Friday, March 31, 2006

I'm One of the Cool Girls Now

Remember in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, how Toula always wanted to sit with the cool girls and eat a bologna sandwich on squishy white bread instead of all of the (probably delightful) ethnic leftovers her mom sent her with as a kid? And when she goes to college she finally brings her bologna sandwich on squishy white bread and gets to sit with the cool girls?

That's how I feel. I finally bought myself a Chibi needle case. I cannot exactly say why I always wanted one, except that everyone else had one. But I never bought one, because it was (gasp) $5. Yesterday I finally bought myself a Chibi needle case. It is white and has blue ends, just like everyone else's. And I no longer have to chase my weaving needles into the bottom of my bag.

Next up, I am finally spending the freaking $5 and getting myself some real stitch markers. I have been using the little tied loops of yarn my whole knitting career, envying the pretty little plastic rings everyone else had. Do you see how silly I am? A) I envy people little plastic rings and B) I can't make myself spend the $4 on a package of little plastic rings, even though I've always secretly wanted them.

And then, I am buying myself some of those long double-ended stitch holders, instead of the ones with the hook on the end that catch in the yarn. If I'm going to be investing in nice yarn, I don't want to snag it.

And I just want to look in my notions bag and think "Hey, I've got all the nice tools in here" rather than "Sigh, I suppose these are just as good as everyone else's."

Sometimes I think I must be regressing to age 7 instead of 27.


Yesterday Mom & I went to the LYS and I finally asked for the pattern for a very lovely vest they have on display. A month ago I had admired it and wanted to make it. It had an unusual construction and showed off a very very lovely yarn. I had thought about purchasing the pattern then, but had decided that since I wouldn't buy the yarn, it really made the project not what I wanted, because the really striking part about it is that it used that lovely self-striping yarn.

But now that I have decided I will make projects out of nice yarn, I bought the pattern and once I am done with my current projects I will buy the nice yarn and, next fall, I will have a lovely Vest of Many Colors to wear.

I feel like a new woman!


I have decided on some ways I will keep the yarn spending under control, since I *do* want to buy nice yarn but *do not* want to go broke :-) First of all, I am only going to buy yarn for the next two projects in mind, at most. Too often I buy the yarn ahead of time and decide not to make the project after all, and so I am going to purchase as I go. Hopefully this means I will not have to go on a Yarn Diet, as regular diets are unpleasant enough as it is. Yarn is my favorite fat free dessert.

Second, I am going to take my time on projects. I've already found that I take my time more on projects with nice yarn because I am enjoying the process, rather than just finishing it quickly to get it over with.

Third, I am going to intersperse the luxury projects with more inexpensive projects. Knitpicks is inexpensive, but the yarn is nice, so I will use some Knitpicks yarn when it works nicely in a pattern. Socks only require one ball of yarn but take awhile, so they are a good inexpensive purchase. And felting is still fun but inexpensive wool is just fine, so I will enjoy some felting projects in there too.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Some Rough Justice on the Knitting Prairie

I had some projects hanging around in various states of completion, and I decided it was time for a little rough justice.

The should-have-been-cute Picovoli Tee that I was making from beige Red Heart Luster Sheen was SO not turning out. Bad color, gauge off, size wrong, yarn already fuzzy and bothersome. My gerbils will enjoy the bed though.

The beaded purple miser's purse is going to get finished. I'm halfway around the final round, then I have just the chains and ring to do, then I think I am done with my miser's purse experiment for now.

The Alien Illusion Scarf got two rounds of black half double crochet yesterday around the edge, which flattened it out considerably. I added fringe and it is done and ready to be given....at Christmas.


I also cleaned out my knitting bag & the little notions pouch that always gets messy, recorded my finished objects in my knitting journal, and cleaned up my knittin' spot on the couch, which was starting to resemble a huge heap of random bits of wool and projects in various stages of completion.

I have a goal in mind now: Once I have finished my current projects on deck I can work on my treat projects. I am permitting myself to poke along on the Malabrigo stole since I am enjoying it so much. So I have lined up the things to finish and I am going to finsh them because I am motivated.

