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Milwaukee Knit Chick

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I survived the move, and am now living in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin.I think I may change the blog name so that to reflect the move, and adhere to at least one of the necessary knit blog rules. Any ideas, oh 2 people on the internet that actually read this thing?

Its been difficult staying with the kids here, while Andy continues to work in Minnesota. But one of us has to have a job locally before that can change.  I may end up working in marketing if I can’t find any business analyst jobs in the area. It’d be a real change, that’s for sure!

Before the move we took the kids to the Como Zoo one last time, and I noticed some really cool handknits in the gift shop. I brazenly took some pictures, and I think I may try to figure out a pattern for a few of them.

I’d just love to make a llama hat for my friend Heidi’s twin girls. She’s nuts about llamas. Don’t ask.

A few monkeys followed us home from the zoo too, but they don’t eat much.

A lot has been going on in knitting news. I convinced my sister to try knitting and…she’s totally addicted. When I heard her say “just let me finish this row” the other day, I knew she was hooked. She picked it up really fast, and her first projects looked damn good for a beginner. She even got excited about buying kitchen cotton on sale at Michael’s yesterday. (FYI, its on sale for a $1!) It’s so exciting to have someone to talk about knitting with!

Also, I have had a lot more time to knit since quitting my job. The kids do take up a lot of my time, but I have had time to knit every day. I’m working really hard at finishing my socks I started back when dinosaurs walked the earth in December. I’m about 80% finished with the second one, and I know I will love wearing them, but sock knitting just takes so long! I would love nothing more than to have enough handknit socks to wear a different pair each day of the month, but at the rate I make them, it could take a decade to get to that point. I’m making myself finish them before I use  3 skeins of delicious Misti Alpaca worsted to make something for myself.

I did manage to hook up with some ladies in the Waukesha area of the Milwaukee burbs for a Stich N’ Bitch recently. I dragged my knitting-virgin sister along. (That’s how I convinced her to try knitting, that I couldn’t go alone, so she just had to at least know how to knit a washcloth. Mwuahahaha!) We went to a little bistro called Sprizzo’s and met a really nice group of knitters. I didn’t enjoy my sandwich, and the beer was kind of pricey, so I will try to eat before I go next time. Its not an established SNB, so everyone was either a stranger or casual acquaintance that had met through Ravelry. Got to see a bunch of interesting projects, but I didn’t really feel comfortable taking pictures for the ol’ blog, as I barely knew anyone. Maybe next time. It’d be nice to meet some knitters closer to where I live too.

One of the ladies agreed to bring some tools along to our next SNB and show us how to make stitch markers. I’ve always wanted to know how to make them, but I don’t want to go out and buy the wrong tools. It’ll be a lot of fun to see one made first-hand.


Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

June 20, 2009 at 12:32 am

Wierding out strangers since 2008…

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So I had a knit moment today.

It was unexpected and a very strange place to have a knit moment.

We went to the indoor waterpark today to celebrate our oldest son’s birthday. He’s turning 8 tomorrow and he loves to run around in the community center pool. It has a sort of water playground area for younger children where they can run around and splash without having to actually swim.

So I’m sitting on the sidelines with the baby (who by the way loved splashing like a little otter in the pool) and I notice a woman walking around taking pictures of her kid’s birthday party. She’s not in a swimsuit, but is instead wearing warm winter clothes despite the very warm and moist environment of the room. As she comes closer, the sweater she is wearing catches my eye. It has a beautiful range of colors in large blocks of stripes, and has intarsia snowflakes at the bottom, and intarsia pine trees at the yoke. All in all, the sweater is made out of AWESOME.

I discreetly squint at her from across the room, trying to work out how the little pine trees are knit and placed. It was so humid in the room I couldn’t wear my glasses without them fogging up. Finally, I squelch my shyness, grab the camera, and walk up to ask her if I can take a picture of her sweater. I could tell she was very wierded out as I gushed over the beauty of her sweater, but she did allow me to take a few pictures. Evidently she got it at Christopher Banks. It felt strangely liberating to just do it and not regret letting the moment pass by later.

