Yarn O’Clock Update

I have fifteen more pages to edit, and need to check email again, but the UPS guy just came. My first clue was the Direwolves barking hysterically. Tom wants to get a security camera for the front door, but we already have the Canine Emergency Broadcast System. But I guess a camera would let me know if it’s UPS, a random neighbor, or a SWAT team at the door without getting off the couch, so we shall see.

But look what arrived!


Oops. I seem to have accidentally acquired more yarn. Well, not totally true, as this was the first “cake” style yarn I bought, but it was back ordered, so I found and ordered the luscious Chroma Worsted Yarn by Knit Picks I talked about HERE earlier today.

It’s Lion Brand Mandala yarn, and the color is “gnome.” I’d have bought it for the color name itself. Seriously, look at it. If you love yarn even a little bit, you’d have done the same. Even if you don’t love yarn, you want someone to make you something with this yarn. Don’t lie; I know you do.

It appears the color sequence only repeats once per ball, though, which means I should make something that takes at least 590 yards (5.3 ounces) of yarn, like a baby blanket or shawl, if I want to have all the colors represented, and I do.

Okay, time to clock back in, metaphorically speaking, so I can get to yarn o’clock!

Perpetually Pursuing Perfection

Like most of my family, I am an over-achiever. If I do something, I don’t want to be pretty good. I want to be an expert.


When I was a journalist for Indy Car Racing Magazine and essentially lived at the Speedway the entire month of May, I could tell a Lola chassis from a Penske from the other end of the straightaway, and even the model year. I could identify a Chevrolet engine from a Cosworth the second it fired up.

You’d think this kind of obsessive, determined, perfectionist nature would make me a great athlete. I guess it could have, but I dislike perspiration, and competition makes my stomach hurt.

My brain needs to be busy all the time, learning and perfecting new things. Editing is the perfect job for me, because I learn something new with each manuscript, whether it’s a fact learned from the story itself, or a better way to structure a sentence.

Which, as I described in this post earlier this week, is how the whole knitting thing started.

I’ve crocheted since I was a kid, meaning I have 40+ years of experience. I briefly experimented with knitting maybe seven or eight years ago (probably longer, since I’m old and even 1990 doesn’t sound like that long ago) but never pursued it.

Now I’m back at it, and the over-achieving perfectionist in me is getting mouthy.  “I’ve been knitting for almost an entire week! Why is this not perfect? Why can’t I knit intricate cable designs yet?”

Never mind that I can’t change colors yet, add or decrease stitches, or any of about a million other skills I still need to master. I want to know it all. Right. Now.

Why can’t I make these yet? Why??????

I’m purposely, against everything I stand for, moving slowly in my knitting evolution, trying to refine basic skills before tackling the next thing. As you can see from the images below, the white stuff being some practice swatches and the green one being my first soon-to-be-completed piece, I’m working on straight, flat, single-color skills at the moment, nothing more than knits, purls, and casting on and off.

The green thing is allegedly a dishcloth, according to the pattern. I don’t understand why anyone would spend hours making something so pretty just to scrub melted cheese and congealed grease from a plate, though, so this is something else. Not sure what yet. Maybe a hot pad or trivet. Or the first item in Lori’s Knitting Museum. I also didn’t use kitchen cotton yarn. It’s regular old acrylic.

I went to the craft store a few days ago and bought a beginner’s kit. It has a couple different size metal needles and a lot of little gadgets and gizmos of which I do not yet know the purpose, but I’ll get there. I also got a pair of bamboo needles, in case I decide I like them better. I have a full set of bamboo crochet hooks, which I have never used. They were free, though, so I don’t feel too badly about that. Who knows? Maybe knitting needles are different.


One thing is certain. There are zillions of needle options. Metal, plastic, or wood. Long, not-so-long, double-pointed, circular, in sizes from itty-bitty to bigger than a broomstick. I just know every new project will involve new tools, because it’ll be a while before my knitting kit is as comprehensive as my crochet kit. Anybody have old knitting gear they don’t use? I will accept donations! 🙂

I’ve learned this all by myself, using website diagrams, YouTube tutorials, the book that came in my knitting kit, and trial and error. Which means I’m probably doing a shit-ton of things wrong.

I was texting my friend Jess, who is an experienced knitter, a few nights ago. I need to get her on a plane to NC to tutor me. She asked me if I was an English or Continental knitter. How the f*** should I know? What does that even mean? 

Sigh. Google.

