I dedicate this blog to the memory of my grandmother.
August 29, 1921 - April 30, 2015
You are not forgotten.

Monday, December 28, 2015

"Just one more row..."

“Of course I'll use this new yarn for something! ...eventually.”

“I'll just cast on and knit up a few rows, just to see how it looks. Then I'll frog it or put it away."

“Just one more row...”

The last one may, when spoken or thought by a knitter, quite possibly be the most dangerous combination of words to punctuality and a good night's sleep in the English language. Books got nuthin' on the Zen-like serenity of yarn work when you're on a roll. Particularly for a knitter like myself who is already predisposed to generally losing track of everything until she comes up for air-- wait-- has it actually been hours?? We are, as a group, notorious for not admitting when to put the needles down-- even to ourselves. I'm pretty sure that so far this week I have woken up, disoriented, to slumped needles, dropped stitches, and having to hit pause quickly on my audiobook before I overhear a plot spoiler, pretty much every night.

"Spoilers, sweetie."
Or, just as annoying, having to skip back... back... no, further back... good lord, was I really asleep that long?

Not that long.
One out of every five nights or so-- just enough to keep me me ever hopeful-- instead of nodding off in my chair, I get my second wind and knock out half the project in one mad stitching spree. If not for these randomly sporadic bursts of productivity, I might never finish anything.

And then there's my poor, long-suffering family, who have finally gotten wise to me and when I say, "Just one more row..." they hear, "Don't expect me for at least half an hour." And if I'm trying to fix a mistake-- well, there's no telling how long I'll be immersed in TECHknitting, various knitting tools sprouting from between fingers like surgical implements. My last mistake took at least three nights of ripping down and laddering back up between four and six stitches before I was satisfied. Then I discovered I'd missed a kfb about ten rows down. I tried to drop the stitch down to it, but I ended up losing so many kfbs I quickly got confused and ended up having to rip out the entire ten rows. TEN ROWS. And after all of that, I didn't get more than six or seven rows up when I missed yet another increase. This time I did my proper research and fixed it from above on the next row (thank you, TECHknitting!), but still.....

But I digress.

It's not like it's just knitters who do this. How many readers have succumbed to "Just one more paragraph/page/chapter..."? How many afficianadoes of television serials claim, "Just one more episode..."? One more piece, one more box, one more bowl, one more glass... Just one more.

So please try not to judge your procrastiknitter too harshly; there are worse things to be just one more-ing. Look on the bright side: at least ours is productive.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Yarn-a-holic Alert!

Just a very brief post to let my readers know that if you have an out-of-control yarn addiction, you are not alone (though you probably already knew this, especially if you're on Ravelry.)

I am now acquiring yarn (ALL for gifts, not one skein for myself) faster than I can stash it!  My Ravelry stash is now currently woefully out of date. Even my husband has noticed my need for a better yarn storage system, though his solution is a yarn moratorium. Nooooooooooooo!!!!

It wouldn't even be so bad, but I've finally made it past chain craft store $5 a skein yarn and into the hard stuff. Lion Brand Amazing is a gateway yarn, I'm telling you. One day you're happily stitching away in wool-acrylic blend, and the next you're fingering your $20 skein of 100% merino superwash Malabrigo or Cascade 128 and wondering how you can ever go back to Caron Simply Soft again.

At what point do I have to admit I have a problem? When I run out of space? Start hiding it? Is it all over once I get a taste of that sweet, sweet Madelinetosh (Malabrigo was bad enough!)?

"Hi, my name is Alanna, and I'm a yarnie."

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Internal Obscenity-Laced Monologue of a Frustrated Knitter

Hello! Yes! I'm still alive! If you missed it on Face-gram, I finished Malcolm's hoodie (took about three months, give or take). He loves it!

As an added bonus, Isaac was so impressed he quietly but plaintively asked me to make one for him too, and said, yes, green was fine.

But I promised Alyx I'd work on her sweater dress next.

But... now the holidays are upon us.

I'll save the rant about my perpetual too-many-projects syndrome, and focus in on what I'm working on right now, the details of which I will withhold because, like all the other WIPs in my knitting bag, it's a gift (don't even try, people, I'm working on... let me see... at least nine different knitted items for various people on my list).

