Happy Hanukkah to Me

I’ve been working hard to catch up on cleaning since finishing up the semester, so knitting has gone a bit by the wayside. Onesie number one still needs buttons and blocking and I’m only about halfway through onesie number two. 

Since I have a few balls leftover from making our wedding shawl, the second onesie is being knit in the same rainbow yarn. Kara wants a belt so we can all have something rainbow as a family. I want her to find a cool buckle, then I’ll knit something in either seed or linen stitch. 

The top half of a sleeveless, rainbow baby onesie, still on the needles
We went down to Maryland to see my family for Hanukkah. Since the group of people who know about future baby is small, I didn’t bring my knitting. I did, however, get a fancy new yarn bowl — it has a black sheep on the back! — and some handspun, hand dyed yarn from a farm local to my hometown. What can I say? My mom is basically the best. 

Since she’s Christian and dresses up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus with my stepdad every September, I made her an apron out of a $2 dish towel and $1 buttondown that I found at the local thrift store. My stitches are sloppy, but that’s to be expected from a procrastinator like me. 

A handmade apron with an image of Santa and a sugar cookie recipe, trimmed with a red and white plaid fabricA wound ball of two ply wool yarn, in an autumnal colorway featuring reds, rust oranges, olive, slate, and navy. Rainbow yarn in a blue and brown glazed yarn bowl. There are tiny sheep across the center band of the bowl.
I think I’m going to make a chulo with my new yarn. It just seems right for the handspun feel, the colors, and the more rugged texture of the yarn. Besides, I’ve been needing a way to keep my ears warm since Kara took my old earflap hat. While traditionally chulos are made with color work to create a thicker, denser fabric that stands up to the cold weather in the Andes, I may opt for a cabled version. Yarn this beautiful deserves to be shown off without other colors to distract from it. 

A Year in Review

I was going to delete this account to save money because, well, I’ve obviously been pretty inactive. But, the auto renew date came and went, and I couldn’t do it. So, here we are. A lot has happened in the past year, though. Care to catch up?

Shortly after my last post, I found Kush a home. He’s living in a kinky, queer, and poly household of people who dote on him, which is better than I could have ever dreamed. I see his new mom every once in a while at events, but I honestly haven’t had the time or energy to stay active in the scene. She keeps me updated, though. Kush has gotten huge!

Kush in the car before his neuter appointment last yearKush laying on the bed now
Our own little one, Coralee, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in June. She had been coughing a lot, which we chalked up to allergies until it was disrupting her ability to sleep. The emergency vet gave us the bad news. Since she’s older– between 15 and 16 now– and the heart failure is coupled with a valve disorder, they guesstimated another 8-10 months on medication. Five months in, while a lot sleepier than before, Coralee is still going strong. 

In a weird coincidence, I had scheduled an appointment with my tattoo artist a couple weeks earlier to get a rib tattoo of her face. The first appointment was only three days after Coralee’s diagnosis and I sat for eight hours over two sessions. The experience of memorializing a family member that has been so important to my life while I was struggling to find ways to mourn her diagnosis was incredibly cathartic.

Now, I find comfort in giving Coralee the best end of life that I can and in knowing that I’ll have her likeness at my side forever. 

A semi realistic tattoo of Coralee's face on my left sideCoralee lying on a small, white mat by the bed, looking up at the camera
Before that, I got three other tattoos: one is a bicep tattoo of the Star Trek comm badge, cross stitched, with the text, “Make it sew,” underneath. I eventually want to have a full crafting, science fiction, and pun sleeve, so this is a good start. 

I decided to get the other two when I started considering using a cane. My disability, Charcot Marie Tooth syndrome, is a progressive neuromuscular disorder that affects the way my brain communicates with the rest of my body. Since the axons for the nerves going to my feet are longer than, say, the nerves going to my face, my ability to walk is severely compromised and will continue to get worse as time goes on. While some tests are being run on mice to halt progression of similar disorders, there is currently no real treatment beyond, “Maybe exercise a lot?” So, I’m using a cane now and considering talking to a doctor about getting a wheelchair prescription as soon as I get back on insurance. 

To simultaneously poke fun at my disability and cement my crip identity, I got a wing on each ankle. An allusion to Mercury’s winged sandals, symbols of speed and flight, my wings have attained the perfect level of irony. As an added bonus, they make able bodied folks who ask why I have them super uncomfortable. 

Side note: my ankle tattoos have been the most painful by far. People talk smack on rib tattoos, but they don’t compare to ankles in the slightest. I can’t even imagine what they’re like for people with full feeling in their extremities. 

