No, it was much better than that. A huge pile of very high quality leftovers from Carol. In her note, she says she tossed some really good memories in along with the bits of yarn. Carol, You couldn’t have said anything nicer. This blanket started out as a way for me to save all those happy memories from the socks long after the heels have worn out. I’m using yarn of my own that is left over from socks I wore the days my daughters were born, from my first pair of socks ever…you get the idea. I’ll take good care of your memories.

Jana in Moses Lake, Washington sent a nice collection of leftovers. I especially love the pink one. Jana, I hope your back is feeling better!

Heather in Gorham, Maine sent a nice little package, and she included her business card from her store Spin Me A Yarn on State Street. This looks to be about a full skein of Wildfoote and most of a skein of really pretty Opal.

Okay, and here is your cute kid picture of the day. Please try not to be too upset about this picture. I have been doing my darnedest to keep Julie out of my yarn and knitting, but you have to understand that she watches me open these packages every day and sees the huge piles amassing in front of her eyes. It is very hard for her to understand why Mama gets to play with the yarn and she doesn’t. The other day I accidentally left my work basket where she could reach it while I wasn’t watching, and she grabbed a couple of balls that had been slated for direct entry into the blankie. Before I realized what was happening, they were hopelessly tangled, and she was having so much fun playing with the yarn, I decided not to stop her. In this picture, she was talking about her “long yarn hair” and wearing it as a wig. I only wish I had gotten a better picture while the moment lasted. I’ll try to do a better job at protecting the stash from now on, I promise.

The Ethics of Online Begging

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

When I started this whole endeavor with the begging for scraps of yarn to make a blankie, I really did have the best of intentions. I still do, pretty much. I thought that it would be a pretty even trade – me getting to use more and different yarn scraps than what I had on hand to finish this blanket some time in the next year instead of over the next 20 years as I knit a pair of socks at a time and add slowly to my own stash of yarn scraps; and you, my newly loyal readers and benefactors, getting to unload yarn that was taking up space in your stash that you didn’t really want. I thought it would be a relief to those people to see their yarn put to good use – to watch me knit it into something fun, and I even promised right from the start to share the pooled stash with others who wanted it.

I’m pretty sure I made that idea crystal-clear in my Feed My Obsession post. Clear to anyone who actually read the words in the post and didn’t just scroll by to look at the pretty pictures. Sorry, that last sentence sounds a little bitter, and bitter is not how I really feel toward all the wonderful people who have sent me packages so far. But there have been a few things lately that have made me reconsider the ethics in this naive request for something I wanted that I thought others had and didn’t really want.

I got a rather scathing e-mail the other day about my comment on being ashamed to be American. I don’t really care about the whole message of what she had to say in the e-mail. This is my blog, and I reserve the right to express my feelings here, to share too much information on occasion, to be myself. There are things about America as a country, things about myself as an American of which I am not proud. One of those things is that we are at war with Iraq, and that I didn’t do more to help keep us from going. I put a Peace bumper sticker on my car, but I’m going to openly admit that I was too self-centered to get out and protest or to even write my representatives. I know a lot of Americans *did* do more than I did, and I am proud of them. Now, this is not a political blog, and I *really* don’t want to make it one. I’m horrible about arguing politics, and there are so many political blogs out there already. I’d much rather stick to knitting and food and kids. I’m sorry that I hurt some feelings with my comment, and I have to say that even though I don’t like the war in Iraq, I deeply respect and appreciate our service people working over there whether they believe in the war or not.

The point I was trying to make, though, was that this woman blamed me of asking you for your yarn because I didn’t want to go to the yarn store to buy my own. Honey, I buy my own yarn all the time. I work at a freakin’ yarn store, and I almost never leave there without a new acquisition in my bag. I buy more yarn and associated goods than I make at my little job. Trouble is, if I buy a skein of sock yarn, I have to knit up the pair of socks before I know how much will be left over. Even if I bought one of every variety that we carry at the store, there is no way I could get the variety that has shown up at my house in the last week. The Twin Cities has the highest yarn store per capita in the U.S. and probably the world, but I’m willing to bet that if I visited every store in the metro area and bought one skein of each variety I STILL wouldn’t have the variety sitting on my guest bed right now.

