Monday, April 18, 2016

Tutorial For Making a Yarn Stranding Box

There are hundreds of solutions for keeping your stranding yarn untangled. As a person who struggles with the tangling disease,  I've tried many and varied reported solutions. None of the methods I have tried work. Bobbins only make it worse. I don't enjoy little bits of strands on plastic floating bits of confusion. Stranding for Fair Isle is different from running two balls of yarn together to make a chunkier yarn, which I seem to do a LOT, but the similarity is, you have to keep the strands untangled. For double stranding, I have tried winding the two balls (or cakes) into one ball/cake, but I've noticed that one strand tends to get ahead of the other, so that I have a floppy loopy thing wagging around begging to get tangled at the first opportunity.

One solution to these issues is beautiful, hand carved yarn bowls, which are either gorgeous, or ugly(on purpose), or maybe they are dipped in gold, because I can't currently afford such a luxury. I understand hand crafted stuff is worth it's price, but until I'm richer or famouser (misspelling on purpose) or both, I will have to figure out another way.

I happened to be feeling very much like a pretend carpenter a few weeks ago, and in a creative spurt of nervous energy, I repurposed one thing into another. I have lots of boxes lying around, and some cardboard tubey things and my brain said, "HEY! Lets build a yarn separator box thingie!" So I did.

  • 1 medium sized box --  Mine measures H-4", L-18", W-9"
  • 1 smallish box -- Needs to have salvageable bits at least as wide and as tall as your medium sized box
  • 1 or 2 cardboard tubes -- I used shipping tubes for my essential oils, but one can use toilet paper or      paper towel tubes
  • 1 box cutter or sharp knife
  • 1 roll of box or shipping tape

Measure your box and divide it into equal compartments.
I chose 3 compartments for mine. Cut a small slice at your measured spots
that don't quite go all the way to the corners.
Divide your tubes into fairly equal length and line them up in the 
middle of your compartments and trace around them.

Using your smaller box, cut out dividers slightly less wide and an inch or two
taller than your first box. You don't have to shape yours exactly like
mine, of course, but you need the lower bit to mostly take 
up the width of your box, so your yarn doesn't escape from one
compartment into the other. (because that would 
defeat the purpose of all this cardboard box cutting and taping)

Cut a few slices into your traced circles. You don't have to be too precise
to be functional, but if you want it pretty, you can do it 
better than I did.

Pop your tubey thingie either up through the bottom or 
down through the top. I did mine from below for ease of taping
and securing, plus I wanted to be able to photograph it for y'all. So if you want yours
prettier and more fumbly for taping, you can push it from the outside down.

Tape the bits to the tube thing.

Put your dividers in. I taped up all the edges on my dividers for durability
and ease of insertion and retraction.

There's my wee yarn ball all the way in the back. Remember to thread
the yarn through your tube things.

Put the divider all the way down.

Repeat the process of yarn threading and divider insertion until you have 
all your wobbly yarn balls or cakes safely inside their own little
houses and not in danger of getting all tangly and wobbly.

I arranged a very taped up end of the box with a folded tape stick, unstick
latch thing. Very primitive and simple, yet quite functional for now.
I may do a nobby/elastic thingie in the future, and I may not.
You can probably think of something cute and crafty without my help.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to someone out there. If you do embark on your own version of a yarn separator box thing, please share it (or a link to it) with me in the comments.

Happy knitting peoples! =)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Once Upon a Morning Coffee

...there was a blogger, knitter, reader, podcaster, poet, painter, sketcher but master of none. Then life did some of those things that life sometimes does and she didn't do much of any of it for some length of time. But low and behold, life did some other things (and of course in this particular sentence, life actually refers to the blogger) and got back some of those things that she enjoyed and somewhat defined herself as being. First came reading, then knitting, and eventually blogging. Podcasting is still out there not being done, in spite of the fact that her voice was rediscovered although she hadn't been aware that it was lost. A few poems fell out now and then, but never really got properly documented for posterity. (and yes, I do almost always end a sentence with a preposition and/or prepositional phrase, because... that's just how I roll - oops, I forgot I was typing in the third person - AHEM) 

She never made any promises about the frequency or content of the blogging that she wanted to get back, but she had at least wanted to blog once or twice a month. Oh life, you many faceted jewel of mystery and mayhem, mirth and monstrosity, you always keep things interesting.

"It's time for a new start, again!" she shouted triumphantly at no one in particular. No one was really listening anyway, but she thought it wise to speak the words aloud in case that whole "universe" thing all her fellow hippies were talking about is actually a thing. She started rereading all of Jane Austen's novels and one fan fiction called Unequal Affections, books about psychology and books about Jane Austen's actual life. She did some knitting of baby surprise sweaters and more reading. Then, there was a car accident, and then she got really sick and went to the hospital for the first time in 8 or 9 years, went to Colorado when her best friend needed her and then to a more local area when her newish in-laws needed her.