I loved the pine tree technique and absolutely must design a baby sweater incorporating it. I’ve already decided I’m going to call it “Little Lumberjack”, and it will be made out of ADORABLE.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

November 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

Posted in Humor, Knit Philosophy

Guilty Pleasures – Twilight

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My husband must really really love me.

He is voluntarily entering a lair of, I quote, “the piercing squees of a thousand ‘tween and teenage girls obsessed with being bitten by a hot vampire” this Friday on my behalf.

Aww, twue wuv.

It feels like such a guilty pleasure admitting that I read the Twilight series. I’m not the most main-stream girl to begin with, but for some reason this latest interest of mine feels a bit embarrassing.  At first I told myself I was just curious to see what the buzz was about. Then I read the first book, and was a little shell-shocked. For some reason the over-the-top melodrama and obsessive longing (emo much?) of the main characters didn’t make me want to hurl, so I quickly sped through the rest of the series. There’s just something about the characters that gets under your skin. They feel very familiar, and the writing style is intimate.

So in honor of the new movie I’m writing a pattern for the mittens that Bella wears in Twilight. They appear to be soft and warm, and while the pattern isn’t difficult it is fun in that they are so very long, going almost up to the elbows.

Its hard to see the details of them even when enlarged, because the grey stitches don’t exactly pop out at you. I’m pretty sure that there are ten repeats of the main pattern on the top of them though. I’m writing the pattern as I make them, so I should have it up soon!

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

November 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Humor, In-Progress Projects

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Smack, Knitbug!

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Did anyone else ever play the “Slugbug” game as a child? We loooooved to play it when I was a kid, since there were six of us and we frequently had to travel long distances when moving between air bases.  The game never stops, EVER, once you start playing. I’ve been playing with my siblings for almost 30 years now. Whenever you see a VW Beetle, you smack the closest player on the arm and yell “Slugbug!” before they can. I’m sure you can see why it was so popular what with the gratuitous, yet mild violence involved.

Ever since I started knitting, I find myself wanting the equivalent of the game every time I see an unexpected situation involving knitting. Of course, I don’t think it will have the same amount of competition involved in my estrogen-deprived household. It’s just me and Jasmine the cat against the four boys, but in all fairness, we DO rule the roost.

But I digress, I present my first “Knitbug!” to share with you. I was watching Food Network the other day and saw this humorous commercial and got all excited thinking it was going to be a knitting show.

It turns out it’s a rather clever show mocking old Martha Stewart episodes called “Whatever, Martha!”. I know I plan to watch when it comes on. Who hasn’t silently skewered some of the ridiculous things that Martha Stewart demonstrates? Don’t get me wrong, I looooove Martha. If you ever thought that she doesn’t have a sense of humor, all you have to do is watch her when she goes on Conan O’Brian. She always shows up half-lit, and her and Conan have a grand old time.

Oh, and KNITBUG! Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh? I saw this in the news a while back and thought I’d share. Making math with yarn…who’d have thought it was possible?

Going back to work has been a really really trying and exhausting experience with a 3 month old and 7 year old, so I’ll have to post some FOs next time.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

September 25, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Posted in Humor, Knit Philosophy

5 Commandments of Sock Knitting

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Yeah yeah, I know I make too many lists. But its fun, so if they bore you, you’re reading the wrong blog!

5 Commandments of Sock Knitting

1. Do not select a complicated or lacy pattern for your first socks. It just gives you a headache on top of all the other techniques that you have to learn for socks.

2. Do not select an extremely stringy yarn for your first pair of socks. Learning the sock techniques isn’t difficult, but it does take time. It’ll just make the whole project seem harder than it really is if you have a ridiculously small gauge. Had I known this, I would have made Worsted Weight socks for my first go for more instant gratification!

3. Do not use a combination of lacey sock pattern and brightly variagated yarn. You’ll end up losing your pattern in the rainbow of colors. Solid colors work better for lacy and cabled patterns. Variegated colors work better in simple stocking socks.

4. Do not expect to finish a pair of socks quickly, just because they are a small item. You are basically knitting with toothpicks, and the gauge takes time no matter how fast a knitter you are. When you throw in using the magic loop method or dpns for the first time, you are going to end up reknitting many parts over and over again until you get it right. Let’s not even talk about Second Sock Syndrome.