And now this is published on the Web so you can all hold me to it.


Lil' Birdie, I don't know if you are reading right now while you are in transit, but I wanted to mention that the previous post about cheapness was not directed at you or your blog. I am still all about the bargain luxury, so we are apparently on the same page ;-)

I am adapting Dee's yarn motto to fit general life:

Inexpensive YES, cheap NEVER.

:-) :-) :-)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Being Cheap vs. Not Cheap

This is just a rambly, random, state of the Kat post.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am first to describe myself as cheap. I think it is a good thing, it means I don't have a lot of financial problems, and it means that I don't have any destructive spending habits that could become troublesome.

But I realized, a while ago, that being cheap was interfering with my enjoyment of life. I was cutting myself off from a lot of enjoyable things in the name of cheapness. Ironically, being cheap was eating up all of my available spending cash, and so I never thought the solution to the problem would be to be...well....less cheap.

For example, I love to knit. This will highlight a little bit of one of my previous posts. I have always paled at the mere idea of spending $60 or $100 on ONE SWEATER. OMG. And so, I would look longingly at beautiful sweaters and try to sub in the yarn for some really cheap stuff. Then one of two things would happen. I'd either make the sweater and be disappointed, or I would just end up NOT making the sweater because by the time I subbed out anything that cost more than $3 a skein it wasn't the beautiful project I had wanted to make.

And so, I built up quite a bunch of yarn. Not as much as some of the other ladies I know, but quite a bit of it. It wasn't beautiful yarn I loved to pet and wanted to knit with. It wasn't something I couldn't wait to use. Rather, it was a bunch of yarn that I had consigned myself to Do Something With Already so that I could move on to a project I would enjoy more. It was a good thought, but unfortunately it did not work that way. There was always a new (cheap) skein worming its way into the bunch.

One day I realized, this is a HOBBY. Why am I putting off doing the things I really want to do because I have $30 invested in crappy yarn that I don't want to use? Why am I telling myself I must use up that Red Heart yarn before I can buy a single skein of something nicer? I am not that poor. I can afford to buy nice yarn.

I realized I had some issues with quantity over quality. I would choose 3 pairs of so-so jeans over 1 pair of really excellent fitting jeans. I would choose a whole mess of clothes that were okay from Wal Mart rather than 1 nice dress or pair of pants from a nice store. I would see a beautiful garment in Ann Taylor and then go to Target and buy $200 worth of clothes that I didn't love as much....all the while wishing that I could have that Ann Taylor outfit, and all the while trying to console myself that I actually had made a better bargain; I got 3 outfits for my money rather than just one.

Sometimes, that is good. When you need a lot of clothes, or if you really like those Target clothes, it's a smart move. But if what you really want is something else, it's not a very prudent move. I believe in our society we are conditioned to go for a whole bunch of something not-so-great over a small amount of something wonderful.

And so, based on these thoughts, I decided to stop myself whenever I was cheaping out. I decided to buy the nice Koigu yarn instead of the Lion Magic Stripes. I decided to buy the fancy feta cheese instead of omitting it from the recipe. I decided to buy the nice bakery bread and the good cuts of meat rather than the Wonder Bread and the cheap cuts of meat. I decided to buy the good tomatoes instead of the ones that don't taste good. I decided to buy the one dress with the twirly skirt that I loved rather than the outfit I didn't like as much at Wal Mart. I decided to buy the nice beads from the bead store rather than the cheap ones from Michaels.

And then, I realized....I was spending....less.

How could this be? I had spent so much of my life figuring out the pennies per ounce and skipping the fresh tomatoes in favor of canned. I had been passing up the delicious baby potatoes in favor of the bigger (cheaper) bag of the big ones. I had been missing out on good feta cheese, and nice yarn, and pretty beads....and I had been spending MORE for the dubious privilege of buying things I didn't really want.

