Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dishcloths galore

Here are some statistics about my dishcloths. I've been tweeting about them lately because I'm addicted to Twitter right now:

- I have 15 dishcloths done. 11 are in the picture and four were wrapped up because I was experimenting with my packaging.
- I have 1/3 of a dishcloth on the needles now.
- I have enough yarn left to make about 47 more dishcloths, but I only need 13.
- If I knit one dishcloth every other day until Christmas, I can get them done on time.
- I've been averaging 1 1/2 dishcloths per day since last week.
- With 15 dishcloths, I'm 53% to my goal of 28 dishcloths.
- When I started working on them last week, I was only 32% to my goal.
- Each dishcloth is 77 rows long and takes 1,794 stitches to make.

I’ve been tying the odd ends of my skeins together and winding them into a giant ball. With each 2-ounce skein I usually have 3 to 7 yards of yarn left at the end of every skein. When I start making dishcloths from that, it’ll be pretty horrendous. The picture is all of my yarn ends from every dishcloth I've knitted for the past four years tied together into one ball. It's sitting next to a regular two-ounce ball of yarn. I'll probably make a set of dishcloths for my mom out of the yarn ends from my giant ball. She likes my weird, multi-colored dishcloths. I'm trying to organize my dishcloth making in ROYGBIV color order so the color changes in the giant yarn ball aren't so obvious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Art and Hats

I really liked this post and I posted it on my Facebook, too, saying it articulated exactly why I don't sell my knitted things.

The summary is, a crocheter received some nasty feedback from a craft fair goer about one of her hats. She hand-crochets hats and was charging $150 for that particular hat. The customer didn't think the hat was worth that much, but the creator broke down the costs and explained how much she was getting hourly making that hat.

I like toward the end of the comments on that blog post that people start talking about art vs. hats. Art is art and it shouldn't be undervalued, but I get where some of the commenters say a $150 hat just isn't in their budget. Maybe they don't understand that the creator isn't charging what she THINKS it's worth, she's charging it what it is worth, based on concrete facts, such as cost of materials and paying herself an hourly wage.

It's also interesting to note that there are some commenters who craft because they enjoy it and others who craft to make a living. One lady who commented said she hasn't  beaded in months because she has nowhere to sell her products. What about beading just to enjoy it? What about giving your crafts away as gifts? Are you really valuing your craft if you enjoy doing it but don't do it just because you can't make money off of it?

This is one topic that is usually discussed ad nauseum on Ravelry, along with copyright/fair use issues, crafting ethics, etc. It seems whenever money is involved, there's an issue.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gray hat: finished!

I'm always really excited when I finish a project. I can change the status of the project from "in progress" to "finished" on my Ravelry page, I can write my final notes about it, I can try on the project and show it to my family and post pictures of it on Facebook!

The picture above kind of sucks because I took it using Photobooth on my iMac. I had to have a picture of me wearing the hat, because it looks really awkward when it's not on someone's head.

I really liked the pattern. I wasn't in love with it, and I probably won't make it again. Not that that's a bad thing. The hat has a brim made from plastic canvas, which I've never done before, and the hem on the bottom is doubled so it makes your ears extra warm. The whole thing is wool and squishy and cabled. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I used Knitpicks Swish DK in Cobblestone Heather (which is actually dark  gray, not light blue) and the yarn was kind of splitty and felty when I worked with it. 

(Side note: There are so many other patterns in the world. I can never understand the people who knit the same pattern over and over and over again. At least a dozen knitting magazines are released seasonally. There are books being published all the time. Why would you want to spend your precious knitting time knitting the SAME scarf pattern for everyone? Don't you want to learn new skills? What is WRONG with you people???)

So I picked up the next Christmas present on my long list of Christmas presents: A hat pattern called Thorpe. I got some Malabrigo Chunky from Eat Sleep Knit and I'll be working on that project this weekend. I have all of the crown increases done (they were really quick) and I just have to knit 6.5 inches of hat body before I can work on the earflaps. I hope I have enough yarn. I got two skeins and I'm knitting a medium size. According to the instructions, the medium should only use one skein and the crochet edging and tassels should use half a skein. But I know how inaccurate free patterns are sometimes, even when you use the yarn suggested.