5. Do not attempt to knit socks without moral support from knitters and non-knitters alike. Friendly knitters should be consulted frequently for advice and problem-solving. Friendly non-knitters should bring you beer and chocolate whenever you throw your sock across the room in disgust. In fact, let’s just make an addendum of “Thou shalt not knit socks unless you hit a two beer minimum.”

That being said….I broke each and every one of those rules, and it shows. It took me 8 months to finish these damn socks, and they are definitely not my favorite FO to date. I ended up hating the yarn texture/weight, even though the colors were what drew me to them. And I now know that my gauge was horribly, HORRIBLY off. So please, gentle readers, learn from my mistakes.

Widdershins Socks
Yarn: South West Trading Company TOFUtsies
Needles: US 1 circular

Notes: I actually did these both at the same time on one circular. I didn’t enjoy working with this yarn, and I think that made the project more tedious. Its a beautiful yarn, but really really thin and stringy. I wish I had used sharper pointed needles than my addis.

The finished sock was much warmer than I anticipated, but less stretchy as well. I added a band of elastic in the cuffs, and made it an ankle sock since I got bored with making them. They do wash up really well and I even tossed them in the dryer with no problem. Unfortunately they are a bit loose, but not bad for a first-time attempt.

I am now attempting my second pair of socks, and am much much happier with the results so far. Using the right yarn for the right project makes all the difference in the world. This is going so fast, that I anticipate being done with them by the end of the weekend at latest.

Please note that I have not yet fulfilled the addendum. Hence, I shall strive to find a second beer posthaste.

I also stopped by “Once Upon a Child” today, and found the most adorable swing. $40 for a hardly-used swing that retails at $100. The complimentary baby ain’t bad either.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

August 28, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Woe is me

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Excuse me while I have my own private little tongue-in-cheek pity party. The summer is becoming a blur, and I feel like I can’t fit everything in.

5 Reasons I am not posting all the cool stuff I’ve finished/working on:

1. My poor boobs are decimated from nursing a squawking (but cute) piglet of a child. And everyone knows that you knit with your breasts. Duh.

Mommy says Im just big-boned.

"Mommy says I'm just big-boned."

2. The sleep deprivation from having a 6 week-old has gotten to the point where I’m not really sure if I’m awake or asleep. I’m not even sure if I’m really posting this right now.

3. The cats have revolted because the new baby is getting more snuggle time than they are, and have taken my laptop hostage.

Pet me or suffer the consequences!

"Pet me or suffer the consequences!"

4. My husband politely reminded me that it’s been quite a while (wink wink, nudge nudge), and promptly locked me in the bedroom with a gleam in his eye.

5. The camera is chock-full of “baby’s first…” pictures, and the memory card can’t hold another pixel. All I’m saying is if you hear rumors of “Baby’s First Stink Eye” pictures, I plead the fifth.

* * * *

But seriously, my maternity leave is winding down pretty quickly, and I’ll be going back to work in a couple weeks. I’m trying to squeeze as much quality family time in as I can before school/work start up again. We spent last week in Milwaukee visiting my parents and it was nice to see everyone and have so much help with the kids. Plus it’s always so much fun seeing my parents enjoy their grandkids.

I’m so proud of how Aidan has adjusted to being a big brother. He’s been nothing but happy and helpful since we came home from the hospital. He’s always offering to help, and asking questions about how babies learn things. Everyone kept saying how he’d have such a hard time adjusting, and I really resented the implication. He’s such a sweet-natured boy, and nearly 8. Sibling rivalry doesn’t really sting as much with that sort of age difference, in my opinion. Plus, we make a big effort to give him lots of one-on-one time with each of us. I’m really lucky to have such a great little boy! Sniffle sniffle…

Tomorrow Aidan and I are having a “Super Special Top-Secret Fun Mommy and Aidan Day”. We’re going to go to the zoo, the playground, school shopping, and have lunch together while Andy and Jamie snore away the day at home. I may even get some time to knit at the playground! Joy!

