Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Adam gave me an Organized Knitter case a few months ago, and I never showed it off on the blog, so here you go. It’s really great, and I use it every day. Here’s a shot of it open:

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

It’s good for hauling around all the little things that you forget to bring. Ooh, I just went to the website to link and I am now extra happy that Adam surprised me with the case, because it looks like they’re not going to be made for a while.

Posted in Gadgets at December 7th, 2008.

How to make a pompom

I think pompom making isn’t too tricky, but here are some step-by-step instructions in case you are confused. This is the Susan Bates set from Purl.

1. Fit two of the circle halves together, bump side touching the flat side of the other. Wrap the halves together until they’re full with yarn–more than you think is necessary.

2. Repeat with another two halves.

3. Slide the legs of the two parts together so they lock.

4. Cut through the groove between the rings.

5. Tie the pompom together by bringing a new piece of yarn through the grooves. Knot and pull tight.

6. Gently pull apart each frame piece.

7. Use the ties to sew pompom on!

Posted in Gadgets at November 23rd, 2008.

Swift mosaic 

(I will be referring to the photos from left to right, top to bottom.)

So, I recently bought  The Oregon Woodworker’s Mama Bear swift and the Royal ball winder. Together with shipping, it was $94.40.

If you are contemplating buying one, you have to ask yourself whether you really need this gadget. Personally, I have wanted one since I got caught up in the knitting fever two years ago, but I tried to hold off. Most yarn stores in the city will wind your yarn for you and many brands come pre-wound in balls. But I’ve recently acquired some skeins from the internet, unwound, and I didn’t want to wind 400 yards of sock yarn by hand. Thus, I gave in. I’m still not sure all knitters need a swift and ball winder, but I am thoroughly enjoying mine, so if you have an extra hundred dollars to spare, go for it.

I chose to get this flat one, instead of an umbrella swift because it took up less space and is easy to pack up. (See photo 1, the swift in its carrying bag.) I also chose to order the ball winder from The Oregon Woodworker, instead of using a coupon and ordering it from JoAnn’s, where it probably would have been a tad cheaper, because I figured if I had any problems, I could contact an actual person to complain, instead of a craft store bureaucracy.

(Photo 2) I love it. And thus, I am hugging it.

(Photo 3) The swift is probably pretty easy to make. I took two and a half years of woodworking in high school, and despite my lack of talent in the woodworking arena, even I think I could make it. You would need some kind of saw (like a band saw or a jigsaw) and some wood. That being said, $51.95 (the price of the swift alone) is fair. If you assume it takes about $10 of lumber and other materials costs, then I think $40 is a fair price for the labor. It’s very carefully made, and I was glad to pay the cost. But if you have a woodshop at home or know someone with one, you might try making one.

(Photo 4) The pegs are adjustable to fit different sized skeins.

(Photos 5-8) The pieces are carefully cut so they’re super easy to put together.

(Photo 9) Peter Charles, the maker, marks the arms with red dots so you know how to match them together.

(Photo 10) A needle-tip protector thing caps off the center pin.

(Photo 11) The ball winder is also very easy to use. The instructions (written by the ball winder people, not Peter Charles), however, are written in goobley-goop. Just look at the pictures and ignore the written words, which confuse “left” and “right.”

(Photos 12-14) I took out the center core to weigh it.

(Photos 15-16) Then I weighed by yarn.

(Photos 17-20) Putting the skein on the swift and attaching the yarn to the winder.

(Photo 21) Occasionally, I would take the ball off the winder, along with the core, and weigh it. I was hoping to have equal amounts in each ball.

(Photos 22-27) Winding…winding…winding…

(Photo 28) Argh! Despite my weighing, one yarn cake is still bigger than the other.

Anyway, my swift is great, and, (according to Peter Charles), since a tabletop swift is the same height as your ball winder, it creates no tension in your yarn cake, a possible problem with umbrella swifts. The only possible flaw I can see with this design is that it is trickier to move the pegs to hold the different sized skeins than in an umbrella swift, which might be a problem if you wind different sized skeins frequently. Otherwise, awesome!

Posted in Gadgets at October 14th, 2007.

Adam and I were discussing what constitutes a hobby, with Adam arguing that reading was not a hobby. His argument boiled down to two points: If the activity in question is a commonly listed question on an online dating profile (favorite book / favorite movie / favorite tv show)* and if it doesn’t require gear, it’s not a hobby. Though I agree that tv watching, is not, in general, a hobby, I was like, c’mon, reading! It’s a hobby!

*I think his theory was that if it was common enough to be a category in an online dating profile, then it meant it was practiced by most people, and thus, not a hobby.

Anyway. Gear. Gear is the favorite element of a hobby for many people, I think, and I finally bought some exciting gear for my hobby, knitting. Yup, I now own a swift and a ball winder! The purchase was somewhat expensive, but look what it makes:

Watermelon Yarn 

Yarn cakes!

And I was so excited by my yarn cake that I started knitting these socks right away:

Watermelon Yarn 

I am calling them the Queens Center Mall socks, because they seem kind of like the thing an eleven-year old outer borough* girl would buy after reading The Official Preppy Handbook, but getting it wrong, by buying the socks in a poly-blend at the Queens Center Mall. They’re pink and green, total ’80s prep colors, but also strangely garish, and kind of tacky. I totally love them. As you can see by my coat, which I had customized with the addition of pink ribbon (by my Queens dry cleaner), I think I just might be this girl. 

*If you’re not from New York, the “outer boroughs” are Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, with the main borough being Manhattan. I think New York dominates the media enough that the rest of the country gets that each outer borough has its own sterotype. Queens, home of the Mets, Archie Bunker, The Nanny, The King of Queens, and George Constanza’s parents. I can’t think of any literature set in Queens. Apparently, we are an illiterate borough of tv-watching yahoos.

Posted in Gadgets, Socks, travelingproject at October 1st, 2007.