After Thorpe, there's a three-cornered hat I want to knit for my smallest cousin out of this self-striping yarn I have. That should be interesting. It uses size 3 needles. In comparison, Thorpe uses size 9 and Struan (the gray hat) uses size 5.

I also finished another dishcloth this past week and started another one. I think I picked up a really really old skein of cotton (I think it's one from my great grandmother's stash) and it had this gritty feel to it. I don't know if it just got dirty from being in storage the wrong way, but I ended up just throwing it away. It was way gross. Now I'm using newer yarn that doesn't feel old or gritty. My ball of yarn ends is the size of a large grapefruit. My plan is to finish my dishcloth knitting for all of my extended family and then knit dishcloths for my mother out of the epic ball of yarn ends.

That's all for now!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Drive-by exhaustion

At 5 a.m., after one glorious hour of sleep, I got a call from the retail establishment. I don't know why I answered it. They were asking me to come in and do shipment with them. They had a ton, and their on-call person called off sick. I don't know why I agreed to go in.

I worked from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. I put my foot down before coming in, saying I HAD to leave at 10. So I left, slept from 11 to 1, put myself together, ate some lunch, and went into work (again) at 4. I work until midnight and I have an employee meeting at the retail establishment at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

People usually say I'm completely crazy for holding down two jobs and working insane days like that. In college, it was usually double-shifts for three or more straight days, and I held four jobs between home and school. But my technique has usually been to pound through those days and live for the weekend, I guess? I count down the hours to a day when I can sleep in or a day that I have entirely to myself (Monday is one of those days, btw. And it'll be that much more enjoyable if I've worked hard all week.)

One big pet peeve I have with work is the people who call in sick. I get it if you're legitimately projectile vomiting all over your bathroom. It's another when you're just tired or you have a bit of a sniffle. There are tissues at work. Use hand sanitizer, take some Tylenol, get over yourself, and go do your job. I've gone to work sick. Yeah, you're probably going to be a biohazard and someone will catch your illness. But it's not like your boss is going to be even remotely compassionate to your plight if you don't have sick days. The most irritating phone calls I've gotten from work are from people who hack all over the phone trying to convince me they're incapacitated and I should work in their place. I'm pretty flexible and will literally work any time I'm not already scheduled to work (evidence: this morning.) I'm tempted to say no when I hear a pity party.

Okay, so after my daily pet peeve, here's some stuff that makes me happy:
1.) I get to hang out with my husband tomorrow. I'm pretty sure I'm going to knit all day.
2.) Bath and Body Works came out with a new fragrance called Strawberry Sparkler that smells oh-so-good.
3.) I'm almost done with the gray hat. Knitting tomorrow and Monday should about finish it up.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stay strong, knit with yarn

This week has been really weird. I think the retail establishment scheduling gods sensed it and only scheduled me for a one-hour meeting and an on-call shift for next week. I'm definitely going to revel in that recovery time.

This morning I took my fabric steamer to the retail establishment with me. I worked at 5 a.m. and was running on 1.5 hours of sleep. The retail establishment has TWO heavy-duty fabric steamers... but both of them are broken. I steamed 25 sets of satin pajamas and a variety of slips and other articles of clothing.

After I got off work, I wanted to make my husband breakfast, so I visited the grocery store and found steak on sale. I made him steak and eggs for breakfast. He appreciated it, as he always does. I've been making his lunches on my day off at the beginning of the week and he's been enjoying chili, stuffed peppers and stir-fry.

This week I picked up Final Fantasy VIII from the Playstation Network. I remember when that game was $50. Now you can get it for $10 on the Playstation Network store. I'm still really close to the beginning of the game (the first SeeD mission, if you're familiar) and it's still as epic as I remember it being when I played it at the tender age of 12.

I've given up on knitting for my coworker. I can't find a pattern that  I like enough or that I have the yarn for to knit. You can't miss gifts you don't know you're getting. So I've been focusing on knitting for my family before the end of the year. Here's some knitted hat action:

I think I'm almost done with the cabled part. I took the picture at Panera today when I went there for lunch and some quiet, focused knitting time. The good thing about top-down hats is I can try it on while I'm knitting it.