But then there is the issue of people sending me whole skeins of yarn. Yarn that could be used, just like the new skein from the store, to make a pair of socks before going into the blanket(s). A couple of people e-mailed me asking if they could send whole skeins that for whatever reason they really wanted out of their house. Even though I had hundreds of e-mails to answer, I took the time to talk with these people and make sure that they really really didn’t want this yarn before I agreed to take it. I didn’t want anyone going out and *buying* me yarn just because Stephanie told them to bury me. I even warned them that if whole skeins showed up on my doorstep, I might feel compelled to knit them into socks rather than immediately put them in the blanket, and they still sent it.

And I felt a little guilty. So I offered to share some of this windfall with some of you. I kind of wanted to keep all the yarn for at least a month or so in order to get a “buried” picture once the bulk of the packages had arrived. But there are some really juicy, wonderful skeins that I felt deserved to be used immediately, and I’ve already had takers on a few of them. I think I’ll have at least two or three packages going out to people within the next week, maybe more. There is no reason to be jealous of me opening all these packages – well, I guess I would be jealous of anyone getting to have the actual experience of opening the packages one by one an touching and smelling and holding the yarn, sorting it out and taking pictures. But if you want some of this, just ask! I don’t know if I’ll have enough to pass out for everyone, but I know some people who want it badly enough will get it.

The criteria I’m going to use when sending this out are something like this: Is the person going to knit it up right away (do they have an immediate plan for it?) Do they blog – will they share the joy of their project with us and the rest of the internet, or at least send me some pictures to post? I think I’m going to start a Flickr group. Is there a charity angle? That will get you to the top of the list. Is there a child involved? I know that is arbitrary, but I give preferential treatment to people who knit for children. I reserve the right to give away some of the yarn to anybody else for whatever reason strikes my fancy as well, but if you’re sending me yarn you’ll just have to trust my judgement. I promised to either knit it myself or find it a good home, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.

There’s just one other thing. I’m going to do a packages-I-got-today post in a minute. I want to make it seperate from this rant because those people deserve to be thanked in a space away from this negative energy that I’m feeling. In it you are going to see some really overly generous gifts. There are some full skeins of yarn in there that look brand new to me. This is something I definitely didn’t ask for. I feel a bit guilty accepting them at all. But you know what? I may keep one or two of them for myself. For socks. Socks that may not get knit up immediately, but some time in the future after the current sock-like project is off the needles. (I’m working on a pair of leggings for Julie in sock yarn, and they are taking the place that my normal sock knitting would in the diaper bag.) How do you all, my new readers, donators especially, feel about that?

A few random thoughts and the packages

Friday, July 21st, 2006

Not to be dogging on the mailman or anything, but it gets weirder and weirder. Today the packages showed up at 10 in the morning. There’s just no order to the matter! Something I keep meaning to mention is that Joe’s mom works for the Postal Service sorting packages at their big plant in the suburban Twin Cities area. I wonder how many of my packages she’s come across, and how I can possibly explain this project to her. Hopefully I won’t have to.

Sophie has been somewhat agitated all day, and is struggling to go to sleep right now. She’s very tired, but keeps waking up screaming like her tummy hurts, and when I go up there she grabs my fingers or thumb with her little hands and holds on tight as if to say “Don’t leave”. So I stay till she drifts back off, then creep back down the stairs and we repeat it all again 15 minutes later. She’s been spitting up all day as well, and unfortunately I think I have to blame the chocolate. Those little Lindt bars are so very tasty, and I do adore chocolate…but I’m going to have to put them away or give them away because they are not worth the price of causing my baby pain.

