Happy Anniversary Jác!

One year ago today, Jác and I went on our first date. We’d emailed a couple times, but hadn’t actually met in person.

He arrived right to the restaurant as I got to the front door. “Are you Christin?” “Yep.” We both smiled.

No more than 5 minutes later, we’re geeking out about Star Trek movies and trying to remember, “The one where Data dies – was that Insurrection? Or Nemesis?” I pull out my phone to check my Netflix queue, because I’d just been watching it the night before. (It was Nemesis.)

We both ate Caesar salads with tuna – not because either of us were on a diet, we just both really love their tuna… and it’s especially delicious on their Caesar salad. We each had a goblet of Thirsty Goat – a local beer.

We connected immediately – so much so that I told him about my “backup escape plan” to meet my roommate and friends at the Whip In after our date.

“It’s just something I do, in case the date is terrible.”
“I see.”
“You should come along, if you want.”
“Really?”

We’ve been together ever since.

The very next day, I joined him to his best friends’ house for a cookout. The next weekend we drove to Dallas to meet his mom. A few weeks later, we were driving to Alabama to meet my entire family.

This year has been all about getting to know each other. I’ve shared lots of new beers with him, and he’s shared lots of new food with me. I’ve learned way more than I ever realized existed about beards, and I’m sure he feels the same way about knitting. We moved in together. We mourned together in the wake of tragedy. We lamented about lost jobs and bad jobs and stupid people. We struggled through the stress that is learning to live together and compromise when you’re both independent, intelligent people. We celebrated over new jobs and new opportunities, interviews, good people, good grades, good stories. We watched a lot of movies. We played a LOT of games. We bought a rug that really brings the room together.

On November 2nd we got engaged. He called both my parents beforehand. He proposed in his Star Wars shirt in our living room with our German Shepherd in my lap. He gave me his mom’s ring, which he’d been holding onto since ACL. We’ll be combining his grandmother’s and my grandmother’s rings into my wedding band.

Jác- I love everything about our lives together. Happy anniversary!

The Post Office

In an attempt to get back into blogging regularly, I offer to you a story of my 45 minutes at the post office. I typically avoid going to the post office, because the experience is usually full of the following elements:

  • Poor Customer Service
  • Germs
  • Chaos
  • Confusion
  • Lines
  • Annoyed People
  • General Frustration

Today was no exception. (more…)

Airports Need Yarn Stores

What to do flying all day or on a long layover? Knit, of course! But what if you run out of yarn? Or what if you get to the airport, only to realize you forgot the right size needles for your fancy new yarn?

It can turn a very well planned day of knitting into a downright frustrating day with no knitting and no way to get the tools you need because you’re in the airport!

I’ve been traveling a LOT lately. This year alone I’ve been to Toledo, Detroit, Hartford, Santa Clara, Northampton, and Springfield… not counting all the cities I’ve had layovers in. Countless hours spent in airport terminals, trying to find a comfy chair so I can have a few moments of peaceful knitting before I’m off to another city. And what does every single airport I’ve been in have in common? No Yarn Stores. How is this possible!? It could even be subset of Micheal’s or Joann Fabrics with cheap yarn and cheap needles – someone get on this!

Hmm, maybe this is a good retirement plan… Christinly Knits in airports all over America. :) Would you shop there?

Anyway, this isn’t just my idea. Lots of people have blogged about it before: Franklin at Panopticon laments about the lack of yarn (and the abundance of other things) in the Seattle/Tacoma Airport, and The Yarn Harlot posts about the woes of finding yourself underyarned and over-inspired. It’s not an impossible request! Rebecca from ChemKnits discovered a yarn store in the Santiago, Chile airport – If they can do it, why can’t we?!

SNAKES!

– Eeeeeee!

– What?!

– There’s… There’s a.. I think it’s a snake?

– (incredulously) A snake?

– Well it’s squirming around like a snake! Maybe it’s a worm. Either way it’s wiggly and it’s IN. THE. HOUSE.

That’s pretty much how the discovery of a tiny snake in my house went. The beau and I had just gotten back to my house after eating brunch, and I discovered something squirming across the tile in the middle of the living room.