Since we've started carpooling in the mornings and since I a. don't have to drive; and b. have some time to kill (thanks, 405), I've taken to using the time to knock some rows out.

This works better with some projects than others.  For instance, Alyx's sweater dress-- which I managed to knock out a large piece of in about a week-- is just a straight-up stockinette. Simple. Easy. Soothing.

Then there's the ones that get fancy.

This one starts out innocently enough with just basic knits and purls, but then, out of nowhere, comes Row 4. K1, P1, K1-- then YO, K2tog, K to marker; kfbs on either side of each marker-- there are four markers-- knit in between; then, after the last marker, K to last 5 stitches and here we go again! SSK, YO, K1, P1, K1.

If you aren't a knitter and couldn't make heads or tails of that: I could write it out, but I doubt, for instance, that "yarn-over" would make more sense to you than "YO" or "slip-slip-knit together" than "SSK." On the other end of the spectrum, no doubt any seasoned needler will roll their eyes or otherwise scoff at what I consider complex. 

I'll try to compromise by explaining that at the beginning and end of the row, on either side of the markered section, there's an increase and a decrease, which cancel each other out in terms of number of stitches in the row. Each marker, though, has an increase on either side of it (2), and, because there are four markers, that means that this row increases the number of stitches by 8. Since I cast on-- started with-- 29 stitches, this means when I get done I should have 37. If I don't have 37, not only did I screw something up, but (if I don't fix it) it will completely mess up the pattern, sometimes in unexpected ways. For instance, there's a world of difference in some stitch patterns between having an odd or even number of stitches in a row.

To make everything just a little more fun, this particular item is knit on two different size needles. You start out with the smaller ones, and then switch to the larger ones after Row 3. Remember that.

Warning: This is where the obscenities mentioned in the title will be coming into play, so, continue reading at your own discretion.

So I finally get to the end of the row, I breathe a sigh of relief. Then, from (long, repeatedly painful) experience, I counted my stitches. 36.

Wait-- 36?

Son of a bitch.

So I put it aside, and throughout the morning, whenever I have a couple minutes where I'm waiting for something and I would pull out my knitting, I remember I have to find my mistake and frog back, and I don't.

But then it comes time to pick up Alyx from kindergarten, and I have about seven minutes or so after I pull up before the bell.

I examine the row closely, trying to see which of my ten increases I missed. The yarn-overs stand out, so it has to be one of the eight knit-front-and-backs (kfb for short). I'm very bad at recognizing special stitches (anything more complicated than a single knit or purl) a row down, and this yarn doesn't make it any easier. But, counting between the markers, I find which section my mistake is in, and even which kfb I missed. Of course, it's two-thirds back the row. Nothing for it, though, I'll just have to grit my teeth and tink back.

But, remember, the needles changed. Plus, I use exclusively circular needles to knit everything, and I buy long cords so I can use them for magic loop. So I not only have to un-knit back, I have to do it back onto the smaller needles, the unused ends dangling and getting tangled with each other and the yarn.

I have just enough time to tink the row and re-knit. I count my stitches, my relief and pride swelling as I triumphantly finish-- "34... 35... 36."


I mean, seriously? Once is practically expected, par for the course on lace knitting, but TWICE??

I take a deep breath and suppress my urge to hurl the piece, needles and all, across the car.

I remind myself this is a hobby. A leisure time activity. A voluntary pastime out of which I'm supposed to be getting pleasure and relaxation.

I wonder if maybe it's not too late to take up coin collecting or ultimate frisbee or geocaching.

I close my eyes, sigh again, and recount. Yup, 36. Ribbit, ribbit.

I wonder if my grandmother ever swore at her knitting like this.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Vagaries of Knitting for Toddlers

As I mentioned, I already started the hoodie for Malcolm on July 4, at my first meetup with the West LA Knitters. I never really bonded with the Emerald Isle color for Isaac, and after he declared greento be his favorite color, I decided to go back to my original idea, which was Key Lime. I ordered two more pairs of size 7 needles-- one got here Saturday, the other a couple days later. Of course I immediately cast on to see what the greens look like together.
˄˄˄ Emerald Isle
˅˅˅ Key Lime

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Goodbye, Sheep(ish)

Today, Vickie Howell announced via Facebook that, while her three lines of yarn (Sheep(ish), Sheep(ish) Stripes, and Cotton-ish) would still be available from the Yarnspirations website through April 2016, they are being discontinued in stores earlier than she thought.

