Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Hard Way

I can't believe it's been so long since I posted. Warning: Skip down a ways for actual knitting content. I had a spring cleaning injury, and then blogger wouldn't let me post yesterday. If anyone's wondering, they are NOT kidding about that "lift with your knees, not with your back" thing. So the desk in the bedroom is only half cleared off (I actually use it more as a bookholder than a desk, and have decided to get rid of it). When two packrats get married, the effect of each person's packrat tendencies is more than's squared, because each person encourages the other:

Packrat 1: "Honey, are we ever going to use (random item that's never been used)?"
Packrat 2: "Well, it's perfectly good, and you never know. (Insert hypothetical situation in which said item would come in handy)"
Packrat 1: "Okay, I'll just cram it in the closet with the other potentially useful things."

This applies to everything from the chess set under the bed (neither of us plays chess, but we do think it would be a neat thing to do someday) to books we might re-read to sample-sized toiletries (I have enough exfoliating products to open a spa) to the gift wrap shelf in the closet. We have stuff *everywhere*, and purging it has become my mission. The problem is that the chaos is not contained in discrete's all interconnected. So when I want to get rid of the desk, I have to find somewhere to put all the books it was holding. To do that, I have to clear some space in another bookshelf. Then I have to make room in the closet for a box of books. So I'm sticking to one small area at a time, or trying to. Maybe I'll be done by next spring. I did unearth a lot of clothes I'd forgotten I had when I cleaned out my dresser. It was like shopping, but for free.

Knitting: Nearing the end of my first Jaywalker, part 2. I haven't ripped back T-Twist yet. Maybe after I finish one sock and haven't yet come to grips with the fact that I need to knit another of the exact same thing. Elizabeth, I envy your seamstress's knowledge. My first contact with garment construction came with my knitting--I've never sewn anything but a fallen-off button. I'm learning, but I still trust, to a great extent, that the designer made the pattern with appropriate garment construction. After Tempting II and now this, I know I can't always do that. String Bean, the decrease is every other row. What ReluctantMANGO noticed right off the bat with the pattern is that it needs to be two single decreases, not a double decrease. I wish I'd realized that, too, but I suppose eventually I'll become more intuitive with things like this. Now that I'm looking more closely at the photos in the pattern, I'm noticing the poof a bit. The good thing is that the more I have the finished top lying around, the more I love my accidental color pattern. So I know I'll love it when the poof is gone.

Reading: I finished the Agatha Raisin, and really enjoyed it. Fun mystery, not horribly obvious solution, but not out of left field either, excellent characters, and quaint village charm. It's the first in this MC Beaton series, and I will be looking for more. Knit Pastis, I'm glad you enjoy my book commentary :) I'm reading another fluffy book, Full Scoop by Janet Evanovich and Charlotte Hughes. It's kind of like an action movie with a lot of humor and some romance. There are a few in this series, and they're cute. Nice for summer reading.

Writing: So, I officially missed my deadline for Chapter 5. At least there's no one to fire me over it. Circumstances just conspired against me, so I've decided I have until this Friday. But then I need to bust out Chapter 6 quickly after that. Maybe a weekend "retreat".

Cooking: We made Pasta Geronimo last night. It was lovely. We made it with fresh mozzarella balls this time, instead of shredded mozzarella. My husband didn't think it made much of a difference, and I think I agree. It's good either way, if I do say so myself. We have morels and asparagus from the farmer's market, which I think I'll make tonight. I like to roast asparagus, tossed with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, at 400 degrees for (I think) about 8 minutes, or until tender. I had never had morels before moving to Wisconsin, and asked at the farmer's market how to prepare them the first time. The universal answer was "dredge in flour, fry in butter." Mmm...healthy. But we only do this once a year, and they are so good.

This isn't directly a cooking comment, but our cats like some people food. And they are incorrigible beggars, because, well, we usually give them stuff. It's entirely our fault. Geronimo has been known to steal pizza crust and run off with it. He's all about the carbs. And salt. Once, frustrated with his begging, I held out a cookie and said, "Look, you don't even like oatmeal cookie!" Wrong. He's also enjoyed Ritz and Triscuits. Mirando is our dairy cat. I know many adult cats are lactose intolerant, but he definitely is not. He knows the sound of me making cereal in the morning, and comes in for a small saucer of milk. He knows the sound of the toaster, and comes in for a bit of cream cheese from my husband's bagel (Geronimo likes the cream cheese, too). When Matt's making a ham or turkey sandwich, they can always be found in the kitchen. The other day, I discovered that Mirando likes Laughing Cow (processed cheese spread stuff). A lot. And yesterday, I ran out of regular flavor and had garlic and herb on bread for breakfast. Yes, Mirando likes garlic and herb flavored Laughing Cow. Hysterical. And before people express concern for the health of the boys, we're not bad kitty parents! They only get small tastes of things, and only occasionally.

