Category Archives: Knitting

There’s some buzz about the Mini Mania Scarf

This morning I got an awesome email from my best friend, letting me know that the infamous scarf has made it big – on Buzzfeed! That’s right, earlier this month the Mini Mania Scarf was featured in one of Buzzfeed’s pictorial “lists” – this time a tongue-in-cheek bit called 16 Scarves That Forgot How To Scarf. The hilarious sub-headline says, ” Seriously, scarves, you only have one job.”

Here is the scarf, in the illustrious number 13. position:

I really think Buzzfeed missed the mark, though, on scarves that forgot how to scarf. There are some really stellar knit and crocheted ones out there, like:

The Squid Scarf – getting stuck on you since 2007:

Or how about the crocheted scarves that can’t decide if they should be bacon and sushi?

And leave it to the Japanese to create the first-ever Boob Scarf, still being crafted over at BoobsRUs:

Thanks for the buzz, BuzzFeed!


It’s a Podcast with Moi! (courtesy of The Knotted Bag)

Diane from The Knotted Bag contacted me last week and asked if I wanted to be one of her first guests in her eponymously named podcast series. I of course said yes! because if there is one thing I like to do, it’s talk. 😉

Diane and I had a wonderful chat on Friday evening on Skype, chatting about our most recent knitting projects and generally just gabbing away the hour. To listen to the podcast directly you can check it out here on Libsyn and to listen to it on iTunes go here!

I hope you enjoy listening to it, and as always, happy knitting!

Two by two, hands of blue, cables make me want to scream

So, I am working on a Bigger on the inside shawl, to coincide with my watching of Doctor Who. It’s actually been going swimmingly, considering my propensity to get bored with what I’m knitting and walk away from a project for years on end.  A lace shawl finished in less than two months?! Inconceivable!

However, I’ve hit the first cables that make up the roofline of the Tardis and the instructions are so freaking unclear. Mainly this is because the designer doesn’t want you to knit these like regular cables, where you slide one stitch off, either to the back or front, and then come back to that stitch later. I can do that no problem. But her instructions call for keeping the stitches all on the same needle, and when I attempt that it comes out totally verkakte. This would all be made clear with a simple video somewhere, but does anyone on the internet have one? No. The best I can find use four stitches instead of two, or call it C2F instead of C2L, but a stitch dictionary I found online made it clear that these aren’t really interchangeable stitch terms, they are slightly different. Also, shouldn’t it be C4F if you are working four stitches, not 2? There is absolutely no standard for this term and so many “teachers” and “designers” online are using the terminology incorrectly I want to scream. Shoot me now. Also, I have a miserable cold so my patience is really low right now.

Ok, upon rereading the stitch dictionary I found online I discovered that the different between C2F and C2L appears to be that one version slips stitches and the other works them on the same needle, as this pattern calls for. Strangely enough, though, the term that calls for the stitches to be worked on one needle is C2F, while this pattern uses that definition for C2L. Do you see what I mean about no freaking standards? Makes me want to tear my hair out.

Thankfully, I did find an online tutorial that was a.) using two stitches for C2F, and was b.) knitting them the way that the designer for this pattern asks that they be knit, even if she’s using the wrong term according to others out there on the web. I’m sharing this video with all of you so that others don’t go through my personal torture. Now I’m going to go take another antihistamine.

UPDATE: Ok, so I tried to start the purl side of C2R and C2L and totally got confused. It was clearly way too late at night and I was too sick because I missed the directions entirely. Though the words didn’t really help at all. However, I found an obscure video about knitting 2-stitch Bavarian twists on the wrong side. At the end of the video, the teacher explains that these “twists can be turned into crosses” (aka C2L or C2R) by turning one knit stitch into a purl stitch. Perfect! Exactly what I was looking for. Though I did stop for a minute and think, “Wait, so does ‘C’ stands for ‘cross’ or ‘cable’? I’m so confused!” I personally followed Method A from the video and after doing it about three times along with the video I could remember it enough to do the two mock cables by myself. Just ignore her when she says to knit the first stitch – it’s always a purl stitch.

