Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lori’s Painting

This is a picture my older sister painted for me for my birthday many years ago:

Sadly, she gave up painting, and this might be the last one she ever completed. Mind you, nothing in particular happened to make her give it up, just life in general. I'm hopeful that one day when her children are older, she'll pick it back up.

I’ve always liked this painting. It’s like a snapshot of what she thought of me at the time: I’m at the top of my castle tower, workin’ my mojo in the sky, surrounded by flower gardens and sailing ships. There are some other telling details you can’t see in this scan: the sun has a smiley face she created by texturing the paint, the tops of the towers and the doors to the outer curtain wall are painted in gold, and those doors are guarded by two Ewoks (yes, Star Wars Ewoks).

The ringed planet visible inside the atmosphere at the upper left was a standard inclusion in her works, whether drawn or painted, serving almost as a second signature. I always marveled at her ability to paint skies, etc., as this is something I do not have the skill for. I do okay with miniatures, but creating my own compositions and putting them to canvas just intimidates the crap out of me, which is another reason I think it’s sad that my sister doesn’t paint anymore.

Note that she didn’t have any pictures of castles or sailing ships to work from, so she approximated both. The internet and World Wide Web barely existed at the time: this was 1989, after all, and getting to a web site, any web site, was a two step process involving dialing a phone number. Heavens to CrapCat, now I've done the math on how long it's been. Yikes.

Also note that the sails on the sailing ship are backwards. I teased her about that, of course, and ultimately we decided the ship was simply in reverse and backing out of the harbor. Didn’t know sailing ships had reverse, did you? Argh, matey: let’s back’er up and head fer the pub!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Badass Geek Button

Okay, so I follow an increasing number of blogs that I find interesting. One of them, the Badass Geek, has a contest going on for Badass Geek pins, and I want one. So, what would I do for a Badass Geek Pin? I’d:

-Post images of the completely useless data I collect for no reason at work (no, work does not require me to collect this data: I’m just a nerd):

and the color-coded charts that go with it:

-Post a scan of my handwritten notes for reverse-engineering a pair of baby booties I knitted without a pattern. A glimpse at the handwriting and mad scientist (okay, mad knit-ist) style of note-taking will leave no question as to why this is embarrassing:

-Re-post a pic of my worst cake fail:

-Post pics of my desk, in all its chaotic glory:

Old desk, with CloudSheep:

New desk, with commentary:

-Post a screen shot of my top 25 most played iTunes songs:

Note that #24 is the ending song “Still Alive” by Valve from the Portal game, which I went out of my way to locate and add to my iTunes. “We do what we must because we can.” PS The cake is not a lie, it just wouldn't come out of the pan.

Okay, none of these are likely to land me a cool Badass Geek button, but it was worth a shot :-D

Irony: I think I'm doing it right

Famous Knitting

My darling Hubby has posted another dicebag I made for him. This one he’s dubbed the Blackadder after one of our favorite British comedies. It’s interesting to me to see how my knitting changes over time: these days I wouldn’t dream of just using a single unworked strand of the yarn for the drawstring, and most of them now are knitted so as to sit flat on the table during gaming. In any case, I do enjoy knowing that things I make are actually used :-)

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Well-Traveled Blog

Those who don’t know what Google Analytics are will most likely have no idea what I’m talking about, but I get a certain thrill when I realize someone from some far away place has viewed my blog, however briefly. So far, I've gotten views from most of our continents. I love it when my blog gets views from places like the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, Germany: anywhere I’ve not been to but would like to go. Heck, even DC and California, both of which I have been to, give me a little thrill when they show up in my blog stats. It’s like a little connection to someone somewhere far away, even if the viewer bounced right back off my site. It’s like having a tiny vacation to somewhere new, with all the potential for fun and new friends that a real vacation carries with it. I get especially goose-pimply when it’s somewhere completely new; somewhere even my blog hasn’t been before. Maybe I should have dubbed it the YSS Enterprise (Yarnvana Star Ship). Makes me want to create a little knitted globe and put pins or stars or something on it for everywhere my blog has been. Of course, Google Analytics already has a little map viewer, which I find fascinating. Or maybe I’m just a nerd. That said, I can’t wait to see where my blog goes next.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Knitting in Pathfinder: Needles of the Ebon Strand