After someone searched for "how to make a yarn ball" to end up on my blog, I decided to document my next skein-into-a-ball. I'm sure there are better methods out there, but I'll add mine to the world. I don't have room for a ball winder and swift, and I don't know any different, so winding balls is not a big deal to me. It's just part of knitting Rowan, Lorna's Laces, and handpainted yarn. It takes a lot of time, so put in a good movie if you have several balls to wind. I drape the hank around my knees to do this. If you sit up very straight and contract your ab muscles, you can get a nice little toning workout as you move slightly from side to side, unwinding the yarn from the hank around your knees.

First, I drape the yarn over my hand with a nice long tail hanging down my palm. This is your center-pull strand, and I usually make it 8-12 inches long. You're going to be making a figure eight (around your thumb and index finger) with the yarn. This picture shows the first half (I know you love the random blurry apartment shots in the background):

Now I'm completing the figure eight. The center pull strand is still hanging down.

Keep wrapping in this same way until it starts to get bulky:

Now pull the figure eight carefully off your finger and thumb. Fold it in half, with the center pull strand at the bottom.

Keeping your thumb over your center pull strand, begin wrapping the yarn around your folded-over figure eight. Your thumb is still over the center pull strand.

Turn the ball 90 degrees and begin wrapping.

Continue turning the ball slightly and winding the yarn around. Try to keep it in a reasonable ball shape by turning and wrapping as needed. I usually wind several times, rotate the ball slightly, and repeat. When you're nearly out of yarn, tuck in the end of the yarn.

Congratulations! You now have a slightly wonky, yet functional, center-pull ball. Give the center pull strand a tug. Go on, you know you want to. Now, back to knitting.


Rain said...

I never throw anything away either. I really must have a clear out. Hope the back doesn't give you too much trouble.

Hope second sock syndrome doesn't kick in too heavily.

Tim said...

So, I officially missed my deadline for Chapter 5. At least there's no one to fire me over it.

That's what you think. You're fired :)

Kel said...

thanks for the center-pull pics! I have yet to do this but it looks easy!

Rachel said...

Oh my gosh, my cat is a carboholic too! A loaf of bread is his dream meal. He'll eat oreos, dinner rolls, anything. In fact, a couple weeks ago we realized we'd accidentally left a chocolate donut on the counter and we haven't seen it since...I think he may have polished off the whole thing.

As for the T-Twist, when I have to redo something I try to tell myself that getting something wrong and then right is a sign I've learned something new and gotten better at knitting. It doesn't always help when I'm mid-frog, but overall I think it's a good way to look at it.

String Bean said...

I'm a pack rat, too. You could open a spa. I could have an estate sale of weird eccentric crap. Want a stuffed baby rattlesnake? An ancient cupie doll? A plaster boot? Some driftwood? A billion seashells? I got it.

Sophie loves to lick out yogurt containers when we finish eating. Of course, I'm sure she'd like to eat the whole container of yogurt.

You wind a really nice ball of yarn! I can't wind a nice ball of yarn, which is why I have a ball winder. Ha ha! I like the muscle toning/ball winding exersize.

mle said...

Wow! that is so cool....I had no idea you could make your own center pull yarn ball! I was starting to seriously contemplate buying the winder and swift...but so much money, eek! I'm going to try this on my next hank of yarn that needs winding. Thanks!

Marie said...

Thanks for the center-pull ball tutorial! I don't have a swift and whats-it and have mostly relied on my chair to make old-fashioned wound balls of yarn. Now I too can have a nifty center pull ball of yarn! Yay! :) (My former roomie's cats loved the bread rolls I bought from a particular bakery. If I so much as leave them unattended for a second, they would run off with them. If they found me eating the rolls, endless begging with giant pleading eyes and much head-butting would ensue. )

KnitPastis said...

You rock!! I am going to be referring back to this center pull photos!!!! Your my hero!

Kate said...

Throwing stuff out is really hard to do. I'm always moaning at #1 son - he has a bread roll from a holiday in Majorca years ago -that is just about mummified - when I realise I'm just as bad myself. I found Flylady ( be a great help. It's a bit gung-ho but it does work if you stick to it. However, she does think "craft stuff" is clutter. How wrong is she? This is not clutter, this is vital to life - like oxygen, or water, or pasta.

Rachel said...

this is a totally different rachel, but i just wanted to say thank you for this tutorial. i had a skein of yarn that was driving me nuts with having to flip it over, and this helped so much. i can't believe i got it right the first time! it even looks like a ball and not some lump!!!

so, thanks again from this newbie crocheter. :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for the skein ball directions- I just started learning how to knit yesterday and my 1 year old thought that my yarn was a great play thing- and started unrolling the whole thing... sigh. I'm off to go make my ball :-)and then I must find a higher safer spot for my yarn :-)


Amber/Rayne said...

Thanks for this. I found it while googling how to unwind a hank of yarn. I had a huge catastrophe wit hlace wieght yarn in a hank and apparently not finding the right end? I'm sad it was pretty yarn too!

howie said...

to sum up, in a word...