Saturday, December 28, 2013

To frog or not to frog

That is most definitely the question. When I first started my journey on the yellow stockinette stitch road, I was utterly incapable of fixing my mistakes. The only course was to rip it all back. Not even to a correct row, literally, to the beginning. I was intimidated on the idea of fixing or even putting those ripped stitches back onto a needle! I really had no concept of what was a forward leg or threading yarn through a correct row to make sure I didn't have to frog the whole thing. That's probably why I got ridiculously frustrated and was incapable of finishing anything.

There were a few things that I just ran with regardless of mistakes. Enter my first non-blanket project: The Parisian Slouch Hat

How it was meant to look. A delightful hat, charming, yet relaxed, something to toss on when you just don't feel like doing your hair but don't feel like a pony tail is the look you are going for.

How mine turned out! This is because I didn't just run with my mistakes, I snuggled them close and made a mad dash for the border!

Oh, that was meant to be a ribbed row? Well I miscounted so now its doing this weird spiral thing, hey it looks cool! Who cares if a ribbing is meant to be stretchy, it won't change anything! Hmm, a M1 you say? Well I don't know how to do that but I learned how to do a YO, they are both adding stitches so they are the exact same right?!

No starcie. No. None of that is correct. If I had a rolled up newspaper and could time travel, I'd go back and thump myself over the head and rub my nose in it. It took time, eHow, and reading a books to figure out how to be better and do better.

 Stitch 'n Bitch was officially amazing. Debbie Stoller has a way of writing that is informative and funny, it keeps you invested and reading more, you feel like you CAN do anything! The way she described how the stitches sit and basic repair techniques seriously made a difference. Now when I realized that I accidentally purled instead of knit I drop the stitch, snag up my crochet needle and put everything back where it belongs!

Of course some things you just need to remake. I made baby booties for my new niece, Espresso, but I didn't realize until after I'd made both that I had stitched the first one off. So now I'm looking at this adorable bootie, my first, my precious, and its not good enough. She deserves better. So now I'll be making a new one. Luckily the booties are small and super easy. The mitts for my MIL were a different story. I frogged a few times but man I could not repair it. The mistakes were small, just tiny things that most people may vaguely notice but I couldn't bring myself to give that lovely woman anything that wasn't perfect.

I recall hearing how my maternal great grandmother would nearly finish work on a huge table cloth, find one small mistake back in the middle that literally not a soul would notice and she'd rip it back as far as possible. My Grammy and mom say I'm just like her. Perfection is nothing to turn your nose at, particularly when it comes to a gift. You have to figure that if the person you are creating for means enough that you are willing to spend hours/days/weeks creating something beautiful for them, then don't they deserve something perfect?

Frogging is an inconvenience, but its an opportunity to make something wonderful, to get yourself to the point that you understand the pattern that much more, to become more familiar with your yarn, to do better. I may sigh with exasperation (especially if its the 5th time), but its really not so bad. Its an adventure!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Adventures in KIP

Ah the great knitting in public excursions. I have read of magical places like Toronto where there are knitters everywhere, its a wonderland of yarn stores and people getting down with their needles where everyone in the world can see! Well, Vegas, I'm bringing it back!

What with all the craziness going on with the holidays, this mama needed a little decompressing, so how do I do that? Pretty myself up and go to one of the busiest places I can think of, the Strip, needles and yarn in tow!

I was expecting things to be nuts, but the absolute clustery chaos that I was met with was a bit crazy. I walked across the casino to snag up a coffee, vaguely considered the garden but instead found a lovely spot that was a very fabulous lady from New York was just vacating. I settled in, got out the old US 7 and got to work.

I'll admit  this was partially an experiment. I was interested in the reactions of the tourists to someone sitting pretty, just enjoying a little fiber action. I loved the kids, they would blatantly stare as I picked my row to row, stitch after stitch. I could tell the ones who were undoubtedly crafters, their eyes would linger just a little bit longer and a small smile would appear. I know that there are more than a few tourists carting kids, bags, gifts, and yard long margaritas thinking to themselves "was that lady just....knitting..." It would be fun to be that thing that was worth mentioning about your trip! 

I had a great time, I rebooted, refreshed, and I made progress. It was nice and I did something I loved. This is going to be a regular thing. Oh needles, the places you'll go!

My current Goldilocks mitten, checking out the gardens! Please ignore my not pretty hands, the cold weather and constant dish washing associated with being a wife/mother is rough.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


That's what I keep telling the left handed mitt. Just calm down, I know what I'm doing, Cascade Sierra, trust me. Why you are tightening up, just relax and loosen up! Fingers, come on, you made a whole mitt with only one mistake, how come I've had to frog this one 5 times. Seriously, it would be done by now if we could all just come together and work as a team!

