Why Do I Do This To Myself?

I hate sewing. I hate it.

In my final two years of secondary school back on Portland (ages 15 and 16, for those not in the UK), I quite food tech and took textiles instead. It was the start of my interest in the subject but I new almost immediately that I would rather staple my own hand to a table rather than sewing the dress I was making; I never finished the dress, leaving it unlined and unwearable. I passed, but only barely.

Unfortunately by this point my Dad had already purchased a very fancy sewing machine which I proceeded to never use and gave to my friend after ten years of neglect (I hope you’re enjoying it, Soph).

I can just about manage to sew up a hole in my clothes, though it’s functional rather than neat. I can sew on a button though I have to sit and concentrate with furrowed brow and if anyone talks to me while I do it, I inevitably stab myself in the finger. I hate sewing. I hate it.

So of course I pick a project that involves sewing the arms onto the cardigan.

I’m halfway through the first sleeve and keep eyeing the cardigan with nervous anticipation because I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’ve never sewn in sleeves. I’ve always done raglan shaping, because at worst that means a few stitches in the underarm (which can usually be fudged with some crochet). This, though… this looks complicated. This looks like lining things up and making things neat and I don’t want to do it.

Luckily for Mr. Tommy, the new nephew (I typed ‘newphew’ which is accurate but incorrect), he has super chubby cheeks and I would do anything for his small blobbiness that I’ve never met, which is interesting to me as the least maternal person in the world. That means I’m going to sew in the sleeves as soon as they’re done, teeth a-gnashing.

Tommy, you’re lucky you’re cute. You better appreciate this.

On The Needles Today

I’ve been knitting a lot lately.

This isn’t exactly new, but it is satisfying. Not only have I been knitting, I have actually been finishing things! Considering how many WIPs (work in progresses) I have lingering in various bags and drawers around the house it’s exciting to cast a few off them off once in a while.

I’ll be sharing pictures of those once they’re washed and blocked (and once I find my camera SD card and charger…), but for now I’m going to talk about the thing that is my active knitting project. Though I always have at least four things languishing that are technically WIPs, I really only count the things I’ve knitted in the last week or so.

Aside from two FOs (finished objects), this cardigan is the only thing I’ve been knitting. I’m not enjoying it that much because it’s dull and repetitive, but the result is so lovely I keep going despite that. I’m about 40% done and it is the squishiest cardigan ever.

My little sister had a baby boy a month ago. His name is Tommy, and it looked for a while like he might be deaf but we have been reassured after many tests that he will regain his hearing eventually (and at worst need minor surgery). I have knit him a blanket and some mini converse shoes, but this cardigan is something else. This cardigan is to wrap him up in a big hug until I can finally meet him next year.

The pattern is Hatchling Baby Cardigan [available here for $3 US].

Picture not mine; from the Ravelry page, link above.
Picture not mine; from the Ravelry page, link above.

I am using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in a beautiful pale teal colour that makes me happy to look at. It’s almost minty. I can’t take full pictures while my camera’s SD card is MIA, but I can take quick snaps from my knitting group using my terrible Blackberry camera (okay, it’s not that bad).

My camera likes to pretend things are grey.
My camera likes to pretend things are grey.

…Never mind, it’s pretty bad. That is not even close to the right colour, but it gives your an idea of the lovely cables that are boring as anything to knit but look fantastic.

Tommy is three and a half thousand miles away but though I can’t give him a hug yet, I can give him this. I hope that’s enough.

Another Kickstarter Update

It’s ten days until my Kickstarter ends and I couldn’t be happier. I wondered if I would hit the original target of $200; I debated making it less, but that was the minimum I would need for a microphone and an upgrade for my blog. I cringed and set it up, telling myself I wouldn’t lose anything if it didn’t get funded and it would at least tell me whether it’s worth trying to push The Knitter Nerd blog further.

Then twenty-four hours passed and I was 110% funded.

With my head still spinning I put a stretch goal of $600 which would allow me to get a desk for my writing (something I need more than I can say) and would also let me pay my cousin, a talented musician, to do the music for my podcast.

With ten days left, I’m $35 from reaching that. It says $135 on there, but one friend gave me cash because she did not want to use a credit card and I include that since it will go towards it. There are still a few fun rewards left so if you want me to knit you something you’d better get on that; you’ve got ten days left to buy my wares!

You can find the Knitter Nerd Kickstarter over here, and you can find my eternal thanks for all the support right here in this blog. I am overflowing with it. Seriously, I have love hearts for eyes.

As far as I’m concerned this has proven I should keep going with the blog and you’ll be seeing more of me over the next few exciting months, including my first podcast in September. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Yarn Chicken: A Fight in Five Stages

Stage one: Excitement

I am so excited about this shawl! It is Faroese and named after my favourite literary character, Jane Eyre; the person I keep in mind when I must keep going even when times are tough. To have a comforting shawl snuggled around my shoulders that represents her is perfect. Perfect. And I’m sure those three skeins of yarn I have in my stash will be enough, even though the yardage only barely covers the recommended figure and I’ve gone up a needle size because why the heck not? It will be fine!

Stage two: Smug satisfaction

Oh yeah. Oh, man this project is awesome. I’m never going to run out of yarn. The yarn will go on for exactly as long as I need it because this project is awesome and I cannot foresee anything going wrong, not never. I will knit and knit and knit until it is finished and hold it triumphant!

Image from the pattern page - not mine. Click here for the Jane Eyre Shawl of beauteous beauty.
Image from the pattern page – not mine. Click here for the Jane Eyre Shawl of beauteous beauty.

Stage three: Doubt

Hmm. I have at least twenty-three rows of over three-hundred stitches left to go with about a eighty yards of yarn left. That’s… probably enough, right? If I squint. Okay, maybe it might be cutting it close because I went up a needle size, but the pattern totally says it’s one that eats every yard you have and you can skip one row if you don’t have enough yarn to risk it, so there’s going to be enough. Probably?

Stage four: Dawning realisation of your idiocy

Crap. I have twenty rows left and about enough yardage for three rows, tops. I should have guessed this would happen before I started the lace bit at the bottom, because at least then I would have been able to switch colours and make it a design feature rather than an awkwardly-cut short shawl. Oh, well. I’ll have to stop part way through the lace repeat and bind off, hoping against hope that it doesn’t look ridiculous. I’m so stupid.

Stage five: Relief

Yes, I failed at yarn chicken. It turns out sheer determination and knitting as fast as you can doesn’t actually make the yarn last longer, which is a thought process many knitters on the edge will understand. Yet somehow, on par with Jesus on my toast, a miracle occurs. My yarn store has some of the same yarn left even though I bought it six months ago. I don’t know if it’s the same dye lot but at this point… who cares? It’s close enough.

See, I told you it would be fine.

For the Love of a Book

I’ve probably told you this before but when I was a child, I hugged books in bed. I had my teddy, sure, but the books had an important place in my life and that has never changed.

My Dad can take the blame. When I moved in with him it was a struggle to navigate the narrow hallway between all the bookcases and piles of books that didn’t fit on the many bookcases. When I was a child and I lived with my Mum, Dad used to take me out to the fancy bookshop in Dorchester (well, it seemed fancy then) or to the second-hand and antique bookshop in Weymouth to treat me to whatever I felt like reading.

When I was ten he took me to buy a new book that everyone was talking about called ‘Harry Potter’.

"Harry Potter English Australian Series" by B.Davis2003 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Harry_Potter_English_Australian_Series.jpg#/media/File:Harry_Potter_English_Australian_Series.jpg
“Harry Potter English Australian Series” by B.Davis2003 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I was not convinced. Standing at the bus stop by the brewery with my head between the pages, I emerged when the bus arrived and complained that the title was very misleading; the first few pages had been about some baby called Dudley. Yet Dad insisted I would like it so I kept going, leading to a cascading series of events that resulted in a completely ruined 11th birthday where I did not, through some administrative error, receive an owl inviting me to Hogwarts.

Anyway.

I grew up with Harry Potter. I was the same age as him until the last few books thanks to the occasional delay. When the final book came out I quit my crappy cleaning job because they wouldn’t give me the morning off, read the whole book in one sitting, and then… never picked it up again.

About three weeks ago the craving came. Yes, it took years, but since that day I’ve read nearly all of the series. I’m near the end of Half-Blood Prince and enjoying myself more than I remember. I love those characters and the world they inhabit. I love J. K. Rowling for writing a book that helped me shape my understanding of the world and the people around me.

Maybe I should knit myself a Ravenclaw scarf.

This is mostly a post to say that books are a huge part of my life and they will be a bigger part of this blog from now on. I’ve been reviewing Advanced Review Copies of books for a while and this blog will be my platform. I read a lot, but at most I’ll post a review once a week.