So the moral of this story? Sometimes in patterns, less is not more, more is more. After seeing those videos I could do the cables or twists all on one needle, no problem, but not being able to understand what I was doing was very difficult at first. Since these are pretty obscure techniques, in my opinion, more explanations upfront would have made this less of a hair-tearing experience.

“It’s that time of the year…when we drive ourselves mad…”

Face it – though the elections have just ended and Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, for knitters (and crocheters) everywhere, the faint sound of jingle bells can already be heard on the horizon. So it’s time for a refresher course on one of my favorite subjects – Selfish Knitting: A Study in Yarnworthiness.

Now you might think this is is a topsy-turvy concept when we are approaching a holiday season where everyone is celebrating the gift of love and sharing and all that jazz, but the concept of Selfish Knitting is not, really, after all, about being selfish. For me, being a Selfish Knitter is about doing what I love to do, and valuing my self worth. One year, I was entirely happy to knit 45 garter stitch scarves and then donate them all to the local Food Shelter as part of my church’s mitten and scarf tree. Now, this may not float everyone’s boat, and some might think I’m crazy, but for me that year, it was great, mindless entertainment. Would I do it again? Probably not. But who knows – if the spirit moved me I might do something fun like that again.

The key to Selfish Knitting is this: Selfish Knitting is about making something with love and joy in your heart, not bitterness and regret. Will you be happy to make a shawl that your grandmother will treasure in her twilight years? Will you be unhappy if you make a scarf and hat set for your benighted cousin who last year gave the lap blanket you knit her to the dog? (True story.) These are the important questions we must ask ourselves here.

So before you go all creative on me and buy a crapton of yarn that you simply MUST KNIT AS GIFTS or feel the GUILT OF OVERSTASHING, or decide you HAVE TO KNIT SOMETHING STUPENDOUS AND DIFFICULT because you OWE HER/HIM/THEM/IT SOMETHING GOOD, it’s time to determine Who Is Yarnworthy.

Knitwear designer Franklin Habit has graciously turned some of the basic Yarnworthy questions of yore into a lovely visual aid (just like those teenage magazine questionnaires we pored over in middle school!), so instead of a boring list of questions I’ll just let you all peruse the glory of the flowchart. And take notes. And find yourself a knitting needle to whack yourself with if you start straying.

To get started, just substitute “Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule/Whatever-mas” for “Birthday” in the chart below:
Let’s all try to spread a little love instead of a lotta heartache this winter – be a Selfish Knitter with me! (And yes, we have a group.)


Gallery Walk: More favorite Mini Mania projects!

As I have mentioned before, I love looking through the project pages on Ravelry and seeing what other people’s interpretations of the same patterns are. I decided it was time for another gallery walk through the Mini Mania project gallery! Just like my first gallery walk, below are nine different projects that caught my eye for one reason or another.  Enjoy!

I love lupes2’s version of the Mini Mania scarf! She shows how gorgeous the linen stitch effect can look in a color palette that only uses only a few colors.
EarthenKnit goes beautifully pastel with this Easter egg styled confection of a scarf. The pink and turquoise in it really makes it pop and I love seeing the nubbly texture of the purl side in this photograph.
Minabear says this scarf she knit saved her sanity during her first semester at grad school. Her creative idea to make a ruffle at one end was achieved by knitting 2 rows in garter, then on the right side k2 and yo to the end, thereby increasing her number of stitches by a third to make a sweet, feminine, ruffly bit of fabric at the end. The best part? Ruffles use up loads of yarn!
karebearbw made a lovely, dark-colored scarf in the blue-purple range, using a splash of orange her and there to mix it up a bit. She knit her scarf on size 8 needles to make her fabric less dense. This is a great thing to do if you are a tight knitter.
Hey, who said dogs can’t get into the action too! I love the look on MadMartiKnits cocker spaniel’s face – clearly he is used to being tortured as a decorative object. Marti’s scarf is a lovely collection of bright, happy colors.
Peacerebel didn’t like changing colors in every row, she she made sure to knit at least three rows in one color before making the shift. This resulted in a scarf that has a gentle transition and creates a great striped effect.
Mushroom’s fall-colored scarf is perfect for wrapping around your neck before heading out to jump in the leaves! She tied off the fringe in groups of five to create a braided edge and did a great job – I love the color combinations!
What do you do when you have too many sock yarn minis? You make a Mini Mania scarf! soletluna said she knit this drapey scarf because she couldn’t wear her Beekeepers Quilt quite as easily! Now that she has this scarf, the same beautiful colors can go everywhere with her.
Bakergirljenn is my last one of the evening, and the sentiment behind it is enough to make you tear up. Her scarf is not only gorgeous, but it was a high school graduation gift for her daughter, who helped her dye 6 of the yarns used in it when she was still in middle school! What a lovely heirloom.

