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September 2023



Best Yarnbomb Ever

My hosting service is acting up, so I can’t seem to upload any images at the moment.  Hopefully they’ll get that situation resolved soon, but in the meantime, here’s a link to an epic yarnbombing.

Shhh, It’s Sleeping

I’m completely done with sewing on one side of the border of the Wedding Blanket I. One side.

There are three more to go. It’s at this point that I start thinking maybe a circular blanket isn’t such a bad idea. Sure, the edge is longer, but on the flip side there’s only one of them.

I think if that made any sense to you, you should probably consider taking a nap. Seriously.

Speaking of, the Wedding Blanket I is currently enjoying a deep sleep in the bookshelf, out of reach of monkey kitty.

Doesn’t it just look so peaceful? I’d really hate to bother it by taking it out to sew on it some more…

Not buying it? Crap, I didn’t think you would. Maybe next time I post I’ll have 1.25 sides done…

Maybe It’s Monday

I’m not sure exactly where I am anymore – I seem to have lost track sometime this weekend when I was having my fourth meal with my out-of-town family members.  I don’t suppose that would seem odd to most of you, to have four meals with your visiting family – but this was also the fourth city we were eating in, and the shortest distance between any two meals was about an hour…and those two meals weren’t consecutive.

The knitting, of course, continues apace.  The Blanket Thief supports my “productive activity” of knitting by driving to many of these long-distance things, which means I’m now at 12.5 of 16 blocks on the Wedding Blanket II.  Unfortunately for you (I’m quite grateful), the 13th block looks just like all the previous 12, so no interest there.  I also can’t show you the nifty new technique I’m using to build it up, since doing so would reveal too much of the pattern before the recipient actually gets it.

So, having nothing to show you from my needles today, I instead leave you with a video of the Flash Mob at the Sock Summit this year.  One day I too will join hundreds of knitters in a dance somewhere.  Just wait.

The Beginning of the End

It’s been a long time coming, but, finally, I’ve begun sewing on the border for the Wedding Blanket the First.

There were several roadblocks to getting here.

I had to knit 28 feet of border.

I had to block 28 feet of border.

I had to remove about 1 foot on two sides of the border.

I had to figure out what the ratio of border stitches to edge stitches was.  This involved a decent amount of basic algebra and a lot of counting.  It also didn’t have the decency to be a nice round number and ended up being something like 1:0.651725, which means a lot of recounting to make sure I’m not drifting too far away from the real ratio.

But, finally, I have, in fact, started sewing the damn thing on.

It’s not going nearly as slowly as I expected – I’m getting through more than a foot per hour.  At this rate, there’s a chance (small though it may be) that I’ll finish the whole blanket before the happy couple’s first anniversary.

Of course, they’re still going to have to wait to get it, since I’ve decided that a gift like this really needs to be given in person, and I don’t have tickets to Ohio booked yet.  But, some day (and likely within 18 months of the day it was supposed to be delivered), I’ll have delivered the first Wedding Blanket.

Then I’ll just have 11 months to finish Erica’s…and whatever other Wedding Blanket might get promised as soon as a certain someone is officially engaged.

Oh, yeah, and some day I’ll have to finish the Blanket Thief‘s cARGHdigan.  You know, the one I promised him for Christmas of 2009.

This Should Totally Be A Thing

I was honored to be one of the bridesmaids at my friend Erica’s wedding a couple weekends ago.  It was the first time I’d ever bridesmaided (I’m totally making that a word), and no one in my family has had a wedding involving bridesmaids, so I got to learn about all sorts of nifty traditions that I had never known about before.

Like, for example, not only do the guests give the couple presents (everyone knew about that one, right?), but the bride gives the bridesmaids presents!

Erica being the lovely woman that she is, she decided to personalize the gifts for each of us.  So, along with a bunch of other stuff that I found absolutely charming, delightful, wonderful, or all three, I found:

Sock yarn from Spud & Chloe, in the perfect shade of green.  This completely matches the wedding present my mother-in-law gave me when I got married, and has made me come to a realization.

All weddings should involve giving me yarn.  Or, at least, they should if I’m doing something more significant than attending them.  I guess it’s not a requirement if you’re just going to invite me to any wedding…

…although, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind if it was.

Things I Did Not Work On This Week

In the past week, I’ve done exactly zero knitting.