As it is, MIL is going to get one intact mitt and a promise that the stubborn one will be conquered by the end of xmas day! 0.O

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Knitting is my anti-depressant

Tis the season where you get totally bogged down in pretty much everything and end up a whine-y mess on the floor, having trouble just doing the basic sort of functioning. Well it is for me anyway.

I'll be square with you, I already have depression, the kind that requires a touch of medication at the super stressful times in life. Which is right now. The last 6 months has been really rough and with the death of my grandmother and the difficulty with money I'm pretty much at my wits end. Of course I'm currently in provider limbo while we wait for our insurance to kick in so I can go in and get back on a dosage. Needless to say, my temperament isn't really at its best.

The fact that day in, day out my life is the exact same with only occasional contact with people outside of the 3 family members I live with, and consists mainly of cooking, cleaning, and arguing with a 2 year old, things get a little depressing for someone who's very social and seriously lacking in stimulus after a really active social life for myself and my daughter in Cali.

Today I hit a wall. Crying off and on, having difficulty even functioning. Everything has been a struggle and I haven't even had the wherewith-all to work on the socks. Finally, with hubby home and wrangling the child after I starting to cry yet again and admitting to being depressed, I decided I had to do something to take my mind off of things. Honestly, the 4 inches of stockinette stitch on the socks weren't going to cut it, so enter Annabella by Anna Aponte

I bought a beautiful hank of Cascade Sierra in Dark Cyan, determined to make up another pair of fingerless gloves for my MIL (she's always cold and the golden Goldilocks gloves I made her are lovely, but for one of her jobs that has yellow as part of her uniform). I'll admit, it was a random search and a sudden feeling of fearlessness that I decided that this had to be the pattern for me!

one of the many beautiful examples

Now, once the rush of the pattern search wore off I was suddenly full of misgivings once I looked at the directions. It included (GASP) a chart! and all sorts of fabulous shorthand. Luckily, even though I'm a novice I've gotten to the point that I can read a row "recipe" and know what it means, the chart, however, gave me palpitations. I really started to rethink my stance on the gloves, maybe a simple pattern...

Then today hit. I'm scraping along, only doing the bare minimum interaction and functioning (seriously, I have to feed my family, lord knows what will happen if I leave them up to their own devices?!?) and I decide that it would be the perfect thing to do! Of course a niggling voice in the back of my head says "that is waaay too complicated! How are you going to handle it if you mess this up? You'll frog it and feel more sorry for yourself AND angry!" I decided to ignore that nay sayer and started. What better way to ignore the world then to be reciting a formula in your head?

I started out with trepidation but got through the border rows with no problem at all. I didn't even have to keep looking, I've finally got to the point that I can knit the stitches as they present themselves without too much thought. Feeling a little better. Start pattern row, managed no problem. Feeling better. Second and third row pass uneventful while I still give it my whole attention and ignore the shrieking that's going on in the background. I decide to try the chart, suddenly all those lines and swirls make sense, OH MY GOD I"M ACTUALLY READING A CHART! (its a big deal, when I HAD to take band back in 6th grade I could not read music to save my life). I did have a mis-count during the pattern but I managed to back up, I lost a stitch, managed to pick it up, and saved the pattern after sweating it out. I felt better. Ever row I feel a little bit better.

Is my depression gone? No, its still there, but I'm not feeling so hopeless and incapable of functioning. I can still create something beautiful that will bring someone a little bit of happiness. Am I neglecting my family? A little but they can function without me, and quite frankly, it wouldn't kill them to be a little more self sufficient. I'm doing something for me. I feel accomplished. I feel like smiling. Not even meds can always do that :)

So far:


Who just tore out 4 hours worth of work because they were unhappy with the left ladder and the fact that right after this picture was taken there were two mistakes. THIS GIRL! Yeah, I was pretty much to the point that I was all ready for the thumb gusset. For 2 pattern repeats I'd been telling myself "oh its not that bad, who would notice?" But since it wasn't for me I demand perfection! Which means that tomorrow is a knit-a-thon! I wasn't planning on doing the dishes anyway...