The worst part of the realization though, was I realized that those second-banana purchases were not things that I ended up using. I skipped the tender baby potatoes and bought the big ones to save money....and the big ones ended up rotting in the vegetable bin. I skipped the nice yarn in favor of Red Heart, and then beat myself up over having all this Red Heart I didn't even want. I bought bags of cheap beads, all the while congratulating myself on being so money smart, and never used them. I would have used the nice ones!

The moral of this story is that sometimes, the cheap comes out expensive. It is better to buy something that costs a little more that I will use and love and enjoy, rather than something that's cheaper that I won't. The point of things is to use and love and enjoy them, not stockpile them. No one gets any enjoyment out of a big pile of yarn they don't like. Isn't it better to get enjoyment from those yummy soft socks, that cost LESS than the bad yarn? Isn't it obvious?

I will treat my friends to pizza.
I will buy the nice spices.
I will buy the good cheese.
I will buy the good wine.
I will buy the steak.
I will buy the Koigu.
I will buy the nice dress.

I have discovered it is better to eat less expensive vegetarian meals a few nights a week so I can afford the nice stuff for the other nights, rather than eat mediocre stuff all the time.

I have discovered it is better to have one dress I really love than 10 dresses I don't.

I have discovered it is better to take my time on a nice project than make a whole bunch of fast projects out of yucky yarn.

I have discovered that things are for using, not for storing. Use your best vase today, for tomorrow it may be broken. Or you may realize you always used the second best one rather than the one you really loved, because you were so afraid of breaking the one you really loved, and you find one day you never got to enjoy your nice vase.

Use the china. Eat the steak. Drink the wine. There is nothing more worth celebrating than today.

God bless.

Granny Squares With Borders

Well, all the squares have borders. I am so sick of these things. I am looking forward to getting them linked and getting it outta here.

Then I have 1 padded footlet to redo (as they came out two different sizes, and they are a gift so I want them to be just right).

And I have to join the sides of my little beaded purse.

Once those things are done, I am going to treat myself. I have a pattern for a pair of Victorian Bed Socks I want to make in Koigu wool. And then I just have to make Starsky from the most recent Knitty. It's just too darn cute. And I'm buying the called-for wool from Knitpicks, which, irony of ironies, is going to be CHEAPER than cheaping out and buying Lion brand. So there.

Other than that I am purging some stuff from my craft room to make room for stuff that I will really use. Some of the stuff is just hanging around and will never get made, and even if I were to sit down and make something out of it, I wouldn't really enjoy it. So I'm going to box it up and rehome it to someone who will enjoy and use it.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Pretty Please?

I want to add a blogroll to my blog.

But I do not know how.

If someone out there DOES know how, is it possible to explain it to me, or, depending upon who you are of course, can I just give you my username & password and you can get me started?


A Challenge

Okay, so I've knit the Alien Illusion scarf and it looks very cute; 8 spooky aliens peeking through the bars at me.

The only problem is that it is curling quite badly. The yarn it called for was Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, which I find itchy, and I couldn't find anything else in the required acid green, so it is made of Caron Simply Soft.

So I'm preparing all my knitting buddies whom I will see tonight: start thinking now because I need to figure out a way to save this scarf. Can I put a border on it, either knitted or crocheted? I have an extra black skein and an extra lime green skein.

It is not a time is of the essence issue because it's a Christmas present.


And just so everyone knows: I'm not trying to harvest comments or anything ;-) but I do have the blog set up so that you can leave a comment regardless of your Blogger status. You do not have to be a member to leave a comment for me. I do request that you put some sort of identifier on though so I can tell who you are.

And yes, in case you hadn't guessed, I am a total comment whore and love to get comments, so if you have something to say, SAY IT! ;-)


Tonight's project: working on the Malabrigo stole that I haven't had a chance to work on because I've been so busy with the commissioned granny square afghan. I think I have seen enough granny squares and black red heart to last me for a long time ;-)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Challenges to Myself

1. Only knit projects I really WANT to knit. Not just ones that someone else knitted. Not just ones that don't call for very much yarn. Not just ones for which I have the yarn already and don't have to buy. And not just ones that call for cheap yarn.

2. Do not buy yarn until I have a project in mind. If I just went and bought the yarn for a project and worked on the project, I could buy yarn I like and not be spending all that much. By keeping myself in the mindset that I must buy LOTS of yarn for as little money as possible, I'm chaining myself to a whole load of yarn that I don't particularly like.

3. Similarly, do not decide on projects based solely on price. And stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Red Heart may be cheaper than Cascade 220, but it is not nearly as nice to work with or to wear. I should have learned my lesson with the $2 Aran sweater that I spent weeks designing and carefully knitting, only to have it feel horrid and stretch all over the place the first time I wore it.

4. Only knit projects that look like they will be flattering. Unfortunately, that baggy sweater just isn't doing it, and it hangs down to my thighs. Bite the bullet and rip it. Quit making excuses about how it's finally done and it's better done than not done.

5. Stop stubbornly finishing projects that are not working out. Just because I spent $4 on yarn (ooooh, pricey) already, doesn't mean I should invest hours of my time in working it when I don't like it and I don't like the project.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A very fuzzy pillow.

Sneakily, stealthily, a whole bunch of single skeins and partial skeins of various novelty yarns were piling up in my stash. I had:

3 balls of Bernat Disco in brown
1 ball of Patons Pooch in pink
1 ball of Patons Divine in lavender
1/2 ball of Fun Fur in light blue
1 ball of Bernat Boa in purple
1 ball of Lion Chenille in purple

I decided, what the heck, they're all going together in one project. I was conveniently home sick for several days last week, so I piled up all of them and went to town making an ultry fuzzy granny square pillow.

It's not done yet, so no pictures. Sorry.

It was interesting using all of those yarns at once, as I got to try out several I had not used before. I found that the Patons Divine is very nice to work with, in general. Nicer than I figured it would be. It's not itchy but it does release some fuzzies. Patons Pooch makes for a super cute pebbled look (on the wrong side) but it is REALLY slow going to work with. All those little blobs catch on the hook. I think the round took me nearly an hour with that yarn (and would usually take me 15-20 minutes). But it does have a really cute effect when you finally get there! Bernat Disco looks like fun fur but glittery. It is really a lot harder to work with though. All that glittery stuff has almost a plasticky feel to it, it drags on the hook, squeaks once in a while, and is impossible to rip back.

Anyway, I had fun and it was nice to experiment with the yarns.

And an extra thank you to Laura, who sent them to me!

Friday, March 17, 2006

So this one's *really* going to the swap partner....

So call me evil, I just could NOT give up the kitty. He was so cute. I sat with him all day on my desk debating about whether or not to toss him in the envelope and I finally decided.....nope. I can't do it.

So yesterday I made this little hippo expressly FOR my swap partner, so I haven't had the chance to become attached to him, although he is AWFULLY adorable :-) Notice that he is wearing a scarf, as he is travelling to Peoria and it's still pretty cold there.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I have an excuse this time

Okay, so I would have had an entry up Monday or Tuesday but I was at home sick with the flu. Yucky.

On the plus side, I finished the doggone Alien Illusion Scarf. I told the Mister I hoped he didn't want one because it was a pain in the butt. I kind of stopped enjoying it after the 2nd alien, and there were 8. It isn't hard, just annoying. But it turned out way cute. Now the only problem is that it curls up a lot, so I'm going to probably add a border of some sort to try to flatten it out a bit.

And here is a picture of an amigurumi kitty cat I made for a swap with a friend. Isn't he cute? And in the background you can check out my new Marge Simpson-esque necklace made from seed pods of some sort. They look really heavy but they are hollow so they are really very light.

Friday, March 10, 2006

You just don't ignore a request from a pirate

So Long Laurel Silversmith has requested another blog entry, as apparently they do not appear fast enough for her. And here I thought I was doing good!

Let's see, project count.

