Music to Make To – Fleet Foxes

Sometimes, all I need to get my creative juices going are some really great tunes, and Fleet Foxes is one of my favorite bands ever. I’ve seen them live and they completely blew me away. Their music makes me think of a quiet little cabin in a meadow, hidden away in the woods, solitude and introspection, and the exquisite harmonies gives me goose pimples. So, you can imagine my excitement when Robin Pecknold, the lead singer, announced they were working on a new album, and before I knew it, they had a new song on their website for free download! And now I’m sharing it with you, and I hope it gives you the tingles like it does for me!


Peaks Island, Take Two (Three? Two & A Half?)

It may be that I’ll have to swallow a few “I told you so”s tomorrow. When I was choosing yarn for Ysolda Teague’s Peaks Island Hood which I’m making for my Ma, I had settled on Heirloom Easy Care 12 ply. When he saw what I’d chosen, he seemed to trying to be dissuading me without coming right out and saying not to buy it.

“Oh, really? I find that yarn a bit weird… it shows up mistakes really obviously.”

He’s a lovely and well-meaning guy, so I pondered for a second, and said “Well, that might actually be perfect, since I’m not a super confident knitter, if I can see my mistake then I’ll know I’m making them and I can be aware of it. It’ll be a good exercise.”

He tried again to divert me to another yarn; any yarn but that. I laughed. “You just don’t like this yarn, do you?”.

“Well… no.”

But, in spite of his best efforts, I ploughed ahead. I’ve ripped out parts at least twice and started again with the same yarn once.  And today, I stand before you, with my work frogged and two new balls of yarn ready to start again. To be honest, I love this color a lot more; especially for my Ma. And I’ve used Estate 8 ply before and it’s very nice. So, I think this will be great.

Morris Estate 14 ply

But, even after all that ripping out and starting again; I won’t say a bad word against the Heirloom. It -does- show mistakes very apparently, and I’ve definitely learned a lot about my knitting from using it. I’ll probably use it in a crochet project a bit later, because I think it would look super nice crocheted. Perhaps an amigurumi.

As for now, I’m keen to get started on the hood yet again with the Estate. And after my second or third time working the beginnings of it, I’m still not sick of it. I’m such an Ysolda fan-boy now.

Knittin’ & Crochetin’! All Systems GO! (Also, Games)

As I had mentioned before, my craftiness had come to somewhat of an impasse. The koala didn’t get any more work – which no one seems to mind cuz it turns out heaps of other people hate koalas too; so pleased! – and my socks just had dribs and drabs here and there whilst on transport. I started a crochet sock; pulled it out. I started a beanie; pulled it out. I just wasn’t feeling it.

You wanna what I was doing though? Video games. I was definitely feeling that.

Sakura! Street Fighter IV for the win!

In the last month or so, I’ve finished Dante’s Inferno, Fable II, Mirror’s Edge, Bayonetta, and Devil May Cry 4. I wasn’t really sure what else to play, so I hooked up the Wii and started Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Which was garbage. I mean, it might have been alright a few years ago, but on a pretty vast HD LCD screen, the graphics looked like dookie, the controls were clunky, and it was just. so. BORING. So, I was like “I’ma trade in some games, y’all!” And I did! I now have Street Fighter IV and Alan Wake for Xbox to get through. I’m so obsessed with SFIV; the art direction is so yummy, it’s totally seducing my eyeballs. The picture above is Sakura, one of my favorite characters! Sure, she’s a little Japanese school girl in a sailor-style uniform, but she’s not overtly sexualized like other game characters, and her personality is so happy and fun.

I know, I know, I’m bad. The thing is, when I finish a video game, I get the same sort of satisfaction as when I finish a crochet project, so I feel like I haven’t wasted my time. And in that sense I suppose I haven’t, I just don’t have anything to show for it. But there is good news for all of y’all who don’t care what I’m yammering about unless it’s something yarn-y. Cuz I’m back in the zone, y’all! First of all, I had earmarked some patterns on Rav to get my inspiration going, and I found these gorgeous Totoro mittens by Brella.

Totoro Mittens!

I cast them on with some Lincraft brand DK acrylic and another nameless acrylic that I had lying about. I’m not the most confident knitter yet, and stranded knitting might be a little ambitions, so I figured I’d start with some acrylic and if all goes well by the halfway point, I’ll start a proper pair in nice yarn

Kooky. Indeed.

Then, while I was at work on Monday, I was flipping through a book called Kooky Crochet by Linda Kopp. I use the word kooky all the time, partially because it’s so versatile, and, well, this book does use the term faaaairly liberally. However, a lot of the items are quite fun, and it’s just refreshing to find a crochet book that isn’t all blankets and tacky singlet tops. I might review it later, but I won’t go too much into it now. Anyhow, I asked my manager if I could make the Lucha Libre you can see on the cover for the section in our store we like to call “Manland”, and the chicks for Easter, as well as some cool felted fortune cookies; the answer was yes! I’m pretty excited. I’ve started the mask, but I won’t show you pics of that yet; it’s just a blue disc. I would definitely make some changes if I were making it for my own benefit, but since it’s a sample, I’ll just to the pattern to the letter for now.