I found some insanely glittery chinese takeout boxes at Target to put Christmas gifts in this year. I've already packaged up my grandmother's socks in one of the boxes and they look very nice. I had a hard time finding the kind of gift labels I wanted, so I bought cardstock, stickers and a hole punch so I can make my own. I already have ribbon to thread through the hole, and I'll tie them onto the string of the gift box so the box can be reused. Finished, wrapped gifts will be labeled and placed in one of the massive Aldo bags I have from the other week.

Sometimes I look at knitting patterns and know exactly who I'd knit them for. Or I meet a person and I know right away I want to knit for them someday. I think I might eventually want to knit a pair of socks for my one boss. I think he's really funny and I think he'd like a pair of socks. But I have to finish a shawl for me, more wallets, socks and sweaters for my husband, more things for my knitworthy cousins, and knit up all of my cotton yarn into dishcloths.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

An exhausting day

Today I worked at the retail establishment from 5 a.m. to almost noon. I was supposed to leave at 9, but there was a lot of shipment and the stockroom is an absolute mess. Keep in mind, I had hopped into bed 3 hours before I headed into work. So armed with two hours of sleep and two cups of coffee... I was still pretty tired.

In the stockroom, there are boxes of giftsets piled all over the place in a weird cardboard box labyrinth. We also had a new girl working. For every pair of pants she put on a hanger, I hung three pairs. She just needs to learn how to move quickly and to understand that corporate allots a certain amount of hours for management to give to the employees. (A lot of people who have never worked retail don't understand this. Especially the people who wait in line at the grocery store and wonder why they don't open another register. They're understaffed, morons. Have some compassion.) I'm also convinced the people who make up the times for the boxes of shipment have never worked a shipment shift in their lives.

My husband was a saint today. After I came home, positively dragging, he tucked me into bed. A half an hour before I woke up, he had gone to one of our favorite sandwich places and purchased lunch. I didn't have to worry about making something to eat or worry about oversleeping.

I was still dragging at work, round 2, so I took a visit to the nearby Starbucks and got a triple latte. Thank goodness we turn back the clocks tonight. I could really use the extra hour.

The other day, I was knitting and I watched two new fairy tale TV shows. I watched "Grimm" (which I think is an NBC show) and ABC's "Once Upon a Time." They had been featured on NPR when I was driving to work one day, and I found them on Hulu to watch. I'll definitely continue watching them, even if they're not that great to knit to. They're kind of suspenseful and (especially "Once Upon a Time) colorful.

I'm still working on the gray hat and I found some glitter-covered boxes at Target for Christmas gifts this year. They'll be nice to pack stuff in with some tissue paper, but I had the cashier pack them in a separate bag because they shed glitter EVERYWHERE!

It's been a bit of a bummer at the newspaper for the past couple days, what with the PSU coach scandal. I tried reading the grand jury testimony and it just made me sick. How that can even be dismissed by fans or considered appropriate or acceptable is completely disturbing.

And now a joke that one of my facebook friends posted on her wall:
Q: How did the hipster burn his tongue?
A. He tried to drink his tea before it was cool.

Friday, November 4, 2011


There's a really interesting conversation going on in my Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry right now. A lady posted something from her church bulletin that I'd like to re-post, if only for my own benefit:

How can we plan our Christmas gifts so they will help us to honor the Savior and feel the true spirit of Christmas? Remind your family that our gifts should reflect the same spirit of love and concern as did those of the Wise Men who presented the first gifts to the baby Jesus.
Explain that gifts will contribute to the spirit of Christmas only when they pass these three tests:
  1. Is the gift given in the spirit of love?
  2. Is it a reasonable choice and not too expensive or time consuming for the giver?
  3. Will it be ready before Christmas so that it will not take last minute preparation that should be spent on more important activities?
Your family may think of alternatives to material gifts, such as the following:
  1. Gifts of time and service. For example, one teenager wrapped a card for his sister that read, “I will take your turn doing the dishes three times when you need me.” Suggest that each person give at least one such gift of service to each family member.
  2. Gifts of ideas. For example, personal ideas, recipes, family history information, and personal histories make gifts that will be deeply appreciated.
If gifts are purchased, they should be chosen especially for the one who will receive them.
A good gift need not be expensive, but it must let the person who receives it know that he is loved.
Perhaps you should consider cutting down on your list of those to whom you give gifts. The mere exchanging of gifts does not necessarily reflect the true spirit of Christmas and may contribute to your putting material things at the center of your Christmas season rather than the Savior.