I know.  I’m shocked too.  I didn’t know it was possible for me to live without knitting for so long.  I don’t even have a good explanation for it, either – I wasn’t injured, I wasn’t trapped anywhere without yarn, and even though yesterday was Erica’s wedding (which was lovely), I really wasn’t even that busy this week either.  (If you’re thinking of getting married, by the way, I really think you should talk to her about the magic she pulled together.  The whole month before her wedding, she turned down any and all offers to help with, “Oh, no, don’t worry about it, it’s totally under control.”  And she wasn’t lying at all.)

Frankly, I think I must be ill.

I didn’t even touch the Wedding Blanket, even though I’m finally at the last (infinite) step of sewing on the border.

Nor did I knit anything on the Wedding Blanket II, despite the wedding this weekend being near perfect motivation.

If I’d wanted variety, I could have worked a bit on the Blanket Thief‘s cARGHdigan, which has been sitting patiently in a box next to the couch for months while I was distracted on Wedding Blankets I and II.  (Note to self: next time, don’t promise husband a sweater until after said sweater is done.  Also, don’t encourage said husband to pick thin yarn for said sweater.)

And, really, there were plenty of times when I was out and about that I could have been knitting, and just…wasn’t.  I’ve had this pair of socks in my purse for months as well, but I don’t think I’ve knit on them in weeks, easily.

I must be ill.  There’s no other possible explanation.

Knitting Corrective Surgery

Remember a few weeks ago, when I found out that the border for Wedding Blanket the First was maybe a little too big?  If not, you really should read it – it’s worth a laugh or two at my misfortune.  Don’t worry, I can wait.

Okay, so how do you fix a problem like that?  An extra foot in two sides of a one-piece border with mitered corners and a non-trivial pattern throughout?

Well, it starts with a small pair of scissors.

This part is not for the faint of heart, but it’s not as bad as doing fair isle knitting – you have to snip the yarn a row or two above where you actually want to join to, and then unravel slowly down to the desired place, picking up the stitches on a needle once you get there.

You do the same thing to the side that you want to join it to, kitchner the two sides together, and…

…voila!  Another nearly perfect join!

Then you do that at the other side, and suddenly it looks exactly like it did before, except it actually fits the blanket it was made for, and you have a couple of extra bits hanging around.

Now, question becomes: what, exactly, does one do with a couple nearly-one-foot long sections of border like this?

Love is 199,424 stitches

It’s really not a good idea to calculate how many stitches are in a project you’re doing.  Especially if it’s a large project.

My friend Erica is getting married in less than three weeks.  The Wedding Blanket II is for her (and her lovely fiance, of course), and…

…well, let’s just say that I’m likely going to follow tradition and present her with this blanket at some point after the wedding.  Unless, of course, I manage to find 50 or so hours just lying around in that time.

How did I come up with 50 hours?  Well, it’s all a bunch of math, and revealing all of my calculations would also reveal more than I want to about the pattern, so we’ll start with how many stitches are in one block in the blanket: 12,464 sts/block.

Then we multiply that by 16 because there are that many blocks in the blanket: 199,424 sts/blanket.

Then we acknowledge that I’m only this far:

That’s 10 blocks done, or 6 more to go, depending on how much you want to lie to yourself today.

Then we assume that I can knit at an average rate of about 0.5 sts/sec – it seems slow, but that includes things like casting on or picking up, and seems to be borne out by my experience on this blanket, so that’s 149,569 sec, or 2,492 min, or 41.5 hours.  Even assuming zero time for blocking and seaming (and we all know that’s really not true), that only gives me 8.5 hours to figure out the border for this thing.

Now, technically, it’s possible for me to finish the blanket in time.  I’d just have to skip work for a week or so, do nothing but eatsleepbreathe the blanket, and I could get it done.  On the other hand, I think Erica and her husband-to-be would rather that I stay sane, happy, and employed, even if it means their present might be a bit late.

A couple days ago, the Blanket Thief looked at me in a panic and asked, “Did we get [the bride and groom] a wedding present yet?”  He couldn’t understand why my only answer was to stare at him in disbelief.

It’s not knitting, but it does involve fibers…

So while I was in Vienna, I had the opportunity to see a bunch of history.  I’m constantly amazed by how much physical history there is in Europe, compared to, say, Seattle, where our oldest structures are maybe 150 years old…and if they’re that old, they’re probably underground.