One down one to go! I have no regrets frogging it, it turned out beautiful and now I won't have those 2 little slip ups forever marring my love for these gloves :) Seriously, my next project won't come in pairs...except I have a lady who wants two pairs of the double rib gloves, and well a friends bday is coming up and she loved this pattern so I will be making one more pair.....okay so my goal is to be doing something NOT a glove by February. I'm thinking a shrug for myself or something. The skies the limit!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Mates suck

I have moved up another level as a knitter, BEHOLD

Yes, I did it. I dinged. I moved forward, I moved up, I ACHIEVED! I totally did a little dance of happiness, proud of my achievement and my ability to actually produce something that fit and looks darn good on.

Then I realized that I was only half way done with both projects. Yes, I actually had a finished product, but it was a loooooooonely project. That sock and that mitten could totally hang out together but they aren't going to do one person any good. First off that sock is a ladies size 11 and that mitten is child sized. All they can do is sit and have a nice little chat while feeling awkward and alone, dreaming of their mates...

Whats funny is I have a friend who's a fellow knitter comment that thats why she doesn't care to make socks and is lucky enough to have a friend with one foot! Well, we all can't be so lucky so I know I have to buckle down.

I'm happy to say, the mitten is no longer alone:

Within a day it was a complete set. The happy couple is now canoodling happily in christmas wrap, eagerly awaiting being opened by a little girl. WOOHOO!

The sock is still forlornly watching its mate being made. I'm happy to report that I'm into the stockinette stitches so by next monday the little darling will be on its way to its new home!

What I've learned: 
  • When things come in sets and you think you are halfway done, you are really only a quarter of the way done.
  • There is definitely something to that "knit 2 socks at a time" goal: don't be afraid of it!
  • Kitchener stitches yikes, eHow, I love thee
  • I can knit a pair of mittens in a day if I really want to!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Therapy Socks

I learned a little lesson this month. If there is someone you love and you want to make something special, don't assume they will always be around. Get your sh%t together and get it done.

Cathy, my stepmom, let me know that my Grandma was sick and in the hospital. My daughter and I sat down and made her a special painting and I wrote a letter to her letting her know I was thinking about her and going to use my new skills to make her socks! Now grandma is a tall willowy thing who is always cold and has terrible arthritis. I couldn't be there with her so I figured some foot ware to keep her warm was just the thing. It was a week before I got the yarn and needles I needed and by that time I'd also finally developed enough self assuredness to make up some Christmas presents. I did cast on the socks and made some headway but I have to admit other things got pushed ahead of the line. For some reason in my head Grandma wasn't in the hospital and would be fine. I realize now that it didn't even occur to me that she was as sick as she was and even though she's in her 80s a part of me refused to acknowledge the thought of loosing her.

Cathy went out to visit and gave updates and sent me measurements for her feet that I asked for. I had finished the hats I'd set out to make and was having a "day off" where I did a simple project and took the socks with me to the park with my daughter. I got the call from my stepmom that Grandma had passed that morning. Of course this means I blubbered in the park while my 2 year old gently patted and hugged me, whimpering a little and offering as much comfort as a little person can give. When I was talking to Cathy she said that it had meant so much to Grandma that I was making her socks. That made my heart squeeze and fresh tears flow because I didn't get them to her on time. I had given myself an end date of before christmas but it hadn't been soon enough.

I told Cathy I was now making the socks for her and they were love socks. She said she would never want to wear them because she didn't want to wear them out and I told her flat out, they are meant to be worn, and I will learn to darn socks and she can send them to me for repairs, but these are meant to give someone warmth and if grandma can't have it then I wanted my stepmom to. I knitted a good 5 1/2 inches that day.

I've been working on the socks like crazy.  The funeral is Friday and I want to get them out to Cathy asap. It makes me sick to think how fast I'm making them and how well they are turning out. If I'd have put more effort into it she could have had them for the last bit. I try not to think about it though. I feel like I'll be a little more healed once the socks are done, that they are helping me through my grief give me that bit of closure to where I'm not crying a few times a day.

I still have some grandparents kicking about and all I can think of is that I need to make each of them something before they go. Giving them something I put time, thought, and effort into to show them that I love them. With new babies coming up and birthdays and wanting to make something for my own kid it'll be hard, but I can do this because they are worth it. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Long long ago in a mental place far far away

My introduction to the yarn arts started like most. I was young, back in my single digit days. My mom is incredibly gifted, her hand writing is exquisite calligraphy, she's eloquent, creative, has a green thumb, and can do needlepoint and crochet. Granted she didn't get to do that sort of stuff often as she was also an ER nurse who worked full time and raised 5 kids (my dad was an insurance salesman and helped out at the family farm so weeks would go by of single parenting). At one point, I don't know what motivated her as the memory is dim, she got out hooks, yarn, and showed us how to crochet. I could make a chain like nobody's business, but my brothers were actually creative and could produce things. After we knew the basics she got out patterns and let us choose something to do.