Pinning the Protest: One blog (and news story) at a time

Join me on Pinterest where I am pinning the ongoing story of the US Olympic Committee’s offensive cease and desist letter that offended a community of crafters 2 million strong. As of this posting, the US Olympic Committee has issued a somewhat weak apology – while they hinted that they still want Ravelympics removed to protect their trademark, they would love if crafters would make things for the US Olympics and send them in.  Try to resist knitting Molotov cocktails, folks.

Update: The US Olympic Committee has updated their original weak apology with a second apology to re-emphasize the fact that they regret the use of their “insensitive terms” (and the idiotic thought that all crafty people just love making things for complete strangers) toward a group that clearly didn’t intend to  “denigrate or disrespect” the Olympic Games. Please note that they did not say that their form letter is condescending and needs to be entirely revamped (really, how many “lympic” activities do you know of that are doing it as a screw you to the Olympic Games?). Also, they still stand by the fact that they have “an obligation” to protect their trademark.


Knittas Gonna Knit: Ravelympics 2012

Gallery Walk: Favorite Mini Mania projects

One of the best things about writing and publishing a pattern is getting to see what everyone knits! I love looking through the project pages on Ravelry and seeing what other people’s interpretations were, and how they like their handknits. It’s sort of like listening to five different people play the same piece of music – all are beautiful and yet sound totally unique. Today while I was wandering through the project gallery for the Mini Mania Scarf it occurred to me that maybe you guys would like to see some of the projects that have caught my eye, too. Now, there are a ton of gorgeous scarves that I like, so while I can’t share them all with you, I will show you a few of my favorites.

BadAmy’s scarf is so awesome – I love the  lime green / pea green color that somehow, with all of those other crazy colors in there, looks absolutely fabulous.
I really enjoy the braided fringe on woolangel’s classic version of the Mini Mania Scarf, which creates a very polished look, in my mind. My original skinny scarf has this braided look and I really enjoy it.
Take a classic and turn it rainbow-iffic. That’s what Possum did with her terrific scarf, which she carefully color-coordinated in ROYGBIV order after hand-dyeing her miniskeins with food colors.
Mrsmoodswing did something unusual to the end of her pretty in pink scarf, adding a treble crochet border along each edge, along with some buttons. I love her skinny look and the way it’s wrapped multiple times around the neck as well.
There’s no need to go big with this scarf, as Nanolam proves with her “little man” sized kid’s scarf in all greens. If you check out her project page, she reveals the way to get a squirmy little boy to sit still for a few moments while photographing – give him the remote to the TV! Hahaha.
KristenJ’s Wild and Tweedy version of the scarf got it’s light and colorful look through a careful alteration of sock yarn strands. She worked one row of each, in a pattern alternating two darks and two lights. Isn’t that fabulous?
You’ve gotta love Ahawry’s pastel version of the Mini Mania scarf as well. She achieved her vibrant and bright variation but combining neon-colored and white yarns together to create an light garment with unexpected POP!
And I love marionb69’s scarf, which achieved that lovely “painted watercolor” effect that portions of my scarf occasionally achieved, which she says she got using “Viele, viele bunte Reste” (many many colorful remnants).
Last but not least, if you are looking to see who wins the “epic” war then you’re come to the right place, because the winner is bb03aav, otherwise known as Anastasia, who got crazier than me and knit herself a 4,000+ yard scarf that she calls a “mini blanket.” You have to click and check out the full-size photos!