For those who don't know, Pathfinder is Paizo's d20/D&D-like game, which we've switched to post-4E, but that's not what I'm blogging about. My Hubby entered a contest Paizo is having, and round 1 was to create a magic item. My Darling Hubby's item was Needles of the Ebon Strand, which are magic knitting needles, and which won him a pass to round 2! Woohoo! Knitting and gaming - a perfect match, just like me and my Hubby :-D It's also cool that among the comments he's received on their forum are notes about other people's wives knitting during gaming sessions. Translated: I'm not the only RPG knitting nerd out there. Boo-yah.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Woohoo! Finally finished the oldest boy's gloves:

Okay, so I didn't get the stripes on the fingers to line up perfectly. In fact, the other glove is even less linear:

If they look "wobbly," it's because they haven't been washed and blocked: I just finished weaving in the loose ends a few minutes before I scanned these images, and off they went with the oldest boy, probably never to be seen again.  Of course, now the girls are each demanding that their gloves be made next....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CrapCat has a new home!

My Hubby got us matching desks, so now CrapCat has a shelf to sit on, which he shares with the sheep.

The big sheep is the one previously pictured on my desk with the cloudy ending; the other two are gifts I received for Christmas: the one with the little basket has a strap intended to keep scissors handy, the other is a tape measure. Naturally, CrapCat and his small flock don’t take up the entire shelf, so featured behind him are the foam shuriken and the books and software I use most often. Between him and the flock are my “Toadily Handmade” stamp I haven’t had the chance to use yet and the Frankenstein Monster of aircraft, pieced together from the few bits of Tente blocks my Hubby found amongst his ever-growing collection of Legos.

We’re not sure where the hand came from, but Thing is hanging on for dear life. And yes, that is the Mini Ninjas game next to the foam shuriken behind CrapCat. Is that so wrong?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dice Bag

This is a dice bag I made with leftover yarns and gave to my brother-in-law:


The outer layer is made with the remains of the ball of RedHeart #946 Peruvian Print I made socks with; the inner layer is RedHeart regular white from the Yarn Booty, both of which are worsted weight yarns. I don't really have a pattern for dice bags: due to the wide variances between yarns and size of dice bag needed, I usually just wing it, but if someone needs a knitted dice bag pattern, I can type it out and post it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sock Pattern: Toe-Up

This is a generic toe-up sock pattern, intended to have the information on yarn and gauge filled in once a test swatch has been done. This one also uses the 3-needle bindoff for the toe.

This pattern can be used for anything from a sock yarn to a worsted weight yarn to a super-chunky yarn for slippers.

This pair is made from a sock yarn (specifically OnLine SuperSocke 100, Linetto-Color #1100, using US Size 2 circular needles, yielding a gauge of 6.25 st/in in circular stockinette:

I made the cuffs long so I could turn them down. As you can see from the next photo, the K3P1 ribbing looks almost invisible from the right side of the cuff, and makes a wider-looking rib once the cuff is turned down.

The next pair is made from worsted weight yarn, specifically RedHeart # 946 Peruvian Print, knitted with size US 5 circular needles, yielding a gauge of 4.5 st/in in circular stockinette:

These can be worn as slippers or as boot socks.  Using an even thicker yarn makes easy slippers, but a tight gauge is needed or they'll sag as the yarn relaxes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Yarnvana - Why I Knit

There's a contest going on at Lion Brand’s Blog wherein entrants post about why knitting or crocheting makes them better (ends 1/15/2010). It took me awhile to post mine because I figured brevity would be good, and trying to explain that of course it makes me better, let alone why, would just take more words than anyone wants to read. Finally, after being at home sick a few days, unable to knit (and thus blogging instead), I started thinking again about why I knit. Naturally, I figured posting the whole thing as my entry would be a bad idea, so I entered a much shorter version. Here in my blog, however, I get to blather on without restraint:

The truth is, I knit for many reasons. I knit because I hate to sit idle, and I need something for my hands to do during “idle time,” since my mind is rarely idle. Without something creative to do, idle hands tend to be destructive instead. I used to do puzzles, but that creates nothing. Sometimes I play simple, mindless computer games, which also creates nothing. So, instead, I knit while my mind wanders where it will. I also knit during those rare occasions I watch TV or movies at home, so the time is not entirely wasted.