Peaks Island Hood by Ysolda Teague ❤

And finally! I had made my Ma a beret for her birthday, but I was really unhappy with how it turned out. It was too late to make her something else in time, so I just gave it to her anyway. She said she loved it, but I guarantee she’ll never wear it. In fact, I hope she doesn’t. I’ve been determined to find something else to make her anyway, and I found this beautiful pattern from Ysolda Teague, who I absolutely adore. It’s called the Peaks Island Hood, and it’s a scarf that converts into a hood as well. I was umming and ahhing about it for a ages, but I finally bought it and today I bought some new needles and yarn and cast it on. I’m up to about row six I think, and I’m loving it so far.

I can already see a few mistakes I’ve made with twisted stitches and a few weird things, but nothing I’m concerned enough about to rip back. It’s a learning experience, and I’m just trying to accept that. It’s definitely making me think a lot more about the architecture of stitches and patterns, and that’s really great. I’m just frustrated that it’s not as easy for me as crochet, but I’ve been doing that for years, and I’m just picking up knitting for the first time since primary school. Just breathe, Raynor… chillax!

Me As A Woman, Apparently

So, look, I’ve been very lazy with my posts, and my knitting & crochet to be honest (Satan Koala is still not done), but more on that later. Right now, I just wanted to do a quick post to sate my blogger’s guilt for now.

Lady Raynor

So, I opened my Facebook inbox the other day to find a message from my BFF Amanda (heretofore referred to as Panda), with this image attached and this message:

So I present to you lady Gats. And yes she is wearing a cat dress. PURR. ♥

And so, I share with you what I would look like if I were a lady, because I just know y’all were dying to know. I don’t know that I’d be that pretty or thin, but I’d TOTES be up for wearing a cat dress at every possible moment. See, I’m one of those people who maintain that Bjork’s swan dress was absolutely the right answer for red carpet glamor. I also appreciate the button nose ever so innocently… erm… marking the spot. Panda cracks me up with this sorta stuff, she speaks my language and I love her face off.

I don’t have much craftiness to report right at this moment, and what I do have I’ll save for the forthcoming post this evening. Suffice it to say that much of my craftiness has been a little sidelined by the Xbox. Oy. Anyway, I’ll post again this afternoon about all that jazz.


*Gats refers to an old college nickname “Gatsby”, FYI

Koalas Are The Gatekeepers Of Hell – or – Project Rut

Eugh! I’ve been in a such a rut with my knitting and crochet projects. But I’ve resolved myself to change that! First, here’s a quick update on my WIPs.

  • My green Ranco Arucania sock
    My sock is still cracking along, so all is not too bad. It’s my public transport project, so I keep it in my backpack and I’ve cracked it out on the tram a few times, which is nice. I’m not yet to the heel, but I will be soooooon!
  • Amigurumi Koala
    I feel a little bad about this one. It’s a sample for work, and I ought to have finished it by now, but I’m just not feeling it at all.
Koala Face - WIP

Now, look, I don’t know how familiar y’all are with koalas, but I’m fully convinced that they’re Satan’s fuzzy minions. You might think they look cute from tourism ads or cartoons or whatever, but in person they have sharp little claws and beady, dead eyes. And they make this noise like they’re coughing up the bones of their last victim. Clearly, I don’t care for them terribly, and I think that’s what’s made this project somewhat of a chore. I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the week, partly because I feel bad that it’s taken me so long and partly to just get it off my plate. I really don’t like making amigurumis from pattern, and I don’t want to be glorifying koalas (Lucifer’s right hand critter)  but since it’s a store sample, I just have to suck it up. I’ve gotten the face done, and that’s given me a bit of motivation to keep at it, because I think it turned out alright.

My manager didn’t want me to use the buttons like on the pattern; we both thought they looked pretty creepy. I used my standard safety eyes instead and I think it was the right choice. Besides, koalas *do* have nasty, beady, little eyes, so it was entirely appropriate. Horrid little things, they are.

Creepy button eyes! It's eating your soul just by looking at you!

Once I get this koala done, I feel like my project rut will be rectified. I feel like I can’t start anything new until I’ve finished this, and then I procrastinate like crazy-town. But, it’s time to bite the bullet! I’ve lined up some shows (apparently, I’ve committed a major offense by not having seen Big Bang Theory or knowing what “bazinga” is), and I’ma spend tomorrow planted on the couch and get this sucker licked. Wish me luck!

Confessions Of A Twisted Knitter. Also, Valentine’s.

Alright now, listen up, because in real life I will never, ever admit to what I’m about to tell you. If you read it here and then see me in real life and mention it, I will flat out deny it until I’m blue in the face. Just letting you know.

I’ve been knitting wrong. This whole time I’ve been knitting my sock, I’ve been twisting my stitches. Which, is not entirely “wrong” in the sense that my knitting is broken, but rather in the sense that it just wasn’t what I was intending to do. Before I began crocheting, I knitted with the English method, and the whole time I found it awkward and ungainly, and had a large part to do with why I was never so crash hot on knitting. But, that’s how my Ma knits, and there was no-one to show me any different. When I went back to knitting after realizing crochet was like breathing for me (like, I NEED to do it), I had heard of this mysterious “Continental Method”, so, I tried that, and all of a sudden, knitting made sense to me and wasn’t awkward and ungainly.