I Found Myself a TARDIS and Other Yarny Stories

Bigger on the Inside by Kate Atherley

This month a great indie pattern designer released the most amazing pattern on Knitty. Bigger On The Inside by Kate Atherley is a beautiful ode to Doctor Who and his fabulous blue box of a time machine, the TARDIS. I saw this shawl and knew immediately that I had to make my own. However, there is one important thing you must know about me.

I HATE BLUE. I like blue-green, like aquas, turquoise, and teal, and I enjoy blue-purple, like indigo, midnight and blurple. But plain old royal or cornflower blues? Gag me with a spoon. This could be a problem, of course, when you want to create an ode to a Blue Box. Yes, definitely an issue.

Don’t worry, however. I have already solved this highly traumatizing dilemma. You see, there have been many Doctors. And it is interesting to note that there have been almost as many different TARDIS machines disguised as vintage blue police telephone boxes from the 1960s as there have been actors playing the Doctor. Apparently the props department isn’t that good with continuity. Which works well for me!

You see, I fell in love with the Doctor during his more recent incarnation in the 2000s when I was in grad school, and that Doctor (or Doctors, since it was both 9 and 10) had a box that wasn’t so much as blue as it was a lovely dirty teal color. I believe it started getting this more authentic, dirty blue color in the 80s, and continued that way through the 2000s, when David Tennant had his grand run at playing Doctor Who. Currently the blue box has gone back to being a more shiny, clean bright blue color, but I choose to ignore that fact when watching the show.

My point to all of this backstory is that I have found the MOST PERFECT color of blue to make my own TARDIS shawl! It will be, naturally, an ode to the dirty teal-blue TARDIS I adore, and I think it will look very nice on me. If only I was more of a nerd and had a Comic Con or scifi event I could wear it at. Alas, I am not so once I make this shawl it will be a nice winter scarf to wear with my black pea coat, and only those “in the know” will get my tongue-in-cheek grown-up joke about the Doctor and the TARDIS.

Anyways, now that I’ve tracked down the two skeins I need for the shawl I can reveal the yarn to you, since it is no longer a state secret. I have purchased two skeins of Vampy Karma Sock in Midnight Cowboy, which matches my favorite Doctor’s box PERFECTLY. And I like that the name happens to coincide with 11’s penchant for hats.

Stash image courtesy danirobins on Ravelry

Fibres by Vampy is a lovely little indie dyer from the UK who was a fellow swapper on Ravelry. She no longer dyes, which makes this yarn even harder to come by, so you can only imagine how tickled I was to be able to locate two of the same skeins! I really love her yarns – I have a pair of socks knit out of one of her bases – and so I can’t wait to knit this latest yarn up into a proper TARDIS shawl.

I must confess that since Doctor Who finished up its season last winter,  is not on tv right now, and won’t be back until the fall, I’ve been going through a bit of withdrawal. The solution, is not, as you might think, to rewatch old episodes of Doctor Who that you have seen multiple times by now. Oh no, that is a very bad idea, in fact, because it only makes you miss the show more. Much like if you have an addiction to alcohol it is most likely a bad idea to go sit in a bar and watch other people drink it.

Time and Relative Dimensions in Space

So instead, I am feeding my little pining over the Doctor with some new creatively made projects, like the aforementioned shawl. My other project was some new Doctor Who stitch markers, which I really am quite in love with. meet Exchanging Fire‘s brand new Time and Relative Dimensions in Space set, a simple set of iridescent fire-polished glass beads that are reminiscent of the colors of the TARDIS as it must look spinning through the universe and streaking between comets and clouds. If you saw the episode of Doctor Who called “The Doctor’s Wife” you’ll understand the conversation below perfectly:

Idris: Time and Relative Dimension in Space. Yes that’s it. Names are funny. It’s me. I’m the TARDIS.
The Doctor: No you’re not! You’re a bitey mad lady. The TARDIS is up-and-downy stuff in a big blue box.
Idris: Yes, that’s me. A type 40 TARDIS. I was already a museum piece when you were young. And the first time you touched my console, you said—
The Doctor: I said…you were the most beautiful thing I’d ever known.
Idris: Then you stole me. And I stole you.
The Doctor: I borrowed you.