I became addicted to knitting because somehow, it helps unravel my thoughts and work them into something useful. Problems seem more easily solved, projects more easily organized, if I think about them while knitting. It’s not exactly a replacement for REM sleep, but serves nonetheless to clear the mind, both conscious and subconscious. Things I have forgotten are often remembered while knitting along, so I try to keep a pad of paper and a pencil around so I don’t forget again once I’ve stopped knitting. This seemingly simple activity provides a safe haven for the mind, a virtual refuge, a calm spot in the center of whatever storm may be brewing around me, and gives me the mental space to sort things out.

By now, you may realize that's part of why I call my blog Yarnvana. It's also because I just love yarn. In fact, the first time I walked into the LYS (local yarn store), I told my Hubby we'd walked into Yarnvana (which is not the name of the store). He takes me there sometimes just to watch me ooh and ahh over the yarn. He says yarn is the only thing I really get excited about, and that is generally true. In fact, when we go to the LYS or I find a new site or mag with new stuff in it, I go all wiggy like a Hollywood-style pirate looking at an unattended dragon's horde (thus the pirate references in my blog). So if you've been wondering why Yarnvana would involve pirates, well, that's why: Knitting makes me calm and centered until I see the unattended dragon's horde and then the "Argh, Matey, I needs me some more yaarrrnn" starts and there's just no telling me I have enough yarn already.

Thermos Cozy

My thermos, like probably a lot of thermii, tends to lose a lot of heat in transit. This not only leads to tepid coffee, but also the transference of heat to other objects in my bag that should not be heated. This is not good.

To solve this problem, I knitted a thermos cover from two colors of leftover yarn from the Yarn Booty. The outer layer is a bulky weight wool I wish I could remember the name of, but I think it’s been discontinued. It was Tibet Joy or something like that and is quite a lovely multi-colored yarn. I only had one ball of it, and used the green portion for a small book cover, so there wasn’t any left for the thermos cozy. The inner layer is made from Classic Elite Premier in a dark brown (color 4987, apparently discontinued). Premier is a very soft pima cotton/tencel worsted weight yarn. I chose dark brown for the inner layer so if any coffee leaked out, it wouldn’t show.


The top of the thermos cozy is done in ribbing so you can either smoosh it down over the top of the thermos or fold it down outward for easy access. Since the decreases at the bottom of the cozy are done every row, the bottom is flat so your thermos will still stand up properly.


The pattern is available here.

PS pay no attention to the Reaper paints behind the cozy: it's merely a figment of your imagination.... (turns out our new rolling paint/craft cart is also a good photo spot).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sock Pattern: Cuff Down

This is a generic cuff-down sock pattern, intended to have the information on yarn and gauge filled in once a test swatch has been done. Most sock patterns want you to use the kitchener stitch or mattress stitch to close up the toe, but I prefer to turn them inside-out and do a 3-needle bindoff: it gives the toe a much cleaner look.

This is one of a pair I did in fine merino wool, that were almost immediately absconded with by my older daughter:

This is the same pattern with the numbers filled in for the sock pictured above.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Plank-Walking: Patterns

It occurs to me I might have followers I don't know about, and that hey, they might want to see some patterns for stuff. Obviously, due to copyright laws, I can't post patterns I purchased from other folks, but I will start uploading original patterns as I post. Unfortunately, when it comes to original patterns I might never use again, I tend to wing it based on hastily-scribbled pictures and a few mathematical notations. Thus, in some cases, I have to go back and re-create the pattern by looking at the finished object. That said, if there is old non-copyrighted stuff on here you'd like to see the pattern for, let me know and I'll do my best.

Just to make this post a bit more colorful, here's a pic of a kitty in a basket lined with yarn. The basket was a dollar store purchase; I made the liner using a Nifty Knitter with standard instructions for a tube and two strands of yarn. There's no telling what project it is she's laying on, but I think it's a blanket.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Scurvy Yarn Project

I have to admit that my Hubby isn’t the only one who occasionally picks bad yarn. A year or so ago I found some yarn that, in ball form, looked rather pretty. Once I started knitting with it, though, it became not so pretty. To be more accurate, knitted up, it looks like someone ate a van Gogh and then threw up. Not one to waste yarn if I can help it, I made a small placemat and coaster that I use at work. I figure if someone swipes them or accidentally throws them away, no loss. Naturally, that probably means I’m stuck with them forever.


If you happen to like this yarn, it's Plymouth Yarn, Italian Collection, Ms. Jones in color 2619; content is acrylic/ nylon/ mohair. I think it's been discontinued.