I’m currently working on the February Lady Sweater, and was sooo close to starting the lace pattern…when I realized that I screwed up my number of stitches at some point. I held it up to me, and it didn’t look like it was going to be roomy enough, so I ripped out the whole thing and started over.

Luckily I didn’t have any trouble staying at the correct gauge, which is rare for me. I tend to knit a bit loosely, but I’m getting better at adjusting my tension. This is my first knit sweater (baby sweaters don’t count!), so I’m using an acrylic so that I don’t spend a fortune on something I probably won’t master the first time around. I’m learning more and more as I go though, and I’m glad that I knit the baby sweaters that I did, first. They taught me all sorts of things that apply to an adult-sized sweater, but with less work involved. If I’m lucky, I may finish redoing the yoke again tomorrow.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

August 25, 2008 at 2:27 am

Bitchin’ about Stitchin’

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I feel that I must come clean about a dirty little secret of mine.

I really hate the Stitch N’ Bitch books by Debbie Stoller. There. I said it. I halfway expect the knit gods to strike me down.

I hate the way it portrays very basic patterns as glossy celebrities of kitsch that all the cool kids must knit. I hate the clashing color schemes and Ron Popeil feel to it. I hate the way the author writes as though she is the knitting Messiah who’s raison d’etre is to make knitting trendy and fashionable.

That being said, at least her books have given people the foot in the door to learn about knitting in their own comfort zone. Because her books are so trendy, beginning knitters have a starting point and common ground that probably didn’t exist 10 years ago.

I just think there are so many other great options available for beginners out there that I don’t understand the appeal of the series. Its easy to be overwhelmed by the massive amounts of knit magazines and books out there right now, but 95% of them are much more appealing to me. Or just going to a LYS and meeting the local knitting group is a great way to to knit and make friends in the process.

Which brings up an interesting question. Do you think that it is the creative process or the social appeal of knitting that creates more new knitters these days? Personally, I was more drawn to the creative process, to see the finished project and have the satisfaction of making something with my own two hands. I like to challenge myself, and after crocheting for many years, I forced myself to try the scary and intimidating ninja-art of knitting.

The process went something like this:

1. Oooh, two needles?! And they’re pointy! (Proceeds to poke one’s self a couple dozen times on accident on the way home from the store.)

2. I’m a crochet pro, this is going to be easy….fuck, this is starting to look like some form of destructured modern art. (Has only cast on yarn at this point.)

3. Must find simple pattern. Everyone says that a garter stitch scarf is the easiest thing in the world to try….(15 rows later) God, this is the most mind-numbing boring thing I have ever done in my life. There has to be something more to it that this, or knitters would stab each other with their needles out of boredom.

4. Has now switched to stockinette, in the round, HP scarf for friend. Rationalizes that promising a gift to a friend will force myself to finish said item. Search for pattern online, and compatible yarn online. First foray into a “LYS” is intimidating but exhilirating.

5. Rationale was accurate as far as drive to finish item goes. Knits and reknits same first 10 rows of scarf at least 20 times in one week. Learns the definition and lack of real-life humor in the term “frogging”. Swears constantly out of frustration, inventing new words that my husband believes would make most knitting grannies blush. Refuse to put down needles until I get it right

6. Constant knit-stitch in repetition forces consistent tension of yarn and I start to get the hang of this whole “gauge” thing. After 200 rows of stockinette stitch, have mastered the knit stitch and hit that meditative zen-knitting “zone”. Simple scarf completed and shipped off to friend.

7. Ha! I thought this knitting stuff was supposed to be hard? Delusional knit-whore created.

So as you can see, the socialization aspect of knitting wasn’t what appealed to me at first. But it’s really hard not to be drawn to other people who share your passions. Plus, there is frequently cake and gossip involved. Is there anything better?

I think that the cake and gossip probably draws in more people these days as knitting has become socially acceptable and trendy. And then they get the bug and more knit-whore’s are born, Ravelry addictions are created, and the whole knit world opens up.

Written by Milwaukee Knit Chick

April 24, 2008 at 12:40 am

Posted in Humor, Knit Philosophy