Happy New Year (and other fun news)!

I hope everyone had as happy of a new year as I did! Well, I nearly always have a happy new year, since New Year’s Day is my birthday. It’s like there’s a built-in party for me the night before my birthday every year!  However, I must say that this New Year’s Eve and Day was especially nice, as I had friends helping me celebrate it in style with a huge party and dancing and eggs benedict and balloons and men in drag and cupcakes and even a toaster oven (I love my new toaster oven)!

It's everywhere!!!

So, there’s some fun new stuff on the horizon this year that I’m really excited about and wanted to share with you.  Or give you teasers about, since this post is just a short burst of information. First off, I discovered two awesome things – my last ever shipment of yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon arrived yesterday and it was nommy and delicious and tinged with bittersweet regret. I will be sharing pictures with you sometime the next week or so of the new yarns, I promise. Also, my Mini Mania Scarf pattern was both the featured pattern of the day on The Daily Knitter  and was a “best of 2011” stashbusting idea at The Knitter’s blog!

If you haven’t stopped by the Mini Mania knitalong we have going on over on Ravelry, you’ll have to poke your head in sometime soon. I’m “knitting along” in the KAL with the other ladies (I don’t think any gents have joined us yet, so I’m safe saying lay-dees) and we’re all having fun looking at each other’s miniskeins and progress on our projects. I didn’t want to leave our cowls lovers out in the cold,  so I just started making a sweet cowl that will eventually become a companion pattern to the Mini Mania Scarf. Which reminds me, I need to take a photo of the minis I am using!

And that leads me to another exciting new year’s goodie. I got a brand new camera this Christmas, and I can’t wait to share all the uber-techy details with you (and loads of pretty pictures too, I swear)!  More on that will be in another blog post this month, but yippee! I’m excited about my new toy.

Last but not least, I bit the bullet and decided to get myself an official newsletter mailing list so that I keep keep all of you better informed of what’s going on in the Exchanging Fire circle. If you are interested in getting shop updates, pattern premieres, special deals and more supercool information like that from me, you can sign up here! I promise only to email you when something terribly important is going on and I’m having kittens* because I’m bursting from the news.

*No kittens were harmed or birthed in this metaphor, unless you count that weird dream I had three years ago about my best friend giving birth to kittens. That one really freaked. me. out.

Hexipuffs. Hexipuffs. What What the Hexipuffs.

I keep forgetting to post about the hexipuffs that I have finished knitting so far. I have had some of them done for a week or so but I haven’t gotten around to photographing and writing about it. I’m really thrilled with how little yarn these are using – I’ve been able to get exactly 4.5 hexipuffs out of two miniskeins of the same colorway. I had the same yarn in another colorway that blended enough to finish that 5th off without a discernible difference. The yarn I’ve used so far is Zwerger Opal Garn in Zirkus and Hundertwasser, and I really love the colors and striping effects going on.

Third Hexipuff in Opal Zirkus

I knit my puffs using both the s2k and the ssk directions in the pattern, and I’ve found that the s2k creates a much cleaner line. It’s slightly hard to grasp the instructions at first, but they are super easy (basically just k2tog backwards) and are worth learning because they make my hexipuffs look so much nicer. Also, I am not a crocheter, and try to avoid wielding the hook when I can, so I am using the kitchener bind-off – which I am in love with. It’s so pretty!

img. 1: S2K (left) & SSK (right) Methods; img. 2: Kitchener Bind-Off

I’m leaving the tails on at both the beginning and the end of the puffs because I’m going to weave the hexagrams together their corners, just like Stephanie did with her quilt ties.  That will make a nice floppy blanket that is still held together well, but without the obviousness of different yarn ties. All of my hexipuffs are coming in at a weight of 3 grams each, both stuffed and unstuffed. I have lightly stuffed mine, so there is probably less than a half-gram difference between the two weights. Oh, and they are about 2.75 inches across at their widest point, and 2.5 inches tall.