Joe is off playing golf and drinking home brew beers with a buddy this evening, so I took the girls out to dinner and put them to bed on my own. It’s not fun, but I expect him to do it when I go teach my classes, and he darn well deserves a night off for some fun just as much as I ever do. I am feeling touched out, though. Julie wanted to be in constant physical contact with me all day long, climbing into my lap, leaning against my leg, climbing on my back. I know some day I will miss these little bodies begging to touch mine, but it is hard to enjoy it all day every day. I’m really hoping Sophie can settle down and give me a bit of peace.

On to the packages!

Loren in Seattle sent me a lovely Opal-looking purple jacquard. She says her little girl likes to wear mismatched socks and that she can normally squeeze a single sock out of what’s left over from her own pairs for her daughter to wear. This time, she’s donated the extras to me. Loren, that’s really generous. I’ll make sure this ball makes it right to the top of the work basket so it gets in the blanket for sure. Maybe it can even be one of the larger squares, as I’m due to start one of those now.

Joan from Bradford, Pennsylvania send me what looks like an almost full ball of Opal that’s been to the frog pond just a bit. I love the colors, though! I also love Joan’s address label with a frumpy little lady knitting on it.

Ellen from Connecticut sent a pile of fun. Her original e-mail to me said “Go Heathens and Harlots!” which I think is very cute. She listed what each of the yarns had been for in a cute little note, and look – just LOOK – at the little crochet granny squares she included in the package. I’ve always been a fan of granny squares. I think they are so pretty, although not so functional with the little holes for fingers and toes to stick out of when you’re trying to stay warm. I must find something worthwhile to do with these perfect little things – a patch on a piece of clothing? Some kind of jewelry? A decoration somewhere? I don’t know yet. Brainstorming suggestions welcome.

Jo from Detroit Lakes, MN sent two partial balls of Regia-looking jacquards and two balls of yellow vintage English wool. Jo, if you’re reading, yes I think I can fulfill your request – everyone else is just going to have to wonder what it was.

Kelsey from Tigard, Oregon sent some nice purple Lorna’s Laces. She says she is sadly blogless. – ‘cmon, Kelsey, it’s not that hard to start!

Nancy from Washougal, Washington sent a box full of lovely bits. She says this box once held a giant cinnamon roll. Nancy, I’m not complaining or anything, but I’m just letting you know that the other box you said was coming hasn’t shown yet. We’ll keep our eyes open, and if you haven’t sent the other yet, know that I’m quite satisfied with this one! Next time you’re back in the Twin Cities, we’ll have to go have a treat you-know-where.

That’s it for todays packages, and my running count so far is 44! I just can’t believe this is happening to me. The giant containers that I pulled out are getting full, and we haven’t even reached the halfway point of people who e-mailed asking for my address. I have to reiterate – I have no intention of letting this yarn languish or go to waste. What I can’t or won’t use in the near future, I’m going to ship back out to people who promise to use it themselves. By collecting all these scraps in one place, it’s going to make it possible to pool them into useable quantities.

Also, if you’ve commented or e-mailed and haven’t gotten a reply, you might want to try again. I’m doing my best but I know some are going through the cracks. It has been just a tiny bit frustrating that some people are still coming over from Stephanie’s site and asking the same questions over and over without reading the more recent blog entries that answer them all. Apparently someone is still looking for me in the comments over there – well, it’s easy to get hold of me. Send me an e-mail at shellyk at shellykang dot com (that way I have your e-mail address right there and can just hit reply) or at least post a comment on MY website so I get a message that it’s there.

Let’s end with some happy kids. Sophie is getting really good at sitting up on her own for longer and longer periods, although I like to keep the Boppy pillow behind her for when she does eventually fall.

Our neighbors were getting rid of their kids’ picnic table and offered it to us. Julie has asked to eat every meal out there today, so we had a snack of popsicles and cherries in the yard this afternoon because she couldn’t decide which treat she wanted more. The weather here was really fine today – low 80s and dry, with a bit of a breeze.