However, the really interesting thing to me was the Sisi Museum.  Sisi was the nickname of the Empress Elisabeth, who was apparently super ahead of her time when it came to things like exercise, independence, and education.  She was so tough, in fact, that when an anarchist attacked her and stabbed her in the chest she didn’t even notice, said she thought he was after her purse or something, and no one knew anything was wrong until she collapsed 20 minutes later.  That’s a tough broad.  Also, she was gorgeous.

Unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures in the Sisi Museum, but they did allow it in the Silver Museum, which you go through to get to the Sisi Museum.  The Silver Museum is a display of much of the royal “silver” collection, which actually means all of the table stuff for dinners.  We’re talking hundreds of forks, plates, serving dishes…the excess was incredible.  Both impressive and humbling – I don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a commoner than I did while surrounded by rooms and rooms of silver plates.

They had some really impressive examples of the types of napkin folding that were typical a couple hundred years ago.

It was apparently a serious form of art at one time, and required napkins of at least a meter square.  For all the ruffles, you see.

They also developed a special, much more elegant napkin fold for the Austrian royal dinners.  For some reason, it always has two different kinds of rolls tucked into it.

The construction of this napkin fold is apparently a closely guarded secret, known by only two people in existence.  I think that makes it even more secret than the formula for Coca Cola, and it makes me really interested in figuring out how to do it myself.  I mean, how impressive would that be, to hold a dinner party and be able to casually tell the guests, “Oh, that?  That’s the royal Austrian napkin fold.  Only three people on Earth know how to fold a napkin like that.  Oh, no, I’ve never met the other two…”

Okay, so maybe you’d find that strange rather than impressive.  That’s okay too.  Everyone is entitled to their opinions…even when they’re wrong….

One other thing I found fascinating – each bit of linen (napkins, table cloths, etc) was embroidered with a crown to indicate it belonged to the royal family.  There were a few different examples, all with slightly different interpretations, but my favorite was this one:

Not only is it something I think I could easily incorporate into both knitting and cross stitch designs, but when I looked closely I actually laughed out loud in the museum (which earned me a few funny looks).  I got more funny looks when I pulled out my camera and frantically tried to focus through the glass so I could get a picture clear enough to show you all what, exactly, was so funny.  Do you see it?

What if I point it out to you?

There’s just one single extra stitch (or maybe one missing stitch, depending on your interpretation).  I’m just tickled thinking of the woman (because, back then, it was always a woman) who embroidered this, finishing her work, tying off the thread, snipping it free, then turning the work around to admire her handiwork, when – suddenly – she sees it.

I’m sure some manner of cursing at least went through her head (if not screamed out loud) before she started rationalizing.  “Oh, it’s not that noticeable.”  Squint.  “Okay, it is a bit noticeable, but only if you’re looking.”  Head tilt.  “Well, it’s not like anyone will really be looking at this.  It’s just one of hundreds of tablecloths, no one will notice this one little stitch being out of place.”  Decisive nod, firm smoothing of the cloth, slightly-violent refolding, and she walks away from it, putting it behind her forever.

It’s things like this that make it very, very hard for me to leave mistakes in my knitting.  You just never know when your work is going to be put under glass and examined by thousands of people, or which work they’re going to pick to do that with.  After all, if people will pay to see forks and tablecloths (and they will), they’ll pay to see anything.

A Whole New Kind of Yarnbombing

So last week I was in Vienna for work (I know, poor me, right?), but that means I didn’t have time to do anything interesting, knitting-wise.  I even somewhat outsmarted myself by trying to pack my carry-on light and thus leaving all my knitting in my checked luggage (not my best move, especially when we’re talking trans-Atlantic flight with an in-seat, on demand movie player).

There was a bit of a scare when I tried to remedy that mistake on the way home – the security guy in Vienna searched my bag after the X-Ray, found the knitting, pulled the needle out (not out of the knitting, luckily), compared the needle to his badge and his finger, then gave me a stern look and said, “Don’t bring this again.”  I meekly agreed (although I suspect I will in fact try to fly with knitting again), and he sent me on my way with knitting intact.  Heathrow security had no issues with it, though, so maybe the first guy just didn’t like knitters.

Anyway, the thing I wanted to write about is the comic my husband posted while I was gone.  There’s a new version of a game he likes coming out, and in this newest version you can make weapons out of stuff you find in the world.  Since earlier games had the character collect wool, he’s wondering if, maybe, there might be a way to create Yarn Bombs.

Click the image to see a larger version directly on his site.