I'm not nearly as religious as I was brought up to be. A lot of what church has been to me has left a bad taste in my mouth, but I won't debate about the value of religion here. However, I think a lot of what this lady posted is completely true. We don't necessarily need to think about Jesus when we give gifts, we just need to be sure any gifts we give are given with purpose and with a person in mind.

Today I worked at the retail establishment. It's in a mall, and since the holiday season is rolling in, people have been rushing in to get something for their loved ones. I imagine this rush will increase as Christmas approaches. I run into so many people there who, I feel, need to step back from their holiday shopping list and re-evaluate for whom they're buying gifts. They're stressed out and frazzled, and I feel purchasing gifts shouldn't make you feel that way.

I'm going to make dishcloths for my family for Christmas. People like handmade things that they can use. No one has ever told me they don't want them. And as much as I whine and complain about how boring the patterns are, I'm glad to give something to people. I LOVE giving things to my husband (it's probably some sort of deep-seated psychological thing) whether it's a pair of pants or some food I've cooked or a pair of knitting needles for a project he's working on. I just like to make people happy and comfortable. And it's important to do it with a purpose and not feel stressed out about it like some people do around Christmas.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A sweater no mother (of a baby) could love

I'm about to give up on Gavyn. It has to be literally the worst thing I've ever knitted. I missed the deadline for the baby shower today. I sewed one button on and I didn't like it so I took it off. The buttons don't even match where the button band should go. I think I'm done. Time to pick something else. There comes a time when I just need to move on.

I must be a glutton for punishment because part of me wants to keep going. I really really really want to make something for my coworker's baby, but this sweater is positively hideous. Maybe I'll stick with a hat and socks. I was told that babies can always use hats and socks, especially since this baby will be born when it's cold outside.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

50 dishcloths

Today was more proof that I have way too much yarn.

I was working on gathering up some cotton to work on dishcloths this month for Christmas, and I decided to count how many skeins of cotton I have and determine how many dishcloths I could make with it. I have enough to make at least 50 dishcloths (it's a working ballpark sort of number.) That doesn't include the renegade skeins lurking around my house or the giant skein of garish blue cotton my husband purchased years ago to make a blanket or the larger-than-a-grapefruit sized ball of cotton that contains all of the ends of all of the other skeins I've knitted in the past.

I need 28 dishcloths if I want to give my family members four dishcloths each.

I think last year I got around to knitting 14 dishcloths, and that amounted to two each. No one seemed to notice, and I accompanied them with some nice hand soap. If I only knitted two per family again, I wouldn't have to buy cotton for three years. At least.

My husband and I went major shopping this past weekend. He needed shoes and a winter coat and I needed shoes (I injured my ankle running and I didn't want to be tiptoeing around in 4-inch heels.) Plus there was an awesome sale at Banana Republic. We had some pretty big bags. I took the Banana Republic one for my cotton yarn and it wouldn't all fit in there, so I had to switch to one of the giant Aldo bags. It's close to being full with cotton yarn and 3 dishcloths that I've already finished.

I joined a group on Ravelry called "Dishcloth Mania," which will hopefully inspire me and make my dishcloth-knitting process a much better time this year. They post weekly dishcloth patterns for people to make, take pictures, and post. I'm torn as to whether I want to take the time to make fancy, patterned dishcloths, or just make normal dishcloths and have them done in less time.

Updates on other projects: The baby sweater is in pieces, out of frustration. I've been knitting away at my cousin's gray hat. I'll try to finish the baby sweater tomorrow night. I still have a number of projects I want to make for Christmas gifts:
1.) dishcloths, of course
2.) gray hat for my cousin
3.) blue/green hat for my OTHER cousin
4.) tiny hat for my toddler cousin
5.) beer cozies for my aunt/uncle

I guess that doesn't sound like too much. I wanted to knit matching mittens with the hats, but I think I'll stick with hats for now.