Turns out I’m a Continental knitter, using my left hand to handle the yarn, which is an easier method for crochet people to learn. And then my brain was happy because I learned something new.

The pattern I got has three “dishcloth” patterns, which could be hot pads or place mats or scarves, depending on how long it takes before I get bored and want to make something else. I’ll make one of each, then move on to something with another challenge in it. Color change, adding or decreasing stitches, something pretty or fancy.

I need to hurry up and become an expert knitter, though, because about five years ago I bought a set of Tunisian crochet hooks and two books, tinkered with a few basic stitches, but sort of lost interest. Now I want to be an expert at that too.

A Knack For Knitting?


Never stop learning, right? Years ago, I taught myself basic knitting, but other than my sample swatch, I never pursued it, and it’s now thoroughly forgotten.

I crochet. In fact, I’d go so far as to call myself an expert. If I can find a pattern, I can crochet it. I’ve made countless afghans, hats, bags, doilies, decorative items, even a 62-inch lace tablecloth. I love taking a ball of yarn and turning it into something useful or beautiful.

I decided I needed a new skill, another hobby, preferably something I can do on the couch while watching Netflix, so rock-climbing or paddle-boarding were immediately ruled out. I’m 53, out of shape, and my bones are probably as brittle as stale bread sticks, so knitting is really more my speed.


I should’ve decided this five years ago when I still lived in Minnesota, because my friend Jess is an excellent knitter, and having someone show me and help point out flaws in my technique would be valuable. My daughter-in-law was here a few months ago and knows how to knit, but she’s a leftie, and I suspect that could present difficulties in teaching me. Besides, I didn’t know I wanted to learn to knit at the time.

I don’t really know anyone in North Carolina well enough to do the “hey, teach me to knit and I will reward you with rum and puppy snuggles” thing. I don’t even know if any of my acquaintances know how to knit, which tells you how well I don’t know people.

Enter the internet. You can learn anything online, often things you’d be better off not knowing. I started watching tutorials, but most of them are extremely annoying.

First, it’s too much like interacting with a human, which I avoid. I don’t even watch people’s video posts on Facebook.

Second, even when they’re going slowly, they can be hard to follow. Every time I need to pause or rewind to play again, I have to put down the needles and then try to get them positioned correctly again, which is still hard.

And third, every single damned knitter seems to have a unique way of holding the needles and guiding the yarn. Seriously, Google “how to hold knitting needles and yarn,” and you’ll see 145,990 different ways.

Yes, the result is the same. This needle has to go here, in this way, and the yarn has to go around here and through there, but everyone has a different method of achieving this. My crochet style is technically incorrect by some standards, the way I hold the hook and maneuver the yarn, but I’ve made it work, and I know I’ll have to do the same for knitting. I have a feeling if I had someone to show me, though, I could make changes to my technique that would make this a hell of a lot easier.

I know how to cast on, knit, purl, and cast off, but so far I’m only practicing the knit stitch. I want to be able to produce neat, uniform rows of stitches, and then I’ll move on to something else.


I clearly have a long way to go, possibly several light-years. I think I should watch some more videos (grumble) and instead of trying to follow along, just observe how the instructor works, how they hold the needles and manage the yarn.

I’ve been crocheting for around 40 years, and I know it’s unreasonable to expect to be knitting lacy wraps or complex cable work in a day. But I hate not being great at something, and I want to be able to download everything there is to know about knitting directly into my head right this minute.

lace knitting stitch 55 - Copy

I could make this by this weekend, right?

I feel like I need an extra hand or three extra fingers. I also know if when I finally get a grip on this, I’ll spend a stupid amount of money on knitting needles and knitting accessories, because I never do anything by half. Maybe I should go ahead and start shopping–online, of course–because even if the whole Queen of Knitting thing never pans out, the needles would be handy in the apocalypse.

Do you knit? When did you learn? Do you have any favorite resources for beginning knitters?

So far, my biggest accomplishment is not poking myself in the eyeball with one of the needles, but it’s been close a couple of times, and it’s a good thing I wear glasses.

Craft Therapy

My job and my personality are a great fit. I’m nit-picky and obsessive, and my brain likes to be doing a thousand things at once. The problem is, it never stops. Ever. While I have a hard time getting it rolling in the morning, it’s like a freight train. Once it gains momentum, slowing it down is–well, pretty much like stopping a freight train. Since hitting the liquor stash at noon is frowned-upon, I must employ a different distraction. I crochet.


True. When the apocalypse strikes–and it will–sooner or later all the pre-made items will be scavenged, and we’ll be back to having to make our own. If you’re nice to me, I’ll make you socks.