IMG_8392I caught him in a food storage container, and immediately started taking pictures of him. I needed to determine what it was. Is it a worm? (not so bad) A snake? (no thank you, sir.) A baby snake? (nooooooo!) If it’s a baby snake, are there more of them? Are there hundreds of snake eggs somewhere in my house, waiting to hatch and release an army of tiny baby snakes in my living room?!

If that happened, I might have to light my living room on fire. Or at least run away and never come back.

Thanks to r/austin, we learned that panic wasn’t needed. He was a snake, but he wasn’t a baby. He’s a Texas Blind Snake, apparently harmless and much like earthworms in that they are happiest digging around in the soil. This picture makes the little snake look huge. He’s actually tiny, about the width of a pencil lead, about 4 inches long, and full grown. He likely came into the house because of the crazy rain that we’ve been having. After this discovery, I decided total destruction and fire wasn’t necessary, took control of my nerves, and released him outside – very far away from the house.

IMG_8396-1024x764The next day, while on a conference call, I found another one squirming around on the floor under my chair, right next to my feet. Ohmigourd, not cool, little snake! I caught him in a mug and tactfully finished my call (without squealing) before taking him outside.

I’m very proud of how I handled all this because, as much as I’m an animal lover, I really do not like snakes. And I especially do not like snakes unexpectedly showing up in my house. I get the heebie-jeebies just retelling this story. Blech.

So anyway, I tell you that story to tell you explain this to you. It may not have been the rain at all that brought the tiny snakes into my house. I may have been summoning them all week… IMG_8405-1024x1024

 With this! Oh, I am so excited that he’s finished! This is the multicolored project I wrote about last week, and I am ridiculously happy with how he turned out. I’m so happy about it that I don’t even care if knitting him summoned a couple tiny snakes (… although I will be wary about that in the future).

The pattern is the Striped Stockinette Snake from PurlBee. The construction is brilliant. I’ll admit I was a little wary about how he would turn out while reading the instructions, but I just went with it exactly how it was written, and it turned out perfectly. After knitting him, I gave him a quick bath in cold water with some fruity-smelling shampoo, hung him to dry (I think that lengthened him even more), and then threw him in the dryer with some sheets to really make sure all the water is out – gotta love acrylic yarn! I’ll be shipping him to Tyler in a couple days. :)

This is a fun knit for anyone – even beginners who want to take that next little step up. This is a perfect project. Clean out your yarn stash with this quick knit! Use just two colors or scraps of many colors – your imagination is the only limit here.

Check out my Ravelry Project Page for more details.

To Tyler, with (multicolored) love

IMG_8178My nephew, Tyler, is 6, and I love him dearly. He’s bright, witty, spunky, hilarious, and immensely creative. In December 2010, Tyler, my sister, my mom, and myself were in the car driving to the cabin…

Sister- Did we remember cold medicine?

Me- Nope, do we need it?

Tyler- <Giant Burp> There’s some cold medicine for ya!

He loves fishing, hunting, swimming, soccer, school, and reading. He loves his Mom, Papa, Mimi, and Tia (that’s me!). He still wears the shark hat I knit him two years ago. He’s also a born philosopher. When he was just barely 3, he told me-

Tia, I don’t love you very often, but I love you a lot.

IMG_8331-1024x764At Christmas, Tyler insists on picking out gifts from him to the family. This year he gave me a skein of Red Heart with Love Multis. I know exactly why he chose it- it’s bright, cheery, and the colors are absolutely ones I’m drawn to. But knitting with highly variegated yarn is absolutely not my forte, so this little skein presented me with a challenge.

My first attempt was well thought out and planned. Through r/knitting I learned about Planned Pooling – planning out how the colors in your yarn will present themselves as you knit, creating neat patterns in your finished object. First you knit up a swatch of your yarn using whatever size needles you’re planning on using for the finished object. Then you go to PlannedPooling.com (a brilliant little site, really), and plug into the website how many colors are in your skein, and how many stitches are in each color (on average throughout your swatch). I plugged in my numbers and came up with this cool, bright argyle pattern.

20130225-112033Unfortunately, no matter what I did, my colors just wouldn’t align the way they were supposed to. I cast on, knit, and frogged it 5 or 6 times. I kept tweaking things- maybe I need to recount, or try different sized needles, or knit a little looser… Nothing worked. I finally decided that this skein of yarn did not want its pooling planned, and I gave up. For weeks the multicolored skein sat at the bottom of a glass bowl, covered by bags from WEBS full of single-color yarns. Easy yarns. Yarns that didn’t need plans, they could just be knit!

A couple weeks ago, an idea began to germinate while browsing once again through r/knitting. I found Ravelry user dizzymisslibby‘s Josephine Shawl – and it was gorgeous! What a simple idea… use a highly variegated yarn striped with a natural… so simple and such a beautiful result! The natural color breaks up the brightness and highlights the beauty of the colors in the variegated yarn. Okay, so the method was clear, but what to actually knit? I wanted to make something for Tyler out of this yarn, and a triangular shawl wasn’t going to work.

IMG_8334-1024x1024It wasn’t until this past weekend that I found the perfect pattern. I’m not going to tell you what it is until it’s finished. I will say it’s a surprisingly simple pattern, with a really neat construction. It needs to be washable, so acrylic yarn is a perfect choice. And it looks great with multicolored and natural stripes. Oh, and it’s long…. very, very long.

Once it’s finished I’ll upload more pictures and link to the pattern. You’re going to want to make one for yourself! I want to make more!

 

I’m so excited to give this to you, Tyler Boo! I hope you love it.
With multicolored love,
Tia

Today I almost fell into a trashcan

My attempts at work productivity were being thwarted by the fact that my office was a mess. I’ve been feeling this way all week, and at approximately 9:32 this morning, the feeling overwhelmed me to the point that I stopped all work and started rearranging everything. All papers to be sorted in a “SORT ME” box, wipe down the desk with Pledge, vacuum up some cat fur, put all yarn leftovers on the ironing board… and why don’t I rearrange all the furniture and move the bookshelf from the bedroom into the office so I have more storage?

IMG_8305-764x1024It was while I was reconnecting all my USB cables that the incident occurred. I had bent over to pick up the last cord, when I tipped backward just a little too much, and my bum was greeted by a little teal trashcan, precariously standing directly in my path. Luckily I was able to grab onto the bookshelf before I fell into the trashcan, but a very peculiar thing had already happened…

The sensation of the back of my legs hitting the edge of the trashcan had triggered memories of being a kid and peeing in a bucket… You see, a bucket is very useful when you have kids. It can be a sand castle maker, a robot head, a puke receptacle, a portable toilet… the list goes on. My family had lots of buckets, and apparently I have vivid memories of peeing in them… Peeing in a bucket during fishing trips in Papa’s “aluminum can boat” when I didn’t want to jump in the lake… Peeing in a bucket in the back of someone’s truck at Mardi Gras – it was cold so I was bundled up, but then I had to coordinate standing in the back of the truck, undoing all my layers, and then balance on the bucket so that I neither fell in or fall off and tip the bucket over.

Of course it’s not about peeing in the bucket that makes those memories fond ones. They’re times with family and friends, good food and music, lots of noise and laughter. And I don’t care how I keep those memories vivid and fresh, they’re warm and wonderful, and I appreciate anything that triggers happy times with family and friends.

Thanks, little teal trashcan, for some really good memories today. :)

Baby Knits

A friend called me yesterday-

“Hey, remember that friend I have who’s having a baby?”

Me- Crap I was supposed to knit her a hat. “Um, yes! I do remember!”

Friend- “Well I’m going to be in town Monday. Want to meet up for a beer and I can get the hat?”

Me- “Absolutely!”

So now I’m on Mission Baby Knits.

Here’s the thing… I love knitting baby items. They’re so cute and sweet and small – and we all know small means super-fast knits. I’m all for super-fast knits. There’s something so rewarding in starting a project one evening during an episode of Top Gear, and binding off the next night while your boyfriend watches Ultimate Fighter. (Ok, I admit, I’m completely hooked on it, too.)

But I’m wary about knitting baby things for people I don’t know, because I refuse to knit them in traditional baby colors. I think pastels, pale pinks, and dainty blues are way too frail and frilly. I create adorable tiny knits with bold, bright, saturated color choices.

So, friend-of-my-friend-who-is-having-a-baby, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m not creating anything with pale pink and lilac. It will be tiny, and cute, and oh-so-soft, but definitely not “baby” colored, and I hope you love it.


My initial plan was to knit up Cisco using a style more like Jared Flood and Ravelry user Saradenbo. I also needed their notes to translate the original pattern from English to Actually-Understandable-English. Sheesh! The plan was to use this beautiful little skein of Baby Llama that I’ve had in my stash for years, and do the outline in this leftover taupe wool skein that I’ve long since lost the label for.

Alas, that did not work out. It seems that I do not have enough Baby Llama yarn to make the adorable Cisco hat, so instead, I’m making 2 hats, and getting rid of even more yarn in my stash!

I’ve always been in love with these Baby Berry Hats, but I don’t want to make the whole hat green, and I don’t have enough of another bright color that’s soft enough for a baby hat. So instead I’m going to use the Baby Berry pattern as a start, and create my own kind of Acorn hat using this dark brown Ella Rae yarn to start, then transitioning to the random taupe wool yarn close to the top, and finally doing the I-cord and a leaf in Baby Llama green.

Then I found the Forest Pixie Hat, and remembered that I have a tiny bit of beautiful Angora blend yarn, leftover from my mom’s Christmas gift (which I never photographed, actually…). I’m using the violet Angora blend for the ribbed end, chin strap, and as a garter outline around the entire hat. Then I’m using the dark brown Ella Rae for the rest of the hat.

All of these yarns are so deliciously soft! I can’t wait to give these little knits to my friend, who will happily ship them to his friend, who will hopefully send back pictures of her new baby in soft, brightly colored, hand-knit hats. :)

Knitting Help & Inspirations

I first learned to knit by taking a class at a local crafts store. Equipped with the skills of cast-on, knit, purl, and bind-off, I went home and knit a grey scarf in stockinette with a skein of Vanna’s Choice.

And then I was itching for more. What else could I do besides stockinette or garter scarves? A quick Google search, and I fell down a rabbit hole of seemingly unending knitting resources. I’ve listed my favorites below, in hopes that they will inspire you!

  • Ravelry – The Mecca of knitting sites. If you knit or crochet, join Ravelry right now. You can organize your yarn, needle, and hook stashes, look up thousands of patterns, manage your own library of resources, join knitting groups and post on message boards… It’s like a combination of Facebook and an online library for yarn lovers. You can even add me as a friend, if you’d like! :)
  • Knitting Help – This is the first site I suggest to new knitters, or knitters ready to learn something new. This site has a great Glossary (to understand those pesky abbreviations), Videos (to help you see what you’re supposed to be doing!), and Patterns.
  • r/Knitting – Reddit is “a social news website” (thanks Wikipedia). Reddit as a whole isn’t for everyone, but if you knit, the knitting subreddit is a great community to be a part of. We knitting redditers post our finished objects (FOs), ask questions and advice of other knitters, complain about shitty yarn our well-meaning friends buy us, and support others’ yarn habits.
  • Lion Brand, Red Heart, Caron, Bernat, Patons, Berroco – Most yarn companies publish their own patterns for free on their websites. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use their yarn to knit up their patterns! Just use a yarn that’s a similar weight, and it’ll turn out fine!
  • Knitty – An online knitting magazine. Read interesting articles, find out about new designers and yarns, and peruse their free patterns index!
  • Knitting Fool – My most recent discovery – an online knitting stitch encyclopedia organized by Name of Stitch, by Stitch Category, or (my favorite) by Stitch Count. I’ll search for stitches by stitch count when I want to make, for example, this All Day Beret, but with this Eyelet Diamonds lace instead of their suggested stitch. The only downside is it’s not the most user-friendly website… Any web designers want a little project?
  • “How Many” Knitting Tool – A tool for figuring out common knitting math problems. Very useful if you’re trying to adjust the size of a knitting pattern, or are trying to get the right gauge with different sized needles or yarn than the pattern suggests.

What are your favorite knitting websites for help & inspiration?

+1 to the zoo

Today’s post is bunch of mindless aww and squee. Sorry for all the gushyness. I’ll be back to regular posting later this week. :)

My roommate adopted a puppy. Her name is Presley and she’s a 7-week-old lab/pit mix. She’s getting along with my pup, River, just fine. The cats are still deliberating about their feelings on the matter.