janniverse: (knitting)
( Dec. 4th, 2009 08:49 pm)
For some time now, I've been wanting a swift. After doing a bunch of research into my available options, I came across several ingenious solutions people had developed to make their own. As you may or may not have gathered by now, I'm a pretty DIY kind of gal. *halos*

The K'nex one someone did was awesome, and the Lego ballwinder was fantastic, too. Some of the other designs were admirable, but the one that really caught my attention was Jen's Tinkerswift. Made entirely from Tinker Toys, I thought it really made the most sense of all. Sure, I could have got some supplies from the hardware store and built my own out of plywood and dowelling, but I'd have been terrified that I hadn't sanded something-or-other down enough, and that I'd soon be finding out exactly how inept my DIY hardware ski110rz were when some lovely bit of yarn ended up ruined by my hands.

Something made for children, though, seemed ideal. Janni-proof, even. And absolutely nerdtastic! Obviously, it was made for me. Off to eBay I went.

I came away with a set of Fiddlestix instead. After bidding on several Tinker Toys sets and educating myself in the process, I found out the provenance of more than a few Tinker-knock-offs...including Fiddlestix. The genius thing about Fiddlestix, though, is how bulky and beefy they are---not to mention the fact that they were still made of nice wood into the '90s. What's even better is the shapes of some of the joint pieces in their sets---balls and squares instead of just wheels. The balls are my favorite, because they rotate cleanly and quietly on the rods. Quit laughing, you.

They arrived quicker than expected due to an absolutely wonderful eBay seller, for whom I of course left glowing feedback. I got them shortly before leaving for work, and I fully intended to play with them when I got home later that evening. I didn't intend to do a swift---yet. I just wanted to play.

The swift, however, had ideas of its own. It came together almost of its own accord, in a matter of a few minutes. I sat on the floor in our living room spinning it and marveling and laughing at how easy it had been.

Of course, the real test would be in actually using it. Sure, it seemed utterly solid and well-balanced as I sat spinning it and grinning my fool head off, but how would it work with a skein of yarn?

As it happened, it worked beautifully. I used one of my many extra Fiddlestix rods (a green one, if you must know) as a nostepinne, and away I went. First ball was Dream in Color Starry in Lipstick Lava, which is 450 yards of fingering weight super-soft woolen wonderment. In the photos below, you'll see more Dream in Color Starry, this time in Nightwatch.

Joe had a brilliant idea to mount a rod in the chock of one of his drills to create a super-fast ballwinder, which I may try at some point in the future...but for now, this is so delightful. No more tangles and sadness, and in only 15-20 minutes, I've got a lovely center-pull ball of yarn. It's infinitely customizable to suit any size of skein I may have in the future, and I can easily put it away and even travel with it when I'm done. Fiddlestix are ultra-portable.

This is seriously brilliant, and all it cost me was $7.99 + shipping. :D Here are photos and a video (please excuse the questionable photo quality, as I'm relearning a camera I haven't used in a long time). Click through the photos for larger versions.

janniverse: (knitting)
( Aug. 7th, 2009 09:09 am)
Knitty's Summer 2009 issue is full of all sorts of lovely patterns...as usual. However, they've also thoughtfully marked a few that they think are ideal for both knitting during hot summer weather and planning for holiday gift-giving during the cold winter months. (Clearly a Northern Hemispherist POV; those of you SH-types can of course do this in reverse and start your afghans now. ;) )

As you can see, it's taken me awhile to get to the point of checking out the new issue, and even now I'll confess I haven't made it all the way through yet---I've simply been too busy. But as I've related before, if I'm not cooking or writing, chances are good I'm knitting. It's not often I spend much time in front of the TV unless I've got knitting needles in hand, and with the amount of motorsports I watch, I'm surprised I haven't knit any tire warmers yet. (Note to self---future fan project? ;) )

My main point in writing this article is, I'm not sure that my particular issue with holiday knitting is the same as everyone else's. I could be wrong, of course, which is why I'm asking: when you're knitting, does it end up something like this:

You: *eyeing new adorable pattern* OOOH, SHINY!


You: *brainstorming new adorable pattern of your own making* OOOH, SHINY!

Many of you are doubtless nodding your heads in assent, possibly rather vehemently. The key, though, is in where you go from there. Do you have sufficient willpower to continue knitting whatever it is that you're currently working on, making sure to address all proper finishing touches before moving onto your next project?

I...well, I try. I try very hard to do that. For one, I tell myself, I've only got so many knitting needles in so many sizes. Unlike some people, I don't really have many multiples in the same size---unless we're talking a set of 5 DPNs of the same size, of course. Or the pairs of matching circulars I have for sock-knitting.

Knitpicks seem to enable this sort of behavior, too---this serial non-completion (thanks, Andy) of projects in favor of shinier, newer, more exciting ones. In my case, the completion issue is also to do with how utterly loathsome I find weaving in ends. It reminds me of a book I had as a child about proper care and feeding of guinea pigs. To this day, I still recall one phrase from the book verbatim: "Guinea pigs will eat (but not enjoy) potato chips." Apart from wondering how the author came by that information, switch out "I" for "Guinea pigs" and "do" for "eat" and "the weaving in of ends" for "potato chips" and you've got my basic approach. Knitpicks apparently feels my pain; they've got lovely modular circulars that have little caps for the ends of the cables so you can just abandon any project you're knitting on them mid-stream, to be finished later.

I understand that this will happen from time to time, and that anyone who knits with any sort of frequency probably has one or two projects they've thrown over in favor of something else.

But I do it more frequently than I've previously liked to admit. It's not that I frog projects outright; rarely does that happen, unless I've figured out too late (and for value of "too late," I mean "after having stupidly started said project") that this isn't a project for me. It's more...well, you'll probably never catch me having the dedication to knit a lace tablecloth, let's say. The patterns are fun, don't get me wrong, and I enjoy thinking about what I'm doing more than my habit of watching a good movie while knitting might suggest. But I think it's the repetition that does it. I can handle a shawl or a wrap made of lace, sometimes, but larger than that? I guarantee it'll take a few years, because I'll keep starting it, throwing it over in favor of something else, and then coming back to it (eventually)---IF I can convince myself to get over the knit-lag of forgetting just where I was on the project to begin with. (I do take notes, but reading your notes isn't the same as the innate memory you have of where you are in a project when you're working on it constantly, headed toward completion.)

This may be why I usually stick with smaller projects---they're more likely to hold my interest the whole way through. That's probably also why I can knit my Cthulhu and Flying Spaghetti Monster pouches in just a couple of hours.

And yes, I'm well aware that making little pouches that are really thinly-disguised amigurumi does involve a lot of fiddling about with weaving in of ends and other tricky bits. I never claimed this was a logical problem. Perhaps that's why I find it so perplexing. XD

Anyway, um, does anyone else have this problem? JUST WONDERING. :)

That having been said, I've got grand plans for something for my sister and something for Joe that I should really start on soon. We're already up to the 7th of August---time's wasting!
Have you ever found yourself eagerly digging through yarn in a retail situation of some stripe, not looking for anything in particular, when you find IT?

If you have, you'll know what I mean. Last weekend, I went to String Theory Yarn Company's annual Sidewalk Sale event. It's a Glen Ellyn thing, but the particularly cool thing about STYC's annual participation is that they allow customers to bring their stash to be sold by them on consignment for store credit. Customers looking to unload some things from their stash that they no longer need get a great deal, and customers looking for some fantastic yarn at a great price also get a great deal. Add this into the fantastic selection of natural fibers that the store already sells and is having sales on at the time, and what's not to love?

Pawing through other peoples' discarded yarn, I found a ziptop baggie that screamed OWLS at me. Loudly. So I listened. Here's part one of what will probably be a series. I can't guarantee they'll all be handbags, but this one demanded this shape.

The full description as I posted it on Etsy is as follows:

"As David Lynch taught us so long ago, the owls are most certainly not what they seem. Especially when it turns out that they're actually handbags! :)

This handbag is simple, cute, and cuddly. Made of 98% wool, the main bag portion is black, as is the strap; both are lightly felted. The messenger flap (the part with the owl's face on it) is a variegated brown boucle, and the eyes, beak, and wings are shot through with glittery silver bits for added sparkle that unfortunately looks much cooler in person than it does in photos. The messenger flap and wings were not felted at all, unlike the main bag itself.

This Owl bag measures 9" high by 10" wide, and the strap measures 37" from end to end. As modeled, the strap was looped over the left shoulder and around the neck of the model and pushed off to one side, like you might wear a messenger bag---hopefully this photo will give you a rough idea of where the bag might hit you as you wear it yourself! :)

Why 98% wool? All yarn used in this project except for the glittery silver stuff is, in fact, wool---but that glittery silver stuff does count. It's a synthetic polyamide, and its usage is minimal---as you can see."

Owly is up for sale at the Janniverse Etsy shop. Unlike some of the other things I've been making, he'll be one-of-a-kind, so if you want him, I'd move fast. :)
Sorry for falling off the face of the planet, guys, but it's been quite busy in Janniland lately. There've been a few posts at CarEnvy that haven't made their way here, but if you click on "Motorsports," you'll see virtually everything. :D

  • New post on The Spice is Right: A Ritual of Tea. As many of you already know, I'm a die-hard tea fan (no Alan Rickman involved, though I might wish otherwise ;) ). But do you know how it started? If you care, well, you can read up on it now. XD

  • New video post on CarEnvy: Captain Jack Really Can't Die. Over the weekend, John Barrowman and Fifth Gear's Tiff Needell suffered minor injuries when Barrowman was driving and Needell was navigating a ProDrive-kitted Subaru Impreza in Wales for a future Fifth Gear segment. You can read the full story and also watch the video of the incident as aired on Fifth Gear last night. Bless the powers of the Intarwebs! :D

I'm not adding this to the list, because it hasn't been completed yet, but I'm also hard at work on some new goodies for the Janniverse Etsy shop. Some are of course restocking popular items, but some new ones are also coming along as well. If there's anything in particular that you'd really, really like to see me knit and offer for sale, please let me know. If it doesn't violate any copyright laws, I'll probably at least think about indulging you! :D