Having just discovered Sheep(ish)-- a super-soft, roving, washable, self-striping acrylic-wool blend-- earlier this year, I would be sad enough; it's become a top favorite of mine along with Lion Brand Amazing (another self-striping, washable wool/acrylic blend). But Sheep(ish) has come to mean more to me than just another yarn.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meetup Saturday Morning

Saturday morning I clamped down on my social anxiety, shoved myself out of my child-imposed hermitdom, and made it to the West Los Angeles Knitters meetup at the Westside Pavilion.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015


No progress at all on my chevron scarf since Sunday. :/

I had this crazy idea the night before my boys' birthday (Wednesday) that I could just knit up a couple quick simple things for them. Yeah-- I'm not that good (yet). I did get started, though, on a sunglasses case for Malcolm in the "Swimming Pool" Sugar'n Cream.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Mystery Yarn

A few months back, a friend of mine was in the process of moving and gave me a big box of stuff. Among other things, there was a small stash of yarn. I tucked it in with my growing collection and forgot about it.

And the other night, when I was cataloging all my yarn on Ravelry, I ran across some of it.

mystery yarn

It's a roving medium-weight yarn. It feels like a wool blend. It's self-striping-- this photo doesn't do the colors justice.

I asked my friend if she had any idea what it might be. She seemed fairly certain she'd purchased it at a local Jo-Ann's a couple years ago, but that was about it. I plan to take it by and see if anyone there has any idea.

My best guess, from Googling around, is Bernat's Mosaic, a now-discontinued roving, self-striping acrylic that various reviewers described as feeling more like a wool blend than 100% acrylic.

Please feel free to leave your own guesses in the comments. I'll let you know what (if anything) my visit to Jo-Ann turns up.

In other news, I have finally gotten around to adding all my needles to my Ravelry notebook.

I have not actually been getting much knitting done. I started on a sunglasses case for Malcolm, but-- and I'm not sure if it was the size 9 needles (the pattern calls for size 8) or the cotton yarn (I'm trying to like it, I really am), but the thing was turning out all the wrong size-- way, way too wide.

Ribbit, ribbit... I sense some frogging in my future. I guess if I get really tired of trying to work with the cotton I can go back to my old stand-by, Caron Simply Soft. I'd totally forgotten I had a skein of Spring Brook and Peacock Feather stashed away...

Monday, June 22, 2015

New Projects (I know, I know...)

So at some point either late last night or this morning, I was pondering projects, and I came up with a great idea. I'd been feeling bad that my twin boys have been somewhat left out. It's summer; they don't really need hats or scarves (inasmuch as stuff like that is ever needed here). And with my queue already so heavy I don't really want to add on any big projects. So, back to basics it is. And by that, I mean going back to my first "learn to knit" book.

Almost done!

"Pixie dust, AWAY!"
Before my yarn collection gets completely out of hand (ahem), I thought it would be a good idea to catalog what I have, with pictures or samples or something so when the label gets lost and I have half a skein left I know what it is.

I could just do a spreadsheet, but Ravelry already has all these fabulous tools that interact with each other, plus you have the option to download it to excel, so, as my kids' favorite TV characters would say, "Yay-hey, yes way!"

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Knitting as Therapy

When people find out that I work full time and have three children (currently) under five, two of which are twin boys almost three and still in diapers, and I work full time, I generally hear the same thing: "I don't know how you do it!"
super mom
Did you hear, we come as action figures now?

What I don't add, for most of them, is that I also struggle with OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).

Friday, June 19, 2015


Hey - another blog for me to start and abandon. But I've stuck with the knitting (so far so good, knock wood), so maybe I'll actually stick with the blog, too. Wish me luck!

As I write this I just completed a hat for my daughter and a hat for a friend's son. I'm currently in the middle of two scarves (one for my daughter, the other a surprise so I'm not going to say much more here). And I have a bit-off-way-more-than-I-can-chew-rookie-mistake project from last September (cue embarrassment) that I'm always going to get to tomorrow but I never do.
rainbow scarf
Beginning of "Rainbow Scarf" for Alyx

A little about me as a craftsperson: