Snail to Butterfly

You may recall that when I started this freeform-CAL project I called it a “Psychedelic Snail,” due largely to the multicolor spiral that is now covered up by that pansy. Well, earlier this week when I was visiting my family for spring break, my mom remarked that it was starting to look like a butterfly, so for the last few days I have been actively trying to make it look butterfly-like. This has mostly meant that I’ve been applying each day’s instructions to what is now the lower right quadrant, in an effort to develop the bottom part of that “wing.” I hope we get some shells or something so I can put some bumpiness in that region, because having one stick-straight wing-tail is looking pretty dumb so far. Only 3 days of instructions left! I’ll show you the final official-CAL photo, but I’ll probably clean it up a little bit afterwards to try to make it into a hangable-wall-art butterfly. (For one thing, it might need some antennae.)

And now, at last, I will share with you my recent bad-knitting-decision. What could it be, that’s been giving me so much trouble that I had to rip it all the way out and start over? Complicated lace? Fancy colorwork? No:

Simple stockinette. It figures. This is the start of Hannah Fettig’s Featherweight Cardigan, but it might not be for long. See, I generally like to have one difficult lacy pattern and one easy-peasy pattern on the needles at the same time — that way, when I’ve had a few drinks I can put the lace aside and pick up the stockinette, etc. Since I’m still working on finishing my Fernfrost scarf, I figured it would be a good time to start a cardigan on the side. I never intended to knit another damn laceweight stockinette cardigan — I love my Whisper Cardigan (also by Hannah Fettig), though knitting it bored me to tears — but I fell madly in love with Squoosh Fiberarts’ Sublime Lace in the Cedar colorway and may have bought two 900-yard skeins of it because it was dirt cheap. But it’s a poor choice for this project because it’s superwash, so it’s not going to fuzz up like the Malabrigo that I used for the Whisper Cardigan did, and I might be left with a cardigan full of holes and prone to runs & snags (because the laceweight fabric is so delicate). Plus it’s going to take about a gazillion years to finish, and I have other more urgent cardigan needs — like, say, something black that I could actually wear all the time. Plus two brand-new shawl patterns are calling my name: Anne Hanson’s Pine and Ivy shawl, and Elizabeth Freeman’s Torreyana shawl. I came damn near to ripping this out and casting on Pine and Ivy the minute it was released; the only thing that stopped me was that I was on vacation and didn’t have the right needles with me. Sigh.

Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus

Now, I am a lover of movies that are so bad that they’re good. But Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, which really exists, is so bad that it’s just plain bad. It does feature an octopus so huge and badass that it slaps a plane out of the sky with its tentacles by reaching up out of the sea, but the only thing worse than the writing is the way the crappy actors deliver their crappy lines, and the CGI budget must have been miniscule because they use the same shots of the octopus and shark over and over again. Deep Blue Sea, however, is one of mankind’s greatest achievements. At least, one of mankind’s greatest achievements available for $4.99 in the bargain bin at your local Blockbuster. It features Samuel L. Jackson getting bitten in half and L.L. Cool J tearfully reciting his secret omelet recipe into a video camera as his legacy to mankind minutes before the giant superintelligent shark busts through the door of his (flooded) kitchen. You want to see this movie.

Anyway, I finished my octopus on time, but I waited a few days to post about it in case the mother of the young recipient reads this blog. When I was doing the photo session, Pat suggested that I have some kind of oceanic background, so I grabbed my trusty Deep Blue Sea DVD and I’m pretty pleased with how this picture came out. The woman is fleeing the shark, but she’s seeing my octopus and going “uh oh…”.

Here’s a shot from earlier in the photosession:

The pattern is Octopus by Hansi Singh, who seems to be the reigning goddess of amigurumi knits. Since the toy is for a small child, I didn’t put the pipecleaners in the tentacles that would have allowed them to be all curly, but I may make another one with tentacle-curliness for our apartment. What you can’t see very well in the picture is that the red bottom is actually sparkly; I knit it with a strand of red Cascade 220 and a strand of red Lion Brand Glitterspun held together. The pattern is definitely a pain in the ass, but since it’s small it’s totally possible to finish in a day or two. The actual knitting took me about a movie and a half (Warner Herzog’s Heart of Glass and Public Enemy starring James Cagney — I don’t only watch trash, I swear) plus two episodes of M*A*S*H on DVD. The finishing took half of Public Enemy and one episode each of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. So there you go. One thing to note is that the finishing encompasses like 1/3 of the total time that it takes to make this thing. Which is kind of crazy.

I also have a progress picture of my Freeform Crochet-along piece to show you — here it is after three weeks of instructions have been followed:

Note the ugliest shamrock-in-a-horseshoe ever down there in the bottom right corner (upside-down). That part aside, I’m pretty happy with it. I decided to take it with me on my spring break trip back to NJ, which does limit my yarn choices — I brought five or six balls of yarn in the colors I’d already been using. You may notice that I added a pansy on top of that godawful spiral in the middle; this makes me very happy.

So the octopus worked out fine, but that other bad-knitting-decision that I keep alluding to is so much of a disaster that I still can’t show it to you. I knit blissfully away on it on the plane on St. Patrick’s Day after a round of beer pong, a drink in the airport bar, and a drink on the plane, and I messed it up so badly that I had to rip the whole thing out and start over. Oops. But in a few days I’ll have made enough progress again that I should have enough to show you. That is, assuming I don’t throw the whole thing out the window and decide to make something sane.

Freeform Week 2

Here is my freeform-crochet-along piece after two weeks of daily instructions have been followed — I haven’t worked today’s yet! I’m pretty ridiculously pleased with it. I keep threatening that I’m going to hang it on the wall when I’m done, and Pat keeps looking concerned. If you have a Ravelry account, I highly recommend that you go to the pattern page to check out other people’s interpretations of the instructions — it’s really remarkable how different each piece is!

I know that I promised I would regale you with tales of my two recent bad-knitting-decisions, but I only have a photo of one of them so far:

What you are looking at, my friends, is tentacles. Eight tentacles, to be exact. What makes knitting this octopus such a profoundly bad idea is that I have exactly two more days in which to finish the whole damn thing, because I want to finish it and get it in the mail before I leave for spring break. Of course, ideally I’ll also finish grading all my students’ final exams before then, too. So, you know, hopefully in two days you will be seeing completed octopus pictures here. Either that or I will have had a nervous breakdown. See you on the flipside!


My Rimefrost socks are finished! And just in time, too. It’s supposed to get up to nearly 80 degrees on Monday and Tuesday — and as soon as that summery weather hits us, my desire to knit socks vanishes into thin air. I basically wear my handknit socks as fancy, self-esteem-boosting house-slippers, but only in the colder months. They boost my self-esteem because it’s pretty great to notice that my feet are cold, and then say “well, I guess I’ll just go put on some AWESOME SOCKS THAT I KNIT MYSELF and that will solve this problem.” Case in point:

Technically, that’s me getting ready for the sock-modeling session; Pat has a penchant for photographing me before I’m ready to be photographed. But bless his heart, because the pictures usually turn out to be pretty entertaining. I invite you to notice how my throw-pillow matches my coasters. Here’s a shot where you can see the stitch pattern better; none of the foot-in-sock shots really excelled in that department:

I loved this pattern to pieces; it’s fun and ever-changing, but easy to keep track of and with very little pain-in-the-ass cabling (1 c4b per snowflake; that’s it!). The yarn is pretty great, too; it’s MacKintosh Celtic Sock Yarn in the “Aubergine” colorway. It’s lightweight and stretchy, but seems sturdy enough to stand up to wear, and the dusty purple color is fantastic.

Tune in next time for some more freeform crochet insanity, plus the start of my two latest ill-advised impulse-knitting projects!

Freeform Week 1

Here is my NatCroMo Freeform Crochet-along piece after 7 days of instructions have been followed. Everybody’s looks quite different since we are all using different yarns, interpreting the directions differently, placing the stitches differently, and using different numbers. I’m actually pretty pleased with how mine’s coming out; I’m trying to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible given the restrictions. But this is not always possible — for example, for the spiral in the middle, we were specifically instructed to use our least favorite yarn from our stash. 😦 I knit a whole skirt out of that yarn waaaay back when I first started knitting, and it really did look a lot better on my monitor when I was clicking “purchase” than it did in real life when it showed up at my door. I may as well show you that skirt, while we’re at it:

Here it is, in my barren, monk-like first-year-graduate-student apartment, back before I had any material possessions to speak of. Note how my phone is just lying on the floor while charging. The skirt looks sort of plausible in this picture, but in reality it’s difficult to wear without feeling like a grade-A weirdo. Now, I have been known to attend functions where grade-A-weirdo attire is encouraged (::cough:: Burning Man ::cough::), but somehow even in those contexts this doesn’t come off the shelf very often. Variegated yarns always sound so good in theory, but rarely work out in practice — this skirt represents the first time I learned that lesson, and that’s part of why I hate this yarn so much to this very day. I hate it because it tricked me.

Psychedelic Snails and Other Surprises

Holy sweet goddamn, people. I don’t check the stats on this blog very often, because I know damn well that only about four people read it. (And I appreciate all four of you very much!) So imagine my surprise when I went to check my stats for the first time in a couple of months and discovered that I was getting hundreds of hits a day, and furthermore that several weeks ago I was getting THOUSANDS of hits every day! It turns out that my Snowflake Dog Sweater was listed as the “free pattern of the day” on The Daily Knitter sometime at the end of January, and subsequently got archived both on that site and on Knitting Pattern Central. Guys, I’m famous!

And hello, newcomers! Please don’t be shy. Please. I’m begging you.

One thing that this pleasant surprise has taught me is that, strange as it may seem, Ravelry is not the end-all be-all of the online knitting world. Only about four people on Ravelry have actually knit my dog sweater, but according to WordPress, over ELEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE (!!!) have at least looked at my pattern via those sites above. Now it’s certainly possible that all eleven thousand of those people have looked at my pattern and decided that their dogs would look better with little dog-sized barrels to cover up their nakedness instead, but it’s likely that at least some of those people are happily knitting my sweater in blissful ignorance of the fact that they could post it on Ravelry and allow me to bask in my own awesomeness reflected back at me in the form of ridiculous-looking-but-warm-and-happy dogs. But you know what? I’m okay with that. One of the marvelous things about the internet is that you can do all kinds of good that you will never know about.

My other news is that, under the always-delightful influence of Laughing Purple Goldfish, I have joined a freeform-crochet-along (Rav link) for the month of March, which is apparently National Crochet Month. A bunch of folks have volunteered to be “designer for a day,” and each day one of these people gives us a small chunk of crochet to do. For example, on March 2nd the instructions ordered us to count up all our crochet hooks (I own 32, which is ridiculous given how infrequently I crochet) and to do that number of stitches in crocheted moss stitch (and provided a video, which was helpful since I’d never heard of that stitch). I’ve been wanting to try freeform crochet for awhile, and I figured this would be a fun way to get into it — plus I’m not a very experienced crocheter in the first place, so it’s been teaching me some new stitches. Are you ready to feast your eyes on my masterpiece, after following 4 days worth of instructions? Are you?

Yes, it looks like a psychedelic snail. But I kind of love it. Stay tuned to watch how it mutates!