Crochet’s not cool, is it? It’s for little old ladies in rocking chairs, draped in a shawl (which she crocheted) and surrounded by doilies. This definitely isn’t me. I don’t have a rocking chair.

My mom was an avid crocheter. She made afghans and bedspreads and holiday decor as far back as I can remember. But she was left-handed, and it was hard for her to teach me. I finally got the basics in a junior high home ec class, and it’s been part of my life ever since.

When I’ve been editing and writing and dealing with mountains of work email and need to whoa it down, crochet is my go-to coping strategy. I put an interesting or old favorite TV series on and settle in. I like serial TV better than movies, because part of my social dysfunction is I have some degree of face-blindness. I have a hard time distinguishing individual people, particularly if they are of similar age and appearance. I’ve found I tend to distinguish people by voice, which makes TV series ideal to pair with crochet, since I’m not looking at the screen a lot of the time anyway.

I’ve also recently rediscovered drawing, something I enjoyed a lot when I was in school,22426493_10212830143360855_1766052432900575989_o but crochet is currently front and center in my craft world. I was making a lot of doilies and other lacework for a while, the largest piece being a 62″ diameter round tablecloth that took me eight months to complete. It’s in my closet, because I haven’t gotten around to working in the ends and blocking it, and because I really have little use for a fancy lace tablecloth. But it was a lovely pattern, I’d never made a tablecloth, and I wanted to see if I could do it.

I’ve been making hats and bags and some other assorted things for the Colonial Capital Humane Society thrift shop, because they went above and beyond to pull Oliver from a risky situation and paired him with us. They work so hard every day for the homeless animals in our area, and rely solely on donations and the revenue from their thrift shop.


I taught myself basic knitting several years ago, which I’ve now forgotten, but I’m thinking of learning again. I also tried Tunisian crochet, which is sort of a knit-crochet hybrid, but need to refresh my memory on that also.


The older I get, the more I fit the stereotype of the old lady in a rocking chair. I also fit the stereotype of a yarn hoarder. I have four large plastic storage bins, a laundry basket, a duffel bag, and a storage ottoman stuffed with yarn. I’ve been trying to exercise some self-control and use yarn from the stash to make the bags and hats and such for the humane society, but eventually I didn’t have enough of the preferred colors in the right yarn to make what I wanted, and ordered more.

The internet is priceless when it comes to things like this. I have infinite free patterns only a click away, and I can order the perfect yarn for every project. Unlimited possibilities and an immediate-gratification-based personality means a lot of debits showing up on my bank account. But I have yarn!

In fact, it might be a key symptom of the psychosis that I actually have a favorite yarn. I found it a few years ago and made a shawl, which I later turned into a window covering for my office. I love it.

It has my three favorite colors (turquoise, bright green, and purple) and I would crochet slipcovers for all my furniture out of it if I could. Turns out it’s excellent for the bag style I’ve been making lately, so I ordered more. Yes…more. I’m definitely keeping one of these bags.

9b64c1c355e1eb09ea053f31e8e741b8--crochet-tools-how-to-crochetPerhaps even more significant than the size of the yarn stash or the fact I have a favorite yarn is…I have a favorite kind of crochet hook. And I only know this because I have an entire bag full of every kind of hook you can imagine. Broad, tapered, steel, aluminum, bamboo, ergonomic, Tunisian–I even have a whole set of hooks in which the end lights up so you can work with dark yarn in poor lighting.

But the two main styles are Boye and Bates, and I’m very firmly #TeamBoye. I have at least two in the full range of sizes, from tiny enough to work lace to hooks as thick as my thumb, because if I lose one, I need to be certain I have a spare.

Crochet is perfect for quieting a hyperactive mind. It engages enough of my brain to divide my focus, and combined with something on TV,  it prevents me from spinning in that perpetual loop that makes me stressed and anxious. The soothing repetition of the pattern, counting stitches in the back of the mind…it’s all very therapeutic.

Not as good as several strong drinks, but when you’re done, you have something pretty to show for it besides an empty liquor cabinet and a hangover.

Do you knit or crochet? Is it a new hobby or something you grew up doing? What’s the most impressive thing you ever made? Did you keep it or give it away?

Does the following paragraph make sense to you?

Work shell st in ch 1 sp of first V st. *V st in center dc of next shell st, shell st in ch 1 sp of next V st. Repeat from * across. End with dc in last ch of turning chain. Ch 3 and turn.

If it does, you’re part of the tribe!