Consider that forewarning while I go find myself the yarn to cast on a Ravenclaw thingy.

This isn’t weird at all, I swear.

I’ve spoken before about knitting projects with matching nail varnish, but in the last couple of years I haven’t adorned my nails much at all. I find I don’t have the concentration that I used to, and that’s probably because I don’t have much nail varnish left. I gave away most of it when I left England and a lot of my favourites have disappeared, so I don’t bother.

The other day I had a very stressful day so on my way home I stopped in and bought myself a lovely blue-green nail polish that, through no accident, very nearly matches my current knitting project.

No, I’m not telling you what the project is yet. You might guess if you follow me on Twitter but you’d have to be looking very carefully.

Despite not having the knitting project on me I somehow managed to get very close to the right shade. There was another one I think would have matched it exactly but it was twice the price and I try to keep at least a small handle on my eccentricities.

I'm quite pleased with both my nails and this knitting project.
I’m quite pleased with both my nails and this knitting project.

Knitting with alpaca-blend is reminding my how much I love the fibre, meaning I’m coming out of my crunchy-wool-and-cotton stage already. Is autumn here so soon?

Another reminder (I’ll be tagging these on to most posts): I am running a Kickstarter campaign at the moment and you can check it out here if you want to see the rewards available. Thank you to those who have pledged already; you’ve made my month.

Tiny, tiny shoes for tiny, tiny feets

My sister had a baby three weeks ago. His name is Tommy and he is about 90% chubby cheek, and all I want in the world is to go back to England and kiss him. That will have to wait until next year so in the meantime I’m working on a few gifts for him to send over.

I’m about three-quarters of the way through a blanket for him which is boring but pretty; it’s a chevron blanket in grey and white, and I haven’t touched it in about four days. To avoid knitting it I knitted some tiny Converse (click for pattern) in matching colours since they are a quick and satisfying pattern and they are not the blanket.

Tiny, tiny shoes.
Tiny, tiny shoes.

On top of that I’m knitting him a cardigan with lots of cables out of some beautiful cashmerino yarn. He is a tiny thing so I’m knitting it large enough that he can still fit into it next year when I visit, because what’s better than a squishy baby covered in a cashmerino fabric?

I feel I should add here that I’m the least maternal person you can imagine and in general I cannot be around kids for more than an hour or two without needing to scream and/or nap whilst simultaneously removing my ovaries (just in case). That said, I turn into a raging cuddle-fiend at the sight of my niece and nephews. I guess it must be genetics or something because no other small humans give me the same reaction.

Anyway.

I started the cardigan at work then knitting some more when meeting up for coffee with the very lovely Mo in a very lovely cafe that does a mean cappuccino. It’s easy knitting but it’s mindless and I’m already cheating on it with something more interesting, but the point is that one day my nephew will finally receive a knitted thing from me.

One day. I SWEAR I will send it before he hits puberty.

Probably.

A little note: I am currently running a Kickstarter to level up this blog, and it’s at $455. My original target was $200 and that was smashed in a day – thank you so much everyone! Now my stretch goal is $600 which would buy me a desk for my writing so I can have a quiet, mostly organised space for this blog and for podcasting. 

If you want a permanent ad on my site, a pair of socks handknitted by moi, or any of the other rewards, check out the Kickstarter and help me out. It is totally my birthday next month. Just sayin’.

Gosh. (A Kickstarter Update.)

Yesterday I posted about my Kickstarter to upgrade The Knitter Nerd with the hopes that I might get a donation here and there and eventually hit the $200 by September, which would be a lovely thing just days before my birthday. I could upgrade my blog, buy a decent USB microphone for a podcast, and celebrate heartily.

Then I checked back a few hours later to see it was almost completely funded. Another couple of hours and it was 110% funded in under twenty-four hours.

I’m still in shock.

Since there have been quite a few donations since then I’ve decided to make a stretch goal of $600 which would give me enough to buy a desk for the spare room where I can write and do my podcasts, since right now I lounge in the corner of a not-too-comfortable couch covered in felines. Having a dedicated area to write and record would make a world of difference.

If you still want to help out, check out the rewards here.