A cross stitched Star Trek bicep tattoo with the words,
A blue wing ankle tattoo, still inflamed from the needles
What else…? I went back to school! I already have my BA in Spanish Literature, but I decided to go back to school to study engineering. While I’m great at math and science, though, being in school full time at the same time as the wife is really hard on both of us. I found myself starting strong, then losing motivation as soon as big life events happened. As a crippled Jewish dyke, the Pulse shooting and election of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named have hit hard. I managed to slug through my summer classes just fine, but it was near impossible to keep up with my fall courseload and retain my sanity when I accidentally found out my only professor was a republican who doesn’t believe in oppression. 

I’ll be taking the spring semester off because of an amalgam of reasons and maybe I’ll go back. I really, really do love engineering as a discipline. But… the wife made an interesting proposition:

She noticed that a) I’m way happier and less stressed when I’m working part time and staying home and, b) I’m super good with kids. When she graduates from her dual masters’ program in May next year and gets a benefitted, salaried job, we’ve decided to start trying for a baby. She’ll (temporarily) go off of her hormones and I’ll have my IUD removed. It will take a while for her to be fertile again, but this is a huge, exciting chapter of our life. Even though I want to make it a surprise for others when we confirm a pregnancy, it’s hard not to tell everyone I talk to. 

In order to burn away some of the baby fever, I’m knitting baby clothes for another lesbian couple that we know who are trying to conceive (like us, one of the wives is going off hormones while they try). The fever seems inescapable, however. I keep sending the wife breastfeeding, labor, and other logistics information and she keeps telling me about all of the queer mommy blogs she’s following. If it weren’t for our need of a medical professional to remove my IUD, I’m sure we would already be trying for a baby. Still, it’s pretty nice to practice until then. 

Since this post doesn’t have nearly enough knitting in it, here’s a picture of the baby clothes I’m knitting for our friends. I’ll post pattern and yarn details after I sew on buttons, weave in ends, and block the set. 

The Internet is back!

I haven’t gotten a chance to work, binge watch Jessica Jones, or blog about my knitting ventures for the past several days. Thanks, Comcast.

Actually, it hasn’t been the nightmare that I thought it might be when I first realized the Internet wasn’t coming back on after I restarted the router. Surprise: people have been entertaining themselves without internet for a much longer time than they have with it.

So, what’s a house of millennials to do without instant knowledge at their fingertips? We did a ton of mad libs. Think of the fun vocabulary you come up with when you get a neuroscientist specializing in sexuality, two social workers, and a crafter in the room together. Unsurprisingly, the neuroscientist’s words were far superior to ours. When you all enjoy enough cheap beers and liquor, though, no one seems to care about the words in your mad lib repertoire. The bonus: I got to knit while everyone else took turns writing.

Speaking of knitting, I finished the lace stockings by Mari Muinonen on Wednesday. They look super cute and provide all of the warmth of pants with way more style and comfort. I’ve been too excited not to wear them, however, and haven’t had chance to block them. The stockings are starting to smell like feet, which is the perfect way to force me into washing and blocking these bad boys. I promise to post new pictures once I do that.

But it doesn’t stop there: I knit the first of Spousie’s genderqueer mittens and they look absolutely phenomenal so far. The cuff on mitten number two is almost done and the rest will be smooth sailing from there. Since I have the bare bones of the pattern already done (charts, instructions, etc), all I have to do is format them, take pictures of the FOs, and write up explanations of all of my stitch shorthand before I can feel good about publishing the pattern… And publish I shall! The pattern will go for $5 both on Ravelry and this website by this time next week. Good thing we’re getting a foot and a half of snow this weekend; it will be great for a photo op.

 

Cold weather and mittens

If I were to say to you that this winter has been fairly mild, that would be putting it lightly. Through December and most of January, I have grown accustomed to wearing light jackets and skirts. Mind you, if it weren’t a sign of global warming, I’d be jumping for joy over this weather… Between my poor blood circulation and the old injuries in my knee and ankles that act up in the cold, cold weather just doesn’t suit me. And at the ripe, young age of 27, even! Can I just retire to Florida in my 30’s?

Incidentally, the recent (read: today) bout of characteristically cold weather has left me inside the house under layers of blankets. No matter how lazy I want to be, though, errands don’t just run themselves. Kush, the rescue dog I found on December 30th, needed to go to a wellness visit at the vet to be approved for his neuter procedure and, of course, my own dog needs to be walked at least twice a day. Since I’m home with her all day, every day, Spousie is kind enough to take charge of most of Coralee’s walks on their days off, only having me tag along when the weather is nice and we aren’t completely hung over from the night before. Tonight, it was back to the usual grind, but what is this 26 degree weather?

…Luckily, knitters come prepared. 

 all bundled up for winter weather 
I bundled up in a suri alpaca scarf, a superwash merino shawl, a handspun merino and silk hat, and a pair of handspun teeswater top fingerless mittens. At least my upper body was warm. I need to make more socks. 