BUT, I was picking my yarn with my needle the same as I would with crochet, and this results in a twisted stitch. I didn’t think anything of it, because actually… it seemed that my stitches were miraculously neater and tighter than when I knit in the English method, and I thought that was awesome. I’d also shown my sock to a bunch of more experienced knitters than I, and not one said a word about it. It wasn’t until I was on the train today that a thought popped into my head out of nowhere. “I think you’re twisting your stitches”. So, I googled it on my phone and I discovered that I was in fact twisting my stitches. “Fuck it!” I thought, “I’m going to have frog four inches of sock!”. But then I read something that made my day. One knitter explained that they use twisted stitches when they’re doing ribbing because it gives a tighter, denser structure to their ribbing, and they also used whenever they just wanted their fabric to be that little bit denser.

This information was like a personal gift to me, because know if anyone says “Oh, you’re twisting your stitches,” I can look them in the eye and say “Yup, I know. I like to use twisted stitches because I think it gives me a tighter, denser structure to my fabric. I tend to knit a little looser otherwise,” and they’ll think “Oh, how interesting! I’ll have to remember that for next time I want a tighter, denser structure to my fabric.”

And if you say to me that I’m twisting my stitches by accident, because I went from crochet to Continental method knitting, I’ll instantly deny it and tell you’re crazy.

Yarn Heart for the WIN!

Meanwhile, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and this is in our shop window, and it makes me so happy I could burst. I couldn’t care a bit about Valentine’s Day, but a giant yarn heart is joy on a stick. My manager Judith is perhaps the coolest person I’ve ever met. For realz, y’all

Le Window du Valentine (That's French for "Valentine Window"

Things That I Covet: Color Knitting The Easy Way

So, the other day at work, I was covering some of our shop copies of the books that we sell, and one of those was Color Knitting The Easy Way, by Melissa Leapman. Lala from The Knit Girllls had reviewed it on their podcast a while back and had spoken very highly of it, so I flicked through, and now, I want it badly! The funny thing is that two days later, I can barely remember any of the content so much as that’s all been overshadowed by my singular intent to own it.

Color Knitting The Easy Way by Melissa Leapman

I’m going to flip through again next time I work just to make sure that I do really want it, and then I think I’ll pop it into my Book Depository cart. I’ll report back my findings too.

My First Sock or, Frankensock

I finally got my ass into gear and took pictures of the beginnings of my first sock!

Birth of a Frankensock

I’m still pretty excited about it. I’m just doing the stockinette section now, and then when I get to the heel I’ll check a few tutorials, read a few patterns and consult with a few friends. Hence it’s name of Frankensock. I decided not to use a pattern to the letter because I’ve found I tend to learn this better if I break them into parts and if I have to do a bit of adjusting to make something fit, it gives me more of an appreciation for the architecture of it, and the way things tie into each other. Buuuutttt…. we’ll see how that works out y’all, and I’ll keep you posted.

Vickie Howell’s Knit Aid – First Impressions

I consider myself primarily a crocheter, and though I’ve known how to do a knitted cast on and make garter stitch or stockinette stitch rectangles for just about as long as I can remember, I figured since I work in a yarn store now I should really get this knitting situation up to speed. Even before that though, I’ve seen a number of Vickie Howell‘s Youtube tutorials and clips from her show, Knitty Gritty, and I’ve always thought she was very likable and charismatic as a presenter and her way of teaching easy to understand. So, when I decided to really get stuck in, I looked up her books on The Book Depository, and I ordered myself a copy of Knit Aid: A Learn It, Fix It, Finish It Guide For Knitters On The Go.

Knit Aid by Vickie Howell

So, I’ve not read right through it yet, because it’s not that sort of book, but here are my first impressions. I like it a whole lot and it’s definitely earned a place in my knitting bag, but I feel that it’s important to know that if you were to buy it, I would keep in mind that it doesn’t really lend itself to learning the techniques it covers. The instructions and diagrams aren’t especially detailed and rarely  more than a page or two is spent on any one topic, but it does make a great reference tool for those times when you get stuck or just need a quick refresher. I really enjoy the conversational style that Vickie uses, and for techniques that I already know but might need to reacquaint myself with, the info in this book fills the gaps perfectly.

The handy-dandy gauge ruler.

The hardcover binding, spiral spine and size of Knit Aid makes it perfect to just throw in a project bag or your backpack to keep it handy for those times when you get stuck. There are also plenty of helpful charts and graphics for quick reference on things that you might not necessarily keep memorized, including garment sizing charts, yarn weights, and label codes. Also, you will find in the back a handy gauge ruler the you can cut out or leave in.

So long as you’re aware that you might not get all the answers you’re looking for if you’re learning something from scratch, I think that Knit Aid by Vickie Howell is a pretty handy resource to keep handy while you’re knitting. It’s also very reasonably priced and well presented which makes it super easy to recommend, especially for knitters that are progressing from a beginners level and taking a step up (like me!).