You can:

  1. Get a thank-you on the blog ($1)
  2. Get a temporary link on the blog with your thanks ($5)
  3. Feature your store/site on the blog ($10)
  4. Get the above plus a knitting-related gift and a card ($20)
  5. Get a small knitted gift (like a hat) and all the above ($50)
  6. Join me in a Skype-based podcast ($50)
  7. Get a pair of socks of your choice ($100)

As it stands, I’m going to buy this microphone, a step up from the one I was planning on originally since I’m already funded for it. Anything past this point is an enormous bonus so I wouldn’t cry if I did not get a single dollar more between now and September, but it’s worth a shot since I know so many generous folk.

For those of you that pledged: thank you. I will contact you about the gifts and such once the Kickstarter closes. I’m already excited for it.

The Knitter Nerd is going places. Thanks for joining me with that.

Gawd, I love this yarn.

Help Me Level Up The Knitter Nerd

So! I started a Kickstarter to raise enough dosh to upgrade the blog for a year, and to buy a USB mic for the podcast.

It’s here!

If you feel like pledging even a dollar you have no idea how much that would help. After all, it’s only $200. We could raise that easily with your help. It won’t fully cover the costs, but it will be close enough that I can fund the rest (and I don’t want to have unrealistic expectations).

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/708681156/help-level-up-the-knitter-nerd/widget/video.html

The Knitter Nerd is my haven. I love this blog. I love writing, I love reading other people’s entries, I love comments and commenting on others. I love the sense of community and affection you find in the knitting blog world, but my blog is stuck in a rut. I can’t design it how I want it and I know there are ads over it which makes me sad. WordPress offers an upgrade to fix all these problems but it is more than I can do right now, hence asking for help.

As for the microphone: you see, my other mic only works on my old laptop which will no longer turn on and I’m sad I don’t get to start it after all this planning. Yet a microphone is out of my budget.

$200 may not seem like much but it is the world to me when it comes to this blog. If you can spare a dollar, I’ll be grateful beyond belief. If you can spare more, check out the page for the rewards you can get. We can even do a podcast together, and you can get a permanent ad on my site.

If you want to support this in ways other than a pledge, sharing this would make the world of difference.

Thank you!

Check it out here.

Update:

Wow. Wow. …wow. As of typing I’m at $260 in pledges from you awesome folk. My mind is blown. Stay tuned for further plans.

Five Ways to Do The Thing – General Knitting Edition

Okay. You’ve got yourself some needles and some yarn. You’re all set, right? You can get yourself knitting in no time at all, except now you’ve cast on you don’t know where to go from there. Or worse, you’re most of the way through your project and you have no idea what to do next. Oh, man. This is some hard stuff.

Thankfully you don’t have to start screaming into the void because there is good news: you are on the interwebs! I know this to be true, because the chances are you are reading this from a screen rather than directly from my mind. If you’re doing the latter, sorry about all the Robert Downey Jr. stuff floating around in my grey matter. He’s kind of a big deal.

Anyway.

Here are some places I go when I’m stuck on the whole knitting thing with a brief explanation of why they’re so useful. Please let me know about your favourites if I’ve missed any – we could all stand to learn some more hints and tricks, right?

How To Do The Thing

  1. YouTubeOkay, okay. Predictable start. But seriously guys, this is like having a knitting teacher who doesn’t get frustrated when you ask her to show you the purl stitch for the twentieth time in a row. It’s like magic. Whenever I don’t know a stitch, this is my first stop. And there are so many awesome YouTubers helping us out!
  2. Knitty. Yes, they do some awesome patterns but that’s not all. If you need to crack out the kitchener and can’t remember how to start, Knitty has a great post on that (and many other awesome things).
  3. Ravelry. This should probably be first in line. If you can’t find an answer for something online, head over to the Ravelry forums and find a thousand useful answers for your troubles and woes. Plus, awesome people and awesome fun!
  4. TECHknitting. So you’ve got the basics down and now you want to figure out the fun fiddly bits. Perfect! Hop on over to TECHknitting where your mind will be blown and you’ll feel like a genius in no time. It hasn’t been updated in a long while but the archives are fabulous.
  5. Knitting Fool. I would argue that beyond Youtube this has been my most useful site. The stitch galleries mean I can get a taste for all the things that are possible, and was what originally prompted me to be daring and try knitting something without a pattern. Excellent site.

Yay! Five ways to do the thing, knitting edition, should help you on your way to a more comprehensive knitting ability. It helped me, anyway, and what’s the internet for if not sharing our knowledge?

Oh… it’s for porn? I’ve got it so wrong all this time.