Speaking of socks, the lace stockings are still going. I only did fourteen complete flowers before switching to US5 tips and beginning Chart 4. Now, I’m working the cabled and lace ribbing for the cuff in US6 tips and I will probably keep knitting in pattern until I reach the desired length. My goal was to finish today, but my hands were pretty full at the vet and I didn’t get a chance to work on them until later. The rib is pretty simple, though, and should work up quickly. Tomorrow, I expect to be able to finish knitting, weave in ends, and block them in time for Spousie to get home from work.

Oh, and I started drafting the color work for Spousie’s convertible mittens. They want purple with the genderqueer symbol. I do plan on tweaking the top two stalks so they come out at a slightly better angle, but this is otherwise a cute design. The cuffs will be a plain rib (or maybe brioche stitch? I could incorporate the light blue into the cuff and I definitely need some practice on this technique…), there will be a thumb gusset with a single heart, and the palm will have consistent hearts throughout. Here’s my first draft:

 colorwork chart for genderqueer mittens 
Ending with that, it’s time for me to snuggle in under the covers with my puppert, my Spousie, and my space heater. Have a great night!

Short stockings

So, I said I would knit thirteen full flowers before starting Chart 4 of the lace stockings. After knitting fourteen (five more than the pattern states!) flowers, however, I’m still not satisfied with the length. I think I’ll switch to US5 needle tips in the morning, knit one more pattern repeat from Chart 3, and then knit Chart 4. Those extra inches should bring the stockings to my upper thighs. Pictures on Monday!

More Lace

I’ve been working on the stocking fairly sporadically for the past few days, but I made some progress anyway. Late this afternoon, I finished off the ball of yarn that I was knitting from both ends. 100 grams of yarn lasted all the way to my knees, which is pretty nice. It’s so refreshing to knit lace after making so many dense fabrics to realize that your yardage is way lower than usual.

As for the pattern itself, I’m supposed to start chart 4 for the cuff now, putting me at the predicted over-the-knee length. I want these to fit like thigh highs and be held up by a garter belt. Rather than start the cuff after 9 complete flowers, I’m going to take Nunki’s advice and knit enough repeats to have 13 complete flowers on the back of the leg. Once done, I’m going to switch to size 5 needles to accommodate my thunder thighs without forcing the fabric to roll down on itself (a common problem for people with larger thighs). Enjoy some pictures!

On my queue of other things to knit, get ready for a pair of convertible mittens with stranded hearts and the genderqueer symbol for Spousie, a cabled beanie for my roommate’s brother, and a Fallout 4 vaultsuit sweater for the dog in that order. I’m pretty stoked for all three projects.

 

 

Lazy Cables

Wow! It has been a crazy few days. On Wednesday morning, I found a dog wandering the street and tracked him home to a neighbor’s house. It turned out that the dog had run away from home a week prior and, when it finally found a way home, his owner didn’t want him anymore. So, rather than take him to a shelter, I took the little guy home, got him the medical attention he needed, and found a foster parent. After a few days of nonstop action, we’ve found a few potential adoptive parents, but nobody concrete yet. Fingers crossed!

Anyways, I found the time to knit up a swatch and make a video of lazy cabling. Transcript after the jump:

 

Transcript:

Alright. This is Mary with RunawayThread.com. I’m explaining lazy cables to you. So, the whole idea is, I don’t like holding cable needles when I’m doing cables because they make my hands cramp up.

Um… And when it’s really only four stitches or fewer, it’s super easy to just do it without a cable needle, so I’m going to show that to you today.

For a left-to-right crossover, you’re going to leave everything facing the same way — kind of like you would just knit it — except instead, you’ve got your one, two, three, four stitches.

Start with your third stitch and just kind of tug it open and knit into it. Now go to stitch number four and do the same thing. So now you have two stitches on the right needle and all four stitches still on the left needle.

Now you’re going to go into that first stitch and knit it. This time, we’ll pull the first stitch off. So now we have three and three.

Knit the second stitch and now you have all four stitches on your right needle so you can drop them off of the left.

I’m going to show that to you one more time. Let me just purl two between the cables. 

So, start with your third stitch, tug it out, knit into it without pulling anything off of the needle. Do the fourth stitch; again, knit into it without pulling anything off of the needle. Now we’re going to go to the first stitch and pull only the first stitch off. And then the second stitch and pull the remaining three off.

Now we’re going to purl two and I’ll show you how to do a right-to-left crossover cable. 

So now with these guys, it’s going to be a little bit different because we can’t just do this the way we did the first one. So I’m going to take all of these and slip them as if to knit — all four. They’re all on the right hand needle now. And slip them back to the left needle so that way we have the loop facing a different direction. This is the back of the stitch, the front of the stitch is in the back now. 

You’re going to take your right hand needle and slip into the new back/front of the third stitch and knit it in the back. Okay. Do the same thing to the fourth stitch. So now we have two stitches from the cable on the right needle and all four on the left. 