1. (not) Padded Footlets from Cotton Surf yarn, about 2/3 done with one sock (the second sock).
2. beaded purple miser's purse, that I just haven't quite finished.
3. newly restarted feather & fan stole from purple & green Malabrigo, rescued from the Crapotis.
4. Alien Illusion Scarf, halfway done. And, as requested, a pic.

It's kind of a challenge to hold Mr. Alien on an angle so you can actually see him, because you need to then let go of something to click the mouse to start taking the picture. But I managed on the first try, so here is a picture of Mr. Alien, one of four aliens currently on the scarf. I'm a little stalled on him right now because I don't need him until Christmas. (Yes I'm one of those plan-ahead people).

5. Commissioned granny square afghan. A lady at work found a box of granny squares for an afghan that her aunt had started, but she can't see well enough to crochet anymore. So she has agreed to pay me by the hour to put black borders on the squares, join them together, and put a border on the afghan. Hopefully in time for her daughter's wedding in May.

Somehow my 1 project blossomed into 3 projects and now I have 5. Hmph. Maybe I can clean a couple of those up tonight.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Erk, Clapotis Not Working Out Well?

Okay. So the original Clapotis is made with a finer yarn and I made it with a thicker yarn. I still wanted it pretty wide so I decided to make fewer rows in the 'increase' section. So I should have plenty of yardage, because I have even a little more than what is called for.

Unfortunately, I have three problems. I have finished with one ball, so it should be about 1/3 of the total length. It's not looking it; I wanted it to be long enough to wrap around, but it doesn't look very long at all.

Secondly, the one edge is straight, and the other edge is all bunchy and weird.

Third, it's curling. I should know that stockinette will curl, but I figured something about the pattern would keep it from doing that. It's not; it's all curly and gross.

I started this post thinking I would look for advice, but now I think I have my answer. I think I'm just going to rip it out and make a different pattern. My yarn is so pretty and I don't want to waste it on a project I'm not enjoying. And I don't want to ruin it by ripping it over and over; it's already been ripped once because it wasn't working out.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

I Finally Got Tagged!!

Hee Hee; I got tagged and the 'tagger' didn't even know what she was doing :-) The game has been going around on blogs that you 'tag' someone and then they have to blog 5 weird things about themselves, and I was feeling left out :-)

1. I like lima beans. A lot. As in, I could make a meal out of lima beans. I will even eat a few straight out of the bag, still frozen.

2. I collect Jello molds; both the nice copper kind and the cheesy vintage fake copper kind (and those are really my favorites).

3. Although I can cook just about anything, my favorite thing to make for myself is Velveeta Shells & Cheese with the creepy orange goop-in-a-pouch.

4. I can't let the food on my plate touch. I will stick a piece of silverware under the plate to tilt it a little to contain the gravy if I have to.

5. I like cold canned peas. Straight out of the can. They just don't taste as good warm. My grandma always served peas cold, straight out of the can, but in a fancy bowl.

Why are all my weird things about food?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Me, the Sheep

Anytime there's a wildly popular project out, my first reaction is "Hmph. I'm not following along with all those sheep. I'm making my own thing."

Then, after a while, I see all the beautiful finished projects and suddenly I'm all "Waaaah, I wanna play TOO!"

This happened with Charlotte's Web (which was almost my undoing) and now again with Clapotis. I didn't want anything to do with it; I thought it was ugly and lame.

And now I really want it. I guess I'm just a late blooming sheep. Or a delayed-reaction sheep.

One thing though is I am definitely not using the recommended Lion and Lamb yarn. While it is soft, when I nuzzled my neck with it it just had the slightest hint of prickly to me (sensitive). Not to mention it's over $30 a skein and you need three. Ummm....I'm trying to break myself out of this whole Michael's-Joanns-Hobby Lobby rut and work with some nice yarns, but $100 is too much for a stole I am probably going to spill stuff on. The Malabrigio felt nicer to me and cost me under $40 for 3 skeins.

And hey, somebody please tag me so I can write 5 weird things about myself!