I was apparently an ambitious child and I have zero concept of time and difficulty vs skill level. What I remember of the pattern was that it was brightly pastel and chain link. I managed to find a picture similar to what it was, but imagine this in smaller link and looking like a death trap for infant fingers:

My mother was nothing if not supportive, but she was smart and only got me one skein of the multicolored pastel yarn I coveted with all of my young girl heart. Needless to say, I sucked at execution. I was WAY too tight and had zero concept of tension, so 3 into the plethora of links and I was done. I'm pretty sure my brothers produced actual things that have faded into the ether of time. I dinked around with cross stitching (my older brother was way better and my mom still has a super cute little pillow of a cross stitched Garfield on a hang glider), I latch hooked (I'm pretty sure I never actually finished one), and so on. 

I was good at quilting, not the multiple patch sew up kind, the kind that are two lengths of fleece with batting in between. Mom and I (and my grammy when she visited) would set up the quilting frame, put on a good movie and pass the needle in and out for an hour or two, leaving pressure point painful spots on our fingers to make something warm for the people we love. It's tradition and a good one :)

My next foray wouldn't come again until my early 20s. I suddenly decided that I needed a hobby and I couldn't crochet so I was going to learn to knit! I also was enboldend by the fact that nobody in my family did it except for my Grammy who mearly dabbled. I would be the first and in my family that was pretty cool. Off to the craft store and ambitiously buy about 4 skeins of Lion's Brand homespun and Idiot's Guide to Knitting. 

I managed a basic back loop cast on and then things went rapidly downhill. I did the first row and hit a wall. I had no idea how to get to the 2nd row. For some reason reading the book and even consulting with a friend of mine who knew how to knit could not make the concept of "you just switch hands" sink in. I pray I'm not the only one who was so thick they couldn't get it through their head. Needles and yarn were tossed down in disgust, there to languish until I decided I could do it again.

Fast forward to a now 29  y.o. mom who's hubby is about to deploy for 6 months to Okinawa. Well criminy. I think to myself  "Egads, how am I ever going to keep myself busy. Surely my 10 month old won't take ALL my time." Obviously I was new to this whole business of having a mobile child. Still, I moved forward, determined, internet at the ready. Initially DH tried to teach me. He had learned from his Grandmother who was a knitter of legendary proportions. The lesson lasted maybe 15 minutes and ended in yelling and fuming with desperate need for space. I finally got on youtube and found a video that made knitting and purling make sense. I dabbled off and on for the next year and it wasn't until the last 6 months where I was determined to start actually DO something and that's when it all clicked. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Goals and THE hat that started it all

There are certain things in this life that I want to knit/have always wanted to knit/discovered I want to knit. Most are geeky and silly but in their own intrinsic fashion AWESOME!

One of the biggest also happened to be my first real success, the one that actually made me feel I really could be/was a knitter;the Cunning hat from Firefly, worn by Jayne in The Message.

When a man wears that hat, you know he ain't afraid of nothin!

I popped on Ravelry and did a search and came up with a lot of options, after weeding, I found one that was perfect, which linked me to Keiyla's Blog. This woman is an OCD ball of epic! She had high def and wasn't afraid to use it and thereby created what I consider to be a crazy accurate recipe for delicious hatti-ness. I popped on Webs and discussed yarn and color with DH, as the hat was for him and he's rather persnickety on colors being a model painter. We found the perfect single ply wool, Linie 213 Filz-Wollee. I liked it because the brand had the perfect colors and I didn't feel brave enough to mix up brands and hubby totally approved. Plus at 3.49 a skein it was totally worth it!

It was initially going to be a St Nicholas Day gift but the two of us were so excited that when it came in I HAD to start. I was so nervous because I was still doing a back loop cast on and to a novice, a German twisted cast on is pretty intimidating. Thanks to the internet and Ehow it wasn't long before I was plugging along. DH stayed up and watched me while we played Serenity episodes. He was so excited and I loved it. Hearing my very hard working, no nonsense, taciturn husband in awe and excited about how I was doing and how it looked just spurred me further. I got the body done that night over 4 hours. He literally wore it to sleep in.