Now we’re going to knit into the back loop of the first stitch and pull it off. And then knit into the back loop of the second stitch — and bear with me, this is very difficult to do with an iPad between me and the knitting — and we’re going to pull the remaining three stitches off. 

Just give it a little tug to even it out. And I’ll show that to you again. 

So we’re going to slip all four as if to knit onto the right hand needle and pass them back to the left. And then knit the third stitch in the back, knit the fourth stitch in the back, then knit the first stitch in the back and slide it off. Knit the second stitch in the back and slide off all of the remaining stitches. 

Okay. So, we’ll finish this row and I’ll zoom out so you can see it all. 

So that’s lazy cables. All of these were the lazy guys it’s fairly easy. You don’t have to use a cable needle, nothing to fumble around with since you’ve already got two needles in your hands. And that’s it. Thanks for watching. 

Progress on the Lace Stockings

I missed a few goals today that I had set yesterday; specifically, I wanted to knit a swatch to photograph lazy cabling. Instead, I went on a Star Trek binge, worked on my stockings, and played Fallout 4… level 41!!

…But you aren’t here to read about video games (or are you?). Here are some pictures of my progress so far:

The lace pattern knits up quickly once you get the hang of it. So quickly, in fact, that I can knit roughly eight rounds on each stocking per 40-minute episode of The Commander Data Show.

As for the gusset, it’s knit pretty discretely with a m1 increase on either side of the lace pattern every other row for twenty rows. This is new for me: I’m used to decorative and pronounced gussets and prefer a foot shaping that is placed at the bottom of the sole rather than the sides. For now, I’m following the pattern. In the future, I would probably do even increases in the center of the sole (eg, m1,k1,m1 on the first increase row, m1,k3,m1, and so on).

Rat Hammocks

Between cleaning and running errands, I haven’t had a chance to knit yet. However, I did manage to finish our friend, Jason’s, Christmas present. He just adopted two pet rats and I heard from a little bird (my roommate) that rats love hammocks. One search later, I found a rat hammock tutorial that I liked.

Since I rubbed a hole in some old jeans, they went into the project. It took a little less than one leg per hammock, which worked out well since I was making two. Instead of using one layer of fabric, though, I lined each interior with some cheap fleece and faux fur a friend gave me a few months ago. To make sure that the rats don’t accidentally turn the lining inside-out, I zipped both layers of fabric through the machine to “quilt” them together. If you look closely, you can see some gray lines on each picture from the quilting process. I didn’t do anything fancy or precise, but I didn’t really need to. These just need to stand up to wear and tear.  So, in went the grommets and then I looped in some paracord.

Don’t mind the pictures: I used my roommate’s rabbit’s cage to show one of the hammocks in action.

Lannister Mittens and Lace Stockings

Wow. It’s my first post. Let’s see if I can keep this up, hm?

Anyways! I just finished some Game of Thrones-themed Lannister mittens for my cousin’s Christmas present. There are, unsurprisingly, very few patterns out there, so I wound up writing my own. More accurately, I bastardized other patterns until they worked for me. Namely, the mitones iveños from Andean Folk Knits. Maybe this week, I’ll put up my version. Here’s what they look like:

Of course, since I bought the yarn I used from KnitPicks, I just had to spend enough money on yarn for free shipping. I’ve had a copy of VogueKnitting‘s Spring/Summer 2009 edition laying around since, well, 2009 and have wanted to make Mari Muinonen’s lace stockings since Spousie introduced me to Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. Ever the rebel (and the type to wear teal, black, or purple lingerie), I bought a heathered purple yarn for it. Now that the holidays are over and Spousie is busy playing Fallout 4, I get to knit them up. Here’s my progress so far. Cute, huh?

Lace stockings

Since I’m usually a fan of DPNs for socks and mittens, knitting two stockings at once using the magic loop method takes me back to my early knitting days. It’s nostalgic, yet tedious. The progress I’m making is dispersed over two items, making it feel like I’m watching paint dry… Even though I’m progressing just as quickly as I would otherwise.

Already, I’m finding myself thinking of changes I’d make. I’m incorporating some and ignoring others, but I know I’d make more if I reknit these in other colors in the future. Want to know what they are?

  • Instead of k3tog, I s1, k2tog, psso.
  • Directional decreases don’t appear until row 14 of chart 1. Why not do directional decreases throughout the pattern to match up with the little lace diamonds? I might change this out next time, but it would hardly be noticeable.
  • In the future, I would use a figure-8 cast-on for each stocking, knit the first few rows, and transfer them to a long circular needle.
  • I’m “lazy cabling.” Since the cables are only 4 stitches wide, I’m abstaining from using a cable needle. It’s just too much to hold in your hands. More on that tomorrow?

 

So that’s my first post. Here’s to many more!