Saturday, February 23, 2008

How Cool is That?

knitPro. My new favorite tool.

One of the things I want to do for a few people I'll be seeing in September at RAW is knit or crochet custom dishcloths. I want to add words and/or images, but I had no idea how to go about getting custom charts online.

Ravelry to the rescue! I browsed their forums thinking that I'm certainly not the only person with this kind of thing in mind. That's how I found the link to knitPro. It only accepts picture formats (gif, jpeg, png), but that was okay because I just opened Paint under my computer's Accessories menu and used the text function. Saved that to my comp, then browsed it with knitPro's web app and voila! A chart just for me.

With knitPro, you can customize the chart for your project. For example, cross stitch and tapestry crochet (which is basically intarsia for hookers) use 1:1 ratio graphs for stitches that are completely square. But knitting charts are different because knit stitches are taller than they are wide. If you want to make a chart for knitting, knitPro lets you choose either a 5:7 ratio for portrait or 7:5 for landscape. It's groovy.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Felted Purse: By the Numbers

I'm making a felted purse. The body of it is knit in the round. (I'll post the pattern after I finish it.) The thing about felting is that it shrinks a lot vertically but not so much horizontally. This means that if I want my bag to be roughly 13 inches deep, I have to knit 19.5 inches of unfelted stockinette. The math works out to 18,720 stitches total. That's assuming I don't make it deeper. That does not include the two-strand I-Cord straps I have planned or the flap I want to make if I have enough yarn.

And since it's in the round, all the stitches are knit. No sweet purls to break up the monotony. The perk is that I don't have to actually be looking at it constantly to do it. I wonder what the dentist will think tomorrow when I take my mind off the sound of that evil drill by closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and knitting.

I crunched some more numbers. I timed myself the other day and it takes me six minutes to knit one row. This includes shifting stitches along the circular needle, pulling lengths of yarn from the skein, and the slow-during-the-show, faster-during-the-commercials rhythm of knitting while watching a show on the History channel. Not a speed-knitting trial, just a real-life situation.

At six minutes a row for 117 rows (six rows per inch), the total knitting time for JUST THE BODY of the bag, not counting the bottom, straps, or flap, is eleven and a half hours. Add in about two hours for swatching, three hours for the bottom, four hours for the flap (I'm planning some cables for it), two for the straps (I'll be using size 9 dpns and holding two strands of wool together), an hour for felting and shaping, and two hours for pattern planning and writing, and I will have a one-of-a-kind hand-knit fulled purse for 25.5 hours of work.

Yarn cost for 4 skeins of Paton's Classic Merino was $12. They were on sale. Oh, and the size seven bamboo circular needle I used was $8.99.

Knitting is a learned skill. It takes time to learn how, of course, but even more time to truly get a feel for the art. I've just barely scratched the surface. I know enough to make a purse, sure, but that is basically a big box. But even for that, I had to have a little more than the basic knowledge of how to knit to write a pattern that works out well.

But let's say that it's a minumum wage job. At Wisconsin minimun wage, $6.50, the labor cost would be $165.75. Add in yarn and needle cost and the total cost of the purse is (rounded to the nearest dollar) $187.

Of course, I don't knit as fast as a "professional" would or someone who has been knitting for years and years. And designing, knitting, felting, and using this bag will give me hours of thinking, relaxing, anticipation, and satisfaction (in that order). Knitting is a social thing for me, so I don't often knit alone. Knitting with my group slows my speed because it's not just about the knitting, it's about the hanging out and chatting.

So while the monetary worth of this purse is close to two hundred dollars, keeping it for my own and having the knowledge and satifation that I designed it, made it, and am enjoying the fruits of my labor is (prepare for cheesy sentiment):


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Maori Haka

The Maori are the native people of New Zealand. They are a proud and fierce culture and are very well known for their extensive traditional tattoos. Something else they are known for is the haka, a form of dancing that most people recognize as the war dance and chant performed by Maori warriors before a battle to intimidate their enemies and invoke their god of war.