The next day I girded my loins for battle (picking up stitches also made me nervous) and did the earflaps and I'll be darned if those things weren't that hard to do! By the time he came home from work the only thing missing was the pom pom (which was quickly remedied with a trip to Jo-anns for a maker). And after a total of 6 hours of work here was the result:

It turned out perfect AND I had a ridiculously happy husband. I made it about 2 weeks ago and he wears it constantly! I'm not saying my husband isn't supportive but he's not the kind to gush at all and he's still gushing about that hat. I totally got a knitters high. It was amazing, finishing something I set out to do and it turned out accurate! There was nothing I couldn't do! Which makes sense as to why the next morning I whipped out a matching hat (sans ear flaps due to not enough wine yarn) for Butter Bean so they could wear them on their daddy daughter excursions:

Yup, that's something I can cross off my list. Last night I finished yet another one of those goals. I wanted to knit a beard. Yes, a beard. I can't explain why it just seemed totally legit! I was spurred by my daughters Godfather who is follicle challenged. Plenty on his head but the hair on his face grows in mangy thin patches. Its sadly white trashy really. He lives in good old Nebraska and it hit negative digits and I figured it was time to get going on the old face mane to attach to his birthday hat. Yet again, Ravelry is the bomb and via it I found A rather fun knitted beard. I always thought eyelash yarn was a little tacky, but now I realize I was being an elitist and it has its place! One day of knitting and voila:

A fluffy ball of chin warming niftiness. Its removable so there is no need to commit to facial hair because we all know that sometimes its not always appropriate! 

Yet again, I experienced that knitters high. That feeling of creation that is akin, on some level, to the birth of my child. It was silly, it was weird, not everyone gets it, but I set out to make it and it came out how I'd hoped! It was a good reboot and yet again, a check off my list.

Other things I want to make:
  • Doctor Who Tardis socks/hat/mittens (seriously, there's an awesome fair isle pattern or them)
  • Pimlico Shrug from the book Knit 2 Together
  • A Peep toy for BB (she loves Peep and the Big Wide World)
  • Mini brown coat outfit for our eventual son!
  • a tacky lingerie set for my friend Bibi ^_^
  • A dress for BB
  • A hat and mittens for each one of my nephews and nieces

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Introductions are in order

My name is Starcie and I am a new knitter. No that isn't a typo, no my name is not Stacie, Darcie, or Stracie. That little R is all snuggled in there on purpose. I come from a long line of able Lithuanian women who were crafters and seamstresses and my mom believes (and I do too) a bit of intuitive wise women. However I always felt things definitely skipped a generation when it came to me. Trust me. I may look like my ancestors but I lack any of their useful skills.  I'm 32 and its taken me this long to actually find something I can do.

Lets see, I'm a dietitian  chef, chauffeur  cleaning lady, laundress, arm candy, bathroom attendant, personal shopper, personal assistant, and so many more. To put it simply, I'm a mom!

I'm the kind of mom who lets my kid pull a Jo-Anns shopping cart down on themselves and doesn't run to them, swooping them up into my arms while bemoaning the pain caused to my precious baby (this totally happened 2 days ago on a yarn run, there was an older woman who did not approve of my simple "Whoa kiddo, are you okay? Come on, get up, lets check your fingers and toes). I let her put pretty much anything in her mouth and she's got a great immune system. I encourage climbing, falling, reading, and drawing

I like to cook from scratch, but that doesn't mean Butter Bean didn't consume a conglomeration of cut up hot dog, mixed veggies, and wee pasta bits sauced with a little ranch dressing so I could clean. Don't think I'm some sort of neat freak either. I'd rather be snuggled under a quilt with my needles, yarn, and a dream while watching Doctor Who than scrubbing my toilets, but it has to happen eventually and I work best in an organised space.

I'm a massage therapist by trade, a mom by choice. I've washed dogs, waitressed, hostessed, worked in child care, taught kids to cook, taught adults to massage, and been a tour guide at my college. I'm an anglophile but not overwhelmingly so. I love old movies and BBC varieties and I adore Doctors 10 and 11 and hate Rose. I was a bit crazy in my 20s but I've evened out. I'm currently trying to recapture the feel of the 1950s housewife but sex it up a bit, finding my way to being only a housewife instead of an income provider. I like depending on my husband but not being dependent on him. I'm eternally optimistic for others and what they can do but hard on myself. There's nothing I like better than making someone smile.

My family consists of a crazy little 2 y.o. girl who drives me nuts and is the light of my life and a former marine come mechanic husband who is my biggest support yet at the same time keeps me grounded in an almost painful tactless way. 

There we are, that's the tip of the iceberg and has nothing to do with knitting, but I  figured a little intro is a good start. I'm very new to knitting and its slowly becoming an addendum to who I am. Not too shabby really!