She finally got back to blogging on April the thirteenth of the year two thousand and sixteen. There may or may not be another baby surprise sweater soonish. She is determined to get that pattern in her head enough that she can knit it in her sleep. Actually, she is prepared to make the baby sweater, stranding two balls of yarn together, as she did with her first baby surprise sweater. 

ok I'm done with 3rd person

I forgot that I built a yarn box for stranding balls of yarn together without getting them tangled! See that in my next post =)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bad Habits Resurface

Days and days without posting. Days without knitting, actually. At least I finished the WIP! This one, is bigger, which I figured, since the yarn is slightly more bulky and I used larger needles. I guess I didn't realize quite how much bigger it would be. (Especially considering the fact that the baby isn't even born yet) It looks to be about a 2T, if memory serves.

I've been in a bit of a strange head space the last week or two. I don’t know how many creative types go through a period of weirdness right before a creative breakthrough or not, but I do. Any breakthrough, creative or otherwise, I experience is proceeded by a period of what I call, “staring at the wall”. I don’t really know what is going on in my brain during that time for sure, but I can only describe it as feeling like my subconscious is working out a problem that I am not privy to

It’s an odd feeling. I can’t focus on complicated things. I function mostly normally, but go quiet. For most people that know me well, quiet isn’t usually a word used to describe me. The thing is, over the last few years I’ve been described that way more and more. I don’t know if it’s good, bad or indifferent, it just is. Even now, trying to write a simple blog post, I can see the inconsistency and rambling nature of my thoughts in black and white. Still, I have to put something down, something I can point to and say, “I did do something. I DID start on the thing I was trying to work out.”
The thing is, I’ve been feeling the call of the arts. But they are all calling at once. I want to take amazing photographs while painting an abstract in oils and knit miles of self striping yarn as I write my book. Focus focus focus – I have it, I don’t have it, I have it, I don’t – It’s all the same. I’m focused on them all without being able to do any of it. Oh yeah, I want to figure out how to make bread. Really really good chewy bread with giant holes that rises the way it’s supposed to and make a sandwich. (for the record, I’ve been making bread a long time, and much more lately, but I’m not happy with my results yet)
On the plus side, I've become a veritable sourdough lord of the yeasts, so all my bread tastes marvelous. (Gentlemen Broncos reference) My biggest problem is getting the risen bread not to collapse once it starts baking, or to rise at all after the punch-down. So far, my best success has been with a very simple Ciabatta recipe that my sister sent me. No kneading, it rises in the oven all night and then you shape it into a loaf and start baking it in a cold oven at 400. So far, I have 2 successes and 1 failure. 2 more rising now for tries 4 and 5.

As for my book ideas... I have several stories bouncing around in my head. When I sit down to write them, they jumble up. So, I think I'll start with collecting my random poetry.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Baby Surprise the Third

I seriously love the drape of dishcloth cotton! I never really thought about it much until I realized I was out of nice baby yarn for baby boy sweater stuff. I have a whole slew of new relatives now I'm remarried to the second of NINE siblings. I have gained many brothers and sisters in law, nieces and nephews, step children and even a grand! Crazy, eh?

Well, one of my sisters-in-law has three daughters, two of which are twins, who were both pregnant at the same time. (awesome, right? twin cousins! how cool) Anyway! One of them recently had her baby (like a week ago or so) and I thought...hmmmm I wonder if she'd like the baby sweater I made already? So I sent her a picture of it and asked her if the colors were too girly for her baby boy. She said no, she really liked it. So, that one will be on it's way to it's new home probably the beginning of next week, when the people stealing packages off of doorsteps stop looking for packages to steal.

After that, it occurred to me that I shouldn't leave the other twin out, that would be rude, right? So I'm digging through my baby yarn and all I have is the pink colorway that corresponds to the yarn I used the last time. Pink and purple and white and maybe another color. (they are both boys, in case you didn't get that yet) I think it's Baby Bernat in their baby cotton line (antique by now, practically... I bought it before I knew anything about yarn) So after looking at the dishcloth cotton I have left, I started to formulate a plan. A similar color combination to the previous one, blue and purple and green, as would befit cousin twins, don't ya think? Similar but not exactly the same. heheheheheee

Of course I still must double check the colors with the soon to be mom. (the moms are 6 weeks apart in due dates - how cute is that?) What do you think? Do you like these colors?

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Baby Surprise Sweater FO.

One Baby Surprise Sweater down and at least one or two more to go

I've started the next one, hopefully I have enough yarn to get through the whole pattern.

This one has a home waiting for it and the next one will, too, if mom likes it. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Casting Off

I must say, that after a million miles of straight knitting (garter stitch) casting off a hundred miles in purl feels very strange =)

FO pictures of The Great Dame E.Z. Baby Surprise Sweater to come.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Baby Surprise Stashbuster

Elizabeth Zimmerman was a genius. I would love for my brain to work the way hers did. The baby surprise sweater is (as many others have said) engineering genius. I've made one and am working on my second. The thing is, the time in between knits means I've forgotten everything I figured out working the first one. 

I understand her instructions being completely understandable to her and many others. They are, quite wonderful and simple. It's just that, for me to know what I'm doing, I need to know exactly where I am at all times - which means knowing what row I'm on and how many stitches are supposed to be on that row etc etc. So I (being me) have to over complicate the pattern to keep it straight in my brain.

Maybe if I make about 3 or 4 in a row, I'll have the recipe down in my head enough not to need these notes. But rest assured, if I go another 2 years without making any more, I'll need the notes again (and again) Considering I'm on a dual stashbusting/getting my groove back kick, I should be able to use up all the baby yarn I have.