Today, most people know the haka as made famous by the All Blacks, New Zealand's rugby union team, who perform it before all international matches. Here are some cool videos of the hunky rugby players:

This last one is utterly adorable. I showed it to one of my favorite authors, Nalini Singh, and she loved it so much she posted it on her blog.

Here's a translation of the All Blacks' traditional haka chant.

Pretty neat, huh?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wet Wool Stinks

I felted a swatch of Paton's Merino and it's STINKY. I was going to do it in the sink, but it stunk too much. I ended up putting it in a plastic container with hot water and some soap and just shook it for a while. It worked like a charm, didn't make the house smell like wet wool, and I didn't have to worry about burning my hands with hot water splashing during agitation.

I got four skeins of Paton's Classic Merino in Denim on clearance at Michael's for three dollars a skein:
I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to do with it, but it will be felted. Some sort of purse. Messenger bag, maybe.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Care Packages to Soldiers

I haven't done this yet. I was going to do the 6x9 rectangle thing, but that was so...detatched. It wasn't really personal, you know?

Well, I was chatting on the message board I'm constantly at and someone told us about a wonderful website:

AnySoldier is not a middleman where you send stuff and they send it on. It is a place that brings together many military "contacts", men and women who are stationed overseas. These contacts provide their mailing address and a list of what to send. When they get a package with the line "Attn: AnySoldier" below the contact's name on the mailing label, they give the package to one of their men/women who does not receive or infrequently receives mail.

I think this is a fantastic idea. I can send things directly to specific people who will see that the useful and fun things I sent will be recieved by someone whose day will be brightened in an otherwise gloomy situation. I am SO doing this!

Monday, February 4, 2008


I figure here is as good a place as any to keep track of my knitting and crochet projects. It's easy to access, stored in internet space instead of my harddrive, and is in a format my computer-challenged brain can understand.

Yes, ladies, I am avoiding Ravelry. It will become another form of online crack. I already have enough of those. *wink*

Anyway, I am actually going to post pictures this time around. My biggest current WIP (work in progress for all you non-knitters) is a hooded poncho for Peanut. It is one of the few patterns on Lion Brand's free pattern index that is truly worth knitting.
I'm knitting it in bulky purple cotton that I had tons of. Well, I no longer have tons of it. The poncho ate it up. All I have left to knit on this is the hood and the pocket, then can seam the aforementioned hood and block the whole thing. I'm skipping the pocket because it would be one more place for Peanut to hide things like food pieces. I figure this will be nice for the summer when it is cool enough for a sweater or when we're in a place that's a littel chilly, like a store or something.

Another WIP is a crochet log cabin baby blanket for my sister. It was a "good fertility vibes" project because she and her husband were trying to get pregnant and it must have worked because she is indeed pregnant! I'm looking forward to being an auntie. She's already calling me for advice and info. It's awesome. The blanket is made out of a bulky called Stylecraft Charleston, a yarn I got when Three Kittens changed owners and had a big sale.
It's not my favorite project, but I'm determined. It's soft and fuzzy and machine washable, so it's nice for a baby project. Also, the nice thing about crocheting a log cabin as opposed to knitting one is that it is completely reversible.

WIP #3 is a crocheted shawl using a lovely dark blue Trekking that has light blue in it every once in a while. I'm enjoying working with it. Here's a picture of the shawl I found online:
As soon as I finish the shawl, which is a gift for a dear friend, the remainder of the Trekking will be used for baby socks. If I'm gonna finally knit socks, I want to spoil myself from the get-go with nice yarn.

Me = FiberSnob. And I've made peace with that.

An ongoing thing I'm doing is cotton things to sell in June. Long story. I decided to do some Swiffer covers:
My colors are different, but that's the basic pattern I'm using. The Ball band pattern from Sugar N Cream cotton is simple enough to memorize and be easy but not so boring as to be a drag to knit. I'm enjoying these, especially since I finally got buttons.

I have some projects in mind to cut down on my stash. Said stash is organized, but I need to really consider what to do with it all. Because of my new status as an expecting auntie, I of course have tons of baby projects in mind, like this one:
Is that not the cutest little bathmitt ever? Peanut needs one, too. So two of these are in my personal queue.